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Star Wars: The Old Republic Previews: The Spring of SWTOR - Game Update 2.7

By Jean Prior on February 20, 2014

Over the course of the past week, BioWare laid out their roadmap for the changes coming with Star Wars: the Old Republic's Game Update 2.7.  Now, those who are curious about the numbering scheme of updates will see how it's pretty much in line with how software developers tend to leave the really big updates and expansions for the round figures (2.0, 4.0, etc.).  You can see how we're trundling along to SWTOR's 3.0.  Theoretically, the use of sub-numbers (2.7.4, etc.) can ensure they can stretch out the revelation of SWTOR 3.0: the Undiscovered Expansion until sometime next year.  However, I don't believe we're going to see that, because we know 2.7 is supposed to drop on April 8th, and 2.8 is supposed to drop on June 10th per Bruce Maclean's Producer's Roadmap.

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With the hints and revelations from my interview with Jeff Hickman, Bruce himself, and DebySue Wolfcale,  I suspect that attendees of the Colorado Cantina Tour stop in March will get the full 411 on the first of the two promised digital expansions to the game, and it's possible that the name of that expansion might be revealed later this month at the Atlanta Cantina Tour stop.  What's interesting about the commentary here is that Bruce made a point of noting they were going to shift to a nine-week update schedule for major updates, up from the previously-attained eight-week schedule, which is likewise up from the originally-promised six-week schedule.  I've seen players in social media offering up scathing responses to this change in format, using it as ammunition in their arguments that Something Is Wrong at BioWare (tm).  Of course, folks in that group have ignored the rest of the paragraph where Bruce was citing quality as their primary reason for doing so.  Perhaps I've been spoiled by observing the much more positive WildStar community, but you'd think that gamers would prefer quality over rushing something out the door and having it be broken.  In this argument, BioWare is damned if they do, damned if they don't. 

Meanwhile, we have GU 2.7 coming up in early April, and while there are four bullet points of additions to the game, there is also an intriguing goldpost from Community Manager Eric Musco that links to the proposed changes to ten of the sixteen advanced classes.  Now, it's not new for any of us to hear a lot of kvetching about class changes anytime an MMO brings them up, so SWTOR isn't at all special in this regard.  One of the interesting nuggets that came out of the livestream with BioWare a couple of weeks ago was how the developers know people will complain rather loudly when their class gets nerfed or someone else's class gets buffed, but they tend to listen for a consensus.  If everyone is griping about a certain class or a ship in Galactic Starfighter, they're going to listen to that more than the standard 'waaah, my class got nerfed!' wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

First thing to note here is that all of these changes are simply proposed and not final, and at this time, not externally tested yet.  Also, they made a point of stating that these aren't all of the changes in the works for these classes, and of course, the post doesn't link to any information for the other six advanced classes.  Any game developer with classes like this will tell you that class balance is a never-ending story (bonus points if I just got that song stuck in your head). For example, just look at the folks at Blizzard still making changes to their classes in an effort to achieve balance into their tenth year with World of Warcraft.  In SWTOR, they're posting the proposed changes two months in advance, and the forums lit up with what you might expect the responses to be.  What I found rather interesting was reading the comments, knowing full well that the changes for each mirrored advanced class were exactly the same.  The overall reactions of players in each mirrored class's thread were night and day.  The Jedi Sage changes were met with a bit less hostility than the Sith Sorcerer ones, even though they are exactly the same changes.  Same with Sentinel/Marauder.  The only pairing whose commentary was more or less the same between the Imperial and Republic versions was the updates to Sniper and Gunslinger, probably because they were given buffs.  Everything else, the Imperial players' overall tenor was much more negative.  

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