Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based in the Star Wars universe. Developed by BioWare Austin and a supplemental team at BioWare Edmonton, the game was announced on October 21, 2008. The video game was released for the Microsoft Windowsplatform on December 20, 2011 in North America and part of Europe. Early access to the game began one week before release, on December 13, 2011, for those who had pre-ordered the game online; access opened in "waves" based on pre-order date.
This story takes place in the Star Wars fictional universe shortly after the establishment of a tenuous peace between the re-emergent Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic. The game features eight different classes. Each of the eight classes has a three act storyline that progresses as the character levels up. Players join either the Republic or the Sith, but players may possess a morality at any point along the light/dark spectrum. Different classes favor different styles of gameplay, and the game features extensive customization options, fully voiced dialogue, companion characters, and dialogue options similar to BioWare's own Mass Effect series.
Although not officially disclosed, based on estimates, it is one of the most developmentally expensive games made. The game had one million subscribers within three days of its launch, making it the world's "fastest-growing MMO ever", though in the following months the game lost a fair share of its subscriptions. The game has since adopted the hybrid free-to-play business model with remaining subscription option. The game was met with positive reception upon release and has received several updates and expansion packs. Several books and comics based on the game have been released. It is estimated that the game made $139 million in additional revenues on top of the subscription income in 2013.
In October 2012, BioWare announced The Old Republic's first digital expansion pack, Rise of the Hutt Cartel. The expansion is centered on the rising threat of the Hutt Cartel, which has arisen to challenge the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire for control of the galaxy. The battle with the Hutts is centered on the planet Makeb, which hides a "powerful secret". Much like the main game, the campaign on Makeb is fully voiced.The level cap was raised to 55, with the leveling from 50 onwards centered on Makeb.
Rise of the Hutt Cartel was released on April 14, 2013. Those who pre-ordered the expansion prior to January 7, 2013, were allowed early access on April 9. In late September, Rise of the Hutt Cartel became free after subscribing to the game.
In October 2013, BioWare announced a major update, Galactic Starfighter, which introduces 12v12 space-based PvP combat on two maps, with 2 'capture-the-flag' combat missions. Three stock starfighters were made available - a scout, a strike fighter, and a gunship. More are accessible for Cartel Coins. Subscribers began their early access on December 3, 2013, with full subscriber awards if they maintained an active subscription on November 1. "Preferred access" players, those who do not have an active subscription but have purchased items via the Cartel Market, will receive their early access on January 14, 2014, with some rewards. Full access to all players with an account opened on February 4, 2014. A new 'deathmatch' game style was added with the update, as well as a new starfighter class, the bomber.
In January 2014, BioWare revealed plans for 2014 including two expansion packs, with one similar to Galactic Starfighter in scope and one more closely resembling Rise of the Hutt Cartel. The first is entitled Galactic Strongholds, introducing player housing and flagships for guilds. Subscribers received early access August 19, 2014, as well as access to the exclusive "Nar Shaddaa Sky Palace"; preferred access players received early access starting in September. Full access to all players with an account opened in October.
On October 6, BioWare announced the second planned expansion, entitled Shadow of Revan. The expansion is centered on the Order of Revan, formerly a fringe group that appeared early in Imperial missions, now a great army seeking to establish a new galactic order, led by the reborn Revan himself. The campaign raised the level cap to 60, and takes place on two new worlds: Rishi, a tropical pirate haven on the edge of the galaxy, and Yavin 4 (which first appeared in the original Star Wars film), home of an ancient Sith warrior sect called the Massassi. Shadow of Revan was available for preorder. Players who preordered before November 2, 2014, received an experience boost that granted twelve times multiplicative experience for class-related missions, seven days of early access, a grand statue of Revan for placement in strongholds, and a free edition of Rise of the Hutt Cartel (to give to another player). The expansion was released on December 9, 2014.
In June 2015, the third expansion for the game, titled Knights of the Fallen Empire, was announced at EA's E3 2015 press conference. Knights of the Fallen Empire features a renewed focus on cinematic storytelling, as well as new planets, new companions, a dynamic story affected by player choices and a level cap of 65. A cinematic trailer, titled "Sacrifice", was released along with the initial announcement. The trailer, made by Blur Studio, received critical acclaim, and was awarded the "Best Trailer of E3" Award by IGN. The first nine chapters of Knights of the Fallen Empire were launched on October 27, 2015, with additional chapters starting in early 2016. Subscribers received one level 60 character token. After the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire, Rise of the Hutt Cartel and Shadow of Revan became free for those subscribing to the game, and access remains on the account if a subscription is canceled.
The release of Knights of the Fallen Empire depicts the story of "The Outlander" - the player character. The expansion introduced new companion characters available to all classes. One feature introduced with the expansion was the Alliance system. It entails recruiting allies, including some companions from other classes that formerly were restricted, from across the galaxy to join the fight against the Eternal Empire. Players were given the ability to strengthen their rebellion by providing resources to "Specialists" that oversee four areas of operation: Technology, Underworld Trade, Military and Force-Usage. Most of the early game content was heavily streamlined, allowing players to level up a character by completing solely story and class-specific missions if they so choose. A solo mode was also introduced for story-critical flashpoints. The new storyline, featuring primarily solo content, has 13 chapters.
In December 2016, Knights of the Eternal Throne was released as the sixth expansion that coincided with the game's five-year anniversary. It continues the story of the Outlander. Subscribers received one level 65 character token, with additional tokens available at the cartel store. The storyline has nine chapters of solo content and it raises the level cap to 70. The expansion focuses on defeating Empress Vaylin and the Eternal Empire.
