17/02/2018

The Road Ahead to April

Keith treated us to another road map this week, though for some reason it wasn't posted as a feature on the main website but instead relegated to a forum post. It was also much shorter than either of his previous road maps, which gave the doom-and-gloomers yet more ammunition ("No information on what's happening after April? Shutdown imminent!") and seems to have left quite a few people disappointed. Me? I'll take what I can get.


I'm not going to talk about every single point mentioned in the forum post in detail, but four main subjects were covered:

Operations

Master mode Gods from the Machine has been officially cancelled! As a raider, I guess I should be saddened by this, but firstly I can't even beat veteran mode anyway, and secondly I've been predicting this pretty much since September, so I can't help but feel somewhat vindicated.

There was some confusion as Keith started off by stating that Izax (the last boss) would come in master mode only, which of course made everyone wonder how that was going to work with the rest of the operation. Then it was clarified that the fight was actually going to be veteran mode as usual, just really hard. You mean... like most of the operation? I just suggested the other day that they might as well rename the whole thing to master mode, you know...

There was also some talk about special rewards for people who'd be able to beat Izax within the patch cycle, which will definitely not include me. I don't mind Keith trying to court top tier raiders a bit; I just wish it hadn't come at the expense of mid-tier guilds like mine.

Flashpoints

The third flashpoint that's part of the current storyline will come out in April, which means that this arc will finally wrap up after eight months. That's somewhat on the slow side, especially considering that the last time we had a story arc being told entirely through flashpoints (Forged Alliances), we got four of them in only half the time (four months).

Any rumours about the line that we would be returning to a place we hadn't expected to return to referring to Oricon were put to rest as it's been confirmed that this installment will be taking place on Nathema. I have to admit I was a little disappointed by that as I like Oricon more, and it would have felt like more of a big return to go back there since it's been a really long time since its release, while we had to go to Nathema only a year ago. Still, let more speculation about just why we're going back there abound!

Conquest Revamp

The long-predicted conquest revamp is apparently coming up in March, but it sounds less exciting than I had hoped - no mention of structural changes to make smaller guilds more competitive, just talk of more objectives, a new interface and new rewards. I mean, those are still good things and might help to reinvigorate my interest in conquest; I was just hoping for more.

One of the new rewards will be an item called the Commander's Compendium that will allow you to instantly boost a companion to influence level 50. The nice thing about reading this was that this item had recently been datamined and looked like it was meant to just go on the Cartel Market, but apparently that's not the plan.

I also have to admit that this is something I could actually see myself using. Most of my companions are actually at very low influence levels because it's a stat that doesn't really matter to me, but on the rare occasion when it does matter (such as in a master mode story chapter), it would be nice to be able to do something about it without having to click a zillion companion gifts. The downside of course is that this compendium is only a workaround for the tedium of the influence system instead of an actual solution to its issues. There still don't seem to be any plans to allow influence gains from a larger variety of sources (such as combat) or to add the ability to give a whole stack of companion gifts at once.

Companions

Loads of companion returns planned in the near future! The list for the next two months includes Akaavi, Ashara, Lt. Iresso, Mako and Vector! I was actually surprised by how excited I was to read this. I still haven't done the missions to get Andronikos, Corso and Risha back, but I'm working my way towards them and that's why I'm excited about these additions too. I've never been as enamoured with any of my companions as some people, but I did notice a few months after KotFE's release that having lost all my class companions did bother me.

More importantly though, I've felt that there's been little incentive to replay any of the more recent content on alts - but what better incentive is there than unique, class-specific content waiting at the end? I don't care if it's not long or particularly amazing - this is the closest we've come to giving the classes some definition since Shadow of Revan's class-specific vignettes on Rishi (which also motivated me to drag one of every single base class through that story).

As an interesting twist, Akaavi and Mako are slated to return together, striking an interesting compromise between limiting returning companions to their original class and making them available to everyone, as smugglers will now be able to recruit Mako and bounty hunters Akaavi. By the way, "Where's Mako? Torian knows (a little)" became the second most-watched video on my YouTube channel over time - after the road map announcement, I went and left a comment on my own video to point out Mako's imminent return. (You know that if I hadn't done it, someone else would have.)

There will also be content for one of our newer companions in the form of an Arcann romance. I've said in the past that he's come a very long way since KotFE, from a character I couldn't see anyone loving to a very changed man. I'm not usually big on companion romances in this game, but I've somewhat come around to the idea here and could see my Jedi knight going for it depending on how it plays out.

I'm also curious how they'll handle a romance coming out as a "package", as all previous romances were more about unlocking romantic interactions as an aside to the main storyline over time. Chaining three different cut scenes together during which you go from casually flirting straight to the black screen of carnal knowledge over the course of five minutes might feel a bit strange (to me, anyway. I know for others BSOCK is what it's all about.)

Other than these four main topics, there was mention of more subscriber rewards coming soon, as well as more "upcoming group content", which once again has people speculating whether this means more flashpoints, something entirely different, or whether Bioware is actually working on getting a whole new operation ready for release in one go after all the difficulties with Gods from the Machine.

Another thing that surprised me was this line: "As we look back to 2017 and now beyond the conclusion of the traitor storyline, we are planning to continue delivering content in the same manner throughout 2018." Keith then goes on to say that he's had feedback indicating that people want a more traditional expansion but that this wasn't the current plan. I had been utterly sure that they were already working on a "proper" expansion! I guess this doesn't mean that they won't decide to parcel up some of the new content and decide to release it as an expansion anyway, but at this rate we're unlikely to see anything like it any time soon.

5 comments :

  1. Given what we know about the "all hands on deck" attitude toward Anthem, Keith likely doesn't have the bodies to craft a proper expansion. He's making do with what he's got at the moment, and if Anthem is a success Bioware will likely devote some more resources back to SWTOR (and the next Dragon Age).

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  2. I was running The False Emperor yesterday and seen again how great looking some of the areas are especially the backgrounds and I thought "we wont see a fp with this much detail again." This is a shame but it shows we probably wont get another traditional expac with some fp and a new planet and a new op at the launch. Level increases may be doubtful too. I am desperate for this game to succeed again and I really do love this game. However (and I hope that I'm so wrong) I just don't see another traditional expac coming.

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    1. Well, the original launch content is a different kettle of fish altogether. They won't make anything new with this much refinement these days; that's just not feasible. But I'm still holding out hope for a bigger content drop coming eventually. We might just have to wait a bit longer than expected.

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  3. Actually i think the new Copero FP is much better looking than The False Emperor.

    The City is simply gorgeous. Inside the Base is very detailed, with the starting ship for example. And this goes on...until the final Boss.

    Especially the Spacestation from the False Emporer is just plain. No comparison to the Copero FP.

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    1. That's actually a good point! I still think there is something to be said for the launch content having had more detail put into it in many areas (dialogue, companion involvement etc.) but Bioware's artists certainly haven't been slacking.

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