This is a big year for Star Wars, and fans of what may be the most prolific space opera franchise of all time have a lot to look forward to. Among the tons of Star Wars reveals and releases coming in the next two months, one of the biggest is the release of the new expansion for The Old Republic, marking the tenth anniversary of the MMO.
BioWare is gearing up for the impending release of Legacy of the Sith. 7.0 marks the beginning of a new era in Star Wars: The Old Republic with all the additions and changes that are expected of major MMO expansions. One of the latest announcements revealed Legendary Items, which are coming to SWTOR for the first time and could turn the game's gearing system upside down.
As a broader, genre term, legendary items in RPGs generally denote the rarest and most powerful items you can equip on your characters. Usually named, super hard to get and endowed with fancy effects and buffs that activate upon being equipped, these are the peak of the end-game. Until now, SWTOR didn't use this term, though a few Set Bonuses and Tactical items definitely fit the description.
With 7.0, Set Bonuses as we understand and use them currently will be retired. Throughout the current expansion, players were hunting down powerful item sets which unlocked stronger and stronger tiers of bonuses as you equipped more and more pieces of the same set. This meant that to get the full potential out of the best set for your class, you needed at least 6 of the same set usually - a bit limiting, ultimately.
Legacy of the Sith is already adding a whole new dimension of customization with Combat Styles, which removes the specification limitation on classes, and Legendary Items are the next step in this philosophy. Essentially, Legendaries are new items you can equip in the two Implant slots of your character, now with their own super-powerful bonus effect that is comparable to 6 piece Set Bonuses currently.
The developers probably aren't copying the current Set Bonus effects wholesale and rereleasing them as one-piece Legendary Items, but you can expect effects and buffs that are at least as strong - though we think they'll be suitably more powerful for brand new items heralding a whole new expansion.
BioWare is also changing the approach to gearing in 7.0 with these Legendary Items. Based on the official blog post, players can expect to acquire their Legendary Items at an item level lower than maximum - currently the maximum item rating is 306, with 7.0's maximum expected to be 326 - but instead of occasionally replacing these with stronger ones, you'll be keeping early Legendaries and upgrading them to their strongest form instead.
We assume this process will involve upgrading item mods, not unlike the current system of gear upgrading, but it isn't clear yet. BioWare did state that acquiring the Legendary Items won't necessarily be a hard thing to do, since the plan is to help players experience a wide variety. However, these easy to get Legendaries will be of the weaker variety, and upgrading them to their peak potential is where the challenge comes in.
With a new system that essentially condenses current Set Bonuses into one or two pieces to be worn in the implant slots, Legendary Items will unlock a huge swath of customization options for your build. Since chasing that 6-piece bonus is the name of the game right now, all other concerns were secondary. With the limitations of the bonuses lifted, playing around with other stats and effects will be more viable - and we're eager to see what new spins BioWare puts on armor items with this new freedom.
As the launch of Legacy of the Sith draws closer - still no release date though - BioWare is revealing more and more details. Alongside Legendary Items, 7.0 also heralds a change in the way Daily and Weekly missions. A new restructure of the repeatable mission system will put these kinds of activities on a rotating basis, so any uncompleted Dailies/Weeklies will be removed from your mission log whenever the reset cycle comes around - that being every Tuesday, 12:00am UTC.
Some balance changes coming might make players who like to farm group content a bit unhappy - Flashpoints and Operations will be tweaked so that Vanish abilities won't take you out of combat anymore. They'll still drop threat, but you only cease combat when the opponents are killed, or you get far enough away from them. This will plug some of the shortcut exploits that farmers have been using.
Additionally, a new Shared Tagging system will make respawn timers on frequently farmed enemies - like targets in Heroic Missions or World Bosses - less frustrating. Currently, it's a first-come-first-served basis, meaning whoever hits an enemy first, and their group members if any, will be the only ones credited with rewards and progress for killing it, even if other players contribute.
This led to some cases of trolling and griefing in the game. Now, Shared Tagging means that all players of the same faction as whoever got the first hit in will be credited as long as they damaged the enemy in question, whereas World Bosses will benefit from Open Tagging which even removes the faction limitation - both Republic and Empire ops groups can be attacking the same World Boss at the same time, and both will get credit when it goes down.
BioWare is also tackling the rampant inflation in SWTOR - though its approach isn't the best. The game has been suffering from skyrocketing prices for years, but the past few months were the worst. With 7.0, Conquests won't reward Resource Matrixes anymore, which most players typically sold on the Galactic Trade Network. Conquests will also be paying out fewer Credits in general which... never was an issue. This approach simply keeps the poorer players poor, while the multi-billionaires playing the GTN will stay rich. Hopefully after 7.0 is out, the developers will take a second look at this approach.
Arguably the biggest and most important change, however, isn't any of these - yeah, something even bigger than Legendary Items is coming. Something the playerbase has been wanting for years: Weapons in the Outfit Designer! That's right, not only will Combat Styles allow you to finally wield a Blaster Rifle as a Bounty Hunter, but you even get to tweak the appearance just like your armor! The true "space barbie" endgame is finally here.
That's a pretty worthy and substantial gift with which to herald the 10th anniversary of SWTOR. Major anniversary celebrations are planned for the game, with Legacy of the Sith also bringing the second Galactic Season to the game and kicking off a period of bonuses, freebies and a string of UI, visual and other game updates spread out across the next few months.
The 10th anniversary of the MMO coincides with the 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm, which is being commemorated by the Bring Home The Bounty promotion - which is going to include some SWTOR stuff too, if the little icons are anything to go on. Additionally, SWTOR's own Darth Malgus graces the cover of issue #207 of the official Star Wars Insider magazine, which is the second time the iconic Sith appeared on the front of the publication.