SWTOR’s combat system: an initial review

coruscant Self-proclaimed SWTOR newcomer Phillip has a close look at SWTOR’s combat system:

Bounty Hunter Class
UI looks pretty straight forward. UI appears to be hidden during “cutscenes”. Dialog Interface during cutscenes to decide on conversation path seems intuitive, reminds me somewhat of the Sims dialogue widget. Action bar sitting along the bottom along with character hp bar sitting slightly above. Mini-map sitting along the bottom, the majority of the screen apart from the bottom is free of distractions. Point and click based combat similar to WoW with use of skills from the action bar. Very little use of cover or tactics it appears, target appears on the other side of the UI action bar.

Smuggler Class
Represents Han Solo fantasy, once again makes use of a basic blaster. Disappointing that the cover zones are specified, would have been nice to have cover accounted for simply by being obstructed. Why don’t other classes have access to cover facilities? They keep talking about “Heroic” combat, I don’t see all that much heroic about hiding behind a rock.

Korriban Planet Review: Sith Warrior Class
Sith learn their training on this planet. Appears to be melee based class, and has what appears to be a rage style bar. The light sabre effects look good, will be curious to see what kind of system demands are placed on PCs and Macs. The scenery from all demos looks fantastic, plenty of spaces to take cover it looks (not sure if they are cover zones). Enemies make use of cover, the demo doesn’t really detail the AI capabilities.

Flashpoint: High Level Bounty Hunter and High Level Sith Warrior
UI in the cutscene shows two of the character portraits in the lower left hand corner. Can’t work out what the numbers are being shown in the portrait icon. Interactive system and it appears different group members have an opportunity to participate. Force Charge used, force bar seems to charge through melee attacks. Nice fire effect from the Bounty Hunter. Looks like decisions will affect “Dark Points” accrued, I’m assuming Jedi’s accrue “Light Points”? Storm Troopers armed with Melee weapons? Why wouldn’t they be equipped with range weaponry? Especially going up against Sith or Jedi. Sith Warrior has crowd control abilities. Jet Pack, Death from Above ability, no player control it appears, an action bar ability. Bounty Hunter has lockpick type abilities, explodes the locked door. The combat on the whole does feel epic watching it from the point of view of the Sith Warrior, not so sure it has the same feel while playing ranged. Bounty Hunter has Sleep Dart. Jedi Padawan takes on the Sith Warrior. Not very acrobatic combat or relying on the use of the Force much apart from a Force Choke. Combat against the Jedi Knight appears to be very stationary, would have been nice to see more acrobatics and movement rather than so much toe-to-toe combat. The UI appears to be very slick, will be curious to see whether or not 3rd party addons will be allowed and to what extent they can have effect on the UI customisation. Inventory system is more compressed and doesn’t waste screen real estate with the characters avatar shown. First ever multi voice dialogue system.

The Sum Up

Wow. Exciting. Visually compelling.

How else to describe the video delights Bioware is releasing currently to those of us impatiently awaiting every tidbit of news they dangle before us. Having spent some time watching the developer walk-through, it had me thinking about combat and what we’ve seen so far in the demo. Overall I’m fairly impressed, but it’s not so impressive to leave me speechless and in awe (on the flip-side the environments and atmosphere did impress me – a lot).

There was just something a little off in the way combat appeared to pan out during the walk-through, if I had to pick a word to describe it, I would probably say it’s a little ‘wooden’. Now what do I mean by that I hear you ask? Movements and actions just seemed too orchestrated, there just didn’t appear to be any kind of “flow”. Most of the classes just stood exchanging blaster fire or melee blows which didn’t equate to anything “heroic” in my book.

Every time you read through or watch a Bioware interview they always talk about how “heroic” their combat is going to be along with all the “heroic” action. I think the story is heroic, but as for the combat shown, it’s not so heroic. I’ll break it down and go through some of the issues I feel need to be addressed.

The smuggler, a great class idea, and it’s use of a cover system is exciting, but I’d really like to know why they are the only class to have access to “cover”. Shouldn’t every class be able to make use of objects or obstructions as refuge from persistent laser blasts? Last time I watched the films I vividly recall that all of the heroes at least spent some time huddled away behind doors, or cargo boxes exchanging blaster fire, even the mighty Jedi weren’t averse to ducking out of the way every now and then. As a game mechanic it’s great, but yes, I don’t see why it’s a unique class perk, just seems a little silly to me, when you see a smuggler taking cover while his Trooper buddy stands out in the open taking the heat – I really think if he had a little common sense he’d be jumping for cover as well!

There has been a lot of excitement in the forums surrounding the Bounty Hunter’s jet pack, a lot of people are speculating as to whether or not it will be possible to use it to fly around the zones. It looks like that will not be the case, although I could be proven wrong as higher level details haven’t been released at this stage. From what was released in the walk-through, it will be leveraged in some of the abilities available to the Bounty Hunter, but just being able to quickly shoot into the air a few feet and rain down some damage seems a little understated. At least have the Hunter drop a nuke or something worthwhile – a few puny blaster shots does not constitute “death from above”.

The Sith Warrior was exciting to watch, there’s something about seeing light sabres flash and skewering people effortlessly that is so visually thrilling. It’s eyeball candy, very hypnotising. There was even the occasional use of force choke thrown in for good measure. There wasn’t much to not like about the Sith Warrior, it definitely looked to be a more immersive style of play and the flow of combat between the Sith Warrior and the Jedi Knight near the end brought back memories of the epic light-show dance of death you see in the films. I’m looking forward to what they’ll have to offer with the Jedi (when they officially release the class info).

The environments shown look rich and intricate, a lot of thought and effort has been put into the design of the game world. I’m very curious to see how it will turn out in terms of scale, as we are dealing with Planets in the Star Wars mythos, not simply cities or continents. I’d expect some areas will be richer than others, and I’m really looking forward to combat in varied atmospheres against different species!


  1. I like this piece.

    I am hoping to be a Sith Warrior as warrior classes in all MMORPGs is the thing that really gets me going.

    Warriors rock.