Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Trooper storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
So the war is on, Rakton is invading the core systems, and it’s time for the Republic’s finest to shine once more. Or shine at all in the case of that last set of missions. Can chapter three pull this story out from the depths and raise it to some truly amazing? Well, let’s find out as we join in the all out war for the galaxy.
Well, it’s back to the old grind stone as Havoc Squad is needed to go pick up a group of pilots out of Belsavis prison. That’s right. Prison. Apparently, the entire squadron got a bad rap and were sent up the river because bad intel had them dropping bombs on civilians instead of a Sith lord that was their actual target. So command made an example of them and sent them to this outer rim nightmare. But now with a galaxy wide war erupting, the Republic needs the best, and that means putting the illustrious Dagger Wing back on active duty. Which means getting them out of Belsavis alive. Which means Havoc Squad. I guess. When you arrive it seems that you actually have your work cut out for you because Dagger Wing hasn’t been content to sit a prison cell. They are tried and true Republic soldiers and they stick by that even after being tossed on a prison planet for something that wasn’t really their fault. So in the wake of the prison riots (because the Empire has decided to start opening all the cages looking for something it can use), Dagger Wing stepped up to help out the prison staff keep order across the various districts on the planet. Well that’s awesome and all, it means you will be scouring the entire planet looking to piece together the whole squad and bailing them out of trouble as they continue to push themselves neck deep in imperials and crazy inmates.
The story actually ends with you chasing down the Dagger Wing CO to the super secret double maximum security prison, where you are actually given a fairly meaningful choice. The entire planet you’ve been aware that Dagger Wing got screwed over by command, and they’ve made their peace with that and are STILL willing to not only come back to active duty again but also have been helping keep the prison secure. Now you face the choice of leaving the Commanding Officer to die in order to capture a Sith Lord that can prove Dagger Wing’s innocence, or completing the mission and grabbing the CO and letting the Sith go. It’s actually a very nice moral quandary to start out Chapter 3 on, and a HUGE step up from the boring paint-by-numbers chapter that was Chapter Two. Especially since it’s not a clear cut “this is good, this is bad” kind of choice. Dagger Wing will still have a commander if you let the current one die, but he won’t be as experienced nor have the respect, but you will be able to prove their innocence. It’s a delightfully muddy choice. I honestly just grabbed the CO and booked it without bothering with the Sith Lord. Proving their innocence was not my mission. Plus I got to fight an “Ancient Beast” which was actually a rancor. Yay! I killed a rancor. Take that Skywalker. I did with nothing but a gun. And explosives. And a gravity well that nullifies armor. And a robot. Okay, not quite as impressive I’ll admit. Still, who has two thumbs and killed a rancor? This guy!
After you take off from Belsavis, you are contacted by Garza with urgent news that our old friend Sergeant Jaxo is trapped in an imperial prison that is holding 300 or so republic troops. Seems like an excellent opportunity for Havoc Squad to kick some butt. The actual place is quite small, it is an interlude after all. But it does provide one of the more interesting choices in the trooper story thus far. See, ultimately it turns out that the whole thing is a trap by General Rakton who was waiting for you to show up and then blow the entire prison up. So now with the pendulum swinging over your head and the hourglass emptying quick, you have a choice: Do you vent the lower levels to power the shields long enough to get the prisoners out, fully knowing that Jaxo will be killed (she is hiding down there), or do you save Jaxo leaving 300+ republic servicemen and women to die. The part where it gets interesting is that you sort of can build a personal attachment to Jaxo. She has shown up at least once per act, including a party night side quest during act two that I didn’t really mention before (it didn’t seem important to be honest). Also, if Forex is in the party during this bit, he’ll mention that the cost of training and equipping a special forces troop like Jaxo far outweighs the cost of 300 random standard infrantry. So financially at least, Jaxo is more valuable. On the other hand, your mission was the free the 300 people. So there’s that too. Again, another wonderful choice where there is no clear cut easy answer. That’s my favorite kind of light/dark choice because they come down to sheer roleplay. What would YOUR character do? Well, my character is a cyborg programmed to complete the mission at any cost. So… so long Jaxo!
Oh geeze. Okay, so the whole nothing is morally black or white choices thus far have been nothing compared to this planet. Welcome to Voss, folks. Home of the most frustrating trooper story thus far. Okay, so essentially there is a large number of ground troops being held up on Voss at the request of a senator there who is chummy with the Supreme Chancellor. The so called “Vacation squad” wants to join the war proper, but the senator is convinced that the Empire is going to sneak attack Voss and won’t let them leave because of it. Your job is to convince the senator to release the troops by removing any possible threat of a sneak attack. General Garza also very specifically mentions that you have to be on your best behavior because of the senator’s relationship with the Supereme Chancellor. Which means playing kiss up to a jerky politician for the entire planet. And oh geeze does he not make it easy. He yells at you for not miraculously bringing in an imperial agent alive when the agent flat out tells you he has no intention of surrendering, constantly volunteers you for random tasks for the locals that have nothing to do with why you are there, and is generally a jerk about things. Luckily, the senator is a man with two sides to him. The other is the sniveling coward who cringes at violence, and a political weasel. In case you can’t tell, I hate this guy. I really do. You are given the choice to smart mouth and berate him, calling him a coward and a weakling but that’s not my character… not matter how tempting. You do get a nice blast from the past however when you discover the Imperials plan to use the ZR-57 (the bomb from waaaay back on Ord Mantell now finally repaired from your meddling) to threaten the Voss capital to get the people to do what they say. This leads to some nice callbacks like remembering to use the radiation to detect where it is. And you wrap things up by stopping the senator’s rival, a sith lord jerk, who you can choose to kill or let live. Which is kind of a mundane moral choice at the end, but the rest of the plan really tests your role playing with dealing with the senator, so I didn’t mind so much.
