Star Wars: Class Speculation

star-wars-00001Part of the great fun of an upcoming MMO title that you’re anticipating is engaging in speculation about what might or might not be (or what you wish will be).  Now that BioWare’s announced 3 out of 8 classes — with at least two more classes that deal with Force-users — the big question is, “What will the final five be?” Personally, I don’t have any great predictions, as what we have to draw on is a little skimpy, but we can take a look at two established sources of possible: KOTOR and Star Wars Galaxies.  From what they offer, here’s a few classes I could see as being contenders:

  • KOTOR: Killer assassin droid, scout, grey Jedi
  • SWG: Spy, pilot

The problem here is that KOTOR wasn’t really set up for huge amounts of classes — all players would become one of three flavors of Jedi, so the other three classes (scout, smuggler, soldier) were mostly for the first planet and other characters.  SWG doesn’t fare much better; Jedi, smuggler and bounty hunter all made it over to TOR, but those would be the only three I’d pick.  The Trooper looks to cover a lot of ground that SWG’s officer and commando did.  And with only 8 paltry class spots for TOR, I highly — HIGHLY — doubt that they’re going to develop classes that are anything like the trader, entertainer or medic.

We can also look to the movies, of course, but since nothing really pops to mind, I’d rather steer away from spewing out my class predictions and instead look at what we do know — and what we might derive from that.

  1. From TOR’s class page, there looks to be 8 classes, 4 on each side.  Deduction: only 4 classes per side means no repeated classes.
  2. From BioWare’s own mouth, they have to pit every non-Force class up against Jedi/Sith in terms of both combat equality and popularity.  Deduction: all non-Force classes have to be iconic, exciting and tempting enough to entice players away from overwhelming the landscape with lightsabers and lightning.
  3. Frank notes that BioWare is looking to recreate archetype “experiences” — Han Solo experience, Darth Vader experience and so on.  Deduction: look to the films for popular characters and roles as possible inclusion into TOR.

What intrigues me the most is the 8 class/4-per-side limit — certainly paltry compared to some titles out today.  This gets me thinking more about class customization and configuration.  Now, I know, it’s too early and we have too little data to draw from, but if every bounty hunter plays and develops the same, then that’s an incredibly limiting game in a post-World of Warcraft world.  Speaking of which, I’m wondering if each of the classes will take a cue from WoW’s talent trees (which essentially took a class and made it into three — or more — sub-classes: shadow priests, ret pallys, etc.) and allow for a huge variety of customization and builds within that class.  Personally, that’s the sort of thing I prefer, if I had to choose between fewer classes/more customization and the opposite.

Look at the first couple minutes of the Trooper video, in which dev Paul Adam says:

“So we start out with our basic Trooper, which is your basic armor set, that’s pretty much an homage to the basic Clone Trooper/Stormtrooper.  Then we go both directions with it. We go down to what the Rebel troopers and soldiers… you see them on the Hoth troopers, the backpacks and the goggles… we gradually ramp you up past the armor for more intense looks.”

What interests me is that they show different armor sets — lighter gear, heavier armor — which certainly could be taken as “this is the progression from light armor at the start of the game to a heavily-geared warrior by the end.”  But it also could be seen that the Trooper will have the choice between developing as a faster, lighter-armored soldier and a heavy-plated tank.

Sure, that’s probably me reading into it too much, but that doesn’t answer the inevitable question of character customization, aka “How is my guy different than all the others out there, other than just my gear?”  This brings me to a very KOTOR staple — that game didn’t just have a Jedi, it had three subsets of Jedi.  Three varieties: counsular, sentinel, guardian.  Why this couldn’t translate into TOR, I don’t know… three (or more) subclasses, paths, trees, or what have you.  Every Jedi doesn’t have to be 100% identical, neither does every Trooper, Smuggler or Bounty Hunter.  Let’s take off our Boba Fett fan worship goggles to remember that there were many, many types of Bounty Hunter in Star Wars, and they didn’t all wear Mandalorian armor:

bountyhunter

Interesting thought: what if one of those “other” guys ended up being the guy who captured Solo — we’d have a huge section of Star Wars fans worshiping them instead!

