Eyecandy: A Visual Tour of the Old Republic (part 2)

 

Alright, this week in Uncle Jara’s little goodie bag: part 2 of the Eyecandy tour.

For those who missed the first part, 7 worlds were represented, with screenshots, concept art, and videos to add flavor. Among these, we had one ecumenopolis (Coruscant), one desert world filled with delicious ruins (Korriban), a rotting cesspit of villainy (Hutta), and a winter wonderland rife with internal political turmoil & intrigue (Alderaan), among others. These first 7 worlds went a long way toward proving that The Old Republic already boasts a rich assortment of landscapes, climates, and local wildlife to compete with any MMO on the market right now.

Next up, we’re going to take a look at 5 more of the 17 total worlds in SWTOR.

Included among this group: a dark world with a lush jungle atmosphere, a once thriving ecumenopolis that looks to have a 2nd chance at life in The Old Republic, a world that is home to one of the galaxy’s most notorious prisons, and a world of high mountains and forests, where an ancient race uses their mystical knowledge to survive amidst a sea of violent enemies.

However, before we delve into the worlds mentioned above, the first world on this part of the tour is a world that needs no introduction—though out of respect, I will give it as fitting an introduction as I am able.

Star Wars fans rarely agree on many things.

-To some, Darth Vader is the epitome of a Sith, while to others, Emperor Palpatine holds that title.

-There are those that feel Luke Skywalker is the archetype of a Jedi in the Star Wars universe, while others still see Grand Master Yoda as that true icon of Jedi glory.

Whatever differences Star Wars fans may have in their opinions of most things, one thing remains universal to this day: only one planet deserves to be considered THE one true icon of Star Wars worlds.

That planet is, was, always will be:

Tatooine

Ok, seriously, those have only a passing connection with SWTOR (the fact that they are on/about Tatooine, itself), but they needed to be posted.

Tatooine transcends video games.

Now for the real stuff.



Tat001

Though the desert is vast, you might want to watch your step at all times.

 
 
 

Tat002

Explorers who find their way to Tatooine should always stock up at a local settlement before trekking into the desert.

 

Tat003

In need of "reliable" droids? Shop Jawa.

In the Galaxy of The Old Republic, Tatooine is an arid desert world located in the Outer Rim. Its two suns feed an already broiling desert climate, making Tatooine a very inhospitable planet for would-be travelers.

With only pockets of civilized settlements present amidst the desert landscape, the major hubs of civilization tend to be the larger settlements, in particular, Anchorhead, the largest outpost on the planet. Once an outpost for employees of the Czerka Corporation who were stationed on Tatooine to mine for resources beneath the planet’s surface, Czerka has long since abandoned Anchorhead, leaving it to become a haven for Smugglers, Jawa traders, & any others who happened to dock on Tatooine and smelled opportunity—or those looking to “disappear under the radar”.

The name Czerka runs deep throughout Tatooine’s recent history. Five centuries ago, Czerka first showed up to mine resources from beneath the surface of the planet. When those plans fell through, Czerka shifted their focus to weapon development. Many secret Czerka weapon research & development laboratories were built, and alien technologies from all around the galaxy were brought to the planet for experimentation. Many of these experiments were deemed too “terrible” to be allowed on civilized worlds, though the full extent of Czerka’s machinations on Tatooine remain a mystery to this day. What is known, however, is that Czerka suddenly pulled all operations off of Tatooine, leaving behind their secret weapons laboratories & complexes to sink beneath the sand. Nobody is sure what prompted this swift withdrawal, though it is rumored some terrible secret beneath the sand holds the key.

Anchorhead has been something of a pit stop for Republic citizens who travel through the Outer Rim in The Old Republic. In recent years, under the nose of the Republic, Imperial forces have begun to carve out a foothold on the planet’s surface. The Empire has even gone so far as to send a small force to occupy a settlement called Mos Ila, via a spaceport rebuilt by Jawas hoping to encourage trade in the region, where they appear to have taken an interest in Anchorhead—and specifically, in the now-abandoned Czerka weapons facilities in the area.

 

Jara’s Thoughts: Tatooine is destined to be one of the first worlds I intend to explore the living hell out of, right along with Alderaan. There’s just so much about it that I find interesting. The terrain appeals to me, the size of the world appeals to me, and the people that live on this planet appeal to me (if this planet only had Jawas, I would still dig this world just as much). The fact that an Imperial presence is felt on the surface appeals to me, as well (I intend to roll Imp for my first 2 or 3 toons). But also, I love the lore associated with this place.

