Shadow of…Makeb?

Okay, now that I have some time to post, and have had time to think on what to post, I’m ready to talk about Shadow of Revan, the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The setup is simple:  Revan, the hero/antihero of the original Knights of the Old Republic is back.  (He’s actually sort of been back, but I’ll avoid spoilers in case someone out there hasn’t actually done a set of four flashpoints that were in the game at the beginning.)  Due to events that happened in the “Forged Alliances” flashpoints (which I’ll also try to be vague on), a man claiming to be Revan has more or less declared war on both the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire-and he’s got the forces to at least get their attention.

The question of whether or not this is actually the Revan is likely to be a question explored in the expansion; whether or not he is, though, is largely irrelevant if his followers believe it.  For the sake of convenience, I’ll keep calling him Revan; it’s easier than “the man claiming to be Revan”.

Of course, this has gotten some purists upset; I’m not one of them, primarily because I don’t have the emotional attachment of having ever played Knights of the Old Republic.  (I had finally picked up the game years ago, but I made the mistake of picking up at the same time a little game called Star Wars Galaxies.  MMOs are black holes from which there is no escape…)  From what I have heard about the game and the character background, not to mention the events of those four flashpoints I mentioned, I could easily believe that Revan could decide “a pox on both your houses”.  The circumstances of how he made it hundreds of years after KotR could be enough to twist anyone-and let’s face it, Revan has never been the poster child for mental stability.

The expansion will theoretically cover two planets, and include-for the first time-new class stories.  The devs have indicated that they won’t be at the same level as the class stories in the original game here, but that doesn’t bother me either; even if they turn out to be short side-stories, they’re still worth having.  A smuggler is going to look at the events differently than a Jedi or a Trooper.

One thing that does bother me a bit, though, is one of the big changes coming with the expansion:  a revamp of the skill trees.

Your New Skill…Thing

The skill trees are history, to be replaced by something called Disciplines.  The devs figured that there were certain skills in the various advanced classes that are taken because they are seen as essential, so they’ve folded them into the various “disciplines” as being gained automatically, but left in the other stuff as being selectable by any of the trees.  So, for example, if you’re a Concealment Operative, you get abilities from the Concealment Discipline-and can select other skills as you level from all of the former available branches (eg. Lethality and Medicine for an Operative).  Those are called “Utility Selections”.  I’m not one hundred percent sold on this.  That said, if you like your build now, it’s probably a good idea to record somewhere what that build actually is so you can put it together again-hopefully-with the new disciplines.

That change will affect everyone, regardless of whether or not they buy the expansion.  And there’s another rub.

The last time Bioware/EA put up an expansion for cash in this game was Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  There was a preorder with useful bonuses, and if I remember right, subscribers got a discount (I could be remembering wrong, though; been a while).  And this wasn’t considered a big deal.  But five months later, the devs made RotHC free for subscribers.  Now, I don’t have an issue with an expansion being made free after a period of time, but five months was ridiculous.  Now, if you purchase Shadow of Revan, you’ll get RotHC free, regardless of whether or not you subscribe.  And I’m actually okay with that part; this IS about the length of time I’d expect that sort of thing to happen.  But five months was basically (and I hate using the term since it’s so damned overused) a slap in the face to the people who bought the expansion-especially if you weren’t a preorder for it.  When Galactic Starfighter was released, I’d posted that it was a good thing that it was being put in for free, because who would be dumb enough to pay for it after that RotHC stunt?

I stand corrected.  Post after post on the official forums indicate a wave of preorders.  I can’t bring myself to do it; the preorder perks mean nothing to me.  I have exactly one alt who I want to get through the class story, so the 12X class story xp means nothing to me; I could care less about a massive statue of Revan for my stronghold, as he’s sort of the antagonist of the expansion here thus far; I already have RotHC; and a 7-day headstart isn’t floating my boat.  So there’s no benefit to preordering for me-and given that I believe there’s a fair chance that this expansion will also be given away free for subs in six months, I feel no immediate desire to purchase the expansion.  And that’s Bioware/EA’s fault for setting that precedent.

Let’s not end this on a sour note.  I did, over the weekend, finally open up my last room for my Nar Shadda stronghold.  I’d blown a heap of Cartel Coins hoarded from my stipend for one room, but the rest was all in credits-including the last 2.2 million credit balcony, which represents the largest amount of credits I’ve had on one character in that game-ever.  Maybe that’ll be one good thing that comes out of Shadow of Revan:  with everyone running the new content, I’ll not have to compete with other players to finish objectives in the open worlds on Ilum, Oricon, and the Czerka base to rebuild a nest egg (which will allow me purchase more decorations or stuffs off of GTN).


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