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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: 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 –>

Vry’s! In! SPAAAAAAACE!

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Long time readers know that I regularly flip back and forth between 2+ different MMOs for the sake of preventing burn out.  Lately it’s been going back and forth between Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Two games that – while not perfect – are damn good at satisfying different cravings I have in games.

Final Fantasy put me in a tight spot recently.  I really REALLY wanted to see the conclusion of the Main Scenario before the 12x Experience boost went live in SWTOR, and finally climb over that damn Story Wall of Ishgard, but I ran into a block with what has clearly become the guardian of the story wall: The Steps of Faith.

‘Oh, Vry! The Steps of Faith isn’t hard if you know what to do!’  I hear the internet shout as a collective hive mind that I have somehow tapped into but retained my sentience from. Well, yes.  It is a bit different, and all you really need is to know what to do, and guess what? I DO know what to do.  I know exactly what to do.  But apparently 5-6 other people in the Duty every time do not, and their struggle wears on other’s patience and it ends up with us standing in front of the dragon, unable to pull, because we are constantly in the queue trying to pull new members out of the magic hat.  I REALLY want to finish that place, because I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to see what happens to the Sultana!

So after a week of failed attempts, I just said screw it. I need some epic heroic time to cleanse the pallet of dying to this dragon over and over and came back to a galaxy far, far away.  Mostly because I do have a job to finish there, and the 12x XP boost makes that job so much easier.  I am kind of curious what the deal with Ziost is, as I have somehow managed to remain completely spoiler free on the plot there.  To which I must say, kudos SWTOR community for actually keeping a lid on things.  Others could learn from your example.

Although the first thing I did when I got back was grab up a few cartel packs, including the Grand Nightlife Pack which gave me a Dathomir Rancor.  Not having any desire to ride piggy back on a monster, I flipped on the GTN (Auction House for those who aren’t familiar with SWTOR) for a cool cold 15 million credits, and officially netting me the most cash I’ve EVER had in the game. Combine that with Amazon’s sale for 14,500 cartel coins for $80 and I could get started the grand process of unlocking and decorating my strongholds.  Because if I’m going to be building a bigger legacy, I need a place for them to crash.  I hope to share some photos of them here soon, I think folks’ll be impressed.

So what should you expect here on the Summer of the 12x XP?  Well, hopefully to finish up all my class story summaries and reviews.  That’d be my big goal.  I’m looking forward to seeing some alternate character choices too. Especially the Imperial Agent.  Finally, with my resurgence of interest in writing fan fiction in my spare time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some short or flash fiction bits about some of my characters appear now and then.  I do have an idea for the three brothers (Vrykerion the Bounty Hunter, Vrykarion the Jedi Knight, and Vrykerius the Sith Warrior) have a family get together over some cards to catch up.  That might be fun.  Regardless, there will be more reviews coming soon.

SWTOR: Visiting Rishi

So despite being in the “early access” crowd for Shadow of Revan, I actually didn’t really bother with it until just last night.  Partly because I was working towards getting my first class in Final Fantasy XIV to 50 and really enjoying it, and partly because well as expansions and large patches in MMOs are wont to do: Break.  So I figured a week isn’t a big deal and I’ll wait till they patch some things up and then try it out.  Glad I did too. Really dodged a bullet with that whole training cost bit, huh?  Am I right folks?  Why are you all looking at me like you want to hurt me?

I’ve already weighed in on my take on disciplines so I won’t retread the same ground here, but there were some other new surprises waiting for me when I logged in.  For instance, I can now use my formerly ‘human only’ white eyes on my cyborgs.  Apparently they really loosened up on things like that.  Hairstyles too I noticed.  I’ll admit, I actually sprung for the pompadour for one of my smugglers.  He is a space pirate after all, and what’s a space pirate without a fancy hairdo?  Am I right, anime?  I also found out that basic commendations rain from the frickin’ sky now.  I suppose that makes sense since they changed basic commendations function to cover both classic & planetary commendations now too.  Not only do you get three of the things per mission or daily on Rishi, but you also get three crates of them with 99 each for completing the Prelude mission that has you go solo through the Forged Alliances flashpoints.  That’s 297.  With that and the other conversions from the patch, my Jedi Guardian had hit the 1000 cap within 30 minutes of visiting Rishi – AND I ONLY OPENED TWO CRATES.  Talk about wanting to make sure you are geared and ready.

