Once the Hope trailer was finished we were reminded about the many facts we already know about Star Wars: The Old Republic (fully voiced, heroic combat, cover system, and of course story). He finished his recap with the very Yoda like statement, "Story drives choice; choice drives action." Now that the old news was covered, Blaine turned his focus to the first new reveal: player ships.
We learned that these ships will work as a base of operations for players as they travel across the galaxy. The two examples we were shown are the Sith Fury class Imperial transport and Jedi Corellian Vanguard class light corvette, with multiple screenshots of their spacious interiors. The Sith Fury in particular appears to be the same vessel used by Teneb Kel in the Blood of the Empire webcomic.These ships are very similar to the Ebon Hawk in Knights of the Old Republic, with multiple rooms and companion characters milling about. However, TOR is a multiplayer game and Blaine was quick to point out that these ships will also be a place where you can interact with your fellow PCs.
These ships were enormous, dwarfing the PCs standing outside of the entrance ramp. In a nod to true immersion, the outside of the ships appeared to be large enough to hold the rooms within. The apparent 1 to 1 scale in the images could do wonders to aid in immersion and is looking very promising.
Moving away from the new ships, Blaine reminded us that TOR is a massively multiplayer game and, "yes, we're going to have an incredible story, but we also have all the key elements that make a great MMO experience." With this stated, he moved on to talk about player progression and customization; or more correctly, he showed us. With a mixture of stills and recorded footage, we saw a male Bounty Hunter progress from a weak noob with simple gear and only minor armor to a mid-level character with advanced armor and a jetpack and finally a full fledged veteran in complex armor with all the visual bells and whistles to match. He finished up the focus on player advancement by stating that these many sets of armor were only a, "small slice of the many customizations available."
Continuing this focus on MMO tropes, Blaine moved on to the new PVP Warzones revealed during the EA press conference. We learned these Warzones are specially crafted areas designed for team versus team battles between the Sith and Republic. We were shown multiple stills of the Alderaan zone with player abilities filling the shots with particle effects. These Warzones were presented as distinct zones that are separate from the persistent Alderaan world map.
With these reveals out of the way, Blaine drove on to a live group combat demo. This combat demo consisted of a Republic group of four players, with each team member being one of the Republic classes. We were also told that each of these players would be filling a specific role for the demo. Kako the Jedi Consular acted as the group's healer, Evan the Trooper acted as the tank, Lylora the Smuggler acted as both a crowd controller and back up healer, and Wynn the Jedi Knight acted as DPS and secondary tank.
After getting a briefing from a Mon Calamari commanding officer we learned that this group of players represented Havoc squad, implying this quest was a Trooper specific mission. Sith forces were boarding their Republic vessel and it was up to the players to keep the boarders at bay. The ensuing battle was an interesting mix of the single boss battles seen in other MMOs and the multiple weak-target combat we have seen in older TOR media. The Trooper, being the tank of the group, focused on engaging the larger targets while the agile Jedi Knight cut a swath through the smaller mobs threatening the group. On the other hand, the Smuggler and Consular were kept on their toes by controlling adds, assisting in burning down mobs, and healing their beefy counterparts.
Each class filled their niche in uniquely un-MMO ways. The Trooper held the attention of the larger mobs, but also appeared to do massive damage; this meat shield had spikes. The Consular did a great deal of healing but also had her lightsaber in hand, helping out with the overall damage. The Smuggler was safely hiding behind cover filling multiple rolls: including crowd control, damage, and healing. Finally, the Jedi Knight hammered down on the smaller mobs but also acted as a tank when a Sith "Lieutenant" ran around the corner, red lightsaber in hand. Each class appeared to fill not only a primary roll in the group, but also a secondary roll, making the combat appear versatile and dynamic.
As the last enemy fell, Blaine concluded the presentation and we prepared to get some hands on time with game. He left us with the following sentiment, "Star Wars: The Old Republic is an amazing MMO that offers players engaging choices that actually change the action and story of the game." Marketing message received Mr. Christine, now lets go make some decisions.