Hands-On with Star Wars: The Old Republic Player vs. Player
NOTE: This article originally included two additional writers’ impressions of the PvP system in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those impressions were both retracted due to factual inaccuracies that tarnished the reviewers’ analyses. Game Front regrets the error.
I’m not much of a massively multiplayer person — my last full-on bout with the world of time-sink online games was Final Fantasy XI, which eventually annoyed me because it felt like I was doing a job I wasn’t getting paid for. But if there’s an MMO I’ll come out for, it’s a Star Wars game built with the same mindset as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
With that said, I look optimistically toward Star Wars: The Old Republic, even with some of Game Front’s staff being a little less enthusiastic after having a chance to mess around with it. Although, as someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time with MMOs, I’m approaching from a specific, somewhat unique angle: a guy who sees much of SWTOR’s elements without the lens of World of WarCraft against which to prejudge.
It was with such a mindset that I sat down with the player vs. player with fellow Fronters Ross Lincoln and Jordon Justice, donning the colors of the Sith Empire to take on a group of other Comic-Con attendees. The PC I sat down in front of put me in the role of an Imperial Agent specialized as a Sniper. That gave me some long-range capabilities, thermal detonator grenades and a defensive ability to throw down a cover position wherever I was standing.
Our mission was to capture three command points on the given map, aligned in a straight line through its center. At opposite ends were two cruisers, one from each side, from which new players were deployed. The plan was to capture the command points — having all three would allow one team to shoot down the other’s cruiser and win the game.
To get down to the planet’s surface below, we had to jump on speederbikes. The speederbike ride was preprogrammed, dropping each of us in a different spot on the surface but in the same general area, after which we all ran like crazies toward the three command posts — one in front of us, one to either side. Just standing near a command post was enough to capture it, but we’d need to clear out the Republic Jedi to have any effect.
My first venture into the game got me lost, outside of the structures I was trying to attack, and after a while I ran across a lone Jedi. Even with my range advantage, I was pretty helpless: the Jedi closed the gap on me and started slicing away. I tried to run, only to continue to get pummeled. I did a little damage, but it wasn’t long before I was struck down.
In fact, my first…oh, five lives went this way. Deploy, attack the command post, get sliced up by Jedi. It turns out that Imperial Agents, and Snipers in particular, are useless on their own and in any kind of close-range combat situation. I had a melee attack that I couldn’t seem to do much with and not a lot of other options. Unfortunately, my primary function was to hide behind stronger teammates, so I had to time my deployments to make sure there were lots of other characters to keep the enemy busy. This likely sounds elementary to most, but it took some effort to learn the movements of my team and I found it a little frustrating to realize I had few options for defending myself if someone happened to sneak up behind me.
At range, though, the Sniper was pretty damn effective, especially against troublesome heavy targets. The Republic had one Trooper specialized as a Commando, who was basically running around with a minigun that ate up Sith who weren’t actively cutting him apart. He was especially irritating, but once I’d found some high ground — up a ramp just to the left of the center control point, which looked down on the choke point through which the Republic troops were forced to pass to reach the center — I was able to inflict some serious damage. Firing heavy shots against enemies engaging Sith dropped them all the quicker; it took a minute or two, but soon the Sith Empire was functioning as more of a unit, and winning victories for the effort.
While we lost the overall match, the “hide-and-shoot” strategy I employed as the sniper secured me the rank of third by the end with something like 16 kills. It wasn’t exactly my style to stay hidden and take pot shots, but it was interesting to find that even a minimal amount of teamwork on my part with other characters turned us into a formidable force. And the game took on quite a bit more fun once I discovered that staying away from Jedi is the best way to play the game.
The moral of my story, it seems, would be to not play SWTOR’s PvP mode unless you’ve got some friends to bring with you. Smart, lightsaber-wielding friends, preferably.