So with all that out of the way, what exactly were my first impressions of Rishi?  Well, it can mostly be summed up in a single sentence: “Where the heck am I?”  True to the spirit of a place called ‘Smuggler’s Cove’ the layout of the first location you visit in Rishi is a confusing mish mash of boarded up walkways, run down buildings, and a seedy underbelly (and I mean that literally.  The only grass is lower ground level area that’s underneath the walkways.) The introductory missions are not much better in terms of clarity.  Talk to certain people who are somewhere in the city.  Talk to one of these town crier droids, but you have to find a way to stop them from walking around.  No details on how. Just find a way.  (The answer for those who are confused is to find the interactable broken lamp posts and shock the hell out of the droid when it patrols near and then talk to it.)  I stopped for the evening when I finally found those who were responsible for convincing everyone in this pirate town that I was a cannibal murderer who paints the hulls of my ship with the blood of my victims (Okay, yes. My Defender IS red, but that’s not why. I’m a Jedi for Obi-Wan’s sake.  Also, haven’t I heard this somewhere before?)

I will hand it to this expansion.  Rishi definitely feels like a different world than what we’re used to.  Especially since it’s unclear if it’s even in the same galaxy.  During the Sith Warrior opening, Quinn mentions (WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE, QUINN?) that Rishi is named after or in or something to do with the Rishi Maze – a neighboring galaxy.  Wait.  Now I’m confused.  Is this a galaxy less far, far away or more far, far away?  The last time I heard about anything from outside the galaxy, we met the Yuuzhan Vong. Sooooo… should I be worried?  Actually, Wookieepedia defines the Rishi Maze as “dwarf satellite galaxy” to the galaxy.   Well…  that just clears everything up doesn’t it?  Yeesh, maze is right. Everything about this place is confusing.

Still, the start of Rishi is definitely enough of a curiosity to keep me wandering around ‘oo-ing’ & ‘aah-ing’ at everything and ignoring quests for a good half hour.  Probably more if I didn’t feel like I should PROBABLY get some sleep at some point.  I’m looking forward to seeing where this expansion goes!  Also, there is a pirate outfit.  Like a honest to goodness space pirate outfit. I’m not saying I’m going to look for Treasure Planet.  But I’m not not saying that.

SWTOR Disciplines: Dumbing Down or Dumbing Equal?

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So those of us who pre-ordered the new digital expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic – Shadow of Revan – were finally given the keys into early access.  I personally haven’t dove into it yet.  Oh I will, and there’s a spot on the Story Summaries all set for it.  But I prefer to play games when I enjoy playing them.  After all, I don’t get paid to do write this stuff.  (As cool as that would be.  This actually costs me money to do.  I chock it up to hobby fees. Like glue for model kits or something.) I did however log in to check out the new gear sets, the currency conversions, and of course the new skill system dubbed “disciplines.”

Disciplines are kind of…  well, they’re sort of…  okay, it’s a pretty straightforward take away from World of Warcraft’s skill/talent revamp from Cataclysm.  The majority of your chosen specialization’s passive and active abilities are granted to you along a per-determined track as you level and occasionally grants you points to add bonus talents that are shared for your entire advanced class that give extra benefits that are more universally useful. Unlike WoW’s revamped system, the order that you gain these passives and active abilities is not stashed away on a website, but plainly laid out in the discipline interface.

Of course the main complaint with this whole thing is that it is simply dumbing down the system and removing player choice.  To which I can only respond with: Were we playing the same game?  Beyond the usual argument that everyone essentially took the same talents based on min/maxing forum recommendations, there just wasn’t enough talents to give you any choice to begin with!  I’m serious.  In the old talent trees, you had to put 5 points in a tier to get to the next one, yes?  Well, 80% of the tiers only consisted of 5 points worth of talents.  So you HAD to take all of them to keep going up that tree.  The only times I usually found any choice was the occasional tier that had a choice of 2 points into a PvE talent or 2 points into more of a PvP talent, in which case you choose based on your preferred content.

