Several members from BioWare Austin hosted a Livestream that lasted nearly an hour to explain what’s coming with SWTOR Game Update 7.1!
Hosts of tonight’s livestream included Jackie Ko (Community Manager), Eric Musco (Lead Producer), Charles Boyd (Creative Director), Ashley Ruhl (Narrative Director), and Caitlin Sullivan Kelly (Lead Writer).
7.1 will contain the remainder of the content that was initially announced to be part of the 7.0 expansion. It’s shaping up to be one of SWTOR’s largest non-expansion updates ever in SWTOR; it’s practically a mini-expansion if we take previous expansions for scale.
New 7.1 Livestream Code Redemption
As tradition dictates, BioWare had a small giveaway to share with the community to celebrate the release of SWTOR 7.1. The item you can claim for a limited time is a Malgus portrait Stronghold Decoration.
The code is LOTSMALGUS.
Head to swtor.com/redeem-code to redeem it.
The code will only work until August 8th, so act fast! And it’s free for everyone.
The poster decoration is similar to the other poster decos we’ve gotten in the past.
“Digging Deeper” new Storyline coming in 7.1
Ashley Ruhl, the new Narrative Director, and Caitlin Sullivan Kelly, the new Lead Writer, shared a bit of information about the story coming with 7.1 called “Digging Deeper”.
Task Force Nova / Hand of the Empire will be investigating what Malgus was looking for on Elom in the (recently created) ruins from the “Disorder” trailer.
This story will feature padawan Sa’har Kateen after the trailer along with your first conversation with imprisoned Malgus.
It seems like this will be reminiscent of a chapter, similar to Echoes of Oblivion, but Ashley and Kaitlin didn’t say anything about the mission’s length.
We still have very little information about this storyline; we only recently got confirmation that new story content was going to be included at all when it was announced that Charles Boyd was leaving BioWare.
It does seem like BioWare is sticking to what they said a while ago where each major .X update (7.1, 7.2, 7.3, etc.) will contain additional story content.
R-4 Anomaly Operation
It has finally been confirmed that the R-4 Anomaly will be taking place on a Mass Shadow Generator! Players will be fighting against a Sith cult called The Unmasked.
The Mass Shadow Generator is a gravitational anomaly machine that is knocking ships out of hyperspace, so players are sent in to investigate that.
The story with R-4 Anomaly ties into the story from the Dxun operation from 6.0, so in order to access the story “wrapper mission” for the R-4 Anomaly, players must complete the Nature of Progress mission for Dxun. To be clear, players don’t need to do Dxun to do the new operation, they just need to do that for the story mission.
New tacticals mounts and decos
The R-4 Anomaly Operation will feature 4 bosses and be available in 8m only (no 16m) in SM and VM. We still don’t have much info about NiM/MM outside of it being mentioned in the 7.0 Livestream.
Like other operations, each boss will drop a statue decoration of that boss and BioWare has shared pictures of each of these decos. In VM, every player will get a copy of the deco. It’s unclear if this means the deco tied to achievements or not.
The first boss is the intake processing checkpoint; it’s meant to feel like you’re fighting the station itself.
This is a security watchdog for the Unmasked cult.
He is a powerful Sith Lord and space wizard.
Eric Musco explained that they “ran into some hurdles” when trying to make the deco for Lord Kanoth, but wanted to also give players a tile of just the red creep, so there is no actual statue for Lord Kanoth.
She came to the Mass Shadow Generator alongside Lord Kanoth; the way Eric spoke almost made it sound like the Lord and Lady are meant to be equals. The whole room is incorporated into her fight and there are a lot of surprises, especially in VM.
Jackie thanked players who went on PTS to test out the operation and offered feedback. She said that the VODs were instrumental in creating this raid.
New extremely rare Wings of Nihrot Mount
Eric and Jackie presented the new mount from R-4 anomaly. It is a very rare drop off Lord Kanoth in VM, but might be part of an achievement later on.
Sorry for the low resolution and compression. They’re basically red butterfly wings related to the Nihrot creep found throughout the operation. They remind me a lot of something that Mother Talzin might use. Hopefully, BioWare takes a stab at making a reforged version of the Dathomir Shaman set or at least rereleases the old version to the CM.
