So with Legion, Blizzard decided to remove the Legendary Ring storyline from the game. Since this storyline does a lot to set up the explanation behind the Legion expansion, as well as go into many of the motivations for staying around on Draenor after the destruction of the Dark Portal, I felt that it was deserving of a story summary so that people can have some level of reference if you want to know what went down in Warlords of Draenor.
Chapter I: Call of the Archmage
Upon reaching max level, you will find a familiar glowing friend wandering around your garrison. This arcane construct brings word to you from Archmage Khadgar who requests your aid with a mission he has and asks that you come meet with him at his tower in Zangarra. There he, along with trusty Watcher bodyguard Cordana Felsong, explain that to accomplish this mission he will need your help and to do so you will need a special tool that will help you along the way. A powerful piece of equipment that will not only give you the strength for the challenges that lie ahead but tether you to Khadgar so that he can keep an eye on you and your actions in the dire days to come. He suggests the item be a ring and asks you to seek out the Arrakoa of Skyreach to retrieve a ring made of pure Solium, a rare metal heated and infused with the raw power of Draenor’s sun, to act as a base material for your new ring.
After fetching the material, Khadgar begins work on infusing your ring with new power and bringing out its own latent strength. While working he explains that while the Horde and Alliance continue their battle against the forces of the Iron Horde, Khadgar has a different and far more threatening target in mind: Gul’dan. The Orc Warlock who forged a pact with the demons of the Burning Legion and has a noted history of manipulating events from the shadows to get what he wants. Khadgar wants to flush the warlock out of the shadows and the best way to do that would be to start by gathering powerful reagents for a tracking spell. Khadgar requests that you retrieve a Core of Flame from the Slag Mines belonging to the Bloodmaul Ogres in Frostfire Ridge, the Core of Iron that is used to power the Iron Horde’s Iron Star trains that depart from the Grimrail Depot in Gorgrond, and finally to adventure deep into the Everbloom to extract the Core of Life from the closest thing on Draenor to the progenitor of life – a Genesaur. Khadgar has also heard word from Talador that Gul’dan’s Shadow Council has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the Auchindoun and suspects that Teron’gor, Gul’dan’s right hand, is behind it. He wants you to retrieve a sample of Teron’gor’s foul fel-touched blood to be used a focus for the tracking ritual.
In exchange for your assistance, Khadgar offers to empower your ring even further but to do so he will require additional materials. This time he wants to imbue the solium with the magic from the crystals of the Apexis, an ancient Arrakoa civilization that first learned how to harness the power of the sun. To enhance your ring, he needs precisely 4,986 crystals. Any less than that number would be inadequate and the wizard insists that any more would be simply ridiculous. You can trust him. He’s a mage. He did the math.
Once you’ve retrieved all the reagents, Khadgar will attempt to perform a scrying ritual to find Gul’dan only to find that the warlock is actively countering the spell leading Khadgar to deduce that Teron’gor’s death must have spooked the old orc into running. Unfortunately, this means that Khadgar will need even more power to contend with Gul’dan’s magic and complete the ritual to locate him. However, he has an idea. The Archmage knows of a certain dragon – Kairozdormu – that came to Draenor’s past attempting to help Garrosh Hellscream flee his war crimes trial. Since this modified timeline permeates with Kairoz’s influence, Khadgar should be able to use the dragon – alive or dead – to connect to this age of Draenor and spread his magical power across it. So you head to the eastern hills of Nagrand where you find time-lost illusion detailing what followed shortly after Garrosh & Kairoz’s arrival in the past version of Draenor. It would appear that the dragon’s plans quickly soured after arriving back in time as Garrosh immediately betrayed and murdered Kairoz. However after meeting his bloody end, Kairoz’s angry spirit still dwells in its final resting place of the Time Lost Glade where his spirit and timeline has seeped into the very land of Draenor. To master this power, Khadgar beseeches you to finish Garrosh’s work and end the dragon’s existence. As the battle goes on, it is finally revealed why Kairozdormu freed Garrosh and fled to Draenor. Kairoz saw something in his experiments on the Timeless Isle. Something that drove him to seek out a way to make not just an army, but an infinite number of armies to fight against it. To become infinite himself. His first goal was to use Garrosh to convince Grom Hellscream to unite the Orc clans into becoming the first of Kairoz’s infinite army, but Garrosh’s backstabbing quickly ended that.
You return to the tower in Zangarra victorious. Khadgar has tapped into Kairoz’s remaining essence and expanded his power and uses the Apexis Crystals you gathered to upgrade your Solium ring into a more powerful incarnation: a Time Lost Solium ring!
Chapter II: Gul’dan Strikes Back
Armed with the ability to tap into the very essence of Draenor, Archmage Khadgar now needs a means to penetrate the powerful fel magic that Gul’dan uses to shroud himself. To do so means having to delve into what the Kirin Tor would consider ‘fringe arcane science’ at best. The knowledge possessed by the ogres of the Gorian Empire would fall under such a category. Khadgar says that the Sorcerer King of the Gorian Empire, High Imperator Mar’gok, has mastered the art of something called “Felbreaking.” A technique designed to surpress and nullify magic including the vile powers of fel magic. This knowledge would prove invaluable. The Archmage asks that you venture deep into the ogre capital of Highmaul and retrieve a Fel Breaker’s Tome as well as the magical sigil of the Sorcerer King himself to help in learning the practices contained in the tome. Khadgar also recommends picking up Abrogator Stones as you penetrate the ogre city. These ancient and powerful magical stones that have been passed down through the generations of ogre mages would be a useful fuel to empowering your ring even further – a fair exchange for overthrowing an empire.
