With the newest add-on of Star Wars: The Old Republic Online, Bioware promised us a lot, including a return to so-called “Bioware Storytelling”. After several disappointments like the poor story of the Makeb expansion or the fact that “great new class quests” within the Revan expansion included exactly one crappy quest per class, I was very cautious with all the fuss that was made about Knights of the Fallen Empire prior to its release.
I think that strategy was wise to choose, because false expectations couldn’t be disappointed and when I played the content during the early access time (always being a good boy, paying my subscription), it just hit me. This time in a very positive way.
With a lot of effort Knights of the Fallen Empire manages to draw the player into the Star Wars universe. The new environment, be it the inside of a starship or somewhere in the swamps, is much more detailed than the previous worlds.
The soundtrack is great, especially the theme played during the entrance into Valkorion’s Throne Room.
The NPCs look really nice. The faces actually have a certain charisma and the voice actors, especially Darin De Paul (Valkorion) round it up. Playing the game, I was confronted with actual characters, people I wanted to meet, to interact with, to fight with or against them.
The overall atmosphere of the add-on is very convincing. It just feels like Star Wars. And what could be more convincing?
The story, speaking of a game as an interactive media, doesn’t offer many real choices. The player’s, and as a result the main character’s behaviour doesn’t change much with the selectable dialogue options.
Another flaw might be that there are no quests linked to the played class. So every class undergoes a similar, if not the same development of the story.
Nevertheless it is great fun to play through it. The atmosphere, as described previously, keeps everything together and the plot offers a lot of satisfying and also frustrating surprises. Not frustrating-bad but frustrating-good, keeping the player on track and keeping up the tension.
One of the biggest changes has happened to the companion system. And to put it in a few words: absolutely great changes!
Every companion can now be used as a tank, damage dealer, or healer. The player is able to choose his favourite companion and give him the role which fits best to his playing style.
Within the new story arc, old companions are lost and new ones are met. There are several quest lines in Chapter IX, which reward you with new companions and you can unlock most of your old ones via a terminal, even though this happens on a non-narrative level.
All in all you get a bunch of new and old companions, plus quite a number of so called followers, who work like companions, but are not so closely tied to the development of the story.
Not all the companions are likable and some are very superficial characters. Especially Nico Okarr, being praised as the great reward for keeping up your subscription, is probably the most annoying character ever, even worse than always-whining Ashara Zavros. Whoever invented Nico Okarr is trying hard to make him the coolest guy in the galaxy. Epic fail!
In addition the in-game character model of Nico Okarr is ridiculous. Most of the new characters have detailed faces and outfits, just Nico-coolest-subscriber-reward-ever-Okarr looks like the first character I created during the beta, which I deleted after reaching level 5, because I just couldn’t look at him.
But I want to stop whining now, before anyone calls me Ashara Zavros. Again, I want to stress how great the changes of the companion system are.
There are a lot of other new features to the game and I want to point out a few.
With Chapter IX you can travel to your contacts, which speeds up the endgame. No more driving or running around just to turn in a quest. A mouse click, a scroll down and another mouse click and there you are.
I also liked the Knights of the Old Republic-style dialogue windows, which appear in Chapter IX. Even though I would impute that this is a means to save money for dubbing actors, it’s at least a nice way to say “you are fired, dubbing actor!”.
All in all Knights of the Fallen Empire turned out to be a great expansion and really surprised me. There is the one and the other bug, clipping and so on. But else it wouldn’t be SWTOR.
Let’s just say: it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
Tom is an Austrian actor and director, working in theaters since 2001. He studied acting in Salzburg and currently lives in Germany. He loves being creative, putting the crazy thoughts in his head out into the world and dreaming of being a Star Wars character. In addition he is also studying Media-Management, but only if his thoughts don’t drift to galaxies far, far away.
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