Something strange in a galaxy far, far away

So the new SWTOR expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire is a thing and the SWTOR community seems to be very positive about the potential of this new focus on storytelling- there’s even the moniker “SWTOR2” out there, although i don’t really understand that yet. I’ll wait for more information to come out and clear things up a bit, because what we know right now leaves much room for different interpretations.

What we know about Knights of the Fallen Empire

As usual, Dulfy has a good overview of the new content coming to SWTOR in the end of october 2015. She (?) even updates it with new information coming out.

We know that there’ll  be a jump in time between the “old content” and the new content of the expansion and that the level cap will be raised to 65. We also know that we’ll be able to create a level 60 character if we want to do that. There’ll be new planets, new companions, and new story- this time delivered in episodes/chapters. It seems more and more MMOs learn from Guild Wars 2’s “living story” and integrate something similar to their games- STO has been doing it for quite some time, but now at least Lotro and SWTOR will follow.

I don’t want to do spoilers- so be warned- if you really don’t want to know anything- storywise- skip the next paragraph.

Storywise, we know that the empire and the republic have fallen and that there is a new empire, the Eternal Empire. Sure enough, i don’t know more and i don’t know if we’ve heard from that faction before.

You're out
You’re out

Well, and that’s about it for the facts. There are some other promises, though: Bioware returning to their strengths, providing great storylines where choices matter. A streamlined experience to immerse the players fully into a Star Wars RPG. There also are some indicators that the existing content will be streamlined to provide a faster, more hassle-free levelling experience leading up to the new stuff.

What does this mean?

Personally, i think right now, much of what has been said can be PR speak for many things- in the worst case, it’s about a faction merge and reducing the storylines to just one for all characters. We don’t know enough and i feel similar to how i felt after the EQ Next reveal– this could be huge, but it could also be more of the same.

But i don’t really think that this will be it, because selling that as a major improvement aka expansion could- and possibly would- backfire. So there has to be something. I haven’t finished any of the Bioware RPGs, but as far as i know, they’re quite linear affairs with some branches turning left or right depending on player choices. That’s fine, and i guess this is all we can hope for, despite the fact that the official page also lists “exploring new planets” as a feature- i’d love them to open the game up by using more open worlds, day/night cycles, sitting-in-chairs and so on, but i don’t think we’ll see that.

Instead, SWTOR seems to take a turn and make the game even more accessible/solo friendly. The only thing missing is the ability to form a flashpoint/operation party only using our companions. Don’t misunderstand me- i’m fine with that, because i don’t think forcing players to play group content is the way to go. Encouragement is all that’s needed.

They’re saying that this is still an MMO, that new multiplayer content will be released, that you can still do the MMO bits, as they call them, but that the whole game will be a more streamlined affair.

You're in
You’re in

Another interesting thought that crossed my mind- is Bioware/EA bringing SWTOR back to being a subscription game even more than they’re doing it right now? The new expansion is for subscribers, stat. No preorder, no prizing- you sub or you don’t play the new storylines. It’s still quite cheap, because you unlock all the content that is available at the time you subscribe. So if you wanted to save some money, you could wait for all 16 episodes of the new content to be released, subscribe to the game and you’d have everything unlocked- even when you unsubscribe.

Or is that buy-to-play? I don’t know, but it’s a strange thing and it makes the sub mandatory again (if you want to see all the content) where it wasn’t before (you could buy expansions).

Personal implications

For me, this announcement makes me think about a few things. First thing i did was renew my sub, for six months. Earlier i was hesitating, because for one, my taste varies a lot, we’re going on vacation for 2 weeks in the end of july- these were events that made me think twice about buying more than one months’ worth of game time at once. With the rewards, the timing, the fact that the vacation would fall in the “sub time” anyway, i decided to renew for 6 months. One thing that’s rarely advertised on the official homepage is the fact that you’ll receive more cartel coins per month if you subscribe for a longer period- 500 for a monthly sub, 550 for three-monthers and 600 for the 6-month-sub.

Furthermore, if the game essentially removes factions, i wouldn’t really have to decide for one and could play classes/stories on the imperial side, as well. Like the Agent’s, or the Inquisitor’s. This also influences a possible choice in guilds, if/when i make a decision. Until now, i was looking at the republic side only, but later on that doesn’t really seem to matter.

And also, now we know how long 12XP will last- until 10/19- so even when it is implied that the earlier content will be streamlined after the expansion hits, and even with the level 60 character we can create at release, i know how much time i have to make use of the xp bonus. So i decided that, for now, i’ll stick to my Jedi Sage (which seems to be my favourite class) for normal play (with 12 XP deactivated or of limited use) and the Agent for the full 12XP experience.

On the other hand i’m thinking- if they’re going to streamline all the content that’s available right now- we only have about four months left to experience SWTOR “as it was”. So i’ll be enjoying that first and come september, i might give a few classes the 12XP treatment.

4 thoughts on “Something strange in a galaxy far, far away

  1. I’m both excited and concerned about the upcoming expansion. The trailer told an excellent story that I want to know more about, but not in the way class stories were done. I don’t like how much time I spend watching stories rather than playing through them. The stories themselves are fine, it’s just way too heavy on the cutscenes. There are ways to tell a story in an MMO that aren’t as passive, I wish BioWare would explore other avenues of storytelling.

    However if instead they are going to double down on the cutscene storytelling, I don’t know. I may end up disappointed with what’s delivered. I wonder if they haven’t misread the metrics provided by 12x XP. It seems to have brought in a lot of new and previous players, so you would think that means we all love the story. But there’s not a lot of replayability there, and maybe one reason it has been so popular is that it gave people something to do in a game that is lacking in regularly updated end game group and solo content.

    I’m staying subbed for now too, I still enjoy the game and I even enjoy the story elements, o just don’t like sitting through so much of it. And I want to continue taking advantage of the 12x XP so I at least have one level 60 by October.

    1. A level 60 is my goal, as well. Ideally, played “normally”, as i’ve found the 12XP levelling experience lacking in diversity. I was constantly thinking about how everything else is a waste of time. For instance, why decorate your Stronghold when you could use the same time to bring your character up to level cap and then decorate the Stronghold? It’s inefficient. But it’s also less varied- i think if i were to try and only make use of 12XP until i hit the cap, chances are i wouldn’t see it. That’s why i chose to do it on two different characters- one for the MMO-y play time and the other one if i’m in the mood for story.
      However, i don’t know if i can really bring myself to turn 12XP off- still thinking about other ways like outlevelling the missions a bit or doing them last on a planet.

  2. There are too many unknowns in all this right now and I’m definitely worried as well as excited. You’ve got to hand it to them though, in terms of PR it has certainly worked if it’s making people like you renew their sub for another six months! 😉

    1. Well, i’m easy to get. 😀 In all honesty, though, i was playing around with these different sub options even before the announcement.
      I really think this is a much bigger deal for people who are already deeply invested in the game and have set roots there, like yourself. Players like me, well…we either like it or not, it’s not a big deal. But i am curious to see how it’ll work out, hence the longer sub.

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