Yes, some part of my joy is connected to my nostalgia for anything to do with the original trilogy of Star Wars films. Even beyond that, the backstory with the secret Czerka weapons facilities, some mysterious force that caused them to suddenly retreat and leave it all behind, not to mention the Jawas, Tusken Raiders, the Banthas, even a Mandalorian settlement (shown in the PAX East Tatooine video)—it all looks like something I want to explore. Not just through travel, but also through quests.

Here’s a confession: I secretly hope that I’ll wander into an Anchorhead or Mos Ila cantina and hear a slightly similar version of the original Star Wars cantina music.

That would be the ultimate cherry on top of this sundae.

 

 

 

Dromund Kaas



DK001

Dromund Kaas, the capital of the Sith Empire, looms among the shaded landscape.

Dromund Kaas, the seat of the Empire. It is on this world where the Emperor sits atop his throne and schemes against the Galactic Republic. It is also on this world where the Dark Council, 2nd in power only to the Emperor, holds court from the Imperial Citadel in Kaas City, the capital city of the Sith Empire.

Dromund Kaas was the planet the Emperor led his people to following the Great Hyperspace War, after the Republic’s failed attempt to exterminate the Sith species. Immediately, the survivors of the Sith Empire went to work, building the great capital Kaas City, and also rebuilding their military might through the centuries. Due to the tireless work of such legendary Imperial figures as Odile Vaiken, the Sith Empire flourished and reloaded after their bloody conflict with the Jedi & Galactic Republic. Centuries later, the Sith Empire would strike out from Dromund Kaas, eventually forcing the Galactic Republic into a treaty, thereby achieving vengeance for their past defeat.

The landscape of Dromund Kaas outside of Kaas City is blanketed by lush jungles. The atmosphere of the planet, ravaged by centuries of the Emperor’s Force rituals, appears as if in a perpetual lightning storm. Rain is also common on the surface, and the planet itself seems to be in a never-ending dark haze. Other commonly seen features of the Dromund Kaas landscape are the ancient caverns, ruins, and statues depicting venerated former Sith Lords.

 

 

Jara’s Thoughts: Right out of a world that is already an icon of Star Wars history (Tatooine), directly to one that looks like it could very well turn into one of the most significant icons of SWTOR‘s history.

As a Sith Warrior, I can only imagine what this world will hold for me. Dromund Kaas IS the Sith Empire… Literally. This is the place where the Dark Council spreads their influence over the Empire. This is the place where Teneb Kel’s quest to hunt down Exal Kressh began. Though the Emperor appears to be involved in mysterious schemes outside of the Empire, I imagine he’ll still be in Dromund Kaas when I reach the city. At the very least, I’ll get to see the throne that Malak & Revan approached in one of the most awesome timeline videos revealed of the game, so far.

Seeing as how Dromund Kaas looks to be steeped in the history of the Empire, I know I’ll enjoy the quests there. I am curious to learn more about past events on Dromund Kaas, the ancient figures that shaped the Empire, and maybe even chat with a “Force ghost” or two in my time there. More than that, I dig jungle worlds.

While this doesn’t appear to be a “pure” jungle world—like your Kashyyyk’s or Yavin IV’s—it still has that jungle feel to it that I enjoy. If nothing else, it looks like a very dimly lit rainforest.lol

 

 

 

 

Taris



Tar001

Vines canvas the ancient, ruined buildings of Taris' once vibrant city.

 
 
 

Tar002

Though new settlements do exist, the spectre of Taris' tragic past always stands as a reminder in the background.

 

Tar003

Taris, doomed to a perpetually ruinous future, or primed for rebirth?

Once a thriving ecumenopolis, Taris was razed in the year 3,956 BBY by the Sith Lord Darth Malak in his attempts to kill the Jedi Knight Bastila Shan.

More than three centuries have passed since that act of utter destruction left the city a smouldering ruin. Taris in present day, at least currently, is still in a state of ruin. Swamps are the most prevalent aspect of Taris’ terrain. The remainder of the landscape is covered in the ruined shells of buildings that once stood in a proud, prominent city. Though little remains of the once great city, perhaps its darkest aspect, the diseased Rakghouls, have managed to survive the destruction of their home. There are also rumors of an evolution of sorts happening to those afflicted by this disease—created by Sith alchemy—, including reports of “bizarre” powers.

