Hyperspace Beacon: Six reasons to return for SWTOR update 1.4

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
I've been playing MMOs for many years, and in that time, I've realized that the big thing they all have in common is that they get better with age. Unlike most single-player games, MMOs are in a constant state of flux. Besides the social interaction, the fact that I can leave a game for a couple of months then come back to find things have changed makes this gaming genre more interesting to me than your average RPG or FPS. Oftentimes, it's fun to come back to a game that I liked but maybe wasn't sticky enough to play all the time just to see what has changed, and maybe I'd like it more the next time around.

That's kind of what happened to me with Star Wars Galaxies. When the game launched, I thought it was great to explore the Star Wars universe I'd grown up with as a kid, but I couldn't latch on to the game because of the bugs and other minor issues. It wasn't until about six months after launch that I was actually able to grasp the game and play it long enough to find out why people were so smitten.

Perhaps Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the same kind of game. When it launched nine months ago, there were bugs, though not as big as SWG's bugs, mind you. The content needed a little tweaking. And certain systems like the Galactic Trade Network did not function well. But now with update 1.4 coming tomorrow and free-to-play on the horizon, it might be a good time to invite your friends to come back or even come back yourself. Let's examine some of the reasons to do so.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
As I've mentioned before, my guild participates in "recreational" PvP; we like PvP in general, but it's not like it's our job to be the best at it. However, we do have one guy who is the PvPer. That is all he does, and by my standards, he is really good at it. And despite our disagreements regarding expertise in PvP gear, one point we always agree on is that resolve and stun are broken.

In a recent article, Senior Designer Austin Peckenpaugh talked about the resolve changes. He mentioned that distance on most stun abilities will be changing especially in regard to how the resolve bar fills up and depletes. As it currently stands on the public test server, resolve fills up normally for one hit; however, consecutive hits when a player is stunned fill up less of the bar. This should lessen the frustration from pick-up groups. Also -- and most important for me -- when your resolve bar does fill up, it does not start to deplete until the last stun effect ends.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
I love the objective-based warzones; just take a look at my three columns on Huttball. However, sometimes it's fun to just fight to the death especially on my Marauder. The new warzone, Ancient Hypergates, is supposed to give us just that. The basic idea is to defeat as many players as possible, but there is an additional objective of node control. I admit that it's a bit difficult to wrap my head around why defeating opponents powers the hypergates, but I guess I'll let that one go for the sake of fun.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
I know the idea of the game going free-to-play carries with it some mixed emotions. Although I like the idea of SWTOR switching to F2P, I understand that it could also go horribly wrong, so I will not include that on this list.

However, individual parts of game going F2P are definitely a positive reason to come back to the game. In the recent livestream Q&A, both Community Manager Joveth Gonzalez and Senior Producer Blaine Christine said that players who are currently subscribed when the game goes free-to-play sometime in November will receive a chunk of cartel coins based on which version of SWTOR they own and the number of months they have been subscribed to the game. On top of that, Christine mentioned that you will receive an allowance of Cartel Coins for just being a subscriber. Of course, that's standard for converted free-to-play games, but it's still great that BioWare plans to adhere to that standard. You can find the exact details for that on the free-to-play rewards page.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
Maybe BioWare designers read my article about how nightmare modes for the current operations simply add to the gear grind and aren't exactly a new level of fun for coordinated raid teams. Senior Designer George Smith, who is in charge of operations development, mentioned in the livestream that the new nightmare mode for Explosive Conflict will not simply be a 5% increase in damage and enemy HP and that there will be tactical changes as well.

Raiding hasn't exactly been my forte in MMOs until recently, but I certainly welcome a new challenge. I wasn't exactly impressed with Eternity Vault and Karagga's Palace nightmare mode. However, given Smith's statements, I believe progression raiders will definitely have a reason to dip their toes back into the game when update 1.4 hits the live servers very soon.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
Roleplayers seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to game updates. Perhaps I'll delve into my reasoning there in another article. This update, however, we do have a good reason to come back to the game, especially those RPers who enjoy making machinima. We now have moods that change the appearance of our characters' faces. Sure, it's not the number one item on the roleplayer's list of changes that need to be added to the game, but I believe it's a great addition.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons to return for SWOTR Update 14
For powergamers, having a companion that looks good might seem silly, but players who hope to spend a lot of time in this game like our companions to look as good as we do. With the addition of color matching and removable helmets on companions, finally those companion appearance customizations are worth it.

Of course, you can come up with your own reasons to convince your friends to come back, but these are the most appealing to my circle of friends. What do you think is the most interesting addition with free-to-play and update 1.4?

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.