BioWare have changed. In Baldur’s Gate II, dog fighting meant handing over 10 gold pieces to a sprite-man named Surly in an iffy pub, and getting 20 back if you were lucky. And lots of barking in the interim.
The Old Republic’s dogfighting, built by an Austin studio that didn’t exist in Baldur’s Gate’s day, is all high production pew-pew and free-flight weaving. It’s like nothing else the developers have ever assembled.
The free Galactic Starfighter expansion promises to remove the rails from space combat in SWTOR - upstaging the game’s lacklustre space segments with a proper PvP mode that clearly takes its inspiration from the first lot of movies.
At various fixed points in the great black yonder, players will be able to participate in 12v12 factional fights across several modes. A class-based ship system will see pilots choose between Scouts, Gunships and the like, and customise their, um, dogs with weapons and abilities unlocked during matches.
Plus! Victories in orbit will mean extra XP on the ground.
It’s to be released in two stages - first on December 3 to subscribers, and second on January 14 to ‘preferred’ players. Preferred status is conferred to anybody who makes a purchase of any kind from the Cartel store - something free players who’ve spent any amount of time will have struggled not to indulge in. Non-subscribers will also need to purchase a Starfighter Pass to enjoy the same progression path as their paying peers.
It’s a two month extra wait for the majority of us, then - but it might represent a new philosophy of openness for BioWare, who recently stopped charging for access to their last expansion - Rise of the Hutt Cartel. What would you rather: the wait or the charge?