In SWTOR, every class is a pet class?

As the game approaches, I’m becoming more and more interested by some of the things I read about SW:TOR. From the way the Dark Side and Light Side are handled (which I still feel could turn into a min-maxing nightmare, but could also be really immersive), to the mixed reactions to the quest/story structure, I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out.

Today, Hunter’s Insight has focussed on an aspect of the game I’d not heard much about, but which sounds genuinely innovative and interesting. You may have heard that in SW:TOR you’ll have the chance to get a Companion character. But did you know that, essentially, this means that not only is every class in the game a pet class, but that there’s actually an extended story and relationship developing between you and your companion?

“Companions don’t play the same role they do in Guild Wars. They are a huge story element. You quest for them, you get to know them, you romance them, they do your chores, take out the trash and are customizable. On a mechanics level I think they’re actually more akin to pets. I think they effectively make every class in SWTOR a pet class, which is actually kind of interesting.

I had experience with two companions. Khem Val and Kaliyo.

Khem Val is essentially a tank as demonstrated in the video. My inquisitors pet. I found that because I was playing a Sith, even though I had some ranged attacks I often closed with people early on. That meant that instead of being shielding by my tank I was often right beside him. Kind of annoying. I definitely should have changed tactics but it was my first play-through and I had no idea what I was doing. His personality left something to be desired. Even when I was being evil it was not good enough for this guy. You have to be seriously rotten to impress him. Also I’m not really the type to enjoy a companion who walks around in a loincloth although I’m sure that can be changed later. Because I didn’t like him, I never looked into it.”

It’s very interesting to hear just how much personality these characters are invested with. Bioware have always been particularly strong at writing companion characters – Minsk, anyone? – and I hadn’t realised how thoroughly they’d be carrying that ability through into their MMO.

I do wonder how well the companions will stand up to hundreds or thousands of hours of game-time. Will you get sick of them? But, on the other hand, the level of personality and attachment to the world these characters could generate might well be a game changer on their own.

An NPC you actually care about? What a concept.

What do you think? Irritating min-max targets, or huge addition to the genre?