There wasn't much of an opportunity to pick which class you wanted to play upon entering the room where we could PvP; it was more like find an empty seat and we'd play whatever Level 9 or 12 characters available to us. The characters weren't reset each play session, so we noted they would start at Level 9 in the morning and eventually end up gaining enough XP to reach Level 12 towards the end of the day. After sitting down at our stations and queuing for the Warzone, we entered into the shuttle bay of a big cruiser, high above the ground of Alderaan. A blue force field prevented us from prematurely jumping out, and a system message warned us to buff ourselves in preparation for the Warzone that would begin in 60 seconds. After the time passed, speeders appeared in the shuttle bay that would take us down to the battlefield. As we flew down to the ground, additional messages advised us to use the turret controls to shoot down the enemy's capital ship. The more turrets we controlled, the faster we would destroy the enemy ship.
The map in its entirety creates a lot of easy-to-call locations for adjusting play. Republic and Empire players would often yell aloud familiar instructions or commands for other teammates like, "I'm capping east -- cover me while I head to west!" or "They're going mid!" This created a LAN atmosphere where part of the fun of this was having your teammates sitting right next to you, while at the same time yelling across the room to taunt your enemy.
The Warzone had three turret objectives: one on the east side, one on the west side, and one in the center. A three-floor structure with passages both below and above ground surrounded the center turret. Players would jump down from the opposing drop-off points and could either run straight to the middle or to the side turrets.
Naturally, most action took place around the massive center turret, with raised platforms on the west and east with a walkway leading up from the middle. We later discovered that the center turret was actually more powerful than an either one of the side turrets. This surrounding structure played well with tactical strategies. Instead of attacking someone head-on, ranged players could just as easily head to the second story terrace and send blaster fire down on those below without any line of sight problems. This was a maneuver often employed by Smugglers and Imperial Agents that wanted to take advantage of their Cover defense. One could jump to the back of the platform when needing a escape, and it also served as a great way to get the side turrets quickly without having to run all the way back around.
There are a few unique features to the Alderaan Warzone: instead of simply being able to run into the center area from any direction, there are one-way entrances that you can only access from certain directions. Therefore, if you wanted to get to the center turret from the east side, you had to run to the west side of the map and enter from there. If you wanted to circumvent this whole process of running around the map, then you could head for the underground tunnel in the middle, but enemies would often spot you on the way. But if you made it, you'd get to pick up one of the small temporary power-ups scattered around. These temporary player buffs are in fixed locations on throughout the map: a Quad-like buff to the player's damage, a health regeneration buff, and a boost to movement speed. The below ground level allowed a player to travel from one side turret to another while avoiding the constant combat of the center turret, and this is where the speed buff is located.
The range of the map made it feel big, almost too big in my opinion. It took a good two to three minutes to run from one side to the other. I can imagine this being less of a concern if vehicles become available to use in Warzones at a higher level; we were playing as level 10 and 12 characters.
The good thing, though, is that badges helped pace the Warzone better than I initially expected. In other MMOs, while defending an objective or running from one side of the map to the other, players can become bored extremely fast. If you're sitting at an objective for five minutes watching the battle play-out off in the distance, you feel detached, like you're not contributing. Badges help overcome this. Instead of waiting until the end of the Warzone to see your contributions on a scoreboard, you'll be getting instant results through system messages and visual cues of your feats during the battle.
And there is a scoreboard at the end. During the game in the top-right corner of your screen you can see the score of your team and the enemy as they tick down to zero. They represent the hull integrity of your capital ship above, and once it hits zero, then you lose. It also shows who is controlling which turret; this allows for quick-glances instead of opening up your map every time. Elements of the scoreless design are still visible: as the score ticks down, the capital ships can catch fire and chunks of them will fall from the sky as the turrets blast away.
Over the course of San Diego Comic-Con, we were able to play the Bounty Hunter Mercenary, the Jedi Knight Guardian, the Trooper Commando, the Sith Inquisitor Soreceror, and others. The team consensus is all were able to hold their own in PvP combat, and none seemed too unbalanced compared to the others. We're sure there are more tweaks to be made as we approach release, but right now things are looking good.