INTERLUDE 2 (Meeting the Senate)
After getting the now former Vacation Squad back to the front lines, it seems that we have yet another interlude. This time it is another trip to the senate for a formal inquiry about special forces, and specifically Havoc Squad. You find out when you land that the senator responsible for the hearing is actually being bought off by the Empire thanks to some detective work by the SIS (with a nice callback with the SIS agent from back on Nar Shadaa). You are given some evidence to show the other senators and get the whole thing dismissed so you can get back to active duty, and if you follow Garza’s script that’s pretty much exactly what happens. However, there is the dark side option here. And it’s probably one of the most awesome, bad ass, complete jerkwad choices you can make in the Trooper storyline. Ready for this? When the senate first ask you to offer a counter to the jerky corrupt senator’s claims that you are useless and blowing the Republic’s cash… You can shoot him. As in, dead. Right there in the senate building. And you get away with it. Okay, well, people are super mad at you for it. But seriously, you just flat out kill a politician in the senate at a hearing about Havoc Squad abusing authority and resources, AND YOU GET AWAY WITH IT. There are very few moments I’ve seen in this game that can be considered THAT awesome. Oh geeze. Anyway, no matter what you do, you find that by the time you are done General Garza has already shipped off world to Corellia to directly command forces to confront the Empire’s invading forces. General Rakton has touched down there as well, and she wants Havoc there on the double. Time to finish this? Hell yea.
Welcome to the front lines. Finally. It’s only taken, what? Forty-six levels? Corellia is a mess of a warzone, with a constant struggle across the city world for control of various resources. General Rakton however only seems interested in one of those: The Bastion, the intelligence nerve center of the Republic. With control of the Bastion, Rakton would have information on every operation, strategy, tactic, secured channel, you-name-it in the Republic. So it’s up to the Republic Military and Havoc Squad in particular to stop him. But there’s one problem with that plan. The Bastion is across the city, and there’s no direct route there for a massive ground force. It’s time to find a way through. Luckily, you have the aid of the Corellian resistance and their uh… “Freelance” pilots with an abundance of cargo space and expertise in getting through blockades. Not smugglers though. Not at all. Nope… Anyway! They’re all set to help you out except their ships are locked up by the Empire. Your first task is to free those ships. The second task which quickly follows behind it is that the Empire appears to firebombing civilian areas and you get a choice – save the civilians, or use this opportunity to seize an imperial dropship. The dropship is actually kind of handy because you will be able to sneak past defenses ala Return of the Jedi, but you can also save the people. This is the first in a few dark side/light side choices and it pretty much sets the primary morality conflict for the planet. Dark Side: Help the Military. Light Side: Help the Resistance. The Resistance seems heavily occupied with doing whatever it takes to help Corellia, which makes sense since its the Corellian Resistance. However, the Military decisions tend to be things that are designed to deal with the situation quickly and efficiently to bring a faster end to the conflict and deal with the Empire at large, usually at the expense of the Corellian people. Sacrifice a few to quickly save the rest essentially. The Resistance argues that what’s the point of helping if you’re just going to do just as much damage as the Imperials in the process. Also a fair point. After dealing with either the fire bombs or capturing a dropship, is to mobilize troops to set up an ambush in the factories for the Imperials. Mostly this mission just involves going around and notifying various cells that the mission is go and then joining them at the factory for the assault. It’s really a super simple task only complicated by a brief discussion on whether blowing up the factory to stop the Imps is worth it or not. Some argue that they’re destroying their place of business and will have no jobs once Corellia is freed, the others argue that if they don’t it becomes less certain if Corellia will be freed at all. A decent question of short term vs long term risk and reward. But beyond that this whole thing is talk to three dudes, blow up some Imps, go to next mission. Not terribly exciting, but on the other hand it is showing more of the people of Corellia getting involved in the op.
The penultimate mission involves creating a landing zone for those totally-not-smugglers to drop off the ground troops close to the Bastion. Again this mission follows the same pattern of do you help the Resistance or the Military, but this time its about whether or not you destroy an antique starship in a museum to make room for a landing strip, or fight your way into a fortified Imperial landing strip and “borrow” it. Naturally, blowing up the antique to make room is quicker and less risky, but if you do it really is the final straw with the Resistance. They were mad, like sent me a letter talking about how much of a scumbag I am mad. This is probably the most petty choice of them all, and really just falls to who do you want to listen to. I can’t imagine landing in a museum is any more practical than an imperial outpost, other than you probably will draw some extra attention and have to fight a few more people with the outpost. Still, it IS kinda funny to see the Resistance get so completely out of shape over it. Oh fine, admit it, I’m just a bad person.
