BioWare's Gabe Amatangelo finished off the first day of the Fan Site Summit with a presentation of Star Wars: The Old Republic's PVP aspects such as the Voidstar Warzone and the Ilum open world PVP zone. In an effort to convey a few of the highlights, we consolidated our impressions of the talk after the jump.
What we now know as the Voidstar was vaguely described as an "assault-type Warzone" at the Jedi Immersion Day last year. Assault type maps aren't exactly unknown to the competitive FPS or MMORPG communities, and there is a common expectation of how they should work. As far as SWTOR is concerned, assault works exactly how you would expect it to.
At the start of the round, defending players ride a speeder through the Warzone giving them an overview of the objectives. This serves as a useful introduction to players new to the Warzone; they get a general sense of the overall map layout, noting locations of objectives points as well as power-ups. On the other side, attackers prepare behind virtual childproof safety gates waiting for the timer to count down while watching the opposing side setup to defend the two points.
The main objective points are tiered off to separate each section of the Warzone, and the attackers must reach a central computer in order to win the match. Due to the way they are split up into two's, it should effectively split the defenders in half and hinder turtle tactics. However, the timing for bomb planting on the doors seemed rather long; once the bomb is set, the time of the subsequent explosion is rather short. Unfortunately, Amatangelo did not demonstrate how long it takes to disarm the bombs themselves.
Once one of the two doors is gone, the door on the other side opens automatically allowing any excess players on that side to continue to the next objective. Aside from the door objectives, there are also bridges that players can activate by clicking on them - once activated, players can cross the bridge or get thrown off of it with fatal results. During the activation process, the player using the controls is graced with a beacon of light (or death) marking the person. Defenders can hinder the progression of the opposing side by taking quick action to kill the marked player. There are also various points throughout the map that Imperial Agents and Smugglers can take advantage of by using the high ground. I am excited to see how that works out for Agents and Smugglers both post launch.
Once both sides reach the end of the Warzone, they fight to either hold or capture a main computer on the ship. If the attackers succeed in taking the computer, the round ends and the teams switch sides. If the time allotted for the Warzone elapses before the attackers take the final objective point, it ends and sides switch. As like most assault modes of this type, the side with the lowest time of completion wins.
Overall, it seemed like an interesting PVP scenario. There are a few things like the size of it that make it seem a little daunting for an 8v8 but it might be a lack of having a true hands on with the Warzone. We both came away feeling good about how it is shaping up and look forward to play it at launch.
If there is one that is going to be hard to explain completely, it is Ilum. There is a lot that is still shrouded in mystery but it is a lot clearer than it was yesterday thanks to the presentation. Gabe started by showing off some of the capture points players can control, such as turrets that you can click to use. These turrets have a decreasing channel time that periodically fires a large bolt of energy down range. Turrets can also be destroyed by the other team, so players defending while using them should take note of this.
As the presentation progressed, Gabe displayed the several objective areas players will need to take as they continue to the opposing faction's base on the other end of the zone. Both sides will collide in the middle of the map where the objectives are for players to complete along the way. Each objective area has its own unique style of objective to capture. To progress the map, players have to take out the opposing side's walkers with a rocket launcher. The rocket launcher has quite a lengthy amount of time to lock on before the rocket actually launches at the targeted walker. During this time, a red light surrounds the player who attempts to use the rocket launcher and looks similar to the way the color loot system works today. This allows the opposing faction to easily find the person they need to target on a chaotic battlefield.
Once the rocket hits the targeted walker, it destroys it in one hit. Throughout the map, there are areas that you can use to avoid the walkers all together or use to flank the opposing faction. These areas are primarily valleys that surround some of the major objective points in the middle of the map. Once one of the sides takes down the opposing side's walkers, transport ships will drop walkers to progress the battle.
There are also several other non-controllable turrets that players can destroy in the same manner as the walkers. When the bigger turrets are destroyed, a swarm of bombers bombard the opposing faction's base. As the factions progress the objectives, quests count down the time in which they have to complete the battle before the objectives re-spawn. Players will have to make use of the momentum they gain when capturing the objectives because it appears that it can quickly turn in favor of the other faction. Gabe did mention during the Q&A that there is a limit to the amount of people that can be in this zone, but it is not one that they expect the area to reach. How the zone limit interacts with balance and server populations is a big, unanswered question.
There is still much to learn, but from what we saw, it looks like Ilum is progressing well. The only thing we could possibly nitpick about is that it felt a little sterile, but what they showed was really really early, so we're sure BioWare will have it polished before launch.