The Worst to Best SWTOR Class Storylines

Well, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get at least a few hits on the site for people looking for what the ‘best’ storyline in Star Wars The Old Republic is.  It’s a tricky subject matter because it is almost entirely subjective.  What does someone define as ‘the best’?  It’s like all those people who claim that the game isn’t “Star Wars”-y enough but can never actual explain what the hell that means.  And while all the reviews aren’t finished yet, I have indeed played through every single class story at this point.  So I might as well give people what they keep asking for.  This is my personal Worst to Best Class Storylines for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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#8: Trooper

Anyone who has read my review for the Trooper should not be surprised to find this at the bottom of the list.  The problem is just that the entire Trooper story pretty much ends with Chapter One.  Chapter Two and Three feel like filler.  There’s nothing built up to them. There’s nothing tying them together.  Chapter Two is a horrific abomination of sheer pointlessness and Chapter Three does very little to improve on that already low bar.  On top of that, these two very bland chapters then go out of the way to try to paint your character as the instigator for the renewed war.  Not just that the war has begun while you were fighting like some other class stories. No, that the Empire has renewed it’s attacks directly on the Republic as immediate retaliation for your actions.  Granted, it might just be an excuse but damn is that being thrown under the narrative bus.

The shame of the whole thing is that the prologue and first chapter are actually really solid and I would actually recommend playing through them.  But once you get to level 30 and start Chapter Two the whole story takes a hard nose dive and never truly recovers.

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#7: Sith Inquisitor

The Inquisitor is a classic case of biting into a Peanut Butter Cup and finding it filled with Cookies & Creme filling instead.  It might not be bad, but it sure as hell isn’t what you signed up for.  Look anywhere for what the Inquisitor is pitched as and you’ll find comparisons to the subtle machinations of Palpatine, manipulating forces into completing your ends, and being a grand puppet master with all the powers of the dark side at your beck and call.  What you actually get is more akin to Indiana Jones in space.  You find relics, pursue ghosts, and end up using more magic in this space opera than your average D&D game and the Mass Effect 3 ending combined.  In other words, it doesn’t deliver on what’s promised.  In fact, it rarely even tries to.  It goes off in some completely different direction and then shouts back at you that it doesn’t know what your problem is, this is the way it always intended to go.

Of course, that’s not what puts the Inquisitor so low on this list. Not alone at least.  No, the real reason this one got marked down so much was quite simply that it spends so much time painting your character like a complete and utter idiot.  You walk in traps, blindly trust those who clearly are trying to kill you, and routinely must be saved by a third party to avoid certain death.  None of these are a result of your choices or actions either.  These just happen to you regardless.  Then somehow you get a seat on the Dark Council out of all of this.  Talk about fricking failing upwards.  I honestly can’t play through the Inquisitor story without feeling that the game is actively insulting me at times.

Behave! Or the Jedi will eat you.

#6: Jedi Consular

Let me just say this, because I know some of you are reading this and saying ‘Didn’t Vry like the Consular in his reviews?’  I adored the Consular…   Once the plot actually got started.  Honestly, the Consular is almost the antithesis of the the Trooper.  The best stuff comes after Chapter One.  The downside is that those first 30 levels?  They can be nightmare of tedious repetition.  The same tasks over and over with only slight changes.  Chapter One at least has the mystery element to it, but you can only really appreciate the mystery once you reach the end and can see all the threads connecting things.

But honestly? If I wasn’t writing a review for this website, I don’t think I ever would have made it out of Chapter One. Hell, I don’t know if I could pull of getting past the prologue.  But if you can do that, then you are in for an amazing story about galactic diplomacy, building alliances, and commanding your own personal army to do battle against an enemy that could literally be anyone.  It sometimes feels a bit more like Star Trek instead of Star Wars, but that’s okay.  It’s different and in a good way.  By the end of Chapter Three, your Consular has done more to preserve the Republic than any other class.  So yea, the first two parts of the story knock this one pretty far down on the list, but don’t think that it is by any means a terrible story once you wade through the boring parts.  Especially with the 12x XP thing going on, now is really the time to see where the Consular shines cause you can get through the boring crap in a day now.

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#5: Bounty Hunter

Oh Bounty Hunter, I do adore thee.  Probably one of my own personal favorite stories.  I just like the flavor.  So why is it only at number 5?  Well, probably because it is a straight-shot, middle of the road, nothing terrible but nothing blow your mind away amazing story.  It’s solid, with no doubt. But there aren’t many instances I can look back and go – yea… that was f***ing awesome. But there’s also nothing I can point to you and say “this completely sucked”.  It’s an average story that will be made better if you like the concept of a bounty hunter or mandalorians.  Which I do.

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#4: Sith Warrior

The Sith Warrior is another example of a very solid narrative that has no real hitches in it that I can look back at and wail about and it would be just another solid middle-of-the-road choice like the Bounty Hunter other than a few shining highlights.  Namely, the Corrupting a Jedi Padawan into becoming your apprentice storyline, the sheer amount of information you learn about the Emperor and how he works, and what is probably the best written villain in the entire game.  The villain essentially does everything that the bad guy from the Inquisitor story wants to do, but without constantly having to make your character look incompetent to make the villain look more menacing.

I described the Sith Warrior in my review as the quintessential Sith experience, and I stand by that statement.  If you ever wanted a taste of being Darth Vader would be like, then look no further.  You’ll find no problems here.

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#3: Smuggler

If there were three words to describe the Smuggler story it would be: Silly. Fun. Adventurous. The story is full of laughs as you roam across the galaxy dealing with the back alley scum that no other class gets nearly as much access to.  Pirates, shady deals, backstabs, all mixed with a hefty dose of charm and chuckles, this is THE story for a good time.  The best part is that it actually does a great job at telling a pretty grand story that ends up turning into something much larger by the end.

If there was something I could say that was shining about the Smuggler that puts it so high on the list it would be that the story just snowballs itself down a mountain.  It starts small and simple and then builds in both size and momentum, but instead of just becoming a bigger narrative in terms of scale it actually builds on what has come before.  Chapter One is an excellent example of this when by the end of it you’ll look back at the events of the Prologue and see exactly how much of it was actually spent setting things up that you probably didn’t even think twice about.

The story also shares some traits with our #1 on the list in that several story elements actual vary wildly depending on your light and dark choices. Another reason the story feels so much more alive than many of the others on this list.

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#2: Jedi Knight

What do you think of when you hear the name ‘Star Wars’?  Brave heroes struggling against an impossible enemy? Epic battles waged across planets? A showdown between the forces of Light and Dark?  The Jedi Knight story has all of that. From earning your first lightsaber, to a final duel against the Sith Emperor himself (sort of) I would go as far as to describe the Jedi Knight story as being the essential Star Wars experience.  It’s everyone people imagine a Star Wars video game would be like, and hit pretty much hits a ton of the same notes as the Original Trilogy.  Straight to the not uptight but wise mentor being killed off only to guide you via force ghost to your next plot point.

But beyond the simple Star Wars experience, the Jedi Knight also plays with some of your expectations.  What if you became evil?  How would those around you react?  What about when faced with the moral decision of what to do with your enemies?  Your choices early on do help shape the story later.  Mostly in flavor, but in rewarding flavor regardless when you get to see so many old faces return to help you in your moment of victory.

If you want to play through the epic space opera adventure story, this one if for you.

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#1: Imperial Agent

So if Jedi Knight encapsulated the perfect Star Wars story, why is it not at number one?  Well because for all it’s solid strengths, the Jedi Knight is a straight forward plot with only flavoring changing based on your choices.  What if the whole story changed based on your choices?  If the actions you took would have radical different impressions on what rise to power your character had?  That may not be the essential Star Wars experience, but that certainly sounds like what we’d expect from a game brandishing the name of BioWare. It’s for that reason that our number one spot goes to the Imperial Agent.

The Agent’s story is not only full of mystery and exciting well done plot twists, but also delivers many of the crucial details of how the story of The Old Republic shakes down.  Want to know why the Voss are so brutally neutral? The answer is here.  How the hell is the Empire losing the war? The answer is here! You combine that with tons of amazing plot twists that build and build in a massive web of intrigue that reveals the Star Wars equivalent of the Illuminati pulling the strings behind everything? That’s fricking awesome!

And oh yes, your choices do matter in the Imperial Agent story.  There are THREE completely different directions the second chapter can take depending on your choice at the end of Chapter One.  Oh sure, you still have to go the same planets in the same order, but the greater narrative is shifted drastically depending on who you are working with and why.  For once in this game do you actually feel like your actions have consequences and are not pre-determined with only slightly different dialogue.  At several points I actually had to step back from my keyboard and THINK about which dialogue option to choose knowing that this may well indeed alter events and since it’s a MMO with no saves to fall back on – it’s all for reals.

An amazing story with amazing plot twist and actual consequences to player choices that will keep you on the edge of your seat for each cut scene.  That’s why the Imperial Agent is my Number One Best Class Storyline.

If you want to find out more about these storylines you can find my Spoiler Free Summary page here that also has links to the far far less spoiler free reviews.

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Alright, welcome back to the epic quest of the Jedi Knight to stop the forces of evil.  Only we already did that at the end of Chapter One.  As I said, just like the Trooper and Bounty Hunter, the Prologue and First Chapter of the Jedi Knight’s story is a complete narrative and wraps everything up nicely at the end.  It could have easily been the end if not for that pesky “We’re only level 30” thing.  So we have two more chapters. But UNLIKE the Bounty  Hunter and Trooper stories, the Jedi Knight knows exactly what story to tell with the remaining chapters: We’re going after the Sith Emperor.  Oh joy! Could the stakes be any higher?  I think not.  Yes, this is probably one of the most defining plot developments in the game, since the result of Chapters 2 and mostly 3 of the Jedi Knight will set the stage for what we would later see in the Shadow of Revan and the happenings on Ziost.

The story begins with you returning from R & R on your ship only to be contacting by the spectral image of Master Orgus Din.  He’s a ghost!  Which I suppose means we need to watch out for the Sith Inquisitor.  Orgus reveals that there is a trapped and dying Jedi on the planet Tatooine that needs your help, and carries information that will be vital to fulfilling your destiny.  So you travel to the middle of fricking nowhere in Jundland to find a crashed starship and a bunch of Sith gold mobs.  The Jedi is chilling out and meditating in the ship.  So… he is saved? I think?  Was I necessary?

Apparently, he couldn’t send a distress signal because techno babble and the plot demands we save him but he is carrying news that he must deliver to the Jedi Council on Tython and urges you to deliver it while the medical crews arrive for him.  So you go to Tython – a statement for the record you will be hearing A LOT in these next two chapters.  You waste a ton of time going back to Tython for one cutscene again and again.  The Jedi Council reveals there master plan that the info was for: Their going after the Sith Emperor.  But first, they will need some things.  You are tasked with helping other Jedi Masters on planets to help gather the necessary resources to have everything you’ll need for a successful assault on the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Ask them about their Seafood Combo Platter) and capture him.  Yes, capture.  Apparently they don’t want to kill him because it would create a power vacuum.  Boo.

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Balmorra

This planet is where the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor’s (Try the Veal) cloaking shield was developed. The hope is to find the original prototype of it so the Jedi can jury-rig a device to cancel out the cloak.  Of course, since Balmorra is heavily entrenched in a battle to oust the Sith Empire who have a hold on everything here, that means teaming up with the Resistance.  Who don’t like the Republic. This will be fun.  You also get to meet your liaison with the Resistance – a man named Doc.

Doc is one part humanitarian and one part sleazy skinamax star, right down to the mustache.  When he’s not trying to save lives or protect the innocent and making sure everyone gets a chance to live, he’s flirting with anything that remotely resembles a female.  If you bring Kira with you, he flirts with her endlessly. If you are a female, he will flirt with you endlessly.  And I mean ENDLESSLY.  It accounts for nearly 80% of his dialogue on Balmorra.  If you ever want to feel some empathy for women who have to deal with men hitting on them and swinging widely with pick up lines like they were a scythe – play a female Jedi Knight and meet Doc.  Dear god, I wanted to punch him.  He’s also the female love interest, which is all sorts of weird to me.  But hey, it takes all kinds right?  Someone has to enjoy that kind of person.

The next couple of missions are basically just grunt work soldier-ing for the Resistance.  Collect med packs for the wounded, take out guards and sensors so the Resistance can break into the computers to grab intel, and ultimately saving one of their spies that was trying to secure the prototype from an Imperial jail.  This spy however is ultimately revealed to be in great health for being imprisoned by the enemy for two weeks.  Like suspiciously good health.  It seems she cut a deal with the Empire to spill intel on the Resistance in exchange for safety.  The Resistance wants her dead on the spot, but it ultimately comes down to you – the Jedi – to decide.  It’s also during these missions you meet up with the Jedi Master you’re helping: Warren Sedoru.  He’s an old grizzled scar-covered Jedi who has a natural talent for reading people and tactical thinking.  He also happily admits to letting you do all the work since you’re youthful and far more skilled with a saber.  I like his honesty.  He’s a keeper.  Can I have him on the ship instead of Doc?

You finally grab the prototype by breaking into the Balmorran Arms Factory, a task that’s honestly way easier than it sounds.  You kill your way through some nameless Sith guarding the thing, likely tipped off from our spy friend that people were interested in the prototype and then go in to grab it to find that the Resistance is already there and ready to cart off with it.  Okay. First. What?  Second.  That’s mine.  Third.  What?  How did they get in here?  How did the Sith not notice them?  Were they crawling around the vents or something?  If that’s the case why didn’t I get to climb the vents?  Bah.  The Resistance says that since the prototype was made on Balmorra it belongs to them and no one else, screw you and screw the Republic.  You can either negotiate with them or just threaten them for it, you don’t have to fight either way I don’t think.  You get the prototype and get the heck off the planet.

Quesh

Time for a small side track from the mission.  It appears that Master Tol Braga (the Jedi who came up with this Kidnap the Sith Emperor plan) has a padawan that was a former Sith stationed on the planet of Quesh that he hasn’t heard from in a while.  Braga is worried about him since the tensions are rising between the Republic and Empire on Quesh, and he wants you to go make sure everything is alright.  Which, of course, isn’t the case.

