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Why Old Republic Needs Two More Force Users

November 7, 2009

Many people, including myself, seem to be worried that TOR is going to be overpopulated with Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors. This is Star Wars afterall and the mass appeal of both Sith Warriors and Jedi Knights coupled with a casual/newbie friendly gameplay looks like it’s going to draw in even more people who’ve never played a MMORPG before. This isn’t a rant about the difficulty level or that I’m going to have to suffer through countless dungeons and quests with the noob in my group  trying to CLICK on his attack buttons which he can’t seem to consistently locate all the while KEYBOARD TURNING to face the mob. I’ll save that for another post the issue here is currently more pressing. Sure there are going to be people who’ve religiously played games like the Jedi Knight series, or Force Unleashed who will flock to the Jedi and Sith classes. They’d figure them to be as powerful as they were in the other games they’ve played so it’s easily assumed they’d want to play those classes. Couple that with the nerds like myself who worshipped KoToR, have read a bunch of the expanded universe novels and could answer every question in Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. You’re going to have an unbalanced number of Jedi without including the last and possibly largest group.

With the climate right for a class imbalance as it is the recently tapped resource known as “kidlings” which ActiBlizzion has nurtured so steadily on a diet of casual-friendly “improvements” to the end-game of WoW could create The Perfect Storm. Kidlings are “small versions of adults” the 14 and under category which if they do stumble upon a MMOG and convince the parents to pay for it for a few months tend to fizzle out at the early levels. Normally jumping from class to class clambering for instant gratification. When they discover the required effort in your standard MMO they quit and all is just and right in the world. Unfortunately for those of us who don’t enjoy the company of these kidlings warcraft has found a way to dumb the game down enough to keep them around. By making leveling take almost half as long as it used to and dumping very good gear on them as soon as they can achieve level cap thus allowing them to skip the entire first tier of raiding content. WoW has been overwhelmed by kidlings and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. Blizzard has even gone as far as making heroic versions of the same raids so they could make the normal version very kidling friendly and forgiving. The problem with that is the gear these kids are pulling out of the normal raids is better than the previous tier’s and that raid was far more difficult. Seeing the amount of dollars rolling in from these subscriptions many future MMO developers are going to take the same approach. The problem is almost every kidling seems to love Star Wars and the idea of being a Jedi or a Sith.

When I was a child I took my mother’s teal, wooden mop cut the bottom of the handle off and with some silver duct tape fashioned a hilt for what I dubbed my lightsaber. I spent the better part of my summers from ’91-’95 “lightsaber” dueling with my younger brother and anybody on my block that dared challenge my swordsmanship. I wanted nothing more than to live in the Star Wars universe and be a Jedi Knight like my hero Luke Skywalker. What it is about Star Wars that so captures the imaginations of a young boys can’t be summed up in words. Star Wars was and still is a way of life for little boys as it’s managed to bridge the generation gap. It’s almost as popular as it was in the 80’s and it shows no sign of really slowing down. Whether you watched it in theaters during the original release, saw it on laser disc like my generation, VHS for my baby brother’s generation or caught it on DVD in the past few years it still has the same effect on all of us. This very reason is why I can see a potentially gigantic class balance on the horizon.

Servers are going to be filled to the brim with Jedi and Sith we could see numbers as high as forty to fifty percent of players on the majority of servers.  A game developer does not want to see half their players using only a quarter of the available classes. I know there are people out there that think that this might be the case at release but will eventually work itself out after the first six months to a year. Massive class nerfs and balance could get some people to reroll, but I still think that wouldn’t even dent the swarms of Jedi and Sith. The complete domination Star Wars and lightsabers have on the minds of the youth who’ll play this game is something that people tend not to think about. As it currently stands I myself intend to play a Jedi Knight so I’m just as guilty as the rest of the people who’ll cause the class imbalance .

I personally think two more force sensitive classes could even out the population among the classes. From the descriptions of both the Sith Warrior and the Jedi Knight they come off more as the Guardian role from KoToR. I’ve played through that game multiple times trying different class variations and Guardian is not the style of  play I prefer. The type of Jedi I preferred was the more support-based and defensive which was the consular. They had access to the same base powers but as a consular I had a larger force pool and could get more of the force powers than a Guardian had. Instead of augmenting my melee I focused on maxing out buffing/controlling/healing. I was able to withstand damage because I had maxed force powers that increased my resistances and absorbed damage. I think this style of play if available would attract a good portion of the potential Jedi and Sith away.  With the people who refuse to play force sensitives and splitting the amount of people from the Warrior and the Knight they could avoid a potential disaster before it hits.

The major obstacle seems to be the people hung up on the names of the classes. Consulars are also Jedi Knights I understand this however a major archetype seems to be missing from this game. A consular/acolyte role would fit perfectly in place if the Jedi and Sith are a melee focused as they seem to be. This class wouldn’t stand in the back of groups and cast like your typical mage class, but instead it would be on the front lines engaged in combat using different mechanics than the typical Knight and Warrior. They could use something similar to the Warhammer support/combat system where you do more with your beneficial spells only after you’ve been engaged in combat, and vice-versa the more you cast your supporting spells the stronger your melee damage becomes. The Goblin Shaman is a prime example of this system you cast 4-5 damaging spells and your shields on your allies can absorb more damage. The difference being melee attacks would generate a combo point system and would enhance your power that you use instead of  damaging spells like the Gobo Shaman.

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