Once you have brought an end to the Gorian Empire and retrieved the requested items for Khadgar, the wizard will attempt once more to scry Gul’dan’s location. Utilizing the fel breaking techniques to tear through the warlock’s veil, Khadgar finally makes contact with the orc. The victory is short lived however as it seems that Gul’dan has been inquiring about the human mage he witnessed in the escape from Tanaan Jungle. Gul’dan mentions Khadgar by name and mentions that it would appear that they have quite the history with each other. This means that the warlock is now aware of the transgressions of the original timeline of your native Azeroth, where Khadgar killing his master, Medivh the Last Guardian of Tirisfal, shattered the mental link that the Guardian shared with Gul’dan and plunged the warlock into a coma that cost him and his Shadow Council control of the Horde. Khadgar happily announces that they’ve located Gul’dan to which the old orc replies in jest that likewise he has found the Archmage.
Just then a figure draws out from the shadows and before Cordana has a chance to act an orc assassin stabs Khadgar with a poisoned blade. The assassin flees into the marshy lower levels of Zangarra and Cordana orders you to track her down. You climb down the rocks into the swamp like valley and begin to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse before finally chasing the assassin to a cave and battling it out until either you perish from the poison in your blood or the assassin is captured. You return to the tower with the assassin – Garona Halforcen – in tow where you find Khadgar being kept stable by Jaina Proudmoore, the current leader of Dalaran’s Council of Six. You use the poison to quickly form an anti-venom to help aid in Khadgar’s healing and as the Archmage wakes, Jaina helps him up. However, if you are a member of the Horde, Jaina will chastise Khadgar for allying himself with you and the Council does not approve of this choice either. Khadgar will simply shrug it off and say that he needs all the help he can get on Draenor and it won’t be the first time he disappointed the Council. However before Jaina departs, Khadgar makes one request that she helps transfer the power of the Abrogator Stones you gathered into your ring since he has been weakened by the ordeal. The process turns your ring into a Spellbound Solium Ring. Jaina wishes Alliance members well with their newfound power and threatens that she will be keeping her eye on you if you are a member of the Horde.
Chapter III: The Foundry Falls
Now that he has healed, Khadgar is willing to admit that it was perhaps foolish to go after Gul’dan with magic alone. Fortunately, an opportunity has arisen with Garona, the assassin you captured. If he can find some means to break the magical hold that the warlock has on Garona’s mind, she might be able to assist bring down her master. Khadgar has a plan but to enact it he must ask you to venture into the very heart of the Iron Horde’s war machine: The Blackrock Foundry. There he will need you to pry out the heart of a primal elemental fury that fuels the massive furnaces below the foundry, steal a Flamebender’s Tome that describes the secret techniques that the Blackrock Clan uses to channel and control the powerful elemental forces of Draenor, and lastly to reclaim a magical Thaumaturgical Orb that was stolen from the Draenei during the Iron Horde’s siege of Karabor.
Once you’ve collected the three components, Khadgar will begin to pour over the Flamebender’s Tome that speaks of a ritual to the elements that required a sacrifice from the chieftan of a clan. This causes the wizard to ponder on what Blackhand must of sacrificed to gain such knowledge and deduces that it must be his eponymous hand. Khadgar asks you to break into the core of the foundry and kill the Warlord of the Blackrock Clan, then bring back his arm to utilize as a focus for the ritual to free Garona.
Meanwhile, Khadgar also has a plan to further enhance your ring by utilizing the knowledge sealed in three distinct Elemental Tablets that pre-date written history itself that hold the methods of tapping into the primal power of the planet itself. However, the tablets will likely have shattered throughout time and thus will require you to find all the pieces scattered throughout the foundry to reassemble them. Once you do, he performs a ritual to infuse the ring with Draenor’s elemental power. However in doing so – he accidentally kills you. While you are dead, you witness a vision of Gul’dan speaking to Grommash Hellscream. The warlock taunts the warlord by telling him that the Iron Horde is collapsing under the assaults of the outsiders (that would be you) and even the foundry has now fallen. He tells Grom to drink from the demon’s blood and that it will be the only way to guarantee success for Hellscream’s Iron Horde. Grommash angrily declines and yells at Gul’dan to leave his sight just before Khadgar resurrects you with a pair of goblin jumper cables much to Cordana’s surprise that they actually worked.
Chapter IV: Darkness Incarnate
With everything gathered from the Blackrock Foundry, Khadgar attempts to break Gul’dan’s hold on Garona by torturing her until she gives up the information on where Gul’dan is hiding. In the wakes of the orcs screams, Cordana stops Khadgar horrified by what depths the wizard is willing to sink to and that he is losing himself in pursuit of the mission. The Archmage relents, agreeing with Cordana that what is the point if they are willing to become just as vile as the warlock himself to accomplish their goals. He however does have another suggestion: an Orb of Domination. A relic used by the Shadow Council to ensnare minds into serving and joining their cause. The old mage suggests that he may be able to reverse engineer the Orb and use it free Garona. He directs you to a cavern below a Draenei village where the Shadow Counil has been using a orb to brainwash people and to bring the orb back to him. Cordana is against this idea vehemently since using the orb would be tapping into the dark powers that they sought to stop in the first place, but the orb does its job and rips out Garona’s inner demons for you to battle and ultimately break the warlock’s hold on her. In thanks, the assassin pledges herself to you and Khadgar while Cordana takes the Orb of Domination away to see it destroyed.
