The Cast List: Introducing Jesken of Star Wars: The Old Republic

Waaaay back during the Closed Beta of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I knew that I wanted to be playing a Smuggler.  So, I made a deliberate choice to test with a character that wasn’t one (although obviously, I did do some testing with the Smuggler just to get familiar with the idea).  I decided to go with a class that wouldn’t interest me all that much:  the Republic Trooper.  That was the design origins of the character of Jesken, who I recreated at Launch.  Boy, did I blow that original analysis:  I wound up having the Trooper be my second Republic character to complete his class story.

For the Republic!

The general concept was simple:  what if you had someone who was a True Believer in the ideals of the Republic serving as a soldier?  What if you had someone who had the right personality to be a Jedi, but had not a lick of Force-sensitivity?  What if my Trooper was, in other words, a knight in shining armor?  This became an even bigger deal for me as I went through the early levels of Coruscant, where the character’s commanding officer was far more of a pragmatist and willing to consider collateral damage to be sure of a successful mission.  I managed to hold true to this, with a single exception where he did the selfish thing-and there were consequences.  (I won’t go into detail since it is POSSIBLE that it could spoil a small part of the Trooper story, but I will say that there were no good endings to that situation-and it impacted my play such that the character would not pursue a romance with any of his companions.)

I chose a Cyborg as the character’s species-something near human.  There’s nothing really special about that-really, character species doesn’t count for much except for certain Imperial storylines and special social moves (Cyborgs scan people).  Since he was leveling up during the first/second year of the game, he didn’t have as much possible armors to choose from as my later characters did, so his armor tended to be a constant work-in-progress.  The color matching to chest armor code wasn’t exactly perfect then, either, so sometimes he and his companions had some hilariously mis-matched armor in terms of coloration.  And this was before the special dyes became available.  Over the years, I’ve stabilized him to most of a single set:  the Yavin reputation armor.  It looked like it could take serious damage and serious abuse; the helmet was the piece I chose to pass on, keeping one I’d gotten while leveling.

In keeping with the personality I molded for him, Jesken would choose the Vanguard advanced class, with the Shield discipline.  I made him as tanky as I could-and he would either use Jorgan for damage dealing or Elara for healing (this was, of course, before Knights of the Fallen Empire allowed any companion to be set to any role).  This has made things a little tricky at times going through some missions, particularly as nerfs came to the damage dealing abilities of the class-and the removal of abilities that had any real range to them.  The Vanguard has become a very up-close-and-personal class, virtually melee with a ranged weapon.  But he’s able to survive, and that’s a good thing except missions where he doesn’t get a companion.  Then it’s a little more of a slog.

Jesken turned out to be the kind of guy you could write a recruitment ad around.  He wasn’t as gung-ho as a certain droid companion of his, but he was definitely all about doing the right thing, even if it damaged future strategic goals.  Saving lives was what the job was about more than killing the enemy (even if killing the enemy might save lives in the future-you can’t live with a hypothetical future when there’s a clear and present danger now!).  This would put him in conflict with his superior officers at times, and he would develop a dislike for politicians-although he certainly answered their questions with respect and honesty.

Recently, he found himself considered KIA by the Republic at the beginning of hostilities with the Eternal Empire.  Cue surprises when he showed back up, and able to claim a posthumous promotion to Colonel (props to the KotFE writers for including that detail-and to the developers for adding Colonel to the list of titles he could use-and of course, it’s the one he’s now using), and heading up an alliance to overthrow the Immortal Emperor.  I recently completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne story with this character, and it’s no surprise that he found it easy to tell his companions, “I’m no emperor”.  With the Iokath world being recently introduced, Jesken becomes the only character of mine to have interacted with all of his former companions from the class story, and has returned four of them into the fold.  (And no, he didn’t kill the fifth on Asylum.)  This makes the Trooper the current leader in the Great Companion Recovery, with all five former companions accounted for.

I had a lot of fun playing Jesken, and I enjoyed running him again through the Eternal Empire stories.  Says a lot about a character who was basically a throwaway character during Beta!

The Cast List: Introducing Chadam of Star Wars: The Old Republic

I confess, there are certain classes/professions in the Star Wars setting that do not appeal to me at all.  The top of that list is the Bounty Hunter.  Blame it on Boba Fett backlash; I always felt that he was overrated-sure, he had the cool armor, but he needed Vader and a heap of Imperials to get Han Solo (and of course, Solo was my favorite character at the time, so that didn’t help), and then he wound up killed by a blind smuggler with a pike and a Sarlacc.  So it drove me somewhat nuts that the Expanded Universe for Star Wars had to find a way to dig him back out of being digested for a thousand years and overcompensate.  When Star Wars Galaxies was a thing, my opinion didn’t improve when a heap of content was thrown into the whole “Jedi vs Bounty Hunter” thing they had going there, at the expense of other professions; that said, I didn’t really have a big issue with them actually, you know, hunting bounties-it was what they did!  If only the Smugglers in that game had been able to smuggle as THAT was what THEY were supposed to do, but that ship is long, long gone.

