As we march ever nearer patch 1.2 for The Old Republic, what we’re actually getting nearer to is a proper assessment of the game. I’m not the only one who feels like he’s been playing a beta for the first few months, and patch 1.2 certainly seems to herald a lot of additions that strike me as being obvious launch features.
Of course, that doesn’t imply Star Wars has been no fun to this point – that would be silly. But it does lend weight to the players who essentially unsubscribed until the game was in a state that they considered “finished” (as subjective as that term is in MMO-land).
So, what’s on the horizon?
Content wise, we’re looking at another warzone (Novare Coast) as well as another operation (Explosive Conflict) and flashpoint (Lost Island). Warzones are going to see player rankings implemented, while another set of tier gear will go live. That all sounds good, but considering the hole that’s been left by Lost Island in the questing chain, this is something that was planned since launch and should probably have been in. But more content is more content, so no complaints.
Of course, comparatively speaking, the relatively small amount of actual content, in lieu of a HUGE number of features, is what makes me think this is the unofficial “launch” of the game. Here’s what’s coming up:
Legacy: Lots on the way in the form of Legacy, which also happens to be the name of the patch. You can make a family from your characters, as well as unlocking otherwise unavailable races and abilities depending on faction.
Ship upgrades: Also unlocked via legacy, but ships are going to see some upgrades in the form of GTN terminals (also getting an overhaul), repair bots and other bits and bobs. Guild ships are also on the horizon, but probably not for 1.2. Good news.
UI Customization: This is a huge one, and vitally important. With the UI being so fugly, it’s a massive relief to be able to move, resize and just mess with your UI until you’re content with it. Goodbye, stupid side bars.
Graphical updates: Better textures are on the way for those with better machines, just as gear customization is popping in to allow you to match all your gear to the colours of your chest piece. Another optimization pass will also have gone in, with lower settings provided for those on dud machines. Such as yours truly.
Miscellaneous content: Last but not least, Corellia is seeing some daily missions added, we’re getting some more mounts to ride (tauntaun, surely), and more obligatory minipets are on the way, too. Of course let’s not forget the most obtuse of prior oversights, the guild bank. A full seven tabs are on the way.
Oh, yeah. A dungeon-finder tool is likely to be implemented, but only on a server-wide basis. This author is happy going on record as now having a chill down his spine, but we’ll see how this plays out. The history is not with BioWare on this, but I suppose you never really know.
So, all told, patch 1.2 Legacy is going to be a pretty substantial patch for us. As erstwhile hinted, I still reckon a large percentage of this was planned for launch and can’t shake the feeling that EA really shot themselves in the foot for releasing a game that wasn’t ready to a market that had gotten used to a seven-year-old jabberwocky with unrivalled levels of polish. Wow, what an ugly sentence.
Still, it just wasn’t that clever in my humblest of opinions.
A lot of discussion about other quality of life changes has also happened. More mod options are opening up, items will be tradable for a short time after looting, there are another two operations in development as we speak and there are also a raft of discussion points with regard to PvP and rectifying the Ilum horror show.
I’m still positive about Star Wars: The Old Republic, and think 1.2 is really going to let us see how the game is going to do in the long term. It’s not pushed the two million subscriber ceiling yet but, assuming 1.2 does its job well, we could well see that busted. The issue in MMO games, particularly subscription-based ones, is providing enough to do to stop people from becoming bored.
1.2 will bring people back, and new players are picking up the box and mulling it over all the time.
But how many can it (and the speed of future releases) retain?
I’m positive. :)