Garona leads you to Bladefury’s Command in northern Talador where Gul’dan was headed to a meeting with the Warlords of the Iron Horde. You sneak in past the guards to discover what the warlock is up to. There you witness Gul’dan overthrow the Iron Horde by subduing Grommash and convincing the other warlords of his ineffective leadership by bringing up the countless loses including that of Hellscream’s own son – Garrosh. Turned by the warlock’s arguments, Kilrog Deadeye steps forth to embrace his foreseen fate and drink of the demon blood, his body twisting and breaking to reform into the first of a new Fel Horde. Shocked by this news, Khadgar is terrified that history may repeat itself and Azeroth is now more in danger of the Iron Horde than before. He asks you to use your resources as a General of your faction’s forces to build a shipyard to assault Tanaan Jungle from the sea while your allies assault the gates at the Iron Front. Garona also agrees herself to your growing army and becomes a legendary follower.
With a foothold established in Tanaan and you and your allies primed to storm the gates of Hellfire Citadel itself, Khadgar suggests a two pronged attack. First he wishes for you to rip the Tomes of Chaos, the foul books bound with tortured souls that are used to train new warlocks, out of the hands of Gul’dan’s followers. He also wants you to use your shipyard to chase down Gul’dan’s flagship – ‘The Master’s Call’ – that has been scouring the seas of Draenor and charting the arcane leylines of the world. That chart must not reach Gul’dan’s hands and could prove useful to the Archmage in bringing your ring to its apex of power.
Once you’ve collected all the tomes full of their disgusting pictures, Khadgar asks you to take them back to Cordana for proper disposal. However when you arrive back at the tower in Zangarra, you find Cordana intently staring into the Orb of Domination which she apparently did not destroy. She quickly dodges any question you ask about why she has the orb. She takes the books from you and begins to place them around the room to prepare to destroy them, but instead the erupt into a ritual circle of fel flame. As the green flame engulfs the room, Cordana demands that you hand over your ring and that she needs it. You decline with a choice of saying “No.” or “OH HELL NO.” and she declares that she will take it by force. You fight with Cordana who unleashes both her Watcher training combined with the cinders of fel magics. She screams that the Orb has shown her the truth: Khadgar is a just child who dabbles in forbidden powers too great for him to control. Gul’dan however has true mastery of these dark arts. As you weaken her she breaks off the battle and states that nothing will stop Gul’dan and the Burning Legion from burning this world, Azeroth and every other world to the ground. She opens a portal and walks into it saying that your leaders will ultimately betray you and that the Legion will be victorious. When you return to Khadgar, he bursts into a rage against Gul’dan and his trickery before quieting and staring off at the horizon to mourn the loss of his bodyguard and friend to the darkness.
Now that the books have been dealt with and you have retrieved the ley line chart, Khadgar can identify three primary points of leyline connections: His tower in Zangarra which he knew since that is why he built it there, the Throne of Elements in Nagrand, and the Temple of Karabor in Shadowmoon Valley. He says with this knowledge he should be able to bring your ring to its maximum potential and create something truly legendary. The wizard is a bit apprehensive however after killing you the last time he tried to do this (which he apologizes for again) he will need some assistance. Luckily, you have made powerful allies in your time on Draenor, and you head off to one of the leyline sites to perform the final ritual. Members of the Alliance will travel to meet with Yrel and the rest of the Council of the Exarchs and the Naaru K’ara where they work with Khadgar to infuse your ring with the blessing of The Light and awaken it to its true potential. For the Horde, you will find that the Frostwolf Clan (including the spirit of Ga’nar) has come out in mass to the Throne of the Elements to watch their shaman Drek’thar call upon the Primordial Elemental Furies to beseech them to give your ring their blessings. With its power fully awakened, your ring has become a power unequaled on Draenor. Khadgar only hopes it will be enough to stop Gul’dan.
With your ring firmly fastened on your finger, you assault the Black Gate and stop Gul’dan by defeating Archimonde the Defiler and sending the demon general back to the Twisting Nether, but not before Gul’dan manages to escape by being hurled through the very Black Gate that Archimonde had emerged from. No one is sure of where the warlock had escaped to, but Khadgar picks up the old orc’s fel charred walking cane and utters that he knows that this is not over. He invites you to enjoy your victory celebration with your allies, but he must depart back to Azeroth to prepare for whatever will come next.
He hopes that you will be present and ready for when the call goes out for heroes once more.
So now that we’ve gotten the characters out of the way, we should discuss the story a bit. Really, pretty much everything in Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a step up from the original. The crystarium offers more choices, there are side quests, the plot doesn’t really require a crap ton of external reading to make sense, and the whole thing is more of a fun adventurous romp through time and space than a dreary struggle to survive and usurp the god-like powers that rule over us. Sort of. In the end, it’s best explained that XIII-2 is a more complicated Chrono Trigger, but not as complicated as Chrono Cross. Which is a very good description, unless you haven’t played those games at all. Which in case you haven’t… shaaaame.
Allow me to go into things a bit more so you have a better idea of what I’m talking about. Fair warning, ye travellers of the interwebs, thar be spoilers ahead. Of course, most people hate the now titled Lightning Trilogy of the Fabula Nova Chrystallis, so I’m not sure anywhere cares if I spoil things. Still, you will complain about the lack of warning regardless of whether you cared. I know you too well internet.
