This is going to be one of those “Bel is very late to the party” sort of posts but bear with me. Additional upfront warnings… I am entering a territory with this post that might have some minor spoilers. For a long while I have avoided Knights of the Fallen Empire because I knew it made some significant changes that you simply could not step back. As a result in my best Mass Effect fashion… I attempted to wring as much joy from the “old world” as I could and made sure that I saw all of the story content before moving forward. Last night however I finally reached that point where I was at least reasonably comfortable taking the plunge and moving forward into the modern era of SWTOR. Having said that… there are a bunch of things I am extremely glad that I completed before doing so. Firstly I am happy that I managed to see the main story arc for each of the classes. Secondly I am happy that I took the time to progress every single companion and see all of their personal story before moving forward. Additionally as far as I am concerned it is extremely important to do both Shadows of Revan and Rise of the Emperor (Ziost) before starting the Fallen Empire content. I mean in theory you can just jump ahead to the modern era at any point you like, but if you want to have completed all of your story elements… you need to do class story to completion, Revan and Ziost.
Functionally Shadows of Revan and Rise of the Emperor are the unlabeled opening acts of the Fallen Empire campaign, and as a result I am extremely glad that I completed both of them. Now the other big piece of warning that I had been given was that anything you want to do with your companions… you need to do before entering “chapters” mode. This is because in truth you may or may not ever see them again. I personally don’t have a list of which companions are findable in the game, and which are just gone indefinitely… but I have heard that some fan favorites are absolutely missing in action. Once you enter Chapters the game is functionally changed, and you are sort of along for the ride. It was that point that really concerned me and kept me from taking the leap for a very long time. I had built up this comfortable stable of characters that I liked using, and enjoyed my jetting around the galaxy life style. Once I started Chapter 1… literally all of that changed and I began playing a very different game. That said… I think it might be a better game.
If Star Wars the Old Republic was functionally World of Warcraft in space… then Fallen Empire is Knights of the Old Republic 3. The game feels like it shifts from being a traditional check all of the boxes MMORPG… to being a much more story focused RPG that just happens to have other people playing it at the same time. At this point I am still wrapping things up in Chapter VI and hope to keep moving forward tonight, but I’ve found myself in a situation that feels very familiar to anyone who has played KOTOR 1 or 2. In that fashion I think its best to think of Fallen Empire and I assumed Eternal Throne as a sequel to Star Wars the Old Republic. You are playing the same character, and you have all of the items you have built up along your first journey, but you are functionally playing a completely different game. Maybe it is more of a new game plus mode than anything, as you shift your focus from the traditional tropes of an MMO, to starting over again. It feels much the same as Mass Effect 2 did after the original, where you are set down in a world that is familiar, but the cast of characters has changed slightly… and you have to rebuild your legacy.
I will likely continue to report in as I travel through the new content, but so far I have to say I am hooked. There are a lot of events that happen in rapid succession, but functionally when you regain full control of your character five years have passed and the future is uncertain. You are presented with a new cast of characters… some of which are familiar and others brand new. That said the cast of characters are interesting and I immediately felt right at home… in spite of no longer having my original team of companions. I can see the potential for setting forth in a matter that cuts across the various class stories and potentially introduces me to characters from them all. The other weird thing about this setting is that I am finding myself turning from pure Jedi… to more of a balanced user. I am giving myself permission to take more dark side choices when I feel like it suits my purpose better. I am going to save the people that need saving… and I am absolutely going to take a lightsaber to the folks who deserve killing. I am no longer the Jedi Battlemaster and am now instead known as the Outlander, and with that comes a change in focus. Belghast is going to be a lot darker than before… and that is going to be okay. I feel like this character is the vanguard of all of the characters I have played, and as a result sort of adopting my favorite traits from each of the class storylines. In wild space, Sith and Jedi don’t matter anymore… but instead what matters is freeing the galaxy of this new threat.