Eyecandy: A Visual Tour of the Old Republic (part 1)

This post is mainly for those who are largely unfamiliar with, or absolutely enchanted by, what SWTOR has offered in the way of planets and environments.

To say The Old Republic features some of the most impressive environmental images I have ever seen in an MMO is an understatement. Whether you are a fan of the seemingly endless urban sprawl of the ecumenopolis (Coruscant, Nar Shaddaa), a fan of wintery, crystalline landscapes (Hoth, Alderaan), a fan of dark, foreboding environments (Dromund Kaas, Ilum), or even if you are a lover of more natural forest or desert terrain (Belsavis & Tatooine, respectively), it appears the designers at BioWare Austin have created something to suit every taste.

With 17 confirmed worlds so far, SWTOR seems poised to provide a level of diversity in terrain that is truly hard to fathom. That is certainly the case with me.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Don’t take my word for it—judge for yourself.

I am going to link to as many pictures as I can find of the various worlds confirmed for SWTOR, post the BioWare released video snippets of each world, and give a short (or long, depending upon my enthusiasm for the world shown) description and commentary of my own thoughts toward each one. Take a peek. I hope you find it entertaining.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – The Planets 

Tython

Exterior of a Jedi temple on Tython

An ancient home reclaimed, the Jedi Order's presence can easily be seen in the majesty of their architecture.

The Jedi temple, seen from another angle.

The statues of the Jedi ancients, ever watchful.

Way station

Settlers at a way station mill about, awaiting travelers.

Watch towers

A world awaits you just beyond the horizon.

 

Tython, the ancient home of the Jedi, torn apart by the first Force War between adherents of the “Light side” of the force and their “Dark side” brothers, and rediscovered much later by Grand Master of the Jedi Order Satele Shan (*whew* try saying that 5 times fast).

Tython is the home to the first society of Force users, and in the world of SWTOR it is the home to the modern Jedi Order.

The landscape of Tython is covered in lush forests and streams, but the presence of both the modern and ancient Jedi Order can be seen and felt in the various temples and ruins that dot the landscape.

Jara’s Thoughts: Tython definitely looks like a world I will enjoy experiencing. A Jedi class is not going to be my first, or even second, choice, but when I do roll one (most likely a Jedi Sentinel), I look forward to seeing how the Jedi narrative plays out against this backdrop. The “green” planets aren’t necessarily my favorites, by they are far from my shit list (such as I have one—as an explorer, I can usually find something about every place to like).

 

 

 

 

 

Korriban

Sith Academy on Korriban

Korriban, with its oppressive red canyons rising up on all sides, is not for the weary.

Portal

In the skies beyond, a star ship flies off into the dark red sky.

Holocron

A massive Sith holocron, adorned with the faces of ancient Sith lords, sits just inside the entryway of the Sith Academy.

Korriban could be considered the exact opposite of the Jedi homeworld. While Tython bears the mark of the ancient light side Jedi, Korriban bears the tombs, ghosts, and battle scars of its ancient residents.
Home to such Sith lords as Naga Sadow, & his rival Ludo Kressh, Korriban is the ancient homeworld of the Sith species. It is on this planet where the Dark Jedi fled following the first Force War, eventually intermingling with the Sith that lived on this world and creating the hybrid species that exists in the Sith Empire to this day.
Korriban’s landscape is cavernous, with monolithic pyramids, and cliffs to match, on all sides. Desert reigns supreme on this world. The harsh landscape and climate breeds an even harsher resolve in its Sith residents. Being born & cultivated on this world makes you understand why Count Dooku stated thousands of years later that the Sith “lack fear.”
 
Jara’s Thoughts: Ok, seriously, this world is going to own my soul. I can only imagine how much work BioWare put into this world’s narrative. I know Jedi is supposed to be the most iconic class in Star Wars canon, but the Sith are equally as iconic for me. I enjoy desert environments, and since those deserts are filled with Sith tombs to explore, pyramids, giant holocrons, this world looks like a playland for me.
 