The general plot follows four characters and their separate goals. There’s Serah who wants to travel to the end of everything to find her sister who fights a never ending war in the land of the dead. Her partner in all this is Noel, the last human who was conscripted by Lightning to help Serah who wants to change history so that his time doesn’t completely suck as much with everyone being dead and whatnot. Next is Hope, who is now aged up since the first game and is working on advancing humanity to prepare for the potentially doomed future and also enjoys freezing himself with hundreds of years at a time to do so. Finally, there’s our sort of villain Caius who wants to create a world where Yeul will stop dying over and over.
Serah and Noel travel around time and space using time gates (Chrono Trigger people, starting to see similarities yet?) and by travelling through different times, they work to solve Paradoxes – errors in the time stream – to find anachronistic fragments of time that will allow them to open other time gates and eventually work their way to Valhalla at the end of time. The hitch to this whole thing, is that every time the timeline changes, Yeul the Seeress gets a vision of the new future and it sucks a bit of her life away, hence her constant dying. This puts Noel and Serah in direct confrontation with Caius, who is either trying to preserve the timeline, or destroy time completely by flooding reality with a force known as Chaos that dwells in the Unseen World of Valhalla. How does he plan to do this? Why by finishing the fal’Cie’s goal from the first game and killing a ton of people to open Etro’s Gate wide enough that the Unseen World pours into the Seen Wold.
It’s at this point that I feel it’s important to revisit the cosmology of the Fabula Nova Chrystallis mythology. In reality, there is the Seen World – the physical real world where time flows, the fal’Cie of Lindzei and Pulse once ruled, and was shaped and formed by Bhunivelze, God of Light – and then there is the Unseen World – the land of the dead, also called Valhalla, floating in a sea of Chaos where no time exists and God (Bhunivelze) cannot see into, hence the name Unseen World. The whole set up for the Lightning Trilogy is that God wants to find the Unseen World, so he goes into hibernation while his servants: Lindzei and Pulse, and their servants – the lesser fal’cie and thus the l’Cie – search for a way to get into the Unseen World. That’s ultimately very important to what happens in Lightning Returns.
There’s also part of the mythos that when Etro killed herself and descended to the Unseen World, her blood was to shape the first humans. The very first one being a girl named Yeul, formed to look like Etro herself. However, something strange happened when Yuel passed on to Valhalla: she did not fade away like other souls. Trapped there alone and without anyone, Etro pitied her and sent her back to the land of the living, gifting her with the Eyes of Etro which allowed her to see the future and giving her a protector and eternal companion – the Guardians, a long line of warriors entrusted with the heart of Etro herself.
Caius plans to do this by destroying Cocoon and dropping into on to Gran Pulse just like the fal’Cie did. He works throughout the time stream to cause the crystal pillar formed at the end of the last game to erode. But Caius isn’t the kind of person to let things ride on a single plan that has already been thwarted once before. No, no, no. Caius has a secondary plan. He plans to die. That’s right, because you see, part of his charge as the protector and companion to Yuel, Etro had to make sure he wouldn’t die and fade away like everyone else besides Yuel. So the Goddess gave Caius her heart. The Heart of Chaos as it has been called. Which makes him effectively immortal. It heals him, it gives him eternal youth, and it makes him nigh indestructible. But if someone were to kill him, they would effectively kill the Goddess at the same time and destroy the only force holding back the chaos and keeping it sealed in the Unseen World. So if he wins or loses, he wins.
And that’s the big thing at the end of the game. After all the altered time lines, changed futures, and more Yuels than you can shake a stick at, you finally showdown with Caius and defeat him, and he demands that you kill him. You can choose to refuse, but if you do all it does is Caius forces himself onto Noel’s twin blades and impales the Heart of Chaos. And thus the timeline changes, Yuel dies and so does Serah as she also gained the “gift” of the Eyes of Etro along the journey (Potentially due to Etro’s involvement on the Day of Ragnarok at the end of the first game, which would explain how Serah knows about Lightning surviving and everyone else thinks she is trapped in the crystal pillar) and with the Goddess’ heart destroyed, the chaos pours out of the Unseen World and floods the Seen world, merging the two into a new reality with no time. Caius wins.
Yea. You heard me. In the end of the game, Caius wins. Bad guy victorious. World doomed. The real downside is you just spent half a game trying to work with Hope to find a way to save all of humanity and now it’s all null and void. On the upside: HOLY CRAP THE BAD GUY WON! How often does that happen? There’s even a secret ending showing Caius smugly looking victorious as the world reshapes itself.
In the end, the story is really good. It’s downright enjoyable. It’s not a slog to figure out exactly what everyone is doing and why, motivations are simple and to the point but still grand in scale. The ending however puts a damper on things. It undoes most of the work you’ve done through the game, which really makes things feel like a waste of time. Of course, none of those things would have happened. And I’ll admit that was irritating, but not wholly a deal breaker for me.
