How Do We Get There? And Can We Smash Things Along the Way? Huh? Can We?

Oh…. Dear…

We all know what this is, right? Who doesn’t want to drive something like that? As long as those pesky airspeeders are kept away, you would be virtually unstoppable. One of my favorite memories from a video game is from Battlefront 2 when you get to pilot the AT-AT in an assault on the Rebel base on Hoth. Silly Rebels. Can you say CRUNCH?

Vehicles have been a big part of Star Wars since the beginning. We have spacecraft sure – the opening scene in Episode IV, the space battle between the Devastator and the Tantive IV is epic to say the least. But starships and starfighters are not the focus of this piece. After the droids escape, we see a huge sandcrawler, a landspeeder and others including living mounts (am I the only one who thinks dewbacks are kinda creepy?) before we get into space again.

And then in Episode V we get the real deal. Airspeeders first and then Imperial Walkers. It is not entirely clear how many walkers attacked Echo base, but it had to be a bunch. Figure each of the six Star Destroyers in the Imperial Death Squadron had a full complement (are YOU going to tell Lord Vader you are short an AT-AT? I wouldn’t want to either…) That is twenty per Star Destroyer. Add to that the Executor’s complement of thirty. A hundred and fifty AT-ATs… No wonder the Rebels ran away.

In Episode VI, we see a hoverbarge, repulsorlift sleds and up close and personal views of AT-STs. We had a quick glimpse of one in the battle of Hoth, but on Endor we see them a lot more. We see them get swarmed and smashed by a bunch of rock throwing primitives. Sigh… Some days it just doesn’t pay to serve the Empire.

The Prequels showed more vehicles of all kinds. In Episode I, we see droid tanks, armed landspeeders, living mounts… the works. Episode II of course we see the clone army in all its glory with artillery, gunships, tanks and all sorts and sundry of other vehicles. In Episode III we see other vehicles, including the only film representation of an A6 Juggernaught Heavy Assault Vehicle during the battle of Kashykk.

And now, we come to games. The starfighters get a lot of press of course. After all, the attack on the first Death Star was one of the most iconic scenes in any science fiction movie. Most of the times in Star Wars games, vehicles were things to fight, all the way back to Empire Strikes Back for SNES. Star Wars Battlefront was an anomaly. The first version had no space combat at all, the starfighters could only be flown within the confines of the ground maps. But the tanks and the landpeeders more than made up for it. Battlefront II added space to the mix and then boarding actions on enemy ships, which were also VERY cool but somewhat hard to pull off properly. Especially when the AI of your allies told them to get into the transport that you just carefully landed on the enemy hangar deck, to then immediately crash it.

So, now we come to another game in Star Wars history. Many people who played it loved it. Until things were changed. Star Wars Galaxies had one of the coolest ideas ever. A full online world populated by AI driven characters AND players. And in STAR WARS? What more could anyone ask? Well, aside from them changing things so thoroughly without telling anyone, lying to their customers and treating their customers like trash?

The game itself had flaws, no question. But it was STAR WARS. You could, after they fixed the launch bugs, go anywhere, do anything. You could ride a swoop, get into an X-34, or speeder bike. You could even have an AT-ST as a pet. My only true complaint was that you could not fight from the vehicles. Some of the creature handlers could fight from their mount which was very cool, but still…

Single player Star Wars games have had vehicles as well. The swoop races in Knights of the Old Republic I and II. Jedi Outcast had the illustrious Kyle Katarn ‘borrowing’ a series of AT-STs from the Imperial Remnant during their attack on Yavin IV. Yes, he WAS going to return them. Are YOU going to tell him, to his face, that he wasn’t? Thought not… Jedi Academy had a mission in which you flew a swoop and either used a lightsaber or on board cannon to fight with. The Battlefront series of course had vehicles out the wazoo, and even Republic Commando had a scene where you ‘appropriated’ an AT-TE to dispense some pain on a horde of battle droids. Lego Star Wars has vehicles to use as well.

So… what can we expect in Star Wars: The Old Republic? As an MMO, we will likely not see the same level of sophistication, the sheer scope of The Old Republic defies such things. Any MMO is a huge undertaking, This MMO is supposedly the largest one ever conceived. So… What would we want in a vehicle?

Speed and maneuverability. These things go without saying. In almost any human there is a deep rooted need to go fast. To make him or herself move faster than others around him or her. We want style too. We could drive around in a box. My sister drives around in a box in real life, but then again, she has two kids and a hyper little dog, so she needs the space. I don’t want to drive a box, I have some taste.

Do we want combat vehicles? I can’t say for anyone else but I like driving around and blowing things up. There is something visceral to driving a tank, even a simulated one. Having been in a real tank, I would prefer never to do it again. It smelled of VERY old socks. Thank goodness games don’t have a stench component yet. Combat vehicles though would be much harder to program I assume. Different weapons, different animations, different types of damage taken, different companions manning the guns need different animations… Ick… Just the thought of all the stuff required makes my head hurt. And if we want more than one kind of vehicle… AGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Exotic vehicles are a major part of the Star Wars experience. Whether they are spacecraft or a humble landspeeder, they all play an important part. In an MMO, vehicles provide speed to get to places, or away from them. This is unlikely to change in Star Wars: The Old Republic. But we can expect some new twists, and probably some cool surprises as well.

As for myself, I want to drive this walker APC that was shown in the concept art. What can I say? I LIKE crushing things under the feet of a metal behemoth.

Over to you. What kind of vehicles would you want to see? Do you want vehicle combat?

AT-AT image:

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