Will “Galactic Starfighter” be an actual expansion for SWTOR?
Recently, Star Wars: The Old Republic announced their new expansion, Galactic Starfighter! Many opinions have arisen on the tiny bits of information we have been given, but one prevalent question is whether the expansion is actually an expansion. Today, I want to tackle this topic, and I want to determine once and for all whether Galactic Starfighter is or is not an expansion.
It’s all about the definitions
First off, what do people consider to be an expansion, in general, for any MMO?
Taking a cue from two of the major MMOs in the world, World of Warcraft and Everquest (the latter of which is on its 20th expansion!), here are some qualities that expansions can have:
- Raises the level cap
- Contains new zones
- Contains new racial options
- Contains new class options
- Contains class revamps
- Contains major system additions, upgrades, or revisions
- Contains alternate progression systems (aside from level cap increase)
- Not necessary for enjoyment of original content (though can sometimes include changes to original content for free)
Bioware’s definition of an “expansion” is an update for which a magazine would consider re-reviewing the game. That actually makes a lot of sense, as you might consider an expansion a “renewed lease on life,” so to speak.
My opinion on what the minimum an MMO expansion needs to include to be considered an expansion is the following:
- At least one major system addition or revamp
- New progression, either via level cap increase or some alternate advancement
- 25+ hours of new content to aid in the new progression
- Class revamps, balances, or tweaks
Let’s talk about a quick history of expansions for our two case studies, WoW and EQ, as well as for SWTOR itself.
WoW had very set ideas with expansions. They always had
- A level cap increase
- Either a race addition, a class addition, or a major overhaul on a class system
- New zones
After that, because of the level cap increase, there was an obvious need for a gear reset, as well as new level cap content to grind gear. The expansions were all released at least a year and a half apart, with Cataclysm two years in development. By Bioware’s definition and mine, WoW always was putting out true expansions.
EQ began with yearly expansions from April ’00 to October ’02, then decreased its development cycle to one expansion every six months or so. The initial expansions were much larger, with level cap increases or alternate advancement systems, systems upgrades, etc. These seem to all fit my idea of true expansions. When the pace of expansions quickened, the content was broken up into smaller pieces, introducing a new system here, or a new set of zones there. While individually, I might not take them to be expansions, when you look at them in pairs, my definition of an expansion seems to stand pretty well, so EQ on a yearly basis put out a full expansion, breaking it into two parts.
So what about the history of SWTOR so far?
Rise of the Hutt Cartel was an expansion released in April 2013, and it included an increased level cap, an entirely new planet with multiple new zones, a new raid (plus an rescaled old raid), class revamps, two major system additions of Achievements and Macrobinoculars/Seeker Droid missions, and a major system revamp of the PvP Bolster system (not that well-received, but still).
By itself, ROTHC was a full expansion to me, especially when taking into account the raids. Without the raids, the 25+ hour content requirement is barely met, with the Makeb storyline taking me 10 hours, the Macrobinoculars and Seeker Droid questlines taking another 10 hours, and the Makeb and GSI weeklies and dailies taking 3 hours at the most. However, looking at the Achievement system, any aspect of the game can contribute to Achievements, so really all areas of the game were affected. I am still working on Achievements started in April, hundreds of hours of game-time later.
So what about Galactic Starfighter?
Let’s look at what we know about GS.
- Alternate progression system separate from ground characters
- Unlock ships for use in PvP space battlegrounds
- PvP format ultimately and infinitely repeatable
- Update 2.5 comes at the same time with some class balance changes
- No new level cap increase
- No new ground zones at launch
- No PvE starfighter combat
To me, I see a new system of progression, new ship “classes,” repeatable content, some ground class balance changes, and overall an entire revamp of the current space game we have. Taking the number of PvP matches I would see as a reasonable amount to play to get the feel for the system (100) and multiplying by the usual number of minutes for a ground PvP match (15), I get 25 hours of content without breaking a sweat, not to mention if any of the maps are longer than 15 minutes, or if you do more because, I don’t know, it’s FUN to blow other starfighters to smithereens!
Overall, I would say that Galactic Starfighter meets my requirements for an expansion, and not only that, it is seven months after the previous expansion. Two expansions within a year! Not too shabby for a “failed game”…
What do you think? Should this be called an expansion? What would it need in your eyes to be called one? Leave a comment below and vote in the poll!