But that's only the main story arc. The specific narrative you experience will depend on the character class you select. The only classes we're talking about today are Jedi and Sith, says LucasArts executive producer Tom Nichols. When asked if there will be an option to play as, say, a bounty hunter, he simply replies, "Perhaps." However, Nichols does go on to add, "What we reference is the iconic roles from the movie, such as Boba Fett or Han Solo - that's our goal, to provide experiences like those key iconic characters."
They're also striving to provide experiences that are quite different for each class. It's not like the old days, explains Erickson, when BioWare was making games like Baldur's Gate. Back then, they had to come up with a generic storyline that would work whether the player had chosen to be a druid, wizard, warrior or whatever.
That's no longer the case, says Erickson - and as a result, the class narratives in SWTOR are "the most unique stories we've ever told". What's more, even if you play through the entire game as a Jedi, then do it all again as a Sith, "You will not see one repeated piece of content. Not one quest, not one line of dialogue, nothing."
This also means there is more story being told than ever. In fact, Erickson reveals, "We did the calculations and we realised, a long time ago, we had passed the point where we would have more story content than every BioWare game made to date, combined. That's all the Baldur's Gates, Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, all the expansion packs. All those combined do not touch our content amount."
So. There's the main game setting, and a range of stories within that setting. Then there's a third layer, which is to do with the choices you make and how they affect the story that unfolds. According to BioWare's Greg Zeschuk, decision making is much more complex in SWTOR than in most MMOs.
"If you look at the stable of BioWare games, there are things that we do differently. The fundamental thing is the sense of choice - those [other MMO] games don't really have a sense of choice," he says.
"Your only choice is, do I take this quest or do I take that quest? If I want my bag of loot, I've got to do what the guy tells me. You don't have a question at the end like, do I kill this guy or do I let him live? It's not a question of deciding what the options are. MMOs have traditionally been about doing what you're told to do."
Ray jumps in to explain that BioWare's taking a different approach. "We're going to make sure all the story arcs are really interesting, fun to play through, and make you feel like you've made a difference, you've made a choice that actually affected the outcome," he promises.
Many of the choices you make will revolve around the light or dark side of the Force. It doesn't matter whether you've chosen to be a Jedi, a Sith or any other class - you can make decisions that might not fit traditionally with your character class. A Sith, for example, could choose to save a life instead of taking one.
However, said Sith would need to be prepared to have that decision questioned and criticised. In SWTOR, you can acquire AI-controlled companion characters who not only stick by your side but observe and comment on your actions. Your relationships with them can vary significantly and they serve a range of different purposes, as Nichols confirms.
"Companions can provide assistance in combat. They can provide comic relief and banter. They can alert you to things they're sensing, like nearby enemies. They might comment on decisions you're making that may seem to conflict with your class," he says. And that's not all.