Another poster on the forums, Darth_Wicked, asked about the new primary story content of the expansion, wondering whether the storyline was the same for both factions or not. Eric Musco replied that there is one shared storyline like in Forged Alliances, but then dropped the surprising bombshell that there would also be one unique Class Story Mission per class as part of the story. This reverses over a year of firm denials that there would ever be additional class-specific quests in the game, but it's certainly not a 'hurray, more class story!' triumphant brass section chord sort of moment as some of the responders to the post had taken up. It's just a single mission for every class, and whether that 'mission' is just a single quest (disappointing) or a brief side questline (better!) is unknown. In my mind, something fairly brief like the Gree questline on Coruscant would be a nice start, but we'll have to wait and see what BioWare's definition is. As is fairly typical, one shouldn't read too much into what a Community Manager says. We've got almost two months to spin ourselves into a tizzy about what he meant, and it's fairly common amongst the SWTOR community to see a brief note, make all kinds of rampant speculation, and then we get the deflation of our hopes when the truth is fully revealed.
The final curiosity for me here is the simple fact that a lone podcaster managed to scoop everyone at the New York Cantina Tour stop. Since I couldn't be at the stop myself due to work obligations, I was relying on fellow fans being there and tweeting about it or posting on reddit. To be fair, we've been trained over the past couple of years not to expect any real news out of the Cantina Tour stops, and even BioWare representatives have made a point of telling us that the stops are more for them to gauge player feedback than it is for them to answer questions. Twitter user Gaddock Teeg (@GTeeg) is host of the Unnamed Podcast, and in his episode 57, he offers up full audio from the Q&A at the event. The quality of the live Q&A from the tour stop is not the best due to the loud noises and awful sound system in the venue, nor are the questions and answers hugely illuminating, pretty standard fare. However, what Teeg managed to do is talk to Senior Producer Bruce Maclean for some time afterwards and get some solid answers out of him about some pretty important things that I'm surprised sites like Dulfy hadn't picked up on and run with, although she has her own Cantina Tour post up with a different one-on-one Q&A with Eric Musco at the bottom. The Unnamed Podcast is 1:07:05 in length and at the tail end features some serious spoilers about the attack on Revan. Spoilers are very clearly announced before being discussed. Also, I'd call it NSFW due to some language.
Here's the TLDR version of the biggest highlights:
- Maclean took full responsibility for the delay in the expansion announcement.
- Togruta are the next playable race. Not ready for 3.0, but that's the one. (Author's note: Called it!)
- A new Stronghold is already in the works. Maclean said he really wanted a place on Alderaan but Teeg made sure to point out that Maclean wasn't saying it was Alderaan (insert I'm not saying it's aliens meme here).
- Engineers are working on something 'way better' than cross-server queues to improve pop times for PVP.
- New warzone map and game mode next year.
- Open-world PVP improvements are in the works, somewhere between Ilum and Conquests in scale.
- Requisition increases are the first phase of a multi-phase plan to improve Galactic Starfighter.
- There isn't a new world boss with 3.0 launch but there would be one next year.
- A rumored podracing minigame was prototyped but shelved due to server lag issues causing problems choosing race winners.
- They're looking into the notion of faction changes.
- Two brand new tactical Flashpoints are in the works to level between 55 and 60.
- The Forged Alliances Flashpoints are getting the Hard Mode treatment.
- Possibly launching with 3.0, a costume/cosmetic system which would separate stats from gear appearance, including color crystals.
Most of this stuff is pretty major and even the Cliff's Notes version of them are more than we've gotten out of a year of Cantina Tour stops. The Togruta thing was almost a gimme. It's very nice, but not surprising. I think many people want Alderaan as the next Stronghold, so I'm not going to be shocked if it proves to be true. Like Teeg, I can't even imagine what could be 'way better' than cross-server queuing to improve PVP. BioWare has sworn up and down they weren't doing server merges again (who'd want to put up with all the screaming from the players about names... for the fourth time), and megaservers doesn't really seem to fit their desire to avoid angering the playerbase. What do you think it might be?
The two points in the list that made me sit up and take notice the most were the bit about faction changes and a statless costuming gear system. The first startles me because BioWare had often said in the past that faction changes were extremely unlikely due to how intertwined the class storylines were to a character's development and how difficult the logistics would be to change all of the titles, achievements, and checkboxes for the various dialogue choices. It makes me wonder what changed in the interim. The latter point... PRAISE BABY JAWAS! And to possibly be ready for 3.0 launch? You're kidding me, we might actually be able to use those awesome art assets that crafters can make that no one wears because they're not orange moddable shells? We could have a cool-looking crystal without having to worry about whether it's +41 Endurance or +41 Power and did we get the right one in a cartel pack?
In all, the official site doesn't really sell the preorder as a must-do thing beyond the subscriber 12x class XP bonus until December. However, the additional news from the Cantina Tour might tip those scales. I'd be curious to hear what folks have to say in the comments.