Keith Kanneg, SWTOR game director, published a lengthy post on the forums to announce upcoming changes and the studio’s plans for 2022!

Today, Keith Kanneg took it to the forums to attempt and reassure the community once again that the whole dev team is working hard on upcoming fixes and new content for Star Wars The Old Republic’s Legacy of the Sith expansion.

Let’s see what Keith said and what we should take away from his post. I have done what is a tradition for me – analysis and news recap mixed in one.

Trailer appreciation and initial reactions to 7.0’s release

Keith began his post with a statement and an attempt to reassure the community that in the two weeks since the launch of the expansion, they have been collecting data and feedback and have been preparing their response in terms of quick fixes to the most urgent bugs along with some new content.

Keith’s second sentence was a thank you note to everyone who showed their appreciation for the new expansion. He also talked about the new CGI Trailer “Disorder”. It’s no secret we were all totally blown away by it.

SWTOR Game Director talks 2022 plans

Many teams came together and worked very hard to make both possible. A small handful of us were able to spend launch week in an in-person ops room. Watching players react to the trailer and then start pouring into the servers will remain a fun memory for me.”

I myself stood in awe for a few minutes after I watched the premiere. I then watched it many more times. None of my follow-up re-watches got a lesser jaw-dropping effect in me than the first time I watched it. It’s still a fantastic piece of art.

The trailer’s acceptance and reactions from the community, however, ended up contrasting drastically with the actual expansion.

The actual 7.0 launch and “problematic transitions”

Keith clearly acknowledged in his post that he and the whole team are aware of the difficult “transition” players had to go through with the introduction to Combat Styles, the pruned abilities and the new Character Sheet panel.

“[…]we know that 7.0 was not a smooth transition for some players, so we have been very busy since launch day resolving issues, minimizing any downtime, while fixing key issues without requiring a game patch”

If you jumped right into the action after the maintenance on February 15th, you might remember the usual things like crazy lag and ability delays. These are standard for nearly every expansion SWTOR has ever had. The servers simply cannot handle the number of players that want to try new content on Day 1. I say “standard” with a bit of sadness in my heart as this is something that should not be allowed to happen.

On top of the traditional launch issues, we had a whole lot of new ones. And some of them were very severe and game-breaking too:

“For example, during our first 72 hours, we identified critical bugs such as the issues with keybinding resets, empty gear boxes, and combat styles on characters not displaying properly and we corrected them all.”

SWTOR Game Director talks 2022 plans

In the comments under my analysis of BioWare’s initial response to 7.0 issues, we discussed a bit how people feel about the introduction to Combat Styles, what were BioWare’s priorities for 7.0 and what players think they should have been.

I believe that we should have received more content now instead of a long and tedious behind-the-scenes build-up for the brighter distant future.

BioWare spent a lot of money and efforts to promote the Legacy of the Sith. This combined with the fact that 2020 and 2021 were arguably the two worst years for the game in terms of new content released, should have produced an easy answer of what needed to be a priority – fresh new content now or massive restructure and little fluff of new story.

SWTOR Update 7.0.1 is coming soon

The devs fixed whatever they could on their end and now the rest is bundled up for a patch. Update 7.0.1 will contain the following fixes (plus others):

  • Adjusted contrast in inventory screen
  • Rakata Med-Tech’s weapons and offhands can now be upgraded at the Operations Gear Upgrade vendor, as intended
  • Rakata Force-Lord’s weapons can now be upgraded, as intended
  • The Category Filter in the Ability window is now showing all the categories. The Vehicles category now appears when the list is opened
  • The following now contain loot: Tionese Requisition Cache, Noble Decurion Chest, World Boss Equipment Crate
  • The Decurion Gear Containers and Decurion Gear caches now contain gear contain gear for all combat styles/disciplines
  • Unifying colors on individual armor pieces is now correctly saved when leaving the outfitter window
  • Galactic Seasons Reward Level 67 for Subscribers now correctly grants the “Sliced Cybernetic Visual Enhancement Implants” Legendary Companion gift for Fen Zeil, as intended
  • Fixed an issue preventing players with Ryzen HS processors from viewing the list of available servers
  • Companions and invited NPCs no longer despawn during the Graul boss fight in Secrets of the Enclave
  • Veteran Mode Flashpoints in Group Finder can now be queued by all players at level 15+. Story Mode Operations in Group Finder can now only be queued by players level 80, as intended
SWTOR 7.1 PTS New Inventory colors

