The Old Republic announces upcoming level cap, new species, new planet, and free trial
BioWare just announced their plans for the next 6 months of The Old Republic at EA's big E3 press conference. They will be increasing the new MMO's level cap, adding Cathar as a playable species, and a whole new planet, new to Star Wars canon, to explore. For gamers not playing TOR, the devs are adding a limited free trial that allows you to play the entire game up until level 15 free.
Cathar are a cat-like people that walk on two feet and have a history of being force sensitive in Star Wars lore. You can read more about them on the Cathar Wookieepedia entry.
The new planet being added to the game seems to be entirely new, however--all we really know so far is that it's called Makeb.
UPDATE 5:34 PM: We got in touch with BioWare to learn more about Makeb and here is what they told us: "A fully-realized world for you and your friends to explore, Makeb will also introduce an all-new storyline. The Hutt Cartel, tired of being ignored by the great powers of the galaxy, has taken Makeb in an attempt to acquire an unmatched power which can bring both the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire to their knees. It will be up to you and your allies to face off against the Hutt Cartel, breaking their hold on this once tranquil world and end their bid for galactic domination."
There's no word on how high the level cap will increase the maximum level of players, but the new levels will come with new abilities for every class. I've already heard a lot of complaints from current raiders and PvPers. Most are upset because a level cap in MMOs means that the existing endgame gear--earned through long nights of raiding and PvPing--will be rendered practically worthless. It might be a bit premature to assume this will be the case in TOR as well, since we have so few details--but that rinse-repeat cycle is indeed how gear progression has occurred with pretty much ever other MMO's level cap increase.
BioWare also announced that players will be able to collect an HK companion--an assassin droid series made famous by the rude, abrasive companion that repeatedly referred to humans as "meatbags" in Knights of the Old Republic.
A new space combat mission (Space Station Assault) looks to imitate the feeling of the movies' iconic Death Star trench attacks. A new Operation, Terror From Beyond, brings those massive centipede monsters I mentioned earlier and all sorts of other creepy baddies. A new PvP WarZone, Ancient Hypergates is also planned.
The final slide of the trailer shown at the presentation also revealed that BioWare will be launching a free trial for The Old Republic that's similar to World of Warcraft's: letting you play for free up to level 15 with no time restriction.