Though only lightly inhabited in the centuries since its destruction, recently the Galactic Republic has begun stationing forces on the surface in order to rebuild the city. The Republic hopes that rebuilding this city, once a symbol of Sith atrocity, will boost the morale of a Republic in need of new hope. However, the Empire has also begun sending their military to the planet in an attempt to prevent such a move. In their eyes, Taris stands as a testament to the destructive might of the Sith—and they intend to keep it that way.

 

Jara’s Thoughts: Anyone who has played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic should be intimately familiar with this world and the events that brought about its eventual downfall.

This planet was the scene of one of the most gut-wrenching—but oh so damn effective—plot twists in video game history. It isn’t often that you’ll find developers willing to, literally, blow up to Hell a whole world they worked on. Yet, that’s just what happened here. BioWare allowed you to explore Taris in KotOR, let you get to know its people, and then made you watch as Darth Malak unloaded the clip on it. In many ways, this planet might have been the home of the hardest hitting BioWare plot point at the time—surpassed only by the twist when you learned about Revan later (I won’t spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t played it).

Getting to go back to this world (and hopefully rebuild it, via BioWare’s “phasing” technology) is going to be one of the sweetest aspects of SWTOR. Just knowing a little about the history of this place, then being allowed to go back, is very cool. I expect quests there to focus on the Rakghoul situation, and on the Republic side, I imagine the quests will gear more toward rebuilding the place. (That’s probably the one downside I see with playing Empire—they are trying to keep it destroyed. I’ll probably have to roll ‘pub to see the rebuilding stuff [though I hope Drew Karpyshyn is hinting in that first video that the Empire might just start building their own stuff to counteract the Republic.)

 

 

 

 

Belsavis



Bels001

Though known for its cold climate, Belsavis' vibrant vegetation thrives.

The history of Belsavis precedes the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. Indeed, its origins and history reach all the way back to the “Infinite Empire” of the Rakatans, who used the planet as a prison for captured beings—beasts and intelligent beings. Many of those beings are said to still be locked away deep inside the planet’s massive prison.

In the timeline of The Old Republic, Belsavis has been used by the Republic as a prison for dangerous Sith lords and war criminals. Having discovered its true nature as an ancient prison in past centuries, the Republic attempted, unsuccessfully, to fully overtake the massive prison complex. Deep within its structure, the Republic learned that the Rakatans had contained many hideously dangerous prisoners. With this knowledge in-hand, the Republic has begun sending increasing numbers of military personnel to the planet to attempt to maintain the defenses of the prison. On the other hand, the Empire, having learned of the prison’s existence through its vast network of Imperial spies, has also dispatched its own military forces to Belsavis in an attempt to liberate its numerous Sith prisoners.

The presence of both the Republic & Jedi has transformed the labyrinthine prison complex into a bloody battleground. While the Sith attempt to retrieve their captured brethren, and the Jedi attempt to keep the prison intact, a dark evil waits in the depths of the facility, ready to break free of its centuries old prison.

 

 

Jara’s Thoughts: As a known lover of “winter worlds”, I can see myself enjoying the terrain & climate of Belsavis. That said, the presence of a massive galactic prison certainly raises my eyebrow.

I think I could enjoy all aspects of this world—as long as the quests are engaging.

If I am going to spend a lot of time in prison complexes, I hope the quests are involved, with a very ever-present sense of danger. I also hope that both Empire & Republic will get to delve deeper into the mystery of this place. Just knowing that the Rakatans actually used this prison millenia before the Republic or Empire makes me curious to see what exactly they have contained deep inside it. I am kind of hoping it’ll be something akin to At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft—though unlike Dyer & Danforth, I actually want to SEE the evil contained within.

Sadly, if I had to guess, I bet the Republic will come out ahead on the intriguing quests for the prison. I think the Sith will become aware of the evil as they are attempting to free their captured people, while the Republic will most likely get the “We must not let this evil escape” awesome storyline.

However, until we get into the game, this is merely a guess (I could be completely wrong).

 

 

 

Voss



Voss001

Voss-ka, capital of the Voss species, boasts very ornate, detailed architecture.

 
 
 

Voss002

Anti-aircraft guns stand ready to shoot down enemy ships---a testament to the culture of conflict present on the planet.

 

Voss003

The pagoda-like design of this Voss structure suggests skilled craftsmanship---though its true purpose remains a mystery.

Voss, home to the tech-savvy, aggressive species called the “Gormak”, as well as a peaceful race of mystics who refer to themselves by the same name as the planet, was found by accident not long after the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant.

