In 2011, we saw TOR launch with astronomical numbers, and all you have to do is look at our front page to realize how much people have been talking about this game. Hopefully, the future of the game is just as bright. Thankfully, developers at BioWare have been very talkative about what's coming in the future.
Let's combine what players have said with the plans developers have spoken about to predict the future of the game. After the break, I'll mix the news with my Force powers to see in the the future... the future... the future... echo... echo...
Obviously, the future of Star Wars: The Old Republic for the next few weeks or months will be squishing bugs and fixing zones that are not working as intended. A few of my friends complained that the operations are not difficult enough, for instance. As we can see in the public test server (PTS) patch notes, there was was definitely a bug that prevented nightmare-mode from working correctly. "Fixed an issue that could cause choosing Nightmare Mode to not set enemies to Nightmare difficulty," the notes say. Some of the UI toggles weren't working, but BioWare has already started fixing those: "The 'Show Sith Corruption' option no longer toggles off when transitioning between areas."
Beyond that, I believe we will see some open-world PvP changes. I will expound on this in a later edition of the Hyperspace Beacon, but the Ilum warzone does not encourage much PvP. That zone will probably be the first area retooled, no doubt with some sort of mechanic that rewards players for killing other players. I just hope it's enough to stop exploiters so customer service doesn't have to start banning people for having items "inappropriate for the level or rank of the character."
Lead Writer Daniel Erickson has said in multiple interviews that writers have been working on future content for quite some time. On Gamespot's Hotspot podcast, Erickson said that crunch time for the writers happens well before crunch time for the rest of the developers; while the development team pushed the game toward launch, the writers were crunching on new content. As if to reinforce Erickson's statements, Creative Director James Ohlen mentioned in a blog post that this month we will see and expanded version of Karagga the Hutt's palace operation (with another giant-robot boss, no less) as well as another flashpoint.
I'm done making predictions regarding what planet we will see next, but I really want to see Ziost in game somewhere. For those unfamiliar with Sith lore, Ziost was once the capital of the Sith Empire. Korriban was the religious and sacred planet where the Sith would go to study and learn the ways of the Force, and Ziost was the seat of government -- sort of the way Dromund Kaas is now in SWTOR lore. I can understand the team not wanting to use Ziost as a main world because we already have multiple snowy worlds, but it would definitely make a great one-shot planet for a flashpoint. Perhaps some ancient governmental or military secret was left there and the Empire needs to protect it or the Republic needs to steal it.
The Huttball warzone really helped redefine instanced PvP by taking a well-known PvP trope like capture the flag and adding a simple yet innovative mechanic to it: throwing the flag. Alderaan definitely changed the face of capture-and-hold by deviating from the standard triangular formation you see in other games and creating its own formation that is just as effective.
If the devs don't make a flashpoint about Ziost, a warzone would be nice. Still, I can see the opposition to that because we already have a snowy warzone with Alderaan. I can dream, though, can't I?
Just as predicting what is next for SWTOR PvE is difficult, predicting PvP is even more difficult, but there is one area that will definiately get some sort of PvP. As I said last week, Quesh has the smallest amount of PvE content out of any existing planet. Does this mean there will be a warzone added to the planet? I don't believe so. I do believe PvP is in the planet's future. Quesh is supposed to be filled with rich resources. I believe we are looking at another open-world PvP zone, maybe with some sort of planetary control.
Although SWTOR definitely seperated itself from the single-player genre, socially it can stand to see some improvements. The biggest area for social interaction and cooperative gameplay is within your guild, and right now, guilds are just another chatroom with a nice tag that tells everyone that you are in this chatroom. However, James Ohlen mentioned in his interview with us that BioWare is "going to be working on guild functionality for the foreseeable future -- for years!" I fully expect to see some amazing additions to the social side of the game.
In addition, we have seen different costume pieces on various walls in the BioWare studio. Some people I have played with claim that clothing seems a bit limited. I agree that I have not seen much variety, but in future builds and patches, I predict that we will see an increase in the number of clothing items rather quickly.
OK, your turn: What are your 2012 predictions for SWTOR? Do you think we will see an expansion this year? What about warzones and flashpoints -- what are your predictions about that content? Let me know in the comments!
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!