The E3 audience rippled with excitement on June 4, 2012, when Bioware co-founder, Dr. Ray Muzyka, revealed his company’s plans for Star Wars; The Old Republic (SW; TOR). Hoping to regain the initial enthusiasm that led to a record breaking one million subscribers for the game’s debut in December, 2011, the folks at Bioware have been hard at work on tons of new content.
SW; TOR may be a victim of its own success and extremely high expectations from a demanding crowd of experienced gamers who are quite well versed in the Star Wars Universe. The game got off to an amazing start but has been floundering as of late. A fair number of subscribers have moved on to other games including Tera, with its radical new system of combat and the highly anticipated upcoming MMORPG, The Secret World.
Gamers can get quite impatient when a game begins to stagnate and Star Wars; The Old Republic has had its share of issues. The initial delay in releasing new content, coupled with a limited amount of end game instances and serious hiccups with PVP (player vs. player) cost the game some of its original audience. Most players completed all the PVE (player vs. environment) instances on Nightmare Mode long before the first expansion was released in April, 2012. Playing Hutt Ball over and over just wasn’t cutting it as a substitute for the open world PVP that players were promised. When the decision was made to shut down PVP on Ilum, many players threw their hands up in frustration and moved on to new horizons.
Bioware is hoping to recapture former players, as well as to retain their existing audience, by rolling out new content on a regular basis. Topping the list of new features revealed today at E3 2012 is a brand new planet called Makeb. Bioware described Makeb as “a fully-realized world for you and your friends to explore. Makeb will also introduce an all-new storyline. The Hutt Cartel, tired of being ignored by the great powers of the galaxy, has taken Makeb in an attempt to acquire an unmatched power which can bring both the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire to their knees. It will be up to you and your allies to face off against the Hutt Cartel, breaking their hold on this once tranquil world and end their bid for galactic domination.”
Starting in July, 2012, Star Wars; The Old Republic will be free to play (F2P) for the first 15 levels. This will open the door for new players to experience much of what the game has to offer and get to know the SW; TOR community before they take the plunge to purchase the software and subscribe. Considering the difficult economy, Bioware is being quite consumer friendly by offering 15 levels of F2P and giving online gamers an opportunity to try before they buy.
One thing that always makes players happy is having abundant choices when creating their in-game persona. Bioware is hoping to pump up the excitement by making the feline Cathar a playable race. Player companions are also getting an especially popular new addition with the introduction of the notorious HK assassin droid. There are not many Star Wars fans who haven’t dreamed of terrorizing the galaxy with an HK droid at their side.
There is much more planned for SW; TOR in the weeks ahead. Players can look forward to more space combat, an increased level cap, and the new instance, Operation: Terror From Beyond, “which takes players to the Gree-controlled world of Asation to battle against an army of unseen horrors.” There will also be a new PVP Warzone called “The Ancient Hypergates.” Dr. Muzyka made it clear that providing players with a constant flow of improvements and new content is Bioware’s number one priority.
PVP has been one of the biggest areas of dis-satisfaction for players of Star Wars; The Old Republic. Player vs. Player combat has often been frustrating, repetitious and unbalanced. Players from the weaker faction on a server were sometimes forced to PVP for hours on end in order complete their PVP daily quests. Bioware has resolved this situation by changing the PVP system to give points for participation as well as for winning the match. Players can now complete their quests quickly, which is a big improvement over spending your entire play session beating your head against a brick wall to finish your PVP dailies.
High on most wish lists is ranked PVP. In response to a flood of player requests, Bioware is creating a comprehensive PVP ranking system, which will reward success and give recognition to the best of the best. The new system will be implemented soon and it will certainly help restore the spark that is currently missing from SW; TOR.
Also in the works is a complete revamp of open world PVP. Hopefully, Bioware has realized that fixing this area is extremely important to the SW; TOR community and PVP will regain some of the luster it lost due to the failure of Ilum as an open world PVP venue.
The ball is now in Bioware’s court. They have unveiled a highly ambitious plan to revitalize Star Wars; The Old Republic in the coming months. Considering how much serious fun we all had as we leveled our first character, gamers seem to be willing to give SW; TOR another chance. Hopefully, Bioware will reinvigorate the game and players will be rejoining the force with blasters firing and lightsabers flashing.