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The Old Republic Unveiled: Combat, PvP, and Heroics

Michael Zenke

The name of the franchise is Star Wars. Not Star Knitting or Star Dancing, Star Wars. As a result, there's a lot of conflict, a lot of action, and a lot of combat. Star Wars: The Old Republic will be no different, and in fact the designers and developers look to be shaking things up from the MMO combat norm. As MMO players we've heard that before, havent we? 'Not just another EverQuest clone', real-time combat, even FPS combat ... somehow it all ends up a wash. BioWare might have what it takes, though, and we have the details about what they're hoping to do. Join us as we learn about the meaning of heroic, why being outnumbered is actually a good thing, and watch as we get told we can't know anything about PvP yet.

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

You mention the feel of Star Wars combat. How does that compare to previous BioWare games like Jade Empire or Mass Effect?

Rich Vogel, Co-GM BioWare Austin: When we talk about Star Wars combat, what we want to bring to the MMO space is combat that feels like it comes straight from the movies. Standard MMO combat is very slow paced, kind of Flintstones combat. You run up to a creature, hit the creature over the head with your weapon. In the movie we showed earlier, we tried to show how we're going for combat that looks much more visceral, that looks more like it could have come from a movie. Where you're having a lightsaber duel, where you're having blaster combat that's fast-paced and heroic.

Another thing we don't want ... I'm sure that anyone here that's played an MMO knows you can get into a situation with a whole bunch of players smacking on one dude. You all surround him and it's like "yeah, kill him!" Wow, that's heroic. It's great that all of us good guys got together and slammed that orc down. That's something we don't want to have happen in our game and we're working towards much more epic, heroic battles. Where you're the guys who are outnumbered.

When you think about the movies, the heroes are the ones that get to act a certain way because they're fighting against the odds.

You said earlier that you wanted to avoid a bunch of guys beating up on a single character. How do you make the experience epic for a single player without requiring him to join up with 24 other players to do a raid, to allow him to progress the story?

Rich: One of the things we've been doing is making sure that when we build content, we have representatives of the different playstyles. Whenever we do a design discussion or implement systems, we have the different player types. There's the solo guy, the guy that hates other people. There are a lot of them actually.

Gordon Walton, Co-GM BioWare Austin: I love MMOs, but I hate other players.

Rich: It's surprising but they've done studies, and there are lots of players like this out there. They don't want to adventure with anybody but they like that there are other players that can see all the cool stuff that they've done. They are in a virtual world. Then there are the players that adventure just with their friends. They have a group of buddies and they just play with those guys all the time together. And then there are the people who like to join guilds and become social butterflies, like to adventure with different peoples in the guild. They like to be part of big groups that do major events.

We want to make sure that each of those player types has fun in our game. I can't go into detail on the systems we've designed to make sure that that happens, but I can say we have made sure those different player types are taken into account when we're building content.

PvP – can you talk about how you are going to do that?

Rich: We have PvP in our game. There's a reason we decided to go with two factions – the Republic and the Sith Empire.

Gordon: It is called Star Wars.

Rich: The game is called Star Wars, Gordon has it right on there. This is a game about conflict, about change. It's something we always have to remember. When the writers are working on the story it's something we always have to remind them: Star Wars, there always has to be conflict. So for any kind of PvP mechanic we have, we want it to feel important in that context. There are certain things that means. That I can't get into.

Battles in Star Wars sometimes feature hundreds of characters on screen. Are players ever going to be put in any situation like that, is that something you'll strive towards?

Rich: We want the player to feel outnumbered ... maybe not a hundred to one, but we do want the player to feel outnumbered. In public areas we can start to do that, and in private areas we can do that even more. It is part of the package of feeling heroic, that feeling that the odds are against you.

Star Wars: The Old Republic 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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