The Eternal Struggle

Recently, Bioware/EA released a new chapter in the Star Wars: The Old Republic saga of Knights of the Fallen Empire, titled “Disavowed”.  It’s also occurred to me that I never put my thoughts up on the previous chapter, “Anarchy in Paradise”, so I figure I’ll kill two birds with one stone and talk about both.

As with my previous post discussing the KotFE content, there be spoilage here.  I’m throwing a break here so those who wish to avoid not knowing what comes next can remain undisturbed.  If you’re the kind who likes to peek ahead, though-or if you’ve already done that content-read on!

When last we looked at this story, the Outlander had just managed to take command of a Rebel Alliance to fight back against the Galactic Eternal Empire.  (I kid, I kid; but it’s hard not to appreciate parallels.)  Depending on your actions in the interim, the Outlander may have gained even more companions to assist him-and if he’s lucky, found some of his old companions, too.  (I’m using “He” for convenience, incidentally; it keeps things simpler for me to type.)  The Outlander may have even destroyed some or all of a significant number of Star Fortresses, and may or may not have strengthened his alliance with materials and manpower.  In the meantime, Emperor Arcann and his High Justice, Vaylin, are going nuts at the idea that their father-still ensconced in the mind of the Outlander-is somewhere out there and out of their control.

She’s such a nice girl. The kind you’d take home to meet mom. If you hated her.

“Anarchy in Paradise” and “Disavowed” center on recruiting more allies, although there is purpose behind them.  In “Anarchy”, the Outlander goes to the Old World of Zakuul to recruit the titular anarchist, well known to players of Imperial Agents:  Kaliyo Djannis, who is…well, doing the kind of things you’d expect her to do.  She’s taken the alias of Firebrand and has been spending time blowing stuff up.  She’s miffed, though, because her activities are just blown off by the people of Zakuul-and then she got upstaged by the rather dramatic return of the Outlander.  Well, she’s not the kind of woman to take that lying down; she has a plan, and she’s willing to let the Outlander help-and as an additional tasty bit of bait, she offers access to the Overwatch system that is very involved with the technology of Zakuul.

Kaliyo, it’s safe to say, isn’t telling you everything, of course.  And the decisions made here may cause a break in your alliance ahead of schedule.

“Disavowed” brings another old companion to the fore-and he brings the Republic SpecOps force with him:  Major Aric Jorgan, and Havoc Squad.  The Squad’s gone rogue, choosing to fight the Eternal Empire without Republic support.  Your mission is to recruit the Squad and bring them in.  But they are on their own mission-and if successful, it can bring a wealth of intelligence information to the Alliance.  The end result gains far more than even they had hoped-but it will not be an easy road to get there.

Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the cats of war!

While the big takeaway in mechanics is to bring companions back into the fold, there’s no shortage of story being sent through.  Arcann takes some extreme actions in his rage, and almost manages to make Vaylin look sane.  (Almost.)  We find out about the average life of a citizen of the Eternal Empire, and how dependent they’ve become on their technology-and learn what happens to people who question almost anything about Arcann’s reign.  We get hints as to the current status of the Republic in greater detail.  Troopers and Agents will be happy to reconnect with their old friends-although how their friends view the reunion varies.  Who you are and what you’ve done in the past matters when meeting Jorgan and Kaliyo; Jorgan’s reaction in particular to assorted Imperial characters shows that he hasn’t forgotten that, not so long ago, the Sith and the Republic were enemies.

Looking at the content that isn’t a part of the main story, you get an alert of a bounty hunter/scavenging gang led by a Jawa on Hoth; the missions behind that alert also include a voice cameo from a Mon Calamari “Jedi”; given the MacGuffin involved and the secrecy behind it, I can’t help but wonder if there will be a tie-in if/when we get to see him again.  Unfortunately, the Jawa-Blizz of the Bounty Hunter companions-is the only alert offered from the last two chapters.  Another had been slated to join with the latest chapter, but he’s tied into the “Eternal Championship” content that has been delayed, so no Wookiees show up as of yet.

It’s interesting at this point to take a short look at just which companions have returned for each class.

