Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic will finally allow us to switch factions

Long-time players of Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the next update 5.2: The War for Iokath, you will finally be able to switch factions. Insert disco horn here.

That’s right: If you are a Republic character, you will finally be able to fight alongside the best people in the universe: the Sith Empire. And if you’re a traitor to the Empress, you can fight alongside the Galactic Republic.

I also wanted to amplify another announcement about a couple of long-awaited companions. Republic Troopers, you will finally get your love interest Elara Dorne back, and Sith Warriors, you will finally be able to Force choke Malavai Quinn again, just as you always wanted.

I’ll explain the details, my opinion, and show a teaser video on the matter below in this edition of Hyperspace Beacon.

Fighting for the other team

A while back, BioWare dropped all the designations for the extant servers. There are no longer PvE, PvP, or RP servers, much to the chagrin of the roleplay community. Instead, we now have PvE and PvP instances within every server, and no RP designation at all because eff those RP guys, I guess. Iokath, when it launches in a couple of weeks on April 11th, will contain a new daily area. Of course, you can be a carebear (like me) and stick to your PvE instance as you grind through. Or you can hop to the open-world PvP instance and make things a bit more interesting. BioWare is encouraging this.

First, the game will allow you to join whichever faction you’d like, regardless of the faction your class belongs to. The storyline revolves around the Empire and the Republic fighting over Iokath technology. As the Emperor of the Eternal Empire and Commander of the Odessen Alliance, you have the opportunity to pick a side. Because you’re the leader of the dominant faction, your involvement will clearly sway the course of the battle.

Mechanically, when you make the choice of which faction to side with, you will become a part of that faction when PvP flagged on Iokath. For example, you might have been a Sith Warrior during the main story, serving the former Emperor as his Wrath and fighting against the Galactic Republic. But since becoming the Outlander and enemy of the Sith Emperor, you might have had a change of heart. Now, in the War for Iokath, you want to fight alongside the Republic, and you can. When you flag for PvP on that planet, you will be able to fight against those who have chosen to side with the Empire.

The opposite could happen, too. Maybe you’re a Trooper who was burned by Saresh, and you would like to maintain your agreement with Empress Acina. So you decide to support the Empire in the War for Iokath.

Spoils of war

Community Manager Eric Musco posted the requirements for joining the War for Iokath on the official forums on Monday. “There is only one requirement to be able to access the new story content in 5.2, the character must be level 70,” he wrote. Truly, that’s it.

Musco goes on to explain that in order to get to level 70 in any fashion, you have to have subbed for at least a month since the launch of Knights of the Eternal Throne, and in order to access the raid content, you will likewise have to be subscribed. But for the rest of the daily content, you will not have to be currently subscribed. That means Preferred Players who have unsubbed since the launch of KOTET will still be able to access the new content — a step in the right direction for BioWare, if you ask me. (Now, if the devs could only fix the Command XP thing! That might be coming, but I will withhold my opinion until I see it live and get to experience it for myself.)

Another interesting addition Musco mentioned was the ability to loot players in open-world PvP on Iokath. In another post, he called it a way to “make PvP more of a focus beyond just a place for open world PvP to occur.” He explains that the items you will loot from other players will not be items from their inventory, thankfully. Instead, players will drop a special Iokath currency that can be used to purchase an AT-ST-type walker mount that itself can be used in combat. And for those who are asking: No, you will not be looting the currency from that player’s inventory, either. PvP in SWTOR remains essentially the same: without real consequence. Not that I mind, but for those who are looking for high-risk, high-reward PvP, this isn’t going to be it.

If you immediately see a possible exploit, then you’re not alone: I see it, too. However, BioWare has yet to make mention of it. And given the mechanics of the faction and loot systems, I don’t exactly see a way around the possible exploit. If you don’t see the exploit, then you are a good person, and I don’t want to taint you. For those who do see it, I have two questions: Are you going to take advantage of it, and why is it that BioWare cannot seem to learn from the mistakes of its past, especially with this expansion?

Why killing Quinn is not really an option

Lastly, I would like to touch on something near and dear to my heart: revenge on Malavai Quinn. As any proper Sith Warrior will know, Quinn is a disgusting person and deserves to be tortured and killed. However, I have a feeling that I will be forced to forgive him again for some contrived reason. As we can see in the video above, we meet with Dorne and Quinn. Most likely, this is when we choose which faction we support. Unless there is a major plot twist, if we want to support the Empire, we will have to keep Quinn alive, which will be highly disappointing to me and my Sith Warrior.

What are your thoughts on any of this? Do you like the open-world PvPness? Do you like how you can switch factions on Iokath, even though it will not affect any other PvP instance or zone? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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Malcolm Swoboda

I’m into it. For the first time in a long while.

In regards to ‘faction betrayal’ – SWTOR has been moving towards full faction switch/neutrality bit by bit for a while, even in terms of storytelling. This is just one of the bigger moves. Yes, this means if you go to lots of areas of the game, it’ll be even more like ‘going back in time’, but I don’t think they can make all the necessary changes in a single or a few updates. I like seeing this progress though. Also Quinn is probably gonna be an option to die at some point. I can’t see them passing that up (especially now that we can pick and choose whoever for anything except story content).

Erhan Altay

I’d like to get back into this game, but I don’t want to pay for a server switch. My character is stuck on an empty server (The Bastion) and its quite absurd how low to pop is. SWTOR was quick to do a massive round of server mergers before, why are they hesitating now?

Jeremy Barnes

Well, this sounds idiotic. You’re one faction everywhere else and one faction on one planet..I’d expect nothing less from the SWTOR devs


I just wonder how long it is before SWTOR starts selling faction switch tokens in the coin store – ya know to bill the trolls for their side picking based on trolliness.


I just hope this isn’t the build up to choosing between Kira/Jaesa, Andi/Risha, Nadia/Ashara, but knowing BWA if there’s a way to piss off people they will do it.

Kickstarter Donor

Does this mean that we’ll be able to group up with Empire characters as a Pub character if we choose to switch sides, or does it purely apply to PvP?

Mikey's Bored

This is my question as well.


From what little has been said, it does sound like it is just the one little PvP thing and the rest of the game is not affected by it.


I’m also curious what (if any) the cooldown on switching sides will be?

Could someone see the tide of battle going against them, then just switch allegiance to be on the “winning side” whenever it suits them?

Plus, on those servers where there is a faction population imbalance between active PvP players, I wonder if Bioware are hoping people will choose to balance things up a bit – rather than recognising that players invariably take the path of least resistance and it’ll be a 100 vs 3 style battles?


I actually think it’s a cool thing.


Elara! Lol! Love that by the book, bad ass, but soft hearted healer.

Ah well, the nostalgia aside. I’m not returning to the game. I love my time there. But really, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I want to see a full Ops not just a boss a quarter and I want Cxp eliminated completely.

I’m not holding on to hope. I’m just not that interested in their progress unless those two conditions are met.

Kickstarter Donor

Oh, and Larry, I think you’ve conflated the names of Elara Dorne, the Trooper Companion, with Sith Sweetheart Lana Beniko in your article text.

Kickstarter Donor

I’m gonna wait and see how this release plays out with my friends and acquaintances before I consider going back.

The folks behind Star Wars: The Old Republic are (unintentionally?) masters of seeming to promise much, but actually delivering little, in my opinion. It’s the reason I stopped playing recently.

If they hyped less and delivered less, that would be fair — or if they hyped more, but actually delivered more, that would work also — but I’m just tired of always hearing insinuations of great things to come, only to be left wanting.

My opinions only, of course.