BioWare's showing of Star Wars: The Old Republic was grand on promises, but offered little in the way of actual new content except an interesting hands-on look Hero mission coming later this year.
QUICKTAKE: The focus of BioWare's E3 presentation this year was about all the grand things they had planned through the end of 2012--from the new planet of Makeb, taken over by the Hutt Cartel, through a new 8v8 war zone on Selene, to a new playable race called the Cathar. Unfortunately, what was missing was any actual footage or gameplay aside from the quickest of cuts in the E3 trailer. What was shown was a small snippet from a new heroic mission, where players must thwart the Dread Masters from getting control of a super weapon called the Aurora Cannon on the planet of Belsavis.
BOOM video 12964THE DEMO: The demo was hands-on for four people chosen from the attendees at a behind-closed-doors showing of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The mission was on the planet of Belsavis and required the players--in the traditional roles of tank, healer and two support classes--to stop the Dread Masters from activating a super weapon called the Aurora Cannon.
The players, who had never played together before, were able to make it through the first several mobs in the level, using crowd control and the tank on the heaviest hitting mobs, while the support classes took out the lesser trash. In one interesting spot, the players activated an energy bridge, only to deactivate it when mobs started running across towards them, sending them plummeting to their deaths. The players were only able to get through three or four encounters like that before they wiped, and no bosses were shown or other specific mechanics.
THE DETAILS: Sadly, there weren't many details other than bullet points of what will be coming later in the year. It was revealed that the 1.3 Allies update was going into public beta today, and that server transfers for character will begin soon, but very few other specifics were revealed.
The laundry list of upcoming additions included a new HK-51 assassination droid companion--with an all new personality program--will be unlocked for all players through completion of a set of quests. There's a new operation called Terror From Beyond, where the Dread Masters have opened some ancient gates and let some crazy huge creatures through. Plus there'll be a new 8v8 war zone on the planet of Selene, a new playable cat-like race called the Cathar, and an all-new planet called Makeb, which has the Hutt cartel as its new masters.
The new planet will have quite a bit of new content and story, which will require a higher level cap and new abilities, but again, no details were released and no specific dates were given. However, if BioWare keeps up with its current cycle of an update every three months, that would put 1.3 out in July, with any combination of the above mentioned features in the October time frame.
The new HK-51 assassination droid companion
John Keefer is a curmudgeon that has been in journalism for 35 years, the last 16 in the video games industry. He loves real-time strategy games and prefers old-school Total Annihilation to StarCraft. He also loves isometric RPGs, and has been addicted to World of Warcraft for more than 10 years. He sucks at shooters and multiplayer and is purely a PC guy. And being a former member of Shack, he also likes Chatty. Go figure.