Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught Review: 6.0 Expansion Keeps SWTOR In the Game
After three long years, fans of one of the longest-running Star Wars video games were rewarded with a new expansion to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught is, technically, the seventh expansion for SWTOR, but it bears the identifier of 6.0.0. (Though currently the game is already at 6.0a, after bug-fix patch updated shortly after release.) This latest expansion brings SWTOR back to its MMO roots, featuring two storylines telling a tale of a war between the Republic and the Empire. We’ll take a look at if Star Wars: The Old Republic is worth playing in 2019, and how Onslaught fits in with the rest of the game’s content. Whether you enjoy MMOs or simply like playing the classic Knights of the Old Republic console and PC games, you might want to a closer look at SWTOR.
What is Star Wars: The Old Republic?
Outside of Onslaught, just one storyline, Star Wars: The Old Republic puts the “massive” in massively multiplayer online role-playing game. We’re not talking about the subscriber or free-to-play player base, either. Rather, this game provides potentially 1,000 hours of gameplay for those who want to experience everything it has to offer. A hotly anticipated game since 2008, the launch of SWTOR in 2011 met a mixed reception. Rollout was slow and there were bugs aplenty. Still, fans recognized the amount of work that went into producing this game and it’s eight, distinct class stories. Classes are not new in MMOs, but the four Republic/Light Side and four Empire/Dark Side characters players choose from each have their own unique multiple-chapter adventure.
Spanning around a dozen different planets (and other, one-off mission locations), players can follow the journey of Jedi, Sith, soldier, smuggler, bounty hunter, and Imperial spy. The game is now free-to-play up to level 50, so that means players can experience what is ostensibly a solo RPG for free. There are restrictions on the group content that these players can do in SWTOR but buying a single item from their in-game store gives them quality-of-life upgrades. (Also, the game gives currency to this store away for free.) Subscribing for just a month unlocks even more things, and you get to play all of the expansions to-date forever.
These stories are fully voice-acted, and the game is replete with Star Wars music, both from the films and compositions original to the game that fit in the musical canon. (The game, however, is considered “Legends” however.) All-in-all, it’s an impressive endeavor. It may not be the best technical MMO on the market, but it’s definitely in the conversation for the best in terms of what it delivers.
What Does Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught Bring to the Game?
As game maker BioWare Austin found itself struggling for resources, especially considering how much work Anthem needed, SWTOR fell by the wayside. In terms of expansions, rather than developing eight different stories, the game’s creators instituted a “chapter” system where all classes play as a character known as “the Outlander” and later “the Commander.” It was a revolutionary overhaul, making the MMO much more like a single-player game. However, Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion 6.0, Onslaught, brings the game back to its roots. You travel to planets and follow a mission throughline rather than play chapters. While there is still a single story, you get to see two different versions of it. Players can work with the Republic or the Empire, each of which offers a different story experience.
The threat in the expansions Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne was neither Republic nor Empire. It was a civilization new to SWTOR and Star Wars in general. Onslaught brings Star Wars: The Old Republic back to the classic Republic versus Empire conflict. Players travel to two new worlds, Onderon and Mek-Sha, in preparation for a “Flashpoint” battle in a war shipyard on Corellia. Both of these new locations have daily missions players can do to earn in-game items and currency. The story is interesting and gives the player the option to pick a side or stay neutral. Finally, it takes the game back to its roots while still moving the larger story forward in interesting ways. Fans really enjoy how random quest-givers from early levels in the game return to the story and remember their interactions with your characters.
What Changed in Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught?
Image via BioWare Austin
Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught doesn’t really add anything new in terms of gameplay. However, the developers did add a number of quality-of-life upgrades and completely overhauled the gearing system. Up until now, players had to assemble entire sets of armor based on their classes for maximum stats. Of course, this meant that everyone in SWTOR playing PVP or Operations would eventually play the game the exact same way. The new gearing system changes that.
Instead of set bonuses, players can add a new piece of gear, called Tacticals, that allow for more customization. Similarly, gear comes with a new stat bonus called Amplifers which affect everything from combat to item crafting. Players can spend in-game credits, earned from completing missions, selling items, and loot gathering, to re-roll these stats. Players can customize their characters so that two classes that are otherwise identical play the game in completely different ways.
Finally, they’ve upgraded menu interfaces, making it easier to make cosmetic or gear changes to your character. Some players like to craft their own gear. The materials needed for this often took up a lot of the limited storage space players have. The biggest change comes with the “crafting materials storage” area. It holds an unlimited amount of these materials and every character a player has on a server can access them. They’ve also made it easier to earn currency (called Jawa Scrap) to purchase these materials from vendors.
Is SWTOR Worth Playing in 2019?
Image via BioWare Austin
Maybe you started playing SWTOR on launch and walked away. Maybe you never tried the game at all. Still, it’s worth coming back for at least a month to see how things have changed. For about $15, you can gain access to all of the game’s content for the life of the game. Even if you unsubscribe, you can still play through all of the class stories. Depending on your class, the cut-scene conversation changes, especially when you encounter a former companion or character you encountered before. Despite complaints on the game’s forums and subreddit, the player base is still active and often eager to help new or returning players. Even if you like playing solo, there is plenty there for you to do.
What’s most impressive, to quote Darth Vader, is that despite the lack of resources the developers got, Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught is a delight. It provides about six hours (for the fastest players) of new story content. You also get a new Operation and two areas for daily missions. Even those who complain about lack of support and frequent updates are happy. Many are playing through their favorite class storyline again with the new alien species characters, Nautolans.
If you like MMOs but never tried SWTOR or if you enjoy Star Wars games, there is nothing to lose by trying it out. Start out as a free-to-play member to see if you enjoy it. If you do, it’s worth subscribing for at least a month to unlock perks and get the new content. Still, eight years after launch, SWTOR is still going strong. If the developers are able to put together more new content like Star Wars: The Old Republic Onslaught, they aren’t going anywhere for a while.
Featured image via BioWare Austin
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.