The following video came out during Gamescom '11 that just wrapped up (I guess) in Cologne, Germany. It is of course, hosted by Total Biscuit, the Cynical Brit. Thanks to Zelibeli of Multiplaying.net for posting the link in Twitter.
While long--over 25 minutes--I enjoyed the banter of Total Biscuit and his interlocutor, Stephen Reid, known on Twitter as Rockjaw. I have been avoiding videos like this up 'til now, wanting to keep The Old Republic fresh for Launch Day. My experience with Rift was that, while participating in the beta and seeing the game in beta was helpful in making the decision to buy the game (yes. I am one of those beta testers), it spoiled the game a bit. By launch, my lovely fiancée and I had been over halfway through Freemarch several times. We now focus on Guardian characters, partly because of Defiant fatigue.
I knew nothing about Rift prior to December, 2010, when several of my fellow bloggers and tweeters started mentioning having gotten into the beta, sharing a secret I wanted in on. I found out a little more and signed up for the beta. And I am glad I did, because Rift is an awesome game I would not have subscribed to without a little preview.
SWTOR, on the other hand, is a game I have been looking forward for well over a year. Who needs spoileriffic videos of an unfinished game? Buuuuttt, we're getting much closer to the release date now, the game is mostly finished. People are in beta testing already. So I want to see some stuff.
I have questions about gameplay. The video answered some but not others. For instance, I intend to play as a duo with sctrz. I wasn't sure how we were going to be able to do that with two different class storylines. In the video, they discuss the individual character phases--small instances--and how the player could join a friend in the friend's phase.
The Sith Warrior apparently develops rage by fighting, which dissipates when out of combat, just like Warriors in WoW. I saw an Inquisitor in the Tatooine walk-through earlier today that showed more of a mana driven ability system, which is to be expected. I wonder what they call the rage bar for Jedi Knights, as rage is not something Jedi should be indulging in.
One thing that didn't get answered is how customizable will the User Interface be? I am not talking about addons, though I think that can OK in an MMO. I am talking out of the box. And there is no reason, given that games like Rift and STO have the UI elements easily movable, that BioWare can't do the same for SWTOR. The devs at Bioware have talked about the work they put into the UI. But in the end, I think most players, including myself, would just like to be able to have UI elements where we want them, not where some designer thinks they should be.
The death and resurrection system is actually pretty similar to Rift, with the ability to rez-in-place to a stealthed mode, a la soul walking in Rift, or rez back at the "Med Center." I couldn't tell from the video whether the player could make a corpse run like in Rift or WoW. Given the "defeat" as opposed to true "death," the spirit or corpse run might not be a mechanic in SWTOR. Of course, anyone reading this who has experienced the game is probably laughing at me right about now.
As discussed in the second video by Total Biscuit, the combat itself seems pretty standard for an MMO. Some people will be disappointed with that, always wanting combat to involve more "skill," which I have come interpret to mean more complex button pushing. After all, we're not talking about actually learning to use a lightsaber or force powers. Since skill-based combat is not why I play MMORPGs--the story/characterization is--I think the combat system in SWTOR will be just fine.