Star Wars: The Old Republic had an interesting presentation at E3. Instead of showing off anything mind-blowing, BioWare chose to make sure players were aware of where the game came from and where it is going—which is the 1.3 Allies update. Perhaps the most important part of the update, and the reason it's named Allies, is the group finder. This now-standard MMO convention automatically matches you up with other players to take on flashpoints (their term for dungeons) together.
Beyond that, though, 1.3 has many other features. First off is an expansion of the Legacy system to include Legacy Perks. The Legacy system originally only awarded players with levels used to unlock things like being able to choose more races to play as. With 1.3 they will now be able to unlock bonuses specific to a character. So, if some players have characters they want to level only through story missions and PvP, they could unlock exp bonuses for those and happily play the way they want to. If someone is just obsessed with giving an alt a speeder at an earlier level than normal or the ability to quick travel to areas to do operations, there are unlocks to help with those, too.
The new patch also offers adaptive gear. This is social gear that is already in the game, but it will now switch to the highest armor type your character can wear. So that cloth item you found on Tatooine that you liked the look of can now be used as heavy armor that your character can wear in operations or PvP. If you do so another new feature, the Augmentation Tables, comes into play. These workbenches let you add augment slots to gear. Then, once you pick up some quality augments and mods for your armor by crafting or buying them off of the auction house, you can take on end game operations while dressed up as a sand person. You have to admit, there's something awesome about 16 people dressed up as sandpeople taking on end game content.
More screenshots can be found in our gallery.
Rounding out patch 1.3 is the promise of ranked warzones and a new tutorial system, but there is more promised for the future of The Old Republic. In addition to some new nightmare mode operations like Terror from Beyond, new heroic operations including the Dread Masters, and a new 8v8 warzone, they announced an entire new planet. This planet, Makeb, will bring with it a more focused story than other planets. Promising 10 hours of traditional Bioware RPG storytelling, it should entertain players as they progress to their new level cap. Sadly, though, there are no details on what that new level cap will actually be.
What there are details on is the new companion that will be available to all classes and factions. A fan favorite from the Knights of the Old Republic games, HK-47, can be salvaged (given that players destroy him during the course of The Old Republic) and upgraded to HK-51. Lead designer, Daniel Erickson, had some advice for players hoping to pick this guy up. Noting that the quest to get HK-51 is enormous and spans the entire galaxy, he recommended you take advantage of the legacy system and make an alt on the other faction, as you'll need a character on both the Republic and Empire side in order to get this new robotic sidekick.
While there is obviously a lot coming for current players, Bioware had one last announcement to appeal to people still pondering whether to try out Star Wars: The Old Republic. Coming in July will be a trial that lets you freely play a character up to level 15. That's high enough to get past the starting area and try out the game's first flashpoint.
We asked about the future expansion plans for The Old Republic, but BioWare would only confirm that it will focus on patches through the end of the year. However, with large amounts of content coming for free in each patch, perhaps that's best for the player. Assuming BioWare can keep interest in the game high with things like the trial and group finder, The Old Republic should remain a fun place to adventure...or at least to dress up as a sand person.