Group Finder, Server Transfers and Upcoming Content Preview
When Bioware's subscription numbers for the long-awaited MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic dropped from 1.7 million to 1.3 million in May, they had to move quickly to reignite the passion players had at launch. On June 12, selective server transfers became available as a free opt-in service to merge the player base. If your server was chosen to transfer from, you had a one-way ticket to a more populated server. Transfers took mere seconds to occur once you opted in. In my case, my old server had roughly 50 players at the main hub area known as "the fleet" and my new one has over 300.
The higher population servers have already had a fantastic impact on the ease of finding a group, the wait times to fight other players is much quicker, and demand for rare crafted items has greatly increased-providing a more stable economy. This population is ideal for other group-dependant features in the next patch.
The next major feature patch has been in testing for a few weeks and should be nearing release. The Group Finder being introduced lets players fill out a full team of four with the proper roles they need to complete flashpoints. Flashpoints are similar to what other games call dungeons, plus cinematic storytelling. Prior to this feature, you would wait on the fleet and use chat channels asking people to join you for a flashpoint. This is an old approach that takes too much time and effort for many of the player base trying to squeeze in game time after a long day at work, which led to little enthusiasm for group content. Group Finder removes this hassle and even transports your group to the destination.
For players who love to battle each other in player-vs-player (PvP) combat, Ranked Warzones are included in 1.3 after being pulled at the last-minute before 1.2 released. Bioware has decided that this system can currently handle 8 vs 8 premade teams, but they are looking for a way to include solo players at a later date. Organized teams now have a much quicker way to earn ranked warzone commendations to buy PvP gear and the top teams can earn access to exclusive appearances for bragging rights.
If you enjoy leveling multiple characters, new Legacy perks let you buy experience boosts of up to 30% for your favorite activities. For existing characters, bonuses to crafting critical chances, instant travel to hotspots, and portable repair droids provide incentive to fork over some credits.
At E3, Bioware surprised fans with a video preview of the next part of their epic story. In a future content update, a new planet called Makeb provides new opportunities for players to adventure through on their way to an increased level cap. Makeb takes all the best cinematic action we've already seen in SWTOR and steps it up a notch. In the original E3 presentation, Cathar-a catlike species-was announced as playable, but they are absent from the official video and promotion information, leaving some confusion whether we'll get our hands on them during this update, later, or at all.
New endgame content includes an Operation called Terror From Beyond, which features the Gree race. PvPers will enjoy a new warzone called Ancient Hypergates. A new space combat mission will challenge that mini game's fans. For explorers with characters on both Empire and Republic, a new companion named HK-51 is unlockable for your Legacy through a secret, lengthy quest chain that involves both factions. This droid is based on the favorite HK-47 companion from Bioware's original Knights of the Old Republic.
The community has come together on new super-servers. Grouping features will get players involved in a larger variety of content. Hype is skyrocketing and, this is a great time to come back to SWTOR or try it out in a free trial up to level 15 in July!