Sith Warrior (Juggernaut, unless BioWare allows Marauders to avoidance tank) is going to be my main’s class, and I am extremely excited to play on this world. Ok, maybe excited doesn’t cut it. Let’s try “absurdly fucking psyched out of my head in an almost beyond metaphysical way.” That’s a little better.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nal Hutta (Hutta)
Nem'ro's Pleasure Palace

The Pleasure Palace of Nem'ro the Hutt, kingpin of the Hutt cartel of Jiguuna, towering over the tainted landscape of Nal Hutta.

Hutta cantina

A cantina in a Hutt controlled city is always alive with nefarious characters.

Local wildlife

The local wildlife, unable to escape the toxic waste from the numerous factories of the Hutts, have evolved into dangerous predators.

Nal Hutta is home to many Hutt cartels, run by such Hutt crime bosses as Fa’athra, and his rival, the great crime boss Nem’ro. 
The Hutts have systematically transformed the once thriving landscape of Hutta into the warped, decaying environment it is today. The waste from their many factories has negatively affected the vegetation and the wildlife of the planet, and their exhaust has turned the skies of Hutta a sickening yellow. Gangsters, and anyone willing to trade their services for a credit are prevalent in Hutta cities.
Bounty Hunters and Imperial Agents in SWTOR call Hutta their home. Expect plot lines on this world to delve deep into the crooked underworld of the Hutts, with ample opportunity for double dealing, backstabbing, and open gang warfare.
 
 
Jara’s Thoughts: As Imperial Agent is set to be my 2nd class, I am going to have to learn to stomach this environment (which raises an interesting challenge since the fucking thing looks so putrid). But the stories on this world look to be as tasty as the world is not. Hutts, especially the cartels they run, are some of the most intriguing entities in the Star Wars universe. Being that they are crime syndicates, their stories are always seedy, layered, and full of delicious twists and turns. I can honestly say I am anxious to see how the Imperial Agent’s narrative shapes up on this world, and also for the Bounty Hunter once I roll one. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ord Mantell
Streets and a speeder

A calm day in Ord Mantell is a rarity.

Landing pad

A landing pad sits on a ledge, ready to host incoming Republic military vessels.

Crater

The signs of war are always near.

While Ord Mantell would one day come to be known as the “Heart of the Bright Jewel”, in The Old Republic, Ord Mantell is a planet at ceaseless civil war with itself.
Following the Treaty of Coruscant, Republic military forces began stationing their troops on Ord Mantell’s surface, only to be met by Separatists who attempted to establish independence, backed by government supported criminal organizations. This situation developed into an ongoing war that has ravaged the landscape.
Military outposts surrounded by mountainous terrain are the hallmark of modern Ord Mantell in SWTOR. Also, from the videos released of it, the constant warfare has taken its toll on the planet.
 
 
Jara’s Thoughts: This planet isn’t one of my favorites, but it could turn out to be one of those worlds where the narrative makes up for what it lacks in aesthetic appeal (ala Nal Hutta). Smuggler (Gunslinger) is in my top 5 of classes I intend to play first, and I can only imagine how fun their quests could be.
This is a world under constant bombardment—somebody has to supply those cannon shells. That is going to be me, with my Kath Soucie-supplied Smuggler voice, running around, gunning down droids and separatists, alike.
Seriously, dual wielding the blaster pistols is probably going to make me feel like I’m in a Star Wars film directed by John Woo (take that razor blade away from your wrist—it was just a joke). 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Coruscant
Coruscant traffic

Traffic in this ecumenopolis looks like a bitch.

Spaceport bridge to Senate

The bridge that connects the spaceport to the Senate building is likely to be a gathering spot for Coruscant's many visitors in The Old Republic.

Docking bay

Cranes are poised to move heavy cargo in Coruscant's lower levels.

The Senate Building

Under the early evening sun, Coruscant's Senate District bustles with traffic and activity.

 

Other than Tatooine, is there a more iconic planet to Star Wars than Coruscant, the ecumenopolis to end all ecumenopolises? I know, I know, everyone seems to have their own opinion about what world is most iconic to the franchise, but if Coruscant is not number 2, at least, then it is number 3.

Coruscant is alive with traffic, at all hours. Travelers from all over the known galaxy arrive in the city daily, ready to do business, or deliver goods to the planet’s innumerable citizens. This traffic is as likely to include scruffy merchants, as it is to include a powerful senator on his/her way to the city’s grand Senate Building.