So anyway, I’m not only eager to hear what the other classes will be, but also how they will develop, and other choices as to their makeup (such as races).  Definitely too soon?  Sure.  But it tickles the brain, and that’s what gets me writing.

P.S. – I dug out my old 1987 edition of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game manual (which was one of my all-time favorite books at that age), and scanned through the character sheets, which have some pretty interesting classes:

  • Alien Student of the Force
  • Arrogant Noble
  • Armchair Historian
  • Bounty Hunter
  • Brash Pilot
  • Ewok (yay!)
  • Failed Jedi
  • Gambler
  • Kid
  • Laconic Scout
  • Loyal Retainer
  • The Merc
  • Minor Jedi
  • Mon Calamari
  • Old Senatorial
  • The Outlaw
  • Pirate
  • Quixotic Jedi
  • Retired Imperial Captain
  • Smuggler
  • Tongue-Tied Engineer
  • Young Senatorial
  • Wookie
  • Tough Native

16 thoughts on “Star Wars: Class Speculation

  1. Slurms June 9, 2009 / 7:40 am

    Oh please, let me be a Twi’lek Smuggler!

    If not, I can go with my new fallback, the Failed Jedi. Just walk around all day /facepalming and complaining that I shouldnt been a padiatrist like my parents suggested.

  2. unwize June 9, 2009 / 8:05 am

    I found the following line from the Bounty Hunter developer blog interesting:

    At the heart of the Bounty Hunter story is the hunt itself. Smugglers, Jedi, Sith, rebel leaders, rogue droids, assassins, entire gangs or embezzling underlings, the Bounty Hunter takes them all down.”

    Source: http://www.swtor.com/news/bwblog/20090403_001

    Rebel Leader? Rogue Droid? Assassin?

  3. spinks June 9, 2009 / 8:57 am

    Armchair historian sounds ace 🙂

  4. Krosuss June 9, 2009 / 9:09 am

    Your article about more dynamic movement in MMOs makes me wonder about TOR … how much more fun would PvP fights be if you had more control? What if you could do flips and jumps and spins as you whirl your lightsaber?

    I’d hate for this game to have the typical MMO PvP fighting in it. You run around one another hitting buttons with premade animations. I’d love for this to have some of that console/Soulcalibur feel where you control a lot more of the movement. It would make the fights a heck of a lot more interesting. I’m not saying I want all those crazy controller combos (up-down-up-A-A-B) just to pull off some move.

    The more I hear about this game the more I’m thinking I will be playing it.

  5. We Fly Spitfires June 9, 2009 / 9:10 am

    Assuming there’s a single Jedi per side then it really only leaves 3 more classes to go. I’m guessing Medic will be one of them so as for the other 2… I have no idea 🙂

    I’m curious about why we’re not heard of any races yet. Hopefully we’ll see a big selection like Zabrak, Wookie, Calamari and Twi’lek. Maybe even in Hutts. Now that would be sweet 🙂

  6. thade June 9, 2009 / 9:34 am

    Failed Jedi ftw…back when it was all about roleplaying not about being numerically equivalent.

  7. Sharon June 9, 2009 / 10:09 am

    Wow, that list brings back memories!!

  8. arbitrary June 9, 2009 / 10:09 am

    Armchair Historian wins for me too. Or Ewok.

    Thinking Engineer is plausible, ships and droids need maintenance after all.

    But I really just want to play a droid.

    Mon Calamari sounds like a dodgy gourmet dish, so it made me smile anyway.

  9. g30ff June 9, 2009 / 10:12 am

    Don’t you think it’ll be more likely that Droids would be a race before a class? I’m looking forward to hearing about the races as well.

    I don’t have a link to back me up, unfortunately, but I do remember reading/hearing at some point that they intended each class to have different playstyles.

