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Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent Spoilers from Buffed

Discussion in 'SWTOR Discussion' started by TeHpUmKinKiNg, Apr 22, 2011.

  1. TeHpUmKinKiNg

    TeHpUmKinKiNg OMG Member

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    The German site posted a lengthy article about the recent event- I hope you enjoy!


    SW:TOR


    The eagerly awaited online roleplaying game closes in to release. The community is nervous and discusses fundamental topics: how good is the new mmo really?


    Can TOR with its story focus, full VO and the Star Wars license defy top dog WoW? This is the central question that moves the community. Anticipated for the second half of 2011, no later than beginning of 2012. Expectations rise because renowned software forge Bioware is the developer. So far the public had only brief access to the game. One time the press could complete a few quests in a starting zone, then take a quick look into the first instance. Screenshots and videos barely scratch the surface on the official website. A complete picture was nowhere to be found. This is now over! Bioware threw their appetizer strategy over board and finally gave us the opportunity to spend 2 whole days in a galaxy far, far away. And this trip to Austin, TX, where the developer studio resides, was well worth it.


    Beginning of a legend


    At the beginning of the event Daniel Erickson gave a briefing to the only 7 journalists(from USA, UK, France and Germany) in attendance. A quick overview of what we could expect: We will start as a Bounty Hunter or Imperial Agent at level 1 and can advance as far as we could, in 2 days. In addition a PVP session in the Alderaan Warzone with level 20 characters was planned! For the first time players would meet other players on an instanced battlefield, more on this later. At the end of the briefing we changed into a room with 8 PCs. On the left side 4 PCs which awaited the first mission of the Imperial Agent, on the right side Bounty Hunters stood at the ready. We decided us for the Bounty Hunter for hire. The adventure of Boba Fett's ancestor being on the Planet Nal Hutta, homeworld of the Hutts, a kind of giant, criminal slug, their trade is thieving and murder. A group of experienced NPC-Bounty Hunters took us in as a junior associate. Braden, the leader, is convinced that we have what it takes to take part in the "Great Hunt. This is not a weekend trip with the goal to blast a few Womprats. The great hunt is organized by Mandalorians, a nomadic warrior cult made up of many different species. As diverse the Mandalorians are in appearance as unified are they to produce the greatest warrior of the galaxy. The so called "Mand'alor. To find recruits with enough potential they stage the great hunt. At the end of the Bounty Hunter main story one has the chance to become a member of the glorious Mandalorians. But it is just one possibility and not a given. Here TOR differs from most MMOs, who offer every player only one outcome. If you're becoming a Mandalorian or "just another successful Bounty Hunter dependes on your many choices you make during the game.


    Merciless opponent


    Back on Nal Hutta the long trip to the maximum level 50 begins. According to developers this usually takes 200 hours. At the moment we are a young up and coming Bounty Hunter who completes contracts for the slimy Hutt-Boss Nem'ro. A competitor massacres almost our entire crew. Only the beautiful human female Mako survived the cowardly attack. Since the crew was her surrogate family she's out for revenge. This presents the player with a problem: the rules of the great hunt state that one cannot kill a direct competitor. The murder of your crew: the humanoid named Tarro Blood, is in the great hunt as well. One has to decide: career or revenge? Your choice also influences the loyalty of your NPC-companion. Similar to Mass Effect, Dragon Age or Kotor you collect several of these over the course of the game and take them along with you on missions. Although in TOR you will only be able to take one along with you on missions. If you take care of your relationships with your companions, he, she (or it) will stay loyal to you and even open up new quests. Act against their wills, ie refuse to kill Tarro Blood and the beautiful Mako might leave you. A much felt loss since she is a very effective healer.


    Helper with independence


    Overall companions are first class supporter for solo gamers and groups alike. One the one side it is possible to quest as a tank or healer, while your companion jumps into a supporting role. This way you are not forced to spend the leveling phase as a damage dealer, which is usual for most MMOs. On the other side a companion can fill the place of a missing player in a group. A 4 player instance, in TOR called Flashpoints, can be done by only 2 players, the empty slots can be filled by 2 companions. The companions can't just be set to stances like "healing and "dps but use special abilities automatically or via hotkeys and the user interface as well. Your NPC-comrade can be completely equipped. Gloves, boots, pants or weapons, every slot can be filled with items you gather in quests or you bought. In addition vendors offer skills for companions. Compared to the usual MMO-pet the TOR companions are much more complex and almost as strong in a fight as players. They also do hated jobs like the gathering of resources or the selling of grey items as well. One click in the companion menu and they go off to do your dirty work.


