BioWare has been at the helm of Star Wars: The Old Republic for a fairly long time now. Come December, the game will have been around for four years. All the while, BioWare's been tweaking, expanding, and enhancing the player experience. As everyone knows, MMOs don't stay static following release; they're constantly changing.
Jeff Hickman, studio general manager at BioWare, knows this all too well. But, he thinks that maybe the developer's strayed a bit from what The Old Republic's players really want: narrative-driven experiences. This is Star Wars, after all. Most everyone has a special connection to the stories that grace that universe.
So, for Star Wars: The Old Republic's next expansion, BioWare's putting the emphasis on plot again. On October 27, 2015 Knights of the Fallen Empire will release, and it'll be free for subscribers. It'll launch with nine chapters, and the studio's dedicated to adding a new chapter every month once 2016 rolls around.
As Hickman put it, Knights of the Fallen Empire introduces a new enemy, "the emperor who's on his eternal throne." The expansion will begin with the player locked up and frozen in Carbonite, only seeking to escape. It seems like it won't be long before the weighty decision-driven narrative branches will begin. Hickman said that during the escape, there will be a Sun Generator that's on the brink of meltdown. The player will have to choose whether to prevent that or simply save themselves. Regardless of which choice is made, it's almost a certainty that it won't sit well with someone in the party.
Although Knights of the Fallen Empire will take place at a high level, newcomers won't be put out because of it. Along with the add-on, all subscribers will be given a level 60 character. Long-time players can decide if they want to tackle this content with an existing character, or if they want to start fresh with a new one.
However, not everything BioWare has in store for The Old Republic is forward-focused. The developer's going back and retooling the eight stories in the game to make them more streamlined and to put plot more prominently in the spotlight. Likewise, it's also upgrading 50 or so operations bosses and boosting flashpoints to level 65.
Throughout the entirety of listening to Hickman speak, he kept stressing the same points over and over: players want story, players want meaningful choices, and players want to be customizable heroes or villains in the Star Wars universe. BioWare knows its audience better than anyone, and if it's right, Knights of the Fallen Empire looks to be a nice return to form for The Old Republic. Hickman certainly thinks so, as he concluded the talk by simply saying "This is the expansion for our players. This is what they want."