Star Wars: The Old Republic's upcoming 1.2 patch will address a number of important gameplay issues - tweaked mechanics, bug fixes, class re-balancing and other such improvements to the underlying system. It will also add some new endgame content, give PvP some love and add a whole bunch of other stuff that many players will feel is terribly important. And I totally agree, these changes and upgrades and what-have-you are important.
But the key thing that gives a game its own unique personality is not the mechanics or the addition of new content to consume. It's the non-essential fluff - the little touches that have nothing to do with shooting up bad guys or going on galaxy-spanning adventures.
The Lord of the Rings Online is a great example of this - if you wanted a break from the adventuring grind, you can go grow some pipeweed and smoke it in the Prancing Pony, or you can whip out your pibgorn and play "Through the Fire and Flames" in a crowded crafting hall. You can have an outfit for every occasion, from brightly-colored party clothes to blood-stained battle armor. You can while away the hours at your favorite fishing hole, catching goldfish and balls of gunk. None of this has anything to do with the mounting war against the forces of Mordor, but it gives the game a distinct flavor and unique personality.
Well, Patch 1.2 is going to be bringing some awesome fluff to SWTOR. Here are some select highlights, and why I'm personally looking forward to them.
Legacy Family Tree
The Star Wars saga has one of the most famously dysfunctional families in movie history. When Vader uttered the line "No. I am your father," moviegoers the world over thought to themselves, "No way!" As the Expanded Universe picked up where the movies left off, the Skywalker family kept growing, and Skywalkers got involved with pretty much everything important that happened in the galaxy. With Patch 1.2 and the Family Tree Legacy, players will be able to form their own Skywalker-esque dynasties - evil, estranged fathers, siblings on opposite sides of the war, adopted children with mysterious pasts, black sheep siblings who have disgraced the family name, you name it. The family tree will even allow for same-sex marriages.
The Skywalker-Organa-Solo Legacy - yours will not be as complex as this, guaranteed.
When I first heard about the Legacy Family Tree, I immediately scrapped most of my alts and began remaking them. Most of my male characters now use the same head model and/or eye and hair color, and when the patch goes live, they are all going to be brothers. Except for the Sith Pureblood Sorcerer - I'm not sure yet if he will be an adopted brother or merely an ally (or rival!). While my Legacy clan will never be as dynastic as the Skywalker-Organa-Solo legacy (it is per-server, and therefore limited to 8 family members instead of the two-dozen-plus that are part of the Skywalker legacy), it will be no less influential in galactic politics.
Color-matching on Armor
In the official video, you can see a player tweaking his gear to make the colors all match up. This is excellent news. My Juggernaut has been wearing some okay-looking chest armor for a long time now, and I have an item in my cargo hold that looks better - big, brawny shoulders, no cape that clips through the back of his speeder and flies up over his head every time he takes an elevator ride - but the colors don't match with the rest of the outfit. I would happily swap out all the mods on his current chest armor if I could get it to match the rest of the outfit. As of Patch 1.2, that will be possible - I won't be able to get that particular item in black, but I will be able to coordinate all the other pieces to make them red, which is almost as good.
Hell yes, I'll be getting a tauntaun. I am prepared to scour the entire planet of Hoth to find one, if that's what it takes. That way, when my Dark V Juggernaut's brutal, savage cruelty offends Vette's gentle nature, she has something snuggly and furry to console her... besides Broonmark, who is certainly furry, but not particularly snuggly. It may seem out-of-character for a ruthless Darth to have an adorable little tauntaun scurrying around after him, but I don't see any reason why a villain can't have pets. Novelist Ian Fleming started a grand tradition with the character Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the classic Bond arch-villain with the white cat. Sometimes it's the cute, furry pet that somehow makes the creepy villain holding it all the more sinister.
Apparently there is also some kind of bird pet, but I'm less interested in that. My Juggernaut is totally a tauntaun person.
One aspect of the game still doesn't make much sense to me. Characters get a free starship at level 15 or so, once they complete their class quests on Coruscant or Dromund Kaas. Then they have to wait 10 levels and spend huge amounts of credits to buy a speeder license and a speeder. In real-world terms, this is like giving a guy a pilot's license and a free G5 jet when he starts working for your company, but if he wants to drive a car to work he has to wait a year and pay through the nose, and in the meantime he has to take the bus.
I don't really begrudge the cost of Speeder Piloting I. The timeline doesn't really make sense, but in game-play terms it seems reasonable. Speeders are convenient fluff and are not mandatory for adventuring, so you're paying more for the convenience. But Speeder Piloting II and III are crazy-expensive. My 50 Juggernaut still can't afford Speeder Piloting III - his final trainable skill - because of some ill-advised financial decisions throughout the leveling process. The 1.2 Patch will reduce the cost of speeder piloting licenses, so now I can breathe easy, just wait a bit and get it cheaper after the patch. A later patch (1.3, perhaps) will take things a step further add "Legacy Speeder License," which will allow players to purchase the Speeder Piloting I license at level 10 - players will be able to get the Honda Civic before they are handed the keys to the company jet.
Another "fluff" ability that will see some tweaking is the Sprint skill. This one I don't really understand. Currently, you get it at level 14, and it's a toggle skill that you practically never toggle off. Players have obviously been finding the lower levels of the game to be too slow, so now everyone gets Sprint at level 1. Ok, great... but why not just remove the skill altogether, then, and set the normal run speed to Sprint speed? Why bother with a toggle skill? If you want to walk slower to set up a tricky jump for a datacron retrieval or something, you can toggle between Run and Walk (though this requires going into your Preferences, finding the option under Key Bindings and binding a key for it - I use the Ins key). It's the kind of skill that, once you get it, you just toggle it on and leave it on, so you likely don't even need to place it on your toolbar.
Legacy Race Options
I'm saving a few character slots on my main server for this one. Right now, I'm working on getting a Sith Pureblood Sorcerer to level 50, so that I can unlock the legacy and have the option of creating a Republic-affiliated Sith Pureblood character. I will already have Cyborg unlocked as a playable race for every class, but the idea of a Sith Pureblood Jedi has a perverse appeal to me.
While there are no new playable races shipping with Patch 1.2, it is my fervent hope that new playable races will eventually be added to the game, and will also be unlockable with the Legacy feature. The current batch is - let's face it - less than inspired. They are all essentially humans with different paint and accessories. The Twi'leks are the furthest departure from humans, but aside from the lekku and skin coloration, there really isn't a difference - same shape and size, same face models and options. I'd like to play a weasely Rodian, or a towering Trandoshan, or even a squishy Mon Calamari. Imagine a Wookiee Marauder giving into his anger and unleashing it.
Loads of Other Stuff
Obviously, I'm looking forward to more than just the fluff. I'm also looking forward to being able to Force Choke fools on my non-Warrior alts. The whole Legacy system seems like a great idea that can (and will) be expanded in future updates. The PvP updates look great, and I anticipate getting more involved with it once they fix the frequency of Huttball matches. There's a lot to look forward to, and in the meantime, I have a Pureblood Sith with a Legacy to forge.
What are you most looking forward to in Patch 1.2? Let us know in the Comments!