Be it the cheeky Astromech Droid, or any of the other 40-odd Companion characters found in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ to-date; we all know and love our Companions (especially the chronically under-appreciated ship droids!). Companion characters have always been a big part of our personal stories, and with the upcoming release of the new Digital Expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, comes an even deeper focus on characters and storytelling. For this reason it only makes sense that we would seek to include our beloved friends (especially the ship droids!!) in that experience.
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Knights of the Fallen Empire has given us an excellent opportunity to take stock of the role of Companions within Star Wars: The Old Republic (from both a gameplay and storytelling standpoint), and to enhance their behavior and mechanics, which have remained largely unchanged since the original launch of the game. I'd therefore like to take some time to share with you some details about the changes and new features related to Companions that will be coming with the launch of Game Update 4.0, as well as some of our thoughts behind these changes.
The Goal of Our Companion System Improvements
Before we dive into the details, allow me to go just a bit into the "why", to provide some context for the reasoning that was guiding many of the choices we made.
Removing Companion Usage Barriers
Here's a familiar scenario: Over the course of your adventures, you meet a new Companion character. They seem like an interesting, fun, or cool character, and you might like to run around the galaxy with them for a bit... but it turns out that their abilities just aren't a good match for your combat style... so you never use them. Ever.
One of our biggest design goals is to try and eliminate as much as possible the artificial barriers that prevent you from playing with the Companions you want, when you want, and how you want.
Rewards for Spending Time with Your Companions, Rather than Flattering Them
Another familiar scenario: You're presented with a story choice in a conversation. You know in your mind how your character wants to answer... but the Companion you've got with you will hate that answer, and you don't want to lose Affection with them, so you instead pick the answer that the Companion wants to hear.
As much as possible, we want you to be able to participate in the story and make the decisions that you feel are true to your character.
Expandability and Versatility
Simply put, we need to make sure the Companion system has both the versatility, and expandability necessary to keep up with your desires to have bolder, more meaningful choice options, as well as to fully utilize the incredible storytelling potential of Knights of the Fallen Empire's episodic narrative.
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