Hyperspace Beacon: Three things SWTOR could add in 2018 to turn itself around

Star Wars: The Old Republic did not have a banner year in 2017. It was the first year since the launch year that did not include an expansion. And the expansion that it released in late 2016 didn’t actually live up to its expectations.

Despite this, we did see some good things come out of 2017, like a couple of new PvP maps and some great changes to group finder. But what kinds of things can we see added to or improved upon in 2018 that would make up for this underperformance? Well, I have three of them. And I have done my absolute best make them realistic and doable with the existing team of developers. Let’s talk about that.

An Empire-vs.-Republic story

If the Star Wars movies have done anything, it’s that they’ve made us aware that the best stories in this universe are the ones where the “good guys” are the underdog. Even if you didn’t like The Last Jedi overall, I can pretty much guarantee that you enjoyed Vice-Admiral Holdo’s climactic maneuver. In an effort to not spoil much, I will say that it’s a classic example of the creative thinking the underdog has to do to overcome the greater threat. And from the good-guy perspective, that’s the kind of stories that SWTOR needs to tell. From the Imperial side, we need to get back to the infighting, political maneuvering, and espionage that made the vanilla stories great.

I have mentioned this before, I believe that SWTOR needs to drop the whole Eternal Alliance story and replace it with something that places the main character back into the underdog position. There needs to be a clear arc with the main character, or BioWare is going to lose the audience. There needs to be a real threat and a real goal to achieve. Right now the story is in a weird spot that puts the player character in the position of the most powerful person in the galaxy attempting to maintain that seat.

The two storylines that I was most excited about that eventually became the greatest letdowns were Forged Alliance, which is the lead-up to Shadow of Revan, and the Iokath reprise, which reintroduced us to Elara Dorne and Malavai Quinn. Both ended up being a let-down for me (the second one less so) because they were both opportunities to get us back into the primary conflict for the game (the Empire vs. the Republic) but really did nothing more than tease us.

Galactic Starfighter and other PvP maps

The biggest surprise for me in 2017 was the introduction of another Galactic Starfighter map. Honestly, I thought BioWare had long since given up on Galactic Starfighter and was willing to let that aspect of the game just ride out in maintenance mode. But the new map set over Iokath seemed to reinvigorate that section of the community.

On top of that, it appeared that the map was put together quickly. Other PvP maps seemed to take forever from the time we heard that they were working on one until the time that it was released. The Iokath Starfighter map was rumored and then appeared all within a couple of months, whereas we heard about the second Hutball map years before it as actually released. Perhaps the Iokath map was worked on just as long as the Huttball map, but I doubt it.

SWTOR already has a nice group of existing rulesets for PvP that are unique to the MMORPG genre, so I say exploit it. Maps are important, but when it comes to places to PvP, players aren’t as picky as they are about class balance. As long as there are no bugs, they are happy. Look at the new Yavin ground-based PvP map. People were excited about that. Keep it up! Give us at least two new maps this year and base them on existing rulesets. I’ll give you a starting point: Does the Rishi Maze have a Huttball arena? What would that look like?

More RP tools

The social tools in SWTOR are lacking in general, and although I could go on and on about things like chat bubbles, I would rather talk about tools that would make for a better overall experience for everyone. The first place I would start is the chat system.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen some just amazing chat programs released that help remote businesses communicate and gamers to coordinate with other gamers. Massively OP uses Slack, and many of my guilds (even the ones that don’t use voice) use Discord. Both of these systems are based on really simple technology that doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth: IRC. I believe that things like separate tabs for direct messages and the ability to edit your previous posts will go a long way. This could also allow us things like in-game communication with our smartphones.

Next, we need full cross-faction communication. The way PvP is designed currently, gives us zero reason to disallow the Republic from communicating or even grouping with the Empire. Originally, we were not able to participate with the other faction except to kill them, but now we are on the same team as them and are even able to switch factions in one zone.

I believe there is still a lot of potential for us to see some wonderful things in SWTOR in 2018, but it will require that BioWare take a few moments to look inward at its existing playerbase instead of all the players it doesn’t have yet. There are many more realistic things that BioWare can do to make the game better. What would be your top three? Let me know in the comments.

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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David Smith

It’s all too late.
SWTOR is done.
A game at one stage had 2 million subs and now has roughly less than 100k population spread across 5 servers (chances are most of them are f2p/preferred too).
All profits come from the cartel whales that love to play dress up.
EA/Bioware ruined this MMORPG along time ago.
Things were going well around 2.0/3.0 and then at some stage EA/Bioware had a meeting and pulled resources away from the game and it’s been downhill ever since.
Can it be saved? No chance.
Bottom line EA are never sending Devs/money back to SWTOR so people need to be realistic about the future of SWTOR.
It will be rinse and repeat of 2017 in terms of new content until the plug is pulled.


