United Forces is something which both a lot of people were expecting and more besides. The biggest thing to come from this is that Server Merges are finally confirmed after months, if not years by this point, of people wondering whether they'd happen again.
There will be five new Servers, consisting of various combinations of the existing ones, available from November 8th, as follows:
- The Hot Prospect (North America) - Harbinger, Begeren Colony, and Bastion
- Star Forge (North America) - Jedi Covenant, Shadowlands, Ebon Hawk, Prophecy of the Five, and Jung Ma
- Darth Malgus (Europe - English) - Progenitor, Tomb of Freedon Nadd, and Red Eclipse
- The Leviathan (Europe - French) - Mantle of the Force, Battle Meditation, and Darth Nihilus
- Tulak Hord (Europe - German) - T3-M4, Vanjervalis Chain, and Jar'Kai Sword
I don't think anyone will really get used to calling these servers by their newer names, but I for one am looking forward to being a part of the Darth Malgus server come November 8th!
This once again sets up the issue of names, but they've answered this as well; they're making it so that if your account is of Premium Status and your character is the most-played version of "Ahsoka Tano" or whatever then you will have the highest priority for keeping that name.
Everything else is unaffected; as per usual, if two versions of the same Legacy exist on the merged servers, the higher one will take precedence, so same with Achievements, Legacy Currencies, etc. The only thing which is being affected somewhat is that if you own two copies of the same Stronghold across various merged servers, you will have access to both on your new Server.
The thing which people weren't expecting with United Forces is that Darth Hexid - remember the alternative Companion for the big Dark vs. Light Event? - will become available for a number of weeks between November 8th - 27th. All you need to do to acquire her is to complete three Group Finder activities (either PvP or PvE) and you'll get her. Similarly, you'll also get new Achievements for completing both three PvE activities and three PvP activities during this time as well.
After all that work needed to attain Ranos, we only need to complete three Flashpoints or three PvP matches via Group Finder for Hexid? Sold!
WE'RE GETTING A NEW GSF MAP WHAT IS THIS OH MY.
Sorry, had to get that out!
So, yeah. We have a lot to look forward to. Two new Flashpoints (one unnamed due for launch in 2018), the three remaining Bosses from Gods for the Machine, that fabled new PvP map (I notice we still don't have a location for that thing yet), and the first official-official confirmation that Gods will indeed be receiving a Master Mode.
The new GSF map and the first of the two Flashpoints are the only ones we have location details for right now; the GSF map will be above Iokath (because apparently everything revolves around Iokath!) and the Flashpoint will be on Copero, which is a planet under the thumb of the Chiss Ascendancy. This does also herald the return of Raina Temple, who Agents will remember being assigned to a group of Chiss on Hoth when they first meet her.
I guess that stint in Sith Intelligence didn't work out, then.
The Copero Flashpoint will also allow us to discover and purchase "special set of Augments". Hmmm. Curious to see how these ones differ from the current ones as well as the new ones which will become craftable at the same time.
As for the second Flashpoint, all we have to go on for the time being is that it will take place on a planet we "probably wouldn't expect to return to". Ooh, speculation time! Since the culmination of Eternal Throne, we've been back to Iokath, Rakata Prime, Coruscant, Makeb, Tatooine, Hoth, and Denova, so it's pretty much any of the other Planets, then.
My initial guess was Nathema, since that certainly fits the parameters of "expecting never to return" since a dead planet theoretically shouldn't hold much, but then maybe that's too obvious. Ziost, also, for the exact same reason, but then we don't know what the big-bad is looking for, and it is worth noting that in the original Ziost stories Lord Scourge would find a way to rid himself of his immortality as part of the Knight's quest there, so clearly there are some things hidden away...
Umbara might also be a good guess, since again you'd expect to be done with it and for some it might hold painful memories (but not for me; I'm pleased to be shot of Theron for the time being!).
I'd like to go back to somewhere like Asation; a planet which only exists for one reason and not a lot else. The Gree would certainly be a phenomenal ally for either side.
Watching this space seems to be a necessary habit for SWtOR players, it seems.
Whilst we don't know where the PvP map will be taking place, we do have more details about PvP in general; Bolster will be increased to 242 in 5.5 and Unassembled Components will become Legacy-Bound in 5.6.
We will also have the ability to boost a character straight to 70, although we have no details as-of-yet about what exactly will happen for said character; I'm guessing that their Class stories (and possibly KotFE and Eternal Throne) will be auto-completed and they'll be given a baseline set of un-Augmented 230 gear. After all, it's what they'd need to buy them anyway once they reach that point!
We'll also see an overhaul to the Conquest system and Group Finder, the latter of which is supposed to be providing bigger bonuses for random activities and making it easier to choose individual things to do. Not that it's particularly hard as-is, but sure I'll take improvements!
I must also point something else out here: Please note we will not introduce a new set of Tier gear for Galactic Command this year! "This year", hmmm?
Tier V for Galactic Command has been discussed quite a fair amount recently, with some people claiming that the main reason why BioWare was so okay with people abusing the daily CXP bug is because a new Tier of Command was right around the corner. The first hints of Master Mode Gods also presented some hints that there was more gear to come.
So yeah. By saying that there were no plans to introduce a new Tier this year, Keith has pretty much confirmed that Tier V will be coming out next year at some point. Joy.
Still, it seems that Galactic Command itself is going to become more bearable by the time Tier V does roll around...
There's a fair amount here.