Apparently, the former Sith is having a bit of a hard time getting over some his old bad habits.  Namely slaughtering a bunch of unarmed Imperial prisoners when they mentioned he was a traitor and that the Emperor’s Wrath was coming for him.  Now you can honestly help this Sith-Turned-Jedi overcome his temptation to the Dark Side, or you can convince him to embrace it fully because ‘Hey, it’s a war. Go kill people.’

The really interesting bit comes when the Empire breaks into the base and you have to repel them.  When you finally wipe them out, all of them, you bring up the force field for the door only to be greeted by a massive hulking Sith Pureblood named Lord Scourge.  Scourge is the Emperor’s Wrath.  The very hatred of Emperor embodied in a living person.  This is important because this is first time on the Republic side we are introduced to the concepts of the ‘Aspects’ of the Emperor.  Be it his Voice, Wrath, Hands, etc  the Emperor has many servants who act as vessels of his will.  They literally become a part of the Emperor.  There’s a lot more of this to be found in the Sith Warrior storyline where they go into it with greater detail, but this is an important thing to remember for what comes at the end of the Jedi Knight story as well.

Scourge’s appearance here however is little more than a glorified tease and cameo.  He talks to you, says some cryptic things, and then buggers off.  Okay?  Thanks for the visit, Scourge.  Quesh then ends with the padawan deciding to either return to Tython to cleanse himself of his Dark Side emotions, or to meditate on the concept of embracing them as a weapon for justice in what is a clearly soon to erupt war.

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Hoth

The second piece of the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Every Thursday is Sith Ladies’ Night) caper is to get the schematics and floorplans to the Stronghold.  Impossible, you say?  Well not to Jedi Master Leeha Narezz. She’s discovered that the only non-Sith to see the interior of the space station – the architect (because there are no Sith architects, silly. They don’t build up, only tear down!) – and apparently that individual crashed on Hoth with the schematics on board.  So we’re off on a scavenger hunt to find it.  Which seems to be just what you do on Hoth.  Go looking for things that crashed here.  This is what? The fourth time we’ve done this?

However, we do make a new friend in the process.  The Republic Military is lending a hand with this ‘save the galaxy’ mission and giving you full authority over the 301st.  Or what’s left of them as when you find them there are two remaining and one of them is dying. Our last good soldier standing is Sergeant Rusk, who is brutally efficient at his job.  He lists off success and failure in terms of percentages, he doesn’t care if you are wounded or dying you will finish the mission, and he’s not actually that much of  a jerk for it.  Just a guy who wants to be the best damn soldier out there and expects anyone who signed up for the Military to be willing to die for the cause.  It’s an extreme viewpoint, sure.  But he never comes off as mean.  Just a bit odd.  His men however don’t feel that way.  Even after replenishing the 301st’s numbers, everybody else views Rusk as a hard ass trying to make them do things like eliminate threats proactively and other things that equate to ‘work’.  I dunno. I dig Rusk.  I would like to trade Tanno Vik on my Trooper for Rusk.  Please?

The rest of Hoth plays out pretty simply with only the occasional diversion where the military calls you up wanting things in exchange for borrowing the 301st.  The first one of these is to take out Imperial turrets and its mandatory.  The second is to destroy ammo dumps set up by the pirates and you can talk Rusk out of doing it or just doing it himself without you.  The whole mission ends with you getting to choose whether you want to square off with pirates or Sith (There’s a meme waiting to happen) and breaking into a massive dreadnought ship to grab the schematics.  Narezz happily heads back to Tython to await you there.

I didn’t talk much about Narezz because she doesn’t seem to have much in the way of personality.  She instead has robots.  Two droids – the Meedees – that she claims will one day have the power to wield the Force like any living thing.   There.  That’s her whole schtick in just about every conversation.  “We need to get X oh bee tee dubs my robots are awesome.”

Finale

You want a big flashy finale to a middle chapter? Here it is.  This thing is huge, so pardon me if I may miss a beat here or there.  You return to Tython to get ready for the big assault on the Emperor when it’s revealed by Master Tol Braga that the endgame of this whole plan is not just to capture the Sith Emperor but to bring him back to Tython and convince him – through what I can only imagine is a well thought out and reasoned debate – to TURN TO THE LIGHT SIDE.  Oh geeze. I am so suddenly having doubts about this plan.  Not just me either, as the rest of the Jedi Council shows up to talk about their own trepidation with this plan. Namely that the Jedi I saved way back on Tatooine at the beginning of Chapter Two who was told he couldn’t go on the big important save the universe mission and you are going in his stead JUST had a vision! That you would turn EVIL if you went, so he should go in your place and save the day.  I clearly sense absolutely zero ulterior motive here.

You do convince the council the let you go and you begin the assault on the Secret Invisibile Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor (Now serving breakfast) where you infiltrate and work your way through the base.  For those who have already completed the story on Ilum at some point, you might recognize the layout of this place.  I don’t know if it’s intentional but the Secret Invisible Space Stronghold of the Sith Emperor ( Original Fortress. DO NOT STEAL. ) has a very similar construction, layout, and design as the Not Secret But Totally Invisible Space Stronghold of Darth Malgus ( My OF is better than Your OF ) and I want to say that considering they are both cloaked, they are either the same fortress or Malgus totally intentionally stole the Emperor’s idea.  Anyway, you finally breach the Emperor’s sanctum and face off in combat with his Wrath, Lord Scourge.

Once you defeat Scourge, the other Jedi show up (Thanks for the help, guys), the attack on the Emperor begins proper and then promptly ends as the Emperor kicks everyone’s butt almost instantly.  You are the last one standing and even then you still go down to the POWAH! of his Sith lightning.  Once you wipe, the Emperor talks about how you all shall become his new weapons and his dark work begins.  Yes, indeed. You become Evil.  In a cutscene at least.  You train to become a powerful Sith, you kill innocents – or at least it’s implied.  I get kind of this weird disconnect at this point, because they say you have been under the emporer’s control for a long time.  Long enough that the other Jedi you were with become fully fledged generals of the Sith, but you never leave the Stronghold.  You are always shown fighting droids, and even at the end are “just” being given the privilege and training to interrogate prisoners.  So did you wage war in the name of the Sith? I think you do, but it’s never explicitly shown.  It sure as hell makes less of an impact to reveal that while you under Sith control you spent months killing Imperial droids over and over.

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After an unknown period of time, you are finally freed of the Emperor’s control thanks to a handy visit from Master Orgus’ ghost.  Who apparently took his sweet time getting in touch. I guess Jedi force ghosts are less reliable in manifesting than Sith ones, because those jerks are always around.  You jail break your companion from the Emperor fight and then book it to the hangar to get out.  It’s useful that you’ve been helping the bad guys for X amount of time, because now no one fights you on the way out.  However, when you get to the hangar, you find someone has already sprung all of your friends and unlocked your ship: Lord Scourge.  Yes, the big raspberry has decided to join forces with you to help stop the Emperor.  He has foreseen it.  No, seriously. That’s not a clever Star Wars joke.  He really did.  He forsesaw you fighting the Emperor. He wants to help because it turns out that the Sith Emperor isn’t out to win this war.  No… He wants to devour and absorb all life in the Galaxy to become a super-god.  And since Scourge lives in the galaxy, he kinda has a vested interest in seeing it not die.  You all hop on board the ship and… /sigh.  You head back to Tython.  Once there, you relay all this info to the Jedi Council and you begin your new mission: Stop the Emperor from killing everything.  Good plan.  I like it.  I’m happy to be apart of it.

Can someone else do it?

Final Thoughts

The second chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline is essentially the set up for the big climax.  The equivalent to the Prologue to Chapter One.  However instead of being a step back, it does very much feel like a step up in terms of scale.  You are preparing for what is probably the biggest mission any class in the game gets to experience.  On top of that, it gives you short but solid characterization for all of the Jedi Masters you are fighting with so that their defeat and ultimate fate in Chapter 3 actually carries some impact.

This chapter and the one that follows actually has some of the most crossover potential in terms of information given next to the revelation of what exactly happened to the Supreme Chancellor to cause the switch to Saresh from the Bounty Hunter story.  Here we find out what happened to the Emperor’s Wrath, which not only gives us a sense of how the third chapter of the Sith Warrior starts, but when since we also find out that Scourge doesn’t defect until after your “long time” in service to the Emperor.  Apparently the break between Chapter 2 and 3 of the Sith Warrior was quite a break.

The companions in this chapter are actually solid and interesting characters.  They have well defined personalities that don’t require to unlock half of their ‘on the ship’ conversations to get to know them.  You know that Doc is a flirt that cares about the well being of everyone, and that Rusk views the world in terms of calculated risk and victory.  Rusk is honestly one of the better ‘soldier to a fault’ characters I’ve seen done in the game.  Even Elara Dorne cracks that ‘by the books’ exterior here and there, but Rusk?  You either do the mission or die trying.  There is no quitting, no hesitance, no questioning a superior.  If you die, you will die in the service to the Republic and protecting the freedoms and people of it.  Doc on the other hand is the opposite and they contrast each other well.  Doc believes everyone deserves a chance to be healthy and safe.  He believes in prisoners over killing and that no one is above getting a fair shake.  He also constantly flirts with anything resembling a female to the point where I think Scorpio in the Imperial Agent storyline would be in trouble (until she fried him to a crisp.)  It’s interesting because it’s creepy, annoying, and ever present but at the same time – and I fully admit that as a man I might be completely misreading this and be so completely off base, so if any woman would like to weigh in on the comments by all means I welcome your experiences with Doc – but it never felt as…  insulting as Corso’s hypocritical attempts at chivalry.  It felt more like Ron Stoppable from ‘Kim Possible’ trying to get a date for the dance, keeps getting shot down but also keeps trying.  Then again, Ron Stoppable didn’t continuously try with the same girl that rejected him over and over and over.  So yea, back to creepy in a way.

Scourge spends all his characterization going, “Hmm. I see.  Unexpected. Interesting.” over and over and then he joins your crew at the literal last minute of the Chapter.  I will say that I did LOVE that his justification when challenged that Sith only act for selfish reasons is that wanting to save the Galaxy from the Emperor is horribly selfish as he does not want to die.  That right there made him my favorite companion for Chapter Three.  Sorry Kira, gotta bench ya.

The ending of the chapter is probably one of those things that really could go either way depending on how you interpreted the events.  You’re told you are the Emperor’s tool, that you have been for a long time, and yet it never explicitly shows you doing anything outside of killing droids for training under a Sith overlord.  If you honestly believe that you have been attacking the Republic under mind control, that is a big impact that not only confirms the visions about you, but would make the final chapter one of atonement as well as saving the galaxy and gives the eventual battle with the Emperor that personal edge of revenge that would tempt you to the dark side in a classic Star Wars fashion.  But how that actually plays out is to be seen next time.  Till Chapter Three, folks.

<– Chapter One || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Knight – Chapter One

<– Prologue || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Two –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Last time on the Jedi Knight story, a Sith in disguise stole the plans to a bunch of superweapons that the Republic military was working on.  The Sith was defeated but not before the plans got out and his father, Darth Angral swore revenge on the Jedi Knight. Instead of begging General Garza to use their own elite team – Havoc Squad – General Var Suthra enlists the aid of a team of Jedi to track down the missing super weapons.  Master Orgus Din and Master Kiwiks were sent after two of the research facilities, while the young Jedi Knight and their new padawan Kira Carsen are being entrusted with less risky but totes still important tasks.

TARIS

Our first stop on this whirlwind world saving tour is the planet of Taris where no doomsday weapon awaits us but a scientist who makes doomsday weapons: Doctor Godera. Godera was the man who designed all of the superweapons for the Republic but left behind everything when the Treaty of Coruscant was signed.  He was convinced it was a bad move and that it was just the Empire buying time to regroup and wipe out the Republic once and for all.  So now he putts around in a swamp.  Not exactly my top choice for a retirement destination but hey, a good chunk of Florida is swamp and it seems popular enough.

We aren’t the only ones looking for Doctor Godera. Watcher One with Imperial Intelligence is also looking for him.  So if any of you Imperial Agents have been wondering why the Watchers start at ‘Two’, this is why.  This also raises some interesting flags if you are familiar with the Agent’s story because Watcher’s jobs are to do just what they’re name implies – watch.  They are not field agents normally. That’s the Cipher’s job.  So the fact that a Watcher is here looking for the Doc implies that this may not be a task that was issued by Keeper directly and sure enough that’s 100% true as it is revealed that Watcher One is reporting directly to our super villain for this chapter: Darth Angral.

Watcher One is actually one of the more competent villains you face. He reasons with you and tries to come to a result where you can both get what you want (he extracts the info he wants from the Doc, then hands him over to you with no fuss).  He uses decoys and disguises to ensure that he doesn’t risk personal injury in the pursuit of his goal.  He even sets up diversionary tactics like having arranging a meet between a Sith and some pirates to deal in lost Jedi relics to throw you off the chase long enough to interrogate the Doctor.  I kinda wish that Watcher One stuck around to be Angral’s right hand for this chapter but he is sadly a one and done villain.  Probably for the best though as I can imagine he would run out of tricks fairly quick over the course of an entire chapter.

The only other character of note is the good Doctor’s droid, who is an extremely snarky hunk of junk.  It calls the Republic cowards, it questions your more questionable decisions, and it is generally a fairly good comedic addition to the plot for this one world.  He’s kind of a HK-51 Lite, without all the ‘wanting to kill meatbags’ that comes with being a Hunter-Killer droid.  All the snark and none of the murder.  In fact the robot actually notes that it is NOT designed for combat and has no clue what to do if the Imperials come back for it.

I’d talk more about the plot but it’s really nothing of note other than just chasing the Doctor and Watcher One around the planet.  Most of the memorable bits come from Watcher One’s brilliant tactics that don’t feel forced or contrived, which considering I’m playing this right after dealing with two straight chapters of Darth Thanaton’s crap…  That’s a relief.

NAR SHADAA

Now we actually get into dealing with a super weapon: The Power Guard Project.  A super-secret project as in that only those working on it and General Var Suthra know it exists.  The Power Guard Project is designed to take any normal jane or joe and turn them into a cybernetically enhanced killing machine on par with a Jedi in terms of strength and ability.  Sounds awesome and morally questionable.  Truly this is the sci fi military we’ve been longing for.  One that would happily try to tame genetically engineered dinosaurs regardless of how many pesky civvies die along the way.  The only downside is that because its so super secret and no one knows about it, if a hypothetical Sith were to hypothetically take over – who would know?  Well that’s the not so hypothetical case here, and the SIS isn’t happy about it.