So how is the system being dumbed down at all?  I suppose the loss of being able to hybrid-ize and go half and half down two trees is going away, but we knew that.  Hell, we knew that was part of the intent of this new system.  But beyond losing hybrid specs, all you’re losing is having to manually put those 5 points into the only 5 slots – in other words: busywork.  Which for someone like me who field respec-ed a bunch, busy work is something I can do without. In fact I’d prefer discipline paths and the talent points to be on separate resets so I wouldn’t have to re-do the talents every time I switched from DPS to Healer.

I’d argue that this system DOESN’T dumb down the game.  It is equally as dumb as it was before.  Or as smart as it was?  You know what I mean.  Nothing has really changed, beyond you not clicking as much in the menus.  Hybrids are a bane of any company who strives for a sense of “balance” (Futile as that seems to be in MMOs, or at least in the perception of the fan base of MMOs) so seeing them getting kicked to the curb is no shock.  I think people are just over-reacting to change mostly.  Choice was an illusion before, and now we just get it straight. Fine by me.

That’s my 2 credits on the whole mess at least.

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Jedi Consular – Prologue

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Jedi Consular storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  If you would like a spoiler free summary of the storylines you can find them here.

The Jedi Consular is probably one of the most controversial class stories in the game.  From everything I’ve seen since the game launched people have either loved the Jedi Consular and claimed it was the closest thing to KOTOR 3, or found it absolutely mind numbingly boring.  I haven’t seen a ton of opinions that fell into the middle.  Not that I doubt they exist, but they’re hardly the most vocal responses to the class story.  I’d like to think I’m breaking new ground by making a very public voice saying that at least the prologue of the Jedi Consular is quite possibly the most meh story thus far.

To give some context to how I’ve been playing my Jedi Consular, so you have some idea how these opinions were formed.  It mostly came from his voice.  The male voice of the consular just sounded so pompous and proud, so SUPERIOR. I couldn’t un-hear it.  So that’s the way I played him.  A fat, gluttonous, prideful, condescending prick.  He hoards knowledge in the desire to be the best and is not above murder to preserve his standing.  He believes he is morally superior and is not capable of doing wrong because of his ‘advanced Jedi mind’.  In that sense he is VERY dark side with a dash of light choices here and there.  Which might seem like a weird way to play this class, but as you’ll see it fits really well in places.

Tython

The story of the Jedi Consular actually begins with a mystery.  While clearing out the flesh raiders, you are given the task to retrieve the instructional holocrons created by the founders of the Jedi Order but the last one – belonging to a founder that eventually fell to the dark side – is missing.  The search eventually leads you to a village of twileks who speak of one of their local heroes, and this is where the way I played my Consular and the plot met in beautiful harmony.  You see the Twileks and the Jedi don’t exactly have a great working relationship.  The jedi for the most part refuse to get involved in their suffering of the twileks because they have an “Illegal settlement” or in other words they set up a village on Tython without the approval of the Jedi or the Republic.  So the twileks have no rights to be there, but the kind hearted Jedi won’t shoo them out either.  My pompous jerk Jedi hears this and immediately is dead set that these twileks are trespassers on HIS world.  So he treats them like dirt.  How this works out is that it turns out their local hero has set about teaching himself the dark side specifically because the Jedi refuse to help and are considered to be jerks by the twileks.  So I am pretty much enforcing the stereotype that led to this problem in the first place, and I LOVE it.

The rest of Tython is pretty much following clues you find to try to beat the twilek who is slowly going mad with the power of the dark side to a secret chamber that the dark side turned Jedi founder created.  It feels a bit like a Jedi equivalent of Indiana Jones and such, deciphering the riddles of the past to find hidden treasure.  During your mission you find yourself teaming up with a friend of your master: Qyzen Fess.  Qyzen is a trandoshan who wishes to collect points to please his goddess the Scorekeeper.  Eventually he gets captured and apparently this causes him to lose all his points.  I’d debate about all or nothing mentality does not bode well for the religion in my opinion, how one set back can cost you a lifetime of effort.  I imagine it’s bit like coming in fourth at the Olympics must feel like.  “Oh crap, was .05 seconds slow on the turn, now my life has been for nothing.” Qyzen’s fun though, because he has delightful snarky commentary for everything.  I’m not sure if HE thinks it’s snarky, but I totally do.  Anyway, he joins you as your first companion.

