As the odd days in between Life Day and New Year's eve were passing by, I found myself thinking about what has happened the past year in my favourite MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion is the first thing that came to my mind, but when you think about it, is was released only recently in November. Surely more has been going on this year... But wait, I have a blog!
Browsing through the almost 100 articles I've written this year, I've collected the highlights of SWTOR 2015 for you in a month-by-month review. Enjoy!
January: The slot machine debacle
The year started with some controversy. About what, you ask: PvP? Raid difficulty? Class balance? No, the tumult was about a decoration. It was actually the players that asked for a nerf of the slot machine because the economy was getting disturbed on servers where players abused it with macros. In good SWTOR tradition, the developers gave it a good whack with their nerf bat, the result being that nobody uses the thing anymore at all.
February: Overtuned hardmode raids
Meanwhile in operation land, people where still battling the Ravagers and Temple of Sacrifice on hard mode. It became obvious that hard mode effectively had the same difficulty as nightmare mode in previous operations, causing many raiding guilds to get stuck somewhere halfway. I started fantasizing about wookiee rugs, crashed walkers and lurkerling guard dog decorations and found consolation in the appearance that everyone in general chat wanted to pug with me.
March: Torhead closed
In March we had to say goodbye to the popular fansite Torhead. Especially its feature to show the stats of items when mousing over was used on a lot of fansites, including numerous guild websites and this blog. A kickstarter project to construct an alternative was started, and the tooltips are available once more from TORCommunity (thanks to Pallais and Shintar for pointing this out).
April: Outfit designer
Then it was finally time: the highly anticipated ♥ outfit designer ♥ was added to the game, allowing for players to look good while wearing legacy gear. Or it least, that is what I use it most for, ruining my wallet in the process.
In May we got a bit of new story content with the release of the planet Ziost. It got mixed reviews, which partly may have had to do with a riot just before release: players had managed to get into the instanced world boss room before it was intended. I took the unpopular stance that the developers did what they could considering the situation.
June: SWTOR community
While not much new happened in-game, the community was active as never before. A great number of SWTOR blogs had participated in the Newbie Blogger Initiative, the new blog Gamers Decrypted really took off and delivered this blog's first guest post. And a personal highlight: Ravalation finished its first giveaway.
July, August, September: The waiting begins
In the summer, the developers seemed to be mostly occupied with building up a hype for their newest expansion. An accidental leak only increased the hype and was followed by a well-constructed trailer. Big promises were made about the upcoming Knights of the Fallen Empire, causing some concern whether it wasn't all a bit too much. Later story leaks were mostly ignored by the community in fear of spoiling it for themselves.
October: Preparing for KOTFE
This month was filled with preparation for the Knights of the Fallen Empire. Which was more confusing than it sounds, because nobody knew exactly what the implications of the announced changes were going to be. I made sure to finish all class stories and companion affection on the characters I planned taking through the expansion.
November: Knights of the Fallen Empire
The release of SWTOR's newest story-driven expansion was met with unanimous enthusiasm. The new planets looked gorgeous, the characters were interesting and the story was convincing, had depth and was nevertheless playful and humorous at times. Everyone had 'the feels' when that thing happened to their new favourite companion. In the Twitterverse, #SWTORfamily members changed their profile photos to honour a certain droid.
December: Where are we heading?
Now the dust has settled down, some anticipated worries about SWTOR's new direction are surfacing, most notably the complete silence of the developers when it comes to new group content. It looks like the game has worked itself into somewhat of a split, trying to be a single-player story-driven game and an MMO at the same time. While I didn't have the time to write about my worries on this blog, Shintar of Going Commando pretty much sums up my thoughts.
SWTOR in 2016
Me? I'm cautiously optimistic for the future of SWTOR. I'm looking forward to the new story releases more than ever before in the history of the game. At the same time I hope the developers develop new group content before too long to keep people involved with the game. Fact is, SWTOR hasn't had this many players since the initial exodus of 2012. 2016? Bring it on!