Following a smooth launch, minus a few Ilum-shaped bumps, things have been ticking along nicely in Star Wars: The Old Republic of late. But with the second major game update due to drop imminently, we got to spend some time with the devs putting the patch through its paces; ladies and gents, get ready to build your Legacy.
The Legacy System
As the title suggests, the main thrust of the update is the Legacy system: an ambitious idea that, when implemented, promises a wealth of new customisation options. Previously, the system has only offered players the choice of a Legacy name after finishing the first chapter of their story, but that's all about to change.
You can now decide how your characters are related, picking from any combination of siblings, spouses, adopted children, children, rivals and allies. These characters, which can come from different factions as long as they're on the same server, will then be able to unlock emotes, abilities and other rewards to share between them. As long as one character has access to it, so will the others, regardless of their exact familial relationship.
But that's not all. If you've hit level 50 with a certain species, that species is unlocked for all new characters you make, regardless of class. If you can't face the time-consuming process of levelling an alt up, access to new species can be bought using your hard earned credits...but the price is rather steep. Companions, too, can be powered up once you've completed all their quests and conversations. Doing so grants a passive stat bonus for all companions of the same archetype (ranged tank, ranged DPS, melee tank, melee DPS, and healer) across your Legacy, rewarding you for putting time into the game without shackling it to your PvE or PvP prowess.
There's also the opportunity to upgrade parts of your ship, whether that's by sticking in a mailbox or sprucing up the dreaded C2-N2. By far the most controversial addition has been the announcement that certain abilities like force choke can be unlocked for non-force users, but Bioware have handled it well. These abilities may only be used whilst your class' Heroic Moment ability is triggered, ensuring a long cooldown and avoiding gamebreaking implications. All in all it's a welcome addition for the system which looks set to add a wealth of flavour to the game, especially considering it's to be expanded even further in Update 1.3.
Flashpoints and Operations
Game Update 1.2 contains both a new Flashpoint and a new Operation. The Flashpoint, titled the Lost Island, holds the conclusion to the Rise of the Rakghouls story started in 1.1, set on Ord Mantell. As expected, there are both normal and hard modes available, and it provides a good way to gear up if you're yet to step into Operations. Without wanting to spoil anything, we'll just say finding the culprit behind the outbreak of the Rakghoul virus in the Tion Hegemony may not be as easy as you first thought...
The Operation, meanwhile, takes place on the new planet of Denova. Called Explosive Conflict, it's your job to sort out a group of traitors and mercenaries who are illegally selling explosive baradium to the highest bidder. It's enough to say that you really don't want the stuff falling into immoral hands. Along with Lost Island, Explosive Conflict should hopefully address concerns some players have had about sparse content at endgame, whilst developing the story of the universe and offering access to new gear.
For PvP enthusiasts, there's a new warzone on offer: Novare Coast. Like the Alderaan warzone, three-point domination is at the heart of its gameplay, but with a significant twist. The objective's shields are sufficiently thick that one cannon won't do any damage; to accrue points, a team must hold at least two. As an added bonus, a special training version of the map means same-faction match-ups are possible, so you Huttball hating heathens can kill your allies in an environment more to your liking.
But far more exciting than this is the introduction of Ranked Warzones; PvPers of the galaxy rejoice! Players can now queue individually or in groups of up to eight to build their rating. Both solo and group ratings are based on individual performance, and the Rank Commendations players receive can be used to buy new gear. Get your rank high enough and you'll get access to special armour as well as recognition on 'who' lists.
Together, these developments should really help bolster the PvP community that was undeniably shaken by the Ilum debacle. It's certainly never been a better time to be a PvP player in The Old Republic and, with future updates slated to include cross-server matches and tournaments, this looks to be the start of something good.
Quality of Life Enhancements
The playerbase spoke, and it seems Bioware listened. A host of convenience changes will sweep the game in this update, including guild banks, combat logs, and mission tracker useables. For me personally, the most welcome is the ability to customise the UI. The range of options available is pretty staggering and I spent an embarrassing amount of time tweaking things until they were just right. You can also save your UI so it stays the same across multiple characters if, like me, the idea of change gives you palpitations.
Ultimately there's a lot of good stuff coming to The Old Republic in this update. Whilst it's a shame much of it didn't make launch, by far the most encouraging thing is the number of features repeatedly asked for by players. It's a promising step for Bioware's MMO and one that looks sure to help it build a long and impressive Legacy of its own.