    The end of the beginning


    Nal Hutta is the starting zone of the Bounty Hunter and the Imperial Agent. While Agents work undercover as gangsters to infiltrate the criminal organization of the Hutts, the Bounty Hunter is working on standing in of Nem'ro the Hutt's good graces so he will sponsor you in the great hunt. When Nem'ro's enemies are of no concern anymore the real adventure begins: the long awaited passage to the imperial capital world of Dromund Kaas opens up. Here the Bounty Hunter Guild has their headquarters. The travel to Dromund Kaas can be done via 2 different options. Either you fly via shuttle directly or you can take a special imperial transporter into an instanced adventure, a so called flashpoint. This adventure can be done only by groups of at least 2 players with 2 companions. Once on board a droid is asking for your attention. His master, a lord of the sith, is offering you a mission: make your way to the bridge and make the captain attack a republican cruiser. The mission is delicate because officially there is a truce between the empire and the republic. The captain opposes the order because he is convinced that the imperial transporter is no match for the cruiser of the republic. But the sith lord is unrelenting, on the enemy ship is an imperial defector, who must be eliminated.


    Classic combat system?


    First your way leads away from the bridge, which is manned by imperials loyal to the captain. The fights progress like in any other MMO: you select a target, activate a ability and your stats decide whether the attack hits and how much damage the target takes. Although the fighting animations are much more dynamic than they are in standard MMOs. Instead of standing in front of each other, swinging an axe, Jedi parry blaster bolts and Bounty Hunters fire rockets which knock back all enemy in the targeted area. The reasons why steps towards a more active control like in Star Wars The Force Unleashed weren't taken are explained by lead combat designer Georg Zller: "The more aspects that are put into a game, the bigger the risk of it not working as intended We contemplated exactly in which branches of the game we wanted innovation and in which we don't. And especially for the combat system we decided against a complete change of the mechanics. Experiments yes, but in margins is the motto of Bioware. With the dialog system and a fully voiced MMO enough new frontiers have been entered.


    Murder or mercy?


    Dialog and the resulting choices are big challenges for the developers when players are grouped up: a digital throw of the dice decides who can give an answer and decide the course of the group's story. But what about other group member who wanted to make a different choice? Since the choice directly influences the standing a player has with his/her companions? Bioware's solution is not elegant but effective: The dice throw in the instance decides the dialog options. But every player can pick his own options which morally count for them and their companions. One example: as Bounty Hunter we decide to let the captain live, while the grouped up Imperial Agent wants to order his death. The agent wins the dice throw and in a cut scene draws his blaster and kills the unruly captain. Our companion Mako honors our try to exact mercy and acknowledges in her reaction our decision not to kill the captain. Thus our relationship with her improves. For the rest of the flashpoint the captain is dead and his first officer is in charge of the ship.


    Ready to board!


    After we defended our ship against republican boarding parties we jump ship and take a shuttle to get to the enemy ship. The final boss: a Jedi Padawan who protects the defector stands in our way. A force user against two regular mortals, is that fight even winnable? Of course! Not every Jedi and not every Sith are masters of their trade. And how well a Bounty Hunter fairs against even an experienced force wielder can be seen in Episode 2. Here Jango Fett proved that he could weather an encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Our quartet of Bounty Hunter, Imperial Agent and companions are more than a match for the single Jedi Padawan. Though the lightsaber takes huge chunks of health points off our Bounty Hunter, we get healed from Mako and the Agent. Once the Jedi is finally one with the force we confront the the defector: a chubby, old general, with scattered with war wounds and prosthetics. Under pressure he confesses: he saw a terrible weapon under construction by the Empire. To keep the galaxy in balance he wanted to warn the republic. But now we have the choice to execute him on the spot or take him prisoner and give him to the Sith Lord. "He's not worth much dead we think and decide to arrest him. The IA wants to make short work of him but we win the roll und give the prisoner to the Sith and collect our credits. The way to Dromund Kaas is free.


    The Imperial Center


    Once on the homeworld of the Sith Empire Dromund Kaas show it's best side: lightning storms reign in the sky, the jungles full of bloodthirsty monstrosities, in between loyal imperial troops which serve a renegade Sith Lord. Who uses methods, which are too much even for the Empire, to develop new weapon systems. A perfect scenario for a BH out to make a few credits and make a name for himself. Slowly the quests get harder. Next to classic solo missions we discover "heroic labeled areas in which quests for groups take place. Nobody should go there on their own. We want to advance our story and visit the Bounty Hunter guild HQ. And prove ourselves worthy to take part in the great hunt. But before we can do that we must complete 3 tasks: one of them is to complete a murder for an imperial Admiral. The target: his own daughter!


    Paid killer


    The daughter is apprentice to the renegade SIth Lord and refuses to leave her master. That would disgrace the whole family and plunge them into despair. That is why she must die. So we fight our way through the defense ring into the heart of the enemy base. In a remote room we meet the young Sith. When she sees us she only mocks us. Only a mighty Sith Lord or a mighty Jedi master, on a good day, has a chance to best her in combat. Not a rotten mercenary like us. After a short fight we convinced her of the opposite and on her knees she is begging for her life. Now we have 3 choices: take her prisoner, killing her painless and killing her cruel. We decide us for the professional way and raise our blaster "Close your eyes. I'll make it quick. When we report our success to the Admiral he turns away in disgust. "Here are your credits! And now leave! You understand that I cannot bear to see the face of the murderer of my daughter any longer. We answer cool: "Then you should avoid mirrors for the future. And leave the broken man. Class quests like these are usually instanced. A green or red light over an entrance indicate if you can enter or not. If there are players in your group from other classes they can accompany you. This way it can be avoided that a four men team of Bounty Hunters plow through the storyline. If you are alone that's not a problem. Class quests can be solod.