The SIS for those who are new to The Old Republic is the Republic’s equivalent to Imperial Intelligence – the Strategic Information Service.  They are the so called ‘good spies’ in this whole mess and they reaaaaally don’t like being left out of the loop. So when you actual meet up with the SIS, they are less than pleased with you and General Var Suthra.  Especially since it appears that someone is leaking SIS secrets, exposing agents and potentially compromising their secret location – down an not-hidden-at-all elevator in a completely empty shop with no doors in the business shopping district of Nar Shadaa. (Oh no! How did they find us!? /sarcasm)

Most of the story for Nar Shadaa is actually trying to figure out where the heck the base of operations for the Power Guard Project is located so you can shut it down and stop the Sith that has taken it over.  Through out the adventure you do discover more about what the project is and how its been accomplished.  You fight early prototypes of the ‘Power Guards’ and find they are little more than machines.  They don’t speak or feel and pretty much any higher brain function has been shut off in favor of making ruthless killing machines.  They don’t even question the fact that their loyalties have been literally switched over to the Empire.  Worse yet is the reveal that these former people were all refugees that the Republic picked up and turned into these monsters.  It’s only slightly SLIGHTLY helped by the information you discover that they were all supposedly volunteers.  Did they know that they wouldn’t even have a mind to think with afterward? Eeeeh, not touched on.

So by the end, most of the SIS is dead and their base is destroyed, you find Agent Galen – your original contact – to find he’s been turned into a Power Guard but has his mind left intact so he can bear witness and be fully aware of his actions even if he can’t help but obey.  You can opt to either kill or attempt to save Galen mark the first of a set of moral choices involving killing or saving people that seem inconsequential typical choices but actually do come into play later in the story.  Much later though, so we won’t talk about it here.  Finally, you take out the Sith – another flunkie of Darth Angral – who has upgraded himself into a Power Guard body but fully aware and in control.  What’s left of the SIS shows up to ‘mop up’ and you get one last moral choice of either preserving the Power Guard research data or burying and let the whole thing burn.

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INTERLUDE

Once you get back to the ship, you get a call that there is an Imperial admiral that is looking to defect.  One of Angral’s entourage. He’ll only meet you at a secluded mining asteroid.  Var Suthra insists that you and Kira go check it out.  I mention its a trap. Var Suthra says the possibility of finding out Angral’s plan is too great to pass up.  I ask for back up.  Var Suthra says that he won’t risking spooking the Admiral. I think Var Suthra is fricking helping the Sith and the fish faced bastard won’t look me in the eye.  I’m on to you, General.

So you get the asteroid and there’s no Admiral.  Just some blonde Sith.  Wonderful.  He explains that Kira is a Child of the Emperor and serves as the Sith Emperor’s eyes and ears (And as someone who has played the Sith Warrior story I’m now wondering if that’s an official designation like the Emperor’s Voice and Wrath, or they’re just being metaphorical.  I DON’T KNOW!) He tries to get Kira to come back with him to their ‘father’ and she refuses. Then you kung fu fight! Or just regular fight I suppose.  And that’s it for the interlude.  You find out that Kira is a Child of the Emperor, that she was born a Sith, that she ran away once she realized they had been mindwiping her, and became a Jedi.  I’m sure nothing will come of this.  Nooothing at aaaall.  Still, you are given the choice of coming clean with the Jedi Council about this, or keeping Kira’s secret safe.  Honestly I’m curious if there will be any long term repercussions to keeping the secret safe. Other than not being able to possible stop all the betrayal in the Jedi Consular Chapter Three…

TATOOINE

Back to the main plot, it seems that the two Jedi Masters that were on this whole Super Weapon plan haven’t reported in.  So now it’s time to go bail them out.  First up is Master Kiwiks who went to Tatooine to check on the Shock Drum, an ultrasonic wave emitter than can shake a planet so much that it would disrupt the core causing a planetary collapse. In close proximity to it, it would cause your body to fall apart.  Much more in line with what you think of when you hear superweapon or doomsday device.  Again, I just love unrepentant military mad science.

Most of the story here involves one of the scientists who worked on the device and her ‘family’ of jawa that have been helping.  They kind of start sending you around helping to reset the power and then the sensors so they can try and figure out where the Shock Drum got moved to.  The answer of course is in the middle of the fricking dune sea.  Yaay. But before we can go and stop it, you get contacted by another Sith flunkie of Angral’s.  Because apparently since the Rule of Two hasn’t been conceived for a few hundred more years, Angral has like a dozen apprentices or something.  This one is different though.  He explains that he wishes to duel you honorably and should you win he will give you the codes to turn off the Shock Drum, which he naturally changed after stealing it.

So you show up for the duel and true to his word it’s no trap, no back up – just a straight up duel between two combatants. This is actually one of my favorite moments because you actually get to see an NPC example of what is essentially a Light Side Sith Warrior.  He’s ruthless, passionate, vengeful and is more than willing to destroy a world on an order, but he is also completely true to his word and will give you a fair fight.  He also chose not to attack non-combatants when stealing the drum.  I don’t know what else to say other than I am incredibly impressed that this NPC made it into the game.  Also that he can be saved and convinced to go to the Jedi temple and join up with the Light Side there, or you can respect his wishes to die a honorable death for failing his master and strike him down.

With the code and location now in hand, it’s time to save Master Kiwiks from the Shock Drum.  And Tatooine. Of course.  Not like we’d leave this giant sand ball to its fate or anything.  You still have one more boss fight to go though, as the Shock Drum has roused a Sand Demon from its slumber and its attacking the Jawas who enthusiastically marched off to their doom to try and help you.  You kill the Demon and turn off the Drum.  With Master Kiwiks saved from the doomsday weapon, you send her back to Tython to heal. You get to choose what to do with the Drum – save or dismantle.  Chances are someone will be upset with whatever you choose so just go ahead and pick whichever you like.

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ALDERAAN

Finally, it’s time to track down Master Orgus Din aka Mister Old and Grumpy Master from Tython and deal with the project he was supposed to be tracking down – ‘The Death Mark’ (trademark pending).  Which I suppose could have been worse.  They could have called it the ‘DethMarc’ or something like a Rob Liefeld character from the 90s.  You arrive on the scene and meet with your contact, an ambassador from House Alde who introduces you to the only survivor from the attack on the lab by killiks (giant bug people. Just getting all of our mad scientist tropes out at this point.)  and then immediately the ambassador blows up.  See the Death Mark is apparently just a really fancy name for a targeting RFID tag.  You stick someone with the Death Mark and you can pin point blow them up with an orbital death cannon (trademark pending) and apparently the unlucky politician was one of those stuck with it.  The guards bust in right then and try to arrest you for killing the ambassador but the escapee woman says to take her and she will be held prisoner while you look for the real culprit.

Okay, let me stop you right there plot.  Wut?  I mean how does that make sense?  ‘You suspect this person is a murderer, so take me and let them go!’  Who would even do that?  Just because I’m a Jedi that makes me trustworthy? You clearly have not been paying attention to how I play my Jedi.  Why would they let you go?  So the plot can continue I guess.

You go back to the lab and kill all the killiks and free Master Orgus from being locked in a room with scientists (truly a spiritual leader’s worse nightmare) and discover that – Oh no! That survivor girl was actual the one who STOLE the Death Mark! Dull surprise! Actually, they did a pretty good job not tipping their hands for that reveal. Unlike say, the Bounty Hunter story who might as well put up huge neon lights saying ‘YOUR OPPONENT IS RIGHT HERE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT’, I honestly didn’t catch this twist at first and it does make a lot of sense since she was meeting with the ambassador alone right before you came in.  It seems that she’s been targeting people at the behest of another Sith Lord who – say it with me now – is working for Darth Angral.  Her targets are all people who have been advocating for peace in the Alderaan Civil War.  The next likely target is the ambassador of House Thul that has been working with House Organa to draft a treaty of some sort.  So you call up the Organa guard and tell them to not let her leave only to find that… well… she’s already gone.

Yea, plot I’m going to have to stop you again.  So the prisoner you did keep.  You let her just wander around your palace unsupervised for the entire time and then did little to nothing to prevent her from leaving?  How the hell is House Organa even a contender in this bloody war?

So Master Orgus tells you to go save the Thul guy and stop the woman while he goes to try and stop the laser. You succeed easily since a true member of House Thul trusts no one, not even allies and you can kill or imprison the woman.  The Thul guy also knows how to find the Sith Lord behind the attack and gives you coordinates.  Time to team up with your master and kick some Sith butt.  Obi-Wan and Anakin style!  But no. It seems your trustworthy master lied to you.  He didn’t go try to shut down the laser.  He went after Darth Angral directly.  He’s on his ship.  Way off at the edge of the system. So it’s Obi-Wan and Luke style.  You know what that means, right?  Yea…  By the time you’ve got to the Sith Lord in his secured bunker, Darth Angral has captured Orgus Din and executes him publicly on the Holonet.  The Sith makes sure to tune in so you can watch.

Not terribly shocked, sad to say.  I mean, Orgus was just kind of a bland guy who never struck me as someone I cared about.  Yea, he wasn’t as clean cut as the other Jedi Masters, he looked the other way plenty of times, but hell until I got to Alderaan I had honestly forgotten his name.  This death seemed to serve more as setting up a parrellel to Luke’s journey in the movies so you feel like you’re getting a real Star Wars experience rather than an established and necessary death.

After that the story wraps up on Alderaan with the usual: kill Sith, stop project, dodge giant death beams.  Yea, Jedi can dodge those apparently.  And giant death beams can also just penetrate the impenetrable underground bunker. Why bother with the Death Mark? Just use that death beam.  It seems plenty useful on its own.

FINALE

Luckily, when you get back to your ship you find out that Orgus had the last laugh: he hid a tracker on Angral’s ship.  You can find him no problem now.  You track him to the Euphrades system, where the majority of the Republic’s agriculture is grown.  You know how Endor is nothing but forest, Tatooine is nothing but sand, and Coruscant is nothing but city?  Apparently Euphrades is a planet that is nothing but farms.  I would jump at the chance to be cut down by a Sith’s lightsaber then live on a planet that was nothing but farms.  But good news, everybody!  Euphrades is completely destroyed!  Like the atmosphere was ionized and set on fire, the land is destroyed, the water ruined.  It’s completely uninhabitable and any ship that enters the atmosphere is stuck there!  Yes, it seems the Devastator weapon is online and functional.

You catch a distress signal from a nearby medical ship and have to fight your way to the bridge against Imperial goons to save them and more importantly their data that might show how the Devastator works.  There’s a brief moral choice about whether you think the crew should risk their lives to go down to the surface and investigate a possible ping of life signs down below before heading back off after Angral’s ship who has reappeared at Tython.

It appears that the Jedi homeworld is the new target for the Devastator.  You have to fight your way through another ship (TWO SHIPS! ONE FINALE! Breaking new ground here.) to square off against Angral directly. He gives you crap about killing his traitor son again, and then Kira starts talking like the Sith Emperor and tells Angral to finish this.  You have your final battle with Darth Angral and strike him down, but then Kira get possessed again and you immediately have to fight her as well!  With (or without depending on dialogue choices) your help, Kira breaks free once and for all of the Emperor’s grasp (See, easy as pie.) and you return to Tython to be proclaimed big damn heroes and get Kira promoted to a full Jedi knight.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Like the Bounty Hunter and Trooper, the prologue and first chapter of the Jedi Knight story is a complete cohesive narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.  By the end of Chapter One, all the loose ends are resolved and all the established villains are defeated and it does it in a fairly heroic way.  This story so far has proven to be the most pure ‘save the day’ super hero story you could get and as someone who likes that sort of thing, it was great to play through even as a super Light Side Lawful Good Jedi who never came off as preachy or holier than thou.  The Dark Side Jedi seems more snarky and cynical, often proposing military and tactical advantage over having sympathy for those hurt by those advantages being used against the Republic.

The planets themselves each brought a different kind of story so nothing felt repetitive despite it being four straight worlds of ‘find the thing, stop the bad guy from using it.’  As for villains, it was more of a mixed bag.  Watcher One and the Light Side Sith on Tatooine were stand out enemies that I thoroughly enjoyed watching every scene with.  The other two?  They’re pretty much interchangeable.  They have nothing unique or interesting about them that makes you want to remember them and the only reason I can keep them separated in my mind is that the one on Nar Shadaa wore a helmet.

The Jedi Knight Chapter One also is unique in the fact that you don’t recruit any companions in it.  At all.  You get T7 on Tython, Kira on Coruscant and you don’t get your next companion until Balmora at the start of Chapter Two.  On the flip side, you’ll get plenty of fun character moments with Kira and T7 depending on who you bring along on the missions, though due to the Child of the Emperor B-plot, Kira clearly gets more limelight than the droid.  The Child of the Emperor plot isn’t bad but it really gets relegated to a B-plot.  I don’t think it was super necessary to have it resolved so quickly. It’s not terrible though and it does carry a good amount of weight, I just think it could have been stretched out to build the suspense.  Especially considering what we start working towards in Chapter Two and Three.

Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. Just like the Prologue and Chapter One were one single narrative, so are Chapter Two and Three and they are doozy.  But that will have to wait until next time. See you then.

<– Prologue || JEDI KNIGHT || Chapter Two –>

SWTOR Class Storyline Reviews: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Three

<– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Sith Inquisitor storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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So where were we?  Ah right, left for dead and saved by our friends again.  The fact that I have to append again to that statement speaks worlds on how we got this far.  Now that our super nasty ghost binding ritual has gone and blown up in our own face, it’s time to head back to the ship to recover.  Only that’s pretty much not going to happen.  The force walking ritual backfire is apparently now ripping apart your mind and body and if you don’t find a way to fix it and fast, there won’t be a… uh… ‘You’ anymore.  Khem Zash has been researching a solution but can only find trace bits of info on a way to solve your problem.  It turns out this is because Darth Thanaton has completely duplicated an entire volume of a widely circulated public multi-volume book series and no one has noticed till now.  Just as a reminder in case you forgot between chapters that Thanaton is oh so smarter than you will ever be.  Thanks game.  So the only solution is to break into Thanaton’s secret library on Dromund Kaas and steal the books you need.  Because apparently Thanaton just has a ton of super secret hidey holes all over the big Sith headquarters on the Sith homeworld  that are ingeniously hidden by… ELEVATORS!  So Thanaton’s a mastermind and likes to rub it in your face.