The adjusted contrast in your inventory is one of the biggest demands from the whole community. What’s even stranger is that we did not stay silent when these first appeared on PTS 7.0. Why did BioWare not fix them? The currently running PTS 7.1 has the inventory fix as well.

What’s on PTS 7.1 right now

Keith talked about the currently running initial version and phase 1 of the new PTS 7.1. On this subscriber-only test server you can test and preview the first three bosses from the new R-4 Anomaly operation in Story and Veteran Modes.

SWTOR Game Director talks 2022 plans

Endonae did a great recap of the SWTOR 7.1 PTS launch earlier this week. He also showed you the new UI changes that don’t end with just the tweaked borders of the Inventory.

Regarding the Elom and Malgus fight bugs

Keith was very open about the issues players are encountering with the final boss fight on Elom, part of the main storyline of the 7.0 expansion. The Ruins of Nul Flashpoint is littered with bugs, but the most frustrating ones are with the Malgus fight.

What I find very strange is that Keith confirmed that the issue could not be recreated on their dev servers. I ran the flashpoint several times on the 7.0 PTS and I never had any issues with Malgus either. On live I had the bugs happen to me on every run I did after my very first one.

Here’s a quote from Keith’s post that discussed the Elom Malgus bugs:

“We have experienced this bug when playing on our live characters, however, this bug does not present itself on our development servers. Reproducing a bug on development servers is step one in resolving any issue as it allows us to dig deeper into the source of the problems.

The biggest offender of this issue is when Malgus is pulling or pushing the player. This creates one of two possibilities: something in the game is causing the player to take a substantial, unintended spike of damage which kills them, or the movement of their character is causing them to hit something we call a “death volume”. This is a space built into all environments that if a player enters, kills them instantly. In this case, this area is used as a mechanism to ensure players don’t ever get stuck in the environment. We have done explorations of the death volumes, combat triggers, the ballistics on Malgus’s attacks, and none of these appears to be the culprit. The bug remains so our hunt for a fix continues. As this issue only wants to rear its ugly head on live servers, we have made a couple of tweaks, most notably to death volumes, which you can help us test right now on PTS!”

This most likely confirms our theories that the problems may be related to the bigger population on the live servers creating more lag, which is actually causing this fight to bug and glitch.

Keith continues with a very curious fact about the number of fixes they have implemented to the 7.1 PTS in hopes to resolve the Malgus bugs:

“As of this post, this patch will include at least 200+ fixes of varying degrees. The player facing fixes will be reflected in the patch notes. Because we are implementing all of these fixes in one push, we want to ensure the necessary time is allocated to test them all to quality. We are currently targeting March 22 for 7.0.1, but we will update you all with a confirmed date as we get closer.”

Let’s not forget that the devs decided to disable Elom’s Bonus Mission and Boss shortly after the release. It was also causing troubles and issues.

Promises of more content in 2022

The rest of Keith’s post is littered with the typical promises that the studio makes after each and every expansion. If I had to point out a difference it is the fact that this time, for 7.0 and 2022, they have repeated these promises and reassurances way more times than in previous years.