The Voss species, who make their home in a city on a tall mountain peak, have survived centuries of constant assault by their mortal enemies the Gormak by virtue of their city’s natural defenses, and due to the guidance of their Voss Mystics. Though Sith & Jedi outside of Voss would instantly recognize the Mystics’ power as coming directly from the “Force”, the Voss have no term for it, nor do they care for outside opinion. Yet it has saved their civilization from certain extinction from the Gormak, who see the Voss as an affront to nature, itself.

The Sith Empire attempted to conquer the planet after discovering its existence, while the Republic attempted to prevent its capture by taking the planet, themselves. The powerful Voss Mystics were able to see through these attempts, however. Guided by their mystical knowledge, the Voss were able to prevent the Republic from taking the planet, then defeat the invading Sith fleet, causing it to vanish. Afterward, both the Sith Empire & the Galactic Republic established embassies in Voss-ka, the Voss’ home, in an attempt to try and gain favor with them.

 

Jara’s Thoughts: Of all the planets BioWare has released for The Old Republic, I feel confident in saying Voss has been the hardest to read for me.

I have no friggin idea yet if I’m going to like this planet or not.

I will say, there are things about this world I find very intriguing. The Nightmare Lands, which is supposed to be an area tainted by some dark energy that is inhabited by twisted Gormak & Voss Mystics who have gone insane, sounds like a blast to me. The Voss, themselves, sound interesting, as well—though I have to admit, the Voss, named after the planet Voss, which resides in the Voss System, just makes me think of the Marklar from South Park.

I have no idea what to expect as far as quests on this world. You would think that some of them will be your superiors attempting to get in the good graces of the Voss, though if you are Empire, there’s no doubt that some ulterior motives will come into play. The Gormaks view you as an enemy simply because you don’t hate the Voss and they see them as abominations. Therefore, I doubt they will be welcoming quest givers (though any experienced MMO player knows, love and hate by a faction for you in an MMO only lasts as long as it takes you to grind rep with them, or do some quest that changes your allegiance).

If I had to make one suggestion that I hoped to see in the game, I hope at some point you, as a Sith player, can do something heinous and then point the finger at a Jedi or something in a Voss quest. I get that these guys are kind of psychic, but it would still be fun to do since you’re both basically trying to suck up better than the opposite faction.

 

 

 

Closing Thoughts: Thus concludes part 2 of our three part adventure (there were only ten worlds left, so I decided to split them in half).

In this part, there were definitely a lot of worlds that I look forward to experiencing in-game. Not even just Tatooine or Taris, I see fun questing possibilities on all of these planets. Most of them, save Tatooine, seem to have a single recurring theme: political intrigue. Voss, Belsavis & Taris just look like political warzones, with two sides fighting over them for different reasons, and with different agendas; Dromund Kaas, though an Empire-only planet, is no doubt steeped in political games, also (this is the home of the Emperor & the Dark Council, after all). Tatooine, while not specifically stated to be a grand political battleground for the Republic & Empire, still has some juicy secrets to spill. They all raise their own questions.

-What caused the Czerka Corporation to very suddenly pull up stakes on Tatooine and hit the road without so much as packing? I doubt they would have incurred such losses over anything small.

-What sort of prisoners did the Rakatans imprison underground on Belsavis—and what exactly about them had the Jedi order moving so quickly to keep them contained?

-What exactly is the Emperor up to, and will he have the full support of the Dark Council when the time comes to implement his plans? The final chapter of the Blood of the Empire webcomic would suggest not (Teneb Kel made it very clear that they would want to know what the Emperor was truly planning—enough to spare his life and even elevate him to a full Sith lord).

-If the Empire wants to keep Taris in ruins, and the Republic wants to rebuild, which side is going to win out in the end? Also, what part will the “evolving” Rakghoul disease play in the grand scheme of things?

-Though the Sith Empire & Galactic Republic seem set on trying to curry favor with the Voss, what sort of ulterior motives are going on underneath? The Jedi Order may stick to their friendship policy with the Voss, but I imagine both the Imperial & Republic politicians have other ideas for what an alliance with the Voss could mean.

Overall, these worlds look poised to provide some exciting quests for people who choose to camp out on them. It’s difficult for me to say which one I think is going to be my favorite. All of them have great story potential; I think it’ll come down to how well the stories of these worlds engage me. (If there is a cantina on Tatooine with some rendition of the original Cantina Theme, however, all bets are off.)

