Hyperspace Beacon: Should you resub for SWTOR: Disavowed?

    
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Hello, friends. I hope you don’t mind my calling you that. I do respect my readers. Thankfully, most of you are rational and thoughtful. And I do my best to be the same. Many of you are also fans of Star Wars: The Old Republic, or at very least want to be fans of Star Wars: The Old Republic. And I know for certain that BioWare has made it difficult for you to want to play the game recently. The lackluster launch of Chapter 10 made some of you question if you shouldn’t just completely give up on the MMORPG all together. I can certainly see your point, although I would recommend giving it another chance to win you over… next month, not this month.

You were probably hoping chapter 11 of Knights of the Fallen Empire would outshine chapter 10. And if I am completely honest with you, it does. It’s a better chapter, and the connection between game mechanics and storytelling is tighter. But I’ll get more into that later. The bottom line is that you, my friend, are waiting for the chapter to really pull you back into the game with a story that’s exciting and impactful. And the unfortunate truth is that Chapter 11: Disavowed is another chapter full of setup and exposition.

Let me break that down into the good and the bad and let you decide for yourself if you think this is a good time to come back to the game.

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Full disclosure

Since you’re my friend, I first have to disclose something to you because I feel that it is only right. And ultimately, I don’t want it to come back and bite my credibility. Between this Hyperspace Beacon and the last one, I had a conversation with BioWare producers off the record. Because it was off the record, I cannot expound on the specifics of that conversation, but I would like to mention that they reached out to me. Why? Again, the exact topics are off the record, but you need to know that they are listening not just to me but to all the fans of SWTOR, which earns them more than a few internet points.

Regardless of those internet points, however, I’m still going to tell you, my friends, what I really thought about chapter 11. Let’s continue.

hsb-mop-2016-disavowed-02Setting the scene

As you might recall from chapter 10, the Odessen Alliance obtained schematics for the Zakuul Spire by doing a mission with Firebrand, aka Kaliyo Djannis, aka the former friend of the Imperial Agent, aka the Rattataki companion. You might also remember, if you were playing a bad, bad darksider, that someone from your group of friends might have run off. I’m not going to spoil anything yet because if you were following my advice, you’re still not playing the game again. At any rate, chapter 11 picks up right where the last chapter left off, depending on which decisions you made.

Regardless of your decisions, Mr. Handsome himself, Theron Shan, will leak some of of the Spire schematics to some friends of his in the SIS. Being a Sith Warrior and friend of the Empire, you might be a bit set off by this. Hell, if you’re not a fan of anything the Republic is doing at this point, it’ll set you off. Anyway, as it turns out, Mr. Rooster-Hair’s friends are none other than the infamous Havoc Squad.

For those who haven’t played the Republic Trooper storyline, know that Havoc Squad was made famous first by galactic hero Jace Malcom at the battle of Alderaan during the Imperial invasion. You saw parts of this battle in the Hope trailer when the game launched. The roster changed up over the years, and so did its leadership. First, Jek Karden took over, then the squad became infamous with Harron Tavus as commander. On Ord Mantell, Tavus and the majority of Havoc Squad turned traitor and defected to the Empire, leaving only two people loyal: the Trooper class player and Aric Jorgan.

For the rest of that story, you should really play through the vanilla game, which you can do for free if you click on the link at the top of this article or if you follow my refer-a-friend link. (Imagine there are blinking lights around that shameless plug.)

As you might have guessed by playing through the Knights of the Fallen Empire storyline (if you haven’t, I have a link that might help you), the Trooper is no longer in charge of that little outfit and Aric Jorgan has taken her place. And that is where major spoilers come in, and I stop telling the story. But that won’t stop me from giving you my thoughts.

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The good and the bad

If you are looking for chapter 11 to have some length to it, then you’ll be disappointed. I ran the whole thing in about 45 minutes, and that’s with reseting it because of the naked-Jorgan bug. (The bug’s been fixed now, but it was hilarious to see Jorgan in the grass without any clothes on. When I first saw it, I thought that maybe Jorgan had gone completely feral and let his inner cat take over, which might have actually been a interesting story. I digress.)

