Bioware have been showing off Star Wars: The Old Republic's high level Eternity Vault raid at Gamescom this week. We spoke to them recently about their approach to The Old Republic's endgame. One theme emerged loud and clear: accessibility.
That means high level players won't need to go grinding for an extra tier of armour to jump into a raid. It means a rewards system that gives loot to every member of a group. It means raid groups won't be punished should a player need to leave in the middle of a mission, and boss fights will revolve around intuitive visual cues instead of combat logs and ability icons.
We suggested to Bioware lead designer Gabe Amatangelo that World of Warcraft's five hour, 25 man raids were too lengthy and complex to attract a mainstream audience.
"We absolutely agree with you on that," he said "the Operations we have are going to be... the time commitment is light, and is very flexible as to who comes in and out of the raid, or the Ops as it were."
"The difficulty level is; as soon as you hit max level, the gear that you're in, you can put a group together, you can go in and you can do Normal mode difficulty and experience these iconic, epic Star Wars moments with your friends as well as people you just met.
"We don't intend or we don't expect people to be on Vent and communicating with each other, but we expect them to know how to play their class because if you've gotten to Level 50, you know how to play your class. And we want to just make sure that we open it up so that a lot of people can enjoy these epic Star Wars moments."
The ability to drop in and out of raids is an important part of Star Wars: The Old Republic's accessible endgame.
"You can slot people in and out easily, there's no sort of 'lock-out' mechanism, so that you can't have a new person come in. You'll have progress saved but you can invite new people in at any point in time."
"If someone's got to go – it's no big deal, and it's accessible to just picking someone else up that's Level 50," he continues, "people have kids, people have other commitments, things come up and you can't sit here and say “OK we've got do six hours here and six hours only” that really wouldn't sit with the population that can enjoy these experiences.
"And another thing on the tip of accessibility is some of these encounters and boss fights. We don't have – particularly on the Normal mode, where people have to be studying icons. Like say “did this icon appear? Now I've got to do this.” or studying sort of 'combat logs'. We rely a lot more on visual keys and intuitive type things because that is the general broader gaming audience."
Once players reach the end of a raid, they won't be relying on a percentage drop chance to see if they've earned a reward. Every player will receive their own reward package from which they can pick the loot they need, and every player receives Commendations, a type of currency that can be exchanged for high level rewards once the raid is complete. No player goes home empty handed.
"A bag will drop for every player individually," says Amatangelo. "Inside the bag everyone individually has their choice, or their chance at different stuff, if you follow what I'm saying... so that we don't have the drama of “Hey I wanted that” or “Aww they picked Master Looter and the thing's shut up and I can't get my stuff.”
"So to make it a little bit clearer, I open that bag and inside I get the 'Uber Chest Plate' or you know or I get a couple of Commendations and then once I have 'x' number of commendations I can turn it in for the 'Uber Chest Plate."
You can read more about The Old Republic's endgame in our preview in the latest issue of PC Gamer UK , which is in stores and online now. You can also subscribe to save money on the cover price. You'll scoop a free gaming mouse in the process.