Monday, 21 November 2011

Jedi Consular Character Progression

With the (likely) last beta weekend, and by far the biggest, slowly drawing to a close we take a look at the Jedi Consular character progression video that BioWare released last Friday. Here is the official news:

As your character grows more powerful, you will see them gain new skills and abilities to complement the superior gear they acquire.

Channeling the power of the Force to give them strength in combat and clarity in diplomacy, Jedi Consulars are respected for their leadership on the battlefield as well as their evenhanded demeanor at the negotiating table. While many devote themselves to uncovering the ancient secrets of the Jedi and use their command of the Force to defend and protect their allies, others use the Force as a means of slipping into the shadows and becoming powerful servants for the Republic.

My, those Jedi Sages sure do get some silly hats. Let's all be imminently thankful for the "hide helmet" option. In general find it hard to get excited by this video at all. The gameplay doesn't look very interesting (the closest it gets to interesting is the Shadow's stealth, but even that doesn't feel that exciting) and the clothing doesn't look very compelling either (large shoulderpads and all). I get that it's difficult to make a healer look that interesting (and I've no issue with robes, quite the contrary), but this video failed to make me excited for the Consular. It failed to make me feel "Yes, I want that", which is a pity. Particularly since I'm still planning to make the Jedi Sage one of my two main classes.

Anyway, with all the beta stuff going on there are a lot of articles to go through again. That and the developer quotes after the break.

First something I kind of did and kind of didn't mention before, something that deserves to be called out in more detail. I've mentioned the Fan Site Summit before (and pretty much just linked to Darth Hater as I wasn't expecting anything new, more's the fool me). But what I missed was a PvP announcement as BioWare showed the fan sites Outlaw's Den, a place for open-world, free-for-all (even within the same faction) PvP. Red Rancor has a writeup; here's an excerpt:

First Rule of Outlaw's Den: There Are No Rules

Outlaw's Den's most prominent characteristic is that it has no rules.  I begin with this because it really defines the look, feel, and purpose of the entire zone.  As a location on Tatooine, players can access Outlaw's Den by normal travel means (whether by foot or mount), but are amply warned that they are entering an area not for the faint of heart.  Those who enter Outlaw's Den become flagged for PvP not only by the opposing faction, but by their own faction as well.  Traditional boundaries of Republic versus Empire are thrown out the window, and anybody is game for your PvP pleasure once you set foot in this lawless place.

That doesn't mean you can't come with allies though.  Anyone in your group, raid, or guild becomes your ally within the zone and you can continue to work together in a team environment to conquer anyone residing within the zone.  In fact, it's in your benefit to be working in tandem with others in order to ensure that you can reside in the area for longer than a fleeting moment--so that you can reap the benefit of the many rewards that await you.

As I've said before, I'm not one for PvP and free-for-all PvP even less so (I have enjoyed the occasional game of Hutball), but this still sounds very good. At least for those that enjoy PvP and though I doubt I'll ever spend much time in Outlaw's Den I'm glad that it's included.

As we're on Outlaw's Den and the Fan Site Summit let's pull out a few articles from Darth Hater as well (which they hadn't posted yet when I made my post last week). I won't pull excerpts from all of them, but they've got articles on Outlaw's Den, Dromund Kaas, Coruscant, Directive 7, and Hammer Station. Here's an excerpt from their Dromund Kaas article:

Players can choose to make their way West either by foot or taxi, though those who choose the former method of travel will encounter some of the first quests available on the planet. Initially, the most striking feature of Dromund Kaas is its lush forests. Surprisingly, these forests comprise nearly eighty percent of the planet’s environment. While this can make the planet feel a bit more open, it also makes it feel a little more confusing and intimidating at the same time. That feeling of “Wait, did I miss something?” prevails here.

I must say that I never really had that feeling. But then again it wasn't until my third time there that I noticed one of the elite areas. And I haven't found a single datacron there, so maybe I should be having that feeling as obviously I'm missing stuff.

But missing stuff might soon be a thing of the past (for those inclined to take that route, as I am at times) as Darth Hater announced their database launch: the Darth Hater DB. This then is, unsurprisingly perhaps, their post-launch plan. Where sites like mine (focusing just on news) will likely fade into obscurity, post-launch it's the database sites that tend to stay around. As such it's perhaps unsurprising that Darth Hater are the only ones starting a database as last week the WoWHead crew started their ToRHead database and the Ten Ton Hammer network announced SWTORHub with it's own database. And I'm sure that there will be more (if there aren't already more).

And no, I have no plans to start a Database Over Endor. Those nasty rebels would just come to blow it up.

