To say I’m excited for Star Wars: The Old Republic is an understatement on the level of saying Comic-Con is a little crowded.

So it was with great glee I attended both their panel on Thursday the 22nd and a special VIP opportunity to play through some of the game.  First, in case you haven’t heard, the game is available for pre-order NOW, and as a special pre-order bonus, Bioware will give you both an exclusive lightsaber crystal and they promise that as soon as it launches people will be invited to play the game in the order they pre-ordered. Oh, they also announced a “launch window” of “Holiday 2011”- not a firm date, but as close as we’re going to get for now.

In preparation for launch, they also announced expanded beta testing on weekends starting in September. So, if you haven’t yet signed up for their beta, you really ought to. You’re “much more likely” to get a chance to play according to Bioware as they move into this final beta phase.

I also got a chance to sit down and play this bad boy for almost 40 minutes, engaging in a PvP “flashpoint” battle on Alderaan, the point of which is to capture three separate cannons, which then fire on orbital spaceships. The more cannons you control, the quicker you deplete the other side’s fleet, and you win. This PvP was not only beautifully conceived and perfectly balanced but incredibly fun. I got stuck playing a Republic Smuggler in the Gunslinger build. Let me tell you, I had 0 interest in playing a smuggler, gunslinger or otherwise. But I had  A BLAST. I had no idea how much fun that could be, and I even got pretty good at it. My favorite move was to get in close to an unsuspecting Sith Lord and kick them square in the groin, pistol whip them, then move to a safe distance and toss in a thermal detonator.  Often, the Sith would be concentrating more on their Jedi opponents, so I could come in and do this repeatedly, pwning these huge armored Sith Lords.  Imagine if Han Solo came in and kicked Vader in the groin, or Cad Bane kicking Anakin or Obi-Wan.  It’s FUN. This is what really surprised me was how fun it could be to play even those who I was less interested in.
Meanwhile, I liked following around Jedi Consulars and see them throwing huge rocks, rocking that double bladed lightsaber, and generally kicking ass. And as for the Empire, those guys were formidable.  I hated the bounty hunter who kept lighting me on fire.  Bastard. And it made me want to play as a bounty hunter and a Sith Juggernaut.

During the panel yesterday, someone during the Q&A asked how PvP would work, to which they answered “Very well.”  I can testify to that, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy pvp all that much, who didn’t even get to choose what class he wanted. This game is EPIC in all sense of the word. Do you know how great it is? It’s so amazing, that I have zero desire to play World of Warcraft any more. Zero. As in the “once you’ve seen the city lights you can never go back to the farm” sense, because frankly, all other MMORPGs seem dumb by comparison. I want to pull and Eric Cartman and freeze myself until the game comes out, that’s how little I can wait.

Well, what else did we learn from the Bioware panel?  First, the scale of the game.  They have promised dozens of worlds, each of which is big in itself. According to the developers, if you started running at one end of Tatooine, it would take you a half hour to run to the other end of the world. And that is one of dozens.  So, yes, EPIC scale.

Other than that, we didn’t get too much else revealed. Except that you really need to pre-order this now. Lucky for me, as an attendee of the panel I got a ticket to redeem for a pre-order. I still have to pay, but since several outlets ran out of their pre-sale allotment yesterday (including Amazon), just having a guaranteed pre-order is pretty sweet in my opinion. I mean, of course I was going to buy this game. Get ready. The holidays can’t come soon enough for this robot.

What about the rest of you robots?

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Tags: Comic Con , Video Games , Star Wars , MMORPG