LucasArts has revealed the first information on its planned upgrade for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided. The massively multiplayer game was originally released in 2003, and it attracted Star Wars fans and hardcore massively multiplayer game experts to its complex character development and one of the most highly sought-after secrets in any online game...the ability to become a Jedi, after fulfilling a series of rigorous secret quests.
Time has passed, and as LucasArts senior director Nancy MacIntyre explains that changes are bound to happen in games like this, since "[Galaxies] is a living, breathing world."
The update will introduce sweeping changes to the online game, such as redefining all characters into nine professions: bounty hunters, smugglers, spies, traders, entertainers, commandos, medics, officers, and force-sensitives. So instead of keeping the lore of the Jedi a guarded secret, the updated game will let you jump on the fast track to becoming one of the universe's mystical knights, if you wish. However, LucasArts insists that even though the secrets of the Jedi have become less and less...secret, the majority of its players prefer other professions, and expects the same even after the update.
The nine professions encompass the classes and skills that, according to LucasArts, are played by 98 percent of its current player population, though unfortunately, additional fringe skills like creature handling seem to be on the way out (LucasArts may revisit those other skills in a future update).
In addition to adding revised character classes, the update will also include a streamlined interface that will reduce many options down to a single click of the mouse.
This includes battles, since the update will also overhaul the way combat will work by making it real-time by clicks, rather than using its traditional "autoattack" method. You'll actually be able to click your mouse repeatedly (or click and hold) to squeeze off individual blaster shots in battle.
These and other changes will be introduced gradually over the course of an entirely revamped "early" experience, referred to tentatively as the "new player experience."
LucasArts is redesigning the first 30 character levels of the game to be more directed and cohesive, similar to the story-driven content in the Rage of the Wookiees expansion pack.
As part of this new change in focus, the game will also offer more encounters with key Star Wars Trilogy characters, such as Han Solo, Chewbacca, and C-3PO, all of whom will appear in the first 10-level "new player experience" content.
LucasArts will actually be releasing this "new player experience" as a free-to-download, free-to-play standalone game that anyone can download and use to try out the first 10 character levels of the nine new professions.
The upcoming update, and free 10-level game, for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided is scheduled to launch on November 15.
Read our previewof the update here.