Star Wars: The Old Republic Galactic Starfighter expansion removes rails from space combat

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BioWare Austin have lifted the lid on their next big update, to reveal precisely what we thought we could smell bubbling away in there from early September: a super secret space project. 12v12 free-flight dogfighting, set to the backdrop of that most compelling darkness, space.

It’s a world away from SWTOR’s previous take on the big black background – on-rails shooty sequences that were frankly a bit rubbish. In Galactic Starfighter, players will travel to a number of notable points in space to wage factional PvP battles across several as-yet-unannounced modes.

Players will be required to familiarise themselves with various ship types, including Scouts and Gunships, each with their own combat style. The Starfighters themselves can be customised to an anal degree with weapons, powers and abilities unlocked through play.

Success in space will impact your performance back on the surface, too, where additional XP will grant your character boosts.

When’s it out? That’s a slightly more complicated question than it might be, thanks to SWTOR’s three-tier hierarchy. Subscribers will get access from December 3, two months before free players. But preferred players – the vast majority who’ve either made a purchase on the Cartel store or let their subscription lapse – will only be waiting til January 14.

Non-subscribers will also be required to make a one-time purchase of a Starfighter Pass to unlock the same progression opportunities enjoyed by their betters.

Honestly, a simple time delay isn’t a bad solution to SWTOR’s class problem, which originally saw free players suffering under conspicuously punitive measures. And it is a proper space update, entirely for free. What do you make of it?

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