Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free-to -Play Next Week
Finally, some good news involving the words “Star Wars.” While we’ve heard loads about Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, a fact that I’m choosing to not acknowledge for as long as humanly possible, fans of the franchise can at least take solace that one of the better titles to bear the name is about to get a lot more appealing to many as Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, the spiritual successor to their 2002 masterpiece Knights of the Old Republic, will become Free-to-Play next week on November 15th.
Bioware’s ambitious MMORPG launched almost a year ago, and despite months of hype about its emphasis on engrossing storytelling that utilized fully-voiced playable characters and NPCs, a lack of endgame content and a UI design similar to World of Warcraft left certain fans underwhelmed. But most harmful was the game’s competition from a score of free-to-play titles that boasted similar gameplay experiences, albeit with less compelling plots than those found in SWTOR, which left many gamers wondering why they should cough up the $15 subscription fee.
As a result, Bioware announced earlier this summer that SWTOR would be joining the ranks of free-to-play titles by the end of the year, while still offering a subscription model for additional features. For example, players will now be able to progress to level 50 and complete the storyline for each character class for free, but will find themselves limited to only a few space missions, PvP warzones and operations without the purchase of certain passes, while players who opt to continue paying the monthly subscription will be granted full access to all of the games features. Those who had already purchased the game prior to the Free-to-Play launch will be set as Preferred Members, and will be granted certain privileges even without using the subscription model, such as character creation and Legacy Rewards already earned before Free-to-Play.
Additionally, players will use a new currency called Cartel Coins to purchase certain specialty items, such as pets, custom clothing, buff items, crafting material and other rare objects. This switch to micro-transactions for specialized loot is quickly becoming standard fare in online gaming, but certain fans of the genre have been gritting their teeth at the possibility of always having to pay to get the best gear. While Bioware has assured players that the Cartel Coins will be a convenience, but won’t contain items so powerful as to make micro-transactions necessary to get the edge on gameplay.
That aside, I played SWTOR for months after the release, and was a big fan of it’s immersive story, gripping space combat and emphasis on moral choices in gameplay. I was somewhat disheartened to see it go Free-to-Play, but now that it’s finally arriving I’ll likely be picking up my lightsaber once again and stepping back into Bioware’s wonderful version of the Star Wars universe.
A full list of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s subscription features vs. free-to-play features can be found on the game’s website.