December 2021 shall mark the tenth anniversary of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The MMORPG is still going strong and the devs have announced a host of updates that could, among other things, make the game more accessible to new players.
The biggest change will come in the form of separating class stories and class gameplay. SWTOR’s uniqueness lay from the beginning in eight different, fully-voiced stories that corresponded to eight character classes (and their sixteen subclasses, each with three subspecialisations). The Bounty Hunter, the Smuggler, the Jedi Knight, the Sith Warrior, the Imperial Agent, the Republic Trooper, the Jedi Consular and the Sith Inquisitor.
What December’s 7.0 update, scheduled for the grand anniversary, shall bring is making the playstyles separate from the story. Players will now be able to, say, pick the Sith Warrior subspecialisation’s dual-lightsaber-wielding style while playing the Inquisitor story, or even while playing the Jedi Knight story if they meet certain prerequisites (reaching certain level of Dark Side score, in this case). Similarly, one will be able to play an Agent who uses a Bounty Hunter’s flamethrower or a Trooper who uses the Agent’s sniper rifle style.
What should help new players to get into the game is revamping the skill system. Currently SWTOR is one of the most complex MMOs, with a fully leveled-up character having their quickslot bars filled with easily three dozens of different abilities. The 7.0 update will attempt to simplify this, hopefully without making the players feel robbed and while maintaining the classes’ unique feel and gameplay.
Finally: New Classes?
The update has another major impact for potential future releases. From early on, many players have been calling for more character classes. But that was, by SWTOR’s nature, a near-impossible demand. Other MMOs can add new classes easily if it “only” means coming up with a new mechanic and balancing it out within the existing system. SWTOR would however require a new fully-voiced class story with individual companions. And with all the existing expansions that would be even more herculean task.
Making playing styles independent of the story means that the devs can start adding new ones in any numbers. More support/debuff character variants? A lightsaber/pistol hybrid class? Sure, all are theoretically possible in the future.
The 7.0 update: Legacy of the Sith has been just announced to go live on 14th December 2021.