“7.0 is a foundational update to the game. The fundamental refactoring of all abilities and Advanced Classes into Combat Styles, the addition of the long-requested Loadouts feature, and the beginnings of new UI/UX and Itemization constitute the most significant systemic changes made to SWTOR since launch. These are only the first steps toward the ambitious and inspiring vision we have for SWTOR’s future. We are excited to continue bringing this vision to life in the ongoing updates and additions coming to the game this year and beyond. More story will be coming including new locations to explore, a PvP revamp, and more visual and modernization improvements are also underway. It was always intended that 7.0 would receive multiple updates in 2022 and beyond to celebrate ten years of SWTOR.”

I’ve said it clearly in my previous analysis post about Jackie’s announcement for an announcement (BioWare loves doing these). Loadouts are one of the best new features in SWTOR 7.0. For me, it’s the best since the Customizable UI was released. Do you remember the game before we got to tweak the UI elements? Ugh!

The general direction that the dev team is taking with the redesign of SWTOR’s UI, however, is just a bit shy from disastrously bad. For me, personally. It’s uninspiring and boring to look at. Also, not very functional.

More reasons? Sure, here are a few:

Our character in the Character Sheet cannot be rotated freely. We have to press a button and the post just changes. It doesn’t naturally turn around. It changes.

The Character Sheet is gigantic, but it shows surprisingly little information before it starts forcing you to click and drag things around. The Valor Rank is now tucked away in another tab. The Dark vs Light is worse-looking than before and the Stats, Oh the Stats, they are just a pain to drag out and navigate through. The stats are the most important part of this Character Sheet for any EndGame player. And they are hidden behind a small button, in a small window that you have to scroll through to see all of its contents for no apparent reason.

The newly redesigned Character Sheet and the previously updated/changed panels and modules feature a strangely bright and light blue color that doesn’t match with the rest of the game’s UI. I know that eventually the whole UI will be transformed into this new style, but I don’t like that style. It’s flat, while at the same time bulky, ugly and consumes way more space than it should.

The old UI is bulky too, but it packs so much classic SWTOR charisma. It’s not just a thick one-color grade border. It’s full of detail.

And, in case you need to be reassured one more time, here’s Keith’s final (for now) reminder that they promise more content in 2022:

“Not only does the launch of Legacy of the Sith begin the journey into updating the game, but this update also opens the doors to new players who have never experienced SWTOR before. 7.0 is meant to invite new players to the game while also bringing new experiences to returning and veteran players.”

Conclusions

I’d like to end this by expressing my hopes and demands as a veteran of this game and as someone who has seen every single patch and expansion on Day 1:

The promise of more content is something I and other veteran players have heard countless times over the years. They never came true. Hopefully, 2022 will be different. So far we have only heard promises, but no real actions.

7.1 came to PTS late. They were originally hoping to release it “shortly before or shortly after 7.0” (quoting by memory). Well, technically two weeks after the launch is still “shortly after”, but that’s two weeks from 2022 that we have lose with no new content to play through.

We waited patiently for the dreaded 2020 and 2021 to go away. We are starting a new year now and we took off at a much slower pace than we would like to when it comes to SWTOR.

The 7.0 expansion was teased way back in January of 2020. BioWare did not quickly patch this one up for the tenth anniversary. This one spent a long time in planning and development.

When BioWare says we will get new content, I wholeheartedly hope that this does not mean two to three 7.X updates with 30-50 minutes worth of story and an occasional new Flashpoint.

Following the announcement from early 2020 about the new way patches will work, we now know what to expect from a patch just by seeing its numeric label.

I think we need a slight change for that formula. Because we deserve it. And because BioWare has a depth to pay to its loyal customers and fans.

Major updates (7.X) should include at least an hour of story and new features. Incremental updates (7.X.X) should feature new replayable content like Daily Areas, Warzones, Flashpoints.

We have heard more than enough times that 2022 will be littered with new content and regular updates. I am burning with impatience to see them become reality!

I’ll use Keith’s final sentence from his post to echo my own feelings towards SWTOR:

“SWTOR is a ten year old game that is very dear to all of us, and we look forward to continuing the journey of a series of updates to make the game the best it can be.”

Author Lokzmir
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