All the great ones have a companion. Sonic had Tails. Ratchet had Clank. Link had Navi. But most importantly, Han had Chewie. Which brings me to Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the companion system featured in the upcoming MMORPG.
Each character class in Star Wars: The Old Republic unlocks unique companions throughout their storyline. Today, BioWare’s Senior Game Designer, William Wallace, has revealed a ton of details about the Star Wars: The Old Republic companion system. According to BioWare:
“Companions fight alongside players in battle against AI and other players in Open World PvP, aid in crafting and non-combat missions through Crew Skills, and provide commentary on environments and engage in conversations.”
Wallace continues, “As you advance your story in Star Wars: The Old Republic, you build relationships with your companion characters based on the decisions you make throughout the game. How you treat each companion and how you act when they are in your presence determines how your relationship with them evolves.”
BioWare has made some changes and improvements to companion characters and today shared some of those updates with fans.
To help players feel like their companion is unique to their storyline, each companion will have a full set of armor and weapon slots. This will allow for a ton of variety in appearances as you equip them with new armor and weapons you acquire throughout your journey. But after testing and feedback (that’s what these months of beta are for!), BioWare realized equipment customization alone wasn’t enough to create the visual contrast players expected. After all, there are how many races in the entire galaxy? I’d expect it to be very hard to run into my companions exact twin in the Star Wars universe. BioWare felt the same way, and has now granted players the ability to override the starting appearance of the companion, granting them different looks by modifying hair, skin tone, eyes, and other physical features.
Below are a few screenshots showcasing some of appearance and equipment variations that now exist in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Of course, appearance isn’t everything. There’s also the whole character name thing. To avoid that, BioWare has changed it so when clicking on another person’s companion, you will see “[Player Name]’s Companion”. Of course, for your own companion, you’ll see the correct name.
The original concept for companion combat abilities consisted of one innate special ability and an ability given to them by the player. BioWare has decided this was too shalow and made companions stale over time. So what did they do?
Now they have give companions specific class/roles: ranged damage, melee damage, ranged tank, melee tank, and support. Each class has a broad set of abilities that are unlocked as they level up alongside your character.
As per class description:
“Healing/Support focused companions get a suite of medical abilities like Field Dress and Kolto Pack to keep their allies alive and fighting. They also unlock control abilities, such as Carbonized Stream, which requires the companion to focus entirely on keeping the enemy locked down and out of the fight.”
“Ranged damage companions can take one of two stances; a Sniper Mode that emphasizes their gun attacks and makes them deadly one-on-one combatants, or an Assault Mode that enables powerful explosive attacks more suited for in-group combat situations.”
“Melee damage companions focus on close range attacks; for some companions, this means a Lightsaber, vibroblade, or electrostaff. For others, this means Flamethrowers, Oil Slicks, and other forms of wrist-mounted firepower.”
“Melee tank companions, like their ranged counterparts, have multiple ways of drawing fire from enemies and are also given powerful close range attacks that allow them to function as both a tank and a damage dealer as necessary.”
Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most highly anticipated games of this year. And although it’s recently been hinted that the game will be pushed back until 2012, that hasn’t calmed the hype. But if these kind of changes are the reasons why the game keeps getting pushed back, then I say, well worth it.