As I said, they did away with all the countless pages of external research to understand the basic plot. Oh sure, the deeper nuances like the nature of Etro, or the history of the Seen and Unseen worlds are not fully fleshed out except in the datalogs. There’s also some random little elements in the game that are never really explained at all in the game or the logs. Like when you run into Snow. How did he get lost in time? Why does he have a l’Cie brand again? This is apparently all spelled out in a novel that was released in Japan. There’s actually like three or four novel tie-ins to the game that explain a lot of the details for the smaller elements. More explanation for Caius and Yuel’s relationship, details about Snow, and a bunch of other things. Though in the greater plot, these don’t really bear any great weight. The paradoxes that occur are more than enough explanation for the weirdness that pops up in the plot, like Snow and Sazh’s inexplicable time leaps (Hope’s is actually given a fairly thorough explanation.)
So in terms of sheer narrative after playing the entire Lightning Trilogy, this game is really my favorite story. It’s a fun adventure.
Next time I’ll to talk about the mechanics a bit more.
(Just an afterthought, I know some people often wonder why it’s Lightning and Caius on the title logo instead of Serah and Noel. Really, the entire story is a giant chess match between Lightning and Caius. Serah, Noel, Mog and Hope are Lightning’s pawns in trying to thwart Caius’ attempts to end the world. So that would be why.)
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Old Republic class storyline for the Jedi Consular. If you would like a spoiler-free summary of the second chapter, please look here. You have been warned.
With the Jedi Order saved from the threat of the Dark Plague, it’s time for you to get a new job to save the day. Namely, it’s time to play Star Trek and escort a bunch of diplomats around the galaxy to convince them not to break away from the Republic. Not even joking. Meet the Rift Alliance, a coalition of worlds that are thinking of leaving the Republic because they feel neglected and their needs ignored by the senate. These worlds include but are not limited to places like Manaan and Balmorra. Although I don’t think Balmorra is a Republic world actually. However it is funny to see the Manaan representative make mention of the ecological nightmare left on his planet after the events of Knights of the Old Republic. That made me giggle. But I’m getting a head of myself here. Before you get to hang out with the representatives, you have to save them.
See they were all on this big party ship that they were going to use as a base camp while working with you, but it got hijacked by the Empire! So you have to fight your way to save them. After that, it’s decided that they’d be much safer on your ship than the party boat. Which, okay, kind of makes sense. But my ship doesn’t even have enough beds for my crew, let alone the rest of these people. So… I hope the chairs are comfy?
The first stop on our “fix the galaxy” tour is Balmorra. Essentially the mission is to put the representative from Balmorra in charge of the planet, and in exchange he will make sure that Balmorra joins the Republic. So it’s NOT part of the Republic at the moment. In order to change things over, we need to find the old president and have him pass over the authority to the representative. Because that’s apparently how presidents work now. No elections, just point a finger and say “Tag, you’re it!”
The real issue is that the now currently in charge Sith overlords have got the president in hiding somewhere, and that’s where I come in. Well, me and the rebellious revolutionary known only as Zenith. Zenith is a jaded freedom fighter, and I don’t much blame him considering the history of Balmorra: abandoned by the Republic and handed over to the Sith, and depending on what happened during the Imperial storyline their unofficial support from the Republic Military not only pulled out but also publicly confessed ensuring no future support. Yea, I’d have a chip on my shoulder too.
You pretty much spend most of the planet playing back up for Zenith in an effort to track down and save the president. Fortunately, you are a bad enough dude or dudette to do so. Downside, President is being guarded by Darth Lachris, the sadistic Sith you met at the end of the Imperial Balmorra storyline (Yes, this is what happens to her). Upside, you get to kill a Sith! More downside, she royally messed up the President’s brain so he can’t do anything even if you save him. This leads to the somewhat disturbing option of using the president like a meat puppet to pass the torch of leadership. It’s cruel, unethical, and I did it in a heartbeat. What? My job was to get a new president for Balmorra, not to make sure the old one lived to a ripe old age.
Quesh is the usual short single mission that really isn’t worth talking about usually. This one does set up some important plot threads for later, so that’s a step up from the Trooper. The gist is that the Rift Alliance had a secret science lab on Quesh that they totally didn’t mean to neglect telling you about but oh by the way the Imperials are attacking it and it has some superpowerful tech hidden there please oh god fix it. The super tech in the lab really doesn’t do much except offer you a choice of how they develop it. Maybe this comes up in Chapter 3? I don’t know. So far all it did was get me a piece of mail with a severely under level blue quality companion gift.
What Quesh does introduce is two ideas: the first is that a tracking device was found on your ship, which means that you might have a spy on board. This is actually a great diplomatic conundrum. Do you tell the diplomats – one of which may be the spy – and diminish their already low opinion of the Republic’s ability to keep its house in order, or do you keep it quiet and risk worse damage being done by the spy as you try to figure out who it is without letting the others on. I actually really liked that twist. Sadly it doesn’t last long as we’ll see.
The other thing that happens is that we see Nadia Grell, daughter of one of the diplomats, join you on a mission and display an impressive use of Force power. Yes, it appears that little Nadia is a force sensitive and a powerful one at that. Nothing comes of that immediately, but it does come up more later that I can promise you.
Your final job for the Rift Alliance is to help a team of their soldiers finish their job and back on their way home. A task the Republic troops on Hoth have been most unhelpful in completing (Of course, the troops on Hoth just got hit by a surprise attack that knocked out their power, are getting cornered by pirates and Imperials, and are seeking a powerful weapon to use to help win the war. But taking care of the one squad of Rift troops that wanna leave the cold planet while they’re stuck there? Not a big priority shockingly.) The job is to kill one Captain Valon, a two bit pirate who was attacking the Rift Alliance’s shipping routes that has suddenly become a lot more problematic. See, the word on the street is: Valon is immortal. Yup. Can’t kill him. Why even try? And these poor guys are stuck on the ice ball until the Immortal Pirate is dead. Wow. Sucky job.
