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SWTOR: Staying Classy

April 8, 2011

Today’s Friday Update for Star Wars: The Old Republic is a developer blog detailing Advanced Classes, along with some unexpected extras thrown in. Among my favorite kinds of updates are always the dev dispatch video and blog updates, because it’s fascinating to see what goes into creating a game like SWTOR. Still, the level of detail in today’s update surprised even me, with its brief but informative “behind-the-scenes” look at the testing process on top of covering a lot of the questions that have been asked about ACs lately.

I thought Mr. Zoeller provided a very straightforward and in depth explanation on the mechanics behind skill trees, but what really piqued my interest were the new tweaks in the class roles. Some of the changes I already knew about, such as a healing role added to the Mercenary Bounty Hunter AC, but others were a surprise. Like, Jedi Consulars and Sith Inquisitors can become tanks now? Wow.

Yet, that makes a lot of sense. Something had been plaguing the back of my mind ever since watching and playing the Taral V flashpoint encounter. It just didn’t add up for me before — instance groups of only four players, but at the same time here you’ve got an encounter that will require two tanks to prevent a sure wipe and perhaps back-up healing to boot? What the heck, can you say, a LFG nightmare? This update, however, made it all come together. If I’ve got the count right, that’s three ACs capable of healing and three ACs capable of tanking for each faction, which sounds more like it.

On top of that, I’ve noticed before how the classes in SWTOR seem well-equipped to take on many different situations, by being able to incorporate more than one role within the same build. There’s definitely a degree of flexibility afforded to the player. In BioWare’s own words, some flashpoints are paced in a way that healers can switch into damage roles while engaged in an encounter, and tanks can get away with being a little bit more “reckless”.

Having more choices is always better. These tweaks would seem to be in keeping with that, based on the commentary about the Jedi Guardian AC. Previously, the Guardian’s only available role was a tank, but now they are also capable of doing close-ranged damage dealing. Indeed, I seem to remember being rather adept at both (at the same time!) in the flashpoint demo I played. If this is the direction class and skill point mechanics will continue to go, I think I will be quite happy with the end product.

The inclusions of 3D and movement heat maps and other metrics data was also nice surprise. It may not be direct information about gameplay, but it’s details on the game’s progress and development status which I think is a subject many players (including myself) won’t mind knowing more about.

15 comments

  1. The “Inquisitors/Consulars can tank” bombshell was, by far, the hardest hitting thing in this update. I was not expecting it at all (if anything, I was expecting Marauders/Sentinels to get their own tanking specs).

    This does look like it will make a 4-person group a lot more flexible. Three of the four classes can fulfill the two most vital roles in any trinity? Yes, please.

    The other thing–and this is more personal than anything–that I really liked about the update was learning that Marauders, with the right talents, can change their Force Charge power into an instant cast, in-combat ability (and reduce its minimum range by 8 meters).

    I was almost drooling when I read that part.

    Being able to reduce the minimum range of my Force Charge means that I can, quite literally, CHARGE across the battlefield like a fire-headed demon.

    The healer is getting some unwanted attention but I’m over here? Force Charge.

    The tank needs backup over there? Force Charge.

    That mob over there looked at me cross-eyed? Force Charge.

    That’s just outstanding. It really is.


    • I wonder what the mechanics or Inquisitor/consular tanking will be like. Troopers and Jedi Knights and such all wear heavy armor or at least has an AC which works with heavy armor. Consulars have always felt more like a “light-armor” class to me, clad in robes and cloaks. Perhaps the mitigation for their classes might come from elsewhere.

      And I thought of you while reading those examples with the Sith Warrior ๐Ÿ˜€ I guess you are leaning towards the Marauder AC then?


      • Am I leaning toward diving into the Marauder tree? Hell yes; I was considering it before, but I’m really swaying with this new info.

        Force Charge is a great opener for combat, just like a WoW warrior’s Charge ability is great for starting a fight (except, you know, Force Charge is cooler because you front flip across the screen like a psychotic gymnast). Having abilities that turn it into an instant cast ability that can be used in the middle of combat just makes the AC that much more attractive.

