Thursday, July 28, 2011

Your Eleventh Assignment: Operational Control

Alpha Base, come in!  Agent Ancestor reporting!  We have confirmed enemy size, including Jedi.  Placing charges and starting orbital assault.  Engaging.

Lock and load, agents!  We've got some very exciting news today.  Operation (TOR version of raids) size confirmed at 8 and 16.  Should be much easier to round up a group get into raiding (which makes me happy).  Just remember, as of right now companions are not allowed in operations.  They can enter flashpoints (4-person dungeons/instances) however, and of course they will accompany you on your quests.  Even more exciting than the confirmation of raid sizes is the loot rules.  Oh Bioware, TOR will be the greatest game in the world if only for this ...

You have just nullified loot ninjas.

You heard that right.  Instead of loot dropping off the bosses and having to develop loot councils, rules, DKP, etc etc, TOR heads that all off at the pass.  When a boss is killed, a personalized loot bag will open for you and you alone.  In it will be credits and either gear specific to your class or badges to buy gear.

I'll give you a moment to absorb that.  Done?

Yeah, I thought so too.  How excellent is that?  No more going through dungeon after dungeon, or raid after raid, seeing everyone who wears goddamn PLATE getting ALL THE DROPS.  Now you get your own loot bag.  It may not contain gear, but it will at least have badges so you can go buy gear.  What an elegant solution.  It rewards everyone while simultaneously eliminating gear envy (which is a real killer ... trust me :\ ).  In fact, if you have more than one class present (and you will) then no one has to compete for gear.  It's an epic decision and I totally support it.

September beta tests still look like they are on target and a recent EA quarterly earnings call basically confirmed that TOR will launch in EA's fiscal Q3 (October-December).  None of this is really news.  I'm expecting a November launch with a release date announcement at PAX Prime in less than 30 days.  Comic Con was a virtual truckload of info and I'm still sifting through it all.  Everything seems to be falling into place.

So, after perusing my usual Old Republic sites, I've come to a shocking conclusion that everyone in the world has already figured out; Force wielders are going to outnumber non-Force users.  By a lot.  I mean, who wants to play some douchebag with a glowstick when you can play a bad-ass, blue-skinned, cold-hearted Imperial killer?  I'll never understand either, fellow Agent.

OK, since apparently everyone and their brother is going to roll a Sith Inquisitor, what can Bioware do to make sure us truly awesome players get our fair share too?  I've got some suggestions.

1) More spikes.  This is Blizzard's way of fixing things.  Reference shaman armor.
2) Make us OP.  This seems to actually be happening as Imperial Agents are, according to rumor, the most powerful classes in the game.  As in, one-shotting elites powerful.  Yeah, you heard me.
3) Polygamy.  Non-Force users should be able to mack as many ladies (or dudes, for you lady Agents) as we want.  Like, we should have a harem.
4) Boom goes the dynamite.  We should get an I-WIN button, a button that makes us about three times as powerful as any other class in the game.  You know, sort of like a WoW paladin.

Barring all of that, one of the way Bioware can make non-Force users as nifty as douchey glowstick throwers is by working on their story.  According to reports, the Imperial Agent has a fantastic story.  Just simply awesome.  Lots of James Bond moments, lots of very hard to choices to make.  I can't wait to dive into my story as I strive to save my beloved Empire from the clutches of the evil Republic.  And yes, I mean that part.  In my eyes (well, my Agent's eyes), the Republic allows weakness and entitlement to foster, putting everyone at risk.  My Agent would rather die than let his people suffer that fate.  I personally am excited to see how this plays out in-game.

But we're not just concerned with Agents here (well, we are, but we'll pay lip service to other non-Force wielders).  Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, and Troopers all have to have engaging storylines to keep them competitive with the lasersword crowd.  Let's hope that they are.

That wraps it up for now.  Fly safe, shoot straight.  For the glory of the Empire!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Your Tenth Assignment: Primed

Alpha Base, I am now in position near target designated Pax Prime.  Continuing surveillance of target.  Preparing for assault.

Lock and load, agents!  The SW:TOR pre-order bonanza of 2011 is drawing to a close.  Do you have yours?  Remember, the sooner you get it, the sooner you enter your pre-order code, the sooner you get into early access.  No stress.  Right?

