The first class I rolled in game testing was a female Sith Pureblood Sith Inquisitor. I had a lot of fun using my lightning to shock and torture those pesky mobs into submission. I could almost hear them shouting, “Don’t Tase me Bro!” or it could have been the crackling sounds; I cannot be sure.
As you may recall, Sith Inquisitors can be Human, Zabrak, Sith Pureblood, Twi’lek and Rattaki. Their two Advanced Classes are Sith Sorcerer and Sith Assassin. The Sorcerer is what I played; it focuses on Force powers which come in two varieties: Corruption (which is healing) and Lightning (which is damage). Once you pick your Advanced Class, it opens up skill trees in which every level you get a training point that you can spend to customize your character further. There is a tree for both Corruption and Lightning. The Sorcerer also shares the Madness skill tree with their melee counterpart, the Sith Assassin. The Madness tree had some damage-increasing choices but also some nice utilities like Death Field. Death Field fans of KOTOR might remember that AOE Lifetap power that damaged all the enemies around the character while also self-healing.
One of my deepest concerns for SWTOR for some time was the combat. I feared that it might seem clunky, or too slow to be fun. After playing it, I can say that combat in the game feels very smooth and polished. Whatever ability is in your number 1 hotkey is mapped to your right click on your mouse. So whenever I wanted to quickly attack a mob all I had to do was right click on them and she would swing her crimson saber of death at them without me having to press the 1 key at all.
Despite that, combat with the Inquisitor felt very caster-like. When I first played the Inquisitor, the range on the abilities was very short. When I reached level 10 and unlocked the Sorcerer Advanced Class though, I got a new passive ability called Transmission which increased the range of those abilities significantly. In this game you really have to approach combat with a level head because you are mostly taking on multiple mobs. Only occasionally do I remember fighting singles. In general you need to carefully use your crowd control abilities to finish off your opponents. You can get by without using your crowd control, but the game is much more difficult if you do so.
Let me demonstrate by way of example. There are five levels of difficulty when it comes to mobs: Weak, Standard, Strong, Elite, and Boss. You only meet Elites and Bosses in certain circumstances, mainly in Flashpoints. Weak, Standard and Strong mobs are found pretty regularly in the open world, so I am going to use them in my example. Let’s say I am faced with a Bounty Hunter (Strong), two droids (Standard) and a dog (Weak) in one group. I would start with my whirlwind ability (conjures up a Force tornado under the mob, as we had in KOTOR) on the Strong Bounty Hunter. Then I would use my Shock ability on the Weak dog, as its description indicates that it will stun Weak mobs for a few seconds. I used another ability on one of the Standard droids called Electrocute, which is basically a powered-up Shock that stuns any difficulty level of mob, but does less damage; that’s fine because you are only going to use it for stunning anyway. At that point everything is locked down except for the other Standard droid which I focus all my power to burn down. The Weak dog’s crowd control would probably wear off first, but he is Weak and so probably close to dying; I would finish then him off with a saber strike. That leaves the Bounty Hunter and the remaining droid. Since the Bounty Hunter is still twirling helplessly in the sky, I focus on the Standard droid, frying his circuits with my Force Lightning, a channeled damage over time ability. Now it is just a one-on-one fight with the remaining Bounty Hunter.
This is just one way of dealing with a group of four mobs. This strategy will change depending on different factors, including cooldowns and the specific composition of a given group (e.g., you may not have any strong mobs at all). Different Advanced Classes will handle this same group in different ways because of their individual abilities, but this should give you a good idea of how all of a class’s abilities can work together to make combat easier.
Aside from the basic “Slash” ability which was to be treated like an auto attack, she had an ability called “Thrash” where she struck twice with her lightsaber. Since I went down the Sorcerer’s path, I did not get any more melee abilities, but I am sure that the Assassin would have gotten many more. What she did get was Dark Heal (a short cast healing ability) and Lightning Strike which had a cast time to it, but no cooldown.
As I was putting points in my trees I was aiming to do as much damage as possible, so I was focusing mainly on the Lightning tree. Despite this focus I was still getting healing abilities because I was a Sorcerer. Even though I might not be the best healer because I did not focus my abilities that way, I could absolutely assist in healing if my group needed me too. As you level you can get new abilities one of three ways, from the Class (Sith Inquisitor in this case), the Advanced Class (Sith Sorcerer) and finally from the skill trees themselves. I noticed in the Corruption tree that there were several heal over time abilities and an area of effect heal over time that was cast on the ground as the top ability.
Khem Val is the first Inquisitor companion. He is a melee tank that does a great job of holding agro (the mobs attention) on himself. The above strategy for taking out groups of mobs was all “pre-Khem Val.” After you get him, you simply send him in and just burn burn burn. From time to time you do need to throw a heal on him, if you went Sorcerer, but that is pretty much it. I felt like a Warlock from World of Warcraft or a Necromancer/Conjuror from Everquest 2 after I got Khem, which is not a bad deal. In all the time I played, I never pulled agro from Khem (got the mobs angry enough that they attacked me instead of him). Maybe this will change later as his story progresses, but Khem does feel like a one-dimensional character. He keeps threatening to “eat me,” swearing one day we will fight and he will consume my Force. One redeeming factor is that he keeps calling me “Little Sith,” which is amusing.
All in all I truly enjoyed the Inquisitor and back in my article Hello Sith? I voiced a concern about whether BioWare would get the essence of being a Sith right. That being, of course, that every Sith is trying to be top dog, in this case the Emperor. At one point in my Inquisitor’s story she did say that one day she would rule the Sith. I could not help myself from telling my monitor, “You go, my little Sith Empress!”
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the States, and until next time, may the force be with you all.