Posted on November 24, 2014, Phil Owen Shadow of Revan Puts The Old Republic’s Focus Squarely on Story
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a self-contained MMO, but it also exists as a sequel to BioWare and Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic games.
The promise of of developer BioWare’s SWTOR was always that it would be the most story-driven MMO ever made — and maybe that is the case, but the game has shown that it’s difficult to include a fun MMO grind and also satisfy folks who only play for the story. The last year and a half of major updates and expansions have been more about those MMO things like housing and starfighter PVP — the imminent Shadow of Revan expansion is a shift back toward BioWare’s wheelhouse: story, story, story.
There are people who do like everything SWTOR has to offer, but generally the audience is fragmented by certain preferences. There are players who only want to do group content, there are the PVPers, there are solo players, and so on. It has become clear, especially as the game has thrived since going free-to-play two years ago, that the biggest niche group in SWTOR these days is made up of those who are in the game to play the story by themselves like they would any offline RPG campaign.
Unfortunately for those people, much of the group content in SWTOR, especially those story-heavy flashpoints (four-player dungeons) and operations (multi-group raids) that have been added in the last year or so, has been obstacles preventing their full consumption of SWTOR’s story. Namely, it’s tough for story driven solo players to get through content that requires them to find teammates to clear. And so BioWare began designing some new flashpoints that didn’t require players to occupy specific roles, and which were generally pretty easy to complete on their lowest difficulty settings.
They’re taking those accessible design conceits one step further with the Shadow of Revan expansion, which will finally bring the story of Knights of the Old Republic’s Darth Revan to a close. What began in KOTOR and continued in comics, a novel and a pair of mid-level flashpoints in vanilla SWTOR, is finally about to end.
“We didn’t want to put a wall up that says, ‘Hey, you’ve been enjoying the story? In order to go any further, you need to find other players and group up with them.’ That’s not cool.”
Shadow of Revan will have flashpoints that are woven directly into the main plot, which you can play solo with the aid of an NPC droid pal, or in a group as you usually would. The expansion also updates the already released “Forged Alliances” flashpoints to be playable solo, as those serve as the prologue to Shadow of Revan’s story.
“Our flashpoints are these highly scripted story sequences, and we didn’t want to make them feel like an attachment. We wanted them to be in service to the whole story,” Senior Producer Bruce MacLean said in an interview with GameFront. “And so, at the same time, we didn’t want to put a wall up that says, ‘Hey, you’ve been enjoying the story? In order to go any further, you need to find other players and group up with them.’ That’s not cool.
“We decided at the very beginning we wanted to do it this way. We wanted to have our flashpoints be part of the story and support the story, but we want to allow players to do it just with their companion and some NPC firepower. And because flashpoints are repeatable content, it’s good to have a choice.”
I’d say this is a bit more than simply a nice feature — it would have been “nice” had flashpoints had this option all along. For this expansion in particular, I’d say flashpoints that can be played solo are absolutely crucial. I’ve always considered SWTOR to be a sort of de facto KOTOR 3, but giving us the conclusion of Revan’s saga takes it from de facto to direct sequel of the well-loved and acclaimed KOTOR. Given that the KOTOR series’ staying power was its deep and interesting story, this would be the absolute worst time to force solo-ers to group up to see it through.