It's that time again to make my educated guesses on what BioWare will attempt to accomplish in the coming year with Star Wars: The Old Republic. In the last Hyperspace Beacon, I gave my grade card for how I think 2014 went, but now I extinguish the Force ghost of Christmas past and get a visit from the blue-glowy of Christmas yet to come.
I don't always get everything right, but I like to make a guess anyway. When you've finished reading my predictions, let's continue the discussion in the comments. I want to hear your thoughts as well.
The producers of SWTOR have learned their lesson from this past year; no longer will one raid suffice nor sustain an audience. I don't want to give the impression that raiding is the only thing that people have to do in this game, because it's not. However, raids are a major component of a healthy SWTOR endgame. Last year, the developers attempted to stretch two raids over 12 months. These were also two raids that were clearly intended to be one raid and were just split into two parts.
In 2015, I predict we will see a total of four raids. The two we currently have with Yavin IV and Rishi will receive Nightmare modes in February or March, then sometime this summer we will see two brand-new raids with the nightmare versions of the new raids hitting in fall.
Although the Star Wars: The Old Republic team might be a bit slow at doling out raid content, it has always been good at making interesting raid mechanics. And I do believe that we will see some fun raids this year.
The developers have mentioned multiple times that PvP maps are a lot harder to make than people believe. I agree, and I don't think think that creating PvP maps is as simple as taking a pre-existing locale and slapping down some crates and hiding spots. Although I'm not completely sure that SWTOR devs are focused on PvP, I do believe that the team knows that it can't just release one new map and call it a day... or a year... or two years.
This year, I predict that we are going to see a brand-new 16-man map, and I believe that we are going to see a new arena, too. However, it's possible that we could see a second new 16-man map instead of an arena. I believe that would be a welcome surprise for everyone.
I think BioWare has a winner with the solo flashpoints; I believe BioWare knows it, too. Flashpoints, especially solo flashpoints, give the devs an opportunity to tell a story and create fun, progressive group content at the same time.
The tactical flashpoint, introduced this year, worked well, but people who were late to the game were rushed through the tactical and its story cutscenes by the other players who were screaming, "spacebar!" However, when solo flashpoints were introduced with this latest expansion, players could finally complete the stories at their own pace and enjoy for the stories themselves rather than focus on an artificial gear grind.
A question that was floating around that I'd like to address is whether or not we will see solo versions of the old flashpoints. Unfortunately, I don't believe we will. As much as I think they add to the leveling story, the time involved to balance one of the older flashpoints will outweigh the ease of telling everyone to just out level the content if you want to do it for the story. However, I would love to see BioWare revamp them because I think it would encourage people to play through them as they level and experience a great story about Darth Malgus and Moff Kilran.
I hate to say it, but some of y'all's classes are far more powerful than the complexity of the rotation should dictate. Although there are definitely specific classes that top the DPS or healing charts in both PvP and PvE, I don't believe that there is one class that far outweighs all other classes.
That said, I do believe that the rotations of some of the classes are far too easy for the amount of DPS they put out. My favorite example is the Vengeance Juggernaut versus the Annihilation Marauder. Both are DoT classes, so it makes the comparison even more apt. Besides having the coolest looking ability in the game, the Vengeance Jugg has a very simple rotation. Jokingly, I would equate Juggernaut DPS to setting your face on the keyboard and rolling it back and forth. Whereas, the Marauder becomes resource starved if you don't keep close track of when your DoTs are falling. However, the Juggernaut outperforms Annihilation Marauders on most charts.
This prediction might be a little bit of wish fulfillment, but I think people would generally agree that the classes with the more difficult rotations should have the most potential DPS. I believe even the theorycrafters running simulations would agree that that's not the case right now. And I highly doubt that we will see a power boost in other classes, so that can only mean nerfs will come soon.
With this last expansion, we saw not only the end of the Revan storyline, but the beginning of a new one. In fact, many people felt dissatisfied with many of the class stories as well as the main story because there didn't seem to be a true arc. They felt it was more of a setup for things to come. I agree, although I also found it satisfying. I like to know that the game clearly has something to offer for the future.
This new storyline, that I'm not quite ready to spoil yet, does lead to many possibilities. Former friends can become enemies, former enemies can become friends, etc. Based on what I've heard from BioWare's writers and producers, we will likely see more story in 2015 than we have seen in the years since launch, possibly in the form of events, but more likely in the form of flashpoints and extended planetary quests. Do look for a new Shroud story coming soon. I've not heard that specifically, but I have a suspicion.
I'm skeptically optimistic about 2015 and Star Wars: The Old Republic. We've seen BioWare royally mess up some of these items that I've predicted in the past, but we've also seen it blow some of these items out of the water. I figure that if I keep my expectations low, then when BioWare only does a mediocre job, I will enjoy it. I hope you have a great 2015, and may the Force be with you.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your biweekly guide to the vast galaxy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. 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!