Star Wars: the Old Republic features flashpoints at certain portions of the game. The Esseles, The Black Talon, Taral V, Boarding Party, and Directive 7 are some of the flashpoints already revealed to us by BioWare. The creators of the game had already us a preview of what to expect in these during live presentations in various major gaming events such as E3, Gamescom, and PAX.
But what are flashpoints, exactly? I personally perceive flashpoints as high points in the game – climactic events that occur throughout your adventure. Jesse Sky, a World Designer for the game, used the Death Star battle in Star Wars: A New Hope as a prime example of a flashpoint. In the movie, the battle was arguably one of its biggest highlights – if not the premier highlight. Luke and Obi-Wan availed of Han’s services to aid them in the rescue of Princess Leah. Things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped; they needed to improvise on the fly in order to survive the mission. And maybe, they didn’t improvise well. I mean, Obi-Wan died. Or he let himself be killed. Whatever the case may be, that wasn’t in the blueprint. Those basically sum up a flashpoint – peril, allies, combat, and choices that can have effects later on.
LAYING IT OUT
Writers try to come up with the most interesting of scenarios for the game’s players. They think of ways on how to pose danger and gratification to players; and how these can contribute to character development. The writers visualize where it would happen and what would go down. They then brainstorm on the possible conversations, dialogue choices, what enemies to throw at the player, objectives to meet, and decisions that could alter a character’s fate. Plenty of experimentation goes down; but the main goal remains intact – to keep the player moving.
And what they mean by “keep the player moving” doesn’t necessarily involve a linear path. Flashpoints include several sections; these sections may branch off, giving the player the option on how to go about in finishing the scenario. There is no single method to wade through a flashpoint.
PUTTING THE PIECES
The revealed flashpoints are set in very diverse locales – Republic/Imperial vessels, alien prisons, lush regions, barren wastelands, and remote moons, among others. These locations are designed to feel genuine, memorable, and captivating – so, recycled environments are a no-no when it comes to flashpoints.
Flashpoints also pretty much indicate epic boss battles. But that isn’t all, the games designers made sure that the battles before you reach that part would be most action-packed. Enemies won’t be standing around waiting to be attacked – the designers wanted to Flashpoint combat to feel like a battle in a Star Wars movie. Cinematic fights will be a common sight in flashpoints; and there will be plenty of foes that will try to stop you to getting to your objective. Also take note that enemies tend to behave differently in these scenarios when compared to open world mobs. Why? Because they reflect the ongoing events in the particular flashpoint. I like that a lot.
For instance, when defending a Republic ship from being invaded by the Imperials during the Esseles Flashpoint, players will have to deal with hordes of foes crashing through the hull via pods while trying to get to the bridge as soon as possible. The fact that the vessel is also being bombarded with heavy fire doesn’t do any good either. That’s action at its finest. You won’t see anything like that while you’re out gathering materials for a new armor.
ENCOURAGEMENT OF TEAMPLAY
Flashpoints are unpredictable and are laced with hazards at every turn –hence, having someone, or ideally a large party, to back you up is the way to go. During these scenarios, things can go downhill pretty fast. Comrades can aide you in these sticky situations; and watching each other’s behind (try not to stare too long though) is probably the only manner you could get out of the flashpoint without suffering the same fate as Obi Wan did.
Most MMOs feel like a grind to play – there’s no purpose to what you’re doing except to get better items. This MMO isn’t going to do that to you; it’s Star Wars baby, and that label would only be wasted if getting a new lightsaber is the sole reason for your character’s existence. Flashpoints came to be because the designers didn’t want you to feel a lack of purpose; plus, this is going to be the biggest game of its kind to date, so BioWare is pulling out all the stops. Players would have a real sense of progression with regards to their character’s story and personality after the flashpoint. Don’t worry item lovers, you guys would still get rewarded with valuables with the accomplishment of these too.
But the greatest prize in all of this – fun. Yes, a grand time is assured with SWTOR, especially with the climactic sequences that flashpoints bring to the game.