With Free-to-Play on the horizon, players are curious about the restrictions coming with it. Yesterday, BioWare launched a new page outlining them in an effort to do just that. Some of the restrictions are not a surprise while others may be. I decided that it is a great time to dive into the points and give my own take on the matter. We would like to invite you all to add in your own voice to the mix in the comments section of this post. For now though, hit the jump to read more.
- Limited character creation options
Currently, there are no details regarding which options will be limited. Developers stated in the past that Free-to-Play players would be able to purchase other species with Cartel Coins as unlocks. In nearly every other case on this list, there are unlock passes players can purchase. For the time being, this seems to be one of the only cases where you cannot. Now, if you can purchase species with Cartel Coins, I am not sure if it would be fair to lock out that player who just spent real money on customization options in the creation process. On this point, I think BioWare could elaborate a bit more.
- A weekly pass to unlock Operation access is required
Out of all of the Free-to-Play options, I think this one is probably the best for players overall. In most cases, except for the progression raiding community, a couple weekly passes will be more than enough to gain any gear they want for their class. For some, this process will be longer. It will all depend on how costly the weekly pass is.
- Three Warzones per week or purchase a weekly pass to unlock this restriction
The Warzone restriction may have the most impact in getting players to subscribe. Warzones are one of the few things SWTOR has to distract players from the otherwise straightforward leveling content Free-to-Play players will be stuck with. If there is anything that will pull players initially to the subscriber side, it will likely be this. On the progression end of PVP, if you enjoy it and want to progress, anyone who plays the game will tell you that three a week will get you nowhere. In order to get anywhere quickly in Warzone progression, it looks like you will have to pay up for the weekly pass or subscribe.
- Full rewards from three Flashpoints per week or purchase a weekly pass to unlock rewards for all Flashpoints
With there as wide of a level separation between Flashpoints and the fact that the 1-50 story content is among some of the easiest to cope with in MMOs, I doubt many will have a problem with this. It should be noted that the restriction says, "Full rewards from three Flashpoints," as opposed to participation. This seems to indicate Free-to-Play players can participate in more than three Flashpoints per week, but they will not get all the rewards available for instances beyond the first three. To me, it seems fair.
- Three Space Missions per week or purchase a weekly pass to unlock this restriction
Unfortunately, the Space Combat portion of the game was not well received, much to my dismay. Regardless of what you think of it though, it gave players a way out if they happened to finish off a planet a little early and were under-leveled for future content. I always found it enjoyable and a great use of my time due to how quickly it could level you but for most, they will likely avoid it anyway.
- Gain and expand the Cargo Hold with Cartel Coins
The only way for Free-to-Play players to acquire expansions to the Cargo Hold is to pay up. I would suggest coming up with an organization method right away otherwise you may be sent to the poor house to make up for the un-tidy Cargo Hold.
- Expand inventory slots with Cartel Coins
This is probably the single most limiting restriction. Restricting inventory space is a staple of Free-to-Play games and it seems to be no different here. However, I challenge anyone to run through the game on their characters with the base amount one gets when starting a new character to level 50. I do not think it can be done, at the very least, not without losing your sanity. *Send companion to sell* Five seconds later *Send companion to sell*
- One Crew Skill or, purchase additional Crew Skill slots with Cartel Coins
As a person who typically leaves their crafting skills until endgame anyway, I doubt this will have that big of an impact on players looking to enjoy the story. While you can gain quite a bit of credits and gear to help you in your journey early on, it is not crucial for player progression in the level up portion of the game.
- Longer Quick Travel cooldown period or purchase an authorization to permanently reduce the cooldown for Quick Travel
No specifics given on just how long of a cooldown change. It is definitely something you can get around but like most things here, they are tiny nagging things that BioWare hopes will turn into you paying up front via Cartel Coins or subscribing.
- No access to Emergency Fleet Pass. Purchase an authorization to unlock quick travel to the Fleet
Having to use the ship to head back to the fleet is an issue for most. However, with the way BioWare designed the Group Finder and the questing system as a whole, for players still leveling up, this will not be an issue. You could have argued before the Group Finder system came out that this would have been a bigger deal but with the way it is now and the limits they put on the flashpoints anyways, it’s doubtful anyone will mind it.
- Revive at the nearest Med Center or a total of five (5) times in the field. Unlock additional Field Revive with Cartel Coins
This one could be an issue for new players but it depends on the way it’s used. Unfortunately, the five times in the field res is a little vague. I am unsure if that means for the life of the character or per day or per week. There is no indication of time so I guess we will have to wait and see. Even if it is for the life of the character though, players likely will not hit that cap until chapter two or three.
- No priority status in the Login Queue
I guess priority status really depends on how they are using it. It could potentially be used in a manner to artificially inflate queue times to get players to pay up for a subscription or at the very least to make it seem more enticing. I worry about this one, due to its potential abuse. I am not stating that BioWare will do this and it is very likely they will not but in the days of high-population servers, the public may see it as manipulation if queues get excessive. Nevertheless, priority login queues are a common thing that developers employ in MMOs that go Free-to-Play.
- Cannot equip most purple items unless a license is purchased from the Cartel Market
It’s funny that this point got answered with the Cartel Coins page as I literally bit my tongue and did not ask a question I had for Damion Schubert at GDC Online regarding if they would limit player progression at 50 since the level 1 to 50 content implies being able to get daily commendations from Corellia, Belsavis, and Ilum. Doing that could garner a player with purple items or at the very least, get them on their way. With this restriction, we have our answer (which I am now kicking myself in the pants for not asking) on just how they will limit that aspect of the progression path. There also is the question "Does this apply to mods as well?" That question may or may not be answered with this point. Time will tell.
Players who remain subscribers to SWTOR will receive a fair amount of Cartel Coins as part of a complementary gift for their patronage over the last ten months. With these coins, players subscribers will be able to purchase some of the same things Free-to-Play players will be able to as well including the following.
- Purchase more cargo space with either in-game Credits or Cartel Coins
- Purchase additional inventory space with either in-game Credits or Cartel Coins
- Unlimited access to the Emergency Fleet Pass. Bypass the cooldown by purchasing a consumable item with Cartel Coins
- Priority status in the Login Queue
- The ability to run faster (Sprint) starting at Level 1
- Increased access to Chat and Secure Trading
While most of these are self-explanatory, I am excited to see what this alternate item is for the Emergency Fleet Pass. The EFP currently only costs an extra 1000 credits to be used at any time so I wonder how much it will cost in coins and if it would be worth it from a value standpoint.
Regardless of what you think of Free-to-Play, it is coming sometime in November. I hope this quick write up contained some information useful to you.