  • Bounty Hunter:  1 (Blizz)
  • Imperial Agent: 3 (SCORPIO, Kaliyo, Lokin)
  • Jedi Counselor: 1 (Qyzen)
  • Jedi Knight: 1 (T7)
  • Republic Trooper: 3 (M1-X4, Yuun, Jorgan; Tanno was encountered, but has not rejoined)
  • Sith Inquisitor: 2 (Talos, Xalek)
  • Sith Warrior: 1 (Pierce)
  • Smuggler:  0 (brief voice cameo for Guss, and Bowdaar is still on-deck with the Eternal Champion thing)

Really sucks to be a Smuggler.  On the other hand, the Agent and Trooper have had an embarrassment of riches as far as reconnecting.  It’s worth noting, as well, that of the companions who have returned via the main storyline, two of them came from the Imperial Agent, one from the Jedi Knight, and one from the Republic Trooper (or two if you count Tanno’s interaction; given his potential fate, I’m not sure if we’ll be seeing him as a companion again in the future).

Bioware/EA has said that it doesn’t want to return companions without a story involved-presumably, that means either KotFE or Alert related-and that we’re unlikely to see all of the companions make a return during KotFE.  Given the rate of returns thus far, it’s hardly a surprise; there’s 40 companions, after all.  And a couple of them are problematic because of how things ended with them; Khem Val could have one of two very distinct personalities, as well as Jaesa Willsaam.  I’ve heard disturbing rumors of how Khem is going to be handled, but right now, that’s all they are.  Still, all of this means that if you are waiting for a particular companion’s return, you could be in for a long wait, because it might literally take years.  Fortunately, that terminal in the Alliance base on Odessen is still there, so you can always grab the ones you want back independent of the storyline.

As an aside:  I’m constantly amused when you click on “Play” for a new Chapter how there’s a dropdown to select a companion-particularly in light of the fact that it means absolutely nothing.  The Chapter determines who your companions are at any given time, and that includes even the opening of the Chapters.  Who knows what they’re thinking.

It’s also worth noting that being subscribed month-to-month has some benefits; some more questionable than others.  Thus far, people who have remained subscribed have been able to reactivate HK-55, got a jetpack that seems like it’s made from HK spare parts, a helmet that is basically an HK head, and upcoming is a set of HK-inspired weapons.  If you’re seeing the letters HK a lot here, well, the devs did say that the monthly rewards would be HK inspired.  I haven’t figured out what I’ll personally do with the helmet, but I’ve certainly found use for the jetpack, companion, and I’m pretty sure someone will use the HK weapons.

The other benefit is a mixed blessing:  a couple days of early access to the new Chapters.  This is a mixed blessing, because the chapters don’t necessarily work out right.  Using “Disavowed” as an example, we were treated to a bug that featured a naked cat-man and an inability to have him interact at one point; another example involved the inability for Imperial Agents to conclude “Anarchy in Paradise” if they had previously romanced Kaliyo.  (Yes, if you were in a relationship with her or with Jorgan, that gets to be addressed in the story; I suspect that all such companions will reappear in something other than an Alert for this sort of reason.  We’ll see if I’m right.)  Some bugs have been fixed quickly.  Others…not so much; the “Anarchy” issue persisted until just last week, for example.

I may regret putting in the phrase “naked cat-man”.  This blog may end up with all kinds of strange hits in the not-so-distant future….

So far, the monthly cadence for chapters seems to be going well, even if associated content isn’t; the Eternal Championship I mentioned earlier was declared “not fun enough”, and its release is at minimum not likely to show until the next chapter, and I’m doubtful it’ll be ready by then.  The “not fun enough” comment indicates to me that a significant reworking is underway on that, and I’m not sure how much that’s going to push back other things.

The next Chapter refers to the return of old allies (and folks who’ve watched livestreams may already know who those allies are), and while the image associated with the Chapter doesn’t feature any old companions, it does feature Emperor Valkorian; which means that, in combination with those old allies, we could be seeing a major turning point ahead.  Not for the war against Zakuul, but for the soul of the Outlander.  Stay tuned!

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