Saturday morning at PAX East, those involved with the media (and cleared for access) were allowed a one-hour preview of the show floor before opening to all others at 11 AM. I had two objectives: 1) get in line for SW: TOR and 2) play SW: TOR. After waiting in line for nearly an hour (and the previously mentioned incident occurred), I was ushered into the gameplay area with the other members of the press. We sat in a briefing room and received a tutorial and preview of our mission and gameplay options. We were divided into teams of four (a Tank, an AOE expert, a Healer, and a secondary Tank) and placed into a level 32 instance. The team from BioWare wanted us to experience the game at a higher level so we could learn and understand more powers and sophistications of the game. I assigned myself to the Tank and leapt into a world a really, REALLY long time ago. Read on to see the video and footage of the gameplay and a brief review.
[It should be noted that all footage is directly over-the-shoulder and displays no load screens or tutorial information. This is due to the restrictions set forth for the media by the BioWare and SW: TOR reps.]
In short, the game has resurrected my interest in MMOs. I know for sure I will purchase this game upon release (whenever that may be, BioWare) and sink many otherwise unproductive hours into it. The controls are standard MMO fare with absolutely no surprises. The graphics are what you would expect from BioWare: realistic facial expressions, sharply intriguing camera angles, and fully developed worlds and environments. What is going to set this MMO apart, however, is the story-driven landscape. Naturally, it is at its heart a BioWare game set in the Star Wars universe; even though a community rep admitted that it is an MMO first, SW: TOR will feature an intricately woven plot into intense MMO gameplay. One unique feature displayed (and unfortunately during a tutorial screen and thus, un-filmed) involved how BioWare reconciled its phenomenal role-playing features with that of the combat-driven MMO. When raid members are asked questions by NPCs, they are given choices (the good ol’ response wheel), and dice are rolled to determine who gets to speak when. It rolled smoothly and added multiple characters’ opinions and attitudes toward story features and events. While maintaining classic MMO tendencies, BioWare concentrates heavily on the “RPG” half of the game-changing genre.
You’re going to want this.