So, I have some prejudices against Bounty Hunters as a class.  That’s probably why this class was the next-to-last one I did in my work to level up all eight classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  But hell, I’m a completionist sometimes, and so I put together my future Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.

You can run, but you can’t hide. A job’s a job.

Chadam started out simple enough:  I wasn’t going to go out of my way to have him kill and eat kittens Dark-Side, but at the same time, he wasn’t going to be the nice guy.  I wanted him greedy, but with a code:  he did the job, and he got paid.  He would move heaven and earth to make it happen.  Not an evil character, but not exactly a role model.  Smarter than a thug, but not interested in the bigger picture or deep philosophy.  In other words, someone well suited for the fringe and not comfortable in the halls of Imperial power.  (Boy, did that go south on him…)

In appearance, my first goal was to use a different body type.  For those unfamiliar with the game, there are four body types for each gender.  I tend to use body type 2 for my males; fit, athletic, strong guys.  But I wanted Chadam to have a more imposing presence, so I went up a notch-someone who makes you think of a space marine.  As far as species went, well, I was still going for a wide variety among my characters, so I went with a Chiss, a popular Expanded Universe species who recently got canonized with the on-screen debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  His out fit look varied a lot during my gameplay; for a long while, he used a sort of turban-styled headgear and whatever mission-reward armor he could get.  Eventually, I was able to get a damaged set of Triumverate armor off of GTN (damaged in appearance, not in stats).  Later I picked up the restored version of that armor.  The icing on the cake, though, was the final helmet I used.  At one point, I looted a Sith Warrior helmet that was just too good to ignore.  I thought that a mildly terrifying helmet would suit Chadam just fine for his work, so I finally settled on the look shown on this post.

I went with the Mercenary advanced class, and went with the pyrotech discipline.  Because plasma fires are fun.  The Merc was chosen because I didn’t really want him to be the Boba-lite kind of character (well, I sure blew that one, when you look at the image above).  The dual guns made him an amusing mirror for my Smuggler main, who was took the Gunslinger path.

I actually got to like Chadam as I played him.  Sure, he had no problem shooting and executing people he was hired to off, but he wasn’t big on collateral damage.  He was interested in a fast credit-got along great with Gault-but Mako helped keep him more or less ethically honest.  He had no issues taking advantage of advertising-there are two moments in the game where a bounty hunter can effectively advertise himself to the galaxy at large, and man, he did it.  He came to respect the Mandalorian code, though, and his struggles tended to come in when that ideal came into conflict with his desire for ready cash.  The result of this all meant he was mildly Light-Side in nature-there were a heap of Dark-Side choices that kept him fairly balanced, not the least of which involved the reason why we got a Chancellor Saresh in power in the Galactic Republic.

The character completed the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, but I have yet to run him through the Eternal Throne (just like in my leveling work, the BH is near the bottom of the list).  He knelt before Valkorion not for any desire of power, but because he saw what happened to the last guy who didn’t kneel; in other words, sometimes the best thing you can do is lie to the guy with all the power and hope you get another, better opportunity.  Which, honestly, he sort of did, since Arcann chose that moment to go after his father-but as a result, Valkorion keeps harping on that initial kneel-down, and Chadam only wishes he had an option to say to the dead Emperor, “Hey, you know I was only doing that to buy some time, right?”  I think the worst thing for him in his future isn’t the possibility of taking the Eternal Throne-it’s that he’s going through all this and not getting paid.  (I do seem to recall him having Gault funnel some of that loot from that treasure run into profitable enterprises, though.)

I can safely say that while the Bounty Hunter is still not on my list of favorite character types in the setting, Chadam is still a character I enjoy; sometimes, it’s not about “good” and “evil”; it’s about having credits and not having credits, and the things you will or won’t do to get them.

 

Driving with Roadmaps

A couple of days ago, the developers of Star Wars: The Old Republic released a long-awaited “roadmap” describing their goals for the next few months.

