Last Thursday, early access began in STAR WARS: The Old Republic for Galactic Strongholds. Early access is available to all subscribers of the game. Free-to-play players will need to wait a little longer, until October 14. I know by now this is old news, but I was on a plane Thursday moving halfway across a continent, so maybe cut me some slack. Besides, it doesn't matter if the news is a few days or a few weeks old, I'm always eager to talk about SWTOR. The game will always have a special place in my cold, black heart, regardless of whether I'm playing it daily or haven't logged in in awhile. I'm pretty stoked for Strongholds and am looking forward to my desktop arriving so I can go explore SWTOR's answer to housing with my Smuggler.
Another pretty cool thing that comes with this update is the ability for massive scale guild versus guild PvP. With the introduction of the Conquest system, guildmasters will be able to rally up their guildmates and blast their flagships across the universe to the nearest planet available for guild conquering. Each week, a new planet is up for grabs. Once a guild conquers a planet, it now belongs to that guild until they conquer a new planet or the planet becomes contested again (don't worry, if you want to call that planet home, just be sure to defend it well so another guild can't claim it!). During the conquest, both guilds and players can earn privileges, from bragging rights such as a banner on your conquered planet to let everyone know who rules it, to an exclusive mount. If you're not in a guild, you can still participate in Conquests, which will be a series of missions beyond the contested planet. Conquests are available in the Mission Log.
Guilds, like players, can also have a homebase in the form of a Galactic Stronghold. The same four planets are available to them, as well: Tatooine, Nar Shaddaa, Coruscant, or Dromund Kaas. As with players, these are available to purchase through the Stronghold Directory, which is available on the Fleets or the planet you wish to purchase a Stronghold on. Similar to Conquests, Guild Strongholds need to be purchased by the guildmaster. Players can also gift decorations to their guilds through a new spot in the Guild Bank Interface. Items physically donated through this method will be consumed, and the donating player will not be able to use them in the future. Make sure you're not going to donate everything within your reach and then break up with your besties a week later!
A new Stronghold Commissioner offers a starter mission on either the Fleets or starter planets that will give you some starter decorations to plug into your pad. Other decorations can be purchased by credits, Cartel Coins, crafted, as drops in Flashpoints and Operations, or from other quest rewards. If you're sick of dragging an oogling Corso around with you everywhere you go, you can drop him off and tell him to “stay, boy” at the house before heading back to your ship to get on with your business without that yokel following you around and criticizing you for every tiny thing. Mounts and pets can also be turned into decorations.
I'm looking forward to the success of Strongholds, which will hopefully mean an expansion into other areas. It would be fantastic to see these added to planets with a level restriction based on the planet's suggested leveling, since it might be a bit dangerous to a level 15 running around Voss. But, let's talk about Voss, how it's my favorite planet in SWTOR, and how I'd love to hang out with those silly mystics. Nothing says “I want to live here” like a trial that almost gets you killed.
This update also has a few other nice perks. Makeb is getting a little bit of a boost to help those in their 50+ journeys. Not only will your gear be bolstered to a rating of 156, but you'll also get your very own stalker Kolto drone to heal you for 2% every 3 seconds. In addition, Makeb now has a 250% boost to exploration – see the sights! Get some XP! There are some other minor tweaks that went in, so make sure to read the full patch notes for this update if you're interested in the fine details of Update 2.9.
Have you made your mark with a Galactic Stronghold? Which planet did you choose? Show off your pad in the comments – whether it's a guild or personal Stronghold, post in the comments. I want to see what you have!