Monday, June 15, 2015

Knights of the Fallen Empire

Bioware revealed the trailer and some details on the latest expansion for The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire.

The trailer is really good, and certainly presents an interesting story.

Some takeaways from the day's revelations:

  • Bioware is doing a modified A Realm Reborn / Mass Effect 2. Essentially, they're making a sequel on top of the existing game. New players will have an option to create a level 60 and jump into the sequel right away. In the sequel, there will be a timeskip, which will reset a lot of the character state. For example, you will probably lose your existing companions, and have to recruit new ones, as in ME2.

  • New emphasis on subscriptions. Note that Bioware is not offering any one-time price for the content. You have to subscribe. On the other hand, once you subscribe once, that content is unlocked permanently, even if you unsubscribe later. So I guess new content now effectively costs $15. In some ways you can consider the original game to be F2P, but the "sequel" is a subscription game.

  • Single story. Much like FFXIV, or any of Bioware's single player games, it looks like there will be one single main story that all classes play through. This probably extends to common companions as well. This does cut the companion cast down from 40 to a more manageable number, possibly allowing the player to reject some companions.

  • Faction Merge. It looks like both the Sith Empire and Republic factions will be merged post-60. The new faction in the game will be purely an NPC/enemy faction. This should improve things like PvP and PvE queues. But at the same time, it will be really weird not to be Empire vs Republic.

  • Small level cap increase. The new level cap increases to 65. Five levels seems like a pretty small increase for the amount of content they are proposing. Possibilities:
    • Each chapter is very short.
    • Leveling will take a long time with 1-2 chapters per level.
    • Most of the story content will come at max level.

  • Big Question: How do we get from the current story to the expansion? This is the question all TOR players are asking themselves. In the current storyline, the current bad guy, the former Sith Emperor Vitiate, is in a position of strength. Will he be defeated by the new bad guys? Is he somehow involved with the new bad guys? It does seem weird that there would be two Immortal Emperors running around.
It's a really interesting expansion and experiment. In some ways, it's surprising that Bioware just didn't go ahead and make an entirely new game. I guess they didn't want to shutter the existing game entirely, and want to leverage the existing content. Additionally, it is easier to claim the game is F2P, while still trying to make it subscription-based.


  1. I suspect the new Immortal Emperor IS Vitiate, just renamed as he inhabits a new body. The implication of the tagline surrounding the "new" Emperor, that he created this Empire to be his best, implies that he's done it before, which feeds into the concept that his previous empire was the Sithy one.

    1. That's a definite possibility. On the other hand, the Emperor Valkarion in the trailer did age, and he has sons, which appear to be groomed for leadership. That seems out of character for Vitiate, at least as he's been presented so far.

  2. I think this was a reasonably clever sidestep of the perpetual problem of "we want to make a sequel, but then it splits the customerbase and their income".

    I suspect with regard to the faction merge, it'll be an uneasy alliance with plenty of undermining and intrigue.

    1. That's true about the sidestep. On the other hand, a new game might have given them the opportunity to make a new engine, this time with experience of the current engine's flaws.