You can fight through the library if you really want, but a simple mind trick will let you just wander around without a single alarm being raised by anyone, even the guards you didn’t mind trick.  There you find the books you need.  One speaks of an ancient Rakata healing device in the bowels of Belsavis, and the other of the strange healing techniques practiced by the Voss.  Since it’s mentioned in other storylines that the Voss was only recently discovered to the point where many don’t even know about it, one must wonder how old these books are.  That or Sith are just generally #$%&s to map makers.  Either way, we have our first two destinations and since they have set level ranges and the plot states that Khem Zash and Ashara need to research the Voss, it looks like we’re going to…

Belsavis

Yay. Prison world.  So apparently we’re looking for an ancient Rakata healing machine and that’s going to be fun as heck since like 90% of this planet is just random Rakata junk.  Luckily, Zash gave us a lead: The Circle, a gang of technology junkies imprisoned somewhere on the planet.  Which is good.  The planet is also in the middle of a massive break out and no one is where they should be.  Which is bad.  Luckily we can score some prison records to figure out roughly where they were and go from there. Which is good.  Even better is when the person guarding the records knows exactly where they went, rendering the need for records to nil.  The Circle has been hanging out in some ruins, and they will happily help you provided you help them set up a broadcast relay so they can send their signal out across the Galaxy.  This just means fighting off several waves of enemies before fighting a big one, and boom. All done.  You then get warned by a mysterious person speaking in a language no one has ever heard before but everyone understands (I assume the characters just read the subtitles along with you) telling you to stop your pursuit.

In exchange, the Circle provide you the means to break into a secure Republic research lab where some Rakata tech was being looked at before the jail break.  Once you get in, you scan the hunk of junk which leads you to another research lab where the actual supposed healing machine is, but considering the Darth who came looking for it before you is lying dead in front of it (and perfectly preserved) I think I will be finding another solution.  Luckily, a bunch of robots attack! Followed by that weird language speaking fellow who turns out to be a Rakata and calls you a ‘slave race’, but agrees to allow you to use their healing machine in exchange for letting them ‘borrow’ your genetic data to help their science project and to use a data chip to put the healing machine – “Mother Machine” – back under their control.  Because apparently the lifeform generating genetic supercomputer became sentient.  Funny how that always seems to happen.

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You track down the Mother Machine deep in the tombs and you finally get a decent morality choice: enslave the machine (light side) or let it remain sentient and free (dark side).  I am not joking about which of those is which.  I think the logic is that Mother Machine will use its terrible power to maybe create a doom army and take revenge on being enslaved? Or something?  I honestly am really confused on this one.  But yea, it’s a light side choice to use the data chip to leash to computer.  Go fig.  Also, another fun fact that gets revealed here: the Rakata were essentially trying to pull a Jurassic World.  Yea, in order to discover why their species lost its own force sensitivity (did you try injecting midichlorians into yourself?) they genetically engineered a bunch of new species to test how the ‘lesser slave races’ would gain the ability to use the force.  Specifically, the Esh-Ka, the Twileks and the Zabrak.  Is… is this canon?  That the Twileks and Zabrak were the result of a lab experiment?  Daaaamn.  What a weird bit of trivia to drop here of all places.  Is there anything the Rakata DIDN’T help create? Ewoks?

Anyway, regardless of your choice, Mother Machine will boot up and let you rebuild your body.  Yea, apparently the “Healing Machine” actually just reconstructs your entire body from your genetic code, and yet my face is still covered with scars. Go fig.  But we still got voices in our head that are not our own, so it’s time to head to our next destination.  But wait! There’s a call coming in!

Interlude I

It would seem that a big wig moff named Pyron is trying to figure out who he should back in the battle between you and Thanaton.  He says that the Imperial Military would definitely be swayed if you could help them finish a little ol’ superweapon that Thanaton axed: The Silencer.  All it needs is this not-technically-legal-anywhere chip that hey it sounds like your cult on Nar Shadaa might have access to.  What’s that? You forgot we had a cult?  So did I!  But we do.  So it’s off to Nar Shadaa.

However, it looks like the intel that my cult had the chip wasn’t exactly right.  It seems that another black market dealer that turns out to be three dudes whose minds are cybernetically linked and synced have taken over the entire market on these computer parts. What jerks.  However, they’ll happily give you them and so much more if you relinquish the cult over to them to lead instead of the Sith and/or orphan cultist pair.  Honestly, since the Sith has proven to run cults for his own vanity and Sith tradition dictates he eventually try and kill me – he’s out.  But what about the two cultists that helped me in the first place? If you left them in charge you would periodically get emails from them talking about how they almost ran the bloody thing into the ground.  So yea, putting a trio that “single”-handedly  took over an entire corner of the black market sounds like a much better management team.  Oh, they cry and moan when I tell the old leaders they’re not in charge anymore.  But they’ll get over it. Or die.  Probably die.

With the chip secured and off to Moff Pyron, you seem to be making a lot of connections but you still got a broken noggin.  Time to Voss it up!

Voss

Hope you got a d20 ready because Voss is pretty much where we ditch any aspect of science fiction left in this space opera and go on full Dungeons & Dragons.  Let me break this down for you:  The healing ritual is being held by a cult of outcast voss called ‘Dream Walkers’ who despite being outcasts have their own area in the Shrine of Healing where the ritual is kept, but to access this room you must join their cult and dream walk where you fight all the ghosts in your head.  Now you go get the ritual but in order to complete it you’ll need a force-sensitive gormak, a species that can’t use the force, and then free him from his prison.  Then you go to Nightmare Lands, convince the gormak not to smash everything, have the gormak use the “dream rock” to turn your “nightmares” into reality so you can kill them and then take the dream rock from the gormak which will then remove the “Nightmares” and heal your mind.  All the while you need to walk carefully because the Voss fricking HATE you because a Mystic foresaw that you would destroy the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars, which you do since you trade safe passage off of Voss to the gormak shaman in order to help you. Got all that?

I was NOT joking about this planet being Dungeons & Dragons.  On top of the ridiculously long string of events needed to complete this quest and each step usually requiring its own substeps, there is an abundance of what can only be described as ‘magic’ used to make it all work.  Oh you can dress it up as ‘The Force’ but between rocks that turn nightmares into reality, a lone magic-using outcast member of an already outcast race that normally can’t use magic, and everything from silly robes to a shrine of healing, you may as well be throwing magic missiles at the darkness here.  It just seems really weird to do a magical ritual with a dream rock in the ruins of a temple called the Dark Heart in the Nightmare Lands one minute, and the next minute be flying off in a space shuttle.  That is what I call mood whiplash.  Voss is full of that crap, especially in this storyline.  I mean, the Inquisitor already kind of danced that line.  We had an immortality ritual in Chapter One, binding g-g-g-ghosts to increase your power via a blood pact, and now this.  This is a STAR Wars game still, isn’t it?

The big pay off at the end of this is of course being rid of the ghosts in your mind.  Which doesn’t much do much but reduce the number of voice actors needed for the storyline.  Supposedly they’re in your mind, twisting your thoughts and actions in some sick game for their amusement, but all you see of that in-game is that they chime in on the dialogue every now and then like some kind of spectral Mystery Science Theater.  They do try to mess with you by taking on the forms of people you’ve betrayed or used during your adventure… and a wampa, but it isn’t convincing at all.  Like I really am going to believe that Zash is in the dream world striking up a casual conversation.  Heck, the only one who calls you out for your actions is the Jedi from Alderaan.  If it’s really a dream, I would have rather seen the whole thing go to some real mind **** territory.  Like waking up on your ship to have all your companions turning on you, or when Thanaton shows up actually play it up like he could actually dream walk as well and has come here to put an end to you in a dingy cave on some backwater planet like Voss.  Instead we get a few people we KNOW can’t be here spouting the usual “You suck” lines and the ghosts going on and on about how you will lose and they will win.  In the end, the whole thing was rather forgettable.

There’s also the matter of the vision of the mystic that says you will bring doom to the Voss by leading the gormak to the stars.  You are warned by a voss commando as soon as you step out into the airlock about this and they don’t let up.  They harass anyone that helps you about it and keep trying to shoo you off the planet.  You ignore them, say you won’t do that, say you’ll stop it from happening, say it’s all just stupid mumbo jumbo, and then… you uh… lead a gormak to the stars.  It’s not even a fricking option as far as I can tell. You just do.  Worst of all? NOTHING HAPPENS.  There’s no doom, there’s no threat at all actually since the gormak shaman wants to go to space to find a new home for the gormak so they won’t try to kill each other.  The only way this spells doom is a) waaaaay down the line and b) you are aware of all the storylines that happen on Voss that bring up that the voss and the gormak were once one species, and that if they don’t reunite they will both die out.  So naturally the gormak leaving would kind of spoil that reunion.  But in terms of this singular story?  Nothing. Zilch. No pay off to that threat.  Just a voss yelling at you as you leave and a diplomat who gets upset if you anger the voss.  Of course you can always just do what I did and mind-wipe them both and head off.

Interlude II

This interlude has two parts: first is to go check on your new apprentice.  Apparently they’re just finishing up their final trial on Korriban. And the winner is….  The Twilek!  Wait, wha?  Oh nevermind. Xalek comes in and beats him to death.  Harken has a fit over someone dying at the Sith Academy (and being caught) and goes off to tell Thanaton.  Xalek then joins your party.  The end.  No seriously, that’s all that happens.  Xalek barely speaks.  Heck for me he just grunted at me then wandered off to the ship.  So glad to have such a story rich character along for the ride.  He’ll fit in nicely with Pirate Who Tagged Along For No Reason, and Scientist Who Quit His Promising Career For No Reason To Come Bum Around With You.  Seriously, the only companions that seem to have any significant plot reason to tag along are Khem and Ashara.  Damn.

Moving on, you soon get a call that the superweapon is complete.  You head off to the ship carrying it and test it out on an unsuspecting fleet of Republic goons.  Also there’s apparently another Imperial ship in the fray.  It’s headed by a Darth that’s a lackey for Thanaton, so we’re presented with a choice: Kill him with the fleet, or tell him to GTFO while we kill the fleet.  Either is a valid choice really.  Opting to let him live will get you a transmission with a string of insults and threats that he would totally make good on if you hadn’t just saved his life.  Either way impresses the moffs who pledge their loyalties to you.  Also it catches Thanaton’s eye… somehow.  Who is impressed that the superweapon project that he canceled for no reason works.  Did he have reason to think it wouldn’t? Who knows! Because before we can talk about the superweapon, Thanaton declaes a “Kaggath” – an ancient sith duel that will pit power base against power base across the arena of…  all of Corellia. Wow, really? Dang. Okay dude.  Now…  does anyone have a power base I can borrow?

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Corellia

So apparently my ‘Power Base’ is just that one moff I helped out.  Corellia is essentially one big brawl across the planet that plays out with Thanaton doing something and you trying to stop him followed by Thanaton running away.  The only exception to that plan is your very first mission that Moff Pyron suggests which consists of pumping Thanaton’s apprentice for information.  You can do this by either beating it out of him or making him a better offer to join your side.  The apprentice is kind enough (or willing enough depending on how you pried the intel from him) to let you know that since your entire power base is that one moff’s fleet, Thanaton plans to blow up the fuel dispensary so they can’t refuel.  Beyond the fact that it boggles my mind that a frickin’ star ship in the Star Wars universe still requires the use of a gas station, Thanaton’s actions are tantamount to treason for acting against the Empire.  Of course, he’s also a Dark Council member, so he gets a ‘Do whatever I want’ card (Sith Warriors know what I’m talking about.)

So begins the song and dance of chasing after Thanaton around the planet like looking for Princess Peach. You stop him at the refinery, beat him, and he runs away.  You attack his base in a museum, he sics a robot on you, and runs away.  He attacks your Moff dude and before you even get there – He. Runs. Away.  So finally, you have your final showdown of the Kaggath. Everyone’s watching. You beat him in a duel and then… you guessed it – he runs away.  I don’t know what’s worse the fact that the mastermind villain for two chapters is reduced to Zoidberg-esque levels of fleeing or that he pulls rank about being a Dark Council member when he loses.  Yea, the punk actually tells you that since he’s a Dark Council member, you don’t have the authority to defeat him in the Kaggath.  Nice to know that I was doomed from the start.

Though I should be fair about something. I said your entire power base was just that one moff, but that’s not true.  If you save the Sith during the Silencer superweapon test, he will refuse to fight you when Thanaton asks him to, and that one less annoying assistant from Balmorra (the aide to your liaison that you may or may not have killed when you may or may not have killed his son) is here and he’s happy to see you.  So that’s something.  I suppose.  But no, your cult regardless of who is running it has no power here.  The superweapon doesn’t come into play at all. Lord Cindaquil never comes back from partying on Nar Shadaa. It’s pretty much that one guy from Balmorra, the Darth you didn’t kill with the superweapon, and Moff Pyron.  That’s your power base to throw against Thanaton.  Maybe if I had actually spent time in the storyline cultivating a power base instead of looking for relics/ghosts/a cure, there might have been some merit to it all but nope.  /sigh

Grand Finale

So Thanaton being the wimp he is runs all the way back to Korriban to ask the Dark Council for help in killing you.  You give chase only to be stopped by a Darth and his stooges at the door to the chambers.  He tells you that there are many others who agree with what Thanaton is doing.  By that I’m assuming ‘purifying’ the Sith Order with an emphasis on tradition and ancient values (I hear he wants to post the Sith Code outside the Dromund Kaas courthouse too) but any point he wants to make is quickly rendered moot once you realize that he’s just here to be one more fight before the actual final boss.

Speaking of which Thanaton is making his passioned cry about how you should be put to death for ‘corrupting traditions’.  I swear that this man is becoming more and more like a weird Sith Fox News anchor or something (Thanks Obi-Wama.)   But it seems that even the Dark Council is sick and tired of hearing this guy whine on and on about this crap. To the point where they actually are chatting to each other that if someone doesn’t shut him up, they will after all they just got done listening to Darth Baras’ long winded speech (I like to pretend that the Sith Warrior ending was just a few hours earlier.)  Luckily, you are there to help with that.

