Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

GameSpot offers some updated impressions for BioWare's upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, resulting from a hands-off demonstration at GamesCom. Here's a sampling:
Flashpoints are The Old Republic's version of dungeons--self-contained sequences of gameplay designed for a small group of players. Unlike with a typical dungeon, however, the team at BioWare is aiming to infuse some of their iconic storytelling techniques into these sequences. A trailer for the Taral V flashpoint highlighted this by showing brief snippets from the flashpoint's storyline. These revolved around a high-stakes rescue operation to recover an incarcerated Jedi.

On the topic of player versus player, Butler unveiled a new warzone coming to TOR called HuttBall, a "brutal spectator sport" that doesn't draw the line at the game's normal faction division. Instead, the two teams in HuttBall are randomized, with light and dark players intermingling on both sides. The object of the game is to capture and transport a ball across the opponent's goal line. Of course, the other team will be trying to kill you along the way, and there are numerous traps littered across the playing field. Success lies in not being a ball hog and in knowing when to give it up if you're about to get creamed.

The final game mode shown was Operations. These large end-game missions are TOR's version of raids. The one being highlighted at the show was The Eternity Vault, a massive prison compound built to contain a powerful Force wielder. The operation can be attempted with anywhere from 8 to 16 players. Its difficulty will scale depending on how many players you bring along. Butler hinted that there was more to reveal about the mechanics of Operations but decided to take us straight into a live demo instead.