The (B)Austin Cantina Tour Stop, Including Spoilers
Fulfilling their promise to make up the canceled Boston Cantina Tour stop with a livestream on Twitch, BioWare Austin's team presented a rather meaty event that promises better, more fan-satisfying events in the future. In this one, jokingly referred to as the (B)Austin Cantina Tour, they went over many of the details of Game Update 3.2, which will include the Outfit Designer and new story on the Imperial homeworld of Ziost, and also revealed some plans for their upcoming event at Star Wars Celebration in mid-April. There will be story spoilers in this article.
Facilitated by Community Manager Eric Musco and featuring Lead Designer Michael Backus and Senior Producer Bruce Maclean, the trio set about revealing some details about Game Update 3.2, formally titled Rise of the Emperor. For all you Jedi Knight players who thought you killed the Emperor on Dromund Kaas in Chapter 3, well, sorry, he's too powerful and survived your efforts. Both primary factions will be focusing on dealing with him after Revan had to go and wake him up, because he's gone home to roost on Ziost and is once more machinating his way through galactic politics.
Unlike a number of previous locations in the game with a fairly wide color palette, Ziost is straight up Imperial-grey. Strong in the dark side of the Force, actively being sucked dry by the influence of the Emperor, Ziost is a cold and rocky planet, so don't expect pretty tropical colors here. Apparently the Republic already had boots on the ground, because players will run across both Imperial and Republic NPCs when they get there. A cavernous city named after King Adas called New Adasta will be a questing hub for both groups, so once again BioWare dips into old Tales of the Sith Lords comic canon for names and ideas.
An enclave of Jedi will be found on Ziost called the Sixth Line. These militaristic Jedi added another line to the five-line Jedi Code, quoted by Michael Backus as 'There is no contemplation, only duty'. They will pose problems for players of both primary factions, because they might go too far and cross a few lines (pun not entirely intended), and also the Emperor gets his grubby mitts on their lady Jedi Master and her people and nothing good can ever come of that.
After some further story spoilers, the trio from BioWare started talking about non-story improvements to the game that will come with Update 3.2. Their first topic was travel, and Michael Backus noted that as soon as a player's first character hits the ground on a planet, all of the travel paths on that planet will unlock for all of their characters. Eric Musco added that it was something that a number of players had requested, particularly during Double XP weekends and when 12x class XP was a thing during the Shadow of Revan preorder phase last year. The next item mentioned was that Quick Travel would see some love as well, with Legacy perks helping to bring that cooldown number to zero. Backus added that the Quick Travel points will be altered so that players won't have to click on them to unlock them, they'll auto-unlock when a player comes in range.
The other big 3.2 feature mentioned in brief was the Outfit Designer, which has been swarmed over by all the usual fansites such as Dulfy and the SWTOR subreddit. While the stream only showed a screenshot of the new quality of life tool, the devs explained that the biggest feature of it would allow players to avoid having to shift mods around whenever they wanted to change their character's look. The mods would remain on their equipped gear, but once a piece of cosmetic gear was stamped to one of the tabs on the Outfit Designer, a player didn't have to haul it around. The biggest downside is that players with multiple statted sets of gear (i.e. raid set or PVP set) would still have to swap them like they do now, because the mods won't apply. While not announced in the stream, BioWare opened up the Outfit Designer on the Public Test Server this week so that armor restrictions were a thing of the past. It doesn't affect what kind of gear a character can equip (light armor wearers still can't equip heavy or medium armor), it adds a huge amount of flexibility in character style. Of course, one must note that what happens in PTS sometimes stays on PTS, so until they announce it for live, it may change or vanish entirely.
The other big topic for the livestream was the announcement of some of the activities planned for the Anaheim Cantina Tour stop, to be held in the Hilton next door to the Convention Center where Star Wars Celebration will be held in a couple of weeks. As usual, the Cantina Tour is not an official part of SWC, but then again, neither is the 501st Bash the night before, so we shouldn't be reading too much into this fact. I wouldn't expect any huge announcements at the stop, just something along the lines of the things they were already discussing in this stream and had done at the PAX South Cantina Tour stop.
However, Eric Musco told everyone that they'd heard those of us in the community who had griped about the stops being less than revelatory for attendees, and also about how the Taun Fawn and droid pet gifts were okay, but they weren't really awesome. They revealed a new speeder model that will only be obtainable by attending this and future Cantina Tour stops, each with differing color schemes. However, he also noted that these speeders will come with two features: a second random item in a pack and also a link to allow the recipient to give the same speeder to five people who couldn't attend. Those five could then give links to five other people and so on with no limit on iterations. So, while the new speeder model is unique, much like the rakghoul virus it can easily spread across the galaxy. Based on how they phrased it on the livestream, it seems that each iteration of the speeder will grant the user that second item as well.
They also said that there would be unique physical swag available at the Cantina Tour stop, and because they were nearby, the fine upstanding members of the 501st Legion would be present with a greenscreen and props for people to take photo ops with, and there would also be some special guests. Given the number of SWTOR voice actors attending Celebration, albeit all of them for their other Star Wars ties, I hope that a few of them would be stopping in to meet the players.
For those players who cannot attend the Celebration Cantina Tour, this one will be livestreamed for an hour thanks to BioWare partnering with ESL, so the bulk of the event will be available to the whole world. We don't know yet if that will be a regular feature of future Cantina Tours or if it's just for Anaheim. Again, I would caution against assuming this tour stop means something super-special just because it's Celebration, but personally, I hope for something better than normal because jeez, it's Celebration!
The stream also reviewed the subscriber rewards for the current Choose Your Path promotion and announced the M4-1S droid pet for May the Fourth, hinting there might be other goodies in store, but perhaps they'll say more about that in Anaheim. Of course we'll post the link for the ESL livestream when we find out what it is, so all fans of SWTOR can virtually attend this Cantina Tour. What do you think about BioWare's new efforts to be more forthcoming in their livestreams and presentations?