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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: Reasons to Check Out SWTOR F2P

By Michael Bitton on November 14, 2012

EA and BioWare are set to offer gamers a free-to-play option in Star Wars: The Old Republic beginning tomorrow, November 15. We recently took the free-to-play experience for a test drive, and today we’ve put together a quick list of five reasons you should download SWTOR and give it a spin when it goes free-to-play.

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It’s Star Wars!

This is kind of a no-brainer, so let’s get it out of the way first. Whatever your feelings about the Star Wars brand post-prequels, Star Wars remains a global brand that attracts a ton of fan interest. Interest in the Star Wars IP is likely to grow over the coming years, due largely in part to the news of Disney’s buyout of Lucasfilm and the announcement of a new Star Wars film trilogy.

As for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Star Wars brand did indeed draw a significant amount of interest from Star Wars fans at launch, but according to EA, the subscription model just didn’t work for a significant portion of the playerbase.  For Star Wars fans that didn’t check out the game at launch due to the subscription model’s barrier to entry or even for those who have since quit, I feel the strength of the Star Wars brand will play a significant factor in igniting or re-igniting interest in the game once it goes free-to-play.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, and more specifically, if you’re a fan of the Knights of the Old Republic RPG series, there is a lot to love in SWTOR.

Free-to-Play Goes Live Alongside a Game Update

Sure, outside of the free-to-play stuff, Game Update 1.5 isn’t exactly meaty. However, 1.5 is significant in that it adds HK-51, a new companion clearly inspired by HK-47, everyone’s favorite mouthy assassin droid from the Knights of the Old Republic RPG series. HK-51 is acquired as part of the new ‘Section X’ content coming in the update. Section X is a new area on the planet of Belsavis and the quest content found within will continue SWTOR’s overarching storyline centered on the Dread Masters.

For fans of raiding, Game Update 1.5 also brings a new Nightmare Mode difficulty to the existing Explosive Content Operation. The new difficulty introduces the final pieces of the Dread Guard armor sets as well as a new vehicle for players to acquire.

The Cartel Market is Integrated into the In-Game Economy

I was initially put off by some of the stuff found on the Cartel Market, that is, until I realized that practically everything on the Market interacts with the in-game economy. This means that items and unlocks (including Warzone passes and Artifact equipment licenses) can be traded amongst players via person-to-person trades or even the Galactic Trade Network. This interaction makes the Cartel Market a great value even to players who don’t intend to spend a ton of money on the in-game store and even for those who never plan to drop a single dime on the game.

Class Story Content is Free

I was pretty surprised to find out that all classes in the game will be unlocked for free-to-play players. In my own column a couple of weeks ago, I speculated on the number of ways BioWare could monetize Star Wars: The Old Republic as a free-to-play game. One of the most obvious choices to me would be to sell classes to players; after all, the class story content is one of the game’s strongest features. This makes the free-to-play option a great value even for those who are just interested in consuming class content in a sort of KOTOR-lite experience.

SWTOR is a Solid Game

It all really comes down to this, doesn’t it? It’s still my opinion that Star Wars: The Old Republic is an excellent game worth playing. In SWTOR, gamers will find a polished experience with a breadth of content to play through. Whether it’s your class story, sidequests, Flashpoints, or even Operations, there’s a good deal of well-crafted stuff to do in the game.

With that said, BioWare definitely won’t win any awards for churning out content at a breakneck pace. There certainly hasn’t been a RIFT-like cadence to content updates since the game went live last year, but for those who quit the game months ago there is a solid amount of new content to play around with, and for those who never made the leap in the first place, there should be more than enough to do for quite a while. At the low price of free, it’s really hard to argue that Star Wars: The Old Republic is anything but a great value for MMO fans.

Do you plan on checking out SWTOR when it goes F2P? Why? Why not? Let us know in the comments below!


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