However, while the upper levels of the city suggest an oppulent lifestyle, the lower levels of Coruscant are rampant with gang warfare. Criminal organizations, among them the Exchange, and the powerful Black Sun Syndicate, rule the lower levels of the city with an iron fist. If you venture down from the upper levels, be wary of the danger surrounding you.

Jara’s Thoughts: This is a city that almost literally took my breath away the first time I saw it ingame at PAX Prime 2008. It certainly has the look of an ecumenopolis—and if Brandon Miletta of BioWare (formerly of TOROcast) is be believed, it feels exactly the way it looks.

For me, it’s all about the lower levels. The upper levels of the city look like incredible eye candy, but the lower levels are where the magic happens, it would seem. The Black Sun have appeared more frequently in recent BioWare videos, so I can only imagine what the quests below the city will be like. Since the world is faction specific, I would guess the Smugglers are going to get the juiciest class quests out of Coruscant’s underbelly for the Republic side. But I also expect the Jedi Consulars to have some excellent stories on the upper levels, dealing with the inner workings of the Galactic Senate, and its personalities.

All in all, Coruscant looks impressive. The architecture of the city can feel imposing, while at the same time, very grand. The constant flow of traffic beneath and above you only adds to the “metropolitan” feel. I look forward to turning off my UI and taking my first screenshot looking off into the distance from one of the city’s many outdoor platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

Balmorra

Machines on the horizon

War is a part of everyday existence on Balmorra.

Massive cranes

Massive cranes tower over a salvage yard, looking for building materials.

Guns & starships

As star ships fly overhead, anti-air guns stand ready to light up the enemy at a moment's notice.

In a galaxy where many worlds have suffered the terrible price of war, Balmorra may be the worst. With its numerous droid and weapon manufacturing facilities seen as vital to both the Republic’s and Sith Empire’s war efforts, Balmorra has remained in a state of near-constant warfare. Even the Treaty of Coruscant did nothing to slow the fighting on this world.
In the days before the Treaty of Coruscant, Balmorra once held a significant Republic military presence on its surface. However, due to heavy losses and needs elsewhere, the Republic was forced to abandon a small force of soldiers that remained aid the Balmorrans in their continuing fight against the Empire. Once the treaty had been signed, the Republic began sending their troops back to Balmorra, though the resentment of the formerly abandoned people remains among some to this day.
 
 
Jara’s Thoughts: This world just screams “PvP”. I guess you might just call it a warcry. Either way, I see a lot of potential for some excellent PvP combat on this planet.
Really, the world seems to support a warmongering feeling. Considering its reputation as a weapon & droid manufacturing planet, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the planet that holds the “Directive 7” flashpoint, which is the only endgame flashpoint that has been unveiled so far. I also would expect to see a Warzone for this planet, as well as quests centering on the conflict between the two factions—and if you’re Republic, probably some really pissed off people with abandonment issues (for shame, Senate).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alderaan
Into the distance

Surrounded by vibrant trees, this path leads off into the mountainous distance.

Market district

Shops stand ready to support SWTOR's thriving businesses, in the background majestic mountains stand tall against the blue sky.

The citadel

A citadel rises high among the beautiful, snow-covered Alderaanian peaks

Wtf

I don't know what the fuck this is---but it is wicked.

Once home to the Killik species, Alderaan was conquered and populated by humans prior to the timeline of SWTOR. However, signs of the now-extinct species still exist on Alderaan, in the form of large mounds located all throughout the planet.
In the days of the The Old Republic, Alderaan is in a stalemate, as both the Empire & Republic attempt to gain a foothold on the world by supporting powerful Alderaanian noble houses (House Organa for the Republic, House Thul for the Empire) who are also in constant political conflict with one another. All of this is overseen by Bouris Ulgo, decorated Republic general & acting monarch of Alderaan. It was Ulgo who originally placed the planet under martial law, following the death of the previous crown prince and his mother, the Queen. (It is hinted that Ulgo had a hand in the deaths of the former royal family.)
Alderaan was also the site of one of the most important Republic victories in the Great Galactic War: the Battle of Alderaan. It was during this battle that the Republic military’s elite “Havoc Squad” managed to ambush and defeat a much larger Sith invasion force with the help of a female Jedi. This victory, which galvanized the struggling Republic military, was considered a key victory in the war for the Republic. However, this victory also set into motion the events which would lead to Alderaan’s (historically a stout Republic ally) secession from the Galactic Senate.
 
