Despite a few debatable player suspensions and troubles with overloaded servers on launch which has BioWare considering how they would’ve done things differently, it’s safe to say the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a phenomenal success. In fact, it already proved to be the fastest growing MMO ever, a testament to brand loyalty towards both Star Wars and developer BioWare.

As widely publicized before the game’s launch, EA and BioWare have been ‘aggressively’ planning  post-launch content for The Old Republic since the get-go and have had large teams working since way before the game’s launch. As senior writer Alex Freed pointed out correctly, ” MMOs live or die based on adding new content, refining old systems, adding new ones,” and not even a month in, the first additional SWTOR content is already on its way!

Electronic Arts and BioWare announced today the first major add-on for the Star Wars: The Old Republic,  Game Update 1.1: Rise of the Rakghouls, which launches next Tuesday, January 17, 2012. Rise of the Rakghouls adds level 50 bracketing for PvP WarZones and a new Flashpoint for max-level players, a 8-16 player Operation that supports multiple skill levels, and the highly requested anti-aliasing feature.

BioWare’s Greg Zeschuk explains:

“A month ago when we launched the Early Game Access program for Star Wars: The Old Republic, we promised our fans that this would just be the beginning of our journey together. Rise of the Rakghouls adds a lot of the things our community has been asking for — additional higher level group content, features like anti-aliasing, PvP bracketing and more. In the future, game updates will be even more substantial, as we promise to continue to not only add to The Old Republic, but to also improve and refine the experience with the full Legacy System and new Guild features.”

  • Flashpoint: Kaon Under Siege is a completely new and unique group combat experience located on Kaon, a planet in the Tion Hegemony, a strategically important sector of the galaxy that has remained neutral, Groups of up to four Republic or Imperial players must race to Kaon to eliminate the Rakghouls outbreak, securing the allegiance of the Tion Hegemony for their respective sides. This Flashpoint will be available for level 50 characters only and will feature Normal and Heroic modes.
  • Operation: Karagga’s Palace, is a continuation of the game’s second launch Operation. In the Operation, teams of 8 or 16 players will face off against Karagga and the Hutt Cartel after the Hutts abandon their famous neutrality and breach agreements with both the Republic and Empire. Concerned by the threat of another combatant in the war for galactic control, both factions send teams of their most powerful heroes to confront Karagga and determine his intentions. This Operation will feature Normal, Heroic and Nightmare difficulty modes.

At launch, SWTOR offered 200 hours of gameplay per class, all of it presented with full voice acting in traditional BioWare cinematic style, making quests feel like actual quests with story behind them. While the next content update promises to be much more substantial (bring new Flashpoints, Operations, WarZones and new game systems), it’s not coming for two-three months.

What we’d like to see is more Star in this Star Wars game as the space simulation part of the game is a bit of a joke, especially considering the now-defunct Star Wars Galaxies offered something far superior in that regard. Creating a space sim was not BioWare’s goal in making this game more accessible, but it’s something we’d like instead (or in addition to) an on-rails arcade shooter in this rather linear MMO. Expect a major update or expansion down the road that does this.

Are you enjoying SWTOR? What future updates and changes would you like to see made?

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

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