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Hyperspace Beacon: Fires of Hope from E3 2010


The Hyperspace Beacon is a weekly guide and discussion by Larry Everett about the yet-to-be-released game Star Wars: The Old Republic.

No matter where you were this week, if you are a Star Wars fan, you saw the new SWTOR trailer: Hope. I'm sure you also read the Daily Grind asking, "Do cinematics make you want to play?" It's an honest question. Lots of times these over-the-top trailers mask some of the things producers aren't telling you about the game you are interested in playing. In fact, it may give you greater expectations than the game has to offer. There have been quite a few comments about Star Wars Galaxies' trailers which have caused some players of the seven-year-old MMO to ask rhetorically, "I want to play that game. Where is that game?" So let me tell you up front, Star Wars: The Old Republic does not look like either of the cinematic trailers, but that does not mean it is not a great game.

I believe as a fan of this game and as a reporter for this website that I would be doing you, the reader, an injustice by totally giving into the (albeit mostly fan-created) hype that surrounds this game. So this week I want to take things back a notch and hopefully give you a realistic outlook on a couple of announced aspects of the game.

At E3 this week there were three big announcements: Starships, War Zones, and the new trailer. Each one gave us clues and tidbits of information to whet our appetite for the next big reveal. We've mentioned the trailer several times already on this site, so I do not believe it needs to be touched on again, but the other two areas have barely been touched on at all.

According to several Bioware representatives -- even Rich Vogel in our interview -- the player's starship is the player's mobile base of operations, although the suggestion is that the player does not receive the starship as soon as he logs on. Daniel Erickson (I swear he doesn't pay me to quote him) suggests in an interview by Darth Hater that the ship is gained as a part of the character story arc. The companions you "collect" take residence there, and we are told part of your character's story is actually built in the starship.

Although this was a huge announcement for the game, it seems that not much information was released about it. We have no idea how someone actually gets a ship. Each class gets its own different type of ship, yet it is unknown exactly how customizable the ship will be. Can we decorate it like you can in other MMOs with instanced housing? What about the outside? It's really cool and all that I have this ship, but I really don't want it to have the same paint job as my friend's ships. We know that other players can come visit your ship, but can they fly with you to other planets? And what if they can, does their ship automagically follow yours to the destination?

Even though we seem to know very little about the ships, there are a few things on the horizon. The one I'd like to mention (I am sure I'm going to get ripped to shreds for saying it) is space combat. I completely believe there will be space combat, but it is not going to be the likes of EVE or even Jump to Lightspeed (SWG), at least not when the game is released. In a couple of interviews, some of the developers have said that it would not be a Star Wars without space. This could mean there will be some sort of turret combat which may happen. More likely, it will be some sort of cinematic à la Mass Effect 2 which the outcome will be determined by character actions prior to the conflict.

For another big announcement, the War Zones were surprisingly sparse of details. Okay, so we know one of the War Zones will be on Alderaan. We also know that War Zones are all about PvP, but beyond that the details get very sketchy. It really makes me wonder why they even bothered to announce this in the first place. Maybe it was to help appeal to the PvP crowd, or those who are in love with WoW's battlegrounds. I am really not sure.

However, from a lore perspective, this is great! It will be the first time a player will be able to set foot on Alderaan (mostly because it was space dust during the setting of the majority of Star Wars games), but we aren't told what our character's motivation is for going there. Also, we were not told what other planets will have War Zones, or if the War Zone covers the whole planet or just a part of it. Rewards were briefly discussed, hinting that PvP equipment can be gained from War Zones, but there were no specifics about anything else.

The screenshots and discussion about War Zones did prompt me to review some past videos to see if perhaps there was some PvP going on in the those videos. After some brief research, I did notice that one of the areas looks like Tatooine. Given the lore in both the Star Wars Movies and KOTOR surrounding Tatooine, I would hope there was more to the planet than PvP. If the planet in question truly is Tatooine and given some of the screenshots published of Alderaan, it is this writer's assumption that even the planets with PvP on them are not all about PvP.

If you did not happen to catch all the action, excitement, and, yes, hype from E3 this week, TOR-Aid has a wonderful breakdown of all the information we have learned, and some speculation of their own. Also did some amazing interviews with Daniel Erickson and James Ohlen, the Lead Writer and Lead Designer, respectively. I encourage you to read and watch those reports.

There are still many things to get excited about in this upcoming game, so do not be discouraged. My expectations are still high. Bioware has yet to disappoint me with any game they've made. Take courage, SWTOR fans, there is promise for just as the Republic Trooper says in the trailer, "One single spark of courage can ignite the fires of hope . . ." (Okay, that was cheesy, but you get my point.)

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