The story on Tython wraps up with you getting a lightsaber, beating the twilek and getting a pat on the back from the Jedi Council.  Even dropping the ‘Jedi’ title on you right there, and honestly I liked that a great deal more than the ‘Knight of the Republic’ one the Jedi Knights get.  For one, it isn’t missing punctuation and two it feels more like a title fit for following ‘padawan’.   But things aren’t all happy because your master collapses! She’s got a super bad unknown illness!  WHAT CAN WE DO!? We’ll clearly the most important thing is to move the body to…

Coruscant

Okay.  Now that we have Master Yuon to the republic capital, we need to find a cure.  Consult other Jedi!  They know nothing.  Consult the healers!  They know nothing.  Doctors? Zilch.  Okay, so how do we find the cure for this horrible illness?  Well first we need to figure out what it is.  And for that, we need to ask a bunch of datacrons that have gone missing and/or stolen and/or sold after the Jedi Temple got wrecked.  This raises the question of what a holocron is versus a datacron.  A holocron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it, a datacron has a hologram artificial intelligence in it that apparently knows something useful.  Cause the only holocrons I’ve met so far are the ones that had the Jedi founders on them, and they were boring.  And unhelpful.  And kinda jerks.  Oh and one had an evil Jedi that taught a twilek dark powers to destroy the Jedi and almost got me killed.  Datacrons thus far do not do that.

So you end up chasing down the first datacron, and they have no clue so they tell you to find the second.  So you find the second and they tell you build a house made out of brick.  So you huff and you puff and….   Wait. Getting my stories mixed up.  But you can’t blame me.  It’s the same old thing three times from different jerks who had the cubes.  The only real neat thing to this whole chain of events is that if you are familiar with Knights of the Old Republic you will see some familiar faces.  Faces I wanted to punch in that game too, except now they’re holograms.  I can sill be a jerk to them though and they can’t do a thing about it. So there’s a perk.

Finally, the whole thing wraps up at the ruins of the Jedi Temple where you use the datacrons to learn the ancient Cure Force Disease 3 (It’s like Cure Force Disease 2 but also replenishes all HP.  And for all you ‘new skool’ kids out there, you can call is Force Disease Curaga or something.)  But then an evil Sith smashes the doohickey and makes it so no one else can ever learn the cure.  He then laughs about evilly, name drops the big bad, and then you smack them with a big rock you pulled from the ground.

With the thingamajig now crushed, you and you alone have the power to heal those afflicted with this terrible Dark Plague.  But each time you do it takes a bit of yourself to do it, so if you try to cure too much you’ll likely die.  Not that I didn’t just die to the Random Sith McEvilPants twice already, but maybe the Jedi Consular is just a preferred member and has used up all his in-the-field rezes?

Final Thoughts

The prologue of the consular is full of archaeological mysteries, secret knowledge, and the making of a villainous plot to unleash a terrible plague upon the Jedi…  and it really couldn’t go about it in a more uninteresting way.  Tython is just a big long ‘find the thing’ mission, and then when the ball finally gets rolling on Coruscant it ultimately just boils down into a ‘find the thing three times’ mission.  Really?  That’s all it is?  No matter how you dress up how you find the thing, it doesn’t change the fact that all I’m looking for is a few cubes with talking dead people in them.  All that keeps the Jedi Consular from teetering into total tediousness is the fact that the reasons you’re looking for the cubes is actually really compelling.  The Dark Plague is a constant ticking clock that first just seems to incapacitate but then you find out can actually turn friend into foe.  It strikes your master first, giving a personal stake in this.  And say what you want about Master Yuon, I can at least remember her name unlike Master What’s His Face in the Jedi Knight storyline.  Though may be the reason I remember it is because they actually CALL her Master Yuon instead of just ‘Master’ in most of the cut scenes.

So far the Jedi Consular prologue is probably the second weakest, only trailed by the completely unnecessary Jedi Knight prologue.  The story is actually the strongest part and the only thing that keeps the tedious tasks given a float and pulls it up to an astounding meh.  It doesn’t help that for some reason Tython feels like it takes forever to get done with, followed by mindless cube finding missions like you have a mighty need to make a Tetris. Hopefully now that the Dark Plague story arch has taken off I have some fun ahead of me in Chapter 1, and if not well, you’ll hear about it here as always.

