Monday, September 26, 2011

The Old Republic: Release Date and Companions

Release Date

It was kind of funny watching Diablo III and The Old Republic dance around each other's release date. But D3 has been pushed into 2012, and The Old Republic seized the opportunity to get a Christmas release date.

The game looks pretty interesting so far. Like many gamers, I'm looking to give it a whirl.


Whenever I think about NPC companions, the following dialogue runs through my head:
Gamer Gary, MMO newbie: "MMOs are awesome! You get to play with real people!"
*Gamer Gary goes off and plays with real people for several years*
Gamer Gary, MMO veteran: "NPC companions are awesome! They'll help me solo!"
Snark aside, I do like the idea of NPC companions. For one thing, they make the fundamental unit of play a group, rather than a solo character. You're always in a group. That makes group-centric characters like healers and tanks a lot more viable.

From a healer standpoint, the one thing I hope The Old Republic does with their companions is make them full party members in the UI. Often in WoW, healing companions and pets--especially those belonging to other players--is hard to deal with most UIs.  The poster child for this is that one Firelands daily that gives you a full group including a tank. But because there's no UI support for that group, healing them is a pain.

Ideally, NPC companions show up in the UI exactly like other players, making healing a companion the exact same as healing another player. This would even help train new healers.

Other than that, I would like companions to not be so "main character"-centric as they have been in recent Bioware games. In some ways, I enjoy the NPC-NPC interactions more than the NPC interactions with my character. It feels a little bit weird that everything is about your main character. I rather liked the husband-wife pair, Jaheira and Khalid, in Balder's Gate.

Of course, I may feel this way because Alistair and Morrigan were clearly destined for each other in Dragon Age: Origins. It was gravely disappointing when I realized that I could not promote that pairing.


  1. Will they facilitate Companion battles...? CvC combat - and we can make t-shirts that say "My companion can kick your companion's a**".
    Seriously though having each toon capable of being a "pet class" is good, especially as there seems a range of choice and config.

  2. Hahaha, yes Alistair/Morrigan pairing was a point of contention for me as well. This is probably the single greatest weakness of Companions in most MMOs. It is almost as if they are looking at the world through a modified lens that allows them to see only two people: you and whatever is attacking you. Other than that, the world doesn't exist for them.

    BioWare did say the companions will have their own storylines and unique backgrounds, so I am hopeful. But let's see how that plays out!

  3. Alistair and Morrigan?? its about as bad as Anders and Fenris, sorry :/ I mean, i could see Alistair with Leliana, or I don't know any other number of npc's, but... blah.

    I keep wavering on whether I want to buy TOR or not. things I hear are pretty fun and I love bioware games, but... its kinda pricey if you just want to play it solo, and as an MMO... I guess I'll just have to see how many people I know will end up playing it too and whether we'll all be playing for the same side :P

  4. I dont know what the blueprint mmo companions is.
    ffxi has npc companions. There's various types you can have. I use a DD/healer. There's a whole bunch of quests to do that increase the "bond" which is how long they stick around for. They have their own limit breaks. You can skillchain with them. When it comes to interaction though, they only see you.

  5. I am a little concerned from what I have heard; I was following beta Q&A's fairly closely and the impression I got was that the companions were basically just pets and they hardly interacted with each other on the ship, and their interaction with the player is mostly limited to dialogue during quests and their "personal quest" which I guess is what gives them a leg up. They also said they make terrible healers T-T.

    Though I am still optimistic; I am hoping they'll add some color to the game world when you're out and about...making comments like the companions in the Mass Effect and DAO series did.

  6. Didn't you find Khalid a little whiney? I sometimes wondered how Jaheira put up with him.

  7. Alistair/Morrigan?! Only if you think that being "destined for each other" is based on hating each other's guts... :)

    Incidentally, if you haven't played it, in Dragon Age II there's a companion whom you can try to romance but who ignores player advances and decides to pursue another NPC instead (and you can help her with it).

  8. C'mon Leah, Shintar! He's a former templar who hates magic. She's an apostate witch. Legions of romantic comedies have informed me that these two are perfect for each other.

    Plus, don't you think that Morrigan's numerous slashes at Alistair are a surface defense to hide her attraction? She's notoriously socially ill-adjusted. Clearly her barbs are a way of attracting his attention.