Since early December, interstellar jousting has been the preserve of SWTOR nobility - its remaining pocket of subscribers, sheltered under an upturned boat in an otherwise free-to-play sea. But BioWare could hold back the tide no longer, and have made the new Galactic Starfighter expansion available to the riff-raff, the rabble, and the Rattataki, effective immediately. So long as they’ve bought something from the in-game shop.
Galactic Starfighter is now accessible to Preferred players. Preferred status is conferred to former subscribers, as well as anybody with a single purchase from the game’s in-client Cartel Store to their name.
Given the silliness of some of the restrictions that players suffer without the odd store purchase - reduced XP gain, missing mounts, absent abilities for companions - you’ll tend to find that most have parted with at least a couple of quid by the time level 10 rolls around to open up the game.
Free players without Preferred status have a further wait to endure, till February 4 - when the expansion will finally be available to anybody with a SWTOR account.
Whatever morally-reflective lightsaber light you cast it in, that’s a small ask for a brand new competitive mode which upends the game’s lacklustre on-rails space spectacle with proper PvP dogfighting. Remember that SWTOR’s first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel, originally asked a $19.99 entry fee of free-to-play users.
Subscribers must have their artificial classist advantages, though, and so maximum levelling and progression in Galactic Starfighter fights is exclusive to them. Preferred players will be able to unlock the same via an additional fee.
Non-players will moan about punitive measures, and rightfully so. But it’s entirely feasible to enjoy SWTOR for under a tenner these days - if you’re willing to forgive the odd month-long feature wait like this one. Does that sound like something you might forgive?