 
Jara’s Thoughts: Confession—it was all I could do to get through that history recap so I could properly nerdgasm.
Alderaan is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite world in SWTOR. I watch that video above probably once a month, if not more, just so I can take in its majesty. The snow-covered mountains, the architecture, the political intrigue, the warring houses, a mad general at the head of the monarchy, green plains with Killik mounds, Warzones, possible PvPvE, caves, snow, market places, snow, badass architecture—and SNOW, damn it! This planet literally has it all.
BioWare has said this planet is one of the largest in the game, and I can’t wait to explore it fully. In fact, I’ll probably find it difficult not to rush to the level appropriate to safely travel through the Alderaanian landscape. I want to hear the music, join in a Warzone, climb a mountain, see if there is a Nerf mount, and, hell, make fucking snow angels—and hundreds of other things that don’t have anything to do with questing. I just want to drink this world in, and I want to find a place on this planet where I can comfortably log on and off (I am one of those people that hates to log out in the middle of a city, so I tend to find a nice little quiet corner when I log).  
If ever I was to have a “home” in SWTOR, Alderaan would definitely be it for me. I am a great fan of snow worlds. Winter is one of my favorite seasons (apart from the bitter cold), and I especially love it in MMOs, where I can enjoy the winter aesthetics but not have to endure its cold climate.
Alderaan, I am deeply sorry you are doomed to a fiery demise in several thousand years, but I promise—as long as I am playing SWTOR, I will always appreciate you (though I may have to slaughter some of your citizens).
 
 
 
 
Closing Thoughts
So here are the first 7 worlds unveiled for the game, in order. As you can see already, the environments just in these 7 worlds are diverse, with unique backstories that should lend to intriguing quests when the game launches, no matter your class.
This is where I’m going to leave off for now. There are still 10 more worlds left to detail, but this is good for a 1st part.
Part 2 begins with a world that needs no introduction (though I will give it one out of respect). Stay tuned for it.
Thanks for reading.

 

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2 thoughts on “Eyecandy: A Visual Tour of the Old Republic (part 1)

  1. Nice write up! It’s so hard to say which one of the planets is my favorite one now. Definitely a city planet like Coruscant intrigues me, because so very rarely have I played a sci fi game with a truly realized metropolitan setting…if ever. I think I’m looking forward to seeing that the most, even if it means I have to do it on a Republic character 😀

    I’m also drawn to worlds depending on how I feel about their environment. Nal Hutta’s pretty gross, I agree. It’s going to be my Bounty Hunter’s home, but I probably won’t like it, no matter how cool the zone is or how full of great quests it is. In real life, the environment surrounding affects my overall mood, and same goes for games.

    Some might prefer the settings like volcanic worlds or other sinister tableaus, but I’ve always preferred more open areas, and bright skies. So no surprise Alderaan is also one of my faves.

  2. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.:) At some point in the past few days I realized the environments have a great deal to do with why I am going to play Star Wars: The Old Republic, so I just started typing. Originally, I wanted to do them all in one part—however, just after I detailed Balmorra, I realized this was not to be.

    Coruscant just looks incredible. Beyond that, everything I have heard about it from people who have experienced it makes me excited to explore it, and take a healthy amount of screenshots from its different districts. I haven’t really seen anything like it before in an MMO, or at least not on this scale.

    I’m going to admit right now, as soon as I reach Coruscant in SWTOR, I am going to find a platform with the most awesome vista I can find—then I’m taking a nosedive to see how far I can fall before the splat.

    Alderaan has me in its grip, I can’t lie. That world is everything I’ve ever really wanted to see from a “winter world” in an MMO. The sky is clear blue, the snow blankets the ground for miles and miles, and the mountains look like incredible peaks, not just mounds of rocks. It’s like Switzerland in an MMO.

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