Everything comes to a head for the final mission to assault the Bastion and stop General Rakton. This is where it aaaaall pays off. You start out by shutting down security and capturing an Imperial transport to sneak into the Bastion Trojan Horse style, then after clearing everything out you meet the rest of the assault: the safecrackers from the Gauntlet mission, a heavy infantry team piloting walker tanks, and a squad of elite ground troops. Oh, the best part? They all answer to you. That’s right. You are commanding an army. And that’s actually relevant this time as the plan is to assault all three guarded corridors at once to reach the Bastion. One with traps and droids, one with walker tanks, and one with infantry. I split it up so my walker tanks stepped all over their infantry, my infantry and safecrackers outmaneuvered their tanks, and Havoc Squad (Okay, you and your companion. The rest of the squad covers the rear) personally handled the droids and traps – what? I have to fight the boss afterward. I SHOULD get the easy job. Not that it was terribly easy. The droid/trap hallway has the most insidious of obstacles: Companion Pathing Errors! Yea, Forex continually would get stuck places while I had to try and take down groups of droids and turrets all by my lonesome. I died in that hallway more times than I did the rest of Corellia. You finally rendezvous with the other teams in a courtyard to prepare for the final assault. Which of course means that they are gonna hold the courtyard while you and your companion go kill Rakton.
The final showdown isn’t as impressive as the lead up, but it’s still a hell of a lot better than the random gold enemy at the end of the Gauntlet. You face off with Rakton’s two goons – who really are the hard part in my opinion – and then Rakton himself. Rakton wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my tank companion continually standing in the massive AOE that he drops. Still, with a little Heroic Moment, he fell all the same. Huzzah! And then you are given the ultimate choice: Do you kill Rakton or force him to work for the Republic? Well, since this guy’s strategies almost brought down the entirety of the Republic in one fell swoop, I’m gonna put him in the “Too dangerous to let live” category and execute him. And I did. After that, the rest of the army drops you off back at your ship, and it’s happy trails to Corellia to meet with the Supreme Chancellor and Garza. Time to treat the team to some drinks.
Suprisingly… there isn’t one. Unlike a lot of the class stories which send you to one final confrontation after Corellia, the Trooper story ends right there on the planet with the defeat of General Rakton. Which was shocking really. I was expecting Rakton to make me face his goons, run off and I’d have to assault his super special awesome dreadnaught or something to kill him. Which I happily didn’t have to do. Especially since three chapters in a row of super special awesome dreadnaught assaults would be kind of annoying.
LOOKING BACK: A FINAL OPINION
The Trooper storyline really is a mixed bag for me. I’ve heard this called the “Hero of the Republic” storyline and I can kind of see why. You are pretty much the one who gets it done for the military, but it really didn’t feel as epic as say the Jedi Knight storyline. The first chapter is really where the story shines in my opinion. A mission of revenge against those who betrayed not only the Republic, but you personally. It requires you to draw the line on where your loyalties lie: to the Republic? To the Military? To your own ends? And then continually tests you with your choices. There’s a bit of a throwback to that in Chapter Three with Belsavis and Voss, but not nearly to the same degree and with not nearly as much on the line because there isn’t a personal investment with Rakton. He’s pretty much just a giant threat to the Republic, but whoop de doo – so is everything in the Sith Empire. If not Rakton, then the Dark Council, or Imperial Intelligence are just as threatening. It really is a shame that Grand Moff Kilran got shifted to purely a Flashpoint only affair, because he would have been a much better villain to face in Act Three. Rakton had the devotion and believed fully that the Imperial way of life was a good and just thing that everyone should have to live by, Kilran was a tactical, and ruthless butcher that had one hundred times more presence when he was on screen than Rakton.
But what about Chapter Two? Chapter Two was blatantly unnecessary and was padding of the worst kind. It’s the only middle chapter I’ve run across thus far that does next to nothing to advance the narrative of the characters. You could have had Rakton appear after the defeat of Tavus and nothing would have changed. The Gauntlet was poorly done, poorly named, and ultimately just turned out to be a big filler mission to give you two more companions. The only really shining moment was the opening battle on the Gauntlet and really that is all I can say about it. The super mcguffin from Hoth? Never comes back. Instead the Safecrackers from Quesh you saved not only show up in the side mission with Jaxo, but also on the final mission to assault the Bastion during the War for Corellia. And they’re not interesting. AT ALL. There’s nothing memorable about them in the slightest. If they didn’t blatantly mention they were with the Safecrackers, I wouldn’t have remembered them at all. Honestly, I would have moved the A-77 interlude mission with Jaxo and made THAT the grand finale of Chapter Two. At least then you would have the risk of losing Jaxo right after having that fun side mission with her back on Coruscant (So fresh in the mind) versus losing hundreds of people, it would have raised the stakes when you finally met Rakton and found out he was responsible for those deaths as a trap to remove Havoc Squad from the game before his big assault on Republic Space and then it wouldn’t have the unintended final consequence of blamng Havoc Squad – THE HEROES OF THIS STORYLINE – for re-starting the War proper by destroying Rakton’s new toy. Rakton would have already been planning to assault the Republic, and this was a pro-active advanced trap to remove the biggest threat to his plans. That would have been interesting in the overall story.