The final battle is actually pretty much the same as the other times you’ve faced Thanaton, only it appears that he’ll deal some extra damage and have shorter cooldowns.  He mostly will just drop massive AOE death fields on the ground and spam Lightning Storm, with an occasional whirlwind or stun tossed in for good measure.  It does however seem that his AOEs are at least somewhat based on Line of Sight, so you can use the thrones around the room to dance circles around and keep him from casting some of his nastier abilities.  If an AOE gets dropped, just switch to another throne and continue smacking him when you get a chance with your saber or instant cast abilities.  It may take a while, but he’ll go down.  Just don’t count on your companion last long unless you are actively healing them.

After you beat Thanaton, the other Dark Council members finish him with a force neck snap.  They congratulate you and over you his seat on the Dark Council.  Of course, to be on the council you need to be a Darth and in what is probably the coolest part of this ending that sets apart from all the rest is you are actually granted a Darth title based on your alignment: Dark side characters get Darth Nox for your mastery of the Dark Side, light side gets Darth Imperius for their loyalty to the Empire and the select few gray morality Sith get the title Darth Occlus for having an inscrutable reputation.

After that you get to go all the way back to Dromund Kaas where you meet your followers in YOUR new meditation chambers. While many of these characters are just generic stand ins there are a handful of people you will recognize from your journey along with your companions.  Most notable however is that apparently your old Sith Academy instructor and all around legendary hard ass Harkun is at the ceremony.  Apparently he decided to jump on board once Thanaton was dead?  He’s in for a rude awakening.  Finally there’s the matter of the ghosts.  You may have promised/lied to free them once its done.  Your given a choice to either enslave them permenantly or let them leave and in the case of the latter a few will actually stick around with you.  There’s actual a third option I stumbled upon though in which you use your “light” to release them from their ghostly trappings and free them to the afterlife proper. I dunno if this is only for light side characters or not, but it’s neat that it’s an option.

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Looking Back

While I can’t in good conscious say that the Inquisitor storyline was worse than some of the others, I can say that it does something worse than be bad: it wastes potential.  The entire storyline has so many amazing bits that could easily bump this into one of the best storylines in the game, but it doesn’t go for them.  It plays it safe and simple, it prefers to do the predictable and the dull, and it never tries to escape the trappings of a plot designed to go along with a rigid MMO leveling experience.  The relics in chapter one have no significance and even their bizarre powers are only mentioned a few times and have zero impact on the story.  The ghosts are actually interesting in the sense that you can choose to forcefully bind them or bargain with them. The broken mind/body aspect has zero gameplay effect other than a few scenes where the ghosts talk to you.  They don’t take over your actions or manipulate your senses and when they try to make you see things in dreams they are flat out BAD at it. The whole power base thing comes right out of left field and I had no idea I was even supposed to be bothering with a power base the first time I played this.  In the end, the whole thing felt like it had a ton of neat ideas and wanted to touch on them all but not commit to any one of them.  The result is a mish mashed plot where nothing feels like it has any weight to it.  Who do you leave in charge of the cult? It doesn’t matter.  What if you let that scientist on Balmorra live? Nothing.  Lord Cineratus? Might as well call him Lord Not-Appearing-After-This.

To make all that feel even worse, you have a villain you is played up at being so completely competent at every aspect of politics and strategy that you can literally never get the upper hand on him until you beat his face in at the last planet.  Ah yes, Thanaton’s vital weakness: pain!  Thanaton honestly turns from ‘Villain you can’t hope to defeat because the writers keep pulling the rug out from under you’ to ‘complete joke’ in the matter of four quests on Corellia.  It’s hard to believe the man who knew not only that I had survived his instant kill blow, was returning to kill him, and the location and time of where I was going to do it so he could be there and ready for me ends up whining to the Dark Council and begging them to maim me because he got his butt handed to him in what the other Sith literally call a playground game.  What’s worse is that there is another villain who does all this and does it SO much better: Darth Baras from the Sith Warrior story.  Baras remains a vital threat to you through the majority of the third chapter and sets up a scenario that makes it so that every move you make actually helps him win, so your only choice is to strike him down in combat.  As opposed to Thanaton who never feels like he’s earned his victories.  He just knows things to make the player’s life difficult.  He’s the SWTOR equivalent to a meta-gamer.

So was it bad?  Eh, it had it’s moments where it shined.  A handful of individual planet stories really show where the story shined and where it could have been used as an inspiration to become amazing.  But if anything that makes it okay and that’s the best I can say for the Inquisitor story: It was okay.  There’s some great ideas, but your character is treated like an idiot.  The planet stories can be really enjoyable, but the overall story and villain are a complete mess.  I honestly felt like they were just making it up as they went along and didn’t have any sort of concrete idea or theme for the class in general.  So it becomes very hit and miss. If anything it feels a lot like it WANTS to be like the Consular storyline only evil, but doesn’t want to put the work into getting to that level of interconnecting storylines.  Yea, so this one was a firm, middle of the round ‘Meh.’  I won’t be bothering leveling up another Inquisitor, that’s for sure.

 <– Chapter Two || SITH INQUISITOR ||

Announcing FFXIV: A Realm Reborn Story Summary

While I continue to work on my SWTOR class reviews proper, the summaries for all of the various class stories are pretty much done. I decided to tackle yet another project. With the launch of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, I realized how many people were probably coming back to the game and that with as much space as there is between patches, some folks may not recall exactly what happened in the story leading up the expansion. Especially since Final Fantasy XIV significantly expanded the main scenario storyline with each patch. So I thought, how about a summary for that too?

Announcing the Realm Reborn Story Summary!

Unlike the SWTOR story summaries, this one is chock full of SPOILERS, so be warned before reading down the page. After all, the SWTOR page was mostly designed as a spoiler free way of seeing if the storyline would interest you before sinking 50 levels into the narrative but Final Fantasy it’s more of a catch up/reminder tool.  It’s heavily summarized so don’t expect too much in the way of a point-by-point quest-by-quest breakdown.  It also assumes you have some familiarity with names and places in the world of Final Fantasy XIV.  Though some reoccuring elements such as Hydaelyn and the Primals are explained somewhat.

Anyway, I hope you Final Fantasy XIV fans get a kick out of it.  It’s broken down by patch, so you can go and read just the parts you want.  I plan to expand it into including stuff like the story for the raid content that is now kind of outdated with the expansion, so I don’t know if as many people will get a chance to see the AWESOME tribute raid to Final Fantasy III: The Crystal Tower or the lore filled bits of the Coils content.

God Damn It (Literally): Lightning Returns (Part 2)

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Welcome back one and all to yet another installment of Vry desperately tries to convince the world that Final Fantasy XIII doesn’t completely suck.  Today we’re going to be tackling the main story and the characters of Lightning Returns, since the two are pretty much interwoven.  Much like the Final Fantasy XIII prime, much of the story is driven by Lightning, her personal mission, and her interactions with her friends and enemies.  Which is important to note, because as you find out as soon as the short prologue mission you’ll find out that who falls on which side of that distinction may have shifted in the intervening 500 years that Lightning was snoozing in crystal.  This will also cover a good chunk of the story for the game, as most of the main story missions for Lightning are tied directly to her friends.  Fair warning, beyond this point there be SPOILERS for the entire trilogy.

We should probably start with our main protagonist:  Claire ‘Lightning’ Farron. A lot has happened to Lightning over the course of the trilogy.  She was branded a l’Cie, changed her destiny and defied the will of god-like beings known as fal’Cie, was sucked into the Unseen Realm of the Dead, became the knight guardian of the Goddess of Death, got out-chessmastered by a near immortal mad man, and sealed herself away in crystal slumber to avoid the apocalypse.  That was before this game starts.  At the beginning of this game, Lightning was drawn out of her crystal slumber by Bhunivelze, the ‘true’ god of the world and the being that created the first fal’Cie (Lindzei, Pulse, and Etro) and the world.  Bhunivelze tasks her with becoming the savior and to secure as many souls as she can before his arrival to erase existence.  In exchange for providing this service Bhunivelze will resurrect Serah, Lightning’s sister who the catalyst for the first game and the hero of the second game that met with a tragic end. Lightning agrees and sets out on her mission, but as things progress she begins to note things are amiss.  Like the fact that while she knows she should and normally WOULD be outraged at God using her sister as a bargaining chip, she feels utter indifference towards it.  She is driven solely by the goal she made for herself when she entered the crystal slumber – be reunited with Serah at any cost.

Helping Lightning in her mission is Hope Estheim.  Hope was Lightning’s travelling partner and pseudo-student in the first game who later would start an organization to help save the world by building a new world for everyone to avoid the apocalypse in called New Cocoon and later just The Ark (Hint: It didn’t work!)  Hope’s appearance in this game is that of his younger self as shown in the first game.  No one knows why.  Not even Hope.  He vanished some 169 (Get it? 13 x 13 = 169. HA!) years prior to the game, and when he returned he was regressed to the young boy that Lightning last saw him as and filled with all the knowledge he would need to help Lightning complete her mission.  Hope is weird.  He routinely tries to push Lightning to focus on her mission and to ignore all the questions she has about her changed behavior.  He speaks like he is ancient but with the body of a child, something to be expected when no one has aged in 500 years but here’s the kicker – NO ONE ELSE DOES.  In fact, no one ages or matures or anything in that time.  Children still act like children, despite being so for hundreds of years. So what’s up with Hope?  Well, that is explained later and we’ll get to that.

Next up is Snow.  Snow is now the “ruler” of the City of Yusnaan, which considering the last we saw was him continuously beating up a giant Flan monster like Sisyphus in XIII-2, I’d say that’s a step up.  Snow has had a depressing turn since his fiance, ‘SERAH!’, died 500 years prior.  He’s taken up the habit of becoming the protector of the city and thus its ruler mainly because he feels so much regret that he couldn’t save anything else.  He failed to find Lightning for Serah, he failed to protect Serah, and then he failed to protect the world from the Chaos – so now he feels he’s making up for that.  It’s also interesting to note that Snow is a l’Cie – a servant bound to a fal’Cie – and no, it’s never explained how he got re-l’Cie-ed after having the brand removed from him by Etro at the end of XIII.  Well, it technically is but only in an external light novel that was never published outside of Japan.  I really wish Square Enix would stop doing that.  These games can be confusing enough as it is without them putting out plot info in other books that I can’t get my hands on.  It’s like if the Hobbit movies only made sense if you were familiar with the Lost Tales books…  oh wait… Oh! And they were only published in Germany.  That’s more like it.

I’ll just tell you though.  During Snow’s Most Excellent Adventure through time and space during XIII-2, he found himself struggling to accomplish…  well anything.  After all, at that juncture Snow was just a normal dude with a super-powered trenchcoat (Yes, that’s still a thing in these games).  He can’t jump through time and space willie nilly.  But luckily he comes across an actually friendly fal’Cie called Cactuar.  They make a pact that Snow would help Cactuar, and Cactuar would make him a l’Cie so he could carry out his mission.  That’s why Snow has the l’Cie brand in XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Back to the actual plot!

Snow has decided that the best way to protect Yusnaan from the Chaos is to absorb all the Chaos into his own body.  Hey, he’s a noble protecting of the people.  Just not a SMART noble protecting of the people.  Actually it seems more like his own personal honorable form of suicide since he’s pretty much lost everything he cares about.  Even when Lightning returns (See what I did there?) he makes it perfectly clear that she is NOT the Lightning he knows.  Which raises the question, who is she?  Snow has a cool mechanic in the game in that the longer you put off fighting him, the more and more he turns into this crystal monster and becomes MUCH more dangerous.  So first time players, fight Snow BEFORE Day 7 ends. You’ll be glad you did.  Save Monster Snow for your New Game+ or New Game++ playthrough.

Now with Snow out of the way, what about Vanille and Fang?  Well aren’t they still trapped in the crystal pillar? NO!  For some reason (the will of God? Who knows…) they both thawed out of the pillar thirteen years ago.  Vanille also came out of the pillar with the strange ability to hear the dead.  All of them.  Like everyone who has died since the chaos swept through the world.  So 500 years of dead people constantly screaming at her.  This has turned her into something of a religious icon for the church in Luxerion.  They plan on having her perform a giant ritual to ‘send’ the souls and ‘free them’ as per God’s will. Turns out the truth is a bit less Disney-esque:  She is literally purging the souls from the universe.  People will forget that the souls and the individuals that once possessed them ever existed.  Oh, and it will kill Vanille too.  This is all part of Bhunivelze’s big plot to save only the souls HE deems worthy and as chosen by HIS savior.  Dude’s a control freak (Not shocking from the ‘diety’ who literally destroyed time itself to find out if his dead mommy was plotting against him.) Enter Fang – who does NOT want Vanille to die.  She’s been in the desert trying to find the “Holy Clavice” which is a relic from ancient times needed to perform the ritual.  Her idea is to beat the Church to the relic and then destroy it so Vanille can’t perform the ritual.  Vanille refuses to listen to Fang about how the ritual is going to kill her, because she feels this is a higher calling and that sacrificing herself to save all these poor souls is worth it.  Vanille has had this self-sacrificing guilt thing going on since the first game, and it’s finally coming to a head here. So Fang’s storyline is essentially a Indiana Jones vs the Nazis style race to the huge religious artifact.  But at least not before we get some Les Yay laced dialogue between Fang and Lightning (No, this isn’t fan service.  It’s CANONICAL fan service.  Remember, Fang did use the “Let’s see how far your mark is progressing” excuse to scope Lightning’s breasts in the first game.  Fang also has a relationship with Vanille that – to paraphrase the developers – ‘transcends friendship and sisterhood’.)

Rounding out the first game’s crew there’s Sazh.  Last we saw of ol’ Sazh was that he was trapped in an outside-of-time Casino playing cards for his son’s life, and then he appears 500 years in the damn future to help during doomsday with no explanation how he got there.  Oookay, I was unfair when I said that.  It is somewhat explained in the Sazh DLC for XIII-2 when he asks the Casino owner to send him somewhere that he can make a difference.   However, it seems that all of that card playing was for not because in the post-chaos world of Nova Chrysalia, Dajh’s soul is missing! His body is fine, just sleeping away in Sazh’s bed, but the soul is gone to who knows where.  Thus Sazh’s quest for Lightning is to get Dajh’s soul back.  The kid’s soul is split into five pieces scattered across the world.  However the easiest to get is the one from Chocolina, who for those who don’t recall is essentially The Doctor from Doctor Who if he decided to open up a store where he landed and dress like a giant chicken.  Chocolina is also the baby chocobo that Sazh bought for Dajh in the first game given the power to change into human form by Etro.  In this instance, Etro may have been too nice.  Chocolina loves to tease Lightning about this and constantly remind Light that Chocolina knows who she is, but Lightning has NO CLUE who Chocolina is.

