Nov 18, 2011

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Fan Site Summit: The Shiny, Yet Seedy Republic Capital Of Coruscant!

So far, there has been an exceedingly large amount of coverage provided for the origin worlds in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Almost everyone who has been to a convention or event has played it, and it’s been covered deeply enough that most people are familiar enough to hold them over until launch day. It’s understandable though. It is, after all, the introduction into the game. The first “hook” of your storyline happens here, and you are introduced to your character, and begin your journey into that galaxy far, far away.

But during the Fan Site Summit we were given some time to play on the capital world of either the Republic or Empire for the first time. Seeing as our name fits more into the Republic side, we chose to devote our time to discovering and exploring the Republic capital world – Coruscant!

The Setting

One of the biggest challenges facing BioWare in Star Wars: The Old Republic is development of setting; more specifically, it’s important that the game feels alive and set in a large universe, with trillions of beings inhabiting every nook and cranny. In addition, because of the path that the game sets out for the players, it is doubly important that the setting not only give a sense of massive scale, but that the actions you take and decisions you make feel meaningful. Coruscant delivers on this – big time.

When you arrive on the planet Coruscant, fresh off  either a shuttle or The Esseles, you are immediately treated to that sense of scale. Coruscant is the seat of power of the Republic, a massive city-planet that houses the administrative powers and directs, well, almost everything in the Republic. The initial view of the Senate building takes a few moments to sink in that it is indeed that big.

Once you get inside, its halls greet you with the feeling that you are insignificant. The building is massive – some of the min-max MMO folks may not enjoy this, but for the prospective Star Wars fan, this is absolutely why you play this game. The view while taking a taxi anywhere on the planet gives you an impressive skyline with tons of life, lots of vehicles, and the undersides of these palaces in the sky.

The Story

The storyline, however is a different beast, and not what it might seem to be on the shiny surface of the planet. Coruscant is not a content capital – while your class story will move out of its initial stage during the duration of your stay and take you to different locales, you will see a world with a rich and privileged class that is abusing its power (corrupt Senators? You don’t say!), street gangs engaging in power grabs (Black Sun), and a vigilante organization that is corrupt within itself (Justicars).

Momus and Corso: The TOR version of Miami Vice.

Coruscant is an engrossing world with surprisingly deep and powerful stories – from a senator importing slave chips (and your moral decision about what to do) to a sister desperately searching for her imprisoned brother, the side quests detail a world very much in conflict.

The design of the sections (broken up into 4 distinct areas – Senate, Black Sun, Justicars and The Works – each separated by taxi and unreachable by foot) is really nice; each area dovetails with your class story, advancing your personal plot line while also following the planet quests. I somewhat refute the term “side quests,” as I feel it sells short the idea that each planet has its own theme, and that most (if not all) of the quests coincide with that theme.

Coruscant is a story of rampant corruption and your moral decisions shape your character: do you participate in the greed and largesse you are surrounded by, or do you stand up to it and do what is right, no matter the consequence? There are interesting decisions in every sub-zone, and your character will be tested – how much corruption is okay and what is going too far?

Of course, even in a dark and twisted story, there are some light moments. Without spoiling the story, you run into the Gree, via enslaved protocol droids, responsible for designing impressive computers that run the day-to-day operations of Coruscant. Your encounters with them are entertaining: while not having the same speech pattern as HK-47, they clearly draw some inspiration from that avenue, insofar as having a very peculiar set of speech rules.


Also, various heroic quests throughout the world were playable, and were a lot of fun. The first one is a rather simple hunt and destroy, but the second mission has you breaking into an illegal clinic for face-alteration surgery, shutting it down and simultaneously pulling their records for the authorities to use. Each of these areas is instanced, so that after a little walk to get inside, its just you and your group, or you and your companion. The Heroic 2+ quests, with some careful pulling and positioning, are possible to do with only your companion (though difficult); but the Heroic 4 quests definitely require a full group. And, in each, there are far better loot rewards; a good amount of prototype quality (“blue”) items dropped in both, though there were more in the Heroic 4 instances.

On a side note, the heroic group quests really feel great – they are essentially smaller Flashpoints in and of themselves. They are generally quite challenging and fun, and also make for a nice break to the general questing that happens otherwise. I definitely advise everyone to do the group quests while leveling!

And The Rest…

Of course, this isn’t to say Coruscant is perfect: its size is a bit of a drawback for players until they gain access to the Sprint ability at level 14. The subzones aren’t too bad with that, but it’s still a factor. If, for some reason, you miss a quest, you could spend a significant amount of time fighting enemies again and again to get back to where you were and accomplish that particular mission. I would recommend extra special care be taken to ensure you have all the quests done, and to do them in the “right” order. (Editor’s Note: Time learning the map system is well spent – it’s an amazing system once you know it!)

I really enjoyed Coruscant. There are some deep stories there, aside from your class quest, deeper than players would anticipate; the quests are drawing you into the events going on around you, helping set the stage for your character and his or her path through the galaxy. Your character’s, and, by extension, your morality will be tested on your capital planet. Coruscant delivers in a big way, literally, on many fans’ Star Wars fantasies.

If you’re interested in talking about Coruscant or anything else from the Fan Site Summit, stop by the Ask A Jedi Cantina tonight, Friday November 18th at 9:00PM EST. We’ll be holding a live Q&A, and while we may not be able to answer everything, we’ll give it a whirl!

Screenshot Gallery

  1. The alley/corner in pictures 12-15 appears to be the exact same one that was first shown to us in the “Making of Coruscant” developer dispatch two years ago. We actually watched the designer put it together!

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