Chapter Three was still a welcome relief from the dismal Chapter Two. While the fact that you spent Belsavis and Voss doing exactly what you did in Chapter Two with gathering troops for the battle was a bit annoying, it was certainly handled better and given a certain weight within the context of the war at large. Belsavis is a prison planet that you need to save convicts imprisoned due to getting the shaft by command – something you can easily see happening to Havoc Squad – and the other with a paranoid senator monopolizing an entire platoon for his own fears in the wake of war. This is made even more bearable and even downright poking fun at Chapter Two when you meet with the Senate and they complain that Havoc Squad has been doing nothing to help the war on the front lines. I’m just glad they don’t blame you for starting the war (although it is a missed opportunity in that scene. Especially when you can kill the senator. How good would that feel? “YOU STARTED AN UNNECESSARY WAR!” “AND YOU ARE A TRAITOR! /Blast”). The glory moment is surely Corellia, but it doesn’t truly feel that way until the end. You get the same kind of Military vs Rebels vibe for most of the planet as you did with Balmorra, but with more extremely blatant “Screw you Rebels, we do it our way” moments. It’s really hard to look at Garza in a positive light in some of those moments where she’s like “There’s no time. BLOW UP THE PRICELESS MUSEUM!” Still the extremely epic ending with the Assault on the Bastion, where it feels like your choices DO matter some. If only I could actually reload the game back to just that mission, I would love to go and see if there actually is anything interesting that happens if you send the teams differently. Would the walker tanks handle the traps and droids okay? Would there be more casualties if you went ground troops to ground troops? I really would like to explore that. But not so much that I’d wade through Chapter Two again. No Sir. So that’s the end of the Trooper storyline. My first finished write up for a whole story. Wow. Hopefully the others will be a bit less frustrating than the trooper. I really wanted to like this one. And it wasn’t terrible (except for Chapter Two), but it seemed like it could have been a lot better too. Well, here’s to next time.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Trooper storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
Last time on the Trooper storyline… We killed a bunch of traitors. Now you’re caught up. As you can see from the above picture, I hit up the Cartel Market to outfit Havoc Squad with a bit of the ol’ technological superiority going into chapter two. So what is chapter two anyway? Well, if you recall from Chapter One, we pretty much exterminated, arrested, or generally dealt with all the traitorous former members of Havoc Squad while picking up a few replacements of our own in the forms of Aric Jorgan (aka Sgt Meowmers), Elara Dorne (aka The nice imperial lady in my medic bay I never talk to) and M1-4X (aka THE MOST AWESOME ROBOT EVER). I neglected to mention and folks pointed out in the comments that the Trooper has one of the quickest accumulation of companions in the game. Reaching three companions (not including the Ship robot) before even reaching Tatooine. Continuing that tradition, we’re going on a recruitment drive in Chapter Two picking up our last two companions and building a complete squad of companions before even hitting Chapter Three (An honor shared also by the Smuggler and the Sith Warrior who both pick up their last companions on Hoth as well.)
Why the neccessity to fill out the ranks? Well, the Republic Army has a new target for Havoc Squad to tackle, a mysterious new star destroyer – er… whatever we call them in The Old Republic timeline – called the Gauntlet. The Gauntlet has the ability to blow up ships while they are traveling in Hyperspace. Which is impressive. And problematic. And quite possibly impossible but who am I to question physics of hitting an object traveling at lightspeed in a galaxy where space wizards fight with laser swords that just stop after a yard for no reason. The name intrigues me though. The Gauntlet. So either a hazardous obstacle course of doom… or a glove that one throws down to challenge people. Neither of these really fit the situation though as we’ll find out. The ship has a fairly standard design in it’s layout. In fact a lot of it gets re-used in the False Emperor flashpoint and several other Imperial base/starship areas. And it’s not really a challenge because… well, I’ll get to that at the end. So in order to stop the Gauntlet, we need three things: An explosives expert, an infiltration team, and a security/electronics whiz. Luckily, all those things just happen to be on the next three planets we can level through! So grab some pamphlets, it’s time to recruit us some new Havoc-ers.
So it’s time to start our recruitment drive on Balmorra. The goal is to find and recruit one Tanno Vik, an explosives expert that was discharged from the Republic military. However, this hunt is fraught with unexpected complications. It seems our Mr. Vik is a bit of a con-man. You routinely find people that enlisted Tanno’s aid to perform some manner of operation with the reclamation of Balmorra, but he usually just takes their equipment and runs off with it before completing the job. This leaves you in the unfortunate position of having to do his work for him and help those who he’s left high and dry all across the planet until you can figure out what he’s up to. Yaaaaaay.
But you find out soon enough as you eventually make contact with the jerk and discover that he’s been “borrowing” the equipment to help break in to a top secret Balmorran Arms vault to “liberate” these high tech weapons from the Imperials. I have to use the quotation marks there, because Tanno Vik isn’t the type to be honest as illustrated by all the friggin’ messes of his you just had to clean up. It’s not a far off assumption either. After using the stolen equipment to launch a homemade missile into the factory, he breaks into the vault to take the weapons. Actually, he gives you the choice. Turn the weapons over to the resistance, keep them for havoc squad, or sell them for a profit. Really, only the last option seems like the clear cut jerk move. The other two are clearly up for debate. True, SpecForce could use the weapons to further their goals, but giving them to the resistance could endear trust with the Republic. Both good uses really. I kept them for Havoc squad since my Trooper is very pro-military and my orders did not include ‘assist the resistance’.
Tanno Vik’s personality is pretty much summed up in these missions. He seems to be a guy who believes the end justifies the means, in doing the right thing so long as he gets something in return. He’s eager to skim off the top when you get the weapons, he steals equipment for ultimately a good cause – okay, he’s attacking the Empire. Other than that, I dunno if plowing a missile into apparently the largest factory on the planet is a ‘good cause’ – but doesn’t use them for the job he was hired to do. If anything, I’d describe him as somewhere between Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral. He seems noble enough in his intentions, but he’s also quite self serving in the same stroke.
Next up is hitting the backwater adrenal manufacturing planet of Quesh. Quesh has always been something of a filler planet that usually only has a single class quest that teases something coming up in the plot. Like for the Jedi Knight it’s the first time you meet a powerful npc that plays heavily into the plot twist at the end of Chapter 2, the Bounty Hunter has a run in with the antagonist that drives the plot into Chapter 3. However in case of the trooper, we’re just picking up some buddies for later.
