The ZAM staff takes a test drive of BioWare's big, meaty, gun-toting Trooper. What did we think? Keep reading to find out!
There’s nothing like the feeling of a warm blaster rifle nestled in your hands. The hot metal is a reassuring reminder that you’re still alive after a harrowing exchange of fire between you and your enemy, and no other class in Star Wars: The Old Republic treats the hot blaster with as much respect as the Trooper. At this year’s GDC, the staff at ZAM had the opportunity to go hands-on with this DPS demolitionist, and we came away still smelling the gritty smoke of this class’ explosive tendencies.
After sitting down at a computer in LucasArts’ San Francisco complex, a cadre of BioWare developers gave us the run down of what we would be trying to achieve during our time with the game. Much like the demos that ran at the latter half of 2009, our character would be in the level 6-7 range, bedecked with upper echelon armor (to ensure that the less skilled press could see the majority of the prepared content), and would progress through a pair of missions doled out by nearby quest givers. Everyone could progress through the content at their own pace, but – being the foremost purveyors of MMO knowledge on the net – the ZAM crew sat down with the Trooper and really took the class for a thorough drive.
Explosions, Explosions and More Explosions
When BioWare introduced the Trooper class last year, the developers really harped on the combative nature of this particular SW:TOR character. While those players that select to fill roles as Jedi or Sith may have some sort of higher code to which to adhere, Troopers (and Bounty Hunters) are nothing more than hired guns. Thus it was appropriate that BioWare make sure that the Trooper plays with the amount of explosive force one might expect from one of the most highly skilled killing artists in the Star Wars universe.
Unlike the other classes that have been playable in the past, the Trooper uses an action point-based combat system. Every time a Trooper attacks (and he doesn’t have an auto-attack, you have to fire his weapon after every cool down), he builds up action points that he can use to perform various attacks. Since we were level six, our Trooper only had four additional abilities: a melee strike with the butt of his weapon, a rapid fire attack, a mortar-like strike, and a sticky grenade. Along with damage, the majority of the abilities also provided a certain degree of crowd control. For example, the melee strike caused a knock back and knock down effect, the mortar inflicted a knock down and the sticky grenade caused enemies to desperately try to pull the item off of their bodies.
In general, the Trooper was definitely at an advantage when his enemies had to close in with their melee attacks. Utilizing the crowd control abilities was the key to easy success, as a well placed mortar, sticky bomb and then melee strike when a third enemy got too close proved to be an invaluable strategy. While we didn’t have time to create the perfect hot key strategy, it certainly seems possible to achieve with the Trooper.
The combat system certainly works with this class, and it was incredibly fun to see a heavily armored individual storm into the enemy base and decimate his opponent. If the first few abilities were any indication, there’s certainly the chance that Troopers will have several built-in ways to play their class, ranging from straight up DPS to the potential to be some sort of crowd control artist. While it was hard to tell the relative toughness of the Trooper compared to the other classes that we’ve played in the past, it seems reasonable to believe that off-tanking might be in their repertoire as well considering the Jedi Consular and Smuggler aren’t known for their layers and layers of armor….