Going Galactic

Thus far in my MMO career I’ve primarily bounced back and forth between two games: World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Oh sure, I’ve dabbled here or there in other games.  Occassionally I still jump in and have a swim in the waters of Dungeons & Dragons Online (Less so now that they’ve decided to abandon Eberron for Forgotten Realms, but I could write a whole other post – and might – about that beef), and my copy of Guild Wars 2 still sits firmly installed for when I just want to wander and have fun.

So now the pendulum has swung back and I’ve decided to wander back into TOR for a bit.  Why?  Well, I won’t speak ill of patch 5.4 for World of Warcraft because by no means do I feel it was bad, but for the moment there’s not a lot of time investing fun to be had beyond leveling alts.  The Raid Finder (aka the only raiding Vry does anymore because every raiding guild I’ve ever run with boils down to petty drama bulls*&%) is more frustrating than anything when the wings are just opening.  People rushing in like cattle to the slaughter.  Best to wait until everything opens up and people start getting used to the mechanics and fights before wading into the thick of it.

WoW vs SWTOR: The Metaphor… I guess?

The Timeless Isle however IS content I can sink my teeth into.  It’s fun and open.  I like just wandering in circles and seeing what I can find.  I LOVE the trivia daily as you can imagine.  But the problem with the Timeless Isle right now is that it’s pretty much the ONLY thing to do outside of Proving Grounds (Solo) and raiding (slaughter house), so the Island is PACKED.  And the problem with the island being packed full of players running around and killing everyone and everything in sight is that the place becomes so ridiculously overfarmed the only chance to do anything is just to chest hunt.  Hey! A rare is up! Oh, it’s dead before I can reach it because 100 people were camping it. Oh another one! Hurrry scurry murray hurr-  Oh, dead again.

Then if you’re lucky to find the Island at a time when it’s NOT busy as hell, good luck having the killing power to take down the big game.  I mean, I enjoy the fact that I can at least kill my 20 elites in peace, and maybe actually tag an albatross, but at the same time it seems like some of the bigger mobs require a group effort to bring down.  So when the island is bare, you’ve got yet another problem.

Really, the only solution I’ve come to with the island is that it’s great fun, and will continue to be great fun when I’m killing things on it next expansion when I’m 95 in bad ass gear cutting my way through it solo because no one needs to gear up alts anymore.  AKA the “How Vry plans to do the Isle of Thunder achievements” plan.

However I don’t plan to just abandon World of Warcraft for months on end.  Oh heck no.  I’ve been having a ball just going back and leveling my alts.  My monk just made it to Northrend, and for the first time in a good long time I get to explore the Alliance side stories in Northrend. Which despite all the talk of Horde bias in recent years, the Alliance stuff in Northrend is REALLY good story-wise.  The Cult of the Damned infiltrating their ranks in the Borean Tundra, recovering the Ashbringer for Tirion in the Howling Fjord, reuniting with the Westfall crew in the Grizzly Hills…  there’s a lot of good stuff there.

Meanwhile it SW:TOR there’s a lot to catch up on.  I came back to just miss the bounty hunter week so I’m curious to try that out. I just finished up my Makeb reputation and am currently setting all my 55’s to complete the Section X one before moving on the new Czerka area.  And I’ve started a bunch of alts fresh to try out some new experiences in the game (Light side inquisitor, good guy agent, bad guy jedi, greedy bounty hunter) as well as have a refresher for the class storyline reviews.  Which for those who haven’t seen yet, you can find spoiler-free paragraph long class storyline summaries here now. I’ll be doing more reviews soon hopefully.

I know TOR has gotten a ton of crap over it’s short life, but I still find it quite enjoyable to play.  Okay, not every aspect of the game is amazing.  The cartel market constantly swings between “That’s AWESOME” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” for one.  But they’ve also done some pretty cool things.  Like the new flashpoints, while devoid of fun conversations, are designed to be done with any combination of classes and roles.  3 tanks and one healer? Cool.  4 DPS? Fine.  (On the Hard mode, it’s still the typical 2 DPS/1 Tank/1 Healer arrangement, but that’s fine)  This is pretty much like WoW scenarios.  Which I love.  Like a lot.