Yea, that’s apparently it. Along with the new recruits from Balmorra and Hoth, you need to get a team of infiltration experts that appear to have broken in but can’t break out of an Imperial camp on Quesh. Since you need them for the Big Mission(tm), it’s up to you to break them out and cover their escape. Namely fighting wave after wave of baddies at the front door.
And that’s it for Quesh. I wish I could say there was more to it for the Trooper, but really it’s just do this one thing and extract the pinned down team so they can join you in the big assault later. Yaaaaay.
This is the final stop on our recruitment drive. This time we have to get a gant (bug person) named Yuun. Luckily, he’s not running off and making us chase him like Senor Grumpy Pants Vik. Oh no. You meet Yuun quite quickly. But the catch is you need to help him finish his assignment before he can depart. Okay, say it with me now: Yaaaaaaaaaay. Essentially, our Bug Man is trying to assemble the Umbra Encrypter – a device responsible for decades of uncrackable Imperial codes. Yuun wants to remake one from parts scattered across the frozen snowball of a planet, that quite frankly I hate with a burning passion. Why? Well, everything is white with a blue-ish tint. That means the lights from dropped items are harder to see, quest items are harder to see on the ground, and it just hurts my eyes after a while. So I hope I can cling to my patience and sanity while trying to help Yuun.
This process is not made any easier by Yuun’s strange methodology which is akin to that guy from Ancient Aliens mixed with Sylvia Browne playing with a tarot deck drawn in crayon. He reads the signs and energy wavelengths and other oddities and uses that to know exactly how to proceed. And it works! Which I would say is weird, but this is the same setting as the Jedi and Sith, so let’s give the non-Force using Bug Man some credit. Your tasks are generally simple retrieve X, where X can be people or an object, punctuated in the middle of the chain by a mission that requires you to distract the Imperials while another team fetches X. The only real moral dilemma is do you warn Yuun of the approaching pirate attack or use him as bait to catch them off guard. I used him as bait. What? He’s a psychic/bug type poke-companion, I’m sure he saw it coming even if he never said anything about it.
So you rebuild his thingie, he is happy and gets on the ship. The end. No, seriously. That’s really all it is. It feels like it takes forever, and it’s really just four fairly basic tasks and then he puts together a device that we are told is really, really, REALLY important and will save countless lives and we never see it do anything and I REALLY hope it comes back later on or this will be the most disappointing over-hyped mcguffin thus far.
Finale: The Battle of the Gauntlet
So now that you’ve reassembled a brand spanking new Havoc Squad it’s time to assault The Gauntlet. A big old star ship that can blow up other ships while they are in hyperspace (which is bad, and also previously thought impossible). Two of your squad will take the bridge, Yuun will accompany you to disable security, and then you’ll switch over with Tanno Vik to plant the explosives and blow this joint! Oh and the last team member will offer support. It’s kinda cool to see the entire squad of companions getting involved like this. Especially right at the beginning when you burst onto the Gauntlet only to find a gold, two silvers, and a squad of weaker goons there to swamp you, and all six of you unleash hell in a huge opening battle! It’s epic! It’s awesome! Aaaand that’s where the excitement ends.
After that opening battle, the rest of the mission is visit a couple quest markers with Yuun and watch some cutscenes of taking down bad guys, then switch over and visit a few more quest markers with Vik and watch a cutscene, then fight a random gold mob and leave. That’s it. That’s the mission. Yes, there’s a bit where you’re contacted by the bridge team and they say they got pinned down by Imperial reinforcements and then you have the choice of “Send them back up to help them run away”, “Run away” or “RUN AWAY NOW!”. I don’t think there was a single light side/dark side choice in there. No daring rescue on the bridge even. Just ‘Bombs are set, let’s skidoo!’ and away you go to get your reward and promotions. Talk about a let down of a finale. No, I’m serious. That big explosive battle should have been at the end, not the beginning. Or have that energy continued the entire way through. Because despite everyone knowing you are there from that first initial blow up of a battle, absolutely no one is acting on alert. Hell, the droids are still mopping and the engineers are doing routine maintenance. And it’s not like you are the only threat here either! There’s a big space battle going on outside, a huge shoot out on the bridge, and you see NONE of it. Instead it’s escort and chat with the new companions while killing the bored janitors. What a joke.
When you finally get back to Coruscant, General Garza lets you know that a message has arrived from the Imperial who designed the Gauntlet and explains it was meant to be a tool for peace. That they hoped the threat of the Gauntlet would be enough that the Republic would back down and just let the Empire do whatever it wanted. You know, like nuclear deterrence. Only without the mutually assured destruction. Or the arms race that leads both sides to have a Gauntlet pointed at each other causing them to reach a standstill. So nothing like nuclear deterrence. But see what I mean earlier about the whole challenge aspect of ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ not applying either? They made the thing with the hopes that it was so powerful and threatening that no one would challenge it. So maybe the name is ironic? No clue. Anyway, the Imperial jerkface has decided that since the Republic can’t be REASONABLE PEOPLE and just lay down and die or convert, that there’s no stopping it. It’s all out war now. So there’s the reason the war starts up again in Chapter Three that you hear about in every other class story. It’s because the Trooper and Havoc Squad broke the Empire’s new toy. That’s all. Actually that about makes sense considering they just wanted an excuse. Hey, maybe that was the challenge to throwing down the Gauntlet. They made something that the Republic had no choice but to attack to give them an excuse to go to war. Ha!