    So like in KOTOR where you could choose to be the 3 types of Jedi/Sith–some more melee oriented while others were force-focused. I’m thinking it’ll be like you said with the talent tree concept.

  10. Myrix June 9, 2009 / 10:26 am

    My theory:

    Trooper Bounty Hunter
    Smuggler Assassin
    Jedi Warrior Dark Jedi
    Jedi Master Sith Lord

    I predict Jedi Warrior/Dark Jedi will be the physical melee versions (though they’ll still have some force powers obv.) representing iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, etc.

    Then Jedi Master/Sith Lord will be sort of like caster types, with force “spells” including healing powers. They’d represent Yoda, Emperor Palpatine, etc. Jedi Master will probably heal or inspire others and gain power from doing so, thus increasing his own damage. Sith Lord will be the opposite, needing to deal damage first in order to empower himself and his allies.

    This would technically be stretching things for the sake of the gameplay, but its the only viable path I can think of atm. The game needs healers that are cooler than “medic”, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a caster dps archetype rolled into that.

  11. Timothy "Youngblood" Young June 9, 2009 / 10:45 am

    Failed Jedi was my favorite class around the gaming table. Would love to see it in TOR.

  12. James June 9, 2009 / 11:25 am

    Echani handmaidens or martial artists would be cool, but that would limit the class to one race, I guess.

  13. Jason June 9, 2009 / 3:38 pm

    What if instead of trees that took you down several paths what if they race you picked had certain abilities? Obviously a Wookie smuggler would act differently than say a Human smuggler(dude an ewok smuggler would be awesome!). The Human could have more charm and such, while the wookie would have more hp and strength.

    I have a strong notion that the class system will be blurred with TOR. No more tanks, no more healers.

  14. Melf_Himself June 9, 2009 / 6:43 pm

    First, if you consider the fact that there are going to “bad” Republic and “good” Empire people, it sounds like at the end of the game, all classes will be able to play together. So I don’t think we’re talking about 4 classes just mirrored on both sides of the fence, it sounds like they’re talking about 8 separate classes.

    Second of all, WoW itself has become more focused to making each class the same, i.e. ensuring that all tanks can tank equally, etc. So I don’t think the game would be limited even if it did have 4 classes.

    Thirdly, we really haven’t seen much about the development within a class. This is a Bioware game, I seriously doubt each character is going to be a one-path-only type.

    Fourthly, I’d find it refreshing not to have to do weeks of forum research to decide on the optimal ‘build’ for my character… if each bounty hunter did develop exactly the same in terms of gameplay but you could extensively customize the *look* of the character, that would be fine by me.

    Fifthly (is that a word?), I really hate it when games come out and claim to have 20+ classes. Functionally, I’ve never seen a balanced game with more than 7 classes (no, WoW is not a balanced game… but you wouldn’t know it because the monsters can’t QQ on the forums :p)

  15. tarisai June 10, 2009 / 10:27 am

    i have a feeling the starting classes will be just that: starting classes.

    you dont have to have jedi/sith as a class: more just the end to a certain line in skill-sets.
    e.g. jedi/sith will start as “force sensitive”. they could develop to be any of the 3 spin offs KOTOR gave us (guardian, sentinal, councilor) or they could develop into healers – those who use their command of the force to cause illusion and confusion sort of like a CC class – a leadership style character who uses the force to inspire and buff groups. Force sensitive don’t have to be jedi/sith, and making these force sensitive alternatives appealing would hopefully stem the tide of “loljedi” running around.

    a trooper could go down the lines of rifleman, sniper, demo specialist, commander etc

    i’ve purposely not been keeping up to date with the dev blogs cause i’ll simply become an “F5 hermit” so this may be discredited from the outset: however I think a development tree, where classes become blurred and highly customisable would be the way to go.

    oh yeah, and classes i’m sure will be seperate from the plethra of races they NEED to have in this game (force sensitive ewok using mind tricks for cookies – yeah i’d roll that)

    oh yeah, and give us force jump, jet packs, speeders grapple hooks etc to get around!

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