This has been a breathlessly awaited bit of information.  Some people on the forums declared it could make or break their continuing subscriptions, if it didn’t include their pet issues.  You know the ones:  raids, PvP, story content, companions, iterations on previous systems; it’s a song that’s been heard before in multiple games.  (Well, not the companions part, but the general idea is sound.)  And if it didn’t include their issue, that was it!  Game over!

Take with some salt; forum goers are, by definition, the loud sort.  Not to be completely ignored-particularly if it’s in overwhelming numbers (e.g. the NGE of SWG responses); they tend not to be a unified voice.  When they are, then it’s time to worry.  But I digress.

So, what did they have to say for themselves?

The raiders will be getting a new operation boss to add to the one out there now on the world of Iokath roughly every couple of months.  I was guessing that they’d be going to roughly 8 such, but it seems that the next one is a package deal of two, so that may be counting as a single boss encounter.  I can’t speak to that sort of thing; I remain entirely uninterested in the raiding thing ever since my WoW days ended-City of Heroes trials notwithstanding.

PvPers will be getting a new season of play, with new unspecified rewards, and a new warzone is expected.  Additionally, the neglected Galactic Starfighter side of things will be having some changes as well.  Classes can expect a balance pass (again), which will undoubtedly include nerfs which will make life more miserable for PvE people.  (I could be wrong here.  Not all balance passes are bad.  But man, they feel like they are.)

More story content is incoming, in the form of a “Crisis on Umbara”, which will feature a new Flashpoint; no word if it’ll be a solo FP or a group-only, although I’m inclined to believe the latter.  That doesn’t rule out a solo version at one point, though; it’s just that with the group-heavy emphasis after the Knights of the Eternal Throne wrapped, I expect FPs to be the same way.  Speaking of story related stuff, the missing Companions are supposedly going to continue filtering back.  (There’s a good number still MIA, though, and most of them were potential old flames for the player character.  No indications on the rate of return, but I’m not optimistic.  What does intrigue me more, though, is the ability to finally customize the newer companions that have come down the pipe since Knights of the Fallen Empire.  Theron and Shae Vizla are first on the list.  Still, there’s no word as to whether we’re looking at true customization, where you can put on the large assortment of armors and weapons on the companions like you can with your original ones, or if we’re looking at the “change the faces” kind which you see with the ship droids or HK-51.  I’d like to think we’re looking at the first of these options, but I’m dubious.

The first of the results in the roadmap are scheduled for mid-June, where we’ll see the return of the Nar Shadda Night Life event with new rewards (who wants a Gamorrean companions?  You know you’ve always wanted one!), along with some improvements and legacy perks-such as new Mount skills to make you drive even faster than before-along with the aforementioned Shae and Theron customizations.  In July, the new bosses for the Iokath raids land-along with a new “ocean view” Stronghold, for those who have been wanting a new place to decorate.  (I’m kind of kicking myself for recently shelling out credits for the Tatooine Stronghold now.)  More customizations at this time, but specific companions weren’t mentioned.  The balance passes begin here as well-be afraid!  Finally, in August, the Umbara FP lands.

The developers plan to release a similar roadmap quarterly; we’ll see how that works.  More communication is promised, but I’ve seen those promises come and go before.  The question is how long it’ll last.  A lot will depend on if the current team manages to avoid major shakeups in the near term.  I’m keeping a semi-optimistic outlook on where things are going from here; very little of it tends to be my speed, but the way I see it, I got my turn in spades with the last two major expansions-I can sit back and let the raiders and PvPers have their time in the sun.  We’re all in this together, right?

The Cast List: Introducing Zor’venrel of Star Wars: The Old Republic

The Cast List departs the final frontier for a little bit, to take a peek at a galaxy far, far away-particularly since I’ve spent a little time on this character to continue getting my primary characters through the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion.

I’m a dagger in your back/An extra turn on the rack/I’m the quivering of your heart/A stabbing pain, a sudden start! (Lyrics by Voltaire)

I will confess that it’s tricky playing an evil character sometimes in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Some of those dark side choices can be pretty dark sometimes.  But ignoring them just isn’t in me-there are bad people in the galaxy, and the Sith, by and large, are some of the worst.  All the same, if they’re totally evil, they become a bit of a caricature.  Fortunately, the story of the Sith Inquisitor gave me an out:  it allowed me to give a Sith one redeemable trait.  In this case, as a former slave, and an alien, he took serious issue with slavers and anti-alien people.  Of course, since he was a Sith, he tended to be hard on said people….

