Sure, running around with a lightsaber or blaster pistol is a cool and integral part of the Star Wars experience. But, for the longest time, Star Wars: The Old Republic has been lacking one of the best things from the mythology: big honking space battles.

Yes, yes, there have been crappy on-rails single-player dogfights in SWTOR before. Those don’t count. This new Galactic Starfighter expansion adds the real deal: groups of 12 pitting their space chariots against each other in zero-g gladiatorial combat. But, just when you get to start in on all that, depends on your current status in the game. From the press release:

Subscriber Early Access Rewards

  • Early Access to Galactic Starfighter on December 3
  • Exclusive Paint Jobs***
  • Two Pilot Suits
  • Two Titles (“Test Pilot” and “First Galactic Starfighter”)
  • Subscribers get the maximum leveling and progression benefit (a Starfighter Pass will also be available for purchase in the Cartel Market beginning January 14)

Preferred Status players will receive:

  • Early Access to Galactic Starfighter on January 14
  • Two Pilot Suits
  • Exclusive Title (“Test Pilot”)

So current subscribers get first crack, followed by folks who’ve bought stuff in the in-game store. If you haven’t done either, then you’ll need to wait until February 4to start flying and dying/killing.Still, as far as gambits to get players excited about SWTOR again go, this is a pretty good one.