It's been a question many people have asked; "What is the state of SWTOR?" Each time, the answer varies. I myself have tended to avoid any attempts to address my own feelings of the state of the game, being more content to simply enjoy the experience as a Star Wars nerd rather than a game enthusiast.
As the question is a very broad one, I will be narrowing it down to three areas; PvE, PvP, and Developer Communication.
To elaborate slightly, I've already touched on what I think needs to be done for and the state of the story, so I will not reinforce what I've already detailed. Additionally, whilst 3.2.1 did also bring in class changes, I must admit that my understanding of other classes and exactly what each change means is minimal, so I will not be addressing any form of "Class State", because I will misrepresent pretty much everything.
Compared to PvP, PvE has seen far more involvement and updates. Even then, there is definitely this general feeling of the unknown and dread, especially with regards to the future of Operations.
For example, last year there were only two things "to do", as it were, throughout the majority of the year; Dread Fortress and Dread Palace. Yes, teams could always have gone back and completed the other Operations if they felt like it, but the overarching goal of the vast majority of guilds was to complete just these two Operations, first in Hard and then in Nightmare. These Operations first launched in October of 2013, and Nightmare launched in May for Dread Fortress. With no new Operations until December 2014, this is fourteen months of the exact same Operations.
BioWare initially seemed to indicate with 3.0 that there would be more things coming faster and sooner. Yet here we are, nearly seven months after 3.0 Launched, and we don't have any true indication yet of the future. This has already resulted in some of the bigger-name PvE Guilds leaving the game for greener fields of grass.
To put the Dread Operations, Ravagers, and Temple of Sacrifice into a further context, we saw Nightmares of Scum and Villainy and Terror from Beyond added no more than three months after their initial introduction and scaling up to 55, respectively. This leaves roughly three months before the introduction to Oricon. It is this context really which I feel has made the raiding aspect of the community feel exasperated, as it is increasingly looking like we're seeing a case of Oricon repeating rather than Terror and Scum.
Hitting heads against the same old stuff - remember that there are a lot of guilds who still haven't completed Hard Mode of this recent tier of Operations yet (again, compare to the previous four Operations) - for increased periods of time does get frustrating; I feel that if the Oricon scenario had improved upon itself then maybe people wouldn't feel as exasperated as they do currently in the raids, but I'm only guessing here. I can guarantee, however, that should any Nightmare Modes come out whilst the majority of Guilds are still struggling to reach the final floor of Revan's fight, that this exasperation will only become more and more endless for those particular guilds whilst others gleefully rise to the challenge. You win some, you lose some.
In terms of Flashpoints, we haven't seen any indication of there being any new, level 60, Tactical Flashpoints. We've had Hard Modes of Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi since 3.0 launched, but again it would be very nice to get another wholly-new Flashpoint or two soon.
Before I begin, I must state something; I don't PvP to any great extent. I describe myself as a "dabbler". I say this first because I am going to leave some stuff out which I simply don't feel 'comfortable' covering as it's not my area, particularly relating to class balance.
I can see why there is a great discomfort among the PvP community which this game has. There has only been one new eight-player map since 2.0, and four 4-player maps which is now the entire basis for Ranked PvP. Even then, the new eight-player map is just another variation of Huttball. Before then, the last most-recent eight-player map was Ancient Hypergates way back in 1.6.
The very fact that Ranked is still ongoing is excellent in my eyes, but up until recently the announcement and closure of the different seasons and detailing of the various rewards seemed to be the only serious attempts to communicate with the PvPers.
I say "until recently" because we actually have heard something of late which outlines the plans for PvP for the rest of this year. Starting with 3.3, there are a whole host of PvP changes coming in which will make a lot of things different and in many areas better, and is certainly heaps better than what I could have 'predicted'.
- Gear will all cost the same type of Commendation, as Ranked Commendations are being removed, and the cost is reduced as well. This means that the perceived "Grind" which puts many people off getting full gear has been lessened by a great extent.
- Solo Ranked will have a 2,018 Expertise (without Bolster) lockout, meaning that you cannot queue for it unless you have that exact amount of Expertise, which will hopefully reduce the amount of trolls, although the really dedicated ones would still be able to engage in this behaviour. Group Ranked does not currently have this restriction planned, so it will be interesting to see what happens here.
- Area of Effect abilities will no longer interrupt capping in Warzones. This will enforce a hopefully more strategic playstyle in certain maps, although knockbacks and the Operative's Stun Grenade would still work.
- Each season will have season-specific tokens which you could then use to buy the various rewards from that season. If you failed to achieve Tier 1, you could still buy whichever mount they make the Tier 1 reward. There will, however, reportedly be an exclusive tier-only reward that you would need to attain a certain rating to receive, meaning that people should still very much have a vested interest in maintaining their rating.
- A new eight-player Warzone is thankfully in the works. Yes, only the one, but as long as it's not the third edition of Huttball, it's still something to look forward to. No new arena has been mentioned as far as I'm aware, but the four we have are decent and aren't meant to have functions which make the other maps engaging.
On paper, these improvements do sound very nice. I'm very interested to see how these come into effect in 3.3 and I may even investigate "properly" when the time comes. We'll see.
Communication from the Developers has undeniably improved. They've been getting better at saying what they've done, particularly when comparing the Colossal Monolith Exploit to the Ravagers Exploit and removing trolls from Ranked PvP, even if the word "trolly" leaves a lot to be desired.
That said, I feel that we are overdue on an update on what they're working on next generally, similar to how they did the PvP Interview, which in of itself was very, very welcome. We know of three general things coming soon; Togruta, the Yavin IV Stronghold, and this Fallen Empire business. Only one of those has a definitive date, which is Fallen Empire on the 15th of June, and it's likely to be an announcement of the next story update at a later date.
However, we still don't know when Togruta, this Stronghold, or anything else of this ilk are coming to the game itself. There is going to be a Developer Stream on the 3rd of June which shows off the Stronghold and Togruta, but I still feel that a proposed schedule or roadmap would be the next logical step, and again I iterate that we are long due something like this for PvE.
I hope that whatever they do for Fallen Empire at least lays out a clear plan for the rest of the year. Summer is when they lose a good number of players to holidays, hence the 12-times XP through to Autumn, and hopefully with 3.3 PvP sees a good increase. We also have the Nightlife Event returning, so people have a lot to tide themselves over with, and I sincerely hope that their plan doesn't backfire on them.
Naturally, I'm someone who can just "exist" with a lot of patience, but with a lot of emphasis being put on the future of Star Wars with the new film in just under seven months, one can't help but wonder what the future for SWTOR itself holds. We'll all just have to wait and see, and hope that the immediate future, particularly the confirmed changes to PvP, is enough to captivate our interest.