It’s been a while since we looked in on Star Wars: The Old Republic, hasn’t it?
From a playing standpoint, going through the legion of alts, I’m just about to have my Sith Inquisitor go through Nathema, after slaughtering everyone who’s irritated him up to now; it’s going to be very interesting when he gets to the end of the Knights of the Eternal Throne story, with the body count he’s racked up. Once he’s done, I think the next on my list will be my Trooper-but that’s got a ways to go, given my current Champions Online focus. Well, that, plus the point of this post.
It’s the first chunk of content released since the Eternal Throne fell to the Alliance (is it really that much of a spoiler that the PCs are victorious?). And it seems that the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic are already positioning themselves to kick off their own war again. However, the force that is the Alliance is the pivot, the determining factor that both sides see as important.
So naturally, the first thing they do is piss off the Alliance by going to Iokath, a world introduced in KotET, and a presumed super-weapon located there. It’s no coincidence that the Alliance, the Empire, and the Republic all converge at this same location at this same time. Something’s up here, and it’s up to the Alliance Commander-that’s you, just as a reminder-to unravel what’s going on, and secure the super-weapon before it falls into the wrong hands.
One problem to be encountered early is: whose are the right hands? Early on, you are approached by representatives of the Republic and the Empire, urging you to side with them. Players of Sith Warrior and Trooper characters will immediately recognize these reps. That choice declares the Alliance irrevocably to one side or the other. (Sadly, there is no option for “A pox on both your houses!” Admittedly, the Alliance has their biggest sticks negated for story reasons for most of your time here, but still.) While there’s a feature that will allow you to switch factional support on a regular basis, the initial choice here is what locks in the character story as to whose side the Alliance is ultimately on.
Because your character is Destiny’s Chew Toy, the Commander will get a chance to say hello to another familiar faction-or what’s left of it-after they were more or less completely sidelined during KotET (some help they were…), and discover that the gods of Zakuul have a basis in fact. By the time you’re done, that choice you made as to what government to support will have very permanent consequences-and opens the door to the raid content that the developers promised the players. (Full disclosure-I’m unlikely to bother on those; I’m notoriously unwilling to bother with raids more complicated than the City of Heroes trials.)
Despite the fact that there are two companions returning in this chapter, you’ll only get one of them per character (although if you’re a Trooper or a Sith Warrior, you could conceivably pull off both by use of the Companion terminal back on Odessen; I haven’t tried this, so can’t confirm if it is possible). There’s an issue with getting said companions, though; posts on the official forums indicate that some folks aren’t getting a companion out of this; I’m one of them, at least on my Smuggler. My Agent had no issues there, with the companion showing up after the primary storyline was complete. It’s not obvious, though-there’s very little fanfare in comparison with even the Alliance Alert companions. The devs have indicated they are aware of this, so hopefully a fix is going in. I don’t know if there is more fanfare for characters who have previously romanced those companions, though, so I don’t know if there’s more dialogue involved-be wary about going through this with Troopers or Warriors until the bug is fixed, just in case.
The quest line here does include participation in a raid, but that isn’t a requirement to get the companion or to finish the storyline-which, incidentally, will continue; there is a dangerous loose end here on Iokath that could spell the beginning of the end of the Alliance-or maybe just you. Valkorion did say that there were people who meant you harm way back in Knights of the Fallen Empire…. Given the nature of that threat, players of the Imperial Agent will feel right at home. (“Another conspiracy? How novel.”)
In addition to the story and raid, there are daily missions here, and if you found the structure similar to Oricon, you wouldn’t be far off. After all, Oricon had a storyline, leading to a raid, and had a heap of daily missions. I haven’t noticed any Heroic dailies, but I haven’t looked hard at it. There’s a new Reputation, based upon the side you choose for your Alliance, and a new vendor with stuff to use. There’s also a new currency that is used to purchase the equipment (along with credits), although that currency can also be used to purchase special buffs with which to take on the dangers on Iokath.
Play-wise, it’s not incredibly difficult, although there are a couple of mechanics in big battles that might cause issues, particularly to DPS-focused characters; having a high-influence healing companion out may not be the worst thing you can do for those fights, particularly one early one. Be aware that they may not necessarily be simple “survive and shoot them down”-paying attention to the environment will help defeat those encounters. Expect another trip in a walker, too. (Golden quote from the Republic side: “Eh. I’ve seen bigger.” Iokath really spoiled my characters as far as the size of walkers…)
All in all, it’s not a horrible update; it’s got its bugs, and it’s not as in-depth as the missions we’ve seen in the last couple of years. But it is more significant than an Alliance Alert, and it does include the return of companions for the Trooper and Sith Warrior (if that doesn’t glitch out on you), so it’s at least progress on my pet peeve.