I'm completely losing the order I got these articles in, but anyway. To stay with SWTORHub a moment they published two preview articles, one for the Sith Inquisitor and one for the Imperial Agent. Before reading them, do note that the Sith Inquisitor article contains spoilers for the Korriban story and doesn't really clearly mark them as such (and I'm assuming that the Imperial Agent article is the same, but since I want to avoid spoilers I haven't read it). Here's a spoiler-free screenshot from the Inquisitor story showing the pre-order crystal in use: has two articles looking at The Old Republic, Five Things We Love and Five Not So Great Things predictably looking at five things they did and five things they didn't like so much about the game. Here's an excerpt from the latter:

4.) Sidequests

Huh? You’ve heard me go on and on in my previews about The Old Republic’s sidequests, so you might be wondering why this is #4 on this week’s list. Well, it’s true; there are quite a few standout sidequests in Star Wars: The Old Republic. However, I've noticed that a significant amount of the sidequests don’t feel quite right for your character to undertake. For example, as a powerful Sith character you might feel that fetching power converters for someone whose misplaced them in the icy terrain of Hoth is beneath you (and it is), but you’ll end up having to accept it anyway as both the much needed XP and credits are certainly not beneath you. If you do actually reject these quests, your character will often respond in a way that confirms this notion that the task is beneath him, adding a bit of irony.

I'm not sure I agree with them on this point. You see I ran an experiment; I played a Bounty Hunter avoiding any and all side quests on Hutta, Balmorra and Nar Shadaa (I did do most all of them on Dromund Kaas in part because I'd already done them twice before anyway and because I ran into an issue with a class quest elite enemy four levels above my level I couldn't defeat). And though I think I won't be able to complete my next quest on Nar Shadaa (possibly the last class quest there, three levels above my current level and I expect another elite enemy there) I've been doing really well. So I think if you only take about half the sidequests (i.e. avoid those you consider 'beneath you') then you should still do quite well. In chat I've heard people mention that there are so many quests that you'll easily out-level planets, so missing out on a few shouldn't gimp you much. I'm not even sure the credits make that much of a difference.

Over on Kotaku they have a video that offers "an in-depth look at character customization". The video is actually by TotalBiscuit (of Cynical Brit) who I know mainly from his great Guild Wars 2 hands-on playthrough videos. The video is some twenty minutes long and, like all his videos I've seen so far, basically have you seeing someone play it and discover things as he goes (at the same time entertaining and frustrating because you want to yell at the monitor where to look or where he's wrong on an assumption). Here's the video:

Another article up on Kotaku is a hands-on preview of the Bounty Hunter. Here's an excerpt:

Through the use of cinematic cut scenes and BioWare's signature dialog system I was introduced to my crew, a group of well-intentioned support staff on the planet Hutta, looking for a Bounty Hunter with the potential to win a competition called The Great Hunt, catapulting them into fame and fortune. I was their best and brightest hope of realizing this goal. Not one of many, mind you, but the brightest.

That was a worry of mine during my initial forays into the world of The Old Republic. Every class has a single story that all members of the class share. Every Bounty Hunter on the server was experiencing the same story I was, joining up with the same companion character, and facing the same choices I was facing as I advanced through my initial batch of quests. For some reason I thought this would cheapen the experience, but it reality it heightened it. I liken it to Kotaku's Game Club, only instead of playing separately and coming together after the fact, we were all playing the game at once, spontaneously sharing our thoughts and reactions.

I have to agree with Kotaku here. It sounds like a contradiction perhaps, but the fact that you're in a world full of people all playing the same story doesn't detract from the fact that the story makes your character feel special. It is, perhaps, the same as a single player game in that respect. You know hundreds of thousands of others are playing the same game and experiencing the same story, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it still feels like it revolves around you/your character.

Over on IGN they have a preview article titled "Ship Combat in The Old Republic" though despite the title it's less about ship combat and more about your ship in general (including combat). Here's an excerpt:

Having a ship unlocks a few options. It lets you travel off-world and for the first time truly explore the galaxy. When you board the ship, you can access a galaxy map that lets you hop between the arrival stations of high level zones and other territories, giving you a sense of how big the world is, and also how much space can be filled in with post-launch content and questing areas. You don't actually fly the ship around between locations – you pick a point of interest on your map and are transported automatically – and in the process are treated to some cool effects. By looking out the cockpit window you'll see the stars turn to streaks as you speed through space, and watch as your destination planet zooms into view as you enter into orbit. It's all a fast process so not much time is wasted, and though you're confined to the ship during the process, it's still an impressive effect.