Well, here are worlds 8-12 on our tour of the 17 worlds BioWare has unveiled for The Old Republic.

Among the worlds we have yet to cover:

-a world where an enveloping, warm Tauntaun coat could save your life;

-a “moon” where “fair play” is just a bunch of four letter words;

-the “Detroit” motor vehicle (starship) capital of SWTOR;

-a world with diamonds that you wouldn’t want to make teeth grills out of;

-and finally, a world where the Hutts figured: poisonous atmosphere + dangerous plants + chemistry = profit.

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

  1. Out of all those, Taris. It’s all about Taris.

    It’s been so long ago that that planet was revealed, I’d almost completely forgotten about it. What I love most about it is that it’s going to be familiar…but different.

    Isn’t that what some people complain about, how worlds never seem to change or evolve even after like thousands of years? All the scenery of say and the technology remaining constant and static? To some extent, I share those sentiments, but I also recognize the need for that in order for places to remain iconic. Sure, maybe everything remaining the same even after several millennia is a bit unrealistic, but I’m willing to put that aside to be able to enjoy my beloved Tattooine or Hoth.

    But here’s Taris that turns that on its head. I love Taris for its history, but also for this novelty — that it has been altered forever and we’ll be seeing the before and after. But while the planet’s changed drastically, I still love it.

    Damn, I know I said I was looking forward most to seeing Coruscant, but then like I said, I’d completely forgotten Taris. I think that one is pretty high up there on my list of faves too.

  2. I have to agree that sometimes it is best to leave realism at the door in favor of enjoying something. Yeah, maybe it would be more theoretically “real” to have Bounty Hunters that look nothing like Boba Fett, Smugglers that have almost no connection to Han Solo, and cities that look nothing like their incarnations 2000 years in the future—but if you went to the opposite side of the spectrum just so you can’t be associated with those things, you lose what makes them iconic; they are iconic BECAUSE of those associations.

    Taris is definitely going to present something much different from the other worlds. While the other worlds look like they were built to associate as much as possible with their incarnations in the future, Taris is obviously designed to show just how much things have changed in 300 years—or maybe just how little they really have.

    Nothing has happened on Taris since its destruction. Only in the past decade in TOR have either the Republic or Empire taken any interest in it. Whatever it is destined to be in TOR, that’ll be decided by the players—which is just sweet.

    I can’t wait to have a hand in what Taris becomes in the future of SWTOR. Knowing what it is coming from only makes the changes I, as a player, am going to have on it that much sweeter.

    This is a world that should have a ton of references to Malak’s act. In fact, I bet both Imperial & Republic players will hear Darth Malak’s name dropped frequently in Taris quests.

  3. Belsavis is the sexy pick of the group for me. Unique planet, offshoot reminds me of zangarmarsh on ice. The background screams “Flashpoint city”

    On the subject of iconism, i reaaally think they over-do the connections to Fett and Solo in appearance to draw in the casual Star Wars fan, I hate to sound cliche, but i have faith in Bioware to NOT be the retarded as to pigeonhole a Bounty Hunter’s entire existence in the game as something “Fett worthy” when i know plenty of friends who either love Bossk, Ig-88 or any number of Bounty Hunters more than Boba Fett.

    While i won’t say that…….i do favor Dash Rendar > Han Solo, as blasphemous as it sounds, his TRUE TO FORM Roguish, Bad ass with a Heart of Gold, just don’t thank me, follow me, or get in my business and i’m on my way mentality is what a TRUE Smuggler is all about, not to mention he doesn’t need to hide behind boxes to be craft. But i digress on my man crush there…

  4. The fauna of Belsavis does have a hint of Zangarmarsh in it, now that you mention it. There would certainly be a lot less fun zones than “Zangarmarsh on ice”, that’s for sure. If the quests are engaging, I could see myself spending a good deal of time there.

    Keeping things iconic in a game whose setting takes place several thousand years in the past is a tricky one. It is very easy to make things too close to their future incarnations, which only robs it of its own identity. That said, I think BioWare is doing a pretty decent job of making a separation between the era of the first 6 movies and the era of SWTOR.

    (Shameless plug incoming) Just look at the linked pictures in the “Riders on the Storm” article on this site. The armor shown there paints a much different feel from simply a Boba Fett clone. One of them (the “Bossk-esque” armor), in particular, really goes for a more “Wild west meets WWI” feel. Things like that make me think BioWare will be alright when it comes to creating something referential to iconic figures in the lore of Star Wars, while also allowing room for some originality.

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