I had mixed opinions of Chapter One due to the weird moral choices you were presented with, but Chapter Two just STUNK. There was nothing gripping or exciting. It never felt like anything was building or the stakes were being raised. Nothing felt like it was going to the next level at all. No, it’s a bloody recruitment drive. That’s it. For all of Chapter Two you are finding people to help you, and when they do they payoff is next to nil. I was hoping that after a meh-ish experience the Battle of the Gauntlet would add some serious excitement to the end and it didn’t. It just kept up the feeling of nothing big happening at all. You got a team, they all did their jobs, the f-ing end. That’s it. Nothing was risked, everything worked out with next to no complications or messy situations. Oh, one of the bridge team was critically injured? Oh shoot. Good thing that all we have to do is take them two steps to the ship and heal them because hey, mission is already done.
Again, if the big battle was at the end, then being one person down would have been interesting. It was a choice of who you sent where, so now that choice matters because it would affect who was injured and couldn’t help in the final battle. Maybe you could shake that up by sending Yuun or whoever was on support to help and then THEY would be injured for the final battle. Instead the entirety of the who is on the Bridge assault and who is on support is apparently MEANINGLESS. It doesn’t matter who you send. One will be injured, but that’s after everything is said and done and nothing will be lost for it. You can’t switch out with any of them – including whoever you left for support – during the mission because you will always be stuck with either Tanno or Yuun (or if you have her, Treek. Because they didn’t think of that when they first designed the mission).
The choices you make in the finale don’t matter at all in the outcome of the finale. That’s it. There is no bigger insult to this game than that. The bland moral choices, the dull friendship drive and it all culminates in a pointless final mission that leaves you with the rank of Major, 10 more levels added to your belt, and two new buddies to play with. Talk about a frickin’ disappointment of a chapter. I can only hope that Chapter Three is an improvement. I can’t see how it couldn’t be.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Trooper storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
Okay, with matters settled on Coruscant and the senator saved/Wraith dealt with, it’s time to start hunting down those scum bags who called themselves our teammates for like a day. Yea. I’ve been thinking about that lately. You can actually play your trooper like these former Havoc members were the scum of the earth that personal broke your heart and betrayed your deepest trusts… but you didn’t exactly know them that long. The games makes it pretty clear that you are on your first mission with Havoc at the start of Ord Mantell, so some of these characters that “stab you in the back” have only said maybe two or three sentences to you ever? Don’t get me wrong, they betrayed the republic. They gotta pay. But there’s no reason to take it so personally, ya know?
Heck, your time with these people is barely enough to establish their personalities. Needles is Hannibal Lecter MD, Wraith never stops talking in monotone and is good at stealth, Gearbox is… nice? And Fuse… is um… Fuse is a Zabrak. About the only person you get a decent feel for is Tavus, which I s’pose is good because he is the primary antagonist for all this. Well, might as well begin the hunt for the traitors.
Our first target is Needles. We get to track this sick freak across all of Taris trying to find out where he’s hiding and more importantly what he’s up to. And it doesn’t turn out to be good at all. The sick little bugger is trying to weaponize the rakghoul virus to make sentient non-feral monsters out of other defected soldiers with a new fast acting formula. This marks the first of two attempts in the game to weaponize the rakghoul plague, and I have always wondering if Needles was familiar with the works of Doctor Lorrick. They seem like they’d get along.
Needles lives up to his monsterous nature without having second thoughts of using anyone as a test subject for his experiments. Luckily you eventually do track him down and end his life. Made no easier by the insanely stubborn lack of support from the military base on Taris. They spend the entire time giving you the run around, oh no we can’t help, we don’t the time or resources, etc etc etc. The only person to actually follow orders and assist you with the mission is Elara Dorne. Dorne is an ex-imperial that has carried over some of her strict upbringing with her to the Republic Military, with a strict adherance to orders, details, regulations and paperwork. She is also the next companion to join you on this journey and becomes a member of your new Havoc squad.
And to be honest, I don’t really care for Dorne. She’s one of those companions where you’re never quite sure what decision is gonna irk her. She seems to be a stickler for orders. But she also sometimes doesn’t like heroics? It’s not even that her personality rubs my trooper wrong. They actually get along pretty well with my ruthless willingness to follow orders no matter how murderous. But she’s hard to pin down. I actually will get the occasional -1 or even -20 or something and have NO clue why. Luckily I’m a commando and I don’t need her. She’ll get her lovin’ through gifts.
Next on the journey is an issue of a group of Tavus’ lackies running amok on the Hutt controlled word of Nar Shadaa with a top secret robot. The twist to this whole thing? The Republic’s Secret Intelligence Service is also on the trail of the renegade bot and you are needed to help them without letting on that a certain special forces team went completely rogue, defected to the Empire and is now using said automaton to do bad things. Bad things that never really get defined. Okay, I think what’s going on is that they’re stealing weapons and money for Tavus, but I’m not entirely clear on that. Not to mention it doesn’t fit with the whole ‘good soldier that was betrayed’ thing that Tavus has going for him. I mean, hard to hold the moral superiority when your tactics currently involve petty theft.