I have to agree on it being a neat effect. The first time I sat in my captain's chair (yes, you can actually sit in the chairs in your ship's cockpit), picked a destination and saw the ship going to warp through the windows was one of those definite 'wow' moments.

Another potential WoW moment, in a completely different sense, is that analysts have downgraded Activision Blizzard stock because they expect it to lose over a million subscribers to The Old Republic. Here's the main part of the news:

The global launch the Star Wars MMO could trigger a mass-exodus of World of Warcraft subscribers, according to new analyst data.

Lazard Capital Markets has downgraded Activision Blizzard’s stock from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ after a recent survey found that more than half of existing World of Warcraft subscribers have grown tired of the game.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with Peanut Labs, polled 381 online customers and found that 50 per cent plan to buy EA’s The Old Republic. Another 38 per cent declared an interest.

Lazard Capital Markets calculated the data, along with considerations to increased competition, to conclude that World of Warcraft could lose between 900,000 to 1.6 million players following the launch of The Old Republic in December.

It does also note that a third of players said that they would re-subscribe when the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW releases. Either way though, that's a lot of people. That number alone would make TOR a success (never mind people like myself who don't play WoW or don't play it anymore and are getting TOR).

Another article that agrees that The Old Republic is in good shape is incgamers' "The Force is strong in Star Wars: The Old Republic". An excerpt:

I don't play MMOs; I half-play them. I sit down, stretch out, put on a DVD, and then log in. My concentration is usually divided: unless there's a difficult dungeon to conquer or a fun-looking quest that demands I sit up and pay attention, I generally prefer to do two things at once when I'm massively multiplaying (online). MMOs are almost defined by a lot of grinding and a lot of repetition, and those are two things that do not require my full brain.

If there's one hugely encouraging thing I can say about Star Wars: The Old Republic, it's that I haven't wished for a DVD box set while I've been playing.

Expectations are unfairly high for this game. Even my most sober, non-MMO playing friends have been intrigued, and some of the rhetoric being thrown around borders on the absurd. How can any game possibly live up to this level of anticipation?

Um... quite well, as it turns out.

I can't say that I play MMOs only half, but maybe it's because of that that I tend to get bored with them quickly. Then again, if I do something I want to give it my full attention be that playing a game, watching tv, reading a book or writing a blog post.

Which brings us to two preview videos up on The first is another decidedly amateurish-feeling "Game Face" video; I don't think I'll watch any more of those videos. The other one is a bit better, a first impressions video by Ripper X (who loves to remind people that he is Ripper X):

I found that quite entertaining.

Finally a video from Eurogamer where they talk through the beta, and the early gameplay experience as they play. Unfortunately I haven't found a way to embed the video, so you'll have to watch it at the link if you're interested.

And that's it for now, leaving just the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Allison Berryman on avoiding spoilers FAQ.
  • [link] to James Ohlen on Legacy System.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on Legacy System.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on Legacy System.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on VIP Lounge.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on keybinding.
  • [link] to Amber Green on beta invites.
  • [link] to Amber Green on website maintenance.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on IP blocking.
  • [link] to Amber Green on IP blocking.
  • [link] to Amber Green on website maintenance, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug, part 3 on .
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug, part 4.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug, part 5.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on RSVP Loop Bug, part 6.
  • [link] to David Bass on undiscovered colors.
  • [link] to Courtney Woods on Finalizing Guilds.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on logins disabled.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on logins re-enabled.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on security questions.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on official email.

Beyond the Legacy System quotes (which I already highlighted last week) it all seems to be just customer support type posts so nothing really worth bringing out. So that's really the end of it for now then.

[link] to Outlaw's Den preview at Red Rancor.
[link] to Outlaw's Den preview at Darth Hater.
[link] to Dromund Kaas preview at Darth Hater.
[link] to Coruscant preview at Darth Hater.
[link] to Directive 7 preview at Darth Hater.
[link] to Hammer Station preview at Darth Hater.
[link] to Darth Hater DB at Darth Hater.
[link] to ToRHead database at ToRHead.
[link] to SWTORHub database at SWTORHub.
[link] to Sith Inquisitor preview (spoilers) at SWTORHub.
[link] to Imperial Agent preview (spoilers?) at SWTORHub.
[link] to top-5 article at MMORPG.
[link] to bottom-5 article at MMORPG.
[link] to character customization video at Kotaku.
[link] to Bounty Hunter preview at Kotaku.
[link] to ship preview article at IGN.
[link] to Blizzard stock news at Develop.
[link] to preview article at incgamers.
[link] to Game Face video at MMORPG.
[link] to Ripper X video at MMORPG.
[link] to talkthroguh preview video at Eurogamer.

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