BioWare hasn’t mentioned a NiM version of the R-4 Anomaly Operation since its announcement with the 7.0 Livestream from last year, but the Wings of Nihrot definitely seems like a NiM mount and Eric Musco compared it to the famed Wings of the Architect mount from Dread Fortress NiM. Given that these wings are dropping in HM, I am extremely concerned that BioWare’s plans for NiM may have changed.
That said, the Wings of the Dragon mount was also obtainable as part of a timed achievement for Izax HM in the GotM operation, so it wouldn’t be the first time and it is a super rare drop in R-4. BioWare could easily make the Wings of Nihrot a guaranteed drop from the NiM version of Lord Kanoth.
Regardless, we are still a long ways off from NiM R4. BioWare has historically released the NiM difficulty 6-8 months after the raid is initially released, so we probably wouldn’t see it until around March 2023, perhaps with 7.3, which we still know absolutely nothing about. Just so we’re clear, this is all speculation about NiM R4 based on my experience as a NiM raider in this game for a long time seeing a NiM mount drop from HM.
Visual Communication Improvements in R-4 Anomaly
Eric Musco and Jackie Ko highlighted that the VFX team put a lot of work into the visual communication for the new raid. There are lots of circles (and now squares) on the ground and the VFX team tried to balance immersion with clarity by focusing on clear communication of mechanics, readable visuals, grounded aesthetics, and standardized visual language.
It seems that BioWare is leaning a lot more heavily towards clarity than they have in the past. All of the boss arenas appear to be very well-lit with high ceilings. Contrast this with a (still fantastic IMO) fight like Dread Master Bestia where the room is tiny and those yellow pools of murder used to be reddish-plum on top of still potentially spawning beneath you while you have the red circle following you. Back in the day, some players even opted to turn their graphics down for that fight so they could see better.
Endgame Gearing Changes in 7.1
7.1 will increase the endgame power ceiling for all players (at level 80). Higher gear will be available for everyone.
PvP gear will be upgradable to 328 while Decurion (Conquest, FP gear), and Tionese, Columi Gear (SM, VM operations) will be going up to 330.
Legendary Implants will become upgradable to 334 and VM R-4 Anomaly gear will go up to 340. It’s unclear if the base starting iRating will also be increasing.
Mods will also be available up to 330 gear for PvE and 328 for PvP, so if you plan to do the new raid, you’ll be stuck with no moddable gear. On the PTS, we got a very early glimpse of how this may be implemented.
There will be 4 new tacticals coming as well. It’s unclear what form they’ll be taking, We saw 3 on the PTS, 1 of which was redesigned while the PTS was still up because it was garbage and another from the PTS is still garbage that will hopefully also be updated. They specified that 1 was for Carnage Marauder / Combat Sentinel while the other 3 were for Mercenary / Commando.
There was no mention of Rakata gear at all. BioWare needs to offer some sort of gear upgrade for doing legacy NiM raids. I think most would be fine if they just gave a whole lot more Tech Fragments instead, especially considering that NiM tends to require more alts for group composition optimization, so there is more of a need for extra Tech Frags for all the upgrades.
Manaan Daily Area and Rewards
Ashley and Caitlin said that there would be new characters and distinct story arcs for the Empire and Republic. It’s unclear how long these story arcs are going to be.
Traditionally, the stories in daily areas have been pretty short and are only meant to present all the daily missions rather than contribute significantly to the overall narrative, though players will, unfortunately, need to complete the Manaan storyline released with 7.0 to gain access to this daily area.
The Empire storyline will be picking up with players after they have gotten a firm foothold on Manaan, but Selkath are fighting back hard. The player character will be working with a Gand Intelligence Officer named Commander Qrukk.
Qrukk follows Darth Zharion. He tried to oust the former leader on Manaan because of concerns about corruption. Players will be trying to covertly get Selkath to turn against each other to undermine their efforts against the Empire. It seems like this will be a great story to play through with an Imperial Agent.
Republic players will be trying to build a bridge of trust between Manaan and the Republic. It reminds me of the Voss storyline if the warring factions were to actually act on their interests instead of getting interrupted by Vaylin’s attack. Players will be working with 2 new characters.