Of course, one quick smack around from a Jedi and the jobs done right? Sadly, no. While the rest of the team is often getting ready to celebrate leaving, you get a message proving that while you did seemingly kill the man and leave him cold and lifeless on the floor, he is still alive and kicking. It’s up to you know to figure out putting him in his grave. Luckily, you find out that the Empire is after Valon as well. Something about stealing an experimental healing armor? No… you don’t think… I see. Well, time to bust up a lab for answers. And after ransacking and pillaging the Empire for some sweet sweet secrets, you find out that yea it’s the armor that keeps him coming back. You also find out that Valon’s plan is to raise a massive star ship from the ship graveyard and use it as his new flagship as the future immortal pirate leader of the White Maw. (Aaaand he might be searching for One Piece. Maybe. No clue. But hey, it gives us an excuse to rap on the way! Ready Qyzen?)
Ultimately, you find the pirate, use the secret technique of ‘Keep killing him until he stays dead’, and you and the troops get to leave this Popsicle stand. Afterward, you get a new crewmember! Lt. Felix Iresso has joined the brawl! I’d love to tell you all about Felix but so far at least, he’s a bit of a cardboard cut out. Seriously, the guy doesn’t have any really stand out-ish qualities while you talk to him on Hoth beyond he is willing to straight up lie to his men if it means not destroying morale. Beyond that, he’s a soldier aaaand that’s about it. I mean, he seems like there’s definitely some backstory stuff that I’m sure to get into as I keep shoving gifts into his face. He seems perfectly happy to leave the military behind to sign on with you. But that’s it. Kind of a weak sauce companion compared to the fairly strong personalities we’ve met so far.
The finale is short. Like seriously short. You finally track down which of the diplomats is the traitor/spy/guy who keeps stealing the cable, but oh no! He was JUST sent off on an important diplomatic mission with Royalty! I sure hope that hi jinks don’t ensue. To make a long story short, everyone’s dead when you show up. You just walk through the ship littered with dead bodies until you find the King and Queen of WePaintsOurFaces-vania with the traitor diplomat who to the shock of no one is actually a Sith. Dun dun yea yea. More importantly, he is one of the Children of the Emperor. Ah, now that IS different. You fight, you win, you save the King and Queen. And that’s it. The finale is seriously just that one fight. Well, two if you kill the bonus gold star robot boss trapped behind a door. But it does set up the next leg of the journey with the introduction with the Children of the Emperor. I do wonder if Miss Kira Carsen will be showing up for cameo?
The second chapter of the Jedi Consular story is a lot of set up for whats to come it seems. The whole traitor thing REALLY doesn’t get played up to its full potential, and it really could have been something great. With diplomats constantly pushing for more info, the risk high of angering them and the Rift Alliance continually looking for a reason to abandon the Republic that, quite frankly, they owe nothing. Instead, the diplomats are grumpy but mostly content to just sit around, give you your space, be polite in the face of whatever happens. It’s not a catastrophic let down because I really do dig the whole political angle of the Jedi being explored, so I would definitely rate it above something like Trooper Chapter 2, but it really could have been something amazing but became satisfied with being meh.
Our new companions feel like two variations of the same archetype. Both Zenith and Felix are soldiers, but while one seems worn out and just wants to be done, the other is super jaded from broken promises. Still, recruiting them back to back just makes the comparisons even more startling. Especially since Zenith is introduced with so much more character and gusto than Felix. Almost like they blew all their cool ideas with Zenith and had nothing left for Lt. Iresso.
In the end, Chapter Two decides to just settle with doing what it does. It doesn’t strive for amazing, it doesn’t break down into terrible or tedious – it just is. Which is a shame. It really did have potential. But the whole thing still hasn’t lived up to the horrendously boring snoozefest I’ve heard it claimed to be on the forums. So who knows what awaits us beyond in Chapter 3. I mean, besides the Children of the Emperor. (OH YEA!)
|| SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter One –>
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the prologue 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.
Welcome to my new series, where I look back, review, discuss, joke about and rip apart the different class story lines in the Old Republic. For the WoW readers who haven’t messed around with TOR, allow me to explain. Throughout the leveling game in TOR, you have several types of stories. There are one shot mission stories, overall stories for each world you visit and there are your class storylines. The first two are things that everyone does. They have a little extra flair here and there that are tossed in for your class. Usually in the way of some changed lines of dialogue or unique choices on the dialogue wheel. The latter on the other hand is the exclusive storyline of your class only. It’s what makes playing the game 8 different times worth while. Now which class stories shine and which crash and burn? Well that’s what this here series is about. I’m going to go through each class as I level them, break down the stories of the prologue and three acts, and then write about what I think their strengths and weaknesses are. I hope you enjoy!
First up is the inquisitor. The Sith inquisitor was one of the first classes I really latched on to as a concept. For me it wasn’t necessarily the ability to shoot lightning as much as it was the idea of a secretive, scheming Sith who liked to play chess master all over the galaxy. Yes, I dreamed of manipulating my foes, setting traps, and executing masterful Xanatos and Batman gambits. What I did not dream of was blindly stumbling into my station in life while working for someone who does all that. /sigh. Welcome to the world of the Sith inquisitor.
