Star Wars: The Old Republic Previews, Interviews, and Screenshots

With the embargo now lifted, a wave of new coverage from a recent Star Wars: The Old Republic UK press event has made its way to the Internet. The Bounty Hunter class seems to have been the primary focus...

We start with a preview at GameSpot:
Though BioWare is not talking about Rattataki race-specific attributes yet, the bounty hunter's special abilities--at lowly level six, at least--were laid out for us. The bounty hunter is The Old Republic's gadgeteer class; we played as a male Rattataki bounty hunter, packing the basic arsenal of bounty hunter toys. These included rapid shots, as well as missile blast and rail shots. We also had shocking electro darts and the obligatory flamethrower attack. At the other end of the toolbar sat "recharge and reload," a gradual health and mana restorative akin to eating or drinking in World of Warcraft. This was accompanied with an animation of the bounty hunter tuning up his or her jetpack and flamethrower.

We started out in the palace-cum-cantina home of Nem'ro the Hutt, who issued us a quest to eliminate his nemesis, the leader of a nearby Evocii village. Not only did he want us to bring back his head, but he also wanted us to thin out the ranks of Evocii guardians and scouts along the way--four of one and 10 of the other--in classic MMORPG fashion. Leaving Nem'ro's palace (home to a handful of chatty non-player characters and a Mos Eisley-style cantina band), we headed for the quest waypoints on our map, passing through the settlement of Jigunna. This was a hub with vendors and a medical bay, which formed part of the starting area for bounty hunters and imperial agents. It was sparsely populated as we played, though we're told the non-player population will be expanded for a more bustling hub area. As previously seen, environments and character models were attractive, though not excessively fancy, with strong colouring and an authentic Star Wars art style on their side.

Then we jump to Eurogamer for another preview:
Decent attacks - the knockdown area-of-effect Missile Blast, and channelled Flame Thrower - all accumulate heat, and once your guage is full, you're stuck with phaser fire and the longer cooldown attacks like the paralysing Electro Dart, and the hugely damaging, but conditional Rail Shot. (To fire the rail shot, your target must be stunned, sleeping, or on fire). Our final move is the desperate Vent Heat, which can cool you down once a minute, and give you a chance to deal some heavy damage again.

The mobs aren't challenging - if you've read anything about TOR, you'll be aware that Lucasarts and BioWare's interpretation of heroism is to allow you to fight multiple regular mobs with only one eye to your HP. But once I do confront Huttsbane, I'm given the option to not fight, and take the head of another Evocii in his place. Bounty Hunters have three role-playing options - efficient, merciless, and sympathetic - and just like Mass Effect, the soppier options are delivered with in-character cynicism.

Moving on, Eurogamer also has some information on the game's newly revealed advanced classes:
The first Advanced Classes to be revealed are those for the Sith Warrior. Choosing Juggernaut will shape this warrior into a tough, damage-soaking tank class, while the Marauder is all about channelling rage and maximising damage output.

Looking at the first exclusive screens of the two, it looks like the Juggernaut will feature the heavy body-modifications of Darth Vader, while the Marauder will be able ape Darth Maul's twin-lightsaber fighting style.

The Galactic Struggle also has a preview:
Most of the stuff we saw was still work in progress and some ideas might not make the final cut of the game. The developers are trying out lots of new ideas that are either '˜borrowed' from other MMOs or something that they have created themselves. Amongst traditional Amour/Weapon vendors, we noticed '˜Speeder vendors' but they werent actually selling Speeders. Instead they appeared to be some sort of taxi service that might put you on a hired speeder bike/transporter and guide you to your chosen Taxi stop. If you think of how the flight masters work in WoW, this is probably how Bioware see this working (IF it stays in the game).

We also saw some kind of personal shuttle device, that might be able to call a shuttle to your location and whisk you away to a different part of the planet, or a new planet altogether but it's clear that transportation is being taken seriously but how the general mechanics behind how it will work, are yet to be revealed.

Next, we pay a visit to Strategy Informer for an interview with lead writer Daniel Erickson:
Strategy Informer: One of Bioware's commitments with TOR is that they want to completely voice the entire game. Now I know with Dragon Age, that wasn't voiced as much as, say, Mass Effect because of concerns over the size of the game etc... TOR I assume is going to be even bigger though, which will mean a butt load of sound bites - how will that impact on the game?

Daniel Erickson: It is huge, yes. I actually worked on Dragon Age, and there were a number of things there. When we did the Origin stories on Dragon Age, we thought "Oh my god, this is so much fun", we could really tailor this experience and make it unique. Then we thought, well what if we could do this for a whole game? (TOR) But again, massively expensive, and no one is going to let you do that for Single Player game, no matter the replay value.

But with an MMO, it's different, so we're able to go the extra mile with the voice acting. So you have character class stories, which are completely unique, and then you have faction stories as well, and this is something people have trouble getting their heads around - there is zero repeated content. IF you play through as a Jedi Knight, and then re-roll a Sith Warrior, there will not be one repeated line or repeated content. This makes it a huge project, it's like a year's worth of voice recording, with studios all over the world.

LucasArts is actually handling all of that because they have the most experience with it, getting thousands of people together to do Star Wars, but yeah it's still a huge undertaking.

Mass Effect actually came out when we were still very early in the project, when we didn't think we were going to do player VO. Our whole thing has been about trying to be a real Star Wars hero, feeling like you're in the movies. Mass Effect changed everything about what being a hero meant, because for the first time you were looking at Shepard, and not the people around him. He had the best lines, he was actually the character people connected to the most, and at that point we pitched up to Lucas and EA and said "Hey, we'd like to do this really insane thing..." and we used demos of both ways, and what the resources will be, but everybody signed on... and then of course we had to go back and re-write everything we had just written, because obviously you do things different with VO.

VG247 has also posted an interview, though it's with executive producer Jake Neri:
There are a lot of MMORPGs out there, so what makes Old Republic so special? What does it bring to the table that others don't?

Jake Neri: Well, in Lucas Arts and Bioware, you have two companies very passionate about the story we are trying to tell. We have a fully voiced experience in that every character in the game will be fully voiced and this really adds to the immersion for the players.

Star Wars also adds a tremendous amount in that it is one of the most recognized brands globally, and when you mix that with what Bioware does best, like the combat which is very fast paced and tries to make you feel like a hero early on, instead of making you wait until you are a high level.

A number of these things are really going to resonate with people and I think that once people get a chance to play it they are really going to like what they are playing.

We take it very seriously how the game looks in the eyes of our fans, and we will continue to take this very seriously.

And, finally, NowGamer has a several minute video interview with lead writer Daniel Erickson. Topics include the light side/dark side system, how they're going to handle the game's server structure, how each class is exposed to 100% different content, and much more.  You'll find some new screenshots amid the articles above, too.