This week, I had the chance to sit in with a group of my media peers and the team at BioWare to get a glimpse of some of the plans for the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, “Shadow of Revan.” Besides an announcement trailer, news for the expansion has actually been pretty sparse, with good reason! BioWare had a lockdown on all communication regarding the expansion. While that may have made it seem like they weren’t communicating with players very much, it actually has a lot more to do with story than any other factor. Since the silence has now been broken, expect higher levels of dev dialogue with players as the expansion nears launch.
Our tour was headed up by a few members of the BioWare team including Lead Writer Charles Boyd, Producer Bruce Maclean and Game Director James Ohlen. Each took us through various aspects of the Revan based expansion. Charles played through a bit of the main story line quests while giving us some of the back story leading up to this final chapter of Revan’s amazing story arc.
Fans of the franchise (even those that may not have played The Old Republic at all) are likely familiar with Revan not only from the novels, but from the role this character played in KOTOR and KOTOR 2. This makes Revan a risky character to have as the central driving force behind the expansion and BioWare is well aware of the risks. “Whenever you’re dealing with a character that’s so attached to a lot of players, you have to be concerned about backlash,” says Ohlen, “but we really wanted to tell the last chapter of the Revan story.” While risky, the decision was made to move forward with this “final chapter” based largely on what players themselves wanted. Ohlen summed it us by saying, “We’ve listened to players. What they’ve told us is that they want is more of the immersive storytelling, and, of course, they want Knights of the Old Republic 3.” This expansion aims to hit both marks while opening up the team’s ability to tell other stories in the future (a constant message delivered multiple times by Ohlen throughout the preview.)
On the storytelling front, we all knew that new class missions would finally be added. What came as a pleasant surprise though is that BioWare has brought back Alexander Freed to pen the class missions. Having played through previous story lines written by Freed, players will likely welcome this addition. Lead Writer Charles Boyd said that the new class missions were “really about defining who you are now in the galaxy after all this time since the completion of your class story.”
For those that need to catch up on story before the expansion, the Forged Alliance flashpoints will have solo versions released as well. This allows players (of all specs) to play through these story important flashpoints with the help of a droid companion. Don’t worry healers, BioWare confirmed that ALL apecs should be able to complete these retooled flashpoints without too many issues.
While new species are always an item SWTOR players look forward to, nothing has been said to confirm if the expansion would include any besides a veiled reference to one at a recent Community Cantina Tour in New York City. Maclean did confirm that the Togruta would be added as a playable species soon, as a Cartel Market purchase, but that it wouldn’t be ready for the expansion’s launch since “in terms of priority, our priority is Shadow of Revan.”
Cameos and Future Releases
I consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan overall, not just in the MMO space. I can answer a fair amount of Star Wars obscure trivia. That said, even I pale in comparison to the lore hound that is my friend Larry Everett (of Hyperspace Beacon and Massively fame). Seriously, my man has the tiniest nuggets of obscure data hidden in his epic beard and is certainly worth following if you’re a Star Wars fan.
Being on the tour with me, I knew I could count on Larry to ask the BioWare team about some potential cameos that we may see in Shadows of Revan, and he didn’t disappoint. When asked if we would potentially see characters like Exar Kun and Naga Sadow, Boyd replied with a vague, “I won’t get into the other canon characters, but I am a fan of them as well. Just play through it, and you’ll see.”
Will the Shadow of Revan expansion satisfy the Revanites out there? We’ll have to see as more and more is revealed but the team at BioWare shows no signs of slowing down. While they wouldn’t confirm if their release schedule would speed up, Ohlen did confirm that “Our plans for the future are more exciting and epic than you’ve seen before.” They also didn’t rule out a 4.0 somewhere down the road as thier licensing agreement allows them to tell all of the stories they want to, as long as the players keep coming back for more.
Our thanks to the entire BioWare team for their time and the sneak peek into the Shadow of Revan expansion, set to release on December 9th, with early access on December 2nd.