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Zor’venrel was, honestly, a potential ancestor for one of my Star Wars Galaxies characters, Zhaven Rel.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but the possibility meant that the character was going to be a Twi’lek, which was going to do wonders for the character in an Empire that was iffy about aliens in general.  I’d designed the character during closed beta, and even did a good portion of Korriban with the character during testing-and certain conversational choices I made gave him a new nickname in my mind:  “Darth Jerkass”.  (You can thank Overseer Harkun for that one; he more or less provoked the trollish nature of this character.)

When it came to dark/light side choices, I went dark-side hard.  There were a few moments where I took light side choices-he remembers his past as a slave, and wishes his life hadn’t started that way-but for the most part, he was out for himself.  Once he got to the Dark Council, he grasped its power with both hands; he never let go of the bound spirits he took towards his rise to power; he willingly knelt before Emperor Valkorion in the hopes of getting more power (and seeing Darth Marr get curb-stomped probably might have affected that choice); and in the end, he recently completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne storyline to rule the Eternal Alliance as its new Emperor.  He romanced Lana Beniko, who may be the one person he won’t sacrifice for more power, and killed off pretty much everyone who has betrayed him…or even really annoyed him (I cut a swath through the KotET characters; nobody got away with it as far as he was concerned…), and sacrificed the more useless of his companions when he had to make a choice.  No, Zor’venrel was not a nice guy, and it showed.

For his appearance, I went with the red-skinned Twi’lek, as a nod towards my former SWG spy, but I left the option on to show Dark Side Corruption; on this character, in addition to the veins and eyes, it paled the formerly rich red of his skin to a pale appearance, nearly leeching out all of the color.  The robes he got early on in his career looked like they really suited the character, so I maintained that appearance pretty much throughout his career; I’ve mixed and matched gloves and lower robes, and I may still keep doing so-but the chest armor was perfect.  While I’d originally used red crystals for his saber blade, I liked the look of the dark core/violet blade lightsaber crystals I’d gotten from some promotion or other, and used those ever onward.

It isn’t a stretch to say that Zor’venrel is the most evil character I’ve got in the Old Republic.  He’ll troll his enemies before killing them, kick a sick puppy, and drop a moon on a single enemy if he could be sure it would do the job.  His moments of light are few and far between, and I’d hate to meet him in a lighted room, let alone a dark alley.  He’s the villain of his story, and he’d have it no other way!

An Eternal Alliance Versus Gods

It’s been a while since we looked in on Star Wars: The Old Republic, hasn’t it?

If I never see another throne as long as I live, it’ll be too soon.

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.

The true miracle is that they aren’t trying to kill each other.

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.

The Answer Is In The Stars

While the blog’s been overwhelmed recently (so to speak) with Champions Online activity, the fact is, I haven’t been completely ignoring my other MMOs.

In Star Trek Online, I managed to get my main Starfleeter through the anniversary event to earn the Lokari starship.  I haven’t actually done anything with said starship, but I wasn’t planning to.  The big key for it was to allow the account unlock for the other large number of alts in case I feel it would be interesting for them to use it.  Plus, it’s handy to have a new Admiralty card in case I want to work a bit more on that again; I never did finish the Romulan tour of duty.  I’ve also pushed through to tier 3 for the Lukari reputation; I admit, I’ve let this one go quite a bit thanks to a bug that allowed me to view all the reputation log entries at DS9 instead of getting 1 log per reputation tier.  (I didn’t realize at the time it was a bug, which has since been fixed.)  That removed a bit of the motivation for finishing the rep.  At some point, I imagine I’ll start pushing again, when STO comes back in focus for my gaming time.  There is a new queue coming up involving a Klingon arena where you and other captains fight against endless waves of opponents.  Kind of like Kobayashi Maru, except on foot.  It’ll only last from the 23rd to the 27th, so I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it (particularly in light of my dislike for the ground queues anyway), but it does make me wonder if they’ll do something similar for space-after all, like I said, this is pretty much the Kobayashi Maru queue on ground, and it seems silly to not have something similar for space again at some point.  And endless enemies sounds just like that scenario should be.

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada....

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada….

Meanwhile, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…when last I checked in with Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’d gotten my Smuggler to the end of the line for the Knights of the Eternal Throne story.  Since then, I’ve gotten my Imperial Agent and my Jedi Knight through the story, and my Sith Inquisitor is on deck.  I’ve been really looking forward to running that character through, since-unlike the previous three-he’s Dark Side to the core.  I want to see what happens when he lets his bad side go wild, not to mention seeing how the story adapts to him killing off a significant number of characters; plus, I really want to see how he reacts to the current regime in the Sith Empire.  Darth Acina was sort of a peer on the Dark Council, and the Inquisitor could be said to have as much right to the former Emperor’s throne as she does.  I’ve yet to actually do any Uprisings; I’ve been concentrating on running characters through KotET, and that’s been a slow process due to my recent focus on CO.

