SWTOR’s 2013 wasn’t anything at all like its 2012: last year its live team witnessed the game’s playerbase shift from subscription-only to primarily free-to-play; instigated the release of its first proper expansion; and oversaw mammoth construction of an all-new PvP dogfighting mode to banish the memory of on-rails space combat.
In 2014, BioWare Austin hope, there will be no paradigm shifts. Free-to-play will continue to draw in thousands every day, and there’ll be another two expansions - one about the size of a Hutt Cartel, the other as big as a Galactic Starfighter.
The live team that pulled The Old Republic through 2013’s sewage-smeared escape pipe and out the other end to victory are still around: they’re currently working on new ships for Galactic Starfighter, as well as new Operations, Flashpoints and gear. They’re also testing out performance improvements and tweaking the current classes.
“Expect to see two digital expansions in 2014 just like you did last year, with one similar to Galactic Starfighter in scope and one more closely resembling Rise of the Hutt Cartel,” wrote senior producer Bruce Maclean.
“We reserve the right to adjust our plans based on bad reasons like Snow Days in Austin(!) or good reasons like your feedback, but our current plan is to deliver all of the above to you in 2014.”
There’s only one real experiment going on in SWTOR this year, and that’s a new storyline that sounds a little like Guild Wars 2’s living world conceit.
On April 8, game update 2.7 will introduce two new flashpoints on Tython and Korribean, where the Empire and Republic will confront each other directly. From there, a new storyline will spiral across several updates - eventually culminating in a “galaxy-shaking” finale at the end of the year.
Finally, the game’s minor update cadence will shift from two weeks to three, in order to incorporate more testing time.
“While this does mean we are moving to a 9 week cadence for the major content updates, we feel the benefit of catching pesky bugs and improving quality is worth it and we remain committed to hitting our deadlines for all of our major content updates this year,” said Maclean.
Does this SWTOR sound like the MMO you’d like to be playing this year? Or ought there to be more change on the Pazaak cards?