SWTOR creative director Charles Boyd shared some insights about the last 2 expansions to the game as well as how well the different approaches to the Chapter Based Story were accepted by the players. You can find his full post here: Charles Boyd on SWTOR Story Chapters and Returning Companion. The following are some of my thoughts and concerns about what can and should we hope for in the next 6 months that remain from 2017.
In a lengthy forum post he describes the big differences between KOTFE and KOTET and also hints at the possibility of a third expansion continuing the story of the Eternal Alliance / Eternal Empire. He also talks about returning companions – in KOTFE the companion based chapters were not very well accepted, but at the same time the community’s demands for more of the classic companions to return ASAP remained very strong. As you know, KOTFE was split into 2 parts – 9 chapters released all together with the expansion in the end of 2015 and 6 more chapters, released on monthly basis. The more resent KOTET used a different approach – 9 chapters only, no returning companions, no monthly drags and huge focus on resolving the Vitiate conflict and the Valkorion Family Drama.
I can’t quite come up with a decent explanation as to what, how, when and IF a 3rd expansion will appear. At this point we have absolutely no mention of what the next SWTOR Expansion could be, nor when should we expect it. With the (obvious) delay to the Gods from the Machine Operation Bosses releases, I am a little worried when and how would the Dev Team be able to fit in a new Expansion in 2017. My hopes do remain strong, though! Maybe not in October and November (because the Ops wont be completed yet and Battlefront II will take all the attention of the whole world), but perhaps for Christmas? Do you remember, that SWTOR originally launched on 21st December (depending on your time zone :P).
It wont be the first time that the game wouldn’t receive an expansion, but the last time it happened is now way in the past. Bioware has never released a full scale expansion, but what they have been giving us in the past few years has always been decent quality for no extra cost. At least not to me, as I have always been a Subscriber or as EA insists on calling that status now – Premium. Woohoo, I am a Premium! Pff… EA!
With only 6 months left before the end of SWTOR’s 6th year since release, I am starting to think of the possible outcomes for a new expansion. There are a few top theories that I have crafted in my own mind and the following rows are a brief description of each one of them. Which is your favorite, that is for you to decide.
There can be more… I could probably name at least 2-3 more possible outcomes, but I think those are enough for now. What do you think? How do you imagine the next expansion and what would you like to see in it?
Next week, on Dec. 2, BioWare will release its sixth official expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Coming hot off the heels of the completion of last year's serialized Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne will continue the story started in that add-on, with both Galactic Republic and Sith Empire forces facing off against a new enemy known as the Eternal Empire.
A struggle for control of the galaxy has been at the heart of The Old Republic since its release in 2013 — and, heck, it kind of forms the basis of most Star Wars fiction — but Knights of the Eternal Throne will take that fight to a surprising finale: The character that players control throughout the story will take the Eternal Throne and become the rightful ruler of the galaxy. While BioWare isn't revealing all the twists and turns of how this will come to pass, the developer says that the player ruling the galaxy will form a core part of the MMO's new endgame system, called Galactic Command.
"All the gear you get in the game now comes from Galactic Command," said Star Wars: The Old Republic producer Ben Irving in an interview with Polygon last week. "The idea is that you play whatever activity you want, and you earn points. The harder the activity, the more Galactic Command experience points you receive. Then you get a command rank, and every time you get a command rank, you get a loot crate with powerful gear. That's the way that you get gear. The higher your command rank, the more powerful the gear you'll get."
Players will be able to go up to a total of 300 Galactic Command ranks at the launch of Knights of the Eternal Throne, providing a huge cycle of ever-increasing rewards for players eager to spend a lot of time in the game. Most importantly, players will be able to increase their Galactic Command rank from any activities in the game, so whether you're raiding, playing solo or focusing on player-versus-player, you'll be able to continue progressing.
In another change from the last expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne's story chapters will be available in full at launch, rather than released episodically over the course of the next year.
"What we think worked really well in Knights of the Fallen Empire is a giant story chunk to bring people back to the game," Irving said. "We're excited about progressing the story and seeing what will happen to characters. What didn't work as well is the monthly cadence. We're in this binge-watching era between Netflix and other things where people want all their story all at once."
Beyond the dramatic story about the fate of the galaxy, Knights of the Eternal Throne will attempt to pull players in with unique setpieces that play differently from anything that's been done in the game to this point. In our playthrough of the first chapter, we were able to take control of a giant walker mech, using its firepower to cut a path through a dangerous battlefield. We saw clips of later setpieces, such as one where you go undercover as an enemy soldier to sneak into an Eternal Empire stronghold and one where you remotely control a tiny droid exploring a hostile base.
BioWare and Electronic Arts are pushing Knights of the Eternal Throne as the biggest and most shocking expansion to The Old Republic so far. In fact, Irving believes it's evidence of the kind of stories the game can only tell because it's relatively disconnected from the popular Star Wars film franchise.
"Being 3,000 years before the movies gives us so much flexibility around story decisions," he said. "How do you save the galaxy and rule the galaxy if you're part of the Skywalker series? You can't do that. You can't do big, meaningful things. We have all of the freedom to make the choices that we want. But because Star Wars is so exciting right now, people's nostalgia buttons are being pushed. If they say, 'Huh, I want to play a Star Wars story game,' we're the only Star Wars story game that's in the marketplace right now."
Knights of the Eternal Throne's full nine-chapter story will be available Dec. 2. The additional content will come at no extra cost to anyone currently subscribed to the MMO, but it will be locked away from free-to-play users. You can watch us play through a chunk of the first chapter in the video above.