        As far as Inquisitor/Consular damage mitigation, I bet it will come 85-95% through spells and auras. I also see those classes as “clothies”, or at least something akin to leather. I doubt they will be able to tank through damage, so they will probably wind up getting a lot of avoidance shenanigans to even things out.

        Avoidance/damage mitigating shield spells could make the Inq/Con a decent tank class.

        I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some healing tricks thrown into the mix somewhere. Like Regen buffs (or for the Inquisitor, being able to vampirically suck energy away from enemies to add to their own).


      • Yeah that’s true…and I recall in my flashpoint playthrough that the JC was pretty sturdy to begin with, even in what I assumed was the DPS/off healing spec. My husband was playing that class, and he was able to barely keep himself up with his own HoTs while Ripper was bashing him. With the right spec, survival would be even better, and yeah I’m guessing too they will probably be given some shield abilities for mitigation.


  2. So, is there a release date window set for this game?

    I remember it used to be Q1 or Q2 2011, then got pushed back to Q2 or Q3, and now the release window just says “targeted for 2011.” X_X


    • Not yet, used to be “spring 2011” but it’s clear by now they’re not going to meet that. My personal guess has always been at least late summer or even fall. I wouldn’t be surprised even if they decided to release it early winter, to get it in there for the Christmas season.

      But I think it’s going to be worth the wait ๐Ÿ™‚


      • The official confirmation is “2011”. Based on an ERA conference call, people were able to prove that the game will not be released prior to July 2011. Most people are speculating Fall.


      • I’m in that camp. Late summer isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but I’m thinking it could be closer to fall as well. Perhaps a month or two before they release ME3? One could hope ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Mannnn this update is the one. This is the first one that’s going to make me come right out, bitch, moan, and complain for a release date >.<.

    First of all, i know i'm not alone when i say i'm tired of reading forums, and looking at people's posts about, "Well why can't i be as viable with 1 lightsaber than 2?" "Whhyy should iii the Jedi Wizard have to heal?" "How come i can't heal with my Commando/Bounty Hunter?"

    Bioware just ups the ante and answers everyone's questions with a simple, "Oh is that all you want? Here, how about everyone tanks and everyone heals."

    And the crowd goes wild. Me personally? That's more than i could expect, it's almost like a dream come true. From the times going back to "WoW" *hate bringing it up* I always felt like Hybrid's with the ABILITY to do multiple things, shouldn't be pigeonholed into one thing. I don't believe in dps only, and forcing two people in a group to cover everyone elses ass, sit back and do nothing.

    WOTLK turned me on to one thing that i thought should be the president in today's trinity.

    "Tanks don't have to be weak, damage taking statues, they should kick ass too."

    "Healers should play more of a role in combat than just healing someone who's dpsing their ass off."

    The thing BIoware has done that takes that idea to the next level is just……the love of the class. Sure, we're all a little conflicted one way or another as to what class we'll play, and what the first alt will be. But i'll be damned if Bioware from Day 1 has made it incredibly hard to say, "Oh i'll play a smuggler" or "BH it is"

    Because not only does every class have 2 seperate classes with their own nuances, but the styles, the skills, and story….my God the options are so numerous, i just feel like…feel like i'm gonna have a whopper freakout if i can't play this game right now.

    If i can't make a character, and dedicate my entire life to mastering it, making it MINE, the thought there is no ONE WAY to play a Commando, or a Shadow…

    It just makes it where everyone has their class, everyone can have fun and be LOYAL to that class without looking over across the room and saying, "HEY, HE CAN DO SOMETHING I CAN'T, NERRFF" That in itself is freaking exciting.

    I don't know how many people will appreciate it, but from the looks of it, i think this will be the greatest MMO of all time…….ugh release date release date release daatteeee ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    p.s. I hope Jara, You MMOGC and I can get it in on a Flashpoint one day soon :D.

    p.s.p.s. What kind of Bounty Hunter do you think you'll be? *if that's even what you're picking*


    • Hopefully, encounters will feel like a real battle — its players flowing dynamically from one task to the next, taking on whatever role is required of them. I mean, in practice, that’s how a team should work together in a situation like that, right? Certainly no healer should be like, “My damage sucks anyway, so why bother?” or no melee should see their healer and think, “BAH, not my problem, I’m only here to DPS!”