Despite its availability to free players nowadays, I’ve sort of let EVE Online go fallow.  There’s only so many hours in a day.  This is why it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t been involved in any guilds or anything like that for the last couple of years.  So much to do, so little time.  I’m sure that at some point, I’ll have a craving for that setting again-it’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

Twelve Years In

It’s that time again!  It’s been another year of MMO gaming, MMO blogging, and now it’s time for me to look back at 2016 and throw out some thoughts on the past as I look to the future!  Specifically, let’s see what’s been going on with the games I play.

Moving towards its first major story content update.

AKA A Game of Thrones

2016 was a pretty good one for Star Wars: The Old Republic-at least from my point of view.  Updates came regularly with new content, tied to the ongoing story of Knights of the Fallen Empire, and concluded the year with the conclusion as Knights of the Eternal Throne.  The story feels like it effectively concludes the stories of the assorted classes into one funneled end (maybe two-I still haven’t thrown a dark-sider through KotET, and things may be different there), which does lead one to wonder if we’re at the end of story content.  Certainly we are for most of 2017, as the developers are rededicating themselves to group content; just how that unfolds is something we’ll be learning early this year.

I’m a tad annoyed at the fact that a significant number of companions for the classes remain unaccounted for, and that aforementioned rededication makes it unlikely we’ll see any make a comeback in 2017; yes, they can be brought back in a game mechanics sense, but they’re still effectively gone in-story.  All that said:  the companions have mostly been irrelevant in-story at the end of the class stories (with perhaps a sop thrown in depending on your class in the Shadow of Revan expansion), so one has to wonder if it’s really a big deal at this point.  Something to think about.

From a personal point of view, this year saw the return of my tracking assorted characters through content.  Thanks primarily to the Dark vs Light event that kicked off in the summer, I began the journeys of Anthrandos the Jedi Knight and Sorshan the Sith Inquisitor, and brought them from humble beginnings on Tython and Korriban and through the KotFE expansion.  Neither have as yet gone through KotET, but they will-so expect at some point “final” posts for those characters that will encompass that expansion, once I’ve finished getting my primary class characters through.  Naturally, those primary characters have gone through the entirety of the KotFE expansion, one of which maxed out his alliance contact reps, one of which got them all to at least level 10.  My smuggler and agent win the prize for most total companions now, as they both have all the Star Fortress companions, and almost all of the companions available in alerts, excepting ones who were refused on moral grounds (or killed off) and the PvP related ones.

The transition from wartime to peacetime begins.

Sure seems quiet in the galaxy these days.

Coming in at a distant second in my time is Star Trek Online.  Last time I did one of these posts, we were just beginning the New Dawn, heralding the rebirth of exploration in the galaxy.  Guess that was mostly hyperbole, because what we actually got was the latest outbreak of the Temporal Cold War introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise.  Things started really rolling, though, with the year’s free expansion, Agents of Yesterday, which created a new sub-faction:  the 23rd century Starfleet.  This was tied in hard with the Temporal Cold War as well, but man, it was fun seeing missions and characters in the 23rd century look.  The New Dawn arc concluded and a new one is underway now, which returns a station from the past returning to the limelight.

At roughly the same time as developing the idea of characters in the Dark vs Light thing in SWTOR, I decided to chronicle the adventure of a character starting out from the 23rd century with Rick Masters, and while my time has been more limited than usual in STO, the character has finished his run through “New Dawn” (or “Future Proof” if you want to use the episodic arc name), and has caught up to the present time in the game.  Since the new arc seems like it’ll at least somewhat involve the space station the character saw go away back in the 23rd century, Masters will likely see at least some participation there, but I’m likely to look to focus on my Starfleet, KDF, and Romulan mains a bit.  That said, since the 23rd century guy is in his own sub-faction, I can easily justify promoting him to a “main” status.  Does anyone else out there have multiple main characters, or is it just me?  It’s hard being an altoholic.

There had to be a loser here somewhere.

Still not getting a lot of love from me.  I blame Father Time.

Champions Online, still technically in the stable of games, didn’t get a lot of joy from me this year.  I did finally manage to level up a character-Overload, my Reawakened Automaton-to max level, so that opened up a new character slot for me to work with.  Unlike previous years, this year saw a bit of content introduced, as well as some significant reworking of the “endgame” experience as far as gear grinding goes (which, apparently, is another way of saying “more grind”).  I’ve never been about the endgame, though, and the new content is highly group oriented-which is good, honestly, but for a guy who is as irregular as I am on the game, well, not the biggest attraction.

