So here we are, only a matter of days before subscribers to SWTOR get early access to Knigts of the Fallen Empire expansion. (Because it’s a long title, I’ll call it KotFE from now on!).
If you browse Twitter you’ll see a myriad reactions to the new expansion. Some people are despairing over Heroics, Flashpoints and Ops becoming harder. Some people play SWTOR for reasons other than story – e.g. progression, gear, Galactic Starfighter, Warzones – whatever. Because SWTOR offers so much they have drawn in a wide variety of players. Have they now alienated a previously-committed group of core gamers?
A Focus on Story & Choice
BioWare have been clear that they want to emphasise choice in KotFE. So far the choices we have made don’t make many far-reaching impacts. So you can be Jedi Knight, enter into a relationship and go the dark side, but the Jedi Council never seem to clock onto it. My Sith Healer is Lightside and instead of saying ‘you cannot be a dark councillor’, you’re just given the title Darth Imperious. You can get married but if you use another companion and flirt with an NPC, your mate doesn’t know.
So although you can choose relationships, Light/Dark Side, gear, weapons etc – there’s no repercussion to live with. If you live in the real world we know that actions come with consequences – sometimes for the rest of our lives.
And so in KotFE, I personally am looking forward to exploring what freedom you can have in choices and the different outcomes that brings. Here’s the BioWare video intro about them being more story- and choice-driven:
Having had a Level 60 Jedi Consular for a while, I miss having some sort of story. Sure there are plenty of changes coming soon, including the dreaded SWTOR Level Sync ‘feature’. But without story, Cor-Jhan Arcturus felt a bit ‘lost’ – meaning my time playing him was aimless. If we have nothing to aim for, then aimlessness could soon turn into boredom – and if SWTOR have bored players, they will categorically leave.
So promising to bring out story chapters ‘continually’, we can develop our characters in even more depth, allow us to connect more with them, and have something new to play. As someone who only plays on evenings and weekends (and not all of those either), even the first 9 chapters will keep me busy for a while, given I have 13 characters to work on!
What About Experienced Players?
Many have complained about not having any new Operations – which is a fair criticism. But I think the actually likely situation is that there are no new operations yet. Even tweets like this one, referencing doing an option for the “last time” kind of nod in this direction:
— Ulathar (@Ulathar) October 18, 2015
If KotFE does not yield new planets I would be surprised. And with new planets comes new potential for Flashpoints and Operations. And of course, Operations could be held on other starships or space ports. The Galaxy has enough space!
I’m not an Operations kind of player as I find group situations stressful. But seasoned players are going to need more incentives than just XP, Story and Crafting Changes to keep them happy. They need a reason to keep coming back, rather than just flocking to Star Wars Battlefront once it’s out of Beta.
Personal and Group Focussed
My last observation is that the official lines coming out of BioWare about KotFE is that it is your own personal star wars experience. For an MMO it is a brave move to focus on the individual. At the same time with some of the other Core World Changes, they want to focus on the multi-player experience.
BioWare are going to have a challenge keeping both Personal and Group aspects in continual development. If they don’t, they could lose more core gamers, which would not be good for a game I love playing.
What are your thoughts on this week’s launch of KotFE? Is Knights of the Fallen Empire power to you, or a gaming experience taken from you?
I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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