Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's latest raid might be a too little too late
After a two-year gap, the developers at BioWare decided that it was time to introduce a new raid. With Update 5.2, players will see additional story, dailies, and the first boss of the new raid on the planet of Iokath. Although I am very excited to see all of this hit the game again, I can't help but wonder if the interest in raids is strong enough to make that kind of gameplay viable again.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tackle the questions: What is coming with Update 5.2: War for Iokath, what does the existing community think of it, and will it be enough to draw people back in?
A deep backstory
If you have not played through Knights of the Eternal Throne, then the planet Iokath probably means nothing to you, unless you work in the medical field -- then the term "IO cath" has a very unfortunate association the planet from SWTOR. However, if you did play through KOTET, then you know that Iokath is less of a planet and more of a giant Dyson sphere around the system's sun. If you enjoy reading about astronomic theory like I do, then you'll know that it's highly unlikely that a Dyson sphere that completely surrounds a star, like Iokath does, would ever work. But as every Star Wars fan knows, Star Wars is sci-fantasy and not pure science fiction. So, BioWare, you go with your Dyson sphere!
Are far as the story is concerned, the biggest focus should be that Iokath is the origin of nearly all Zakuulan technology. Given the general look of all the tech on Zakuul, I'd venture to say that everything on that planet comes originates on Iokath. The fleet certainly comes from there. The Gravestone was Iokath technology. The GEMINI captains and SCORPIO all clearly come from Iokath. It also appears to be the origins of Zakuulan mythology.
In the Star Fortresses, players can find different bits of text at random. Eventually, when they find all six texts, they will receive the title of "Follower of the Old Ways." The Old Ways refers to the worship of the old gods, which Valkorion had supposedly destroyed. In one encounter Valkorion was called the "Slayer of Izax." Izax is the father of the Zakuulan pantheon: Izax, Scyva, Tyth, Aivela, Esne, and Nahut. We also have heard of Zildrog, who is supposed to be another aspect of Izax.
A new raid
BioWare announced in a livestream a couple of weeks back that Update 5.2 would contain several community-desired bits of content. For instance, Master modes for Uprisings, more story, returning companions, the return of Empire-vs.-Republic conflict, a new daily area, and of course, a new raid. All of this new content takes place on Iokath.
BioWare did not say when all the bosses in the raid would be released, but we do know that the first boss will come at the end of March with patch 5.2, and his name is Tyth. Circling back up to the names in the Zakuulan pantheon, you'll see Tyth, the Zakuulan god of rage.
Beside the lore behind this boss, there are a few things that we know from a mechanical standpoint about the boss. We know that people are currently testing this boss fight because BioWare was taking applications for testing and some other players have admitted to being on the test center. I have not seen or heard anyone break NDA, yet, so we don't know the mechanics of the fight. BioWare did say, however, that the person behind the challenging Revan fight at the end of Temple of Sacrifice raid is the same person who developed the Tyth fight, so we can suspect that it will be interesting and difficult.
The existing community takes a rather positive stance for the upcoming content. The Eternal Throne content, in general, appears to be me more well-received that the Fallen Empire content. Existing players do not appear to mind waiting a few months between releases as long as the content is quality. And given that BioWare has more time between releases, the quality of the content certainly has the opportunity to be higher quality.
However, I don't hear a lot of stories about people returning to the game because of the new, upcoming content. In fact, we asked that question of Xam Xam on the Passionately Casual Podcast. Although she definitely wanted to be a part of the new content, she wasn't sure that her former raiding guildies would return, and if they did return, it wouldn't be until the whole raid is released. Who could blame them? It's been two years already since BioWare released a raid, and it will likely be closer to three years before we see all the bosses for the Iokath raid.
Admittedly, I am on the fence when it comes to the new SWTOR content. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing it, and I'm surprised at the quality of the content so far. Even my lackluster first impression of Uprisings is turning around, but I can't really blame those who feel burned. If I had been gone from the game for a couple of years, I don't know that I would be coming back to see some content unless I knew for certain that it would exceed my expectations.
As always, I want to turn the conversation over to you. Do you believe that BioWare is doing enough? Are you an existing player who believes that this will give you more to do? Am I wrong? Are more raiders going to return to the game because of the new raid, or has the Command XP system put them off like it has so many others? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and I will see you next time.