But when it comes down to it, the stories in TOR is what keeps me coming back to it over something like Guild Wars 2 or DDO.  I had 10 – TEN – different playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 & 2, 6 characters in Dragon Age 2, and yes, I loved ME3 ending and all.  Is it any shock that playing through the class stories and seeing how different choices play out is really fun for me? Even if there’s a ton that’s the same every time?  Plus they’ve done a great job of fixing up a lot of the annoyances in the game that were there at the launch.  The group finder works great, the later worlds seem to be retuned a bit, and the legacy unlocks and new travel consoles make getting around much less of a head ache.  The only thing that still drives me nuts is that with F2P or preferred, you only get 5 on-site rezes per character.  Then you have to go back to the med center always unless you buy more.  Really?  Can’t you just put a ridiculous cooldown on that one instead?  Like you can only on-site rez once per 4 hours for F2P, or 2 hours for preferred if you don’t have a medi-droid contract (first 5 is free, then you have to purchase further medi-droid contracts in the market. Or else you go on a wait list – aka long cooldown).

So if you happen to be on Begeren Colony, keep an eye out for the Vrykerion legacy running around.

TREEK!

So there’s been a bit of a hub bub about Star Wars: The Old Republic’s newest companion, Treek.  While a lot of the talk is mostly about how Treek is acquired (requiring 1 million credits AND a Level 40 legacy or just shelling out 2100 Cartel Coins with no legacy requirement at all) I personally find the companion to be worth the trouble and/or money.  Why you ask?  Is it because for a measly 700 CC I can unlock Treek on all my characters? No.  Is it because Treek is the first companion that can switch between tank and healing modes? Nuh-uh.

Treek is the best companion ever because Treek is an Ewok.

treel-healing-companion

It’s like the universal answer to any question involving Treek. “Why will I be getting Treek?”  EWOK.

treek_swtor_banner_0

“Why should YOU get Treek?” EWOK.

swtor-ewok-treek

“How much does Treek cost?” EWOK! DOES IT MATTER?! EEEEWOK! DID I STUTTER?

SWTOR_Treek-buffed

“Pfft. Ewoks are stupid.”

Treek? Eat them.

sddefault

(Never forget that the ewoks were getting ready to cook Luke, Han and Chewie before C3PO got all god on them.  Do not #$%& with the ewoks. Yub yub, mutha #$%&a)

Blizzard’s Storytelling: Bad or Just Unfair?

story

A lot of times I joking will post stuff from the WoW Forums, or poke fun at the BioWare forums.  I know that really it’s just a festering pool of every inane complaint where the smallest slight is trumped up like a national tragedy, and every idea demands the weight of the cure of cancer, but sometimes… just sometimes…  stuff like THIS pops up.  And it really, REALLY, gets under my skin.

GOOD storytelling isn’t always FAIR storytelling.  Everyone wants their faction to be the heroes and to win the war and come out on top.  There is a reason that Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II had TWO separate endings.  In Warcraft 3, the factions united to drive out the greater threat of the Burning Legion.  In WoW, a game built on continuity to the point where the slightest changed is burned in effigy among the chants of “Retcon! Retcon!” that the former option is impossible, and the latter has been done to death in every expansion.

Now you are probably grumbling at this point and saying “Oh Vry, so you think the Alliance should just lie down and take it?” Not at all, I will happily go on the record saying that the Alliance seriously should have had more victories, especially in the Eastern Kingdoms.  Honestly a quest line in the barely touched Dustwallow Marsh where the Alliance forged a path into the Southern Barrens by breaking through Horde strongholds would have been nice, since the Horde was busy dealing with the Grimtotem threat in the region to begin with.

FAIR storytelling is what people seem to want.  That special kind of story, where everyone wins, Everything blow is matched for an equal blow, and every loss is always met with an equal gain so that nothing is ever really lost.  I’ve played that game.  It was called SWTOR.  Seriously, go play through both factions stories and you’ll see.  Both Factions “win” Correllia.  Taris and Balmorra are lost and then retaken. And the only reason the Imperial’s are losing (or so we’re told, we never really see much losing going on from the Imp side) is because the Sith keep shooting themselves in the foot with stupid internal power struggles.

