Keith Kanneg, BioWare’s Project Director for SWTOR has announced the release date for game update 7.1 and that SWTOR’s Creative Director, Charles Boyd, will be leaving the company.
Game Update 7.1 Release Date and Content Preview
7.1 will be released on Tuesday, August 2nd. I’ve been covering it pretty extensively on the PTS, but BioWare hasn’t shown us everything coming with the next update. Here’s a brief overview of what we’ll be getting about 2 weeks from now:
Manaan Daily Area
The new daily area takes place at nighttime on Manaan and has 4 visually distinct regions you’ll be traveling between to complete your missions. It’s unfortunate that the daily area wasn’t ready in time for the release of 7.0 since dailies have been such an important part of gearing. Once 7.1 is released, they’ll only be necessary for Legendary Implants unless BioWare makes further changes to the gear we will be getting from the new R-4 Anomaly Operation.
R-4 Anomaly Operation and New Gear
The R-4 Anomaly Operation has 4 bosses and will be available in SM and VM exclusively in 8m (no 16m). Bosses in the operation will drop tokens that you can exchange for gear ranging from iRating 330-340 depending on difficulty. Based on the PTS, it doesn’t seem that there will be any way to earn this higher gear from old content.
For more information on the 7.1 Gearing changes, you can read my full analysis in a previous article linked here. Stay tuned for guides covering SM and VM of the R-4 Anomaly Operation. I’m still new to writing Operation guides, but the structure will be similar to what I’ve written for the recent Xenoanalyst II guide. I’ll be paying close attention to this article’s comments for feedback on what I can do to improve, particularly if there are any components you’ve seen from other guides that you’ve found especially helpful.
More Solo Story
We have very little information about the story coming with 7.1. Today’s announcement brought the first confirmation that we will actually be getting story content at all.
Based on the structure of the announcement (separate bullet points), how the story was broken down in Legacy of the Sith, and the existence of non-daily personal phases on Manaan, it seems like there will be some sort of brief storyline for the Manaan dailies perhaps similar to what we have gotten with past daily areas and then some other thing that has to with Malgus.
I wouldn’t get hopes up too high for the story content, especially the part with Malgus. 7.1 has never been portrayed as a major story update. It’s possible that we could end up with only a single conversation cutscene similar to the ones we got in 6.0 with Shae Vizla.
Combat Style Balance Changes
7.1 will feature balance changes for several DPS combat styles. BioWare has said they plan to do more balance changes in future patches; this first set focuses on buffing the weakest disciplines while nerfing the strongest. I’ve covered all of the changes in dedicated articles:
Improvements to the Weapon in Outfitter System
BioWare mentioned the upcoming Improvements to the Weapon in Outfitter System as a bullet point in today’s update alongside the R-4 Anomaly Operation, daily mission arcs on Manaan, and revelations about Darths Malgus and Nul.
Next to those major pieces of content, there isn’t anything we know about from the PTS that’s happening to Weapon in Outfitter that is remotely similar in significance.
For a brief moment on the PTS, players had access to 32 outfit slots (compared to 16 now) along with a vertically scrollable outfit selector list that could easily accommodate some sort of outfit naming system, though that was taken off the PTS pretty quickly. It’s not even clear if that’s still happening.
It’s entirely possible that BioWare is just trying to bring more attention to a recently-released feature that people who aren’t playing the game right now might not know about. The system was once going to be part of 7.1 as well, so maybe this was written when that was still the plan.
New Cartel Market Items
Finally, there were some new cartel market items available for preview on the PTS, including armor sets inspired by Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi robes and Fennec Shand’s armor. It’s unclear how many of these items will actually be released with 7.1 because Cartel Market items are not always released at the same time.
You can still check out my preview of all the CM items we could see on the PTS.
7.1 is shaping up to be one of SWTOR’s largest non-expansion updates ever. The only competitor in recent memory is 5.10 – Jedi Under Seige, which included the Ossus daily area and storyline (but not the Geonosian Queen boss), Master Mode for the Gods of the Machine Operation, a new tier of gear, and a host of improvements to the Guilds system.
Charles Boyd Leaving BioWare
Along with announcing the release date for 7.1, BioWare announced that Charles Boyd, the Creative Director of SWTOR, will be leaving the company. Many of you may recognize Charles from his frequent appearances in SWTOR livestreams or his positively magnificent Star Wars cosplays like the one featured below:
Charles Boyd has been working at BioWare for 16 years and it seems to be his first job out of college as he graduated in 2006. You can see his career path at BioWare below:
For some context, Charles became Lead Writer shortly before 2.0 (Makeb) was released, moved up to Lead Creative Designer a few months after 3.2 (Ziost storyline), and finally became Creative Director towards the end of 4.0 (KotFE). It’s clear that he’s had a massive impact on Star Wars: The Old Republic during his tenure. We don’t have information on his future plans yet, but I’m excited to see where he’s headed next!
Charles shared the following note about his experience at BioWare and SWTOR:
“Even after almost sixteen years, I still can’t fully believe how lucky I’ve been to work on Star Wars: The Old Republic. The Star Wars galaxy has always been a huge part of my life since I was a kid, so getting to play a role in SWTOR’s growth from its initial vision to a colossal release and then an incredible live service for over a decade has been an amazing experience. The team’s passion, creativity, and dedication to this game are incredible; I don’t think I can ever fully express how much I’ve admired and appreciated working with them every single day.
As always, there are some exciting things in the works for the future of SWTOR – storylines and planets and gameplay and characters that I can’t wait to see come to life. I’m really looking forward to experiencing them all right alongside our players.
So to the team, to our longtime partners at Lucasfilm, and to all of you: thank you so, so much for this amazing journey. I may be moving on from the project, but the Old Republic will never leave my heart.”
