So we’re finally starting to see how SWTOR’s F2P operation is going to go, and overall I have to say that I’m pretty optimistic about it. It’s a somewhat complicated matrix of features, mostly going line item by line item over restrictions and whatnot, but I can see this as a model that works with me instead of against me.
Might as well break it down, right?
- Story Content — Completely free for all. This is a huge, huge get for players, since this is essentially the core of the game. I’m assuming that this covers the gamut of non-dungeon PvE, such as all personal storyline missions and side quests. That’s a massive amount of content, and I’m actually surprised that the studio isn’t asking players to start paying for new planets or content after a certain point.
- Limited character creation choices — This is a toss-up, because BioWare did not elect at this time to say what those limitations are. My guess is that all classes will be available, but only human characters for F2P. You want aliens, you gonna pay, bubba.
- Alternative content — BioWare’s allowing players to participate in up to three Warzones, Flashpoints, and Space Missions per week (each) without having to pay extra, although operations will cost you. Three per week seems pretty fair, unless you’re a die hard PvPer. For a casual F2P player, I can’t see myself wanting to do more than three dungeons a week anyway, so that’s fine.
- Crew skills — F2P is limited to one but can buy more. If you’re sticking with one, take slicing and be done with it. I love crew skills, so this would probably be worth investing some real money into it.
- Other restrictions — Limited cargo hold space and inventory space, slower quick travel recharge, most deaths will send you back to med center, and so on. Nothing deal-breaking, and for cheapskates, it’s nothing that can’t be dealt with.
- Purple gear denied — At least without buying a “license.” So there’s going to be a cap on the quality of gear you can equip, which is probably fine for most of the leveling game but would hurt at the end or if you’re running a lot of dungeons. If it’s a one-time purchase to overcome this, I think it’d be worthwhile.
It’s really not that bad. As I said, character creation is the biggest unknown factor, and I hope that BioWare really keeps the limitations to race and not class. Other races are nice, but since they’re all more or less human variations, they’re not the strong selling point that, say, EQ2′s diverse lineup is.
This plan favors the solo PvE player (i.e. me) far more than the grouper or PvPer. I don’t know how compelling these additional purchase options will be for the free players, and for BioWare’s sake, I hope they did their homework to make sure it’ll be enough of an income to justify this.
Strangely enough, this is all making me pretty excited about an eventual return to the game. I really do want to see what the team has done in the past few updates, and as I’ve only taken one class through to the end of the story, I’d like to see another. The question is whether I should reroll or try something new entirely.