Really, the best parts of Nar Shadaa for the trooper comes from dealing with the SIS and their cloak and dagger style of getting things done and actually interacting with the rogue robot. The SIS parts can really be done in one of two ways: Lying or Honest. You can totally be up front of the whole Havoc defection thing against the wishes of your commanding officer and disobeying direct orders (that’s the *cough* LIGHT side choice), or you can deny everything to the SIS who really don’t have any business knowing about your top secret mission (The uh… Dark side choice?) Again, the trooper demonstrates how damn easy it is to be gray. I racked up a ton of light side points doing normal questing, helping people out, not taking dirty bribes from Hutts, but then all of that goes back to zero because I follow orders. I have no clue how this is going to end up in terms of morality, but I have a feeling it will be similar to my Imperial Agent: Gray leaning to the Dark Side (Dark II by the time she hit 50). Ultimately the SIS founds out what is really going on anyway, because they’re the freaking SIS and you get treated to General Garza arguing with the SIS at the end of the whole planet. As a female trooper you can actually flirt your way through the planet with the SIS agent, making the revelation at the end sting even more. Garza still gets the best burn in my opinion with the “I figured you would understand the need for to secrets in your line of work.” line. Go Garza!
The robot, or M1-4X or Forex for short, is hilarious. One part indestructible tank and one part propaganda machine for the Republic. His dialogue is mostly spent talking about the glorious Republic full of freedom and democracy, or how Havoc Squad is one of the finest units that the Republic Military has ever trained. As soon as he figures out that he’s working for traitors, he’s all ready to join you to take them down but an override code keeps him obeying the traitors until the bitter end. All though he happily tells you everything he can within the confine of his orders, including how to destroy him after he’s been ordered to kill you. Eventually you are forced to blow him up, but the SIS rebuilds him and he is transferred to your command where he happily congratulates you on a job well done on destroying him and that it’s good to be serving the forces of freedom and justice again. I love Forex. There is never a moment where his overly cheesy GI JOE reminiscent dialogue doesn’t bring a grin to my face. Which is good, because I was getting tired of Dorne quoting regulatons and Sgt Meowmers’ belly aching.
After Nar Shadaa wraps up you’re sent on a little side mission to go to Tavus’ ship located in the Outer Rim and try to capture him. Other than an annoying heat beam puzzle, this doesn’t actually contribute to the story much. Tavus isn’t there, he holos in, you call him a traitor, he calls you a traitor and then he sicks a bunch of imperial goons on you. The end. Nothing is really learned and it’s just a short red herring quest that you might actually face off against Tavus earlier than you would expect, and all it does is confirm any suspicion you have that Tavus is going to be the big bad of chapter one.
Well since Nar Shadaa didn’t do much for bringing us any closer to Tavus and his band of traitors, it’s time to get back on the hunt as we head to Tatooine to find that bomb wielding maniac killer Fuse. Only not so much. Actually when you arrive to speak to the mayor, Fuse is actually contacting you via holo and wants to help stop the Imperials from blowing up civilians for their “tests”. Bombs that Fuse designed naturally but he didn’t apparently think that they’d use them to blow up PEOPLE! Okay okay, civilians I suppose but he was honestly shocked by this? Who knows but it was a fun “Pokemon shouldn’t fight. Not like this.” moment for me. Bombs shouldn’t kill people. NOT LIKE THIS! Bombs should frolic in meadows and be free for all to see!
Fuse’s remorse is pretty much the center piece of the entire Tatooine leg of the story. You have little to no reason to trust him, since ‘fighting against the Empire’ was pretty much the ruse that started this whole mess. The mayor of Anchorhead however trusts him implicitly since he tipped you off to the next bomb attack. So you have a mayor who trusts him, you who has no reason to trust him, and are under orders not to tell anyone why you wouldn’t be trusting Fuse. It sounds interesting but honestly it boils down to: “Don’t trust him. He’s lying.” “Why do you think that?” “That’s classified. Just don’t.” “But he helped us.” “CLASSIFIED. DO NOT TRUST.” “But…” Followed by perpetual Trooper frownie face.
I wish I could say that Tatooine picks up after that but it’s pretty much just like the planet, a big stretch of nothing much. You stop the bombing, then proceed to chase down the bomb plans through the various outposts in an attempt to catch the Imperials before they hoof it off world. The only real interesting choice comes at the very end when you find Fuse locked in a cell as the self destruct countdown begins. You have time to either shut off the self destruct, or stop the Imperial with the bomb plans. The latter essentially leaves the repentant Fuse to die, the former lets the Imperials with the Bomb plans go free. So naturally, stopping the Imperials and securing the bomb plans that could kill hundreds if not thousands more is the DARK SIDE option. Yea, because screw innocent lives, saving the life of someone who committed TREASON but then said he was sorry was clearly the moral and just thing to do.
This continues to astound me how stopping the Imperials and saving potentially hundreds of people’s lives is somehow the bad thing. Who figured out this weird system of morality the troopers work under? WHO!? I freaking killed Fuse. Yes. And even Fuse agreed with my decision. I will admit though that rubbing it in his face and saying this was the execution he deserved was possibly uncalled for. But I’m sorry, you don’t get to commit an act of treason and then get to walk away because you’re sorry AFTER the damage is done. Gah this planet ticked me off. Let’s make a Skywalker and get the heck off this sand ball.
