SWTOR Returning to that Fourth Pillar

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.

SWTOR 2015 Producer’s Road Map

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.

Revan, sans shadow...

Revan, sans shadow…

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.

Revan12xBoostYes, 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.

12 thoughts on “SWTOR Returning to that Fourth Pillar

  1. weritsblog

    I’m all for more story. 12x was a lot of fun, and I thought Shadow of Revan was really good. However, I’m not sure how much the Shadow Realms cancellation will benefit SWTOR. At most, it might be a slight increase in manpower. I’ve seen no indication that BioWare is going to actually put more money into the game though.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Think of it as the only current BioWare game that you do not need to have Origin installed in order to play! #winning

    But yes, I think you could read this as BioWare deciding to go with their strength. They still have MMO stuff in the plan for 2015, but that list feels like “here are some items we’re going to finish up before we go full on fourth pillar.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Scott

    I’m temp-subbing to ESO right now til it goes Buy2Play then swings around to PS4 but TOR would be the next game I’d re-sub to at some random point this year. Speaking very generally, I did like the game, I just got frustrated as a tank class that they locked the most useful tanking skills to such a higher level, making the early leveling group content frustrating for me.

    I like that Werit and a few others have stuck by the game. I tend to generally view their opinions as bloggers higher than a paid writer.

    I do like BioWare games, especially the Mass Effect series though I’m really digging Dragon Age: Inquisition’s open world. It’s just Skyrim-y enough for me while having that BioWare feel and the party banter. I don’t mind “putting words in my mouth,” because for the recent BioWare titles (Dragon Age, Mass Effect) it’s not “my” character anyway, it’s theirs. And honestly, I’m not interested in seeing a wall of text that Shepard or Hawke is going to speak on the dialogue wheel. Just give me a general sense of the attitude and I’ll sit back, watch and listen to the real dialogue. I guess Inquisition is technically different in that I don’t even remember if he has a name, just “The Inquisitor.” So maybe he’s a little more “my” character than “theirs” on that particular sliding scale. But I’ll also be the first to admit I’m playing it more like a third-person Skyrim than a BioWare game so… story? What story?


  4. weritsblog

    @bhagpuss with group content (i.e. raids), some of which can be done solo (Flashpoints) for story. Plus marginally supported PvP and guild housing.


  5. SynCaine

    So… shut the MMO down and just give everyone what they wanted originally, a real KotoR 5,6,7 or whatever? Hotbar sales must be down again.

    That said, odds of a movie-themed hotbar in the shop? 100%!


  6. sleepysam

    Are they still doing all the voice acting in each addition to the story? I remember that being a significant investment.


  7. Topauz

    Another round of the 12x exp boost might bring me back to that game. Everything I read about it sounded like fun. It was a bit tedious to level other characters to see their story but also having to redo all the planets. It was fun to play through everything once and I did enjoy the flashpoints with PUGs.

    I stopped playing about 1-2 years ago. I did not like one of the updates, forget all the names now. Whatever new area had mobs every 2 feet. Made it a pain to move around or explore. Hopefully the new expansion is better.


  8. Ravanel Griffon

    I’m reading “SWTOR wants to “leech” on the Star Wars genre success with this year’s movie” everywhere and I don’t really see the problem. I think back at LotRO, who barely did anything with The Hobbit movies. A missed chance, I’d say. I’d have loved for LotRO getting an influx of players and new plans for that game. Maybe the game would’ve ended up being in a better state than it is now.


  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Ravanel – I am pretty sure if I had meant “leech” I would have written “leech.” That is the word you brought with you, so please do not put it in quotes as though you were attributing to me.

    Personally, I do not see any real problem with BioWare wanting to take advantage of what is likely to be a resurgence in interest in Star Wars in general. They would be fools not to.

    But I do not think it is unfair to raise the question as to whether this revival of focus on SWTOR in general, and story in particular, is because BioWare and EA believe in the game or simply because they know there is some money to be made by, well, leeching. We will have to see what comes out this year.


  10. Kevin Brill (@kevinbrill)

    @Ravanel IIRC, there was a bit of a problem with LOTRO and the Hobbit, since at the time, Turbine only licensed content from the LoTR trilogy, and didn’t have rights to do anything else. From what I saw the previously had licensed content from the Hobbit, but let that license expire.

    But this is all internet digging and not exactly in a press release anywhere, so I can’t truly vouch for it.


  11. Pingback: This week in /saved | Party Business

Comments are closed.