Instead of putting together the 2nd part of the Eyecandy tour, I decided some special attention needed to be put on something that was revealed during this past March 11th-13th’s PAX East convention: BioWare’s reveal, and guided tour, of the planets Hoth & Tatooine.
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First up, a tour given by SWTOR’s Lead Writer Daniel Erickson of one of the most iconic planets in the history of Star Wars lore.
The ice jewel, the playpen of the Wampa’s, the place where Luke very nearly froze his nuts off—until Han found a creative use for his buddy’s deceased Tauntaun.
The one, the only…
I’m going to refrain from going into any details about Hoth, itself (Daniel Erickson does a much better job of getting across how wicked the planet is), so I’ll just post some arbitrary thoughts that I had upon seeing this video for the first time—and I’ll do the same with the next video.
First off—FUCK ME! I had no idea the planets in this game would be so damn huge…
I was honestly not prepared to take in the full scope of what I was seeing. In my head, more often than I can even accurately recall, I have tried to visualize what the worlds might be like, as far as area, in SWTOR. Before I really knew it, I was beginning to make comparisons based on the MMO’s I’ve played in the past (LOTRO, WoW, Perfect World, etc). Of those games, WoW was definitely my biggest measuring stick.
I had a blast playing WoW. I had my reasons for leaving the game, but I’m not afraid to admit that I enjoyed my time in the game, thoroughly. One of the main reasons for this was the environment I had to run around in.
I still have a fairly clear picture in my head of the scope of WoW’s zones. I feel confident I could accurately describe almost all of Westfall, a large section of Stonetalon Mountains (I still remember that creepy as fuck Sishyr Canyon with the giant tarantulas), almost all of Ashenvale, and probably more than 75% of every other zone in the game (apart from Alliance areas. I never did run Alliance—I was always more of a Horde guy, as is my best bud). Even a good while after I left the game, I still have a pretty good grasp on how big a WoW zone can be.
That said, I was absolutely amazed by the videos BioWare unveiled at PAX East of the worlds Hoth & Tatooine.
Hoth looks exactly like I imagined it would: perpetual “oppressive” winter (for those who actually read the previous article, wink wink).
Funny enough, however, it doesn’t look nearly as oppressive as I thought it would be originally—more importantly, the thing is MUCH more massive than I ever thought possible.
When I imagined a “ship graveyard”, I thought it would be similar to certain areas of WoW where downed airships in Northrend littered the ground, forming the covering for a small hut with some people inside. I wasn’t thinking an ACTUAL ship graveyard—with a ship so massive you could actually go inside and explore it like it was an actual building. It’s not even the only one, either. As Daniel E says in the video, it is only one of the ships in the ship graveyard. Who knows how many will be ripe for exploration in SWTOR?
Color me very impressed with Hoth. I cannot wait to get off my ship and just wander out into the wintery expanse. I may even try to jump off a cliff, or hit a lava fissure in a canyon by jumping at just the right angle. This planet definitely has me excited to see what BioWare has in store for the planets not yet released—including worlds like Alderaan & Taris, which are both worlds BioWare has described as “massive”.
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Hoth was not the only world BioWare dropped on the mass of SWTOR-starved fans who descended on PAX East like hungry little bastard piranhas. I figured I would save the best for last, just like BioWare did on the day.
I can’t just begin this with BioWare’s version of Tatooine. First, I have to go back to where it all began.
Luke, two setting suns, and the immortal score by the great John Williams:
Now for Family Guy’s version:
Finally, BioWare’s version :
Ok, Hoth actually got a reaction out of me. I can clearly recall seeing the Hoth video and saying “damn” about 50 times.
Tatooine, on the other hand… I was speechless.
I’m not sure exactly what it was about the video that hit me so hard. Maybe it was the Sand Crawler, towering over the landscape like some monolithic obelisk (you can actually see it from a great distance away if you pay close attention). It could be the large canyons, or the Bantha stumbling along looking for food or water. It might even be the damn Jawas hanging around Anchorhead standing by the droid while a speeder coasts by. Whatever it was, this video just completely smashed my preconceived notion of what Tatooine would actually be like in SWTOR.
Like I said about Hoth, I had no idea the worlds in SWTOR would be so fucking expansive. I know better now (the devs have confirmed some worlds can be as large as 7-8 Wow zones), but at the time I first watched this video I had no warning.
I can already imagine myself getting lost on Tatooine—on purpose. I can’t wait to get a speeder and just go explore the whole damn place.
I don’t know what materials will be abundant on Tatooine for the exploring crafter at this time, but if it turns out to be a good place for an Artificer to get some materials (my SW is going to need his upgraded glowstick), I could see myself spending a crap ton of time on Tatooine. The Crew Skills video released by BioWare several months ago shows the Bounty Hunter character collecting salvageable metals, then directing his companion to salvage while he went back to killing. At the very least, Tatooine looks to be a good place to scavenge up droid parts or maybe metals that can be used to create blasters (being that this is the home of the Jawas, that sounds about right).
In any case, Tatooine looks like a very awesome world for the MMO explorer. Since I am an MMO explorer, I can see myself just wandering this landscape to see what’s around a mountain or something; for that reason, I am very pleased that BioWare seems hellbent on giving me as much room to roam as possible.
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I figure this is a good place to stop. There isn’t much left to say about these two worlds that Daniel Erickson didn’t point out in the videos.
Let me say again, I am very impressed with what BioWare is giving us in terms of space (area) in SWTOR. While something can be said about small areas with content bound up tight like a mummy, I find I prefer area where I can stretch my (metaphorical) legs out.
It wasn’t the cramped areas I liked most in WoW (Eversong Woods, Darkshore, Elwynn Forest), I preferred the more open, vast areas (Tanarus, The Barrens [minus the inane chat from the past], and WotLK zones like Storm Peaks, Borean Tundra & Howling Fjord).
In LOTRO, one of my favorite zones to explore was The Shire—in part because of the ambience, and in part because of the wide open fields waiting for you everywhere you looked.
Based on the videos above, I’d say BioWare is coming along great in terms of creating interesting space for their future MMO audience to traverse.