Banath traveled to Koln (don’t say Cologne, Koln is easier) to witness Europe’s biggest gaming convention for Star Wars the Old Republic. You want to know his impressions? Read on!
Banath at Gamescom!
I´m stoked to be at this event. First off, thank you, Samm, for giving me the opportunity to go as press and giving me the responsibility to represent TOROCast at this big European event. Secondly, I want to thank Lion, the community manager of the Scandinavian region, for letting me play in the first round of PvP in the newly revealed Hutt Ball warzone. I believe this was even a first time play… (Looks at the rest of the SWTOR/TOROCast community for agreement or disagreement).
This was the first time that I’ve been to a games convention. With just a hint of what would be there, I knew I would have fun, but not that I’d play as much as I did.
Sadly, I couldn’t ask too many questions to Lion or anyone else from BioWare, as they were extremely busy with fixing problems and setting everything up. Seeing Stephen Reid running around was cool.
Now to the real deal. I will first write about the EA press event and what my impression was of the materials shown and any talks afterward. After that, I will talk about the playtime I had on the floor. Throughout this article there will be a number of videos. These include a few about the origin worlds and also a couple of the BioWare employees who were playing the Eternity Vault, and the Alderaan PvP battle played by some BioWare folks and trade visitors.
Throughout this wrap-up you will find several clips shot by me on the floor. I have to apologize to the readers and viewers that the clips aren’t as steady as they should be, since I had to use a lesser quality camera; also, my hands are a bit shaky and they became tired. And sorry that the audio sucks… The speakers on the stand were turned up which messed up my camera microphone if I stood too close. So I changed it into proper Star Wars music. NOW! Onwards! To other important stuff!!!
Tuesday 16th of August: EA press event
The event started at 4pm CET and was for those “in the know” viewable at Gametrailers.com, Gamespot.com and a few others. I arrived a bit early, but that wasn’t much of a problem. A huge hall was at EA’s disposal and several games were shown, including Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed The Run. And of course the game that I was sent here to check out, Star Wars: The Old Republic. With thanks to TweakPC. Here their full link: http://www.tweakpc.de/news/21634/star-wars-the-old-republic-live-demo-von-der-ea-pressekonferenz/
“Doc” Ray first showed a short German vid. Though my German is far from good, I could understand what they were going for. A Jedi or a Sith (lightside, it wasn’t entirely clear) encountered a dark Jedi and that turned into a fight. We can only find out what happens next when we play the game. It appeared to me this was in a lower level area. The Jedi/Sith did not have a companion with him, which indicates it was a quest you do before you have a companion.
As promised, they showed a bit of the Eternity Vault. Doctor Ray introduced Gabe Amentangelo, who would present the next day the BioWare playthroughs. He narrated the live walkthrough of Eternity Vault. The first two encounters were shown just like in the trailers, only now played out. Sadly, they didn’t get as far. Going up against the giant robot, one of them got topped, and the game was over. All of the Advanced Classes were being played to show off their different abilities and usefulness. Nothing beats a big screen.
It was great to see it in the hall that EA had reserved for the event. The volume was turned up and it worked. Though this is just one taste of the endgame content, it was a bit too brief for my taste. The setting was great, but the gameplay itself was a bit too… I know they don’t want to spoil a lot, but it was kinda… meh. Sorry BioWare, but I wanted to at least see you enter the Vault and not “die” at the perimeter. But that’s personal preference, of course, and I even understand why they didn’t go in.
But I had just hoped for a bit more. The information that came from it was more than enough, as Kenzosan will show in his video breakdown. The rest of the Vault was shown in a short trailer. It was a nice little tidbit of what we will encounter. I could see that there was a forested area inside. This could mean that at a lower level on Belsavis, non-freezing environments are available. That could have an effect on what you can wear. And you can tell that Bioware has a soft spot for the dark side. I would have loved to see endgame content on something for the Republic which we hadn’t seen before. But those are all naggin’ stuff (and a bit of thinking about what I saw). I am looking forward to playing the game tomorrow at the show.
Wednesday 17th of August: Hitting the floor
AWESOME!! Oh sorry, I need to elaborate that. I managed to get in early. Before the stand was open for the press, I wondered a bit around it. And made a few pictures of the stand. (See below and top)
I might have been in the first set of people that was allowed to play. I managed to get in the game three different times. The first time, I got my hands on an origin world as a Bounty Hunter. The second time I played a bit of PvP “Huttball”, and I concluded with scurrying around as a Sith Warrior on Korriban.
