GDC 2010
Hands On: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Greg Tito | 16 Mar 2010 23:30
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But perhaps that's because the AI wasn't quite turned up high enough for the demo. My mission was to infiltrate a separatist base on the planet of Ord Mantell, a location steeped in Star Wars lore and even mentioned during the first films. The base was full of enemies in groups of two or three guards, but there was no communication between them and their aggro range seemed absurdly small. I suppose it wasn't much different than other MMOG's but it was difficult to suspend my disbelief when I'm blasting and exploding my way through the base with a group of nonchalant guards only 20 feet or so away who didn't even bat an eyelash. It just didn't feel very Star Wars-ey.

The standard UI for most modern MMOGs is used for The Old Republic. You've got your minimap, your questlog and your target frames. While you get major story quests from a quest giver, you acquire the more simple "Kill 12 of these guys" quests once you actually start killing them. That one innovation may have more to do with not wasting computing cycles on quests that lack a significant story element (it gets hard to justify an in-game story reason every time you want the player to kill guys.) And it also means that less voice acting and scripting needs to occur to explain what is a comparatively simple task for the player.

I was disappointed that I didn't get to see very much story and dialogue, but I was pleased with what I did see. The first quest giver you speak to let's you in on the basic story that there's an uprising of separatists and you need to stop them, possibly by blowing up the base. You also get a side quest to track down a holograph reporter whose been taken hostage, which you can accept or not. This is all told through short conversation points to which you can choose from three responses in a radial menu. If you've played any BioWare game in the last ten years, then you can pretty much guess what those three break down into.

"With each decision you make, you can be good to bad, mean, snarky, whatever you want to be," Neri said.

The good part is that these choices actually do matter beyond being a dick like Han shooting first. "You do have choices that have consequences in this game," said Neri. It seems that choosing to not accept a quest is just as important as dialogue choices. "It's not just about taking a meaningless quest, it's a quest that actually changes the story that you're participating in, which can also change your progression." Neri hinted that TOR might have some Fable-like changes as well. "You might go down the dark side as a player, and perhaps that affects the way you look from a physical perspective," he said.

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