Monday, June 15, 2015

Knights of the Fallen Empire - New Expansion Impressions

Hot diggety damn.

I've honestly not been this excited about SWTOR since launch.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this:

Holy hell damn shit fire, boys and girls!  Blur Studios made another film for SWTOR!  And it was excellent.  It told a better story in 4 minutes than 9 months of vomit-inducing 'story' from Warlords of Draenor.

So, let's get a bit of a breakdown going:

  • October release date
  • Story-driven
  • Level cap raised to 65
  • Free for subscribers
  • Free level 60 character (ala Draenor's boost to 90)
  • New companions
  • Old companions
  • Ability to betray companions
  • Possible ability to choose a new faction/side? (I doubt it)
  • Chapter-based story with monthly updates (supposedly)
  • Old flashpoints/ops raised to 60+
  • Continuation of class stories? (maybe?  god, please do it!)

There's a lot to chew on there and frankly, others are doing a better job of it than me.  So I'm going to concentrate on a couple of points I find most interesting: companions and subscriptions.

There was a large stink made in the press release that we'll be getting new companions and that we could kill/betray them possibly.  This article at Polygon lays it out a bit better; in an interview with Jeff Hickman, he states that you can recruit up to 5 new companions for the expansion, as well as companions from other class stories that were previously unavailable to us.  Does this mean I can finally find a way to murder Quinn?  Or Skadge?  Please?

I'm going to guess that the 5 new companions are the ones listed on the website under 'Cast of Characters.'  That would be HK-55, Senya, Koth, Vaylin, and Lana Beniko.  I think Lana is part of the Revan story in the latest xpac, but I wouldn't know ... I've not gotten there yet.  HK-55 seems to be yet another meatbag-annihilating droid to go along with the original KOTOR HK-47 and the MMO's HK-51.  I'm remarkably ok with that.

Each companion has little blurbs that sort of sums up their philosophy; there's the exiled general and the angry apprentice and at least two of them seem to be from Zakuul ... the planet this new Immortal Empire threat hails from.

Sounds neat!  And, seems like we may be able to turn the tables on these jackwads if we don't like 'em.  That's all I really want.

The other point I want to discuss is the subscription issue.  Bioware is being super cagey about how folks who aren't subbed will get the new content.  So far, the only answer out there is 'subscribers will get the new expansion for free.'  There is almost no mention of what free or preferred players will get.  I assume there will be a way for folks to get the new content once it goes live without having to subscribe, but I find this beating around the bush to be ... unusual.  SWTOR has trumpeted its F2P transition as being hugely successful.  This newest launch though seems to walk back the idea of TOR being a free to play MMO.  Maybe it's all about changing the perception of the game, maybe it's just a quick and dirty way of getting a few thousand more subs before they release plans on how free and preferred folks will get the new stuff.  Either way, it intrigues me ... could TOR be returning to form as a premium sub-based MMO?  I've never heard of an MMO going from sub to F2P and then back to sub.  It'd probably end in disaster, but from the available information Bioware may just be trying to do it.

Needless to say, SWTOR ... you have my attention.

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