Despite its short runtime, I found that Disavowed had more story substance than the previous one. I think that’s because each movement and mob kill pushed the story forward. There seemed to be a reason for those enemies to be there and not just the arbitrary reason of “we have to move from point A to point B.” On top of that, the mission wasn’t just a kill quest. I actually had to figure out a puzzle — a simple puzzle, but a puzzle nonetheless.

Ultimately for me, the reason that chapter 11 works is that it clearly fed into the greater story. Although it did pull on nostalgia by reintroducing Havoc Squad and Jorgan, there was an honest-to-goodness reason for bringing them into the mix, and it made sense for the characters, regardless of the faction of your own avatar.

If you were a Trooper-story fan, then resub and play through this chapter — you’ll like it. If you want to get a jumpstart on what looks to be an amazing chapter 12, then resub now. If you’re looking for something to wow you back into the game, then you might want to hold off until Chapter 12: Dark Passages officially launches on April 7th.

Any questions? Let me know them in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them. Until next week, may the Force be with you or some such.

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Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Shaddoe Deadborder Agreed. Not sure how someone could be a liar about stating their opinion.
Deadborder – that was out of line.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

I wish there was more new content in a month. OTOH, isn’t this true of almost every MMO? e.g. HOT and of course Chapter 10 is more new content than you got for spending $180 to subscribe to WoW for a year.  But $15 is not a high barrier to achieve for entertainment.  Besides, more story, less raiding and items that stack to 9999 are concepts worth supporting.

Woetoo
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Woetoo

Shaddoe Jadefox 
I suppose the issue is that we aren’t operating within the Star Wars Universe.
Larry is still hopeful, because Bioware are the heroes and are taking the route that plays to their strengths. They’re dead if they stay where they are, with a bunch of very loud stormtroopers with lots of blasters about to shoot them. So they jump down the chute with no real clue where it will lead them – but in the hope that wherever it goes, it’s better than where they were. Except where they land is every bit as dangerous as where they just left. Well, maybe slightly less  based on the fact they’re still alive and have gained a little time. Luckily for our heroes, they put themselves in a position where the droids could rescue them.
But who are Bioware’s droids? Who’s intervention is going to save Bioware from becoming part of a 3x3x3 square block of metals and bio material that ejected into space as part of the next routine trash dump? It’s clearly not the players… they pulled Luke under for a quick bite to eat before quickly exiting the area when they hear the machinery starting. It’s not likely to be EA, who are doing metallurgical scans on the contents of the crusher area – evaluating if the bio material is going to make recycling the metals not cost effective – and who have a long history of waste dumps across the galaxy.
Nearly 2 million people wanted to play this game at launch.
Maybe I’m being naive, but my hope remains that if Bioware can find a way to deliver a good chunk of what those 2 million customers/players wanted – some of us will return. Sorry, it won’t be cheap. But Bioware games used to be sold on reputation only – maybe, just maybe a substantive improvement across the whole game will rebuild some trust in the Bioware brand. The problem is finding a way to expand, fix, improve and rework all the areas of the game that feel abandoned right now without alienating those players currently still paying for the game (the story brigade, with minimal attention span, a willingness to spend money on cosmetic items, who don’t want to be challenged in combat). I’m sure other groups of players still exist… but that’s who Bioware are currently delivering content to.
Finally. I just want to make the point that I don’t want Luke to be relying on luck to get out of Garbage Compactor 3263827. I don’t want him to be taking ideas from the audience or having a poll amongst the people around him. I want him to be an experienced Jedi Knight. Someone who knows the universe and how to achieve what they want in the best possible way for all concerned. Because nobody wants to follow the clueless kid who leads them into the garbage compactor.

Karl Maurer
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Karl Maurer

Shaddoe Karl Maurer Yes, I did. I just wanted to restate part of that here (as it is a REAL sticking point for me, right now) in this new article so the subject keeps being put in their eyes… as they obviously DO read the articles and DO pay attention to the comments. The fact that the devs for SWTOR do, indeed, pay attention and TRY to address things is why I have stuck with the game through thick or thin. The moment it starts to appear that the people making a game really don’t listen to the people playing it is when the game starts to head out the door, for me.

