PAX 09: Star Wars The Old Republic Impressions

On Sunday morning, instead of standing in line to view the exhibition hall for the 3rd day in a row, Five and I lined up for The Old Republic demonstration. This was the second demo of The Old Republic at PAX this year. We didn't go to the Saturday demo because we figured it would be too crowded and didn't want to stand in line forever. Sunday was much more laid back.

During the Saturday demo, Bioware announced the release of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic on Steam. The also announced that everyone watching the demo will receive a full copy of the game! This was also true for the Sunday crowd! So, it's installing on my computer right now.

Story

Star Wars The Old Republic is a story-driven MMORPG. Every MMO these days has a story but no one gives a shit. When I talked with NPCs in World of Warcraft, I just clicked through the conversation and didn't read a single thing. Who cares, really? What they say might be interesting, but it's all text and presented in a way that I don't care a single bit. Especially when my friends have already started running down the trail, and I can't read that fast.

But it's not important for how the game is played. What that NPC says bears no difference and how I kill the enemies he wants me to. He should just say, "go to this dungeon and kill this boss."

Bioware says the story in an RPG is key and it should be no different for MMORPGs. This sounds incredibly ambitious, since it has never happened before. It also ambitious to make an MMO period, because World of Warcraft owns that space. Why compete with the most successful MMO in history?

Online

Because they aren't. In fact, thinking of The Old Republic in terms of an MMO skews the basic perception of this game. The reason story will work in The Old Republic is because it's an RPG first.

They've basically made a single player RPG with the core focus of story and conversation in all Bioware games, but made it multiplayer. Instead of making a party of NPCs, those NPCs are now your friends or other player characters. And Instead of one party member hosting the game, it's all on a single server that everyone plays on.

You'll run into everyone else playing through their story. And since The Old Republic has many branching story paths and a morality system you are judged by, the world and story will be shaped by the things that you do and things that people you play with do. So, it'll be different (to a degree) for everyone.

The Old Republic is really just KOTOR Online, but everyone is playing it at once. Plus there's PVP and an economy and item crafting. All the fun of an MMORPG has been squished into the KOTOR universe.

Thoughts

Thinking of The Old Republic is those terms makes me think that it will succeed in its promise to bring story to an MMO. Because they're actually just bringing the MMO space to a story, which is the right way to approach it. I was intrigued with the idea to begin with, but now I'm all for it. I definitely plan on giving The Old Republic a try. ^_^

The Old Republic is schedule for release in 2010 on the PC. Hopefully, my computer can play it.




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