Introducing SWTOR’s Design Leadership Team
Keith also wanted to talk about those who are leading the game after Charles’ departure on August 5th and each member of this team has taken a moment to introduce themselves on SWTOR’s forums.
The texts above are sourced from the official announcement and are the exact way Keith opted to present his team to everyone.
Eric Musco, Lead Producer
Eric has been a member of the SWTOR team in a variety of roles over his 10+ years at BioWare. Long-time players may know Eric from his many years as The Old Republic Community Manager, but behind the scenes, Eric has been working as a Game Producer for several years. He looks forward to keeping our players’ perspectives front and center as we continue to support and update SWTOR going forward.
I know the recent announcement is going to take some time for everyone to process. We are right there with you! I’ve traveled the world with Charles, he attended my wedding, he is a dear friend, and will be sorely missed. Still, I want to take this opportunity to introduce, or even re-introduce some of the names you read about today as you will certainly hear from some, if not all of us, more regularly going forward.
I suspect if you are here in the forums that I am no stranger to you. I started in these very forums as a fan myself over 10 years ago, moved onto the Community Team, became CM, moved into Production, and now I am typing this message to you as Lead Producer. SWTOR continues to be a wild ride for me, one that I have been thrilled to take with all of you. In this role, leading the efforts of the Design team, you should definitely expect to see and hear more from me about what we are doing, when we are doing it, and why.
All that said, I am not the one bringing the creative prowess to the table. For that, you need to look no further than the other incredibly talented folks that are leading up our Design teams…
Ashley Ruhl, Narrative Director
Ashley has made major contributions to SWTOR over the years, from building cinematic scenes for launch to returning to create some of the most pivotal scenes in Knights of the Eternal Throne, and most recently, has acted as the leader of our cinematic team through Legacy of the Sith. In her new role as Narrative Director, Ashley will oversee all of the game’s storytelling efforts as we continue to unfold the mysteries discovered in Legacy of the Sith.
Hello! I’m Ashley Ruhl and I am now the Narrative Director for SWTOR. I met many of you during this past Star Wars Celebration and I had fantastic conversations with you all about how cinematic storytelling works in the game. I’ve been a part of SWTOR several times over the years, including at the game’s launch, during KOTFE/KOTET, and finally rejoining the SWTOR team for Echoes of Oblivion and beyond, as well as leading the cinematic team on Legacy of the Sith. SWTOR is incredibly special to me, as is this talented team that brings the game to life.
Working with Charles has been one of the highlights of my career. He has led the SWTOR team with courage and compassion, as well as being an incredible storyteller in the Star Wars universe and delivering countless memorable moments for SWTOR fans. I think I speak for the team when I say that we will all deeply miss Charles (and his magnificent beard). These are definitely some big shoes to fill, but I believe that we have been set up for success with many opportunities ahead of us, and I’m honored to carry the torch forward. I’m so excited for the future of SWTOR and can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Caitlin Sullivan Kelly, Lead Writer
Caitlin has been an indispensable contributor to SWTOR’s narrative team for almost eight years. Caitlin will carry our players’ ten-year-long personal Star Wars sagas forward with all of the new stories, characters, romances, betrayals, and impactful choices SWTOR is known for.
Hey, everyone! I’ve posted here before, but it’s been awhile, so allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Caitlin Sullivan Kelly, and I’m now the Lead Writer for Star Wars: the Old Republic. Some of you may remember me sharing my short story, “Quite a Story to Tell,” but I also had the pleasure of writing–among many other things–the Imperial Manaan story for Legacy of the Sith, both versions of the Secrets of the Enclave flashpoint, the All Worlds Ultimate Swoop Rally event, and some major scenes in Echoes of Oblivion. Before I was a Game Writer, I was a Narrative Specialist, and my contributions to the narrative team go as far back as 2014, when I started providing feedback for the expansion’s story during the development of Shadow of Revan. In every Star Wars: the Old Republic update since then, my primary responsibility has been working with writing, design, art, and cinematics to ensure our story content adheres to a particular standard of quality.
I’ve learned so much from working so closely with Charles over the years; he’s been an amazing supporter, mentor, and friend. While it’ll be very hard to see him go, I’ve also learned a lot from working with Ashley, and I’m so excited to continue supporting her in her new role. We both recognize our team’s talent for collaboration and creativity, as well as the passion for the amazing stories we tell: the twists and turns, the characters and relationships, the settings and the lore. I love this game, this team, and this community, and I look forward to continuing our storytelling journey together!
Alan Copeland, UX Director
Alan has been on the frontline of modernization in SWTOR, leading the team that is updating our UI/UX experience to make the game more clear, accessible, and fun to play.
Hi everyone, I’m Alan Copeland, UX Director for SWTOR and I’ve been working on AAA games for nearly two decades, working on SWTOR specifically since early 2020. My team and I are working hard to make SWTOR more accessible, approachable and understandable for both new users and seasoned veterans of our game. We know that our players have a lot of love for SWTOR, and we keep that sentiment in mind to make the game the best that it can be.
George Smith, Gameplay Design Director
George has been a part of the SWTOR design team since well before launch, led our Operations team up through Shadow of Revan, and now oversees the full gameplay team.
Hi all. It’s been a while!. I’m George and I’m the Gameplay Design Director. I’ve been working on SWTOR for almost a decade now, first as part of the team that built many of the Operations, now working with the teams in charge of player combat and systems. SWTOR has been a big part of my life for these last 10+ years, and I’m excited to be able to be a part of its future going forward.
With Charles Boyd’s departure, Game Update 7.1 will mark the end of an era. He will be missed, but I am excited for SWTOR’s future! You can check out Keith’s full announcement here.