While the Knights of the Old Republic series has not been the highest selling brand for LucasArts the same way that the Battlefront series has, the KOTOR games remain unique in their own way. For the first time ever, 4000 years before the events that set place in the movies, players found themselves introduced to a more dreamy time in the Star Wars space. A time when Jedi and Sith alike were in abundance and great disgust strewn between the two, a time where political affairs stood out on the forefront all while large corporations and mercenary groups extended their hand for a piece of the galaxy.
With gripping and immersive storytelling, proficient voice-acting, stunning visuals, and not to mention an incredible musical score, both KOTOR games have found themselves a permanent home in RPG and Star Wars fans alike. The only thing missing is the final piece to make it a complete trilogy. That final piece will come in the form of a MMO titled Star Wars: The Old Republic.
It is unclear whether LucasArts or Bioware initially decided to go forward with this project but unsurprisingly the two came together and is looking forward to succeeding again in the industry with The Old Republic. LucasArts will get a second undertake at a MMO after Galaxies and Bioware will take their first attempt. This has been a tough pill to swallow for KOTOR cohorts.
Support has been strong, however, but there remains a large collection of fans who have remained bitter by the MMO concept over the single player experience. It is understandable as I felt similar emotions initially after the announcement, but after elongated forethought and much optimism, I have created three points of focus as to why gamers should feel comfortable and have full faith that Star Wars: The Old Republic, while not KOTOR 3, will become an experience they’ve always wanted plus more.
Korriban, a location essential to both KOTOR titles makes yet another appearance in TOR
The first focus point is that of story. What better success has Bioware had in their previous games than the story? Many people will have their own opinions but personally, the story structures in all of Bioware’s preceding titles is the true testament of their success and with TOR, expect it to be nothing different.
“This game has more story content than every single other Bioware game put together…” -James Ohlen, Creative Director at Bioware
Bioware and LucasArts have remained steady on their efforts to press on the fact that this will be a MMO experience driven by story based in the region of the player’s class and faction. In the time spent in the TOR community, one of the primary concerns is how a MMO set 300 years later, would relate to the previous two KOTOR titles, which were strictly single player adventures. The exploits and fate of Revan and the Exile is the key concern for many of the players who will ultimately participate in TOR.
The players should realize that characteristics from the two KOTOR games such as key events, locations, and characters would be entertained. Nothing that had any type of relevance is going be deserted. This alone should give reassurance to fans of the series that while being a MMO, The Old Republic will cover all content that would have been covered if this were to be a pure single player experience as anticipated.
So the fate of Revan and the Exile will be discovered as well as the surfacing of key events and locations from the past two games will play a central role and TOR would have done it’s part in connecting the games. The desire that has been there since after the release of KOTOR 2 will finally receive the proper consideration.
Simultaneously, the player will embark on a journey which will lead the story further into a new adventure as the Republic and Empire fall into all out conflict after the return of the True Sith Empire. Ultimately, the player would not even give too much attention to the fact that TOR is a MMO because Bioware will have created an experience with the fourth pillar, story, in which it just immerses everyone into a journey of revelation, mystery, and triumph.
“The MMO industry in general has been trying to solve story in their games for a long time. With TOR, what we’re doing is putting story at the forefront of your experience, where everyone of your decisions is impactful to your end goal and character progression.” -Jake Neri, LucasArts Producer
The perspective of story is something else that players should mull over with The Old Republic. Unlike the first two KOTOR games where you had to take control of a Jedi, in TOR the range of classes would be much broader. Not only that, but the story would reflect upon each player’s class and faction.
Bioware is allowing players to experience the final pieces of the KOTOR story through the perspective of many other classes besides just a Jedi. So if you were one of those players who always wanted to experience the KOTOR games as a bounty hunter for the Sith but could not because you were forced into being a Republic Jedi? Need not to worry because that freedom is now granted with TOR, the restrictions have been lifted.
The story will lead players into new locations
Two aspects regarding story that really stand out are the addition of choice and companion characters. Just like in both KOTOR titles, TOR will have great emphasis on the choices your character makes. Furthermore, like both KOTOR titles, companions will accompany the player.
“Part of the story thing that is very important from our perspective is adding choice. Typically online games do not have a lot of choice, you do what is in front of you. But this game, you get to chose to do things.” -Dr. Greg Zeschuk, CoFounder and VP Development Operations, Bioware and VP, EA
“There are a lot of things that the companion characters have, their own stories and their own interest to pursue. Depending on what side of the force you sit on, you can help them and support them or manipulate them.” -Dr. Greg Zeschuk
This only goes to show just how similar The Old Republic will be to the two previous titles, in spite of the fact that it is a MMO. Players would be able to walk into the TOR atmosphere and contain a feeling of familiarity.
It is tolerable if a gamer remains on the fence about this title being a MMO and not being able to deliver a strong story. Bear in mind, however, that this is Bioware, a company which makes a living by delivering some of the best stories told in videogames no matter what the platform or genre they are. Do not be hampered by the verity that it is a MMO because what lies ahead is possibly one of the best Star Wars stories ever told in a videogame. Give the vote of confidence to Bioware and LucasArts and watch them perform something miraculous with The Old Republic.
Next, I will break down how an online community will facilitate into an overall great experience then I will highlight how TOR’s longevity will satisfy gamers years after the release through updates and expansion packs. Until then, may the force be with you….