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Gaming: Star Wars: The Old Republic expands with Onslaught; Xbox One S goes digital

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Wars The Old Republic Onslaught

The Force is flowing back into one of the best-loved Star Wars games. This fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic will get its first batch of all-new content in three years thanks to free expansion Onslaught, according to BioWare.

The seventh major update since SWTOR first released to wide acclaim back in 2011, Onslaught will introduce entirely new locations including the jungle planet Onderon and its moon, Dxun, as well as the lawless asteroid fueling outpost of Mek-Sha. 

The new locations come with a new storyline, a new flashpoint on war-ravaged Corellia, an increased level cap, new abilities, and more, developers revealed in a recent blog post. In keeping with the branching-path story elements that put BioWare’s distinct RPG signature on games like SWTOR and Mass Effect, the new expansion thrusts you into the middle of a conflict — and then allows you to choose your side.

Star Wars The Old Republic Mek Sha outpost

“War between the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire blazes across the galaxy. Crucial resources dwindle as piracy and crime escalate dramatically. Amid this chaos, the Alliance Commander has the chance to tip the scales in favor of either faction, committing their elite forces to decide the fate of the galaxy,” the developer teased. “…Will you remain loyal to your faction or work to undermine and sabotage their war efforts? The choice is yours.”

Deepening the development of your character will be an all-new slot for tactical items, “build-defining” gear that BioWare promises will “directly alter your abilities and playstyle.” The current level cap of 70, which received its last increase with 2016’s Knights of the Eternal Throne, also will be getting a bump. 

Onslaught for Star Wars: The Old Republic will kick into hyperdrive starting this September. 

Microsoft’s plan to release a disc-less version of the Xbox One hasn’t exactly been a secret, so it’s no surprise the new, lower-priced Xbox One S All-Digital Edition has finally been announced

The all-online version of the Xbox One looks identical to its Blu-ray-based sibling, save for the absence of a disc slot, and matches the current console’s 1 TB of hard drive storage and 4K streaming capability. Clocking in at $249, the All-Digital Edition comes bundled with a standard controller and digital copies of Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3, and it’ll be available beginning May 7. 

Xbox One S All Digital Edition

Microsoft also revealed a new way to bundle its online offerings via an all-in-one service called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which offers both Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass for the monthly cost of $14.99. Signing up nets you access to the full Game Pass library, as well as all the connected multiplayer features of Xbox Live Gold. The new service will debut sometime later this year, according to Microsoft.

Finally, Sony appears to be taking steps toward self-censorship with its plan to begin cracking down on sexually explicit content on future PlayStation 4 games. 

The Wall Street Journal reports Sony is worried that its “global reputation could take a hit from sexually explicit content sold in a few markets,” although developers in some countries — especially Sony’s native Japan — aren’t happy about the new self-imposed guidelines. 

The change reportedly applies to all PlayStation titles worldwide, and stems in part from the momentum of the #MeToo movement in the U.S., as well as the rise of gamer streaming channels like Twitch, which expose a worldwide audience to games of all types. WSJ reports the new guidelines already are in effect at Sony and throughout its developer network.