In Star Wars: The Old Republic, do you want to be a Sith Warrior more like the agile Darth Maul, or more like the armored Vader? SW: TOR's Advanced Class system lets players take their pick.
One of the stranger things about SW: TOR - especially for long-time MMOG fans - is that the two factions only had four classes apiece, which felt slightly lacking. Every player who chooses to side with a given faction only gets four options? Most modern MMOGs have twice that!
Now, a post on the SW: TOR site detailing the Advanced Class system helps BioWare's direction make a bit more sense. Essentially, every one of the game's classes has two sub-classes that a player will unlock after a certain point, that lets them further choose how to specialize their character. Both Advanced Classes retain the feel of the original class, but with their own take on the matter:
"For example, all Smugglers are lucky, opportunistic swindlers. But, do you want to be the kind of Smuggler that sneaks into the middle of a firefight and quickly blasts away at an opponent from point-blank range? Or do you want to be the kind that keeps to the outskirts of the battle, strategically picking your targets from a distance?"
Another example, reports Eurogamer, is the Sith Warrior's choice to become a Marauder - a fast, damage-dealing class a la Darth Maul - or a Juggernaut, a slower, more strategic archetype with heavy armor like Darth Vader. Each Advanced Class has two ability trees, with a third ability tree shared by both - so every given class has five or so skill trees (though you'll only be able to use three).
It's similar to the branching archetypes seen in Aion and EverQuest II (among others), but it's good to see that SW: TOR is giving players more options in building their characters. Also, now we know what the Sith "tank" class is - smart money says that the Republic will get an equivalent as a subclass of either the Imperial Trooper or Jedi Knight archetypes.
The Old Republic is scheduled for 2011.