An Okay Ending
Those who have visited my sites or seen my work probably know how I feel about the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’ve written a few big ass blog entries discussing it in various points of the game’s evolution. They called me at home for the game I wanted (at least, the initial release). The story telling elements and choices were fantastic.
They gave us eight games we could play with our friends. Each of those eight has a light and dark path. Gender and species plays a part in your experience and there are enough nuances to give you MANY hours of entertainment. I’ll provide some crazy examples below of my time playing the game before diving into the latest expansion: Knights of the Eternal Throne.
My friend and I played the beta for the game and I found myself instantly hooked. I made a Jedi Guardian and dove in. The story elements were awesome and your dialogue actually impacted the way a conversation went. Much like Mass Effect, you could be an asshole or a nice guy, sometimes unrealistically (in both cases). But there was plenty of choice.
Each beginner planet starts two classes and their stories overlap enough that you could play the entire game together for a ‘complete’ experience. Only a few times are people sent off in different directions but they always culminate back to whatever the next planet is. (This is part of the game’s weakness but I’ll discuss that later).
Then we came upon the first ‘dungeon’ (flashpoint). You can play with 4 people but 2 is okay (you take along your companion). It was impressive on both Dark and Light side. There were multiple ways to handle the situation and based on your decisions, it became more or less difficult. You can make a dark side decision to murder a bunch of engineers to quick track yourself to the next objective or you can save them and extend the time of the mission.
If you’ve only got 2 people with you, then enemies point out how you’re short folks and talk more crap. If you’ve got specific classes in your group, then the enemies might address them. All around, the attention to detail is crazy. I played a Sith Inquisitor human for a while and beat chapter 1. I decided I’d rather her be a Chiss so I played again and the same story had a lot of prejudice going on—the empire hates aliens.
What was even better is they let me deal with the jerks who were not so kind violently. I mean, she’s a Sith Inquisitor after all.
The biggest weakness in the early days came from the linearity of the game. In order to level up sufficiently to address the next threat, you had to do EVERY side mission, even if they didn’t make sense. There was one I’ll never forget. As a Jedi Knight, I’m rushing along on my story quest to stop a super weapon from destroying the entire planet. The clock is ticking but I get a quest to get this guy’s toy. And if I hadn’t done it, I might not have leveled to take care of the boss protecting the super weapon.
It got old doing the same quests each time I made a new character to try the next path. In the end, I beat the vanilla TOR with 6 of the 8 characters and just couldn’t be bothered to mess with the last two (the Bounty Hunter and Trooper). Double XP let me get them through Chapter 1 but it wasn’t until they did the 12x XP event that I finished them off too.
I’ve already rated the stories in another blog in order and I’ve addressed the expansions (Makeb, Revan, and Knights of the Eternal Empire). In short, I didn’t like them very much. Makeb was the first time they converged all classes to one story line, eliminating the vast choice and personal story from the vanilla game. They DID offer specific Empire and Republic story lines which was at least nice (they abandon that later).
I straight did NOT like Revan. It was short, the expanded level cap was easily attained on the first planet and the story was…well…lame. However, some of the new mechanics were nice and the new characters (Lana and Theron) were awesome. I took a break from the game when this one finished and got lured back by Knights of the Eternal Empire.
When I came back, they’d added a short little chapter where you hunt down the Emperor again to stop him from destroying an entire planet’s worth of people to become immortal (oops). When you wrap that up, you can start Knights of the Eternal Empire. Which…kind of just frustrated me to be honest. After everything my Jedi did, I had a hard time with the number of times you get your ass kicked by the characters.
I’ve written extensively about that particular chapter so let’s FINALLY get to the point and talk about Eternal Throne. There are no real spoilers in this write up.
First, I wasn’t going to play this. However, when I found out they released all 9 chapters right off the bat, I decided to give it a go. Right away, I felt I’d made a great decision. The story already felt better and you were finally a heroic character again. A lot of great stuff happens and as you proceed, I found no chapter to be lacking (untrue with Eternal Empire).
I played through as a light side character and felt the story worked well for her. The decisions didn’t feel forced but I will say there aren’t many points where I felt the decisions mattered much. A fight might be easier here or there depending on what you do but mostly, the story’s going to end the same way. This isn’t true in the vanilla game where your character’s past can be dramatically different based on your choices.
As such, I can tell you that I feel strongly that Bioware intended this story to be Jedi Guardian driven. Not even Consular, not Sith Warrior. Considering the dialogue and the issues that come up, it dives deep into the stuff that happened throughout the Jedi’s story. A major plot point uses another character’s companion but that particular story line fizzled rather than felt significant.
If I had to describe KOTET in any specific way, I’d call it a bittersweet, truncated experience. It simply felt short. I can promise you this: even without side missions, it took me 12 hours to finish Chapter 1 in the original game and that was when I knew where EVERYTHING was. I would be surprised if KOTET took that much time and I got lost quite a bit.
Now, if I did the flashpoints and dove into all the extra stuff they’re offering it might’ve extended that play time or even given the story more gravity. The nice thing about Vanilla TOR is that you didn’t NEED to do those flashpoints. They were just a little extra. They pretty much told a separate story and weren’t necessary to supplement the main one.
I can tell you I don’t feel compelled to play through this as another character. There are some things I can answer questions to if someone asked but they’d be spoilers. Dark side or Light, species or class, those don’t matter too much. If you’re not the Jedi Guardian, I’m not sure you’ll feel the same weight of everything that happens but maybe your personal story will work out for you.
All around, for the price of one month’s subscription, this was a worth while experience. If they dragged it out like the last one, I wouldn’t have even bothered. Considering I took care of the entire thing in less than 3 days, I’d say it’s a little light on content but if you’re the type that wants to experience end game, they have added Command Points (new way to level after 70 to get gear) and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t pay attention to.
Is it a great conclusion to the whole story of Star Wars? Not GREAT but it’s good. Will this truly be the end? I would say they’ve left it open for something else but if they do nothing else, I will say this: it’s a far better conclusion than Mass Effect had. Maybe they learned their lesson.
Author of several books, composer of several CDs. Please check out the rest of the site for some of my work.