Darth Hater has a few articles up about the recent Comic Con event.  Take a moment to read them!  Lots of useful info in there, of which the following are the most important:

1) Speeder bikes and landspeeders ... CONFIRMED!  No more Scooty Puff Juniors; you can get a real speeder now.
2) Early Game Access explained!  Sort of!  Sooner you enter your code, the sooner you can get into the early access phase that could last "days or weeks."
3) Companions are cool again!  Not only can you customize their appearance (different skin tones, accessories, different armor/weapon kits), you can also customize their AI routines just like Dragon Age companions!  This means that companions are no longer useless, malformed lumps of shit in combat.  Good news.
4) Most importantly ... the exclusive Collector's Edition vendor IS NOT A CASH SHOP.  They will provide unique vanity items, weapons, and armor for CE owners.  The shop will reside in a special CE-only VIP area too!  Neat!
5) BETA WEEKENDS IN SEPTEMBER!  Much like RIFT, TOR will launch special beta weekends so we can all get our grubby mitts all over their game for free.  I mean, really.  REALLY.  Have to change pantaloons.

So what's our next target?

PAX PRIME is in (as of this moment) 32 days.  Pax Prime is the West Coast edition of the Penny Arcade Expo.  It is considered holy ground for videogame nerds of all sizes and shapes (usually large and round).  I fully expect a release date at that time.  In 32 days, it will be August 26th.  Beta weekends start in September, fresh off the Pax Prime announcements.  Release date information will whip the fanbase into a complete frenzy, making the TOR beta invites the most talked about (and most coveted) beta keys in the history of gaming.  EA has officially stated that they are looking for a Holiday 2011 release.  The ball is rolling, ladies and gentlemen.  It's good to be a TOR fan.

My prediction for an 10/11/11 release date is still alive, although on life support.  But I fully expect a November release date.

If you haven't ordered a CE of The Old Republic yet, don't fret!  They're nearly sold out everywhere, but Bioware has confirmed that they will release some more stock as the release date approaches.  Be patient, my young padawans.  Patience is a virtue.

Except when you're waiting for TOR.  GIEF ME TOR NAO!!1!!ONE!!!!ELEVEN!!

Fly safe, shoot straight.  For the glory of the Empire!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Your Ninth Assignment: Target Sighted

Alpha Base, come in.  Target sighted and continuing to monitor situation.  Awaiting confirmation of kill order.  Do I have a go?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Star Wars: The Old Republic pre-order.  What has been flying all over the 'net this week was apparently true!  I'm going to break down each edition.  Let's lock and load!

The Holy Grail ... the ultimate package ... The SW:TOR Collector's Edition

The CE is ridiculously packed with goodies, both physical and digital.  Let's get to the tangible stuff first.
  • Exclusive Gentle Giant Darth Malgus statue
  • Game disks collectible metal case
  • The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural as annotated by Satele Shan
  • The Old Republic galaxy map
  • Custom Security Authentication Key
  • Music of Star Wars: The Old Republic CD
  • High-quality Collector's Edition box
The Malgus statue from Gentle Giant is thought to be worth around $60-$100 by itself.  It stands 8" and features the main bad guy of the game, the fearsome Darth Malgus.  You know, the big, vicious Sith Lord who sacked Coruscant, made a mess of Alderaan, and was most recently seen retaking Korriban after handing his master some lightsaber TLC.  Yeah.  He's sort of a badass.  I was hoping for a couple of different statues to pick from (like Malgus, Satele Shan, or the uber tasty Shae Vizla) but that was logistically improbable.  Metal case for your disks.  Hold your game discs in style.  The journal ... you may recognize Master Gnost-Dural as the Jedi master who does the Timeline segments on the website.  He's voiced by Lance Henrikson.  It provides good insight into the lore leading up the actual game.  It's a hardback book with artwork as well.  The map.  Oh you beautiful map.   You're going right over my computer desk.  You may even get framed.  I love maps.  Like, a lot.  Authenticator!  Bioware has learned from Blizzard's error and provided you an authenticator free of charge (well, at least for CE owners).  Good move, as an RSA token is scientifically proven to increase your account security by 1500%.  Ok, not that much but seriously, it helps.  The soundtrack.  Excellent.  Featuring an all-new score for the game, plus the some music from the original KOTOR, KOTOR 2, and the movies.  I personally adore soundtracks (my TRON soundtrack says hi!).  High quality box.  To put all this shit in.

Both the Collector's Edition and the Digital Deluxe come with the same digital goodies, with the exception of two items.  Here's the list.
Flare gun.  Shoot a firework.  Make merriment.  Training droid.  The actual use of this is vague, but the item description says it will assist you in combat.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  The holodancer!  A Twi'lek dancer for you to fap to ... I mean, look at.  The strangest item in the bundle is the holocam.  It says you can record your adventures in TOR ... but you can take screenshots like normal.  Is this a possible FRAPS type item?  STAP.  This is a free speeder bike.   Yeah.  I KNOW.  This alone is worth the price of admission, as the speeder bikes are fairly expensive.  You receive them at level 25 and the bike + training is pretty much all your credits you've saved.  Nice.

