In a press release today Bioware announced:

"BioWare, a studio of Electronic Arts , and LucasArts announced today that the new, Free-to-Play option for the critically-acclaimed, massively multiplayer online game, Star Wars: The Old Republic is now live. Now players can experience the complete storylines of all eight iconic Star Wars classes, all the way to level 50 for free. This new option complements the existing subscription offering, providing players with maximum flexibility in how they choose to experience Star Wars: The Old Republic.

"We want to give our players the freedom to enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic when and how they want," said Matthew Bromberg, General Manager of BioWare Austin. "There has never been a better time to start playing with us."

Also today, BioWare released Game Update 1.5: HK-51 Activated, which adds new areas to explore, a new Companion character and more, including:

Get ready for an action-packed adventure to earn control of one of the galaxy's most deadly Assassins, HK-51. Submerged beneath the icy surface of Belsavis lies a derelict ship and if you are brave enough to venture through the wreckage, you will embark on a mission that ultimately rewards you with a powerful new, yet familiar, ally the ruthless Assassin Droid, HK-51.

Explore Section X, a previously untouched area of the prison world of Belsavis. The Dread Masters' servants are searching for a powerful and ancient weapon. Fly to Section X and secure the target of their search to be richly rewarded.

Travel to Denova to take on Operation: Explosive Conflict - now with a Nightmare Mode! Teams who complete in this new mode can earn the final pieces of the Dread Guard gear set and a brand new mount that will be sure to cause tank envy!

Star Wars: The Old Republic is a story-driven, massively multiplayer online (MMO) game with a Free-to-Play option from BioWare and LucasArts. Set thousands of years before the classic Star Wars movies, players team up with friends online to fight in heroic battles, explore a galaxy of vibrant planets and experience visceral Star Wars combat, all set to a sweeping musical score. Players are asked to join forces with either the Galactic Republic or Sith Empire and choose one of eight iconic Star Wars characters, including the Jedi Knight, Jedi Consular, Smuggler, Trooper, Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent.

For more information on the different ways players can now experience Star Wars: The Old Republic, including the Free-to-Play option, please visit Origin.com."