A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, hundreds of Jedi and Sith explored the worlds of The Old Republic. During its launch, Star Wars: The Old Republic captivated me for months, allowing me to fulfill my fantasies as a planet-hopping Jedi ridding the galaxy of evil. Now, eight years later, I returned to my old MMO stomping grounds after the onslaught of varying Star Wars shows and movies. Thankfully, The Old Republic is as exhilarating as I remember, with the addition of several new expansions. However, certain accessibility blunders create intense moments of exhaustion and frustration in an otherwise addictive Star Wars title.
Developed by Bioware, and originally released in 2011, Star Wars: The Old Republic tasks players with traversing the known galaxy as one of eight classes. While The Old Republic contains traditional MMO tropes such as character customization, crafting and role selection, Bioware incorporates its rich storytelling mechanics across each campaign. It’s entirely plausible to complete each story, Flashpoint (mini raids) or Heroic mission without the assistance of others, but strictly solo players will miss out on several incredible physical accessibility features.
Whether playing by yourself or with a group of friends, The Old Republic offers full key and mouse customization. While certainly beneficial, the simplistic nature of The Old Republic almost negates that feature, as players only need to utilize a few keys to fully enjoy the game. Movement consists of holding ‘W’ and the right mouse button. Furthermore, menu activation and navigation, dialogue decisions, equipping gear and combat scenarios can all be completed by clicking the left or right mouse buttons.
To coincide with the ease of playing, The Old Republic’s greatest accessibility options occur when partaking in cooperative activities. For starters, if disabled individuals grow tired of holding their specific movement key, they can simply activate the ‘Follow’ function on a friend. By right clicking another character’s portrait, and subsequently clicking the ‘Follow’ option, all forms of movement become deactivated until pressed again. Despite players’ movements being at the mercy of others, the ‘Follow’ feature grants brief periods of respite during extensive sessions.
Groups also benefit physically disabled players during action sequences. While combat is primarily done through clicking abilities, multiple enemies can often overwhelm players. Friends and AI companions have the capability to alleviate enemy aggression, thus granting physically disabled individuals precious seconds to cast their next ability.
Unfortunately, The Old Republic suffers when players engage in space combat missions. Controlling your starfighter is relatively easy, as movement and weapon systems are relegated to the mouse. However, The Old Republic forces players to continuously hold the left mouse button to fire blasters, and the right mouse button to lock onto enemy targets to launch missiles. Missiles are sparse, and players will always exhaust their reserves, yet for approximately 5-10 minutes, disabled individuals are must utilize blasters to defeat enemy ships as well as destroy crucial space station components. After one session, I found myself too tired to continue playing. Thankfully, space combat missions are entirely optional, and do not impact the core components of the game.Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most entertaining Star Wars games I’ve played in years. For a title that is almost is celebrating its 10th birthday, I can only applaud its successes as a Star Wars game, as well as its overall physical accessibility. For physically disabled individuals wishing to master the mysterious ways of the Force, The Old Republic is the perfect choice.
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