      In WoW, I was always irked as a tank to see DPS constantly trying to outdo each other in the damage meters. It’s a very individualistic attitude, but I can’t even blame them. If DPS is all you can do, obviously your personal performance is all that you’re going to be fixated on. The great thing is, when I played Taral V at PAX I was struck by how much teamwork played a part. I definitely think one would be more inclined to think of others in the group if they are given more things to do. I foresee groups will be a lot of fun if things actually play out this way.

      I’m thinking right now I might going with the Mercenary BH AC. I like the western style thing it has going, and if I had to choose a support role I’d prefer to heal rather than tank. Not that I have any problems with tanking, just that I’ve done that role so many times in the past, I want to try something different ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. I won’t lie to you. DPS lifer. When it comes to Deeps, i’m like a Chef who brings you raw meat and potatoes. I never claim to be fancy, or flashy, but i get the job done and you’ll get your fill when it comes to my…dps, i don’t die often *Shaman* and if i did, you’d probably never notice because i’m headlong face first into the next mob ready to kick some ass.

    Which is what makes Trooper and Bh so intriguing, even Sith Marauder for instance. Just the thought of barreling through tooth and nail delivering punishment left and right is an arousing thing :). The idea that maybe…JUST MAYBE, i could effectively tank in that manner, even if it means i’m just doling out punishment, and there’s some offtank, whos not really an offtank, just a sith shadow who can pick up the slack if something gets loose, or not even just get loose…

    But needs it’s asskicked and the “light tank” can dole out just as much sheer damage and handle itself just fine if specc’d right? Wow…


    • You know what I found to be really cool during the Taral V demo? My husband played the Jedi Consular, in what I assume was aDPS/off healing build, and he still managed to survive a 20-30 second barrage by the boss during our encounter when he aggroed after the Trooper tank went down. This tells me even the DPS classes aren’t going to be as vulnerable as expected, which is good…because one thing that’s always chafed me against playing pure DPS classes in other games is how helpless you are in those situations. When a boss or even an elite heads your way, you pretty much just wait to get pounded into dust ๐Ÿ˜› Not very heroic lol…


      • That’s what i like too. I don’t think there’s going to be a such thing as a clothie, a pure tank, or a hybrid tank. If my mind serves me right, i think Knights, Consulars and Troopers will be no pushover, but i can’t help but feel like Smuggler’s and Agents will be the ones to really suffer from “clothie syndrome”

        I mean, if you look at the stats and in beta updates….Smuggies died a bunch, and Agents are already getting extra tools, like mines to help them out in stealth, they’re the only ones i know who cant heal or tank…which leads me to believe either they’re going to rape hardcore in pvp and dps, or they’re going to be the ones to QQ to death about what they can and cant do, and what’s under powered. As far as i can tell balance-wise *again, in my head* Everyone has tools of damage, healing and survivability, so there wont be any excuses for a group maximizing it’s potential the same way they would solo dolo.


  5. What I thought was really interesting was seeing how all of the classes can perform multiple roles and at everyone has a spec for either tanking or healing (some both!). Seems like a very sensible idea to me and one that might help balancing and grouping in the long run. Although I am a little confused about a Trooper can be a healer ๐Ÿ˜›

    Now the big problem is they face is convincing Sith Warriors and Jedi Knights to take tank specs when the DPS spec allows dual-wielding ๐Ÿ˜›


    • Yeah, healing trooper, that is bizarre! Not as bizarre as a healing bounty hunter though, after so many weeks I’m still trying to get used to the idea…but actually, I think that’s the advanced class I’m ultimately going to go with ๐Ÿ™‚

      But I’m glad they’re doing this…especially in light of the recent news that Blizzard is bribing tanks because not enough of them are queuing for randoms. I hope TOR won’t have this problem.



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