Origin World: Bounty Hunter
I started out as a Bounty Hunter and was shown the first couple of missions. This first time hands-on was a great experience. The graphics, though stylized, worked really well. The world looks beautiful and fitting. You are shown the intro when you arrive, and the first quest is then given immediately. I specifically chose a Bounty Hunter, so I wouldn’t spoil anything of my main character (Jedi Knight). Though I have no background in MMOs, I got into it immediately. The atmosphere was excellent *pulls a Bill and Ted move*. The moves fit the classes and the animations look good. The voice-over really helps the game out. More than you might think. The sad part was that I needed to rush through the talk instead of doing it at my own pace. I at least know how I will handle that when I play by myself. I’ll listen to everything that’s said to really have the full experience.
Letting you click the abilities the entire time helps in holding your attention while fighting. You simply can’t subside into just auto-attacking.
PvP Hutt Ball
Something went a bit amiss with the selection of PvP. We should have been playing on Alderaan, but we did a different warzone: Hutt Ball. The goal was to capture a ball that was in the center of a great hall; you needed to fight over that ball and score it to win. Of course, I was on the Imperial team, so we won. Of course… (yeah, that was sarcasm). But we did win. Two to nothing. There are several hazards in the environment, like a poisonous pit, flamers and, but this can also help you, air vents that shoot you up in an uncontrolled fashion.
I again played as a Bounty Hunter, but now with the Mercenary Advanced Class at level 14. At first I felt a bit off, but after some initial running around with the extra skills, I managed to work out how to use the “new” skills. When you have the ball, you are being put in slowmotion and a lightbeam is shown across the field so the enemy knows where you are. It works as an addition in PvP and that is important for an MMO. It helps to keep the game interesting, because as you probably know, you level up in rank. This lengthens the game and helps people that want to play PvP. It’s just stupid fun…
Second Origin playthrough: Sith Warrior
You start out landing on Korriban, as has been mentioned before. And then the questing begins. It plays out similarly to the Bounty Hunter. My only beef with both the Bounty Hunter and the Sith Warrior is that the map system wasn’t always as clear as I had hoped it would be. It wasn’t immediately clear to me where I needed to go. I hope they show a bit more obviously in the final version where the objectives are. And again, due to the lack of time I could be in-game, I had to speed the narrative up. That made me an unhappy camper. Not much, because let’s be honest… I played the game before JJ did. Just kidding! Sorry, but I couldn’t help but to kick such an open door in. Trust me, you will love it, Josh. Hopefully you get as much playtime as I did, but I fear that it will be less, since there is no specific press day.
What I perceived as different (something I only really understood at this second playthrough) is that the real experience points are garnered, not by killing mobs, but by completing quests. The amount of enemies I killed would have levelled me up faster in World of Warcraft. Having said that, Bioware’s level progression is slower than Blizzard’s.
BioWare playthrough “Eternity Vault”
BioWare had several playthroughs during the day, showcasing different elements of the operation. First off, they showed the Eternity Vault for a longer time. Well, until someone died again. The BioWare guys managed to get past the entrance turrets and the massive droid. After that, they went down into the vault and encountered the first batch of sentry droids that were designed to keep the prisoners in. These enemies also react to you like you are a prisoner. Expect that the droids will corral you in with ropes to subdue you. Like in normal raids, team coordination is vital! They managed to get past the first two bridges, but after that, one died and they called it quits again. They had a few more playthroughs during the day.
The people from Darth Hater managed to get a good recording of Bioware’s playthrough. The full link to their website is: http://darthhater.com/2011/08/17/gc-2011-day-zero-coverage/page/3
BioWare and attendees PvP on Alderaan
Later on, BioWare let a few people play the Alderaan PvP warzone on the big screen, that had already been played a few times by people behind the scenes (but not directly visible for everyone walking around). You can check that video out below. From the starting two minutes where you can buff up, up until the destruction of the enemy vessel, the game is played out. So when you watch it, it’s a 15 minute piece. Though both sides were only level 15, these kinds of PvP are available whenever you want.
Both sides begin on a ship that brings them to the area. They could fumble around with the abilities in the first two minutes to check out what they were and buff up. After that, it’s head to head PvP. Defending and conquering the three turrets for either the Republic or the Empire. But sadly the volume was killing my microphone, so I have put under it a soundtrack of Star Wars music.
The Republic lost.
So that wraps up my entire walkthrough of my days at Koln. (It’s easier to pronounce then Cologne.) I hope you enjoyed it. I sure did. Next year, back again! But check out these coming days the rest of my Gamescom wrap up! I have something in store for you yet…