“Knights of the Fallen Empire”, the new SWTOR expansion, was announced at this years EA’s E3 press conference. This was done through stunning CG story telling. The expansion is due this October but has already created a stir within the SWTOR community. Holding our breaths, we are all waiting to find out if this is what will bring Star Wars: The Old Republic back up on its feet.
This new expansion brings us back and reminds us of what made the game unique in the first place. Together with new level caps (as well as the option to start fresh at level 60) we are provided with developed companion interactions and the promise of an evolving story line with new chapters on a regular basis. This expansion released in parts will hopefully contribute to a more dynamic and captivating endgame environment. Given that the two last expansions had to be payed for it comes as a pleasant surprise that Knights of the Fallen Empire will be free for subscribers. Can we see this as a sign that the developers have a new found confidence in their own content? It is certainly comforting to us, the players, to watch as this investment into the game is focusing on long term goals and improvements rather than a short term payoff.
As an avid PvPer I have to admit I have mixed feelings towards these news. For a long time now the SWTOR PvP community has been starved. It has been suffering from issues which have still not been dealt with, and as far as we know neither will they be dealt with in this expansion. I feel like BioWare is dangling an especially juicy carrot in front of us just to take our attention away from the problems which remain unresolved. I told myself sternly when first hearing whispers about this expansion that I would not let myself get hyped up about it since it had nothing to do with the area of the game that I play. Alas, I did not manage to stay as calm and collected as I wanted to upon seeing the trailer. SPOILER ALERT – Watch the video above before continuing! I was very taken by this reveal (despite the cheesy moment of brotherly affection where the twins fall back laughing together in the grass). The reason I got into SWTOR in the first place was because I was mesmerised by this interactive medium of storytelling. I was able to create complex characters with more depth than the stereotypes I had expected to encounter. Since the start I have favoured either ‘morally grey’ characters, dark side Jedis or light side Siths. The idea of creating two twin force users and dressing one in white and the other in black is a true sign of how paying attention to details can make all the difference in good storytelling. Immediately the expectation of their moral attributes are assumed, however it doesn’t take long until the cracks start to appear. We see the twin dressed in white struggling with frustration and anger. This wonderfully complex character is already by the end of this short trailer a multi-layered character driven by both guilt and ambition. Being a religious PvPer by nature I don’t want to be dazzled by this PvE carrot, but I can’t help but wondering what will happen next in the story. So let this be my confession and let this blog be my temporary Sacrament of Penance. Yes father, I have sinned. I want to PvE.
But maybe this isn’t the worst thing for PvPers? Let me elaborate. Looking back at the issues we have, there are especially two prevalent problems. Number one is the intense imbalance between the classes in warzones. One has to hope that BioWare one of these days will at least make this better than it is now or competitive PvP will never take off. The second issue is the lack of population. Without an active and vibrant community of active players PvP will never be interesting. Especially ranked PvP will suffer (read more about this in “Ranked PvP and why BioWare needs it“). Towards the end of this year we know there will be a new Star Wars hype in correlation with the Star Wars Battlefront release in November and the new movie premier in December. So maybe SWTOR taking advantage of this hype by going back to it’s roots and getting more people excited about the game is just what we need to slowly improve the state of PvP. These long term solutions are what we should be asking for.
So let’s hope that this new promise of an expanding Star Wars story line will be handled well. BioWare has managed to capture our attention now, let us pray that they know what to do now they have it. How will these chapters be handled? How long or short will they be? The cinematic storytelling is what is different about this game – for better and for worse. One of its downsides is the time it takes to create and produce new content. Will there be anything new in PvP come October? And how will they tie up the story of the last expansion with this new one? Will BioWare pull this off? Tell us what you think. Will Knights of the Fallen Empire ‘res’ SWTOR?