- Another slot will be added to the Command Crates giving a chance to yield a high-end Mod or Enhancement, CXP Buffs and Consumables, and the fun which is a Grand Chance Cube. I'm guessing this will be where people can find new High-Endurance 248 stuff, which I'm sure some Tank players will lap up gratefully.
- Although the Roadmap states that there will be a new Perk for increasing CXP gain per Character at CR300, Keith has since clarified that the current Legacy Perk is being augmented rather than a wholly new one being added, meaning that it will still only affect Characters under 300. Basically, you get one Character to 300 and unlock the 25% Perk which is in-place now and then in 5.5 the extra % you are due to receive - provided that you have at least one (and up to three) additional Characters at 300 - will be added on top instantly.
- As has been constantly stated, CXP across the game is currently in review. We'll see the approximate culmination of this in November with 5.6, but for now that's all we have to go on. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
- Also in 5.6, Disintegration will now return Unassembled Components for spare Armour and Weapons. Yes. Yes. Yes! Okay, so I'm not someone who needs the Components for gear (at the moment!) anymore - I have two characters in full 248, and that's more than enough for me. However, this gets around a significant problem for everybody; that there was just no way for Command to be 'backward-compatible'. You gained nothing from earning a spare 248 piece, and it just went to waste or had the Mods sent to an Alt. Now these 'spares' are going to become a way to purchase the piece you really want, even if it will still be slow.
- Victory states for Dark vs. Light will remain in-situ for much longer, to allow for people to find and kill the special World Bosses without as much pressure, and of course with the additional benefit of it making it harder for people to miss victory states.
Okay, this is a lot. I'm interested in seeing the exact values of Components you get per each piece and whether or not it differs from Tier-to-Tier, but it's certainly something to look forward to for those who do not engage in PvP.
Not too fond of their adding more RNG to the already-RNG infested Crates, but eh.
We will be getting NAHUT in 5.6 (originally it was assumed that he'd be out in 5.5!) but the timings of the appearance of SCYVA and IZAX has been up for debate for some time prior to this Roadmap. The 'usual' two-month gap between killing one Boss and the next one's arrival would theoretically have allowed the former to be released in December if NAHUT was to be released next week, but prior instances where a Boss was released prior to BioWare's holidays probably put paid to that idea before it was even on the table.
So both Bosses will be out in "early 2018". My guess is that we'll see SCYVA in late January and IZAX in early April. This then leaves June at the earliest for Master Mode Gods (if it isn't launched alongside IZAX), and beyond that... who knows? June/July is often a time for new games and game expansions to be announced, so maybe we'll get 6.0 announced around this time as well.
One thing's for certain; Master Mode Gods and the eventual Tier V for Galactic Command are what will be carrying us through until whenever 6.0 is released. Still, at least it's a better set of activities to do than the Dark vs. Light Event was!
Alongside the recent Class Balances, we'll also be seeing changes to various group experiences; Flashpoints, Operations, and even World Bosses will be adjusted along the way, and I'm very curious to see exactly what they decide to change across all of these.
The Legacy Bank will be updated with a place to store Credits. Phew. There was me fearing that they'd make them all 'leap' across to one pooled amount, which could go horribly wrong. I'd hate to be the Customer Service guy who'd have to deal with the people who lost all their Credits due to the pool glitching...
But the "Guild-Bank-esque" format works nicely as a functional alternative. Gives people control of exactly what they extract and of course eliminates all potential for people to 'screw up' and buy something while window-shopping when before they'd use a character with a very low amount of Credits to do so.
A new vendor will be added to the Fleet Bazaar in 5.5, allowing us access to every single Companion Customisation which was previously exclusive to the Companion's original faction. Oh, huzzah. I just want Blizz to look like an ordinary Jawa rather than have that ridiculous bulked-up robe, and now my Republic characters can convince him that it's just not becoming. Other things are nice, too. Gault with two horns, different colour T7s, that weird green Yuun nobody talks about...
More to Come?
As part of the "Look Ahead" section, you'll notice that there are going to be "more multiplayer game experiences for both PvP and PvE" incoming. Curious to see what this entails and, more importantly, when we'll get whatever-it-is-that-we'll-apparently-be-getting. If we're getting another new Flashpoint then that could imply that we'll be getting a twofold Forged Alliances equivalent; one half to conclude the pre-established story element (the traitor) the other half sets up where things will be going next and eventually leading directly into 6.0's story.
However, I'm not holding my breath. For people who despise Flashpoints and Group Content in general, getting at least three Flashpoints in succession before anything more 'substantial' story-wise certainly won't be in their best interests, and Keith and BioWare are clearly giving their all to try and please anybody and everybody.
Additionally, I sincerely doubt we'll be getting another Operation prior to 5.0's end. The transition between 5.0 and 6.0 looks set to be one the longest we've yet seen, but I don't think there's time for them to do another whole phased Operation. They're much better off starting 6.0 with a bang sooner rather than later and worrying about launching any further Operations within that new time-frame.
In terms of PvP, I hope whatever we get's not another Huttball!
All-in-all, I like what I see. There is genuinely something for everyone in this Roadmap; Operations, Flashpoints, story updates, a returning Companion, PvP, heck, even GSF! The Galactic Command changes still aren't perfect but finally we're getting something which makes the system actually beneficial.
I'm looking forward to seeing what the game is like going forward, particularly with 5.5.1; this is certainly a lot of work to be putting into a game which people are still citing to this day as "dead and abandoned".