Hyperspace Beacon: Why we’re excited about the SWTOR Onslaught announcement

    
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Before the Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Cantina, millions of voices were crying out in terror: “We are never going to get any new content from SWTOR!” Those voices were suddenly stopped by the announcement of the next expansion: Onslaught. Complete with a splashy slideshow, BioWare gave the general details of what to expect from the future of our only officially live Star Wars MMORPG.

As our Editor-in-Chief Bree said during the Massively OP Podcast this week, this is a true expansion. Onslaught has a new planet, a new species, new flashpoints, and of course, five more levels. We have a lot of things to talk about, so let’s jump into my take away from the Onslaught announcement.

Actual character progress is coming

I have a confession to make: I’m not generally interested in the linear progression of a character. I’ve been more interested in the ability to grow a character horizontally. However, I respect the desire to see a numeric progression of characters in general.

Based on the statements from Creative Director Charles Boyd, we will get both horizontal and vertical progression. The addition of levels 71 to 75 clearly indicate additional power that makes straightforward sense, but we also have armor progression that will allow characters to expand their growth.

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many different kinds of MMORPGers. One that took me the longest to exactly understand is the PvPer. Not the griefer, mind you. I’m talking about someone who intelligently and thoughtfully seeks out PvP as a challenging gameplay style. For the longest time, I considered all PvPers to be leet kiddies who liked to pick on lower-level players. Of course, those kinds of players do exist, but the more interesting PvPer is the one who studies the meta and is interested in character development and skill progression.

I will likely do a whole post on the ways that tactical items and set bonuses will allow players to expand the way they play the game, but there isn’t quite enough information right now to fully embrace it. I have been asking for something like this for a very long time. Community Manager Eric Musco posted a thread on the official forums asking players what they would like to see in both set bonuses and tactical items. If you’ve been looking for something like this in SWTOR, now’s the time for you to get a word in while the system is still in development.

Character customization

I don’t even know if I should mention this, but yes, we are finally getting another species to play. The last one was Togruta, and after the fad wore off, the Togruta players turn all of their characters back to Twi’leks so they could wear helmets again.

The idea of having a plethora of species skins for players to jump into is great, of course, but I have to ask what we are giving up by having some of these species. Like the Togruta before them, we have to assume that Nautolans will not be able to wear helmets. This disappoints me. I completely understand that the amount of design and programming going into making different helmets for different species, especially since some of those helmets will look like the Twi’lek Mandalorian helmet from Star Wars Galaxies (see below for an image of that). But even if it looks terrible, just having that level of detail says that the developers put some extra thought into the design instead of taking obvious shortcuts.

I guess that’s the biggest lesson anyone can learn from any part of SWTOR: You can take shortcuts, but don’t make it look like you’re taking shortcuts.

 

Revisiting nostalgia but not

Today we found out that Lucasfilm is working on an Old Republic movie or TV show. About once a decade, we get to visit ancient Star Wars. But each time we visit there is a different spin on the tale.

Twenty years ago, we visited the Old Republic during the time just prior to the famous Knights of the Old Republic video game. During the Tales of the Jedi comic, we were first introduced to the planet Onderon and its close-orbit moon Dxun. These two planets have an interesting relationship with stories of the Star Wars expanded universe: Onderon was the home of the Freedon Nadd Uprising, the birth of the Krath cult, and the infamous Exar Kun started his Sith training there.

Dxun has its history with the greater universe as well, the Taung leader Mandalore the Indomitable met his end on Dxun, but then in a weird twist Mandalore the Ultimate made his base there during the Mandalorian Wars.

The Mandalorian Wars predated the KOTOR series and gave birth to Revan, and you visit Onderon during KOTOR II, tying SWTOR back to these two planets heavily. But clearly, things have changed on these two worlds. Onderon of KOTOR II was different than Onderon of Tales of the Jedi, and I expect the Onderon of SWTOR will differ from both of those. This is the kind of nostalgia I enjoy.

Finally

We have been waiting for this announcement for about two years. We knew that the team at BioWare Austin was creating an expansion. Of course, given what we now know about Anthem, it’s clear that those plans were slightly sidetracked. Now that BioWare has time to focus on SWTOR again, it’s good to see a good mix of content coming to the game.

Some players are not going to be happy with anything that BioWare gives. Perhaps those players are justified in their ire, but this announcement was a sigh of relief for me. I have more to write about, of course, but I also have a lot more to be excited about as well. The game was drying up. Hopefully, this is enough to breathe some new life into it.

Let me know your thoughts: Are you excited about the new planets? Does the new armor system intrigue you like it intrigues me? Let me know any and all of your thoughts about Onslaught in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of Star Wars online games, 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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Rolan Storm

Excited – no, not really. But horizontal progression? Tactical gear? That’s good to hear. Also I am want to see Onderon. Memories form KotOR2 never gone.

