previews\ May 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP


Every MMO has different methods of getting players to work together to take on greater foes. Usually these foes are boss characters and enemy units, computer-controlled baddies designed with story in mind. While this is grand and good for most players, others don’t get as much satisfaction out of beating down NPCs. These gamers enjoy the competitive nature of player versus player action.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is no exception. While most players are going to dive into a PvE server to fight for the Republic or Empire, some will skip straight to the PvP.

This has been specifically designed for the game. Many players don’t like the nature of PvE gaming, and will instead group up with their pals to destroy players on the opposite side. The Old Republic has a special way of addressing this gameplay type, and PvP players are going to get a kick out of it.

First, don’t think for a second that traditional game modes are going to be represented in The Old Republic’s PvP. This is a BioWare game, meaning everything relates to the plot somehow. Traditional game modes like Capture the Flag and Control Point have been changed to suit the needs of the story.

For example, instead of traditional control points, The Old Republic has a mode where members of each side spawn inside of a ship. Each player takes a ride on a speeder bike down to the snowy warzone of Alderaan, where the different sides fight for control of gun turrets that shoot down opposing ships. The goal here, at least for the developers, is to create an actual driving force for PvP battles and make it fit the narrative of the overarching game.

One interesting facet is balance. Like in any MMO, players can incapacitate other players, so BioWare has incorporated the idea of Resolve. Instead of constantly being crippled, burned, or suffering other negative stat affects, players can use Resolve to work through these effects for a limited time.

Additionally, tanking has taken on a slightly different feel. Tanks can use the abilities Taunt and Guard. Guard means a player shares half of the damage they receive, while Taunt modifies health to ensure that players attack the tanks. It’s an interesting mechanic, one that flows nicely in the scoreboard.

After each match, players are scored on how well they performed. Tanks will want to have a high amount of damage taken, healers want to be scored on how much they healed, and DPS characters, well, they want to do a lot of damage. As signs of their skill, players earn badges, which are like mini-achievements. Valor is the personal point score in PvP, and Tokens are granted to players. Tokens are the currency with which players purchase some of the best gear, and much of it can only be accessed in PvP. PvP gear tends to be much more aggressive. An example of high-level bounty hunter PvP gear is much more jagged and bad-ass compared with some of the lower-level equipment.

As of right now, only two so-called warzones have been shown off. Alderaan is one, an example of a civil war raging on the planet, and the other is the Voidstar. The Voidstar is a lost vessel with some powerful ancient technology, so teams fight to control that tech. Battles, at the moment, are capped to 8v8, and a matchmaking system works hard to match players of comparable skills and abilities. Dual speccing (i.e., having a load-out for PvE and PvP separately) will not come with the launch of the game, unfortunately.

Other issues have popped up. Right now, companions are not allowed into the PvP warzones, and the level restriction to enter one is somewhere between level 10 and 20. BioWare is working to allow players to use legalized mods within the framework of The Old Republic; Macros is also being worked on for the game.

Finally, players can earn XP while playing PvP, so those looking to ignore the PvE experience entirely are more than welcome to do so. The PvP experience in The Old Republic feels solid and enjoyable and is a much more action-focused experience than the PvE mode. Gamers worried that The Old Republic will be a strictly single-player MMO can rest easy.

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