Quick, what’s one of the biggest ways to change an MMO off the top of your head? Did you think of new races, because I did. Lately it’s been more talk of World of Warcraft’s Pandaren outbreak, but players of Star Wars: The Old Republic got a shock of their own yesterday when BioWare released the weekly community Q&A.
It seems that in addition to other in-demand features such as a group finder, The Old Republic will see new races sometime before the end of the year. Does this confirm recent speculation at an expansion pack within the game’s first year? It’s impossible to tell now, but BioWare has also promised in the past to expand the class stories (and thus the level cap) by the end of the year as well. Continue reading for a full breakdown of the coming changes.
First up, and perhaps most controversial is a podcast that Lead Game Designer Daniel Erickson did with Mos Eisley Radio, an Old Republic fansite. Currently there are three flavors of GTN, or auction house for a more common term, one for each faction, and a neutral Hutt-owned one on Nar Shaddaa available to both sides. However like its WoW-inspired predecessor in Gadgetzan the Hutt GTN has sat mostly unused in the months since The Old Republic launched. Players were therefore angry when with the Game Update 1.2 release it was revealed that the extremely expensive GTN for your character’s ship was limited to the Hutt market.
While BioWare has been quiet on the issue until now, it seems like it was a deliberate act of foresight on their part, as Erickson announced that all markets would soon be bought out by the Hutts to create one galaxy-spanning auction house. What sort of economic consequences this will have for players remains to be seen, but it certainly is a bold change, and one players are sure to debate for months to come.
Getting back to the Q&A though, we see Erickson again, but this time discussing the recent Rakghoul outbreak on Tatooine, which marked the first appearance of the work of The Old Republic’s secretive and rarely discussed Events Team, as well as the first world event for that MMO. Player feedback seems to be generally positive, and Erickson promised more world event surprises in the future. He did note that they were going to change up the format to keep things from going stale, and that we could see more stealth additions, such as the now well documented game-wide scavenger hunt for a magenta lightsaber crystal. TOR player may have already seen the Orokeet pets running around since that scavenger hunt was added in Game Update 1.2
One thing a lot of players have been complaining about is that some of the best looking armor in the game, the social armor, is all strictly rated at light armor. While this ensures that everyone can wear it, it also makes wearing items like the Collector’s Edition Imperial trooper armor a huge disadvantage for all but two of the Imperial classes. Erickson said that in the coming Game Update 1.3 social armor will automatically adjust to your character’s gear type. I just hope we don’t see too many tanks running around in metal bikinis…
Speaking of Game Update 1.3, BioWare is trimming some of the fat, such as work on allowing dual-spec to get the update out faster then the 3 months it took them to release Game Update 1.2. This new update will still carry a lot of new features. One of them that was confirmed in the Q&A much to the relief of PUGers everywhere was a group finder. Though no details were given on the exact working of the system, we can assume at least that it will be a vast improvement over the current LFG flags.
Game Update 1.3 will likely be released sometime early this summer, and about that time is when we’ll also see BioWare opening up server transfers for other servers besides the current system allowing Oceanic players to move to their new servers. It’s no secret that communities on several of the smaller servers are struggling, and BioWare has discussed server closures before, though they made it clear that they wanted to try transfers first. Players will be allowed to move their characters for free to the low-population servers, while players moving away from them might face some sort of financial gating, which would mark the first time The Old Republic has charged for anything other then the monthly subscription fee. Certainly quite the week for this MMO, I for one will be keeping a close eye on how it all turns out.