Star Wars: The Old Republic was available as a playable demo at PAX East this past weekend, allowing groups of four players to run through the instance, or "flashpoint," Taral V. We went hands on with the melee-damage-dealing Jedi Knight class and found that the game is shaping up to be a formidable entry to the ever-growing MMORPG space.
SWTOR committed to having scalable instances a while ago, though the demo was set up specifically for groups of four. Healing, damage-dealing, and tanking abilities overlap more than usual, as if BioWare is picking up on the growing affinity for hybrid classes and trying to mitigate the inflexibility of pure damage-dealers. The demo allowed us to jump right in as level 32 characters with a wide range of spells and skills.
As a Guardian-specialized Jedi Knight, I was primarily a damage dealer, but could also function as an off-tank with taunting and threat-building abilities.The class was very, very fun to play, particularly the leaping slash attack the Jedi Knight could execute from long distances. The taunts and attacks that threw all nearby enemies away from where my character stood gave him a nice amount of utility, and two of the other players that were primary and off-healers were able to keep me and the dedicated tank alive.
It was hard to gauge the difficulty of Taral V from our one run in a group with a rookie tank. Regular mobs gave us little trouble, but we wiped twice on a boss that required us to tank the mob and its pet with separate characters and kill them almost simultaneously; if we didn't, killing one gave the other a massive buff.