Well, there were rumours and a lot of energetic speculation but here it is: the second expansion pack to Star Wars: The Old Republic is officially Shadow of Revan.
There’s a spiffy new section on the SWTOR website with all the details but for those in a rush, here’s a quick rundown and some answers to questions you may have.
EDIT: Since originally posting this some new information has emerged on a few points. Not wanting to leave this too out of date, as plenty of you are still checking this out (thanks!), I’ve updated some of the sections with extra info.
Last updated: 24th October.
What’s in the expansion?
An increased level cap up to 60, up from 55.
There are two new planets in the expansion: Rishi and Yavin IV
There are two new “role-neutral” Flashpoints, which basically means they don’t use the healer, tank, DPS structure. Any combination can play, in theory.
It has a story (obviously) about stopping Revan, who seems to have expanded the Revanites into a full army.
Skill trees are being replaced with Disciplines.
Wait, what the heck are Disciplines?
Good question! The idea behind the new Disciplines system is that it allows more choice and is more upgrade friendly, in terms of future additions. This is compared to the current skill tree system which use a more classic MMO style tree, with three separate choices where you work your way up.
Apparently you get your class identity laid out from day 1 now, making it very clear you’re taking the healing tree for instance and giving you a solid healing move right away. This improves on skill trees as the real meaty healing stuff was always held back.
Bioware are being impressively candid about their belief that the old system didn’t offer enough choice. Meaning that a Jedi Consular healer was more or less identical to every other Jedi Consular healer, Disciplines are supposed to create actual choice. Furthermore they’re apparently easy to change. Don’t like your current setup? No problem, just reset and make a new one right where you are.
What’s my take on it? Well because the main motivator seems to be to make it easier on Bioware I’m all for it. They have limited people over there and if this new system means their staff spend more time on the fun stuff and less time having to crunch numbers then that seems like a good trade-off for us players.. As for how it’ll actually feel though, we’ll have to wait and see.
What’s this I hear about 12x experience?
If you pre-order now and you’re a subscriber then you get access to a 12x bonus for class story experience, right now. Which is… pretty intense.
If I had to guess I’d say they have two motivations here. One, they want people to level up like lightning in time for the expansion to release. Two, they know most players are sick of the quests that aren’t class stories. This way we’re all encouraged to level new characters, or return to old ones, and not have to worry about sitting through the same old quests on Taris for the sixth time. I’ll admit, the reason I level my SWTOR characters via Warzones is partly because I am indeed tired of the quests. The idea that I can theoretically just play my class quests, with some PvP thrown in there, is enough to motivate me to push some of those old alts up to 55.
EDIT: I’ve since tested out the experience boost and it’s as laughably generous as you may expect. I tested it with a flat level 1 and a level 30, both were able to stay ahead of the intended level for their class story by completing nothing but that quest line itself, for 5 levels each. I’ll need to test it a bit more thoroughly to be certain, but it seems it’s absolutely possible to level from purely the class quest line.
Anything else new?
There will be new gear, new mounts, new crafted items to make, blah blah blah. You know, the usual. It’s an expansion, so we get the usual stuff on top of the big changes like Disciplines. If we’re lucky we’ll get some new lightsaber crystal colours too.
Any new class stories?
Seems not, no. I think anyone holding out for a continuation of class stories should give up. They just take far too long to develop compared to how long they take to play. Bioware just don’t have the time and money to return to class stories, compared to putting those resources into new Flashpoints, Warzones and even expansions. The only way we’ll get new class stories really is if we convince around a million people to come back and subscribe.
The good news is that the expansion does have a proper story though, it’ll just be a story for each faction presumably. It’ll be fully voiced as usual so we can expect the normal high quality level of storytelling. Although considering that the story seems to be about the Republic and Empire working together, or at least working towards the same goal, we might see some crossover in terms of specific missions. Will Jedi and Sith really be questing side by side? Maybe!
EDIT: Okay forget everything I just said about no class stories. Crazily, Bioware have said there will be one extra “mission” per class. Whether this means one single quest or one larger quest with a few steps to it each, I don’t know. They’re all written by Alexander Freed who was the lead writer on the Imperial Agent story, which in my opinion is the strongest story of the lot. Apparently they’ll be about checking in with the characters and kind of confirming where they are now, as the passage of time will be accounted for. So this isn’t the big return of class stories or anything too ambitious, but it’s something.
How about new companions?
As far as I know, and I’ll edit this if we find out otherwise, there’s no word either way. However, take a peek at the official trailer and it looks like there are some new faces who play a role. Are they companions? Maybe… If nothing else they’ll likely be recurring characters we can talk with and, if we’re lucky, romance. If we can indeed romance them then I hope Bioware puts in the effort to include gay and lesbian romance conversations. I still find it disappointing that the original game shipped with only heterosexual romance stories, it was awfully un-Bioware of them.
EDIT: It’s now confirmed there are no new companions. It is confirmed that we can romance some new NPCs though! Woohoo!
Okay, when does it come out?
December 9th is the official release. But you can get in a week early by pre-ordering.
All in all, this sounds good to me! I think SWTOR gets overlooked by a lot of Star Wars fans but it really is a fantastic game. I hope this added bit of press pushes some people to go give the game a go. If not, maybe the expansion will bring back some old fans with the promise of continuing the KOTOR storyline with Revan.