Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free Next Week
If you never bothered with BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO because you didn’t feel like paying a subscription fee, starting Thursday November 15 you can play for free. Without signing up for a subscription you’ll be able to play as any class and experience all the base game’s level 1 through 50 story content.
Naturally there are plenty of restrictions if you’re a free user. You can only join a few Warzones per week, for example, which are The Old Republic’s player versus player arenas. If, while leveling from 1 to 50, you feel like participating in more Warzones, you don’t need to subscribe. Passes to access content like this more frequently can be purchased individually. These passes can be gifted or sold to other players for in-game currency, so directly purchasing from BioWare isn’t the only method of acquisition.
Microtransactions like this can be made for a number of things, including mini pets, cosmetic items, bags of special items and Legacy system bonuses. Free players will also have their number of available character slots, item storage space, and ability to equip rarer gear restricted, and BioWare will implement ways to bypass those restrictions with paid purchases.
You’ll make these purchases with a virtual currency called Cartel Coins. These can be purchased with real money in packs from $4.99 for 450 Coins to $39.99 for 5500 Coins. If you already have an account, you can see if you’ve accumulated any free Coins so far by logging in on the official SWTOR site, clicking over to ‘My Account’ and then clicking ‘Cartel Coins’.
If you’re still paying a subscription fee for The Old Republic, BioWare says you shouldn’t expect much of a change on November 15 aside from a likely increase in the number of players running around on your server. If at some point you decide to stop paying a subscription fee, you’ll still retain ‘Preferred Status’, which means you’ll keep some of your subscription perks, including cargo hold storage access, access to chat, the ability to sprint and more ways to trade.
Also on November 15 BioWare will launch additional content in update 1.5, which among other features includes a new level 50 quest area called Sector X on Belsavis with a storyline that involves the Dread Masters. You’ll also be able to complete a series of quests that begins in Sector X to acquire the snarky assassin droid HK-51. While this content will be available to subscribers, free-to-play players will need to pay to see it.
Overall it seems free-to-play players will get access to a lot of content without paying anything, though the restrictions on equippable items and storage space seem pretty severe. We’ll have to wait until the full free system goes live next week to determine if free-to-play in SWTOR is actually fun or just an irritating series of reminders that you should pay real money to keep playing.