The devs at Star Wars: The Old Republic recently put up their roadmap for the next few months, and…well. This can’t be good.
The biggest news coming out of it involve server merges. It’s not a new thing-it’s happened at least twice before with this game (I freely admit there may have been another I missed at some point). We’re now going from seventeen servers down to five: two American, one European (English), one European (German), and one European (French). They can put up a nice face on this all they want, but the simple reality of it is this: you don’t see server merges of this nature unless the subscriber base has dwindled severely. And that bodes ill for SWTOR entirely. You can dress up the reasons for merges up in pretty language (More competitive PvP! More people to group with for raids!), but in the end, the simple fact is that the developers feel that the seventeen servers don’t have the population to support their current “group focus”. How much of this is a result of having focused too much on the last two expansions is an open question (I’m not convinced that a “raid or die” philosophy would’ve done much better).
With the merges comes the usual potential drama with names. Legacy Names will not be impacted, and guild names will potentially have a former server slapped on it (so you could well end up as the “501st Fist – Jedi Covenant” because another guild on another server had the same name. If one of those guilds should go belly up at some point, the suffix will be removed. Of course, god forbid that the devs offer free rename tokens to the guild leaders to rename the guild to something that doesn’t have a server suffix on it. Character names are, of course, an entirely different issue, with priority going to subscribers, then “highly played” characters. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people who are going to discover that their characters aren’t going to be what they last saw them as. Characters who have been inactive for an extended period and not beyond 10th level will also be flagged for renaming prior to the big move. So, good times.
(I’ll be putting any Cast List entries in my queue for SWTOR on hold until the merges hit; no sense in posting names that may be obsolete when the merges hit in early November.)
It’s not all doom and gloom here. A new Flashpoint is set to land which continues the storyline with the Alliance Traitor, and offers the return of another lost companion, scheduled for late November. Another step in raid progression is in the works, but they won’t be hitting until early 2018. There is a lot of class “balancing” going on; whether or not that’s a good thing depends a lot on what classes you play, and I’ll leave it to other more analytical sites to go into that sort of detail (I always recommend Dulfy for this sort of thing). There’s an anniversary celebration slated for December (let’s hope it’s not the last one). There are updates being planned even for the Galactic Starfighter stuff, centering on Iokath (which I imagine would be a pretty fun map to fly on). A minor but welcome thing is a new vendor at Fleet that will allow you to purchase customizations for opposite-faction companions (so Republic characters can change Vette’s coloration, and Imperials can slap on new T7 designs). And there are some rewards for encouraging grouped behavior on deck, which can earn you the Darth Hexid companion. If that names sounds familiar, it should: Hexid was one of the two possible companions that were offered during the Light vs. Dark event, which Hexid lost (I guess folks liked the light-sided Chiss Jedi better). I always suspected that Hexid would make an appearance sooner or later, but I figured it would be a gamble pack thing. Instead, you need to play content under the Group Finder (PvE or PvP); I believe the target number is three of either of these (I don’t think it triggers from any combination; it’s gotta be three of one or the other). Finally, there will be double rewards (xp, command xp, etc) for about two weeks after the merges go in.
November is shaping up to be a big month for SWTOR. Whether or not this is a good thing is the big question.