BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic from 2003 continues to be one of the most beloved Star Wars titles despite its age, outshining countless other games bearing the Star Wars name. Along with its popularity as a Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic is regarded as one of the finest examples of RPG storytelling and worldbuilding, with a memorable cast of characters and impactful decision-making that would inspire RPGs in the following decades. Knights of the Old Republic used an adapted form of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition ruleset as the foundation of its gameplay, a system that has certainly begun to show its age today.
With a remake by Aspyr on the horizon, the various ways in which the remake could improve upon the original are worth considering. Aspyr is a veteran team when it comes to ports and rereleases with a catalog including mobile ports of Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire along with re-releases of Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Aspyr’s Knights of the Old Republic remake is its biggest project to date and will likely differ from the original in numerous ways when it comes to gameplay, with rumors suggesting it will forego the original’s turn-based system in favor of action RPG combat. This move paves the way for KOTOR to draw skill and combat improvements from more recent games with similar styles.
Mass Effect’s Gameplay Could Be an Excellent Source of Inspiration
BioWare’s Mass Effect series of sci-fi RPGs took much inspiration from their earlier Knights of the Old Republic project, from its Paragon/Renegade morality system which mirrors Light Side and Dark Side choices to its strong emphasis on the player’s party members. Mass Effect had a similar set of skills to level up, ranging from the usual combat abilities to computer hacking skills that could assist the party in various ways. Later Mass Effect games expanded on this by letting the player choose various skill paths that altered how these abilities functioned. Perhaps the Knights of the Old Republic remake could take advantage of Mass Effect‘s more hands-on approach to its gameplay systems.
Mass Effect had a wide range of abilities that party members could use, which generally fall under Tech, Biotic, and Combat-based abilities. Abilities could be mapped to control shortcuts or the player could initiate a tactical pause allowing them to select an ability and aim it at a target before unpausing, similar to Knights of the Old Republic‘s real-time-with-pause system. The Tech, Biotic, and Combat categories also reflect Star Wars characters perfectly. Mass Effect‘s Tech abilities could translate to hacking skills and the abilities of droid companions, its Biotic abilities are essentially Force powers, and Combat abilities are suitable for soldier characters like Carth, Canderous, and Zaalbar. Indeed, Mass Effect‘s combat seems perfectly suitable for a Star Wars RPG.
Mass Effect‘s various hacking minigames are also an example of how the Knights of the Old Republic remake could improve on the original. Knights of the Old Republic featured many locked containers that party members could open with sufficient skill and computer terminals that could be sliced to manipulate enemies or open up new opportunities. Opening locks and hacking computers in Knights of the Old Republic was boiled down to simple skill point checks, however, with little engagement beyond a button press. While potential hacking minigames in the remake don’t need to be as tedious as Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s full-blown Sudoku puzzles, some additional player agency could liven up the process.
The Old Republic MMORPG Has a Solid Variety of Interesting Playstyles
Knights of the Old Republic‘s combat was not terribly full of variety, with most characters either wielding blasters or lightsabers which used nearly identical sets of abilities such as the blaster’s Rapid Shot and melee weapon’s Flurry. Force powers were also rather basic, with an assortment of Dark and Light Side Force powers such as Lightning, Heal, and Force Speed. For the most part, abilities in Knights of the Old Republic had very clear uses and players could get through the entire game using mostly the same rotation. To make things more interesting in the remake, the variety of combat styles in The Old Republic could serve as a useful reference.
The Old Republic‘s classes can all develop highly distinct playstyles. For example, Imperial Agents can become Snipers, which can further specialize either toward hard-hitting precision shots or utilize debilitating poisons and crippling effects to whittle away enemies from afar. Ranged Force Users like the Sith Inquisitor could focus on harnessing the power of Force Lightning to deal bursts of damage or use their dark powers to heal and bolster their allies. The ability to specialize in this way gives players the chance to adopt their preferred playstyle or augment their team’s composition.
This sort of depth could certainly be explored in the Knights of the Old Republic remake as each party member could be developed to specialize in a particular role. Characters like Zaalbar could be specialized toward dealing heavy damage with his brute strength, or more toward survivability and bearing the brunt of enemy attacks. The droid companion HK-47 could specialize in sniping enemies from afar with his enhanced assassin droid protocols or focus on saturating areas with volleys of heavy blaster fire. Force-focused characters like Jolee Bindo may lean toward healing and buffing the party or toward using the Force to debilitate and weaken foes.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Nailed Lightsaber Combat
If the Knights of the Old Republic remake is adopting action-style combat, Jedi: Fallen Order could serve as an excellent model for how to handle lightsaber combat. In lieu of attack and defense dice rolls determining whether a strike hits a character, actually being able to dodge, parry, and deflect blaster bolts would be a perfect way to replace the D&D system. Cal Kestis even utilizes all three lightsaber configurations in Jedi Fallen Order: single blade, double-bladed, and dual-wielded lightsabers.
The controls were fairly simple and it’s certainly possible for Jedi: Fallen Order‘s lightsaber combat to fit into an RPG without things becoming overly complicated. By looking at what has worked well in recent games, the Knights of the Old Republic remake has tons of opportunities to evolve from the original beyond being just a graphics overhaul.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake is in development for PC and PS5.
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