Star Wars: The Old Republic Video Demo and Previews

Should you be on the lookout for some more information about BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic, you need not look any further than this newsbit. We'll kick things off with six minutes worth of space combat demonstration footage from PAX East:

Then we stop by Kotaku:
The flashpoint sections of The Old Republic are story-driven missions designed for four players. The section started with us receiving orders from a Yoda-looking guy called Master Oteg. As with other BioWare games, you can respond to people who chat with you in a variety of ways, all mapped to parts of a conversation wheel. All four of us would choose responses to Oteg, but only the one of us who automatically rolled the highest number saw our response take. Needless to say, I didn't even respond to the first couple of questions in time. I was busy telling a BioWare guy behind me that I was going to need help.

Oteg was sending us on a rescue mission. We needed to free a prisoner somewhere in deep space, but first needed to capture some navigation technology made by a civilization called the Gree. The Imperial forces had the tech. We'd be raiding their planet.

First up was a Jedi Consular Sage, one of the two damage-dealers in our group. She was a ranged caster with force powers that could also throw out healing spells in a pinch. When the fights started, I would generally put two damage-over-time abilities on enemies, then channel another move, which would allow my main spell to become an instant cast. It felt very familiar to how a Shadow Priest in World of Warcraft plays, and as soon as I figured out that's what this character's role was, it was easy for me to play, and I knew exactly how to get the most damage out of her.

She had a cool ability that let me pick up a big pile of rocks and launch it at helpless enemies. I was also equipped with quite a few crowd-control abilities that would knock enemies down, silence them, and otherwise make them useless to the fight. If my tank started to take too much damage, I could also help out with healing if needed. She seemed to do a great amount of damage and was very versatile, and while playing as the Sage, I knew I was a key part of the fight. It's a fast-paced role with a lot of different abilities, and managing them was the key to my success.

BioWare reps there weren't really there to help us with strategy. We quickly figured out that they expected most of us to fail, and that on all day on Friday, even with about eight groups playing at a time for 40 minutes each (from 10AM to 7PM, mind you), only about 7 or 8 of them in total actually completed the flashpoint. It did seem to be difficult; we watched the groups ahead of us on the monitors, and at first we thought it was just a bunch of newbies who hadn't played MMOs before, but after a while it became obvious that the last fight wasn't a straightforward tank and spank, and every time people lost, they had to run for three or four minutes to try again. The boss was an Imperial officer, Captain Shivanek, with a 20-foot-tall "pet" (a Ripper, which does vaguely resemble a Rancor). The challenge was in figuring out how to defeat both at the same time, as the Ripper would do AOE stuns and I, as the off-tanking Jedi Guardian who took more damage than the dedicated Trooper/Vanguard, had to do dedicated tanking on one of them.

Our strategy was to stay on the narrow path leading to the boss, skip any monsters we didn't absolutely have to fight, and try to get to Shivanek as efficiently as possible so that we could get the most tries on him. And we did that, and got a good five tries on the boss fight, constantly tweaking our strategy. In those attempts, we switched tank targets, we positioned them apart, then decided to position them together, and also tried to have the tank swap over to my target (the pet, which was doing more damage than the Captain) once some threat was built. That last strategy allowed us to kill the Ripper on the last attempt, but that triggered an Enrage ability on Shivanek that quickly took out both tanks, and he then easily cleaned up the rest. We walked out defeated, having gotten so close to winning, but we all had smiles on our faces. (You can see a successful run from this same flashpoint here, done from the perspective of the Jedi Guardian - they make it look easy, even though they do almost die at the end.)

And Gaming Nexus:
Once we got the mission briefing, it was a quick walk and a shuttle jump down to the planets surface. That's when things really got interesting, as we quickly shifted into combat mode. Not really being familiar with the controls wasn't a big hurdle; movement and target selection are pretty standard. The attack, defense, and healing selections make use of the typical numeric keys, and feel much like any other MMO. The Consular role could easily be equated to that of a typical cleric; light armor, attack ability, but "spells" (the Force) are their true weapon of choice.

The characters in the mission we played were all preset to level 32, so we had a lot of choices to work with. Among the powers for my Consular were the ability to rip a large chunk of earth out of the ground and hurl it at targeted enemies. There were also some powers used to stun enemies, heal team members (or self) as well as buffs. We faced multiple alien beasts as well as Sith Empire goons on our way to the base where the object we needed to recover was stored. Most of the beasts we would have been able to tackle individually, but a few of the larger monsters and the mission bosses were almost beyond our abilities even as a team.