Hey Larry,

Just heard a rumor that vanilla servers are coming to swtor. Can Massively confirm or deny this? If true, I’m assuming it would be the game as it was just prior to KOTFE, and to my mind that would be a godsend!

I know we’ve had a lot of quality of life improvements since KOTFE that would be missed, but still, my big complaint about the post KOTFE game has always been how easy everything became. I mean, before KOTFE when you defeated Baras and/or Thanaton and assumed the title of Darth it really meant something, as it had been a long and sometimes difficult road with lots of hard boss fights to get there. Post KOTFE, however, these guys talk the talk and go down in about 15-20 seconds tops. Hollow victories for sure. :(

Needless to say I am jazzed and hope the rumor is true.


Allow me to add to your list: a different developer and publisher.


“An Empire-vs.-Republic story”

This will never happen, and is a bad freaking idea. Why? If you put Empire vs Republic, someone has to win, and someone has to lose. That will always be some players. If it becomes a draw, then its even more angering to the players as they feel like they lost time and their actions don’t matter. Also, damn few players really like PvP.

I’m sure someone will point out that WoW has done this, and that is true, but those expansions are usually the hated ones, and usually the PvP part of the story is in the periphery. I fully expect BfA to be similar to that, and if not, Blizzard will discover this truth: Not many people like to be losers.

spencer quinn

great article I agree with 2 out of 3 of these the third one I cannot imagine would make people come back to the game imo but it would be great though. the first one I think would be really interesting has not be done since vanillia (minus the small story updates iokath or forge alliances part 1) though I have no problem with the kotfe/kotet in fact for me there probably the best stories of all the expansions imo. though I think all future expansion should be about different enemies, rep vs empire, another expansion would be vs umbara, or vs yuuzhan. its good to have different stories/ enemies.

Jerane Alleyne

I really think that SWTOR needs to stop trying to be an MMO. I have always felt that SWTOR was decent as an MMO, but never really doing anything different or better than its competitors (the story and dialogue aspect I’d say is wholly separate from the MMO part of the game). While I don’t advocate abandoning the multiplayer portion of the game completely, I think that the priority should be story content that is engaging and challenging to the single player, followed by small group PvE content, specifically Flashpoints and Uprisings, also figuring out how to get significant space PvE. PvP being last on the list of priorities. In some ways, I would like to see SWTOR resemble something closer to Warframe, or even The Division.

Regarding the story, I have to say that I thought it was always obvious the story would revert back to Republic vs. Empire at some point, but not by having to abandon the Eternal Empire to obscurity. I get that some didn’t care for KOFTE and KOTET (and sorry, but that was definitely a Star Wars story), but the Eternal Alliance itself is actually a great setup for certain aspects in the Darth Bane Trilogy. Without spoiling anything, it could serve to explain why certain things are the way they are in that book.

Lastly, EA really needs to reinvest in this game (not in the evil, microtransaction way). It has the best potential to offer the whole “games as service” shtick that they have been preaching for a while now. If EA actually decides to use its powers for good….


The game is in a huge mess and the content they have been releasing is garbage a quick video then a flashpoint, now with doing the one operation boss per 3 months is bad after 6 years of being a sub I decided it was time to end it why should I pay $15 for some video then a flashpoint that is over in seconds with no replay value also the Cartel Market took over the games content it seems to be the major focus not actual game play that we all wanted.

Also after the recent merges they nuked the database and made it hard for previous character restores the data all got messed up and they will start blaming players and making excuses to why a certain player can’t be restored.

Don’t get me wrong SWTOR would be the perfect game for a new player but for a veteran such as my self it’s a dead duck they have nothing to do and would you want to do the samething over and over for 6 years ?

Humble DG

The thing that SWTOR needs is to revisit the micro-transaction store and do a full makeover. Remove many of the roadblocks that they put in. You can have an item store, just don’t make it required for every little thing. In SWTOR, you have to pay separately for the bathroom, then the toilet, then the sink, then the toilet paper, then the piss and even then s&#t. You might even need to buy the character customization to do the last parts.

Anthony Clark

No longer be run by EA.

Only hope they would have.

Knox Harrington

Bioware Austin doesn’t have the resources to turn itself around because their limited resources are why it needs to be turned around in the first place. They painted themselves into a corner with all this shared story crap because they didn’t have the resources to continue two faction stories, let alone eight class stories so they just merged it all into one story for one character, the Outlander “class”. And just that alone took away resources from developing other aspects of the game like, gee I dunno.. everything that makes an MMO an MMO.

There’s no turning anything around at this point. There is only extending a glorified maintenance mode while there’s still some milk left in the whales. Bioware Austin needs renewed and sustained support from their corporate overlords at EA, and even that won’t guarantee success because of how much they squandered every other chance they got. If you like this game in any way, you better get back into it now while it’s still around. More promising Star Wars games in development have already been scrapped thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the IP. SWTOR’s long-term future is not secure at this point.


Disney has no real reason to shut it down, tho anything is possible.