Shaddoe
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Shaddoe

Deadborder Shaddoe That’s an interesting take and perhaps if Chapter 11 was so padded with unnecessary mobs, I would have seen it that way, too. I think both chapters suffer from for more exposition than action. Perhaps the fact that Chapter 11 was more about actually doing something than talking about doing something, I enjoyed it more than Chapter 10.

(Although that doesn’t make me a liar. :-P )

Deadborder
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Deadborder

Shaddoe Deadborder I didn’t actually like chapter 10. However, as bad as chapter 10 was, it was still far better then chapter 11.

Eleven felt like a contact alert that had been stretched out to a painful eternity and yet, at the same time, was disappointingly short. If “Go talk to Alric, kill a thing, he joins your team” had been an alert that you did between actual real honest to got chapters, then that would have been great. As it was, 11 was spending half an hour squishing around in the same boring Zakuul swamp zone that we’ve squishing around in forever killing the same Skytrooper and Imperial Knight mobs we’ve been killing forever.

Ten, for all its miriyad flaws at least had an inkling of plot to go with it, and, if nothing else, gave you more involvement then just “NPC talks at you”. It also felt like, well, a chapter and not an overblown side-quest.

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t stand Kaliyo and wish that Chapter 10 had a “run her through with a lightsaber and throw her body in a ditch” option as would be logical after what she did. It’s just that her story was far more interesting and involving then Eleven and Corporal Catman

Dnote
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Dnote

Does anyone else feel that this Alliance is a bit messed up? My main is a Consular and as part of the store you form an Alliance of non-Republic forces to aid in the fight against the Empire. In doing this you travel around the galaxy, helping them and convincing them to come join you.

But with KotFE, you don’t do anything, they just keep turning up and they always turn up on Zakuul. It is like the whole thing is just a coincidence and if you wait long enough they will all just come to you.

Let’s take Jaesa for example, wouldn’t be awesome if you find out through one of Sana-Rae’s visions, that you need to go to Korriban. You end up in a remote part of Korriban (the devs can easily build a new area that both sides can visit). There you meet you some apprentices, who inform you that they’re on the run from the new Empress’ Sith, their instructor is trapped in a tomb. You venture into the tomb, defeat monsters, solve puzzles and come across Jaesa. Depending on whether she is Light or Dark (canon), you then have to complete her task before she and her apprentices join you. Which requires you to either convince the Sith she is dead or to kill them.

No Zakuul rubbish in sight, a new area to explore that will be somewhat familiar to most and a logical reason for what the companion is doing and where they are. Along with you actually having to go out and recruit a main storyline character, rather than just waiting for them to come to you.

Frankly I’m bored of the Zakuul swamps and lower city, it’s the same areas constantly back and forth with stupid pointless encounters.

KotFE is nowhere near as good as the original story telling so far, but I think it is only because of the lack of effort that is being put into the environment and mission designs. The potential for a great story is there, they just don’t seem to want to do any of the work to support it.

Husvik
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Husvik

No i doubt i would even download it again, i think I’m tab targeted out, the stories are good but it’s all the between i can’t be bothered with.

mrnastybutler
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mrnastybutler

SallyBowls1 mrnastybutler Greaterdivinity To answer the question about the “hard proof”, I would like to see full stats, numbers, expenditures, income, pretty much the stuff they don’t let us see and I am not saying that they should.  And not just from this year, but also years past.  That would just be the “hard proof” I’d require.  Having them say something without the documented proof I could look at and evaluate is difficult for me to say that is proof enough.  I am glad they are making comments like that.  But that’s not really proof.  If a EA rep says, “Everything is wonderful and we are doing well” that’s just a persons word.  

This is really going back to the idea of “hard proof”, I am using your wording there.  Till I see more, which I full expect to never really see and am comfortable with that, I have to ponder it’s future with the information I am permitted, by the company, to see.

I do accept that I am not permitted to see what would make me feel certain to say one way or another on the MMO’s future, so I am left to ponder it, the future of the MMO that is.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

mrnastybutler Greaterdivinity  What would it take to be hard proof then?  In the last EA earnings conference call the SWTOR comment was “STAR WARS™: The Old Republic grew to its highest subscriber level in nearly three years.” How many other MMOs can say that? We don’t have the numbers to say it is the best performing MMO but it sure seems to be doing better than most