Here’s the other hand:  with things wrapping up with characters in SWTOR with the KotET expansion, and its focus on grouped content, it opens up some time for me to do a leveling experience in CO as I have with Anthrandos/Sorshan/Rick Masters.  It may be a little less structured, since CO is less structured, storywise, but that could work for the best in many ways.  I’ve already been laying the groundwork in my head on how that’ll work, so stay tuned.

Returning for a new engagement....

Returning for a new engagement….

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the Freemium conversion for EVE Online, which has allowed me to return to New Eden to fly spaceships again.  I’m not anticipating much time in here, particularly given the Alpha Clone limitations on ships and skills, but hey, it’s good to fly out into the unknown for a bit.  My character being developed (independent of the original ones I had) is likely to stick with Minmatar Frigates, although I’m spending time on a Minmatar Destroyer to help clean out frigate annoyances in Level 1 missions.  I’m debating trying to hit some wormholes and see if I can find any data/hacking sites; the problem is that skills only go so high, which means even locating the sites are a challenge-and worse still, the hostile mobs in the area probably outmatch me in skill and equipment.  But seeing as I’m basically using cheap stuff, I may well decide “why the hell not?  Frigates are disposable.”

On the fictional front, I’ve restricted myself to reposting some open-RP posts rescued from the fall of GuildPortal last year, including “Injustice” from the Justiciars site, “Birth of the Union” and “The Darkening” from the Union Supreme site.  I’m planning to do a repost of “Invasion of the Gems” from the Hyperion Force site at some point in the coming year.  As far as new works, though, nothing really came to mind.  I am in the middle of writing what I anticipate will be my last MMO-related story, and hope to have something put up this coming year on the Outlaws’ site.  Fact is, my motivation on writing this stuff has been fading considerably, and in combination with finding time to actually do the writing, that just spelled a “time to put a bow on it” in my mind.  Of course, putting that bow on it will depend a lot on me actually finishing the one I’ve started; we’ll see how that goes.

That’s 2016 in a nutshell!  The latter half of the year helped reinvigorate some of my blogging, thanks to the decision to start chronicling the actions of my characters again as I had in the old days, and helped fill the empty spaces between game publishes.  It puts me in a positive frame of mind as we move forward in 2017 to start year thirteen of my MMO adventure!

A Night of Eternal Thrones

It began a year ago with Knights of the Fallen Empire in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The conclusion of that story is here, with the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion.  I figure I’ll put up my thoughts on the expansion as a whole instead of doing it piecemeal, chapter by chapter.  But before I get to the spoilery stuff (watch for Vaylin below, she’ll tell you when the spoilers start), let’s take a look at some of the things that came along with it that requires no spoilage.

First up:  those folks who worked on the Light Vs. Dark event get their spoils now.  For my part, that included a speeder, some armor, a pet, and Master Ranos, the winning contender of Light Vs Dark, a Jedi companion who is considered a bit of a maverick among the Order.  (Or at least, she was when the Order was intact before Zakuul.)  As with Nico Okarr, players can use a device to get a hold of her before the Fallen Empire storyline.  Also worth noting is that the subscriber rewards for the last couple months have also come in:  a recon walker, and Shae Vizla, the Mandalorian; and just like Nico and Ranos, you’ll get a device with her.  Worth noting:  unlike Nico, Ranos can be fully customized with gear, like a regular companion, not like the ones gained via KotFE.  Shae, on the other hand, can not (although a bug is allowing it for now, but it won’t last).  Shae does get a few appearance options, hailing back to her “classic” look from the days of Shadow of Revan.  Or maybe from the trailers for the game prior to release-I haven’t really done a hard compare.

There are also game changes.  The classes took a revamp-I’ll probably go into this later on, but at least on my Smuggler, I’m irritated to lose my single melee attack, as well as my Dirty Kick (which have been set to Scoundrels Only).  The weak stun replacement doesn’t replace what was lost in any way, shape, or form.  That said, it didn’t really slow me down.  Other classes have undergone similar mutations.  The level cap raised, and at least this time we didn’t lose abilities (beyond the revamp, of course) that we already had.  Of course, since I’ve only really messed with my Smuggler so far, I could well be wrong on this.  And the specialization trees have again mutated, causing a reset of points.

Sometimes, I find this sort of thing really causes me headaches.

Another interesting update involves the advanced classes no longer being held off until level 10 (or the end of the starter worlds, whichever comes first), but rather, you start in those classes immediately.  I’ll possibly have more to comment on such if I run a full campaign again like I did with Sorshan and Anthrandos.  (And it will probably happen at some point.  My altoholism is well known to readers of this blog by now, I’d think.)

