The Lowdown on Star Wars: The Old Republic

After months of rumours and badly-kept secrets, we finally have the official announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic. As expected, it turns out to be an MMO, and set in the Star Wars universe; more specifically, the KotOR era.

We’re just a few hours out of the great revelation and the official site has gone online. Information is flying all across the Internets and we bring you the lowdown on what The Old Republic is going to be all about.

So just what is this The Old Republic?
The Old Republic is a Star Wars MMO developed by BioWare in collaboration with LucasArts. It will be BioWare’s first Massively Multiplayer game and LucasArts’ second (the first being Galaxies). It will be based on the Knights of the Old Republic franchise that was created by BioWare.

Wait, MMO? Then what happened to the singleplayer franchise?
It’s most probably dead. BioWare says that they decided to make an MMO over a singleplayer game for numerous reasons. In any case, BioWare said that this game will essentially be “KotOR 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9”, referring to the content. This may or may not hint at discontinuing the KotOR franchise.

So what’s it going to be about?
It’s set 3000 years before the movies, and 300 years after the KotOR games, which gives it plenty of space to fiddle around with the story and canon. Supposedly, the hidden Sith that had remained dormant for many years returned to stake their claim on the galaxy. They ravaged the Republic and formed a truce with them. Of course, this truce won’t hold for long and tensions are rife. The game kicks in at about this point.

What makes it different from other MMOs?
According to BioWare, the MMO field of games already has combat, exploration, progression. BioWare wants to add a fourth pillar: story. BioWare is going to seriously concentrate on giving an excellent story to the game and making it a whole lot more meaningful.

How does that work?
There will be an overarching storyline, and at the same time, there will be players having their own personal stories. As an example, BioWare cited the Star Wars movies and how various characters come together, like Han Solo, Leia, Luke, Obi-Wan etc. and fight the Empire, the Battle of Yavin, the Death Star etc. At the same time, they have their personal stories: Han Solo is being chased by Jabba the Hutt, Luke is Vader’s son and so on.

I’m not kinda sure…
BioWare is emphasizing heavily on the story element of the game. It’s going to drive the game, your character and make your character’s actions affect the game world. Unlike singleplayer games, there won’t be a save feature. So if you make a decision, you will have to live with its consequences forever.

So can I play alone?
According to BioWare, yes: most of the game can be played alone. Some sections will need multiple players, though. The game will include NPC companions, but it is unknown whether the game can be completely played using these NPCs.

Do I get to be Dark Side?
Yep, and the story will determine that. Your decisions will affect your alignment, like before. Your choices will result in deep consequences that will affect those around you and change the story. You can play as Sith or Republic, Jedi or non-Jedi, Light or Dark; any combination you can imagine. It’s basically your story as you want it.

What classes will be available?
We have no info on that right now. Jedi and Sith classes should be there, and judging by promo art, we can guess that the elite Republic Special Forces may be a class. Bounty Hunter may also be a class.

What species can I play as?
Again, no info that. Humans should be there, of course. Going to promo art again, Twi’Leks and Kel Dor are in. I’d expect the usual lot of species you see in Star Wars commonly.

What planets can I visit?
Coruscant, Korriban & Tython have been confirmed. According to the official site, we will see several planets from both, the movies and KotOR. Tython is the planet where the Jedi have taken refuge, Korriban will be the deep dark Sith planet, while Coruscant is the galactic capital, now overrun by the Sith.

Will there be any returning characters?
Since it’s 300 years after KotOR, you won’t find any characters, they’re all dead. There will be descendants of some of these characters. Droids from the previous games will be seen, as they can live for a really, really long time. HK-47 can be seen in the promo art, so yep: he’s in.

How big is this game going to be?
According to BioWare, it’s going to be very, very big. It will be larger than all of BioWare’s previous games combined (with expansions). BioWare emphasizes that this heavy content will go to the story, making it incredibly deep.

Will there be a beta?
According to the official site, there are no current plans for a beta. But if they decide to have one, users will be notified on the site and via the official newsletter.

What is the payment scheme going to be like?
Nobody has any idea yet. A monthly fee sounds like the clearest answer, though. We’ll just have to wait and see.

When is it coming out?
No schedule has been announced as of yet. That could mean anywhere from next year to 2010.

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