It’s not that I don’t think that Vader and Fett aren’t cool; they are, for various reasons mainly relating to their outfits. But their popularity is way, way out of proportion to what they’ve actually done to earn it. Pop culture and fandom is funny that way. We fixate on something that looks cool and might have been cool, 20 years ago, and elevate it to infallible worship. This is why I begin to develop a rash when The Old Republic starts talking classes.
It’s not that offering what I’m calling The Big Three (Jedi/Sith Warrior — I’m lumping those together, as they’re pretty much the same thing — Smuggler and Bounty Hunter) is bad, particularly from a customer service standpoint. They know that these are the most heavily lusted-after archtypes in all of Star Wars, and BioWare’s smart to deliver the goods without making fans squirm and claw for their Jedi (hello, SWG!). But, sadly enough, that’s the extent of the “Big” classes; everything else is small fry in the fandom.
Yes, people love the look of Stormtroopers and dressing up as them, but they’re not going to last long in a “Stormtrooper or Han Solo?” debate. Likewise, I doubt that many kids growing up in the 80’s pretended to be Grand Moff Tarkin when they were in their tree houses playing Star Wars, yet TOR is offering the Imperial Agent class as a suitable candidate for play. Whatever the last two classes are, they simply aren’t in the Big Three, and they’re not going to be trampled over in a mad rush on day one. It’s just how it is. We’ve always pretended to be a Jedi or Vader or Han Solo or Boba Fett, and everything else is second tier.
Which is exactly why I’m totally kosher with the Imperial Agent. In fact, I might be the first in line to play one of these guys, unless the TOR team has a pet class waiting in the wings. My gut feeling is that BioWare is more hemmed with their design with the Big Three, because they have to make those classes according to the great expectations that are out there. But with the other classes? They have more freedom to do something a bit different, to have some fun, to offer us something other than the usual Star Wars fare of Vader, Boba and Han. And that intrigues me, enough that I might even play a stealth/sniper class. Especially one with so many wonderful toys (orbital bombardment? Yes, please!) I’ve been challenging myself to get out of my MMO routine by trying new classes in different games (such as playing a rogue in Dragon Age), if nothing else than to help me understand new perspectives.