Star Wars: The Old Republic Editorials

We're only a day into the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, so I suspect these are just two of many editorials (and reviews) we're going to be seeing for BioWare Austin's ambitious MMORPG over the coming weeks.

Game Informer starts us off with a four-page piece called "Discovering the Empire":
Here's the story I'm used to following with my MMO characters: I'm a member of one of two opposing factions in a war-filled world, but I may as well forget about that larger conflict. Tons of people who I've never met require my help thinning out the local wildlife population, collecting minerals, and performing fetch quests. If I'm good enough to stick with it for a few hundred hours and have 10 or 20 friends who do so also, I may get the chance to go on end-game raids that will provide a brief glimpse of a greater story, but for now I had better be satisfied with the grind.

Based on playing through the first 15 levels as an Imperial Agent, I can say that if BioWare has done anything right with Star Wars: The Old Republic, it's that the developer has created a story that is genuinely interesting and makes me feel like my character is an active part of this world.

My character, Agent Rerkek, begins his life on Hutta, the homeworld of the slimy slug-like crime lords made popular by Jabba the Hutt. At the point that I take over, Rerkek is already a well-established agent who is sent to Hutta by Keeper, the head of the Sith Empire's intelligence division.

Agents are not combat powerhouses, and their class storyline reflects this. Rather than focus on killing legions of Republic scum, the agent exists to sow discord in other ways. In this case, I have been sent to Hutta because the Empire requires an alliance with Nem'ro the Hutt, who controls a great number of resources that will be useful in taking on the Republic. Unfortunately, Nem'ro is not ready to take sides in the brewing galactic conflict, so I need to use less straightforward means of swinging him to our side.

And then USA Today chimes in with the "Star Wars Universe is Getting a Lot Bigger":
The game is bigger than all of BioWare's previous games combined. "When you get to the point where you get your ship and you see this galaxy map, it hits home that it really is an immense game," says BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk.

The back story: Forty years have passed since the Sith have returned, after hiding in the far reaches of the galaxy for 1,000 years. Upon their return, they attacked the Republic capital of Coruscant and destroyed the Jedi temple. Then the Sith mysteriously sought a treaty, and since then, an uneasy peace has been in place. "But everybody is pretty clear that war is coming again," says lead writer Daniel Erickson. "The players play the next generation coming up."

Players first pick a side, the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. On the Republic side, the choice of roles includes Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler and Trooper; the Sith includes Bounty Hunter, Imperial Agent, Sith Inquisitor and Sith Warrior.