Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s heist-themed ‘Profit and Plunder’ chapter stole the show, literally

    
31

I believe there is only one word to describe Chapter 13 for Knights of the Fallen Empire: cute. For the six chapters prior to this one, I’ve been walking around with a perpetual scowl on my face. The story has been so serious: Valkorion complaining that I need to follow him better, Theron Shan getting no sleep, his mother arguing with Darth Marr about food, Senya in depression about being a bad mom, and of course, Lana touting mission, mission, mission all the time. When is a Sith Lord and Commander of the Odessen resistance supposed to catch a break? Clearly, it’s during Chapter 13: Profit and Plunder.

As we all know, Star Wars: The Old Republic changed up the way we look at updates for the game when it introduced the single-player-focused expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. And I think most everyone will agree that the first nine chapters really hit the mark. The story was great, and people had plenty of things to do. Then there was a break, and about four months later, we got the next chapter. And we’ve received a new chapter once a month since then. As you might have read in other Hyperspace Beacons, I was not really a fan of Chapters 10 and 11. Chapter 12 was OK; it was a tentpole episode, but I had my reservations about it.

With Chapter 13, BioWare proved that the best thing about every BioWare story isn’t the setting, and to be honest, it’s not really the plot. Most of the time those are rehashes of classic stories. No, what really makes BioWare games great are the companions. And this month we get a double dose of them, and I think players will be satisfied.

hsb-mop-2016-profit-and-plunder-01

Let’s get the bad out of the way

As a writer myself, I understand the importance of the transition. A writer knows her characters like the back of her hand. She can write the hero or any of the companions a way out of a paper bag, but many writers have trouble taking the characters from the paper bag to flying a helicopter. If you are told by someone that you have to move your character from one situation to the next and you have only a half a page to do it, then it can be difficult. I believe something like this happened at the first part of this chapter.

The writer had to take the story from an incredibly tense, unresolved moment to meeting Gault in the cantina. There was one line of Lana’s that might as well have been, “Well, Jorgan and Kaliyo are missing and probably dead. There’s nothing we can do about it; I think it’s time to go celebrate in cantina.” I know there are some people who dislike those two companions enough to celebrate when they die, but seriously, Lana? That’s just cold, and the transition was awkward.

And the other negative, which is very similar to the first one, happens when we finally find out what happened during Kaliyo and Jorgan’s mission. I don’t know whether it was the line deliveries or just animation, but when it was announced the Jorgan and Kaliyo’s shuttle returned, they might as well have announced that it was Thursday and everyone still had another day on the factory assembly line. There was no life to the moment. “Ho hum, well, I guess we’d best see what happened.” It should have been, “OMG! Who made it out? How many of his nine lives did Jorgan use on this mission?! How scared was Kaliyo? And if she was scared, how can you tell?”

There is one more thing. I will not spoil it for anyone, but I will say this in case someone from BioWare is reading: No one cares when a redshirt dies. It doesn’t matter how many redshirts die. It could be four, or it could be six billion; in the end, the consumer of the story doesn’t care unless there was some sort of personal connection to said redshirts.

hsb-mop-2016-profit-and-plunder-02OK, now the good stuff

You know how I mentioned over and over that I hate Gault? Well, I still dislike him, but I no longer wish he were dead. He was a perfect addition to not only the story but to the whole Odessen Alliance crew.

I learned by watching Ernst Blofeld that super secret bases are a drop in the bucket. Apparently, I learned nothing by watching the Bond films. Hylo Visz, the smuggler in charge of supplies on Odessen, explains to the commander that the Alliance is losing money. Visz says that she knows a guy that can help the Alliance by robbing the biggest vault that the Eternal Empire has. Of course, that guy is Gault, and the vault is on a ship called the Gilded Star. Not only would robbing this vault get Arcann’s attention, it would also put a major dent in the Eternal Empire’s finances.

I could Cinema Sins my way through the whole heist plan, but I won’t. Ultimately, it is the character development that made this little adventure fun and worth playing. Gault is a guy that you want to punch the whole time but are ultimately glad he’s there. Vette’s writing is amazing. And she had the best line: “Good-bye, Spewy. I’ll never forget you.” And let’s see if you notice her reveal before you actually see her. I’ll admit, I missed it the first time.

If you’ve not subbed up to SWTOR for a long time and have been looking for a high note to end on, this is the chapter for you. Hindsight being 20/20, this chapter should have been rearranged a bit to be Chapter 10; it might have made the funk of the previous chapters unnoticeable. Give it a shot yourself; if I’m wrong, let me know in the comments below. If I’m right, I’d like to hear that, too.

As an added bonus this week, MJ and I are streaming some SWTOR in celebration of Star Wars day tomorrow. I hope you all join us there; we will probably have some things to give away, too. May the fourth be with you, always.

hsb-mop-2016-profit-and-plunder-03

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!