Speaking of stupid internal power struggles…  Loremaster Cho points something out that I think is very telling of where this story is going.  The Horde is tearing itself apart from the inside,  every race only concerned with themselves: The Blood Elves feel used and have decided to act on their own,  Sylvanus and her Forsaken have always acted in their own interests, the Goblins are naturally out to make a buck because that’s how goblins are, and even Baine enters the Battlefield Barrens story hesitate to join Vol’jin in open revolt because he must think of the Tauren before the rest of the Horde.  Only Vol’jin and his Darkspears seem to be working for the betterment of the Horde supposedly.  I say that because it’s unclear how much of this revolt is taking back the Horde from Garrosh, and how much is just straight up revenge for his treatment of the Trolls.

The Alliance on the other hand, is uniting together.  Bridges are being built, issues being resolved, and treaties made.  There is something happening with the Alliance.  It’s not just “Yea, we’re IN the Alliance, but we aren’t THE Alliance” anymore.  And while we haven’t seen the payday on this yet, I have no doubt that Blizz is laying the groundworks for SOMETHING with the Alliance.  Heck, the Garrosh storyline took 4 whole expansions to play out in totality.

What Blizzard is doing is GOOD storytelling.  They’re laying the foundations and foreshadowing events, they are establishing characters and their relationships, and the events that unfold make sense in the greater narrative.  I’m not going to say that Blizzard’s storytelling is PERFECT, and hardly what I would call FAIR, but it is most definitely GOOD.  There’s lots of hiccups here or there, or plot lines that vanish for months/years before resolving that drive me nuts.  But I always remember that storytelling in an MMO is very different from how you tell a story in a single player game, and definitely different from how you tell a story in a book.  Compared to some MMOs I’ve played, they’ve definitely got a good story going.  Compared to others, it’s still a bit lack luster but fits for the style of game they’re making.

Personally, I’d rather have a good story than a fair one.  But maybe that’s why I don’t pour out my frustration and bile onto the forums. (Besides, I have a blog for that)

Modular Customization & You!

‘Ey dere folks. Welcome to today’s episode of Modular Customization & You! Today we’ll be looking at taking the whosie whatsits from the thingie mabobber that you like the thingies on and jamming them into that there other something-or-other to enjoy maximum visual customability at home or at work – whether you be just your average run of the mill winner of the Great Hunt or your working class Sith lord on the go.

Did you understand any of that? Good. Me neither.  What I’m actually wanted to talk about today was a fun little thing that I stumbled upon in Star Wars the Old Republic, that logically I had no reason to think it wouldn’t have worked but it wasn’t clearly spelled out anywhere that I could find that it was doable.  Okay, I’m making this sound way more complicated that it actually is.  Let’s put it this way.  You know that piece of orange modification gear that you absolutely LOVE the look of but it is clearly designed for another class?  Like for instance that awesome breather mask that Darth Malgus wears and that Sith warriors can snag as a quest reward?  How awesome would that be to wear that around on say… a cyborg powertech to complete the image of the ultimate machine/man interface?  Well, I agree:

Meet my Level 25 bounty hunter powertech.  Oh I know what you’re thinking.  “What the heck, Vry? Bounty hunter’s don’t use strength!”  and I don’t.  That is the moddable version of the breather mask that you can buy with Nar Shadaa commendations on the Imperial side.  What I did was gathered up enough commendations to buy that breather mask and the moddable bounty hunter helmet (the one that looks like a miner hat with a Geordi La Forge visor) and I swapped out all of the mods on them.  Twenty-four commendations and a few thousand credits later, and wham! I have a breather mask on my bounty hunter, and no messed up stats.

Oh, I know some of you are out there saying that of course you could do this. It was so obvious.  Well, I didn’t know.  I thought that mask was a sith thing, the miner hat was a bounty hunter thing, and that was that. So I looked and looked and couldn’t find a thread about it or a post anywhere saying it was doable.  So I am here, on the internet to declare, Yes! You can be this custom fit your look to any orange modification armor that you could normally equip! That means no heavy armor for the Assassins, no equipping Jedi knight only robes on your imperial agent. I would also recommend not decking your bounty hunter out in light armor.  But otherwise you can just rip the mods out of one and stick’em in the other.  There’s no “this can only use strength mods” restrictions at all, and I am absolutely loving it. Why? Because that means my bounty hunter can stroll around the Imperial fleet wearing some bad ass Sith juggernaut copycat oranges.

Bonus Objective: Go back to the first paragraph and re-read it to realize that yes, it DOES make sense in its own twisted way. Mwa ha ha!

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