[SWTOR] Does Bioware have a vision for class design?

I mentioned in my last post that Bioware (via Greg Zoeller) posted an update on their advanced class design for SWTOR last week.

Talking about classes and class design in SWTOR is tricky for two reasons:

  1. It hasn’t been released yet and if it is in beta, it’s a very closed beta and no one is breaking the NDA. So design is in flux plus we don’t know how they really play.
  2. The big selling point of the SWTOR classes is that they will have extensive class-based stories/ questlines (in the Bioware story-driven game style). So if you love the idea of playing a smuggler, it’s likely because you have a thing for Han Solo rather than because you want to play an uber healer.

The easiest way to look at the advanced class mechanics is to compare them with WoW. I don’t know how much of this design was in place before Cataclysm but they’re now looking more and more similar.

There are four base classes for each faction. Once you get to level 10, you can select from a choice of 2 advanced classes which are specific to that base class. You will then have access to three talent trees, two of which are specific to that advanced class and one which comes from the base class (ie. both advanced classes share it).

For comparison, in WoW you also get access to three talent trees when you hit level 10. It’s less complex than this sounds, but then again WoW has more ‘base’ classes.

If you check out the link above, you’ll see that they’ve also listed roughly which roles accrue to each advanced class.

eg.

Imperial Agent Advanced Classes

Sniper (Roles: Mid – Long Range Damage Dealing)

Operative (Roles: Close – Mid Range Damage Dealing, Healing)

So the Agent has two advanced classes: Sniper and Operative. The Sniper is a pure damage dealer with all their talent trees arranged around damage (possibly one for mid range and one for long range), the Operative has one damage dealing tree and one healing tree.

The current plan is that there will be two ultra hybrid classes, both of which are ranged. Trooper/ Bounty Hunter and Jedi Consular/ Sith Inquisitor will both have options to heal, tank, and dps from range.

My experience with WoW leaves warning bells ringing in my head here. They now have a lot of tank/heal trees to balance with each other (eg. Will a smuggler offer better dps than a consular because they have an advanced class with pure dps trees? Who is the best healer? etc.), and role options on some classes are more limited. I don’t especially want another rerun of a game where I pick a warrior/ burglar and the paladin/ loremaster outperforms me in every respect.

And that’s before we include PvP into the mix.

My other concern is whether they really have a vision for class design in SWTOR. It was never going to be a new take on the trinity (healers/ tanks/ dps) but I hope they have enough time to polish this up and make it shine, because if the actual gameplay is clunky and unbalanced, it may not matter how great the storytelling turns out to be.

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6 thoughts on “[SWTOR] Does Bioware have a vision for class design?

  1. I know one person in the beta, who I told off for telling me they were in the beta… but I think we can say it’s being beta’ed

  2. I’ve been itching to play a Bounty Hunter since the game was announced, now that I know that I can tank with that character it might be a whole lot of fun to do so. We’ll just have to see how much emphasis is placed on the various roles once the game is out.

  3. I really think trying to balance PvE vs PvP is a no win situation.

    If it were my call and someone had put a gun to my head and make me include both in the same game:- I’d build in multiple specs (ala WoW and other games) and have a dedicated spec or set of specs and talent trees for PvP. Make entering PvP require being in one of those Specs.
    As a result we no longer have to balance once against the other as WELL as balancing classes and melee vs ranged and the holy trinity.

    World PvP is pretty much dead as far as I can tell. Which is a shame. Arena/Battlegrounds etc are where the PvP action is and just like PvE Raiding has nothing to do with the specs or gear people are running around in ‘the real virtual world’ so this aproach might not hurt to much.

    • I think doing both is possible, but you have to design the PvP side first and then design PvE after you’ve got some kind of PvP balance. Or else have PvP be fundamentally different — like a strategy/ economic war.

      Balancing both at the same time in live play though? Recipe for trouble.

    • Both are definitely possible. However, if you still clinge to the old Tank holds agro of a Large Hitting Monster while healers keep them up for DPS to take them down, then no, you will never ever able to make PVE and PVP work with the same gear and abilities perfectly.

      That’s where Mythic’s PVE failed, and the adverse is why so many other game’s PVP fails.

      If you remove the whole concept of big Tank, big Heals in PVE, you can then balance your abilities and game play to work with both PVE and PVP. Because your NPCs will act more like players.

  4. Pingback: PVE and PVP Harmony is Impossible « Mr. Meh's Supplication

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