 

Advertisement

No posts to display

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Sarigar
Guest
Sarigar

The abrupt shift in tone from celebratory to deadly solemn at the end of the chapter was the only stumble, for me. No partying for you, Commander! Time to go yell at people!

Dnote
Guest
Dnote

This was the best chapter of KOTFE, for one single reason, everything else could’ve been rubbish, but this one reason elevated it above all others for me:
Only mobs with sensor skills or Elites could see through stealth! (unlike the rest of KOTFE where they all could)

That aside, I enjoyed it, the only fault I found was an NPC doing something my Shadow should’ve been able to do moments earlier, but apparently didn’t/couldn’t.

Woetoo
Guest
Woetoo

Ryuen
Don’t do it.
Koth’s passion is his weakness. He can be manipulated and forged through it.
Plus less Koth means more screen time for Theron, a character so deep I can see my reflection in his puddle.

Ryuen
Guest
Ryuen

Woetoo Ryuen So they have and my alliance now has one cat less.
Now if they’d arrange for that Koth fellow to cross my path again, my lighsaber wants to have a word with him about running off.

Woetoo
Guest
Woetoo

Ryuen
Yes, yes they have.

Woetoo
Guest
Woetoo

So I finally got around to watching the variations of story on Youtube last night.
Overall, I tend to agree with Larry that this is the high note of story telling within the recent chapters. I liked Vette’s farewell to Spewy, being somewhat reminiscent of the tone from Wheatley or GLaDOS from the Portal franchise. I wasn’t even as upset by the negatives mentioned by Larry, perhaps it’s because I’m not a writer.
A few things set my teeth on edge. The main one being the interchangeability of Theron/Koth. Koth has become irrelevant, if he doesn’t deliver his line, then it’s okay because Theron will do it instead. I can see the practicalities of why, but it still irritates.
Perhaps because I’m experiencing the content on Youtube instead of playing it, this chapter felt much better “directed” that previous ones too. The cinematic effect was better crafted, with a feeling of watching a good movie rather than a bad one.
But therein lies my primary problem with the game right now and the reason I still don’t feel the need to subscribe. The cut scenes are the story. My actions between the cut scenes are filler. More so when those actions (In my Chapter 1 to 9 experience) during that filler is pretty much identical (Run down corridor… shoot pack of 3 or 4 skytroopers), with minimal variation. That somehow feels wrong for an RPG (MMO or otherwise). In a world of “Show, don’t tell”, I feel like I’m being told my story. More so because this chapter felt like most of the dialogue was between other characters, not the player.
I want my time playing the game to be immersive, compelling and enjoyable. While being told the story, that’s true to an extent. Noticing (or better still, seamlessly not noticing) how my decisions are making “my” story different from the next person’s story is a nice bonus that is ultimately shown to be toothless over time. But if the story is supposed to be the glue that holds the game together, the game is barely a thing any more. Seemingly, it’s the glue that has become important. Again, perhaps that’s coloured by the fact that I’m not actually playing right now. But that’s because I know that if I were subscribed, I’d reach the end of the chapter and go “what now?”. We absolutely need this level of story telling, it’s what sets SWTOR apart. But the rest of the game needs fleshing out too (and fixing).
As someone who has played since before launch, I recognise the game is GREAT for new players. Players with significant social ties within the game are also having fun too (though it’s debatable how much the game itself is contributing to that). I just can’t help but feel though that that greatness exists mainly in the level 1 to 50 experiences. i.e. That greatness hasn’t really been expanded upon by recent expansions.
Each month has roughly 730 hours of available play time available for me. I just want Bioware to give me a reason to play for some of the other 728. Though granted, the Eternal Championship came close to dragging me back in this month. If player feedback is that it has some replayability and isn’t just a pointless time sink like the Alliance Specialist boxes, maybe I’ll dip back in next month. More likely though, I’m waiting for Chapter 15/16.

Deadborder
Guest
Deadborder

demonxaphan Deadborder Well that sucks. My one hope for this chapter flushed.

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

Karl_Hungus mysecretid Deadborder 
I’ll see if I can set you up with a Hutt, Karl … ;-P
Cheers,

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

ComradeStanimir mysecretid 

That would have been a nice touch, yes.

I don’t know if you ever played the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 (an installment some of us view as the preferred ending for ME3) but much of that episode was basically one big farewell party where you got a chance to interact with your various surviving companions one last time.

Part of me hopes we might get an epilogue piece like this in SWTOR, after Fallen Empire concludes — a chance to get re-acquainted with all our digital friends and sweethearts before jumping back into whatever crisis comes next.

Cheers,

Karl_Hungus
Guest
Karl_Hungus

mysecretid Deadborder 
I remain unimpressed by her malnutrition.