I hope they add more to class ability and spec than it is now through other means. So far I see little to no reason playing anything but PvP and new story (once). Maybe it will change.

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Toy Clown

I had to do some asking around my gaming friend’s circle, but finally found one still subbed to SWTOR and they sent me a referral link this morning, so I’ll be plugging it in and playing SWTOR with 7-days free later today. It’s been years since I’ve logged in and it’s always sweet seeing the cartel coins built up on my account after a long time away!

While I wanted to love SWTOR, the gameplay style never appealed to me. I’m a fan of Sandpark games and SWTOR was too stiffly on the rails for my taste, so eventually left it in favor of MMOs with more freedom.

Today, I appreciate a great story and I do enjoy the different ways a character can be rounded out. Honestly? The thing that most appealed to me in the announcements was the short blurb about gaining items that allowed you to customize how you play. I like that sort of freedom.

The new race is a neat announcement, but not sure I’ll play one. I was sad to log in and find out that Twi’leks still have no further customization options, but see that most other races have gotten new make-up, hair and coloration options. I’ll be sticking with my Twi’lek and Mirialan races. They’re still my favs!

I suspect I’ll sub for a month to check out the content I’ve missed over the past few years, but then unsub while I play FFXIV’s expansion. Later in the year I’ll be back to check out the new expansion in SWTOR. Then there’s ESO’s expansion… It’s a year of expansions, so not sure when I’ll cycle back through, but I definitely will now.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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starbuck1771

Now if they would get off their asses and work on the space game which is an integral part of the star wars franchise.

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rosieposie

I’m just glad this game hasn’t died because of Anthem, because they were real solid signs that it was heading straight for that maintenance mode.

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Bruno Brito

We are?

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Witches

With the exception of pvp, we can expect more content in the next 6 months than we had in the last 2 years, until they fail to deliver we have no reason to be unhappy.

There’s zero realistic chance of headgear that fits nautolans, not to mention that i don’t recall ever seeing a nautolan wearing any kind of headgear. that one twilek specific helmet looks just as bad in twileks as in every other species.

Anything that is a move forward compared to what we had in the last years will be great news.

It is a good sign that GC and the alliance are still around, this will keep the people that like them around, and will be a change from the usual method of redoing everything completely, ignoring what was more or less working before, that would mean a free token so everyone can start at the beginning of the new story, like they did with KOTFE and KOTET.

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IronSalamander8 .

We’ll see how they do with this but the track record isn’t good. Still, I’d love to be proven wrong to be honest, despite my cynicism of this thing.

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Natalyia

Hopefully the fact that Disney is doing something with The Old Republic era will cause them to care about what EA is doing with it. And who knows, EA might start to care if there’s the possibility that a new Disney+ series will drive some new folks into the game.

If you want to go full-on Dark Side, then maybe a successful Disney+ Old Republic show will cause the Empire to make a newer, better game from the ashes of the old one. :)

The story they’ve done post-KotXX has been much (much) better. I’m looking forward to more of it, and they’ve done a fine job with the environments on the recent planets.

I’m not at all looking forward to having the same powers and abilities spread out over five more levels. I’ll be delighted if this time we get something new for the levels instead of losing it and getting it back again, but I’m not expecting anything good from the level cap increase.

The new Tactical slot stuff might be fun – but this is the team that thought/thinks Galactic Command was a fine progression system… so I’m in full-on “wait and see” mode on that. If it’s a way to add a nice (but not game-breaking) bonus to powers/abilities you like in your character, then cool. If it’s a way to recover some of the abilities you lose in the rebalancing pass that arrives with Onslaught? Notsomuch :)

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

Musco’s Itemization Brainstorming post is a huge departure from how Austin has worked since before the game was launched. Not only is he reaching out to the community before final feature implementation there’s an actual mea culpa there.

http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=962811#post9720364

Slot locking mods was a balancing mechanism the team was trying to help manage the pacing of gearing for characters across Legacies. As you highlighted this wasn’t well received and it led to two distinct changes as we look to Onslaught.

First, we aren’t planning to slot lock mods (mods, armorings, enhancements). We realize that was not the right lever to pull around gearing. Second, in all of our previous passes at itemization we have had to maneuver around Legacy gearing since it complicated how fast players could acquire gear. For Onslaught, instead of trying to control it we want to fully embrace it and allow players to move all gear through Legacy much more easily. This way we just expect that all players are going to move gear and we can plan for it! It makes things easier from our side and a better experience for everyone who moves gear across their Legacy.

Prior to 5.0 alt play has been one of SW:TOR’s strengths. That post seems to recognize that. Now if whatever itemization system they cook up next avoids grind-as-retention it may actually be worth playing again.