And so, in this morning's pre-dawn gloom, I was parked in front of my laptop, double-strength coffee in my hand, fairly shaking with anticipation (either that or the mild chill that passes for winter here in Queensland) as I tuned in to watch the announcement.
Although I was disappointed in the lack of specific details, there was still enough information during (and immediately after) the presentation to start thinking some wildly speculative thoughts.
While this isn't the revamped game some were thinking/hoping we were going to get, it is a re-launch of sorts.
It's an on-boarding point for new players and a fresh starting point for existing players (there's a word for this type of franchise reboot aimed at offering a convenient place for new fans to start from, but I forget what that word is right now).
Basically, what I see happening is that the game as we know at today; everything from the starter planets to Ziost, is kind of a SWTOR I. It's a game about the 'Great Galactic War' that your character (and very little else, by the sound of it) survived. It's the classic SWTOR. You level, you do Flashpoints, you enjoy a class-specific story, you get melted in the first two tiers of PvP.
But everything new, everything in 'Fallen Empire' (which I presume will be 4.0) and beyond is kind of SWTOR II (or SWTOR: the Next Generation if you will). You pick up your character (or start a new one) facing a new universe. Your faction is gone. Your companions are gone (from your side but presumably not from existence, although that could happen to some of them!). You embark on a new story, you assemble a new crew you learn new skills and [hopefully] triumph over a new enemy.
So, while the SWTOR that's been around since 2011 isn't going away, I like to think of this expansion as the dawn of a 'new' game. At least in a pseudo-spiritual way.
One can, quite literally, open the game for the first time and play only the latest iteration. The existing content has been decoupled to the point were, in my opinion, the only thing stopping this from being an actual SWTOR II is a separate launcher.
Can't we all just get along?
Since the Empire and Republic have fallen, faction lines have become irrelevant. The war we've been fighting between the 'blue' and 'red' (or 'yellow' and 'purple' if you're a PvPer) is no longer being waged.
I'm cognisant that this conflict was (is) the major attraction of the franchise, but as far as I'm concerned, it's not the only attraction.
In my opinion this change offers a huge change to the zeitgeist of the game. There's no reason any more that 'Empire' players need to group only with other 'Empire' characters. Our characters, Outlanders now (individually, if not collectively) will presumably be able to band together to take on the Emperor of the Eternal Throne (as the new big bad is known).
It may not be that big of a change to the game. But I find it exciting. After years of only being able to group with other classes of my faction (whichever side I was on at the time) it will be a novelty to be able to take my Sith Warrior into battle beside a Jedi Knight, or Trooper. Or to use my Gunslinger to offer coverfire for a Sith Sorcerer healing my group.
Author's Note: After I'd published this, it was announced that cross-faction play would not be coming with the KotFE expansion. I am Jack's utter disappointment.
Join me on the Dark Side
I know that being enthusiastic about Bioware/SWTOR expansions/enhancements/announcements is considered kind of uncool in this community; the herd mentality (even from daily players) is definitely geared toward tearing down, rather than edifying, the game and the company (and the forums, and the Twitter account, and anything else bearing the Bioware/SWTOR logo).
But goddammitall, I'm excited about this expac. It's giving a huge breath of fresh air to a game that I didn't even feel was that stale to begin with!
You can disagree with me if you wish; my response will simply be to tell you to go find a game you like and leave me to this one that I love.
If you want to check out Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can play for free by downloading the game from http://www.swtor.com and earn some free swag if you decided to subscribe!