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How will factions and PvP work in Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Samuel Axon

Since BioWare and LucasArts' Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced, we've learned that there will be two factions in the game -- the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. We've also learned that players will be able to embrace either the Dark or Light Side of the Force. But there's something surprising in all this: there's no direct correlation between the two distinctions. You could, for example, play as a Jedi working within the Empire -- "a good guy in a bad place," as BioWare put it.

We're big fans of the idea -- more moral complexity is welcome (especially in the Star Wars setting, which tends to quite literally be black and white), but it raises some interesting gameplay questions, particularly with regards to PvP -- questions we're eager to raise!

Gallery: Star Wars: The Old Republic Screenshots | 68 Photos

We don't know anything at all about SWTOR's PvP features yet, but we're eager to assume that there will be some kind of large scale faction-on-faction conflict. If it's Empire vs. Republic, though, won't that good guy in a bad place be forced to fight against his fellow Jedi? If it's Jedi vs. Sith, how will the prospect of killing a fellow citizen be handled? If it's both, we can imagine Sith members of the Republic turning on teammates because they are Jedi. Yikes!

Furthermore, we're curious as to whether or not players will be able to switch sides on either spectrum -- can Jedi become Sith and vice versa? Can players defect from the Empire to the Republic? Players of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic might remember the old Jedi Jolee Bindo, who was arguably a nuetral character who did not completely subscribe to either extreme of the Force. Will there be a role for players who want to walk that middle ground?

The game is at such an early stage in production, it's possible that even BioWare doesn't have the answers to all of our questions yet. We're always eager to speculate though!

In a video interview with GameSpot, BioWare reps suggested that a tenuous peace has been reached between the Empire and the Republic. That might sound like it means there will be no direct military conflict between the two, but similar language has been used to describe the relationship between the Horde and the Alliance in World of Warcraft.

Some past games have balanced multiple conflicts with messy boundaries -- EVE Online now features factional warfare in addition to its traditional corporate conflicts, and Meridian 59 has long juggled faction struggles, guild wars, and for a while in its history, a war between Jedi-like Hunters and Sith-like Necromancers. That means it's not impossible, but those games are a bit more hardcore in the PvP department than most gamers prefer, so we're not sure it's in BioWare's best interest to adopt their approaches.

With Warhammer Online's focus on PvP, it would seem that the tide is turning more in that direction, so we've got to assume BioWare has something planned. Right now we have mostly questions though, and no answers -- we're taking bets on how they're gonna approach it!

Star Wars: The Old Republic is here! Bioware has finally unveiled Star Wars: The Old Republic, their new MMO! Massively's got you covered on all the details -- from liveblogging the announcement to screenshot galleries and more. Join us in the Galaxy far, far away!

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