So with Fuse dealt with and the dirt ball way behind us, all we have left is Gearbox and Tavus (and maybe Wraith depending on what you did at the end of the Prologue.) Well, everything is pointing that Tavus is our big bad, so this must be… Ding ding! Gearbox! Only you don’t spend much time interacting with Gearbox. Actually the majority of Alderaan is spent trying to appease a noble from House Thul, the rival house of Organa and the allies of the Empire. His demands are pretty much just help his family escape and he’ll happily tell you where Gearbox is hiding out. Of course, you can’t just trust the enemy – unless it’s Fuse I guess. You WERE supposed to blindly trust him. – so your first mission is to verify his claims and check out a bunch of weapons that the Empire/House Thul have been stockpiling in a third party house that has no real relevance to anything and thus I can’t be arsed to remember their name.
After you’ve verified the Thul noble’s claims, he demands freedom for his wife and daughter. Of course if you’d like this is a place to rack up ample amounts of Dark Side points by just beating the crap out of the guy for information – which he won’t give – but its still a good way to build up those points for all you dark side troopers out there, besides he’s not only an enemy, but an enemy traitor as he’s willing to sell out his own house to get his cranky wife and entirely too bored daughter out of danger. So work out all that Tatooine frustration with some well earned dark side points.
His wife and daughter are for some reason chilling out at House Rist, a group of assassins allied with the current King of Alderaan. I have no idea why they are there except that the general Republic quests send you up there a lot so it was convenient. The wife can’t be pleased no matter what you do, she’s just a mean lady through and through. The daughter on the other hand makes me nervous. She gets WAY too excited to see a Republic Soldier with a gun show up. She is apparently so bored that the very idea of being kidnapped and used as a hostage is apparently enough to have her practically bouncing with joy. Nobles, man. Nobles.
Ultimately, you get them out of there and escort them to an extraction point. They tell you where Gearbox is. You show up at his secret underground bunker and blow up his giant walking mech and him. The end. There isn’t even a cutscene for when you kill him. You blow him up in battle. That’s it. There is some decent back and forth before he unveils his doom walker mech o’ doom that is really just a gold star elite and goes down pretty easy if you just keep interrupting its missiles. But yea, that was Gearbox. Just an un-exciting as he was when you met for 5 minutes on Ord Mantell and barely noticed him again.
The actual moral crisis for the planet – because as we are learning the trooper has pretty much exactly one per planet – is do you uphold your bargain with the Thul nobles or do you just let them rot in jail now that you have all three? And yet again, letting the enemy walk away free is your light side choice and imprisoning them is the dark side choice. This doesn’t bug me as much as the Tatooine choice here because you are breaking your word. Albeit your word isn’t exactly a choice to give as the game railroads you into making the promise just for the sake of this little do you/don’t you at the end, but at least you are breaking a promise to get the dark side points here. That’s a bit of a step up.
The Grand Finale
Of course if you’ve been keeping track, none of these planets end up dealing with Tavus. Well, that’s because in grand storytelling fashion that’s reserved for the finale. One last mission at the end of each chapter that brings it to a close. And this one has you on orders to find the Imperial starship “Justice” and wipe out the last of Tavus’ followers and the man himself. This is actually really fun because you do pretty much take over an entire ship with just you and your companion. You fight through tons of enemies, various lower ranked mini bosses which includes Wraith if you didn’t kill her way back at the end of the prologue. You shut down the hyper drive so it can’t escape, and then cut your way to the bridge to face off with Tavus. Tavus spouts his usual “You’re not Havoc! I’m Havoc!” crap that everyone else has said and then the battle begins proper. And as you stand victorious over the beaten former CO you are given a legitimate light/dark choice at last. Tavus offers to give you information and help get back at the Empire if you let him live. This gives you the choice of letting him live and work with you to redeem himself (light side), make him stand trial for his crimes (neutral/no points) or kill the bastard because traitors get no mercy (dark side). Honestly, I went dark side which is a SHOCKER if you’ve been reading these posts. I mean, you’ve gone this long to cover up the whole defection because it would hurt morale and injure the image of the military. So NOW you’re going to let him come back or stand trial? No. Uh uh. I’m X-Files-ing this thing and making sure no one knows what these punks tried to do. NO MERCY FOR TRAITORS!
There is a lot of fun to be had with the Trooper Chapter One storyline, I won’t lie. The constant question of do you let anyone know that the former Havoc Squad defected to the Empire weighs heavily over every planet you visit. And it changes up the conditions constantly. Do you let the Secret Intelligence Service know? Shouldn’t they? What about a lowly governor of an Outer Rim world that has no official ties to the Republic that will allow you to stress why a traitor should not be trusted? What about the Republic allies whose alliance you are using and possibly even abusing to accomplish your mission? Do they have a right to know why you are turning their heavily protected castle into a hotel for the enemy? The constant question of where your loyalty should lie as a soldier is brought up through these questions. Are you a dog of the military, or a soldier of the people?
Probably the worst examples of that question is the dark side/light side moral dilemmas you end up facing. The light side choices which are supposedly being the “Soldier of the People” choices are often reckless and pose a greater risk to the people than the dark side “Dog of the Military” choices. I understand the idea of the eternal optimist believing that everyone has good in them is great for the Jedi, but when the choice comes down to believing that they’ve changed now and surely won’t BLOW UP CORUSCANT AGAIN. The risk way outweighs the possibly benefit of “Hey I can change!” And these highly potential risks don’t seem to come with any consequence other than listening to General Garza chew you out for a few minutes.
So overall Trooper Chapter One has been a definite mixed bag. I wouldn’t disregard completely but geeze it takes a lot of faith to go the light side route here. Faith or stupidity. It’s hardly a shock that I pretty much went dark side for each and every trooper choice. It just made sense. I can’t wait to see what awaits us in Chapter Two.