Another Star Wars: Celebration, another bunch of interesting reveals.
Of course we’ve had the big reveals of the Episode IX title, the first full details of Jedi: Fallen Order and its hero Cal (no relation), and, by the end of today, more information regarding The Mandalorian and the long-awaited seventh series of The Clone Wars.
However, as glorious as those reveals are, the one which is the most pertinent to this blog is the first official glimpse of the next expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
So what is it?
I’ve never seen one before, no one has, but I’m guessing it’s a White Hole.
Alright, you’ve made your obligatory non-Star Wars reference, but seriously, what is it?
Star Wars: The Old Republic: Onslaught.
Onslaught will be arriving on our virtual doorsteps in September, assuming all goes well, and will be free for all subscribers at that time. It includes the next step in the storyline, two new locations. a new Flashpoint, a new Operation, a new playable species, brand-new main menu music, a new level-cap and associated abilities, and an entirely reworked itemisation system.
With all of these there are only baseline details, so there’s not too much to go over quite yet. However, for what there is it all looks and sounds very interesting.
All we know for definite is that this new story continues on from where Ossus left off at: the Empire and the Republic are now once again indulging in open warfare and it’s up to the Alliance Commander to decide what side gets the advantage.
Here things get a little bit murky. The article mentions that once again players will get to choose to remain loyal or to undermine their faction’s war effort, and this is where it leaves off at. We’ll see what more information in the coming months will reveal but if I was someone who was heavily-invested in the potential to switch sides the implication that the ability to aid the other faction will only be limited to sabotaging your own would be rather disappointing, even if there is this big dramatic reveal right at the end of it all.
Still early days, of course, and later announcements may well shed more light on the potential branching-off points in the story.
That’s all there is to the story part of the announcement, apart from where it takes place. This brings me to…
The initial storyline of Onslaught will take place on two planets and one hollowed-out asteroid. It is worth stressing that of the two planets only one will be a full location while the other will be covered in a Flashpoint; not that I’m complaining too much because the latter planet is Corellia and we can already visit not one but two areas there already.
The new planet of the expansion is the eventual birth-place of resistance fighter Saw Gerrera. Onderon may have reached a new audience through The Clone Wars but it also received its fair share of attention through KotOR II and it’s great to learn that yet another planet from the original games is being re-imagined in SWtOR.
Mek-Sha is a brand new location to any Star Wars lore; it’s a hollowed-out asteroid which has been turned into a refuelling station which is run – of course – by the Hutts. Presumably this is where we’ll get some in-game information pertaining to Sovereign Magnate Brogol of the Hutt Cartel, who so far has only been mentioned in the latest State of the Galaxy report.
I’m pleased to see that one of SWtOR’s original planets will be getting more story elements to it in this expansion. Corellia is where the final battle of the initial story will take place in the aforementioned Flashpoint. Unless there’s another faction waging war on the Alliance and its chosen faction, it’s possible that this Flashpoint will have different bosses depending on which faction the player is – much like Assault on Tython, Korriban Incursion, and Kuat Drive Yards.
Additionally, the screenshot above is not related to the Flashpoint on Corellia: after years of first introducing more dynamic planet-approach shots to the Stronghold planets, all of the remaining planets will be getting their own as well. The best bit is that we don’t need to wait until Onslaught for this as it will be coming with 5.10.3!
We’re getting Onderon, so it only makes sense that we’ll also be getting its most-prominent moon, Dxun.
The new Operation, set on Dxun and currently unnamed, brings back our lovely friends Czerka Corporation and their many inevitable experiments. While the many security systems and beasties within their lair are sure to be dangerous, they’re not the only threat since a party of Trandoshan hunters have joined the fray.
Onslaught will thus be the first expansion since Shadow of Revan in 2015 to include an Operation at-launch. It is only one, but one’s substantially better than none!
Onslaught is, at long last, ticking another species off the “most-popularly requested species” list by adding Nautolan into the game as a playable species.
Immediately I can see there being a slight (and non-clipping-related!) issue; in Chapter VII: The Lady of Sorrows, you and Koth / Senya get introduced to the Nautolan herald of the Lady and your companion will remark on how they’ve never seen a species like that before. BioWare has never had a great history of retroactively including how diverse player-species has become since content was launched, what with Cathar being told just what they are on Ord Mantell and a Chiss Jedi being subjected to an admiral telling them, figuratively, to paint himself blue and call him a Chiss.
So it looks like this will probably be another example of that. It’s possible that as that discourse occurs in the main story proper that BioWare may account for it, but it’s impossible to say until somebody takes a Nautolan through Fallen Empire just to see what happens.
The current plan is for Nautolans to be free for subscribers with the launch of Onslaught while preferred and free-to-play players will have to pay for them via the Cartel Market.