Well, that’s the original team but how about the XIII-2 characters?  Well, you’ll be happy to know that the fates of Noel, Yuel, and Caius are discussed here and oh boy is this one a doozy.  Strap in kids.  First we’ll get Noel out of the way.  Noel is actually the mysterious leader of the Children of Etro that have been killing off anyone who looks like Lightning in Luxerion in hopes of stopping the Savior.  Noel wants to kill Lightning not because of her jerking him around like a puppet in the previous game but because Noel has spent 500 years losing his mind obsessing over how to save ‘his’ Yuel, or the last  of the Yuels that died in his arms.   He was given a Prophecy Drive (an old device used to record the prophecies of the Seeress Yuel) that shows him killing Lightning and being reunited with Yuel.  Who gave him this drive? We’ll get to that.  Anyway, Lightning and Noel end up butting heads across Luxerion until she finally beats him and leaves him a broken man pretty much.

Caius and Yuel on the other hand? They’re having a much worse time.  Caius succeeded in his plan to break open Etro’s Gate and destroy time, and even somehow lived to tell about it.  But now 500 years later, his life is a living hell.  Why?  Because of Yuel.  Yuel the girl he fought so hard to save.  Yuel, the girl he destroyed time itself so she wouldn’t have to suffer.  Yuel, the first human and blessed by Etro to be reborn each time she died because her heart did not fade into the chaos like everyone elses.  Wait.  Does that mean?  Yes siree.  When the Unseen World poured out into the Seen World, every single incarnation of Yuel came with it.  Now Caius is stuck with them all. The Yuel who loved Poetry, the Yuel who liked Flowers, ALL OF THEM.  And worse, they can’t decide what to do with Caius.  Some pity him and want him to die so he can at last have peace, but some adore him and want him to live forever with him.  Now Caius is trapped and wants to be put out of his misery by Lightning.  The irony is not lost on him.  However, the more important thing we learn is that the Chaos, this stuff that seems to eat away at reality itself – that’s Yuel’s fault.  As she puts it, the Chaos is her ‘love for Caius’ but what that actually means is that her constant resurrections to be with her guardian was the reason that the Chaos was growing and bleeding through into the Seen World.  Her very nature of being reborn whenever she died was damaging reality and thus was responsible for pretty much everything that went wrong from the ending of XIII to now.  Again, the pity of Etro has messed things up.  Then again, that’s the way with fal’Cie isn’t it?

For the final stragglers of the series:  Serah is dead, her soul being the first one absorbed by Lightning while she was in Crystal Slumber to “protect it”. Odin, Lightning’s eidolon and ally, was turned into a majestic white chocobo by the Chaos (the Chaos is weird like that and transforms things a lot. Humans don’t get affected because they already have a touch of Chaos in them in the forms of “Hearts” that Etro gave them.) and Mog the Moogle is now the ruler of a village of moogle which is oddly hinted at being where he was from originally in XIII-2 making Mog’s very existence a weird time loop paradox, but since that’s an optional side quest in both XIII-2 and Lightning Returns, it never really gets addressed.

So that covers all the previous characters and most of the story but we’re missing something.  Something to unite all this disparate stories into a cohesive whole and the game has given us that in the form of Lumina.  Lumina is a brand new character for Lightning Returns who appears as early as the opening cutscene.  She is inexplicable woven into almost every main story quest in the game.  Who gave Noel the Prophecy Drive? Lumina.  Who gives Sazh the box to store and recombine Dajh’s soul fragments? Lumina.  Who is constantly pestering Snow? Yup.  Who tipped off Fang about the Holy Clavice and the Church’s plot? You bet.  So who the heck is she?  Well, the long story short is and this is a BIG spoiler: She’s Claire Farron.  She’s Lightning’s “heart” for the lack of a better term, given form by the Chaos.  When Bhunivelze resurrected Lightning from Crystal Slumber and raised her to the status of ‘Savior’, he cast away her emotions and her heart, leaving her with nothing but her memories and her last goal: be reunited with Serah.  She has no real emotional attachment to this goal other than it being ‘The Goal’ so when Bhunivelze uses it as a carrot on a stick to Lightning, she’s sees not someone using her dear sister as bait but as an opportunity to complete the goal.  Her discarded emotions, her heart as it were, were discarded and took shape in the Chaos manifesting as Lumina who has a combination of Serah’s looks and Lightning’s snark and compassion for her friends.  Throughout the game, Lumina pushes Lightning to realize what Bhunivelze took from her and to try to steer her back on the path to being reunited with her heart, her friends and ultimately her sister – who Bhunivelze never had any intention to return to life.  Serah’s soul was to be flushed away with all the others during Vanille’s ritual and then since no one would have any memory of the souls, Lightning would be none the wiser.

Which brings us to the final piece of this puzzle.  The grand architect of the Fabula Nova Crystalis himself: Bhunivelze, God of Light and yes, you actually get to meet him in this one.  Actually you meet him a lot but you wouldn’t know it because it turns out that the Hope that is inexplicably younger to match Lightning’s last memories of him (She never met older Hope in XIII-2) is actually just a puppet for Bhunivelze himself to speak through.  Oh, Hope has his memories buried somewhere, but Bhuni-boy won’t let him touch them unless needed.  Hope is just there to help manipulate Lightning into being the Savior, to round up the ‘chosen souls’ and help usher them to his ‘New Perfect World’.  Which brings us to Bhuni’s plan.  A quick recap: Bhunivelze kills his Mom Mwynn so he can rule the universe himself. He worries that his mother is plotting against him in the Unseen Realm but doesn’t know because as the God of the Seen Realm, his eyes can see all except through the Chaos of the Unseen Realm.  He tasks two fal’Cie – Pulse and Lindzei – with trying to break into the Unseen Realm to find out and then goes to sleep until the job is done.  He wakes up to find the chaos EVERYWHERE.  Yea, that crap he can’t see through? EVERYWHERE.  Including in all these humans’ “Hearts”.  So he says ‘Screw this, I’m starting over with my own universe where there is no Chaos, no hearts, and no Mom.’ Gets Lightning to do the dirty work and then plans to flush the old universe, dead not-gathered souls and all away so he can play with his brand new shiny universe with his perfect emotionless humans and his Mom won’t be able to stop him despite her being destroyed by the Chaos and turning over her guardianship of the Unseen Realm to Etro for ages already at the time all of this happens but since the Unseen Realm is still a thing where dead stuff goes, use the emotionless-and-has-no-memory-of-Serah Lightning to become the ‘New Etro’ and stand watch over the land of the dead.  That’s his plan in a nutshell.  I said it before: control freak.

I think that pretty much covers the characters and about 85% of the plot of the game.  It’s a bit weird to go about it this way, but the game is extremely non-linear so the only really way to talk about it is by discussing the characters’ roles in each of the quest lines.  Next time in our final installment we will discuss the ending of Lightning Returns and look back at the entirety of the XIII trilogy and the first chapter of the Fabula Nova Crystalis.  Thanks for reading!

SWTOR Class Storyline Reviews: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter Two

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Sith Inquisitor storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

inquisitor_ch2_01

Well, you have sort of outsmarted your former master and become a powerful figure within the Sith ranks.  Let’s see how quick this goes downhill for you, shall we?  Chapter Two kicks off with meeting Darth Thanaton who you might remember popping up in the Prologue and Chapter One at points.  He is impressed with you – you’re NOTHING like Zash – and wants to test you to see if you are ready to enter his super special hidden circle.  He just needs you to go into a super dark and spooky tomb, way off in some corner of Dromund Kaas where no one goes all alone to fetch a dead Sith’s notes on alchemical poisons for him.  Do you see where this may be a bad idea? Good. Because you’re character doesn’t! You get ZERO agency in this.  Your character will just stumble into this trap as blindly scripted.  Yes, that’s how we’re starting out this Chapter, by walking head first into ANOTHER trap.

And just like before with Zash, it’s up to Ghost Grandpa to bail you out and save you from the insane Sith ghost that was trying to kill you.  You know…  Ghost Grandpa…  who said at the end of Chapter One that his task was done and we wouldn’t be seeing him again.  He’s here. To save us again.  Somehow.  But this time he REALLY is using the last of his strength to help us. For truth-sies.  Anyway, Ghost Grandpa tells you to find a different Sith ghost who will teach you the art of Spirit-walking – the ability to bind the souls of the dead to yourself and absorb their power.  Before you even ask, NO. There’s is NO Shang Tsung jokes anywhere in this storyline.  I will probably be making a few to make up for it.  Now you can go back, steal the Sith ghost’s soul (Flawless victory) and get his notes.

When you take the notes back to Thanaton he is less than pleased.  He kinda wanted you to die in that tomb (Wha? Noooo. Say it ain’t so.) and he needs you dead because Zash’s entire power base must be destroyed (No one tell him about Khem!)  So, he kills you.  The end.  OR IS IT?  Well, we know it’s not. It seems you actually survived thanks to binding the dead souls to you.  They actually seem to function as ‘Extra Lives’.  Your barely alive body is dragged off to safety by your two apprentices whose names are not important enough to remember so I’ll just call them Jesse and James.  Which… wait.  Hold on a minute.

Remember in the Chapter One review, where I mentioned the ‘people saving you streak’?  Yea. Assuming you didn’t break between Chapter One and Chapter Two, you have just walked into your doom THREE times only to have your butt pulled out by a third party each time in less than an HOUR.  A. SINGLE. HOUR.  Do you know how much of an idiot your character looks like at this point?  You routinely walk into traps, sometimes after being TOLD it is a trap, with no plan prepared other than ‘wing it and hope we live’.  Would it be so hard to have a moment where your character actually PREPARES for these things, or comes off as a slightly hesitant or cautious?  Maybe show how they stand to gain from doing these dumb things?  Like planning on surviving due to the Spirit-Walking so you can let Thanaton think you are dead so you can strike at him from behind.  You know, SOMETHING?!

Anyway, you use this revelation of your survival to formulate a new plan: gather more souls to kill Thanaton.  Well, at least we’re not a lackey anymore.

inquisitor_ch2_02

Taris

Our first destination is Taris, where there have been stories about a grumpy ghost hanging around.  The thing is that there’s only one person who can actually get this ghost to show up is a Jedi padawan.  So your first goal on Taris is to gather some intel on this padawan and as you soon find out – it’s Ahsoka Tano er… I mean Ashara Zavros!  Who is kind of an Ahsoka Tano expy, I won’t lie.  She’s disobedient, rude, and somewhat short tempered.  Her emotions tend to get the better of her and that kind of has her on the outs with her Jedi Master and peers and thus provides an excellent opportunity to manipulate her into getting what you want.

The first task is to bribe another Sith Lord to use his assassins to stage a scene.  You go and dig up some random thing of no significant importance (and no, that’s not setting up a dramatic reveal that it IS important. It’s not. It’s just a random errand.)  Using the bartering power of the McGuffin, you convince the Sith to borrow the assassins.  The fun part about the whole exchange is actually being able to decide how much information you let the Sith have about what you are doing.  Do you let him in on the plot? Do you play coy?  It is his man power at risk here, especially since the plan is to have them ambush Ashara and then you save her to gain her trust.

Honestly, the whole plan comes off as simultaneously dumb and yet it works brilliantly because Ashara is just that kind of dense.  She gets jumped by a bunch of Sith Assassins and you just in and stop them (either by killing them or by less lethal means) and just like that she trusts you enough to let you help “cast out” the ghost.  She actually sits there and dumb foundingly asks why a Sith would attack other Sith.  Really? Do they teach you ANYTHING about the Sith work?  Or just to kill them wholesale?  And this is pretty much Ashara in a nutshell.  She is not bright, she doesn’t think she’s through, she simply reacts to her emotions and follows her gut instinct. Sometimes this makes her a sweetheart, and other times you just wanna bop her with a rolled up magazine and say “NO! THINK!” Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Ashara but DAMN is she a teenager in the worst sense.

SO you actually manage to convince the teen to let you into the Jedi Sanctuary to help purge the ghost, and  you make sure to tell her not to tell anyone.  So of course she tells two Jedi Masters. Fricking Narc. You fight them, you bind the ghost who appears to be a VERY ticked off ancestor of Ashara – who was also Sith? I think? It’s not exactly clear but he does wear Sith Inquisitor Columni armor.  The choice is the usual: Fight the ghost and enslave it, or make a pact with it promising to free it once you’ve done what you need it for.

Then…  then the plot gets stupid.  Okay, so this entire time some no-name office clerk of a Sith has been helping you to put this whole thing together.  Actually, it’s more like he gets you started.  He shows up.  Says Thanaton will make him a Lord if he delivers your head.  So that whole element of surprise, Thanaton thinks you’re dead thing?  Apparently not.  Thanaton clearly knows you are alive, and is hiring goons to come and finish you off, despite you finishing off his goons before and forcing him to take you out himself.  Do I even have to go into how completely counter to the established plot this reveal goes?  And it doesn’t stop here.  Oh no.  You’ll see.

Quesh

Because no sooner are you done with recruit Ashara and getting back on the ship, than your other two apprentices phone in.  Ya know, the two that jumped the Zash ship at the end of Chapter One and dragged your charred unconscious body out of a ditch and right back into Thanaton’s office at the start of Chapter Two?  Well apparently they decided to wander off and steal the key to Thanaton’s private meditation chamber.  Now they’re being chased around the galaxy by another one of Thanaton’s flunkies.  Now it’s never established, and certainly never explained or answered – but do we think that these two little morons are the reason Thanaton knows I’m still alive?  Cause I’d venture a guess that yea, that’s the case.  Thanaton, despite being a mustache twirling snively whiplash of a villain, is not stupid.  These two however will believe whatever they are spoon fed.  So they crash on Quesh and you have to go save them.

Or not… I guess? By the time you show, they’re dead. Lord Cineratus has killed them.  Now he is on orders to kill you too.  In a nice and brilliant tactical move, you can buy him off, not only skipping having to fight him but also gaining his loyalty, service and most importantly silence.  Or you can just shut him up by killing him too.  That works.

