Release of Star Wars The Old Republic is still some months away and at this point nobody but the people at Bioware know what it looks like or what it plays like in its entirety. Bioware has been releasing a lot of information in this past year about what the game will consist of, but what we always seem to lack are completely detailed descriptions of the announced features. I guess playing the game and seeing that feature in action is the only way to fully understand it.
There are, however, other games that Bioware released over the years and are playable. They even have some features that are announced for SWTOR. To try and understand to the full extent some of the announced aspects of SWTOR, we have decided to play Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect series and try and draw conclusions on what we can expect in SW: The Old Republic. It is only reasonable to assume that Bioware will base some of the game elements in their new game on success of that feature in the old games.
Spaceships have played a great role in the Star Wars Universe. It can be argued that space scenes and scenes in spaceships are as important as those happening in more “conventional” environments. It is a Space Opera after all. Millenium Falcon, the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy according to Han Solo, is an equally important character as the Droids or the Wookies. In Knights of the Old Republic we, as players, had a chance to own our ship – the Ebon Hawk. It is our means of transportation, our storage facility, it is the place where some major plot-lines are resolved. During 2010 E3 gaming convention Bioware announced that players will also be able to own ships and released a video showcasing the ship’s interior and exterior. In difference to KOTOR, there will be different class ships available. We have created a video pitching KOTOR’s Ebon Hawk versus the ships seen in the SWTOR video.
So what can we conclude from the information released so far and functionality seen in KOTOR? The official description of player ships is:
They’re your base of operations and a handy retreat. A place to relax and talk to your Companion Characters, socialize with other players or to plan your next adventure.
1. Player Ships are for traveling?
Since SWTOR will be happening on several planets there has to be a way to travel in between these planets. in KOTOR, the Ebon Hawk was used for just such purpose. In E3 VideoGamer it was said that:
You know, you think of the ships as something you have to earn. It’s a tent pole moment; a key moment of achievement inside each class.
This leads us to believe that ships will be available in later levels only. Are we going to have a public interstellar/interplanetary transport available up until than? This is a deviation from KOTOR and we must wait for some official information on this.
2. Player Ships are also Player Housing?
Considering the official description we can expect to use player ships in social gatherings and they will also be customizable. The first thing that crossed my mind when I read this was player housing. What I immediately thought of were trophies you can put up in the ship so when guests come aboard you can boast with that Rancor head. In both KOTOR and SWTOR video there are rooms that felt like crew quarters, with bunk beds and wall decorations and personal tidbits. These are the ship areas I presume will primarily represent your personal space as all player housing should. Player housing also encompasses extra storage, crafting facilities and trading station, but these are topics of their own.
3. Player Ships are used for extra storage?
I think there can be no doubt we will have storage containers available in player ships. This has been true in KOTOR and Dragon Age (can’t remember Mass Effect though)
and looking at the comparison of videos above, you can see one area in the SWTOR footage being extremely similar to KOTOR’s warehouse facility.
4. Player Ships are used for crafting?
In KOTOR you had a workbench that you used to upgrade your equipment with special add-ons (lightsaber crystals and such). We see the same mechanics in Dragon Age (“Enchantment!”). I think there will be no facilities for traditional MMO crafting. Crafting facilities are best kept close to trading facilities and places with a lot of random players who you can trade with and this eliminates instanced player ships. So, player ships will be used to combine the equipment you have in your inventory into upgraded versions, while crafting will be kept outside.
5. Player Ships are used for companion interaction?
I think we can be 100% sure that you will be doing your relationship improvement with your companion characters mostly on player ships. This has been true for all Bioware games so far (whether it was a ship or a camp) and your companion quests and storyline will start when you visit your spaceship. What about companion interaction before you get your first space ship? I am guessing there will be some sort of camp area that you can visit or perhaps the interaction will be possible in the open world. I think this needs to be addressed in a dissection of its own though.
There is a comm room existing in both videos with a huge hologram displaying device in the middle. I can’t remember if it had a huge role in KOTOR, but we can speculate it will be used in SWTOR based on the Sith ship footage displaying communication with a Twi’lek. Whether this will be some sort of quest entry are where you can enter flashpoint missions or just part of some quest line (perhaps battleground access?) remains to be seen. Space combat was announced at Comic Con and this ads another dimension to player ships. Will the player ships also house fighter craft you can take into Space Battle hotspots or will they, themselves, be the ships you take into combat? If that is so what happens when you get blown up? We’ll have to wait for PC Gamer magazine that has exclusive rights on revealing more information on Space combat.
Player ships are a multi-dimensional game feature Bioware is using to cover some of the more important aspects of classic MMORPG gameplay. Just think, you could use your ship as a classic player housing feature, that is also capable of transporting you in between game areas, probably being the device you use in Space combat, while also holding your extra gear and upgrading your gear. Lets not forget them as a place where you have your virtual romance with your NPC companions. With so many possibilities, spaceships could play a big role in bringing the game’s cool factor up to a whole new level. Lets hope Bioware uses player ships’ full potential and executes the feature right.
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