Next week the first major content patch for The Old Republic goes live, sporting a slew of fixes, changes, and additions to BioWare's MMO. In preparation for the January 17 update we talked to Gabe Amatangelo, Lead Flashpoint, Operation, and PvP Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic about what this (and the next few) updates will bring.
In terms of content, the largest addition in Rise of the Rakghouls is the new level 50 Flashpoint and Operation. The Flashpoint is called "Kaon Under Siege," and it's focused on level 50 players exclusively (with a normal and hard mode available). Kaon is the first of a two-part story arc, with Republic and Imperial players racing to eliminate a rakghoul outbreak while attempting to forge an allegiance with the Tion Hegemony for their side.
Amatangelo told us that Kaon Under Siege would have an emphasis on story, fitting more in line with the instanced missions like Black Talon than Hammer Station, and that, moving forward, BioWare would be focusing more on the story-based Flashpoints based on the community's response.
The Operation, which is made for either eight or 16 players, is called Karagga’s Palace, and is a continuation of one of the Operations that shipped with the game. Players will be going head-to-head with the Hutt Cartel, eventually confronting Karagga the Hutt himself and answering, once and for all, what fighting a Hutt is like (the answer, in case your wondering, involves a massive robot). "One of my favorite bits is the reaction shot in the cinematic," Amatangelo said, "where Karagga is coming onto the scene. It does a reverse shot of the player and the jaw sort of drops as a shadow looms over you as you're looking up. It's pretty funny."
Amatangelo said that the team was pleasantly surprised by how popular the game's PvP was, with over half of the population actively participating in player-versus-player combat. This revelation has led to BioWare speeding up some of the plans it had for PvP. "It was so exciting for me, I just had a grin from ear-to-ear," he said. "It helped me convince my bosses to get more traction going in those directions."
The 1.1 update lays the groundwork for some of the future additions to the PvP, including a separate Warzone bracket for level 50 players and some changes to Ilum, the end-game PvP planet. There are also some other changes in the January 17 update to Hoth and Voss, with the shuttle room in Dorn Base Command Center on Hoth being changed to a non-contested territory and Ka on Voss being made into a PvP Sanctuary.
After going through all of the enhancements in Rise of the Rakghouls we talked a little about future updates, including the content patch following 1.1. Currently scheduled for a March release date, 1.2 (as we're guessing it will be called) will add new Flashpoints, Operations, WarZones, and new game systems. It also may see the beginnings of the Legacy system updates, something that may help the end-game dramatically. While Amatangelo couldn't actually confirm a date for Legacy upgrades he did say that BioWare would be adding them in the "near future." Other wants, like UI customization, are also in the pipeline, as are some changes for Warzones that make us excited (awarding medals for scoring points in Huttball? Yes please!).
But, as we said in our review, there's work to be done in The Old Republic besides throwing new content on top of the pile. There are balance issues, content problems, and bugs that need to be fixed. To see how large of a chunk patch 1.1 took out of the game's problems click over to the next page for the full patch notes, taken right from the Public Test Server. They might change by the time they go live, but it should at least give you a good idea of what updates are coming your way...