Interlude: Korriban

Now that you’ve lost two of your three apprentices (Aww… you almost collected the whole set), Zash Val recommends you head to Korriban to pick you out a fresh one from your old pal Harkun.  This mission is short, sweet and only really serves to lord over your new position as an actual Sith Lord to Harkun while also setting up a later companion.  I guess which of the random assortment of scum it will be?  Maybe the one that killed two potential recruits already and the camera holds on for an uneasily long time? Hmmmm? (I warned you there’d be spoilers. It’s Xalek.)

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Hoth

And of course now we come to Hoth.  Apparently we are here because Andronikos heard some stories about some weird stuff happening and a ship carrying Sith artifacts crashing a while back and they were all spoopy about it.  Like the laaaaamp was tuuuuurning itseeeelf on!  OooooOOoooOoo!  Yea, anyway since Hoth is a giant ice ball where anything sitting outside for more than a few days is pretty much buried and frozen in a block, you’re going to need some help for this one.  Enter Talos Drelik.  Oh, so THIS is where the damn elves sent Talos after the White-Gold Accord.  (Ha. Crossover humor.)  He’s a wormy little archeologist that is a certified genius when it comes to figuring out where crap is.  He’s also delightfully fun, warm, and intelligent.  Thus making him the only one on the ship with a college education (No, Zash doesn’t count.  Her brains didn’t exactly work out in her favor.  Seriously, ‘Go ahead and bring the Dashade’ HA!)

Talos essentially helps lead you across a giant version of World of Warcraft’s archeology profession, only not as tedious.  It does however lead you to the ghost p0ssessing an ortolon (those blue elephant looking things) who demands that you ran sack Naga Sadow’s ancient assassin training school because he reeeeeally didn’t like Assassin’s Creed Unity.  Talos of course helps you break in to raid the tomb, because hey it turns out that is exactly what he was on Hoth looking for.  It’s a giant hole in an ice wall.  I am suddenly regretting complimenting Talos’ intelligence.

This leads to the hands down dumbest light/dark choice ever: Do you let Talos scan the relics before you bust them, or just say tough noogies and start smashing.  Seriously.  You don’t even have to do anything extra or get punished for choosing the Light Side option here other than watching a short cutscene of Talos scanning stuff.  That was pointless.  Really.  Oh and a little tip for this mission: There will be a time when Talos leaves your party to open a door and you have to defend him from three waves of progressively harder droids.  If you step back to where Talos is before the first wave spawns, you won’t immediately draw agro and can summon another companion to help you fight them off.  Very useful for say…  a healy sorcerer.

Finally, you get your last bit of direction to finding the ghost’s actual resting place: a crashed starship in the starship graveyard.  Good thing we didn’t even think to look in the Starship Graveyard of crashed starships for our crashed starship, which we now find out didn’t actually crash but landed gently after being piloted to safety by the ghost after the crew died and/or bailed.  Only downside is you have to fight through a ton of dudes who are mind controlled by the ghost because…  the ghost is a jerk who likes making you jump through hoops.  No really, that’s his reasoning.  So you do the whole sacrifice/deal schpeal and then head off to space.  But wait! Talos is there and he wants to come along.  Resigned from the IRS (That’s Imperial Reclamation Service) and everything.  Well, okay bookworm. Head on board.  We gotta go kill us a Sith, and you’re a healing companion so you might be handy.

inquisitor_ch2_04

Finale

Back to Dromund Kaas to sneak into Thanaton’s secret meditation chamber with our secret key and oh bugger he’s waiting for us isn’t he?  Yeeeeup. With a hench goon that we’ve never seen before to actually fight no less while Thanaton sits in a bubble.  But not before he taunts us about how if we bribed Cinderblock on Quesh that he’s already wasted our money on women and drink on Nar Shadaa.  So there’s another brilliant play that went down the toilet.  Oh well, kill the bastard.  Or the bastard’s assistant, I guess.

After which you face off with Thanaton proper in a cutscene!  You channel all your ghostly powers and when their powers combine you are…  apparently dead.  Yea, it seems that the binding ritual was only meant to be done with ONE ghost at a time.  Any more than that and you leave yourself vulnerable to the spirits taking control of your body and mind and doing who knows what.  Of course, the ghost that taught you the ritual didn’t say that because he knew you were the schmuck that would dig up as many souls as possible and then he and the others could – as they literally put it – have some fun with you.  I AM AWARE OF THE MANY WAYS TO INTERPRET THAT LINE.  Also, Thanaton got thrown into a wall and ran away.

So Chapter Two ends with your companions showing up to help/save you from yourself YET AGAIN, and depending on your dialogue choices you can crack a joke and everyone has a hearty laugh.  Freeze frame. Roll credits with sappy 80’s sax solo rendition of theme song! The end.  Of chapter two at least.

My Thoughts

While this isn’t as completely POINTLESS as the Chapter Two Trooper storyline, there is a LOT of wasted potential here.  Every chance your character has to look intelligent or cunning is either pulled out from under them making them look like a complete idiot or is swiftly undone off camera somewhere.  Enemy thinks your dead giving you the upper hand? NOPE.  Get the secret key to the secret meditation chamber? He’s there and waiting for you.  Bribe an enemy agent to work for you instead? Pisses it away on booze and lets your enemy know about it.  The Inquisitor does not catch one break this entire chapter, and boy does it get frustrating to have your plans get foiled instantly over and over.

I mean, I kind of get it right? They want to show you that Thanaton is this super mastermind that can totally outplay you and write it off as child’s play. But you’re doing it at the expensive of making the protagonist – the PLAYER – feel like a complete moron.  Even worse when OTHER NPCs are saving you from obvious traps and then explaining how it totally was an obvious trap.  Why not have Thanaton think he has outplayed you, make him counter your every move but him thinking that your goal is different.  Like you were looking for relics or some ancient weapon or something Zash would do to help defeat him.  Then have it be established among you and your crew that – say around just after Quesh – that because of something Lord Cementtruck said you learn that Thanaton has it all wrong. WHAM.  He seems to be winning and outplaying, you get to see what a master at playing the game Thanaton is, and then you have the ace up your sleeve of the ghosts to smack him, but then it goes all wrong.

And that ending I will say is done very right.  The ghosts turning on you and the force walking being your undoing is not only a great twist, but is also not a knock against your character.  There is no WAY the Inquisitor would have seen it coming because the Ghosts ALL LIED.  Not one even tipped their hand or showed the slightest hint that this ritual had unintended side effects when used this way.  But they knew.  They knew and they waited to use it against you.  That I did like.  Downright LOVED.

So yea, that was the Inquisitor Chapter Two.  A lot of potential, and a lot of screw ups.  Not the worse, could have been one of the best, but no.  It just falls in the middle somewhere.  Pity.

<– Chapter One || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Three –>

SWTOR: E3, #FallenEmpire & More!

Well…  that was… uh…  short?

Heck the Plants Vs Zombies guys got more time.  Yeesh. I was expecting to have a chance to say more, but really almost all they did was cover was the exact same bullet points as they did in the press blurb and didn’t go into much more details.  Yes, Bioware storytelling where choice matters.  Yes, ally or betray with new and old companions.  Yes, brand new story focus.  Join now! Play now!

About the only thing NEW we got from this E3 presentation was a teaser trailer, a date – October 27th, 2015 – and the news that this expansion will be free to subscribers from the get go.  Which considering the attempt at trying to rebuild the often toted and mostly eroded ‘Fourth Pillar’… giving it away to your subscribers is a pretty good idea.

The trailer definitely sets up something epic coming.  An empire – not THE Empire mind you.  Two twin heirs growing in the force.  Their trials and battles and their attempt to overthrow their father.  It definitely feels like something big is coming.  What’s more interesting is how we will play into it.

Now, the ACTUAL info we want to know is over at THIS website.

  • Knights of the Fallen Empire is the first NINE CHAPTERS of a brand new story line involving a third faction emerging and attacking both the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic.
  • Your character will become the Outlander, a veteran of the Great Galactic War (levels 1-60).
  • Hand pick your companions from new and old to build a new crew to tackle this story.
  • Choice driven storyline where your actions and decisions actually matter.
  • Play one of eight class based stories.
  • New chapters added monthly starting in Early 2016 to Subscribers only.

There’s also a bunch of cool Subscriber rewards for joining earlier including:

– Nico Okarr companion (He’s that Smuggler from the Republic opening video, I think) – Subscribe by July 31st.

– Nico Okarr’s Blasters (Hey! Cool guns!) – Subscribe by August 31st.

– Nico Okarr’s duster jacket (Oh yessss…. gimme gimme gimme!) – Subscribe by September 30th.

– KOTOR inspired Swoop Bike mount – Subscribe by October 19th.

– And finally, if you are a subscriber for AAAAAALLL of those (and I assume uninterrupted), you’ll get 7 days of early access starting October 20th.

The website also dives into a bunch of the characters that will be featured including the twins, their father – the Immortal Emperor, and returning faces such as Lana Beniko and HK-55.  Some of the character descriptions seem to imply that we will choose who we can ally with as the Outlander.  Be it joining forces with the Emperor, or helping the Dark Prince overthrow the Eternal Empire perhaps? It also has concept art and the names of a bunch of the chapters already posted.  This is looking to be a HUGE expansion.  Almost like a relaunch of the game.  Except that the old stuff doesn’t appear to be going away.

Actually in that exact vein, it seems like its very much the intent that the old stuff doesn’t go away as it’s all that F2P and Preferred Players will have access to.  The FAQ states quite clearly that Subscribers get KotFE for free, but only subscribers will get it as well as the following 7+ chapters.  If you unsubscribe, you keep whatever you’ve gained access to – the first 9 chapters after 10/27 and one would assume whatever chapters you ‘unlocked’ by being subscribed.  This is backlogged to whatever has been released, so if you wait until all 16 chapters are out and then subscribe, you’ll get all 16 right there.  If you unsubscribe then, you’ll still have those 16 chapters unlocked to your account.

The wording is vague but it seems like the post 60 experience will be re-introducing the 8 class stories concept along with the dynamic your-choices-matter storytelling.  Thus building on the 1-50 is for free, 50-60 is purchasable and 60+ is unlocked for subscribers.  With all this focus on the ‘new’ story coming for Level 60+ players (Which makes an interesting note that NO WHERE does it say there will be a level cap increase.  Maybe they are very much focusing on making this a playable storyline and doing away with leveling for it? Would be kind of a radical move. But I’d back it.  Leveling is kind of archaic concept that often proves to be a barrier to narrative.  Heck, we’ve nearly completely chopped it out of my D&D game.  It’s an afterthought really. SEE UPDATE BELOW) I would not be surprised if the Cartel Market saw it’s own version of the ‘Jump to Level 60’ service/token/thing that so many other MMOs have added.

Overall, it definitely has my perked my interest.  I am definitely looking forward to this one.  What all this ‘dynamic’ story means for my Class Story Summaries? I dunno.  Worse comes to worse they’ll still be an excellent tool for the 1-50 experience.  I’ll try and keep up with the news here and give my take on it.  Meanwhile, Heavensward is also just around the corner and it’s time to take to the skies on my black chocobo once more (Hey, do you remember when Black Choco’s meant FLYING? Congrats. You are also old now. Welcome to the club, we meet on Thursday in Uldah.)

UPDATES:

  • Looks like Dulfy.net is reporting that yes, the level cap is being increased to 65 (Only 65 for 9 chapters?!) and you WILL be able to create a Level 60 character right out of the gate (meaning hopefully that no, it will not be a Cartel Market thing)
  • I’m also seeing notes flying around that the basic premise is that your character gets frozen in carbonite for an unspecified amount of time (considering the old companions are supposed to be around, it can’t be THAT long) and when you emerge the Empire, Republic, and Galaxy at large will have changed dramatically from when you were frozen.
  • Also Yes, the Class Stories are returning, and YES, new and old companions get new stories.

SWTOR Expansion 3 Revealed: Knights of the Fallen Empire

swtor-fallen-empire-teaser-image1 Electronic Arts announced today in its press release the name of the next Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion: The Knights of the Fallen Empire!

Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ – The largest story-driven expansion to date, Knights of the Fallen Empire, marks a renewed focus on cinematic storytelling in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The expansion will deliver on the hallmarks of what makes a great BioWare™ game: new worlds to explore, new companions to recruit, and a dynamic story that players will be able to shape based on the choices they make.

They’ve said there will be more news coming during their press conference on Monday, making it officially the first time I’ve ever wanted to watch EA’s E3 conference because honestly if they can deliver on what this small pitch is promising?  Oh I will be one major happy camper. I mean, consider this: new worlds – plural – to explore.  I mean, that one can go either way really because technically The Shadow of Revan had worlds plural.  It had Rishi and Yavin-4.  Even though together they were about the size of Korriban and Tython put together (heck, even the layout of Yavin-4 resembles Korriban a bit, with the raid being where the Sith Academy is, followed by tombs to the East and then wilderness on the far east.  Wait… you don’t think that was intentional with the heavy Sith influence on both… do you?) but hey, I will take two planets of a single biome each over one. The new companions to recruit also sounds promising.  Again, companions plural.  What does that mean?  Well, it could mean a couple of things.  The first is of course we can recruit multiple companions in the expansion to our crew.  The second is something like each class gets one new companion each leading to multiples,  or finally that there will be multiple possibilities for what companion will join your crew.  Like ‘choose one person from these two to live!  The survivor joins your crew’.  Honestly, the more exciting news is the possibility of Bioware Austin turning their gaze back to the companions.  The devs have posted multiple times that they’ve been hoping to get a chance to do things like expand on the companion stories, and this may be the opportunity to do so. Finally, and really let’s be honest – the big one – is “a dynamic story that players will be able to shape based on the choices they make.”  Now the key here isn’t the choices part.  We’ve had choices all along.  It’s just that most of our choices are the illusion of choice, or create a minor detour before hopping back on course (fight this mob, go to this one room and flip and switch, etc.)  The key thing in this phrase that actually excites me is the word ‘Dynamic’.  Dynamic is one of those things that screams ‘Fluid!’ ‘Multiple paths!’ ‘Different outcomes!’  and why the heck not.  After all, SWTOR has been very much been “single player” in terms of it’s storylines.  Not every bounty hunter is the canonical winner of the Great Hunt simultaneously, nor is every Consular the Barsenthor of the Jedi Order.  Your character is – in terms of the narrative at least – the only one.  So why do we all have to follow the same trail?  Dynamic stories is something I have wanted since the game launched. Well, that and scaling planets so you could do them out of order (Imagine accomplish all your act one objectives in the order YOU choose!) which honestly has sort of been implemented with the Rakghoul and Bounty Contract events. Honestly, this is exciting to me.  I am really looking forward to see what they have to say on Monday, and what news is to come about Knights of the Fallen Empire, which by the way is kind of a cool homage name to KOTOR.  I likey.

