Speeders have always been a big part of what makes Star Wars what it is. They may not have always been at the foreground of events, but the flying cars and bikes go a long way toward creating the setting of the Star Wars universe. Because of this, it is a no-brainer that speeders would become the mounts of The Old Republic. Maybe one day we will see players riding tauntauns, varactyls or even rancors, but for now players will find themselves being carried around by the mechanical beasts known as speeders. But what makes these wonders of technology work, and what is the difference between the various types of speeders? Today we shall explore the different classes of speeders and the technology that drives them.
A speeder is any vehicle powered by a repulsorlift that is used for planetary operations. They generally fall into one of two categories: landspeeders, which operate close to the planet’s surface, and airspeeders, which are more powerful and can operate at much higher altitudes ranging up to low orbit. The various mounts that players are able to summon in the game fall under the category of landspeeders; they skim the surface and transport players along at high speed. On the other hand, the taxis that transport players from one area to another are considered airspeeders, carrying players over great distances through the air by bypassing a lot of the natural boundaries and structures that they would have to navigate around if they were traveling on land.
The repulsors that power the speeders are anti-gravity devices that are used to power a variety of objects. They are created by subnuclear knots of space time that are created in unmanned facilities constructed around black holes. These facilities construct all kinds of gravitational devices, such as tractor beam projectors, along with repulsor lifts. Repulsors can only be used in gravity wells as they require mass to push against in order to work, and use minimal amounts of power that allow them to be used constantly.
The two different types of landspeeders that players can use in game as mounts are speeder bikes and the more traditional speeder “car.” The speeder “car” mount is what most people would define as the traditional landspeeder. They hover a couple meters off the ground and are propelled forward by twin jet engines. There are hundreds of designs throughout the galaxy, and most are capable of holding one or more passengers along with the driver. You wont see any in game, but many also include mounted weapons on either the front or back of the speeder that gave the driver limited defensive capabilities. Speeder bikes, on the other hand, are generally faster and more maneuverable than the traditional landspeeder. They are also able to reach greater heights, usually up to 10 meters, which allow them to maneuver terrain with a greater amount of ease. More often than not they are designed for a single rider, though some models can accommodate a second rider sitting behind the driver. There are even some models that have a sidecar that allow them to transport a second rider with greater ease, but at the sacrifice of maneuverability. Like traditional landspeeders, they can be mounted with weapons for defense, but don’t expect to be blasting away on your speeder bike in game.
Airspeeders, on the other hand, won’t be available as mounts in SWTOR, but they are definitely in game. The best example of them that I have seen are the taxis that players use to travel to the different areas on the capital worlds. The big difference between airspeeders and landspeeders is the altitude at which they can operate, with some even able to operate in a low orbital capacity. They are much more prevalent on industrialized city-planets that have multiple levels and platforms for individuals to depart from. On these planets, regular speeders just would not get the job done. Without airspeeders, travel between the different sections of the city would just not be possible for most people. Airspeeders are also a common site in planetary battles, a perfect example of them being the snow speeders from The Empire Strikes Back.
Speeders are just as much an integral part of Star Wars technology as the lightsaber or the blaster. Though maybe not as flashy, they set the mood and tone for the type of universe that Star Wars is. Maybe one day we will see players stomping down the streets of Coruscant and Dromund Kass on their tauntauns, but for now I am just looking forward to hopping on my speeder bike and driving across the planets looking for adventures in the Star Wars universe.
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