Checking Out The Backyard

Sometimes, you really need to do some basic checking around your new home.

Clearly, that didn’t happen when the Outlander set up shop on the world of Odessen in the Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Because for the first time, thanks to the new chapter “Visions in the Dark”, your character must leave the headquarters of the Alliance against the Galactic Eternal Empire.  As with previous content review posts on this subject, I’m gonna leave “read more” tag so spoilers can be avoided.  But first, a couple of comments related to some thoughts of mine from the last post on the subject.

I’d heard rumors about the fate of the companion Khem Val, based upon a new companion alert out this chapter, but they seem to have been debunked by a producer’s livestream, indicating that one day, the Force-Eating, Sith-Eating, Head-Screwed-Up Dashade would return.  So Inquisitors, rejoice!  (Or not-I’ve found that peoples love of the assorted characters varies wildly.)  Also of note:  the Smuggler Companion Count remains at zero; supposedly the Eternal Championship will finally land next month, but we’ve heard this before.  Even more insulting is that it sounds like the next chapter is going to feature an epic heist, and you would think that at least one Smuggler companion would be involved-but nope, looks like we get a pairing of a BH and a Sith Warrior companion.  Enough to make Smuggler players to give in to the Dark Side….

Next month’s HK related rewards involved HK inspired skins for the ship droids.  They look catchy (basically palette work), but I think my Smuggler is going to keep his “Targeting Dummy” skin on his droid.  Seems more appropriate somehow.  Some posts on assorted forums are screaming “enough with the HK-related stuff” as subscriber rewards.  People, Bioware/EA was pretty up front about the subscriber rewards and their theme.  Nobody says you gotta use ’em, and nobody says you even gotta subscribe that month (although if you’re only in it for those rewards-good heavens, WHY?).

Okay, with all that stuff out of the way, spoilers await!

This is what a dead man looks like before he kicks your butt up and down Odessen.

With Visions of the Dark, you are prepping to follow up on that nice little bit of intelligence picked up from Kaliyo and Jorgan’s work on Zakuul.  Since they’re both operating there, that puts them in a position to attempt to get at the GEMINI frequency that is heavily involved with the control of the Eternal Fleet.  Depending on your choices, you can send someone in to either gain control of the fleet, or destroy the transmission hardware, either one of which will deny the power of that fleet to the Emperor.  But given its substantial defenses, it’s suggested that you have a chat with the fellow who was mostly responsible for all of it:  Head-Valkorion.

So, off you go to your backyard to see if you can have a heart-to-heart.  Except Valky is a bit irritated with you.  Yes, you can even have done everything he’s told you up to now, and he’s STILL irritated with you.  (Once a Sith, always a Sith, I guess.)  After dealing with the local wildlife, you get to deal with his feelings on the matter-and leading to a meet with a pair of individuals that have been waiting to have a chat with you-and lead you towards a destiny that actually lines up with what Valky wants out of you, but for different reasons.  Naturally, though, you need to be tested….

This one was actually a fairly longer-feeling chapter than the last couple.  There was a fair amount of exposition involved, setting your character up to step into a role beyond juts leading an Alliance.  (My Smuggler, predictably, should be having a fit at that idea; I don’t think he wanted to be in charge of the Alliance in the first place, and now he’s being pushed to step into much bigger shoes…).  The theme of this chapter could well be summed up with “The Past is in the Past-It’s Time To Move On”; whether your character is a “common criminal” or an operative “used to working in the shadows”, or even a Jedi Knight who has led armies, or anything else, your character is moving towards a reality that involves a society that cannot function without droids or an emperor you’re working to bring down-someone’s going to have to sit their butts into that big chair, and it seems that Jedi, Sith, Disembodied Spirits and Advisors are all independently planning on the same specific one to do it.  G’wan…take a guess whose.

I’ve mixed feelings on some of the mechanics involved in the mission.  Some good ones:  loved the “jump to cairn” or “jump on pillars” sections; they aren’t needed, but are nice shortcuts.  I feel it works better for Jedi, Sith, and Bounty Hunters, since they have easy access to that kind of fast movement.  Boot jets on the other characters is amusing, but seems wrong.  But, I was not consulted.  Some bad ones:  stealth using characters are again mostly boned, as it seems that half the wildlife on Odessen can detect stealth users at will.  Fortunately, smoke bombs and the like can still clear aggro, but honestly, when you castrate an advanced class’s primary skill constantly, that’s telling me that they didn’t think through class designs appropriately.  If everything is capable of breaking stealth, then saying you can’t buff the class because of its stealth is pretty stupid.

One way or another, your character comes out of this with a new tool to use against Arcann and possibly Vaylin (who is mentioned as having others behind her as well-a hint of the post-KotFE future?), and a situation that may not be going quite as planned.  Given how this chapter ends, and what the synopsis of the next one has shown, I’m a bit puzzled by the disconnect.  But the devs have been pretty solid with the story thus far, and I’m going to trust that they know what they’re doing.

Oh, and the new alert?  Thank god for Dulfy’s guide on it, because I can’t imagine how folks figured it all out on their own.  The puzzle is straightforward enough-at least if you’re at all familiar with the Sith Code; Imperial players get the advantage there-but how you get all the pieces together isn’t.  Once again, you will have a choice to reject the companion or keep him around; it’s interesting how you get these choices for Dark Side-related characters, but don’t have the chance to kill off the others for being too soft or the like.  It’s an interesting thought-experiment to see just who of the Alert companions will be potentially considered dead meat or imprisoned, and how they relate to where they stand on the good/evil axis.

And that’s where things stand in April in the Fallen Empire.  Next month, it’s time to steal all of Arcann’s stuff; I’m hoping that this gives some indication as to why Arcann wanted all that tribute from the Republic and Sith Empire, because that was never really delved into after getting a mention during Lana’s explanation of what’s happened in the last five years.

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3 comments on “Checking Out The Backyard

  1. I’m certainly hoping you’re correct about the storyline being solid. I myself was disappointed in the Jorgan storyline. There are only a couple of companions I would consider LESS likely to have “gone rogue” than Jorgan. (And my trooper is going to be mighty disappointed when she finds out – even though she was less “by the books” than he was. She will approve of his trying to preserve Havoc squad – even though it’s completely different from when she commanded.) My smuggler agrees with you: being “in charge” of anything other than her own ship is just hot her style. This is where I am less than happy with the entire new expansion. In order to have story depth on a single story, they have taken away both Player Character depth (any role play you’d set up in your own mind is out of the question) and replay-ability (given that every PC .

    • If you weren’t thrilled about Jorgan (who has been known to have issues with Saresh), I imagine you may have issues with one of the big guest stars on this chapter-the years have NOT been kind to her moral outlook. But it’s been five years of failure and death for her, and the guy hanging out with her isn’t known for being nice. And of course, HE has changed as well.

      SWTOR has never been kind to the RPer’s in terms of missioning. Doesn’t help that we are still in the middle of the storyline-and I am thinking that the conclusion of KotFE isn’t so much an end as a beginning….

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