This week's patch will bring the first major content update to Bioware's Space Fantasy MMO. Showing again that the Austin team is on the ball with providing content and fixes, Patch 1.1 promises new end-game content and a slew of tweaks and fixes to provide a more balanced experience. Let's chew up some PTR notes and take a look at what this update has to offer.
A Long-Term Look
Patch 1.1 is the first in a two-part update to the MMO, which promises to add to the endgame content over the next few months. While 1.1 is set to hit servers this week, 1.2, the second part of Rise of the Rakghouls, is expected to arrive in March, bringing a new planet - which contains a new Operation and Warzone - as well as many of the promised Legacy benefits.
1.1 begins the story of your hero being called to the small planet of Kaon to help contain the spread of the Rakghoul virus. A trailer's been released to show just how grim the situation is:
Some comments have drawn a parrallel to another EA property, Dead Space. An interesting observation, given that - minus the Space Scientology - the Rakghoul disease mirrors the Necromorph infestation somewhat lore-wise. The environment does present a change in atmosphere from the rest of the TOR universe, and it will be interesting to see where this instance takes us.
Patch 1.1 will also expand the Karagga's Palace Operation substantially - adding four new bosses to the encounter, from the current Op's sole boss. In other words, as of this coming week SWTOR will have two full-size raids with a third on the way in 2 months. The amount of end-game content will be much more substantial in the coming weeks than what level-50 players have had to contend with in the first month of the game's existence.
Patch 1.1 will also see massive changes to the state of PVP combat, including a sizeable overhaul to Ilum, the MMO's open-PVP planet. Here's the notes from the PTR forum thread:
- The daily and weekly mission objectives in Ilum now require defeating enemy players and/or collecting armaments from the center objective.
- Players now gain increased Valor from player kills in Ilum.
- Players now gain increased bonus Valor for kills based on the number of objectives controlled by their faction.
- Increased bonus Valor is now granted for player kills when defending an objective your faction owns.
- A notification is now displayed when a player gains Valor.
- Three new respawn points have been added for each faction.
- Companions are now restricted from the PvP objective area on Ilum.
- Notifications are now displayed when enemy players are close to an objective.
Another major change (Thank the Maker) is that a new bracket is being made for level 50 players - allowing those who haven't reached the cap to play competitively without being ROFL-stomped by characters with high-level PVP gear.
Sith Warriors and Jedi Knights will also be seeing a change to grant them much-needed mobility in PVP. Now, using the Force Push ability will clear the cooldown for their basic charge abilities (Force Charge and Force Leap, respectively).
The Smuggler is seeing some changes to bring their abilities in line with Imperial Agent abilities as well. Namely, the Flash Grenade ability is having its cooldown reduced to mirror the Agent's counterpart and the "Accomplished Sawbones" talent for Scoundrels is having its tooltip changed to reflect the Operative version of this talent.
And A Whoooooole Lot of Bug Fixes
Path 1.1 is also featuring a veritable smorgasbord of bug fixes. Some choice fixes include:
- A bug where Jedi Knights could not progress the Kira Carsen romance arc after [Flirt]ing with her in a particular conversation. (Though, honestly, what are you doing flirting with your Padawan? Bad Jedi!)
- A big, flashpoint breaking bug in The Foundry where the final boss would be unbeatable at 10% health.
- A bug that prevented Bonus Series missions from being abandoned in the quest log.
And finally, a lot of the issues regarding Ability Delay will be addressed in this patch. This comes from an interview of James Ohlen by GameSpy found here. Hopefully, this means that combat will feel a bit more responsive and timely when 1.1 hits. Granted, Ohlen doesn't claim to have everything worked out, so ability delay will likely continue to be a problem. Hopefully it will be a much more minor convenience from here on, however.
Rise of the Rakghouls is expected to hit sometime this week. As of this publication, the normal Tuesday maintenance (when patches are typically implemented), has been delayed due to issues that have sprung up on the Public Test Realm. We'll keep you posted on developments.