Some of you might remember before launch, we talked a lot about the “four pillars” of RPGs – combat, exploration, progression and story. Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is an MMO, but it’s also a BioWare game. Three years ago, we set out to deliver a product that contained the best of two worlds – the immersive story experience from a single-player RPG and the vast array of systems and social connection from an online multiplayer game. Since launch, we have mainly focused on the latter, adding Galactic Strongholds, achievements, legacy perks, reputation tracks, and Galactic Starfighter. But with the success of the Shadow of Revan expansion, we think it’s time that we return to our roots and what truly makes our game unique: story.
BioWare games have their own special feel. I am not a particular fan… I rebel against that whole “putting words in my mouth” aspect they insist on with their dialog wheel… but it is undeniable that there are a lot of people out there who do enjoy them.
As noted in that quote above, BioWare has expended a lot of resources in trying to make SWTOR an MMO in the old model, where social was a thing, while still trying to have the single player RPG aspect in the middle of the whole thing. That sounds familiar, a studio insisting that their MMO needs to be all things to all people.
Roll stock footage of Smed trying to somehow graft PvP onto EverQuest II in yet another awkward and unsuccessful way.
But now they are back to story… story allegedly because of the success of the Shadow of Revan expansion that went out late last year.
The Shadow of Revan expansion wasn’t the first SWTOR expansion. It wasn’t even the first attempt to go back to that fourth pillar as a driver for the game. It did, however, come with a pretty special pre-order offer.
Yes, if you bought the expansion in advance, and you were a subscribers, you got a 12x experience boost that essentially allowed you to play a character to level cap by simply following your class story. Or, to put that on its head, it allowed you to get to the cap while avoiding all of those annoying MMO aspects of the game.
This was, if nothing else, a new twist on the whole insta-level thing that came into vogue in 2014. And I guess it worked, turning SWTOR into a BioWare game, which is something that BioWare understands.
So I suspect that, in addition to a return to the fourth pillar, we will see another round of things allowing people to play only their class stories, be it 12x experience boost or just better paced content that doesn’t require the player to break stride and go after unrelated side quests.
Meanwhile, at BioWare Austin, they have announced that they are discontinuing work on their “sounds remarkably like Evolve” title, Shadow Realms. The announcement said that the Shadow Realms team would be moving off to work on Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC, the next game in the Mass Effect series and other new IPs. The key item though would be SWTOR.
But the biggest focus for our team in BioWare Austin will be on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. As every Star Wars™ fan knows, this is a massive year in the Star Wars universe. We have some great plans for expanding this epic game this year, and look forward to sharing the news about those plans with our players in the coming weeks.
So BioWare has discovered they can make a BioWare game out of SWTOR again. Oh, and they clearly also want to position themselves for a revival of interest in the Star Wars franchise as the next movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is slated to hit theaters at the end of the year. That too. Details.
Anyway, if you are a fan of BioWare games and like the story driven aspects of SWTOR, this looks like it might be a good year for you. We are in the post development age of the game and EA has an asset positioned to take advantage of a clear pop culture trend.