New Menu Music
Clash of Destinyhas served the live version of the game faithfully for almost seven-and-a-half years at this point, and the developers have decided that with 6.0 its long tenure as the menu music will come to an end.
While I am of course saddened to learn that we will be no longer be greeted with one of SWtOR’s most iconic pieces of music upon booting up the game from 6.0 onwards, I have to say that I’m impressed that it will have lasted until then. A lot of MMOs have switched to new music in a substantially lesser period of time, even including those which were started afterSWtOR came into being. To have lasted without replacement for almost eight years, not including any time during the closed testing periods, is no mean feat for anything.
It’ll definitely take some time to get used to its replacement, a brief (and synthesised) snippet of which can be found here, but I’m still looking forward to hearing what they can come up with in full.
Thanks, old friend. You’ve served us well and your retirement in five months’ time will be well deserved.
Onslaught is introducing another five levels, bringing us up to 75, and is once again bringing in a new ability for each Advanced Class. That’s as much as we know about that, so moving on!
I’ve saved this one for last for very good reason. It’s the one which is the most substantial and also the one which has the most vagueries.
Okay, so, first things first: Galactic Command is not going away any time soon. The website article states that it will maintain – or resume, I suppose, in the light of 5.10 – a sense of viability alongside PvE, PvP, and, interestingly, crafting. We’ll have to wait until further details come out this year for how every system will evolve and co-exist in the expansion, but if anyone had their hopes up that Command would die a death with the end of 5.0 they’re going to end up being disappointed.
In the cantina, Eric stated that the overall intents of Onslaught‘s gearing system were as follows:
- Quicker, both in terms of gaining loot and the process of gearing.
- More Legacy support.
- More customisation potential.
Without any further details about how exactly the gearing process will work it’s presently impossible to pre-gauge the “quicker” statement. That’s something that we’ll only be able to interpret as time goes on.
However, the other two elements are much easier to gauge at this point, particularly because they essentially go hand-in-hand in many ways.
They will be radically changing set-bonuses. All of the current ones will be disappearing entirely with new ones taking their place. These new ones are far more in-depth than they’ve ever really done before, with the following breakdowns:
- Set bonus for Advanced Class; this is as we see now.
- Set bonus for Class; this means that if you have both a Vanguard and a Mercenary they can both wear the same set of gear and get exactly the same benefits from it.
- Set bonus for everyone; exactly what this implies – no specific Class benefits or restrictions, just something that can be used by any character.
- There will also be set-bonuses which are completely unrelated to combat: one example given was to do with gathering for crew skills.
Because of this, they are officially endorsing the mixing and matching of set bonuses just to find the right set of bonuses for us as players.
This isn’t the only way we can change how our characters ‘are’, however. There’s a new type of item slot called a “Tactical Item”. These are designed to radically shift some aspect of a character’s playstyle, enabling someone to truly make the way they play their character unique to them.
Eric gave an example, which was totally fictitious, during the announcement. A Lightning Sorcerer has access to Chain Lightning, which affects up to eight targets, right? Well, a Tactical Item might theoretically make it possible for the Sorcerer to make the ability pure single-target or to make it hit even more targets than it could originally.
Remember, that was made up on the spot so don’t read too much into the exact specifics. It does indicate, however, that there will be a lot of ways to change abilities to be more useful in various situations and I am all over that as an idea. Executing it is going to be an entirely different ball-game and I’m curious to see how they accomplish it. Much like the menu music, it’s going to take a while to get used to!
This is just one example given of the “true depth” they’re now exploring. We’ll see what else they reveal as time goes on but I for one am really looking forward to what they’ve got planned!
ConclusionAs I said right at the start these are only base details. There’s really not a lot to go on right now and we’ll have to wait until later in the year when BioWare are ready to pump out some more information (and hopefully a trailer!).
I personally wasn’t expecting to get much more than what we did last night. Community Cantina events are great and all, but I would honestly have been surprised if they had launched a big full exciting reveal, trailer included, to just that one room especially as it wasn’t being officially streamed. The last two expansions were also big deals for BioWare and were announced on big stages that were streamed elsewhere; Onslaught was never afforded any such luxury so while I of course hoped that we’d get something substantial I wasn’t imagining a whole lot of stuff.
That said, I’m impressed that they were able to go into as much detail as they could; we didn’t just get new planet locations but we got the names and theory behind the villains of the new Operation, a snippet of the new menu music, and a somewhat-detailed but still ultimately general glimpse into the new gearing system.
We will of course be getting many more details down the line, such as subscriber benefits, but for now what there is is enough for me to be content.
Bring on the future. Bring on Onslaught!