    The great hunt begins


    Once all 3 tasks are completed we achieved the right to compete in the great hunt. But we are not alone. There are competitors, like our arch nemesis Tarro Blood, who got accepted as well. But another problem presents itself: how do we reach all the exotic places in the galaxy?


    A spaceship is the answer to that question. But where do you get one without many credits? Our budget is not enough so we act as a starship thief in our last quest on Dromund Kaas. With blaster, rockets and flamethrower we make our way through a hangar and enter our D5 Mantis patrol ship for the first time, a sturdy, slightly older spacer. Inside we meet the droid PO-12, whose voice reminds us of C-3PO. He is our second companion who we can take with us on ground missions. But he's not made for combat he quickly adds. I wonder if he's any good as a protocol droid or even slicer? Quickly we make our way to the bridge where a hologram of the galaxy awaits us. Now everything is open to us. First stop: sunny Tatooine


    This concluded our play session. We left Nal Hutta, explored Dromund Kaas, got our first spaceship, reached level 15 und finally compete in the great hunt. With suspense we await the Beta, when we finally get to know how the story will continue, which dangerous monsters and enemies await our Bounty Hunter. When will the Beta begin? Only Bioware knows that and doesn't want to give up that information (yet). But if TOR releases at the end of the year an open Beta should start in the middle of the year. First clues speak for that, since March it is possible to create guild at swtor.com


    PVP: Civil War on Alderaan


    Gripping scenario


    A bloody civil war wages on Alderaan. The game mechanic is a classic domination map: the tactical points must be captured. The longer at least 2 are held by one faction, the stronger the enemy ship gets bombarded until it is destroyed.


    Solid level design


    One spawns at one of 3 spawn points. There you make your way on foot to the controls of the anti-air canon: one is placed central, the other two are positioned at the flanks left and right. The 8 player team must decide which points to capture and defend.


    This is how it feels



    The combat system doesn't differ too much from regular MMOs, the fights feel more like action though. Tanks have their right to be in the fight just as much as Healers and damage dealers do. They have the ability to protect a target with their "Guard ability intercepting 50%of the damage


    What is to come



    Although only one warzone has been announced and showed so far. Developers state that there will be several more how built on usual pvp mechanic like capture the flag, conquest or domination.


    Interview Georg Zller



    Q: why did you decide do settle with a traditional combat system and didn't pursue a more active one like dc universe online for instance?


    A: that is because we have a lot of innovation in other parts of the game. The more new aspects are brought into the game the bigger the risk that something fails to work as intended. From a technical perspective. The amount of data that has to be dealt with is raised immensely ie. That is the reason why servers for established games like battlefield are full at 64 players. You could try to top that but it would be incredibly complex to do and still have the risk that people don't like it


    Q: will there be dual spec?


    A: most advance classes support several specialisations within their respective talent trees. Once you decide on a AC you get two special talent trees. And a talent tree which is shared with the class. That allows every player to fulfill several roles. There will be a cheap way to respec as well.


    Q:is it difficult to balance the force using classes with the "normal classes?


    A: many players want to use the force. That is we we decided to use 2 classes per faction which could utilize the force. To prevent the over use of one class. The player who doesn't want to use the force should not get the feeling that he is weak. We take that into account not just for the balancing but also into the graphic effects. So it looks believable when a trooper defeats a Jedi.


    Q:did lucas arts gave you specific guidelines?


    A: of course we have to abide by certain policies. But can change certain things. The only thing lucas arts said was: Do not blow up Alderaan! So we have a some freedom.


    Q:wann is beta begin?


    A: bioware games are as good as they are because we test them a lot. And we only will go into official testing once we are very certain of what we are doing.


    Interview Gave Amatangelo


    Q: will there be pvp servers?


    A: yes we are very traditional. There will be zones on pvp servers belonging to a certain faction and others that are contested all the time. But not the starting zones


    Q: will there be different warzone versions for the different level?


    A: no, they will always be the same. Everybody will play in exactly one warzone. That is why matchmaking is very important to us. If ie a team of lvl50 hardcore players are on one side and a rag tag band made up of all level ranges on the other side this group still has a chance to win.


    Q: you built "diminishing return into pvp to prevent the overuse of cc. how does that work?


    A: different than other MMOs you don't just get a debuff but a dedicated bar which shows to what degree one can cc other players. The bar is at 0 at first and the more the other player is ccd the more it fills. Until the point is reached where that player is immune to cc for a certain amount of time. This bar is below the health bar and can be seen by other players. They then have the option to choose who to cc.


    Q: in tor pvp there are honor ranks. Are they comparable to RVR in Warhammer?


    A: you could but it's a little bit different. The gear does not depend on your rank like in war. In addition be plan something awesome for those who have achieved the highest rank. They can intervene in the fight in different ways. But we don't want players who are good in pvp to become stronger and stronger, but instead to keep a balance between the teams that are fighting. I can't say any more on that.
     
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