Star Wars: The Old Republic Previews

BioWare Austin's Star Wars: The Old Republic likely made one of its final pre-release event appearances at last week's E3, so it's certainly worth sifting through more of the impression pieces hitting the web.

BioWare reps went a lot into the story this time around, explaining how The Old Republic will serve not only as a finale for the Knights of the Old Republic series, but also as many sequels that follow. This isn't really a relief to gamers who purposely avoid MMORPGs and wanted a more solo-focused journey, but it's hard to fault BioWare for branching out and trying something original here. There are tens of thousands of lines of voiced dialogue in this game, and what I thought was interesting was that if you choose one class on the Empire and play through the whole game, then restart as, say, a Jedi Guardian, you will have an entirely different set of content set on different planets and no shared quests between the two; you'll never see or hear the same stuff twice while leveling up. I imagine those lines blur once you start to get into the PvP and raiding, but it seems that at least the leveling will be totally different. I also question how much is unique between, say, the Jedi Guardian and the Jedi Consular, two classes on the Republic side that I would think should have at least some shared content.

The game is split into eight different classes. Each of these has unique abilities that complement one another in battle. For example, the Jedi Knight is meant to be in the thick of battle hacking at enemies while the bounty hunter sets up shields and attacks from cover. In a move that speaks true to BioWare's commitment to a solid story experience, each character class has its own unique storyline. What's incredible about this is that each of these promises more than 100 hours of gameplay apiece. So in order to get the full story of the game, playing all eight classes all the way through, plan to log well over 800 hours. Go ahead; we'll wait.

During E3, BioWare also showed off multiplayer conversations, a new feature that will allow BioWare's style of dialogue choices even when players are in a group. When a dialogue option comes up, each player in the group will make their own choice, at which point the game will roll dice for each. The character with the highest roll wins and gets to speak the next line. I saw the system in action during a group quest on the planet of Alderaan, and it came off as a clever way to implement storytelling in very traditional MMO group-play.

Players won't just be getting one epic tale like those of their other series, but eight different stories crafted uniquely for each playable class. Christine explained that while each character class will progress through various upgrades, each individual story is made up of a unique trilogy or a narrative delivered in three distinct acts. Christine compared the journey of every class, be it bounty hunter or Sith Lord will be similar to Luke Skywalker's story arc spanning the original Star Wars trilogy.

And GamingExcellence:
Regarding progression, it's not just about loot and XP. Characters evolve based on the "sum of the choices" they make during the game. The experience, Christine promises, will be different based on the choice of faction and class, and Jedi characters can still make Dark Side choices. In fact, the trailer they ran is even called "Choose". Do we get the point? There's a lot of choice. Yep. I think we've got it. But, just in case, they showed up the sprawling progression trees illustrating the myriad of choices available.