After a lengthy stay on the Public Test Server which revealed a ton of info about its content, Game Update 6.3 goes live in Star Wars: The Old Republic tomorrow. Headlined by Galactic Seasons and a brand new Flashpoint, 6.3 offers much more as has been revealed by the patch notes, posted by BioWare today.
Let's look at what exactly we're getting.
As far as actual new content goes, Game Update 6.3 brings players a new Flashpoint that continues the story thread of Darth Malgus, picking up from where we last saw him at the end of Onslaught; and Galactic Seasons as a new avenue to engage and rewards players day to day.
The new Flashpoint, titled Secrets of the Enclave, takes us back to the backwater agricultural world Dantooine, which somehow keeps finding itself at the center of galaxy-defining events despite being rather insignificant.
Secrets of the Enclave is bound to be dripping with all sorts of easter eggs and homages to both Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel as well as the tie-in novels released for the MMO itself. Darth Malgus, rebuilt after his apparent death with a wealth of cybernetics by the current head of the Sith Empire (Acina or Vowrawn, depending on your playthrough), went rogue following the events of Onslaught. After successfully removing an explosive implant from his head which acted as 'leverage', he took flight to Dantooine.
The motivations of the ex-false emperor and returning villain weren't revealed, but whatever they are somehow relate to the abandoned Jedi Enclave on the planet, stating that it is one of the only locations in the galaxy where... whatever he wants can be done. This is likely a callback to the original Knights of the Old Republic, in which a mortally wounded Darth Revan was taken to the Dantooine Enclave by the Jedi and had his mind wiped and 'reprogrammed' by the force. We also revisit the bombed out ruin of the Enclave in Knights of the Old Republic 2.
So how do the books tie-in to all this? Aryn Leneer, a former Jedi and central character to some of the stories told in the novels, was the person informing the Republic that Malgus had gone to Dantooine. She's an old rival of his, and in a short story blog published recently, encountering the Sith Lord again was a pretty traumatic experience. Somehow, the Empire found out about the location of their rogue asset, and now both factions want to finally get rid of him.
The flashpoint, extensively documented thanks to the PTS, changes slightly based on your character's faction, but the final boss remains the same - Malgus himself. We faced off against the game's de facto mascot once before in the False Emperor flashpoint waaaaaaay back before the very first expansion, but characters in The Old Republic struggle to stay dead.
SWTOR has an unfortunate history with content drought, but in the wake of Onslaught's unexpected success and the huge player number boom since the Steam release led the team to redouble their efforts against this. While many smaller updates in between expansions left players scratching their head as to 'what now?' once they ran whatever the then-new Flashpoint was, 6.3 is introducing a new mechanic that will keep you busy at length - Galactic Seasons.
We've covered Galactic Seasons quite extensively during the PTS period, and the system has gone through several iterations based on player feedback to strike a balance between being both accessible to the wider player base while also staying engaging and rewarding for the most dedicated fans as well.
Essentially, we're looking at a free version of what many live service games call a Battle Pass. Running for 5 months, a Galactic Season has 100 tiers of rewards for players to climb through by completing specific daily and weekly challenges. Many of the rewards are exclusive, meaning they cannot be acquired any other way, and will be permanently out of your reach after the season ends, to be replaced with a new theme in the subsequent season. There are also some non-exclusive rewards scattered throughout the progression, such as Cartel Coin grants or Credits.
Players will be able to earn a new form of currency, Galactic Season Tokens, which can then be traded in at the Seasonal Vendor for items, old timed-rewards like companions which required you to be a subscriber at a specific date, as well as the new Fleet Apartment strongholds. One of the outstanding changes based on player feedback was the quantity of Tokens that could be earned as well as the prices of items at the vendor - meaning we'll get more Tokens and items will be cheaper, most notably making it possible to buy both Imperial and Republic versions of the apartment with the Tokens earned from a single season.
The overall theme of this first Season is "The Stranger from Kubindi", referring to the new Kubaz companion we'll all unlock at the very first tier. The majority of exclusive rewards across the progression are in some way related to him or his species, including stronghold decorations and companion gifts that will let you pump up his influence to level 50 by the end of the season.
The new update also marks the start of Ranked PvP Season 14 - unrelated to Galactic Seasons - meaning that anyone who has reached a rank of Bronze or above in the previous season will be getting their rewards in-game, and the Ranked PvP Vendor on the fleet will have an updated stock. It's also time to get used to the balance tweaks to some of the classes before jumping into the new battles, though luckily nothing altering the meta has been implemented.
Incidentally, May 4 is coming up, which has become a special day for Star Wars fans. May the Fourth (be with you) often means reveals and announcements related to the franchise, and in SWTOR it usually means a 2x XP event and a free pet. Once again the free pet will be an astromech droid, as is tradtional, and the double XP event will last from May 4 to 18, spanning the usual two weeks. Last year the double XP event was extended significantly due COVID-19, but we don't suspect this will happen again.
Bugfixes & Tweaks
6.3 is bringing some much needed bugfixes and some controversial changes to SWTOR. Though the patch notes were only recently revealed, the decision to re-organize unranked PvP brackets has been met with harsh criticism. Instead of three brackets separating players by level ranges, now only two brackets will exist for Warzones: one for players between levels 1-74, and one for max level players at 75. This is essentially wiping away the "lowbies" bracket, and is widely considered a blow to PvP accessibility. The intended goal here was to lower queue times, but those haven't really been an issue since the Steam launch.
In more positive changes, the loot of Star Fortress bosses and world bosses have been tweaked to be more rewarding, the Kaon Under Siege and Lost Island Flashpoints have been added back to the Group Finder rotation, the Queshball and Vandin Huttball maps have been added back to the Warzone rotation and Free to Play players now have access to character titles and colour unification.
Even more importantly - the long, long saga of the Spirit of Vengeance rebalancing may finally have come to an end. The notoriously broken and difficult 6.2 Flashpoint, introducing a new plotline which will likely be explored in the next expansion about trouble within the Mandalorian Clans, has seen another round of fixes and tweaks. Maybe this time the developers have finally managed to get Story Mode to be sufficiently easy as the name implies.
We've covered Spirit of Vengeance in our in-depth guide, but hopefully with these tweaks it should be easy enough to do for casual players on Story Mode. A combination of bugs and wonky balance had presented many players with a barrier in progress until now.
As usual, the game servers will go down for the deployment of Game Update 6.3 temporarily, but expect a somewhat longer downtime than during regular maintenance. Stay tuned for our upcoming Secrets of the Enclave guide and Galactic Seasons guide!