Star Wars The Old Republic 13 update aims to bring players back

first_imgRumors are swirling that Star Wars: The Old Republic has lost almost 400,000 subscribers. In response, BioWare has announced the 1.3 “Allies” update for the MMO, and is surely hoping it will help bring some players back into the fold.Contained within the update are several mechanisms that players have been begging for, which is a good sign that BioWare is actually paying attention to its customer base. The question is, will it be enough to lure gamers away from ultra-hot titles like Diablo III? In some cases perhaps, but if I were BioWare I wouldn’t be holding my breath.The 1.3 update is called “Allies” for a reason. The new game mechanics focus on one of the most bitterly complained about areas of play in SWTOR, namely the ability find friends or groups to undertake flashpoints or operations. Currently if you want to find some guildmates to help you run through a dangerous area of the game, it’s not super complicated as you can just do a guild shout to get some assistance. But what happens if your friend isn’t in your guild? Getting to the same place and grouping can be a tedious chore that has reportedly taken some players over an hour to accomplish.The new “group finder” console illustrated above looks to alleviate the stress involved with this process by making it very easy to join a group or a friend with just a few clicks. If the mechanism works as advertised this certainly will be a killer new feature for players. In addition to having an easier time finding a group or other players, BioWare is now implementing a character transfer system that will let you take your character to a different server if you so desire. Again, this looks to be an effort to give you a reason to come back to the game so that you can play with your real-world friends easily.One of the other areas in which long time players of the Star Wars game have been less than happy is crafting. Those of you who played Star Wars Galaxies will fondly remember the incredibly deep crafting experience that allowed players huge amounts of freedom when it came to creating items for personal use or sale on the public market. During my own time in the game I was able to make millions of credits as a Combat Medic by selling high-quality poisons for people trying to grind out to Jedi.While SWTOR does indeed include a crafting system, it isn’t anywhere near as in-depth as Galaxies was, which has been something players miss. BioWare is looking to address that by adding a mechanism called the “augment table.” Said to allow customization of almost every single item in the game, there unfortunately isn’t much additional information on how it’s going to work. However, we do know that it ties into the new “adaptive gear” that will allow you to modify your look during different modes of play. That in turn allows you to create a customized character that most resembles the vision you have for your avatar in the game.Where this could be useful and even desirable is during PvP skirmishes, allowing your guild to don similar outfits that both grant abilities and bring uniformity to the group. It certainly would make for awesome screenshots during battle!Giving players more control over their experience is always a good idea, but this may be a classic case of too little too late when it comes to the success of the game. Currently every popular game in the world is monitoring the “Diablo effect” that Blizzard’s latest offering is having on their individual user bases. With predictions that Diablo III will sell 3.5 million copies this year alone, the competition for your gaming dollars and time is fierce.While BioWare certainly enjoyed initial success with SWTOR, it can be compared to the Facebook IPO that happened this week. The hooplah has died down, the honeymoon is over, and players are starting to realize that the experience they are having while playing SWTOR is almost hollow in nature. There is a decided lack of end-game content, as well as no deep mini-games that would keep players coming back on a regular basis. As a player of the game myself, I find that I get easily bored with the same run and gun kind of missions available to my character, and no longer am excited enough to return to the persistent game world where when I first started playing I couldn’t get enough.Do I think that SWTOR is going to sunset anytime soon? Of course not. I think it will be around for a long time to come. I appreciate BioWare’s efforts to improve the game, as well as the fact that it’s pretty difficult to create a balanced title that appeals to a wide audience. However, what’s missing from the title is simple exploration and freedom. While it feels like you can do whatever you like in the game, in reality you are being driven along a very specific path that makes it feel like a solo RPG. This in itself isn’t a bad thing at all, in fact it’s what made Knights of the Old Republic such a huge hit.I have confidence that BioWare will be able to find a good balance for SWTOR, what will be important is how fast it can get there. 1.3 is a step in the right direction, and with more updates being hinted at for later this year, it will be interesting to see what comes down the pipe.last_img

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