After your opening crawl, you will find yourself on the ancestral territory of the Sith, Korriban. Where you are quickly brought in and abused by your overseer. You are a slave, and not exactly well-respected by the Empire, and doubly so if you are any race other than human or a Sith pureblood. Actually, I’ve played through this entire world a few times. All as different races. The interesting thing I noticed is the number of conversations on Korriban and to a lesser extent Dromund Kaas that actually change depending on if you are an alien or not. Oh, you’re treated like dirt no matter what. Even if you are a distinguished Sith pureblood, which are normally held up as measuring stick to all others. I’ve often wondered exactly how a Sith pureblood would end up in slavery. My first inquisitor I had constructed a lavish back story that mirrored the Count of Monte Christo. A betrayed pureblood was exiled and captured by slavers after being framed by a rival. Seemed plausible enough.
The general storyline of Korriban is that you and a bunch of other slaves are being tossed into the Sith academy in an attempt to weed out one individual to become the new apprentice of Lord Zash. You’re put through trials by Overseer Harkun, who seems to be passionately rooting for a Sith pureblood named Pfon to win the prize. It’s been commented a dozen times across the web that there may be something to Harkun’s almost idolatrous fawning over Pfon. Some have read potential sexual undertones to the whole thing. I honestly just saw as a fanatic worship of the pure blood, something the Sith seem to have going for them. At least on Korriban. (This theory is extremely weird and hard to believe if you are leveling a Sith pureblood however. Might just wanna go with the sexual idea. Why not?) I haven’t seen it turn up much anywhere else so far. Needless to say, Harkun is quick to praise this ‘rival’ and punish you. He will routinely assign Pfon easy assignments and send you into death traps, and when you succeed he accuses you of cheating. The general idea, as explained by the crazy old Sith in the tombs during your first mission, is for you to hate Harkun and Pfon. In this regard, it absolutely succeeded.
During your various trials, you eventually are met by a blonde woman in Sith robes. This is the mysterious Lord Zash. Which your character – who has never met or seen an image of Zash at this point – immediately recognizes. The only reason I knew this was because I happened to have the subtitles on during this scene. I can’t tell if I – the player – was supposed to know who this was. If I was, it’s really poorly established. She never says her name. In fact, I doubt I would have caught it without subtitles until the next conversation with Harkun when one of the dialogue options is to mention that you were chatting with your ‘future master’. Honestly, out of everything, this is probably the biggest problem with the entire Korriban segment of the storyline. Why doesn’t she just introduce herself? It would be simple! “I am Lord Zash.” There. Done. Ambiguity removed. WHY IS THIS HARD?
The conclusion of your trials have you freeing a creature known as a Dashade and retrieving a star map. You are able to triumph over Pfon, who had a head start, by Lord Zash appearing and revealing the secret to freeing the monster after he had left. Finally, a lucky break for your beaten down… uh… hero? You go into the tomb and free the creature, who calls himself Khem Val. He was a servant of Tulak Hord. Which begs the question of why Tulak Hord sealed him away in the Tomb of Naga Sadow. I honestly haven’t the clue. It gave me pause originally, but in all likeliness it has more to do with the fact that once you go back a few thousand years in Star Wars history, I stop giving a damn. Of course, if Khem was IN the tomb of Tulak Hord, he probably would realize that his former master was dead, instead of sitting there waiting for him to return.
The story on Korriban wraps up with you returning with the star map that Zash wanted and the Dashade following your command, as Harkun tries to pull the fast one on Lord Zash and attempts to convince her that Pfon obtained the map instead. In a move that royally ticked me off, Zash kills Pfon. Really? You couldn’t give me that? After dealing with that annoying punk for 10 levels, I have to sit there and watch my new master kill my rival? Oh whatever. If anything it gives me a reason to hate the eerily nice and cheerful Zash even more. Your new master invites you up to her office, where she tells you to meet her on Dromund Kaas, hands you her old lightsaber, and you are quickly introduced via henchmen to a new rival – Darth Skotia. Have fun pronouncing that one. It’s pronounced no less than two completely different ways during the next 10 levels. Also, she just hands you a lightsaber. That’s it. Nothing else. There’s no fanfare or celebration. I know this doesn’t seem like a big thing, but that’s because this is the first one of these posts. I’ve played every force class to the point where they receive their saber, and they always have a nice dramatic cinematic for it. The Jedi use the force to assemble theirs, and the Sith warrior breaks open an ancient tomb and claims one from a dead Sith lord before battling a half dozen mummies. But the inquisitor? You get one handed to you. Zash keeps it in a drawer of her desk. I suppose there’s some sentimental value because it was HER old lightsaber. But really? That’s IT? C’mon!
When you first arrive at the homeworld of the Empire, you immediately are greeted by the very Darth Skotia you had just heard about. He is a giant, mostly robot, Sith lord who gets a nice reverb to his voice that makes my cyborg characters insanely jealous. He drops a warning to you that he ‘knows what Zash is up to’, which is either foreshadowing of what is to come in act one, or old news if you are a paranoid sort who doesn’t trust Zash from the moment she called you over in Harkun’s office. You then go to meet up with your master and deliver Skotia’s vague threats. Zash immediately lets you in on the plan. Or part of it, at least. Zash needs a secret relic for her ritual and a fancy new office, so you’re going to kill Darth Megatron. Oh. Okay. Well, that was blunt.