Minn Ishkah is a Natolan Ambassador to Manaan from the Republic Diplomatic Corps. She has an obstinate nature, a known history with the military, and a very “ends justify the means” mindset. Ambassador Ishkah reminds me quite a bit of former Supreme Chancellor Saresh.
Captain Wo Casto is from the Manaan Special Warfare Group. He’s smart, cynical, and pragmatic. Captain Casto represents Manaan to Republic and the Selkath trust him to put the needs of Manaan above his own.
These characters don’t get along very well, and getting them to agree for the sake of the Republic will be how you forge an alliance. Both Imperial and Republic players will primarily be fighting soldiers from Selkath Isolationist Revolt.
Daily Area Rewards
Jackie and Eric offered previews of the rewards you’ll be able to purchase from the reputation vendor in the new Manaan Daily Area.
For more information on these rewards, check out my full list of Manaan Rewards from the 7.1 PTS. Stay tuned for my guide on the Manaan Daily Area!
One of the promises BioWare made prior to 7.0’s launch was that 2022 will be an year they commit to improving and modernizing the game’s UI.
The Outfitter tab will feature the same controls that have been present in the preview window (including the ability to drag your character around) along with a scrollable list of outfits rather than the current interface. Eric said more QoL stuff is planned for the future.
Notably, they did not mention increasing the number of outfit slots to 32 as we briefly saw on the PTS and the scroll bar does not indicate that we will have more than 16 slots available since 8 are shown in the list at a time and the scroll bar is half the size of the scroll track.
I could be mistaken, but there also appear to be 2 new items in the first row of the inventory in that preview image: the rocks with a purple background and a red skull.
They likely aren’t CM items or statted gear since there aren’t any other mini-icons like the CM symbol, upgrade arrows, or augment pips. They likely aren’t tacticals either since they aren’t round.
Combat Styles Icon Color Selection Wheel
Players will be able to manually change the color of the combat style icons that appear as part of player nameplates.
Players can individually set every icon to be whichever color they prefer, but there are 3 presets included as well:
- Default – Colors introduced with 7.0
- Classic – Colors from before 7.0
- Colorblind – Targets red and red/green colorblindness (protanopia and deuteranopia)
Additional Chat Window Customization
The font size for text in the chat window now scales up to 60!
Players will be able to fully customize the font color and size of subtitles as well as the color and opacity of a new shadow behind the subtitles in order to improve readability.
It’s been a while since I’ve done the new storyline on Manaan, so I’m not sure if it’s already present in that specific cutscene, but I noticed in this picture that the airlock shield door has been greatly improved. Not sure if we’ll see similar visual improvements across all space stations.
Nar Shaddaa Nightlife Event Rewards
Nar Shaddaa Nightlife will be returning with Update 7.1 and be available from August 2nd to September 13th and feature a new set of purple and gold set of weapons available from the Emperor’s Grace machine.
These should match great with the sunglasses released last year and Karagga’s hat from the Karagga’s Palace operation. Hopefully, BioWare releases a matching armor set next year. The drop rate for currencies from the Emperor’s Grace slot machine will be reduced to increase the chance that one of these new weapons drops.
New Cartel Market Items from 7.1
Eric and Jackie gave us a glimpse of some of the new Cartel Market items that will be coming soon, though they didn’t specify if these will all be for sale right when 7.1 drops.
The MK-6 Silent Storm Sniper Rifle uses the exact same model as the Obscurity Sniper Rifle from Galactic Season 2. It’s unclear if this was intentional or just a mistake. There are other items that were available for preview on the CM on the PTS, so check out my preview of the new Cartel Market Items from PTS if you want to see more!
Closing Notes with Charles Boyd
This was Charles Boyd’s final live stream and everyone seemed very sad to see him go. Jackie remarked that she wore waterproof makeup just in case.
He somberly closed out the stream by teasing a few things that are coming after 7.1:
- Revamps to PvP (currently known to be the focus of 7.2)
- Additional improvements to Outfitter
- A brand new planet called Runik
- More FPs and more story
Charles said looked forward to the future of SWTOR and spoke very highly of the development team and players. He also said he had a great time speaking with the playerbase over the years, thanks everybody for being a part of it. Charles will be leaving the company a few days after 7.1 is released.
Patch notes for 7.1 will be available on Monday, 7.1 will be released on August 2nd.