Diplomatically Immune: The Seekers of Knowledge
I’ve always loved the idea of the Jedi Consular, the wise keeper of knowledge. She is not a warrior by trade, but rather one when necessary, a sage far more interested in understanding the problem then charging head in.
When I found out that they could tank, which is my favorite MMO position, and could be Twi’lek, my favorite race, I immediately decided that the Consular was going to be the class that I started with. So when I finally got into the beta, that was the first character that I created. I fell in love which the character, the story, the abilities, the animation, and the style.
“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode 4: A New Hope
The Jedi Consular gets two advanced classes, the Jedi Sage and the Jedi Shadow. The Jedi Sage takes the force using portion of the Consular and emphasizes that, giving you the skills you need to either heal or DPS, while the Shadow path turns into a stealth based double lightsaber wielding Jedi-ninja that can either DPS from behind or tank from the front.
I, personally, wanted my Consular to become a Jedi Shadow and level as a tank for three reasons. First, I love flashpoints and heroic quests, I wanted to do a lot of them while leveling and they are both easier to get and easier to do when you have a tank. Second, I love loot and itemization; where else do you get the best loot then by doing the flashpoints? Third, I wanted the game to progress a little bit slower. I wanted to kill things a little slower, to be forced to take a little bit more time so I could enjoy the game a bit more thoroughly.
Because this was my first time playing, I wouldn’t know the difference so the time that it took to kill things as a tanking spec would become the normal time for me. When I finally create my real character, I will level DPS for more efficient and faster progression.
“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode 4: A New Hope
Don’t worry, no spoilers here. My character’s name is TwinHits (of course), a Twi’lek female. She traveled to Tython to meet her new master under the special circumstances of being the only padawan with actual combat training. Very quickly you get thrown into the story, which basically revolves around a force user that you don’t expect to meet. This is just the prologue though, once that ends then the real story begins which is much more complex and far more interesting.
The story is very well written and designed; it feels like a story that a Consular would find themselves involved in. It revolves around ancient and secret knowledge, how one uses it, and whether or not it is right for one to have knowledge that might be dangerous. Are we really wise enough to deserve all the knowledge we can find, or is ignorance the better way to go so we don’t hurt ourselves or each other? You can probably guess which side is light, and which is dark.
The choices you have to make are interesting, it’s unclear if the choices make any difference, but that comes from the perspective of I have no idea how Bioware could possibly do that well. They definitely feel like they make a difference, because once you make a choice it seems like you can’t go back, that you’ve made some irrevocable choice that changes your storyline forever. Still, I know the choices I make mean a changed dialogue line then or somewhere down the road, yet the most important part is that the story feels changed.
Abilities and Combat
“You must unlearn what you have learned.” -Yoda, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
I have to hand it to Bioware, and it’s for something they definitely haven’t gotten enough attention for, the animations in this game are amazing. This and the fact that there’s no auto attack make the game flows incredibly well. When you do poorly, it doesn’t feel like the game is holding you back, but rather that you have failed its controls by not timing correctly, making the right action choices, or using your cool downs effectively.
The Consular uses an energy based system called Force (surprise!). You start with 100 and every move costs a certain amount of force except for your basic attack which you are supposed to use as filler while your auto attack recharges. The first skill you get is Saber Strike, which is a lightsaber attack that doesn’t cost Force. It hits over the course of three swings, which makes the animation look even better.
The second skill, and most distinctive in the early levels, is Project. With Project, you pick of a randomly generated object out of the ground depending on what terrain type you are in and throw it at the enemy. If they are a weak or standard enemy, they get stunned as well. When I first saw this skill in a Bioware video, I was concerned it wasn’t going to look natural because you are pulling the exact same object out of the ground every time instead of using of a random object lying around the environment.
But, in the end, the animation looks great, they cycle through a bunch of randomly generated models. My personal favorite part is how you can use it while moving, so you can charge up to your enemy and start off by throwing a gigantic rock at their face. Unfortunately, the range is only 10 meters which is short.