The plan to destroy the Darth is two-fold. First you are sent to find an ancient tablet that will force his trandoshan bodyguards to stand down or obey. This is, of course, kept in a super secure secret facility under a mountain. It’s actually a relatively simple smash-and-grab operation, only really spruced up by the side missions you get while you are the giant mountain being carved into a statue. However this tablet will really prove to be more fun later. The second half of the plan is to find a scientist that is being imprisoned by the rogue Sith lord Gratham. The scientist has developed a tool that will severely damage Darth Skotia’s mechanical parts. Naturally, the scientist doesn’t have it on him, so you have to go down into the lab to get it. Again, other than the choice of what to do with the scientist, this is just another smash and grab job. There’s not a ton of suspense, just you playing fetcher monkey to Zash. This actually sets a good tone because that last sentence can be used to describe about 90% of the next act of the Sith inquisitor’s story. Not that it’s dull. There’s fun to be had in the process. At least you can actually mouth off to Zash about being her gopher. I appreciated that.
After you’ve retrieved the doo-hickey and the thinga-ma-bob, it is time to face off against the Darth and get the boss a promotion! Zash, being smart enough to establish an alibi, goes off to a party with some other Darths and Lords in town while you meander down the hall to find Darth Mega Man. You first get to take control of his body guards with the tablet you retrieved earlier. The choice is ordering them to stand down and leave or tell them to kill Skotia. I always chose the latter, not because Skotia has any sort of affection for them but because I like the idea of him destroying his own defenses. I’d like to think he’d learn a lesson before I kill him but I know he doesn’t. Then as soon as the fight has begun, you ‘taze him bro’ with the thing you got from the scientist and then just wail away on him. Despite being a boss level mob, he goes down pretty easy after you zap him. Now that Darth Robocop is dead, you can join Zash at the party to celebrate (or more so give Zash a reason to leave the party as she seems bored out of her mind).
It’s at this point you are introduced to Darth Thanaton who has a brief and angry exchange with Zash. In a great deal of foreshadowing, Thanaton will not be relevant to you in any way until you’re in the 30’s. I really liked the fact that you get a few good looks at him early on, and establish that he doesn’t much care for Zash or her plans. You rendezvous back with Zash at her new and roomier office to find that she’s been promoted to a Darth! Nice! What do you get? A mission befitting Mystery Inc! Yay? Zash wants you to go the Dark Temple (Okay, we really need these to have better names. How many Dark Temples have I been to in my 20+ years of video games?) and pacify a ghost that is haunting the tomb with yet another relic she needs for the ritual.
Finally, you get an interesting twist during one of your tasks and discover that you do not actually need to fight the ghost. Because you get to have your own Skywalker moment when the ghost appears and explains that you are his great, great, great, great, great, great-grandchild. He calls himself Lord Kallig, a rival of Tulak Hord (and a part of me always laughs at Khem Val when he mentions it), and he has come from the beyond to assist you in reclaiming your family’s once proud position. And oh boy are you going to need it. He also informs you that Zash seeks to betray you! Which isn’t exactly shocking, because both Skotia and the in-game codex have pretty much already told you that. Of course, you can happily choose to deny it. After all, Zash has been pretty cool to you since you became her apprentice, and this ghost just claims to be your grandpa and now you have to trust him? Riiiight.
Dromund Kaas wraps up with the Ghost of Kallig’s warning, returning the relic from the tomb, and Zash giving you a new ship and some orders. The star map you retrieved from your last trial on Korriban has helped Zash track down the location of two more relics on Balmorra and Nar Shadaa. Which fortunately happen to be the next worlds you are within the level range to do! Pure coincidence, I am sure. And of you go on your amazing new giant, TIE fighter looking thing! For adventure!
Despite my constant joking, the Sith inquisitor prologue does an amazingly good job of setting up the status quo for the class. You are introduced to several key characters, are given a solid purpose from both Zash – who explains that she has had visions of you becoming all-powerful through this mysterious ritual – and Kallig – who wants to see his family line restored to their rightful place. The idea of rituals is an important one and is established prominently from the get go with the gathering of relics and items to reinforce your power, including freeing Khem Val who becomes your first companion and bound servant.
Zash is not nearly the mustache-twirler my humorous retelling would paint her to be. She is actually very good about establishing a solid level of trust with you early on. Unlike Harkun or Skotia, who treat you as some lesser being because you were a slave (even more so if you were an alien slave), Zash is kind and encouraging. The first time you meet her she calls you a slave and then quickly corrects herself by referring to you as an acolyte instead. She congratulates and compliments you on your victories, were as Harkun was quick to accuse you of cheating. She honestly seems to be the only person you ever meet that appreciates you. If I didn’t know what was to come, I’d write off Skotia’s warnings as sheer jealousy. The story does a great job of actually making you like working under Zash.
That being said, there is a good amount of just being a gopher. You don’t exactly feel very important in the grand scheme of things quite yet. There are a few attempts to create a sort of “chosen one” mentality with things like shooting lightning at a holocron to get it to open which you’re told is something no one has done in thousands of years apparently. It’s fine though, a lot of class stories feel that way in the prologues. It is after all, a prologue. My real frustrations with the Inquisitor’s story don’t start to further down the line.
Anyway, that’s my first entry in what I hope to be a nice full series. As always, feedback is appreciated and feel free to leave your own opinions on the story in the comments. I would love to hear them! Hope you enjoy my thoughts and retrospectives on the stories of SWTOR.
|| SITH INQUISITOR || Chapter One –>