Before we get too far into 2023, I decided I should bite the bullet and put out my annual list of five predictions for SWTOR in this brand new year.
The results from last year’s list were poor even by my standards, so I’m going to strive a little bit harder this year to predict things that might actually come to be.
Darth Nul is the Big Baddie
Darth Malgus is on ice on Fleet right now, but I don’t think anyone believes that the events he set in motion after breaking free of the Emperor’s control are close to completion, regardless of whether he will see his plans come to fruition in person or not. My suspicion that Malgus won’t survive this expansion has waxed and waned, but I’m starting to feel again that his time may soon be up.
So far Darth Nul, who we first heard about in connection to the events on Elom has remained a remote figure who may not actually even be alive anymore. Nevertheless the spirits of malevolent, powerful Sith have a nasty habit of lingering long past their time, and I think we might soon be in her presence. As the “mother” to the Children of the Emperor, there is no telling how much influence she has over them after Valkorion’s ultimate defeat.
With the Showdown on Ruhnuc story, SWTOR’s plot threads are being woven together, and it seems the next step is to fully reveal Nul’s role in all of this. Whether it’s as a spirit controlling her children, or as a fully corporeal Sith Lady, or a ghost scheming to transfer her essence into Sa’har, I don’t dare guess.
Down for Dathomir
But where will it all happen? Elssha recently posted a poll on twitter asking which planet from live action and animated Star Wars lore folks would like to visit. I voted for Kashyyyk (because Wookiees), but it got me thinking.
Towards the end of Onslaught, Sana Rae, the leader of the Force Enclave of our Alliance sensed a disturbance in the Force, and we had the option to send Arcann to investigate it. Whether or not Arcann was around in your version of the story, the specific source of the disturbance has curiously not been revealed.
This suggests two possibilities. First, the folks at Bioware didn’t know when they started the story, or they chose not to tell the players. I favor the latter theory, but it begs the question: why didn’t they tell us? An answer that makes sense to me is that it is a world that is filled with possibilities and history that the players might very well know of even if our characters would not. Dathomir, a planet steeped in the Dark Side of the Force, with a history in lore filled with defiant female witches seems like just the vacation spot Darth Nul might want to visit or set up shop.
While the infamous Nightsisters are likely not around during this era, the planet itself could still be home to all manner of threats to our characters from Rancors, Dark Side Zombies and Force wielding shaman which the Cartel Market suggest do exist at this time.
A trip to Dathomir certainly would put the Sith in Legacy of the Sith!
Arts and Crafts
This expansion’s launch spread out updates to several systems associated with an increase in the level cap, but crafting has thus far been untouched. It is starting to stand out as something in need of an update, and I hope this is the year crafting gets some attention.
MMO Crafting is tough to get just right. When it comes to allowing players to make endgame gear, the gear is either too poor to bother using or so powerful that it obviates other progression paths, It’s rarely anywhere in between. At this point, I don’t think it really makes sense to add yet another gearing path, but I think there might be other ways to make crafting interesting.
SWTOR crafting, however, has never really been a major part of the game for most players. The ability to craft reusable stims, medpacks and adrenals has made Biochem the stand out crafting skill for endgame players, and the utility brought by other skills has lagged behind. I remain fond of Artifice as a source of cheap dyes and color crystals for my stable of alts, but my other characters’ skills see little use beyond crafting augments and kits.
At the very least, Bioware should revamp the crafting UI which has been hardly touched since launch. Trying to find specific a item amidst the long lists of items in the numerous categories is more difficult than it should be.
In addition, the changes that came with the Onslaught expansion made crafting a slog. To make an item, you need to make components to make more components which are needed for yet another level of components, and then you repeat the process for another type of component. It’s tedious and requires a vast supply of crafting materials and baby-sitting of companions on crew skill missions. It’s not engaging, and it certainly isn’t fun.
But how to fix it? You got me. Should it be possible to craft Best-in-Slot gear? I don’t see why not. Back when 50 was the level cap, Artifice, Synthweaving and Armormech each allowed players to make non-tradable, Bind-on-Equip, best-in-slot gear in a pair of slots. Maybe that’s something that could return to boost the other crafting skills. Should it be easy or hard to gather the necessary materials? Or something in between?
Personally, I love adding recipes for color crystals and dyes to my repertoire, and I feel like there are lots of retired cosmetic weapon and armor appearances that could be given to Armstech, Armormech and Synthweaving. Likewise, it’s been a while since Cybertechs got a new mount or grenades to craft. Are more craftable cosmetics the key? I would dig them, but I don’t know if that would be enough for other folks.
Regardless, I do think it’s time Bioware gave crafting a good look.
Hats and Hoods and Hair, Oh My!
Throughout the game’s history, there have been countless cool outfits that are marred by hoods that make players look bald or hats that come with odd skull caps. It’s time we finally had hats and hoods that show our hair. This wish was actually on my very first Dumb Top Five list, and I would not revisit it if not for one recent addition to the game: Ri’kan’s armor set.
As far as I’m concerned adding headgear that includes Twi’lik head-tails for everyone who wears it is letting the camel’s nose in the tent. If I can wear a helmet that gives Lekku to a Cathar, then we can have a hat the puts hair on Rattataki.
Are there technical limitations to what I’m asking? Can headgear that includes hair even match the color we selected at character creation? I feel like it should, or at least it shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem to solve.
Nico’s wide-brimmed hat looks great on him. A stray lock of hair spills out of Vaylin’s hood. I very much would love to see options like this finally be made available for our characters.
For Every Season There is a Porg
The theme uniting the next Galactic Season will, of course, be Porgs. It all makes sense. Bioware wouldn’t simply throw an adorable, much requested, lore appropriate pet on the Cartel Market; they would have to be introduced with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect of a Galactic Season.
Long time readers will, of course, not be surprised by this prediction. In fact, it’s been locked into this spot on this list for months (if not years). But here’s the thing, I think a Galactic Season based around a creature companion is actually a good idea. First off, it obviates any need to worry about voice acting since it’s expected that a creature would only need to growl, chirp or purr. Furthermore, all sorts of extra rewards suggest themselves: customizations with different fur or feather colors, mount versions of the creature we could ride, cute baby versions to hatch as pets, and so on.
Conversation interactions could involve training the creature to be either as friendly and huggable as a Charhound or as vicious as an attack Porg. Would you teach your animal companion to bring you your slippers or go for the throat?
As much as it breaks my heart, a Porg might not actually be a good choice for this idea, but there are plenty of neat creatures all over our SWTOR stories that would work. How about a lion-maned, dinosaur-horned Ranphyx like the ones we encountered on Elom? I think that would be pretty darn cool, especially if we could work towards a customization that gives it the glowing eyes and electrified hide of the boss we fight in the Ruins of Nul flashpoint.
I still want a lil’ Porg buddy though.
So here’s to 2023! I hope it’s a fun and rewarding year for all of my readers, and that all of our Star Wars dreams come true, even if most of these predictions probably won’t! Let me know in the comments your predictions for this year.