Commendations-er, make that “data crystals”-have also gone away, being cashed out for credits.  The big thing with gear purchases are now mods, as I understand it.  Again, I haven’t really noticed that much-I really should do a full leveling experience again to see how that impacts leveling.  Most of the rewards through KotET were inferior to what I’d managed to accumulate up to now.  All that grinding paid off!  That said:  better gear is available via a new level 70+ concept called Galactic Command.  Simply put, if you take out gold elites, or do any number of things like run dailies specified by the window, or flashpoints, or operations, or any of that-you gain Command Experience, which eventually gets you Command Crates, which have (presumably) raid level gear in them.  If you’re lucky, you should get at least a few from finishing KotET.  You get more of this experience from doing the group content, with the biggest batches coming from Operations.  Good thing I was never big on the raid-or-die philosophy; that means I don’t really need the uber gear.

If you’re looking for your old companions…keep waiting.  None of them are making a reappearance.  There are a couple new ones, but half of them is the aforementioned Dark Vs Light reward.

Okay-that’s the commentary on the game updates.  Ahead lies spoilers (although I’ll try to be light on them) for the grand finale of the current SWTOR storyline-after the break!

"I said NO PICTURES!!!!"

“I said NO PICTURES!!!!”

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SS: The Ending Was The Beginning

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“I am exhausted.  The events of the last day have been…wearing, I should say.  Our conflict against the Eternal Empire has reached a tipping point, but I’m not sure where things stand.

Arcann is defeated, but free.  I’ve been betrayed twice-neither time was really a surprise.  I’m Sith-at this point, I expect betrayal.  At the moment, there are few whose loyalties I consider solid, two of whom I’ve known for a long time, and one who I’ve met only recently.  All others?  More dubious.  I should start making plans to deal with betrayals as they happen, but I want to believe otherwise.  I think that is why I feel each one keenly.  The journey has been a strange one.  I’ve aligned with Republic officers, Jedi, Sith, Imperial officers, smugglers and bounty hunters.  I’ve gained the trust of many on both sides of the fence, and even some from Zakuul have begun to follow me.  Once, I felt that I could best rip out the rot in the Empire by ruling it.  But now, it seems that destiny has something greater in mind:  the Eternal Throne of Zakuul, from which I can rule the Eternal Empire, the Sith Empire, and the Galactic Republic.

It’s a breathtaking thought.  I can tear out the rot from the Empire, the corruption of the Republic, and the threat of Zakuul, in one fell stroke.

It won’t be that simple.  I know this.  But from the Throne, I can at least make a start.  From the Throne, I can at least try to change the galaxy for the better.  And the irony is, I will be cheered on by the Jedi, the Sith, the Republic, the Empire-even by Zakuul itself, for I cannot imagine it will thrive with Vaylin’s influence-or her ally.  Enemies become allies-but for how long?  The Empire and the Republic will react when the time comes for me to declare victory.  And it may be that my Alliance is held together by only the thin thread of the outside threat.

And there remains one factor I cannot account for, one factor that I fear.  Valkorion still exists, and remains tied to me in some way.  The time will come when he will attempt to destroy me as Zash once tried, and his power is vast.  I will only be able to resist him by using the Force as he boasted his Knights did:  knowing that it is more than just Light and Dark.  Even if it takes my death, I will not let Valkorion win.

The Force shall free me.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

And done!

I’ve wrapped up the Knights of the Fallen Empire arc in Star Wars: The Old Republic, in time for the very-soon-to-be-released Knights of the Eternal Throne.

Sorshan managed to get through the game with making only a single Dark Side choice, which happened during the KotFE back half-and it wasn’t exactly a significant one, honestly (hell, I can’t even recall the details now, only the selection), so between her and Anthrandos, I think I contributed reasonably well to the Light vs Dark event (Light still seems to be winning).  Her final choice which wasn’t a Light/Dark one was, of course, how to deal with Arcann and his rescuer; despite her talk about betrayal, she ultimately did let them go without a kill attempt.  Arcann’s nothing without his power-base, and that’s gone now.  (This may or may not prove to be an error-we’ll see!)

My run through the Jedi Knight and Sith Inquisitor storylines have been pretty fun, going through it all with these blog posts in mind, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I choose to do this sort of thing again with some of the other classes.  I’m an avowed altoholic, after all-I’m bound to do another run through at some point.  But for now, I’ve got holidays coming up, and if I have time before the expansion hits, I need to wrap up a few more characters in the list who still haven’t finished KotFE and are hanging on the last chapter or two.