UPDATE: See my recap and take on the E3 Presentation and other assorted news coming out about Knights of the Fallen Empire here!

Class Storyline Reviews: Sith Inquisitor – Chapter One

 

<– Prologue || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Two –>

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Sith Inquisitor storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

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Ah, the Sith Inquisitor.  Are you a raving madman or cunning deceiver, brilliant tactician or brutal murderer?  I will say this, more so than any other class in the game the Sith Inquisitor has a very clear line between Light and Dark sides, to the point where you could easily make a Goofus & Gallant style comic about the two paths.  With most classes, you can see the merits of mixing things up and sometimes making light and dark choices by need.  I would argue that is very much NOT the case with the Sith Inquisitor.  The Light Side choices are almost always about freedom/kindness/manipulation, the Dark Side ones just boil down to ruthless torture and murder.  So you can kind of see how the two concepts REALLY don’t mesh well.

To those who don’t recall where we left off – because it has been a while – we defeated a ghost that turned out to be our great-great-great-great-great-grandpa and have been tasked by our master, Darth Zash, to find four relics of Tulak Hord, none of which include that cool armor set from the Nightlife cartel packs.  So it’s essentially a mcguffin hunt, but as you’ll see this one is a bit more interesting than the early Consular mcguffin hunts.  Because it’s rarely not about finding the relic, but finding a way to get to it.

Balmorra

This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  You know exactly where the relic is as soon as you arrive in Balmorra.  The real problem is that it’s at the bottom of a toxin filled mine shaft that would instantly kill you as soon as you got even halfway to the bottom.  Indeed, it’s explained to you by the kindly Imperial officer you meet that the only thing that can survive the toxin is the mutated genetically engineered colicoids.  So the task is simple: become a colicoid.

While that does sound insane, there is merit to it.  You’ll need to get some additional research and the de-defect a scientist to help construct a formula to resist the toxic waste. The scientist is hesitant but you can persuade him by promising that no harm will come to him and he’ll be allowed to return to the Republic once his work is finished, or you can just taze him bro with sith lightning.  Once you recruit the scientist, your Imperial officer liason uses his cooperation as leverage to force you to go save his Sith son who was caught by the resistance while looking for an ancient sith relic.  You have to do this mission sadly. The good news is you can just kill the kid and get the relic yourself (Note: it’s a crappy lightsaber. Not work it other than to piss off Officer-Dad.) or just send the kid on his way and dealing with his lip.  I mean it too.  Whether you help him or attack him, he will not shut up about how you are lousy Sith compared to him, how dumb his Dad is, how pathetically slow you are at saving him.  They REALLY made it easy to want to kill him.

Of course if you do that you have to deal with the Sith’s Dad, who will promptly try to kill you if you harmed his son.  Either way you then deal with the scientist by letting him go or killing him and take your injection to climb down the glowing green hole and get your relic. I hope you can start to see what I mean about having a hard time with a ‘gray’ play through of the Inquisitor.  Dark side is torture with lightning and kill, light side is bargain and honor your deals.  I suppose you could always promise to reward them and then kill them instead, but it certainly doesn’t work the other way around: “Zap! ZAP! Do as I say! Zap! Okay, now you can go. Toodles!”  Unless you are completely insane.  Of course, there’s enough dialogue options for the Sith Inquisitor that work in that vein that you could easily play your character as someone who makes the majority of Batman’s rouge gallery seem like down to earth sensible folk.

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Nar Shadaa

The Gambler’s Moon is where we see the introduction of the second major theme in the Sith Inquisitor storyline.  Along with usual lost and ancient techniques & relics for power, there is also the ever running concept of the ‘power base’.  While it won’t play a major role in the story until much later, we are introduced to it here with the opportunity to establish a small cult in your name.  Why would you do this?  Well, so you can take down another Sith’s cult. Another Sith who happens to have a relic of Tulak Hord.

Your cult starts with just two people: an angry young man who is fed up with the world, and a young woman who idealistically is hoping for change.  Yes, that is cheesy. But how are YOU going to start a cult? With well rounded and fulfilled individuals? Ha! Anyway, it’s time to start spreading your good-ish name around.  You get a choice of how to accomplish this: you can either break into a pharmaceutical company and steal a cure to a disease called the Rot and cure people with it, or kill of a local gang that has been terrorizing the locals.  The choice is really up to you, it’s a light side/dark side choice though even the light side choice of stealing a cure is a bit dark.  After you complete the task, your cultists will contact you about finding a new location for your ‘church’ and ask you to meet them there, where you are immediately jumped by the other Sith’s goons. Yay for security!

There is a bit of a hidden dialogue at this juncture where you can actual have an ‘intimate’ encounter with at least the female cultists – not sure about the male one as I never played a female inquisitor.  You just need to talk to them before you head off to the next mission.  Though be warned, it is dark side points to have your way with them, and the non-dark side points option is pretty much “Ew, your icky. Go away. Stupid head.” So you’ve been warned.

The next objective is to steal the Sith Cult Leader’s followers by performing a miracle during his big meet & greet shindig. To pull this off you convince a municipal employee to blow the gas pipes under the building when you give the signal (how you convince him is entirely up to you) and thus create a ‘groundquake’ – a name that only make sense once you realize there’s no ‘earth’ so what else are they gonna call it?  This is enough of a feat to steal a good chunk of the Sith’s followers, and successfully tick off the Sith Lord.  Which was the goal, I think?  Either way, it works and the Sith invites you to his base of operations to deal.

And lo and behold the whole thing turns out to NOT be a trap.  No, serious.  There’s a bunch of enemies standing around in the usual pack layouts like you would have to fight them, but they stay green and non-hostile.  It’s probably one of the better psych outs in the game, because you totally are waiting for them to start attacking and they NEVER do.  Instead you just run in to meet with the Sith Lord, who has his own surprise in store.  It seems that the Tulak Hord relic drains people of their force power and then he attacks you himself.  This fight is really annoying because of the aforementioned force drain.  You don’t recover force naturally, and all your abilities take twice as much to use.  The one way to actually sneak by this whole thing is to die and then resurrect, which removes the debuff.  You won’t get it re-applied because the Sith Lord doesn’t put it on you, it’s triggered by the cutscene ending and since you don’t have to watch the cutscene again, you are free to beat the Sith senseless.

So you got the thingamajig but now what is left to deal with but the cult.  You again get three choices: Screw’em and leave, leave the Sith in charge, or leave your loyal flunkies in charge.  As far as I know, the only thing this really changes is a few letters you get as you level up. I might be wrong on that, and I’ll be sure to mention it in future installments should these people ever re-enter the picture.

Interlude – Ghost Great Great Grandpa’s Hat

After completing Nar Shadaa and Balmorra, you will be visited once more by Ghost Gramps who tells you that Zash is planning something.  While the general response is “No duh.” you can actually respond in the hilarious “No! Zash would NEVER do that to MEEEE!” way that leads to Ghost Grandpa plainly stating, “You are naive.”  Why call attention to that? Well because it is probably the best way to summarize the Sith Inquisitor storyline as a whole.  We haven’t got there yet, but trust me – your character is dumber than rocks at times.  Anyway, to prepare you for battle the Ghost Granpappy sends you back to Korriban to retrieve his helmet.  A mask model that is usually reserved for level 40-something Sith Warriors, so that’s cool.

The whole mission is fairly short and just involves fighting through a dude’s house and then either killing him or persuading him to give up the helmet, then running back to the ship.  Really, the worse part in my opinion is getting back to Korriban to do this whole thing.  The entrance is right by the Dark Council chamber so you have to go all the way to the Academy, up the elevator, and down the hall and that’s before the mission STARTS.  Gah!

Tatooine

Okay, I’ll be straight with you here.  This is the worst planet in the entire first chapter.  I mean, the others are not about FINDING the thing but how to GET the thing, right?  Yea, this is just find the thing.  With a side order of revenge for your new companion Andronikos Revel. The mission is literally: 1. Find Andronikos, 2. Find the Pirate, 3. Find the Sand People, and 4. Find the Thing.  This is quite literally a straight line across Tatooine.  The only thing that diverges or affects anything is whether or not you deprive Andronikos of his revenge and kill the guy yourself.  That is it.

Even Andronikos is a weird mixed bag.  You are first told that he doesn’t like people or trust people, but by the end of one job that doesn’t even end well he wants to sign on to your ship’s crew.  His backstory is also familiar: a pirate captain that was left adrift and almost went mad after his crew mutinied, only for his former crew to end up going insane from a cursed relic.  Next he’ll be insisting that he’s CAPTAIN Andronikos Revel.  Blah, can we just move on?

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Alderaan

Compared to where we are coming from, Alderaan is my favorite world in Chapter One. This is just one of those times you get to be manipulative and sneaky as an Inqusitor and it really feels like how I wish the entire class would play.  The whole situation is that the final relic is stored in a vault, and only House Organa has the key.  In order to get that key, you will need some sort of dirt to manipulate them which you find in House Alde.  It seems that the heir to the House abandoned his duty and more importantly his fiance to go train as a Jedi.  A Jedi in love? Tender.

To lure the Jedi back to Alderaan, you go and break into House Rist and find their heir, the scorned woman from the holo that totally doesn’t still have feeling for the Jedi, not at all, b-baka.  And this is where it gets fun, you can actually take the story down a few paths here.  The first is to lure the Jedi back by forcing the Rist woman to call him and ask to meet at their ‘special spot’, you can kill her if you want and then go and kill the Jedi for the key.  On the other hand, you can convince the two to work things out.  They’ll both meet at the special spot and you can help them reconcile, convincing the Jedi to abandon his oath to the Jedi Order to be with his beloved.  To reward you, he gives you the key.  So instead of killing your way, you can actually manipulate a Jedi to fall from grace.

I really like the whole manipulation angle and using your enemies weakness against them.  It was really what I was hoping the Inquisitor would be for the most part, and this world really shows how strong that approach is.  You can mastermind a way to either have a Jedi fall, or lure a Jedi to his doom in a way that no one will be able to find his body or even know where to look which simultaneously strikes a blow against the Jedi, House Organa, and gets you the key to go and nab the relic from the vault.

Finale

The end of the story comes in two parts.  The first is another visit by Ghost Grandpa who wants you to retrieve his lightsaber that has given to a retainer of your ancient family before Tulak Hord destroyed everything.  The ancestor of the retainer is now working off her father’s debt at a Nar Shadaa casino, a debt incurred when her father bet everything – including the lightsaber – to a corrupt known-for-cheating gambler.  You need to go and get it back so she can unlock the case for you (because Bioware wanted you to visit the casino twice since it wasn’t being used for much else).  Now that you have your grandpappy’s lightsaber, it’s time to go and deal with Zash.

Now here’s where you either saw it a million miles away or got an awesome twist: Zash wants to betray you!  You can’t say there wasn’t ample warning for it. In fact, her wretched form is starting to rot away. So she wants to put her soul in your body.  Which sounds a bit too fantasy even for Star Wars, but hey I’ll roll with it.  Your morose monster of a pet, Khem Val, disrupts the ritual and somehow ends up body sharing with Zash.  The two of them now trading off who controls the body.  Of course, Zash is furious. All her planning gone to waste.  She even made sure that her loyal apprentices were to become YOUR apprentices, and to ensure YOU became a Lord of the Sith so when the conversion happened she would be ready.  So she tries to attack you in Khem’s body but that pesky loyalty oath is apparently biologically ingrained so even when it’s not Khem, Khem Val cannot hurt you.

So the chapter ends with all your new loyal servants coming to hail you as the new Lord Kalig.  Yay you!

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My Thoughts

The first chapter of the Inquisitor’s story is…  good.  I can’t call it great because it does have some missteps, but at the same time it fixes the biggest issues I had with the Consular story.  With the exception of Tatooine which is honestly just a straight up treasure hunt find-the-thing mission, each story explores a different facet of working around complications to obtain your goal.  You have the deal with Imperial command and bargaining on Balmorra, you have to build a power base and use it against an opponent on Nar Shadaa, and you have to manipulate your enemy into a trap on Alderaan. While you are still looking for the same Mcguffin over and over, it’s handled so different each time that you never really notice.  It makes for a very enjoyable playthrough that keeps you engaged fairly well.

The downsides on the other hand are more so to do with the over arching plot.  Zash’s scheming is poorly handled, and this really carries over from the Prologue.  Every single person you meet flat out tells you not to trust Zash, and at no point past Korriban are you ever given a worthwhile reason to trust her.  She constantly makes enigmatic promises of your rise to power, but that’s all it is – vague promises.  By the time Lord Kalig shows up and flat out tells you she wants to betray you, well what reason do you have to keep going along with this plan?  But for some reason, you do. You bring her all the relics, and then guess what? She betrays you! Shocker.  The only reason you don’t die is because Khem Val saves your butt, establishing sadly what will be a long series of “Someone saving your butt” moments that extend well into chapters two and three.  I would rather have had one of the interludes be something along the lines of finding some means to counter Zash’s ritual, the two counter rituals exploding and resulting in Zash and Khem Val sharing a body.  SUPPOSEDLY this is what Kalig’s helmet is for, but when the time comes it is never brought up, so I have no idea.

The only other thing would be a small one but I would really have liked to see the relics have more effect than just be a macguffin.  I mean, on Tatooine we establish that one can drive you insane (something we hear about but never see) and the one on Nar Shadaa can drain force power.  The other two are essentially trapped under rocks, but still could affect things around them.  The Alderaan vault IS guarded and the Balmorra altar was surrounded by colocoids.  It was just a little something that I think would have added some flavor. Not a big complaint.

No the BIG complaint is going to be next time as we dive into Chapter Two of the Sith Inquisitor story.

 <– Prologue || SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter Two –>

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