SWTOR is in an interesting place right now.
While World of Warcraft flounders in its latest patch and The Elder Scrolls Online is enjoying a constant uptick in players thanks to its stellar new Blackwood expansion, Star Wars: The Old Republic strikes me as somewhat of a black sheep in the MMO world. It’s not too different from where ESO was a few years ago, before it’s One Tamriel expansion. SWTOR has a die-hard base of current players that love it, but players who bought the game at launch or those on the outside looking in are having a hard time finding reasons to return to the game, or try it for the first time.
It seems like the SWTOR team is all too aware of this, however, and they’re implementing some awesome changes for their tenth anniversary, which will culminate in the upcoming Legacy of the Sith expansion.
Introducing Combat Styles! Players can now separate their Class Story from gameplay style for an even greater customization experience. This frees up Advanced Class options as characters can choose any Advanced Class within the Tech or Force playstyle! Play as a Trooper wielding a Sniper Rifle, or a Sith Inquisitor with a lightsaber in each hand, or even secretly use Dark Side powers while posing as a member of the Jedi Order. Loadouts will increase your ability to customize, allowing you to swap between playstyles and gear with a click.Announcing Legacy of the Sith, the next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic
For those who don’t play MMOs, or can’t quite grasp what these changes mean, let me break this down.
When you create a character in SWTOR, you currently choose a “Class” (shown above in gray symbols), like Smuggler, Jedi Knight, and Bounty Hunter. These classes are being rebranded as “Origins”, and will now only dictate your character’s voice, background, and starting zone/storyline. Once you get into the boots of your newly created character, you’ll then be able to pick any Fighting Style you want (think a subclass, or spec like in other MMOs) as long as it fits with your class type. So if you’re rolling a Jedi Knight, you can now choose from any of the eight Force-wielding subclasses available. And if you’ve chosen Smuggler, any of the “Tech” (blaster-based) subclasses are yours to choose from.
This is MASSIVE for character fantasy, and opens up the customization options in SWTOR exponentially. Want to play as a down-on-his-luck Smuggler, that just so happens to also be a deadeye Sniper? You can do that now. How about a Republic Trooper that, instead of the typical blaster rifles and rockets, prefers dual-wielding pistols and using dirty tricks in the heat of battle? Yep, that’ll fly. A Jedi Consular who secretly uses Dark Side abilities? You bet your sweet Bantha.
And if you can’t decide which combat style you want to play with, that’s totally fine. Because SWTOR is also giving us the capability to switch back and forth using a new Loadouts system.
So, in summary, SWTOR is in its tenth year, and is about to open up character customization and play styles in a whole new way. They’ve also advertised a completely revamped user experience and character creation system, which could mean new customization options and UI changes as well.
I’ve played less than twenty hours of SWTOR in the last ten years, but you can bet your ass I’m going to be pumping those numbers up when SWTOR: Legacy of the Sith drops this holiday.