Plus, of course, I still have my STO captain to get through.  I wanted to push through Sorshan’s story first, with the expansion literally a week away (if you’ve been subbed for the early access, anyway).  Plus, I’ve got a couple other irons in the fire that are beginning to call for attention; I expect to make comments about them both before the end of the year.

SS: On The Run

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“Five years.

You don’t really think about everything that can change in five years until you have spent those years effectively in stasis. You don’t think of it as a period of time where the galaxy can change so completely. But it has.

The good news: I finally killed the Sith Emperor, in a manner of speaking. He took a body again and I killed him. The bad news? He was incarnate in the form of an emperor of a neighboring area of space, hailed as the Immortal Emperor of the Eternal Empire of Zakuul. The worse news? His physical death seems to have bound his spirit to mine-so now I have a passenger in my mind who keeps offering me power, but whose plans are highly suspect.

Oh, and the last bit of news. His son stuffed me into a carbonite slab and went on a conquering spree where he more or less took over the Empire and the Republic.

Up to now, my allies have been few. Lana Beniko rescued me from my imprisonment and saved my life. Koth Vortena is the captain of my flagship (he doesn’t really agree with the “my flagship” part, but I don’t make an issue of it). And Senya Tirall is…well, she’s complicated. Plus, a droid that worked for Cipher Nine of the old Imperial Intelligence, and a droid that had associated with the Jedi Battlemaster who had supposedly killed the Sith Emperor (and is thus, in a way, responsible for everything that has happened since). There was also an HK unit, but…well, there isn’t now, although the shell may be salvageable.

I have spent weeks running from Zakuul since my freedom. I’ve attempted to learn more about this warship we found and how it can fight the Eternal Fleet. Only now, on a world which we hope a force can be forged to defeat Zakuul, have I had time to process everything that has happened.

Darth Marr is gone. It says something when the one Sith I was beginning to trust gets killed in a stand against the Emperor. I shouldn’t mock him; I, too, was defiant to the end. But his son, Arcann, saved me-so I could do his dirty work, allowing him to bring us to the place we stand now. Khem, Ashara, Andronikos-missing. Thanks to this alliance I seem to have taken control of, I’ve at least recovered my ship-and reconnected with Xalek and Talos. Other allies are forthcoming, I am told.

So now I control a Rebel Alliance composed of both Imperial and Republic forces-both willing to follow a former Dark Council member (the Council is, for all intents and purposes, gone, the Empire controlled by a self-proclaimed Empress) to war to free their worlds from the Eternal Empire. It seems not so long ago where I was a singificant factor in a similar alliance, against Revan-but now, I am in command. That Republic forces are willing to follow me-that speaks to their fear.

I am done running. From here on out, I will take the offensive. I will not rest until Zakuul is defeated. Only then can I hope to retake the Sith Empire and realize my dreams.

But even in all of this, I can see a chance. I may have been dreaming too small.”

-from Sorshan’s Story

Halfway through the Knights of the Fallen Empire for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I’ve been cruising along with Sorshan to the end of the line!

What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Fortunately, this particular Inquisitor won’t have the problems my other one did with Koth-quite the opposite, in fact.  There are benefits to doing only Light Side choices.

Obviously, I picked back up Talos and Xalek, as Inquisitor companions, and I also took a little time to pick up HK-55 again and Nico (who I’d used early on in Sorshan’s career, and it made sense to bring him back on board).  That’s about as far as I plan to go with her Alert companions; I’m challenging myself to wrap up Sorshan’s Story before Thanksgiving, and I plan to succeed!  That’ll put me in the right position to set her aside to begin Knights of the Eternal Throne after the Turkey Weekend.

Almost at the finish line-which may or may not include the HK solo mission; I don’t really need to do that to wrap things up in my mind, and if I pick Sorshan and Anthrandos back up afterward, I can always do it at that point.

Depending on the length of the KotET chapters, I may or may not put up individual posts for each.  A lot will depend on the length of the chapters.  I’m also still undecided as to if I’ll be looking at it from a particular character’s point of view, such as I’ve done with the Epic of Anthrandos and Sorshan’s Story, or if I’ll just stick with the facts.  I’m leaning towards the latter, though, because while I have no qualms about being semi-spoilery with the KotFE stuff, as it’s been out for a year now, the KotET stuff will be brand spanking new, and I’d hate to spoil things for people who haven’t done it yet-at least not right off the bat.  (By the time I pick up with Anthrandos/Sorshan again, though, all bets are off.)