Penultimate

Well, it’s time for the next chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  As usual, there will be spoilers after the break (although I do try to gloss over some stuff), but first, my commentary on non-chapter related stuff.

The biggest (from my own biased point of view) is that Guss is not returning after all with this chapter.  The devs put up an amusing post indicating that Guss “carried out an overly-elaborate con job to convince the galaxy that his recruitment mission would go live with Chapter XV […].  But as with most of Guss’s con jobs, this caper has failed spectacularly.”  (And I immediately pictured my Smuggler saying, “Dammit, Guss!”), so it looks like we won’t see him until the final chapter.  Maybe.  Is it just me, or is it that none of the other classes have had any trouble having their alerts work okay, but Heaven Forbid that the Smuggler companions get released on schedule.  Of course, that’s probably the issue right there-they’ve probably learned from the Smuggler to never cooperate with authority….

The next biggest detail is something that has not gone over well with the forum population, at least.  There’s been a hard nerfing of Heroic missions as far as payouts go.  I’m glad I managed to finish up my “Alliance Commander” achievement, because from what I’m reading, the payouts got slashed by up to half of what they were.  Guess most of the interesting stuff on GTN just went out of reach of most people again; not to mention returning a painful grind for anyone hoping to unlock rooms for strongholds or flagships.  I’m not thrilled with the change, myself.  But I’ll live-I just won’t worry about doing the Heroics anymore.  The whole point was to get payouts commensurate with the effort, and while not all content in the game does do that, that content often makes up for it in other ways (like, say, being a compelling story).

Light versus Dark began as well; I’ve already put up my thoughts on that in the last post, and I won’t regurgitate here.  I’ll likely have a series of “Building Character” posts chronicling my two representatives to the event at some point, similar to how I’m planning the “Rick Masters” posts for the Star Trek Online expansion in July.  I’m actually looking forward to taking a new look at the content I’ve done, and I haven’t really put effort into leveling characters since KotFE rolled out.  My expectation is to do as much as possible, including side quests that I no longer have to do; way I see it, it’s more opportunities to get Light/Dark Side choices and weigh into the event goals.  Still no decision on Light or Dark Side for me.  Stay tuned.

For those looking for info on the next HK-related toy…it’s not July yet.  It’s a July reward-so it didn’t come in yet.  So don’t panic when you can’t find the new poster in your mail.

So, without too much to comment upon aside from the main event, spoilers await ahead!  Last chance!  Turn back if you don’t want to see the details on the GEMINI Deception!

Unlike recent chapters, this one doesn’t start on Odessen.  No, you’re en-route to that Eternal Fleet ship that was located by SCORPIO at the end of the last one, and taking the one ship that can handle the pounding.  That’s right, the Gravestone is back in action!  It’s a short visit, though, because the bulk of this chapter is dedicated to getting on board the enemy ship, getting to the GEMINI captain aboard, and replacing it with GEMINI Prime-and through that, take over the Eternal Fleet.

You’ll be seeing a lot of these guys.

Sounds straightforward, right?  Don’t bet on it.  The GEMINI Captain has no desire to casually surrender the ship or “her” place; even less so to an inferior version of herself in SCORPIO.  So the Captain starts turning the ship into a deathtrap.  (There’s a great moment for Imperial Agent players where you can remark on how familiar this seems to SCORPIO, referencing his first encounter with her on Belsavis; SCORPIO almost apologizes for that encounter.)  Things start going wrong fast when SCORPIO and the player are separated from the rest of their assault team, and it only goes downhill from there.

The chapter is mostly a slugfest through the map.  While there are some timing puzzles to deal with, it’s very much a “fight your way to the throne” sort of thing.  What helps make it stand out are the story beats.  SCORPIO gets a rude surprise at an important point during the journey, and the cargo of the ship becomes something that will force the character to deal with one of those “no win” scenarios where a sacrifice must be made.  And by the end…well, reaching the end of the line has consequences that don’t turn out well-for anyone.  Well, except for one, that is, who takes the opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Eternal Empire and set up a real ugly conflict in the next chapter, The Battle of Odessen.

The thought puzzles are interesting enough-it’s basically “find a way around this obstacle” for the most part.  Gas, sun reactor heat, and a lot of explosions.  You have to be aware of what’s going on around you at times or you’ll find yourself down a significant amount of health.  But if you don’t panic, and look around, you’ll usually find the way to stop the bleeding.  There’s also some handy supplies around the ship.  The grenades are…well, for me, they seemed honestly useless.  More useful is the manual override you can use to get a shutdown Skytrooper to give you some backup.

The last fight…well, it can be rough.  For those who want to be prepared, Senya will be working with you on that phase.  Take my advice:  set her on a healing role.  Seriously.  Unless she’s really high influence, she’ll fold like tissue paper in a damage role, and unless you are a serious DPS/Healing machine, she’ll not last as a tank.  Healing will keep both of you alive through the rather lengthy combat.  The GEMINI Captain is rated as a “Tank”, and that means you have to be prepared to go the distance.  If you wind up getting killed, you’re in for a “treat”, because the area start puts you practically right back in the middle of the fight.  Doing the medprobe option is loads better, because at least you SHOULD get a few moments of being cloaked so you can take care of things like changing companion roles.  Doing the area start isn’t completely fatal, though-if you run backwards the moment you return, you can get out of the Room Of Death and work on making any preparations you want to, such as stims/adrenals or that aforementioned companion role thing.

Set Senya to Healing for this Chapter.  You’ll be glad you did.

The final scenes set up a conflict that’s going to remind folks of another popular science fiction franchise, and I’ll leave it to the reader to discover which one I’m speaking of.  I won’t lie and say that the twist is unpredictable, but it’s still going to make the endgame of the Knights of the Fallen Empire very interesting.  And for those who are interested:  Dulfy’s site (THE site for SWTOR info, really) indicates that the next phase of the Eternal Empire’s conflict may be known as “Knights of the Eternal Throne”.  Not as catchy as “The Empire Strikes Back”, but it fits the theme.

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