It's a hard thing to admit when you're wrong. But I admit that I was wrong about Star Wars: The Old Republic Update 2.1: Customization. Even as late as last night on The Republic, I believed that things like the new Appearance Designer might not cost players Cartel Coins to use, but now that the update has arrived, I admit that is certainly not the case. Had I known that it would cost CCs to so much as use the Appearance Designer, I would be in the camp of players upset about this update containing only Cartel items. If you define an expansion or DLC as additional content that costs money, then that is exactly what this update is.
I'm not against BioWare making money, and to be completely honest, I'm not upset about the company making money on many of these items. Perhaps through my own misunderstanding, I feel a bit cheated with the update. Let me break down the Update 2.1 items for us. I'll point out the good and the bad, and maybe you will understand my perspective, even if you don't agree.
Cathar are good and pretty much what I expected. Players have argued that Cathar should have been free for subscribers, and although I understand that particular perspective, I am purrfectly fine with Cathar costing Cartel Coins, especially since the cost of the unlock is equal to the amount we should get as a month bonus for subscribers.
On top of that, the Cathar look grrrrreat! The Cathar we've seen in game up to this point have been little more than humans with funky face paint. However, the new ones have been redesigned, and although the update to the models are subtle, the furry texture really differentiates the Cathar from the other humanoid species.
Now we get to the fun part. The Appearance Designer kiosk is located on each fleet station and on the capital worlds. It's a huge machine that is marked on the map. You seriously cannot miss it (or the crowd of a few hundred people surrounding it).
Besides the Cathar, BioWare added new appearance possibilities that are unlockable from the Cartel Market or straight from the Appearance Designer kiosk. (Since these additional unlocks are available on the Cartel Market, that means that they can be sold on the Galactic Trade Network by players for in-game credits.) Chiss have new skin colors and hair colors. Humans gain new hairstyles, one new eye color, and new hair colors, including pink and blue. Now we can finally be the punk rockers that we've always wanted to be! Now we can sport Bob Marley dreads! Although I foresee new items popping up on the appearance designer from time to time, there really isn't much more we could hope for in regard to options.
When you go to check out, however, you might notice something unexpected. The ability to check out with just in-game credits is missing. Even the smallest change on the Appearance Design kiosk costs Cartel Coins: 20 for something small like a make-up change, 40 for a haircut, 60 for a suntan, and 80 for plastic surgery on your face. I expected a species change to cost money, sure. And 792 Cartel Coins is not a lot of money to ask for a major change like that, really. That equates to a little less than $8 US. But those minor changes are literally nickel-and-diming us. Twenty Cartel Coins is equal to about 20 cents. Does BioWare really need my 20 cents or even 80 cents for the minor changes I want to do to my character before I attend a roleplay event? Why can't I pay for that with in-game credits? I'd think my time spent in the game is worth more than the small bit of revenue I generate getting my whiskers trimmed.
The dye system is not Guild Wars 2's dye system, so just punt that idea out of your head. In fact, the systems are so different that they are barely comparable. The only thing similar between them is that they both dye clothing. Many MMOs have something like that, and I will not be comparing those to SWTOR's system either.
Dye modules are items found in various places throughout the game; they change specific areas of your character's clothing. Each dye is a primary color, a secondary color, or both. Each dye is also a one-time-use item. Once you remove or replace a dye, it is gone for ever. You will not be able to change all the colors on your armor, nor will you be able to specifically choose the color combination. That being said, there are many colors to choose from, and I am certain other colors and combinations of colors will be added later. So far, the colors and combinations of colors I've seen are fairly basic and expected. I'm happy with this. I don't think many people will be upset about the colors they will find.
Where specifically do you find these dye modules? We have found some on the security key and collector's edition vendors. These three dyes are tradeable, and I immediately saw these dyes pop up on the GTN. Other dyes can be made by Artificers. Some schematics are immediately available when you hit level 450; other schematics are available on reputation vendors, which cost in-game credits and are available to anyone who meets the reputation requirement. I love this system. Artificers now have a consumable and theoretically a constant source of income.
On the flip side, other dyes are available from the Cartel Market. I expected this, but I didn't expect this exact method. I really should have known better; I expected each individual dye to be sold by itself. But actually, the color itself is a random drop when you buy a dye set from the Market. You never know what you're going to get. I'm not really upset that I was wrong about that, just disappointed.
The last cash kitty from this update is the Collections UI. On the Cartel Market, on your legacy screen, and on your inventory screen sits a small button that takes you to your Collections UI. It's simple, really: If any of your characters has an item bound to him that is on the Collections UI, then for a Cartel Coin cost, you can unlock that item for your entire account. Some items, like the ball toss, stand alone in the Collections UI. These items can be unlocked, usually for a small number of coins ranging from 1 to 80. Other items, like the Genteel armor set, must all be collected before the unlock is available. These sets and some of the higher ticket items might cost in the range of 240 Cartel Coins. But once an item is unlocked, it remains unlocked forever for your whole account. Feel free to delete that ball toss or Republic banner that's taking up room in your inventory. You can pull it from the Collections UI whenever you like.
With the exception of the dye modules created by the Artificers, every single item added in Update 2.1 is a Cartel Market item. It's not that I don't mind BioWare making money, but it does make me wonder what exactly my subscription pays for each month. Six hundred Cartel Coins? I could get more out of spending my $15 on Cartel Coins directly. Am I crazy or do you see my frustration? Let me know in the comments.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!