This week,Star Wars: The Old Republic released Game Update 7.2.1 which included SWTOR’s update to a 64 bit client and the debut of both the fourth Galactic Season and the second PVP season.
Updating a game well over a decade old to 64 bit was most certainly a herculean task that, if done properly, should be mostly invisible to players, and from what I’ve experienced so far Bioware has pulled it off. The fact of the matter is that there are so many versions of Windows, graphics cards and hardware set ups that accounting for every possible permutation of computers running the game is all but impossible, but so far I think it’s safe to say the upgrade has been a success. There have been some glitches here and there; it seems like Soa is so deeply woven into the primal fabric of the Matrix that any tug on any of the threads holding SWTOR together causes his encounter to once again bug out, but overall the game as I’ve played it feels a bit zippier. The PVP matches I’ve played this week have been less janky, and the large group content I’ve done has felt smoother over all. Thursday morning, we stuffed so many people into a single area of Voss to fight the Nightmare Pilgrim that the game had to close the instance, but the fight itself ran remarkably well.
SWTOR’s modernization effort over the last year or so has resulted in updates that aren’t necessarily sexy, but they do bode well for the long-term health of the game. Just yesterday, Bioware announced that next week players will be able to test a new cloud based server in the Asia-Pacific region. This is a temporary server, but it does mean that players on the other side of the world from the US may sooner rather than later have a more reliable server to call home. Without the move to AWS, the ability to even test a new APAC server would simply have been impossible.
Season After Season
This update also saw the debut of not one, but two seasonal tracks for the fourth Galactic Season and the second PVP season. For players who like to fill bars, it’s a bonanza of fresh activities, but I’m among those who feel like the last seasons have just barely ended.
It is a very, very rare feeling indeed that SWTOR gives players too much to do, so I don’t want to look this gift horse in the mouth, because I’m certain the summer doldrums will set in before I know it. That said, now that I’m used to the cadence and demands of both seasons, I’m going to take it easy this time around rather than risk burnout, especially when it comes to the PVP season. Two or three levels a week will allow me to complete the season with plenty of time to spare without feeling like I’m queuing beyond the point that it feels fun. As for the Galactic Season, goofing around with friends is the best part of the MMO experience, so I am always glad to team up to take on world bosses and flashpoints and other objectives.
Bioware has indicated that going forward, both seasons will be released at a less frenetic pace, and it does indicate to me that after Legacy of the Sith’s launch delay, the folks at Bioware are working hard to have SWTOR move towards a regular release schedule for its seasonal content.
The new companion at the center of this Galactic Season has an interesting twist and I’m curious to see where his story goes. Likewise, I have not looked too closely at the season’s rewards. Summoning the mount awarded from the first rank of the season track was a moment of genuine surprise that made me laugh, and I’m looking forward to charging around the galaxy like an Odux in a china shop.
Finally, I thought it would be fun to take a close look at a pair of the icons that have appeared on the Galactic Season rewards tracks. These icons have been in the game since launch, but most often seen by players in our inventory as tiny mission items. In the Galactic Season interface they appear much larger and are legible at this scale, so quick translation is definitely in order.
Since I don’t think Star Wars and SWTOR exist in the Star Wars universe, I feel confident in stating that the translations should not be taken as diegetic. That said, the idea that my characters might be playing an MMO and watching and debating the movies when I’m not looking is quite amusing! I’m pretty sure my Smuggler would main a Mara.