Mandalorians Return in The Old Republic
Bioware‘s Community guy, Sean Dahlberg, promised Star Wars: The Old Republic followers like myself a brand new “Galactic Timeline” video today, and they delivered, with an account of the return of the Mandalorians, allied with the Sith to battle the Galactic Republic and the Jedi. For those who don’t know, the Galactic Timeline videos are historical lore teasers about the setting of Star Wars: The Old Republic, voiced by a Jedi master tasked with tracing the roots of the conflict between the Sith and Jedi.
This video talked about the rise of the Mandalorians, a race with a philosophy steeped in conflict, and now it serves to nurture and bring out stronger traits. This, combined witha healthy thirst for conquest and war, make the Mandalorians both tough and dangerous.
Videos like these don’t really shed any light on gameplay, specifics, or mechanics. In some respects, they might lack value to those following the game. But I think they’re great, for a variety of reasons. First, they generate fodder for discussions and speculation about aforementioned specifics and mechanics. From the Mandalorian video, for example, we can see that we obviously have a new people that will probably occupy at least one class on the side of the Sith, more than likely a warrior-like archetype. Even if this isn’t the case, if Mandalorians are able to be chosen as a race with the appropriate bonuses, that might be interesting as well.
Another reason why the Timeline videos are a good thing is because of the overall philosophy and vision of the game, of one that focuses on story as an equally important pillar in an MMO. By having a history and a story behind each race, the game itself becomes more rich, more alive, and for those among you who are role-players, more expansive to draw upon. As much as people who are gearheads like to talk about how the skills and specs and balance are most important, atmosphere still factors into their choices somewhat. Anyone who chooses a character to play inevitably imagines themselves in the role of that player, and understanding their tendancies makes it easier to understand how skills and tactics were developed.
Lastly, what Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to be trying to do here is to generate more factors for players to choose a certain race. All too often, MMO players choose a race because of the type of class that you can be with that race, or how they look, or how many others they think will pick them. Background, or lore, or story doesn’t figure much into it. Even in the most populated MMO right now, World of Warcraft, there is somewhat of a story behind each of the races, but it is mostly fleshed out in the RTS Warcraft series and not really in the MMO itself. Bioware has the opportunity to make players choose a race not because the min-maxing works out for them to be the best race to pick, but because they want people to have a greater investment in their character through their race choice. If the blend of Spartan and Klingon that the Mandalorians occupy is appealing to some people, Bioware wants to make sure that when you are stepping into a character and logging them in, that you understand the embodiment of what the Mandalorians are. The result, ideally, would be a greater appreciation of the story-based quests that you, as a Mandalorian, would go through. In the midst of getting that quest xp or gaining that new skill, if Bioware can make the quest journey that much more enjoyable to make the inevitable grind better, why wouldn’t they?
I would probably never play a Mandalorian – but seeing the video makes me want to see the world that Bioware has created that has these people and more making their way in it.