SWTOR: Race unlocks and the Cathar

A recent interview with a SWTOR dev over at SWTOR-RP has me thinking about Free-to-Play monetisation and how developers prioritise content for release under that model. Other games have charged F2P players to unlock races or classes, it’s nothing that new (e.g. EQ2 and Vanguard have both, LOTRO has the class unlocks for warden and runekeeper as part of the Moria expansion). I’ve actually paid for a couple of these in the past, for example in EQ2 I unlocked dirge, shadowknight and the Sarnak race. I’d rather pay for race or class unlocks than content unlocks actually as I think locking content only works in very compartmentalised games (DDO is the obvious example).

Reading the above-linked interview the SWTOR devs seem to have a similar strategy going forward. They’re releasing the Cathar race first at some point after the expansion, and depending on feedback (number of race unlocks sold), they’ll then prioritise other new races accordingly. My big concern here is why Bioware would pick such a relatively obscure Star Wars race for this experiment? If they wanted to sell a ton of race unlocks surely they should have added Wookie, Togruta, Jawa or some other iconic race? If the argumentation over humanoid races being easier to model is the issue then Togruta, Sullustan or another humanoid race still makes more sense to me.

Perhaps the Cathar from the Commando personal storyline (Aric Jordan) is *so* popular that the Cathar was a natural choice. Personally I wish they’d chosen something a bit more daring, if the Cathar doesn’t sell enough units then the devs may choose not to make any further new races in the near future which would be a real shame. One big feature of Star Wars over other Science Fiction, such as Star Trek, is the very varied race selection. They are a lot of races that are well featured in the various films, games and novels; plus they aren’t all humanoids with “head ridges”. I found the launch line-up of races for SWTOR rather disappointing and I was hoping that during the lifetime of the game they’d start addressing this. Let’s hope the Cathar do sell regardless of my own bias, and that as a result some of the more iconic races become available.

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4 Responses to SWTOR: Race unlocks and the Cathar

  1. Pallais says:

    A big problem is going back and redoing all the gear to work with a new race. Since the Cathar are the closest to being human they would have the least effort to get ready. Togruta (which I would love to see) have the same problem Tw’leks have had with gear poking through their lekku.

    Another problem is with races that don’t speak Basic. Having a Wookie or a Jawa reply to all the quest dialog a player has to deal with while leveling would be grating. It would certainly get tiring to hear the same racial sound clips over and over.

    Currently Bioware is letting people unlock races for all classes. The ToR canon would be able to handle a Sith Inquisitor Cathar, for example, because of Juhani from KotoR 1 was a Jedi. It is a bit of a stretch, but doable. A Wookie or Jawa Sith Inquisitor would just feel like a bad fan-fic. If you put class restrictions on the races folks are going to complain (not that they won’t complain either way…) about it since every other race can potentially be each class.

    • Telwyn says:

      Gear rendering problems I can understand, though races like Sullustans or the Gran would be easy to implement bar helmet issues. True about the voice issues, though the flip-side of that coin is easy new companions to add given the use and reuse of snippets of non-basic languages? My favourite companion in the game so far is Qyzen so I’m used to this I guess. To me it just makes it feel more like ‘Star Wars’ to have that proper alien angle.

      I hadn’t thought of the canon issue I’ll admit, though having the legacy unlocks for signature sith powers on a smuggler (for example) isn’t exactly caring much about canon IMHO …

  2. Jullius @ Shadowlands says:

    Star Wars canon, btw, would support a wookie sith (he was an albino wookie and incredibly evil. I agree the voice work would be a reason not to choose a race, such as a wookie, for playability… however since we are paying for expansions, I wouldn’t mind paying 20-30 dollars for a mind blowing expansion that included an iconic playable race – such as a wookie (but not limited to that example). There are also iconic species that wouldn’t require many changes to voice acting: Gran, Bothans (!yes!), Mon Calamari, Quarren to name a few.

    • Telwyn says:

      Exactly my point and I agree 100%. Mon Calamari are an excellent race, though I have no idea if they were active in the Republic in that era…

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