You eventually learn Double Strike, which is a stronger melee attack. It looks especially cool with a double-bladed lightsaber, though at low levels the single-saber animation will have to do.
After Project is Force Wave, which makes your character leap into the air and hit the ground with a shockwave and sends your enemies flying about five or ten meters. It’s amazing to watch and quite satisfying, you can even use it to knock your enemies off cliffs to their death. I use it all the time, so much that I have developed the habit of jumping whenever I use it because it looks slightly cooler. I can’t even help it anymore.
The next cool skill you get is Telekinetic Throw, where you hurl a channeled stream of small debris at your target, slowing them down and applying damage. I used these four together all the time, I’d jump into a group of three enemies and knock them around with a Force Wave. The first one I tab targeted would get a rock to the face with Project, the second would get crushed with a hail of flying stones from my Telekinetic Throw, then the third would get finished off with an epic Saber Strike just as he reached me. I felt like a true champion of the force.
Which is exactly the mark of a well designed class, and you can apply this to any game. If you are playing a MMO class, a RTS race, or using a specific FPS gun, and you feel overpowered but actually aren’t, then that class/race/weapon is very well designed. When I played the Consular I felt overpowered, I felt like nothing could stop me, but I know that every class in Star Wars: The Old Republic feels that way yet will have some measure of balance.
“Your father’s light saber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode 4: A New Hope
Each class in Star Wars: The Old Republic gets a primary attribute that increases all of their attacks, and in the case of the Consular it is Willpower. They also use light armor, so what you are looking for is light armor with high willpower and high endurance. Consulars also get the ability to equip a focus, which is an offhand that increases stats for DPS. If you choose to pick the Shadow advanced class, you’ll get to use Shield Generators as well, which is basically an offhand item that turns you into a tank by giving you the chance to absorb damage.
Consulars and Sages use single sabers, while the Shadow uses a double-bladed lightsaber. Lightsabers are pretty easy to find, the best way to get them is generally through Flashpoint bosses and commendations. What really makes your lightsaber great is the modifications that you put in them: if you get a hilt you like, you can keep upgrading it rather than replace it. Again, in the case of the Consular, you want to put in willpower and endurance stuff. Your secondary stats are a different matter, but your primary is definitely willpower, and any other stat should be ignored.
“Decide you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered.” -Yoda, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
You get your first companion, Qyzen Fess, at about level 8 or so. He’s a total boss: Qyzen is a Trandoshan hunter and tracker that uses a techblade (which is kind of like a vibrosword), as well as an amazing tank. Send him at your enemies then sneak up behind them and throw a Project at the back of their head!
I really like his story, the content is great. The truly amazing part is the amount of effort that Bioware put into the game and Qyzen’s story in particular. Trandoshans have a long standing lore background in the Star Wars universe dating back to before Bioware was even founded, but Bioware did it’s research and included these obscure facts into their story. Not just as asides either, but as central plot point. This isn’t the only place that you see this either, all the time there are references or quests based around obscure Stars Wars lore facts.
“You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me!” -Luke, Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
The best way to sum up what it’s like to play the Jedi Consular is to say that it is complete. Everything that needs to be there is there; Bioware did its research, had some amazing ideas, and put it all in a wonderful package for us to play around with. Whether you want to heal, tank, or DPS this is the way to go. The story is immersing, the animations are amazing, the companions are interesting, but most importantly the class is fun to play.
Why is it so fun? I think it’s more subtle than just an interesting story and well designed class to throw at your enemies using amazing animations, and it’s not something that is just unique to the Consular either. It’s about Bioware’s amazing ability to make you think about more than just yourself, but your character too. The choices that you are presented with aren’t about what you as a player want to see, but about what your character as a being would do.
I tried playing dark and just doing all the dark side options, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to see my character do those things because that’s not what they would do. It was wrong. The game isn’t about me as a player playing this class, but me as a player building this character up with their class. That’s why it’s so fun, and why this is such a special game.