Exclusive digital goodies for CE owners are as follows: mouse droid and store.  The mouse droid is a non-combat pet that will follow you around and get scared by wookiees.  The store.  THIS IS NOT A REAL CASH SHOP.  This is a special in-game vendor (like the Black Emporium from Dragon Age 2) that allows you to buy (with credits) cool items that only super hip CE owners get.  Be hip.  Get the CE.

The standard edition pre-order entitles you to the game and bittersweet tears as you watch your friends unwrap their CEs and laugh at you.  Sorry.

All three editions will include a special color stone for your saber and guns and early game access.  Bioware's not said how much early game access is available, but word on the street places the CE and DD at 6 days, standard at 3 days.

There's some cryptic wording on the website about entering your pre-order code and getting early acces "in the order it was received."  I don't quite know what that means, but I think they want you to put in your pre-order stuff ASAP.  I'll be placing my pre-order at Gamestop today.  Yeehaw!

Folks, the release date is right around the corner (probably at PAX Prime).  TOR is getting awfully close in the rearview mirror.

Are you ready?

Edit: After thinking about it, why would I need a midnight release?  They're going to have an early access time anyways, so I'll need to download the client (ie, full game) beforehand.  I used Amazon instead for the no-hassle shipping from being a Prime member.  Got my code instantly, redeemed it at the SWTOR website.  Jacked up and good to go!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Your Eighth Assignment: Deep Cover

Come in Alpha Base, come in Alpha Base!  This is deep cover agent Ancestor, reporting as ordered.  I don't have much time, but what I've learned is of critical importance to the Empire.  Transmitting data now ...

Imperial Intelligence has been quiet for a while because honestly, there's not been much to comment on regarding our favorite yet-to-be-released MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Until today.

There'd been some rumblings about announcement at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 21st.  I honestly expected the same; a couple of looks at some flashpoints, some stuff on the Jedi Consular, maybe another gander at space combat.

Holy shit was I wrong.  Courtesy of Betacake and the official forums (if you can believe it) the Collector's Edition of SWTOR has been leaked.  Like, all of it.  Here's a picture.

I know, right?  Here's a list of CE features from a Spanish retailer (and a French one as well, claiming the same ... all but confirmed):
Collector's Edition includes:
- 30 day subscription to the game
- CD Soundtrack of Star Wars The Old Republic
- Security Key (Flash Drive that protects your account from hackers)
- Galaxy Map (Map of the Universe The Old Republic)
- Journal of Dural Gnost
- Figure Darth Malgus (18 cm)
- Flare Gun (digital content, shoot fireworks over the heads of the players).
- Mouse Droid (digital content, pet chasing the player wherever you go).
- Holodancer (digital content, projects a dancer in the game)
- Holocam (digital content, allows the player to take take pictures in the game)
- Collector's Store (digital content, access to exclusive in-game store to buy weapons and other items)
- Speeder (digital content, unique vehicle, available at level 25)

EDIT: Add a 6-day headstart to the list of CE goodies as well as a training droid
Yeah.  I know, right!?!

So, let's get to the nitty-gritty.  What's the damage?  Currently, the price in Euros is 149.95 at most outlets.  That translates to $200+ American and Canadian.


Ok, now that unpleasantness is out of the way ... yeah, I'm getting this.  I don't even care about the price.  I just.  Don't.  CARE.  I know, I know, I'm part of the problem.  I've been rabidly following this game since 2007 when I started WoW and it would be an utter disservice to my fanboy status to not get the CE.

Let's talk about what exactly comes in the CE.  There's a nice, big galaxy map.  There's a keyfob that could be either a authenticator or a USB drive, or both!  There's a nice metal case that'll look great on my computer desk.  There's 4 DVDs, presumably containing the game.  A hardbound art book/journal.  And a sweeeet Darth Malgus statue.  FYI, I've heard rumors that there's a Republic pack as well that comes with a Satele Shan figure.  Hawt!

Digitally, the CE gives us a free speeder bike at level 25.  It also contains a "Collector's store" ... I think this will operate like the Cerberus Network for Mass Effect 2.  A holocam and holodancer, look like RP items, a mouse droid that will probably act like a companion pet, and a flare gun so you can light up the night like the Protomen.


I know.

I gotta change my pants too.

So, the price is high.  Let's be honest, $200.00 for all that is a lot to ask.  $150.00 would be a lot to ask.  But I'll pay it anyways because I'm hopeless.

Now the long wait for confirmation at Comic Con.

Oh, the agony!