E3 2010: Hands On With the Smuggler

MMORPG.com’s Garrett Fuller got some hands on time with a Smuggler during his recent visit to the Star Wars: The Old Republic folks at this year’s E3.

In playing Star Wars: The Old Republic there are a few things that continue to stand out. The storylines that are created for characters are by far the most intricate seen in a game, especially in an MMO. There is also the Star Wars feel to the game. The sounds, the music, the planets and design, heck it reminds me of Star Wars Galaxies in that respect. So in this hands-on article we wanted to talk about the Smuggler class. Personified by Han Solo and viewed as one of the most iconic Star Wars characters in the universe, the Smuggler is a rogue of sorts that relies on quick reflexes and duck and roll combat techniques to get the job done. I wonder if there will be any actual smuggling in the game.

The Smuggler we had a chance to play was doing missions on Ord Mantell when we stepped in to run around. The character was female and Twi’lek.

So we got our mission to take-out a cannon that was being held by the enemy. All of this in order for us to fly off the planet and deliver some goods. The dialogue was a bit tedious, something we have found throughout the game. Though it is Bioware’s style and has served them well in the past, I am just not sure how well it will do in an MMO when you are trying to get your work done quickly. Just remember speed gamers, the space bar is your friend.

Once you get through the discussion, it is time to go and knock out that cannon. With my trusty blaster by my side, I set forth. The use of cover is one of the biggest gameplay techniques for the Smuggler and it is critical to how the class plays. The prime combat style of the Smuggler is to pick a target, dive and hide behind some form of cover, and blast away. If you want to move up and find more cover, go for it. The trick is getting a target first. I found myself constantly looking for cover with no interface coming up because I did not have a target already selected. This got tricky until I finally figured it out. Still in the heat of a major fight or especially in PvP this could get really annoying.

The cover interface was not bad. As soon as your target is selected, green images appear in the area around all of the potential cover spots you can occupy. Pick one and you will move to that spot. Once there, start shooting. There are a range of shots you can do, wit more powerful shots requiring a cooldown. The action moved pretty fast so I really only used my normal blaster attack and another more powerful blast which was able to knock NPCs down to about 50%.

In the boss fight we saw as part of the demo, the Trooper really held agro on the attack droids while the Jedi Knight took out the adds and the Smuggler blasted the heck out of the boss droid from cover. It was definitely a good group running through the encounters. However, it started my general feeling on the Smuggler which was, all I get to do is duck and cover? As I continue through my hands-on section I tried to find other tactics to use. There were not many, but then again it was only a demo. I went back and read the class description on the Star Wars website and saw that they mention stealth several times. This may be true, but I did not use any stealth skills other than the cover interface when running through the demo. I’m hoping to see a little bit more of it next time so that the experience is a little bit more varied.

Overall, I really like the idea of the Smuggler class. I mean, really who doesn’t like Han Solo? Ok maybe Jabba and Boba and a few others. Still the character and concept is awesome in the game. If stealth and dodging for cover work out really well in the combat interface then the class should prove fun for players who enjoy that style. Keep in mind the Smugglers are the Republic’s class, not the Empire. Once I got the hang of the class and the use of cover I definitely wanted to play more. I only hope that in the game you can actually work on building up credits by actually smuggling something. If Smugglers somehow have an impact on the in game economy that would be incredibly cool. I am not sure how this would work, and putting things like the player auction house into actually player’s hands based around a class is extremely dangerous in design, still there is potential there, let’s hope the team sees it. The Smuggler is fun even though it takes a little getting used to, but that is what new classes are all about. We will also be looking at the Sith Warrior in my next Hands On later this week.