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The future of Star Wars: The Old Republic: end game improvements, more PvP and same-sex romance to come in 2013

Who gave that wookiee a - oh, go on then. It's a new world, this Old Republic.

In a high-spirited new blog update, BioWare’s Jeff Hickman has said that SWTOR’s outlook is anything but bleak post-free-to-play. The game is reportedly “incredibly healthy with an ever increasing number of players who are actively playing (the servers are rocking!)”. Nonetheless, the exec producer knows BioWare “haven’t gotten everything perfect”.

It’s not the put-upon free-to-players he’s addressing today, though. Rather, Hickman has detailed how the dev team plans to get to work on new end game content, PvP options and same-sex romances in the coming months.

In the next year, SWTOR’s end game will be fleshed out with new Operations, Flashpoints, difficulty modes and PvP areas, on top of Spring’s upper-level expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel.

“We have a plan mapped out for the upcoming year that will keep the elder game fresh and interesting for players of all types,” said Hickman. “Overall, we’re aiming to introduce a more diverse array of activities – more stuff to do with your Companion, more challenges to tackle with groups, and more reasons for guilds to recruit.”

To the same end, BioWare also intend to improve itemisation and provide incentives to revisit old areas.

New PvP in 2013 will come in the form of more Warzones and Seasons, rather than the open world approach players have been clamouring for. “We will be experimenting with a different approach to Open World PvP, something that encourages organic PvP in contested areas in a new and interesting way,” said Hickman, but noted that these experiments would be “taking a back seat” for now. My advice? Don’t hold your breath - stick to Guild Wars 2’s World v World for that sort of thing.

On the subject of same-sex romance, Hickman began with an apology for his silence on what’s turned out to be “a lot more work that we realised”. Like much of what the SWTOR team had planned before it free-to-play redirection, same-sex romance has been delayed. However, Hickman is quick to reassure players that the idea is “something we are very supportive of”, and points out that some NPCs on new Hutt planet Makeb will pave the way for future updates in that regard.

More or less unambiguous positives, then. They’re the wants of subscribers, not free or ‘Preferred’ players, but with any luck details on pain-alleviation for the cheap seats is still to come in an upcoming blog. Stay positive; that’s what the Hold Steady man says.

What would you like to see Hickman address next?

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