The biggest Star Wars MMORPG is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and for that, a big expansion is in the works. The devs have recently released some initial information about what can be expected.
The 7.0 expansion is titled “Legacy of the Sith” and it will come with updates on multiple fronts. The obvious addition, as with all bigger expansions, is more story content, new Flashpoint and a new Operation.
Dark Manaan, Elom and Old Superweapons
The story continues with return to Manaan, this time as a fully fleshed-out planet. The story shows that Manaan has been invaded by the Sith who desire to seize its supplies of kolto, the main medical substance used throughout the Galaxy. The concept art and screenshots from Manaan look really impressive. The planet is shown in different light than we know it: the Sith occupation has made everything darker and more menacing.
The flashpoint is set on Elom, a planet about which little is known besides that it is the frigid homeworld of the species of the same name who first appeared in Return of the Jedi. Darth Malgus is pursuing some unknown agenda on this world.
The operation, on the other hand, will focus on a mysterious Sith cult on an asteroid research facility. The cult has experimented with Czerka technology and rebuilt an ancient superweapon. There were some hints that this might have to do with the Mass Shadow Generator from KOTOR 2.
Change In Classes
What gathered the most attention however is the revamp of Advanced classes. Ever since the game’s conception, players have been calling for the possibility to play a Bounty Hunter with a sniper rifle or a Trooper who uses two pistols like Captain Rex. Or a fallen Jedi who uses Force lightning. Now it will be possible.
The simplest way to explain it is that with the 7.0 expansion, you will be able to select (and re-select) your Advanced Class from among all the advanced classes available for either the Force users or the non-Force users. It will do nothing to your class story. You will be playing the Bounty Hunter story, you will just be able to use a rifle in combat.
This relates to the concept of loadouts. Just like with outfits these days, it seems that you will be able to have multiple select disciplines (advanced classes) on your character with different weapons and switch between them when needed. That is also something players have been calling for.
More changes will come to the abilities, however. One of them is revamping the skill trees in order to make things easier for new players (and for old players who still have difficulties of figuring out how active and passive abilities influence each other). This is still in beta-testing, but the idea is to have skill trees where you choose one of two or three new active abilities every couple of levels, or passive abilities that add to one of your current abilities. You may be for example asked to choose whether your ability gets an AOE or whether it gets some other bonus.
The change will lead to lowering the amount of abilities a character may possess. This is meant to help players to figure out which abilities they want to use to make the character build they want. SWTOR currently has among the most buttons for a MMO. Many players however dislike having fewer abilities, so it is possible Bioware might still revise this.
Again as with all big expansions, the level cap will also rise by five levels, to 80.
Legacy of the Sith will be released sometime in December 2021 and it will also feature the start of new Galactic Season, this time with a Duros companion.
Enough For An Anniversary?
The expansion is bigger than most, but hardly as big as one would expect from a 10th anniversary release. There is a reasonable excuse however: the pandemic and everything that came with it during the last year. The devs have announced gradual updates to the game’s interface throughout 2022 as part of this announcement, so we can see this also as part of the anniversary expansion.
It is too early to judge the individual elements of the expansion. UI updates, if they are good, are welcome. New story content is certainly welcome, even if it is not as large expansion, given the circumstances. Returning to Manaan will certainly please KOTOR fans and the concept art looks splendid.
The start of new Galactic Season is nice, but nothing special. Since this is a big expansion, I would personally prefer getting Duros as a playable race instead of just another companion who, for most part, has no backstory and no interaction with the player beyond running around with you.
The update to playstyles may cause some controversy and possible discomfort to those set in their ways. On the other hand, however much I personally dislike change, this has the potential to be really helpful for new players but also for old players who are still lost in the mire of the abilities there are. The revamp should allow for a more control of what our characters really do.
In terms of competitive PvP and PvE, the promise is that this will further allow for better balancing and again more control in choosing a character’s specialisation. Last but not least, this will have some value for roleplayers who might for example enjoy giving their dark-sided Jedi the option to use Sith abilities instead.