Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR 5.10 ‘Jedi Under Siege’

    
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Faith in BioWare products has been waning as of late, but Star Wars: The Old Republic seemed to always maintain a core fan base. I would consider myself one of its core fans, and even my faith was slipping because BioWare Austin‘s focus seemed to be pulled away from the game that made it a studio in the first place, but it’s possible the recently launched Update 5.10 “Jedi Under Siege” was the first step back to form for the studio.

In order to really talk about the Jedi Under Siege story, I will have to spoil some major reveals and plot points, but I will save that for another article because I want everyone who wants to play through this to have a chance to do so. Rest assured, I will give my impressions here and recommendation here, but I will not spoil anything that will harm the plot. I should mention that I only had time to play through the Imperial side because to do that right, I had to play through it twice, given one of the major mechanics we will talk about in a bit.

The story

Each faction’s story is split in two ways: Loyalist and Saboteur. At the end of the Nathema Conspiracy and again at the beginning of this storyline, you are given the opportunity to side your Eternal Alliance with the Galactic Republic or the Sith Empire. Even if you were a former Sith Lord, you can side with the Republic. I happened to have a chance to do both because I’d finished the Nathema Conspiracy on an Imperial Agent and a Sith Warrior. My Imperial Agent sided with the Empire and my Sith Lord (for reasons I’ll tell you later) sided with the Republic.

The unfortunate part of that decision is that regardless of which faction you choose to side with, the story remains mostly the same. I only really noticed one big thing that changed between the two stories. For the overarching story, it’s relatively inconsequential, and I don’t mean the obvious personal contact difference. Of course, if you side with the Republic, you meet with SIS agent Jonas Balkar, and if you side with the Empire, you meet with NR-O2. That’s expected, but really these dialogue scenes don’t make a bit of a difference in the overall story.

Regardless of the faction you choose, you are sent to Moff Pyron. His favorite squad of troopers was sent on a secret mission to the supposedly abandoned planet of Ossus, which was laid to waste a few hundred years ago when Krath Witch Satal Keto caused multiple stars to go supernova. The Ossus mission is simple: Kill or capture the Jedi leadership and drive the rest from the planet.

The mission was being directly overseen by a newer member of the Dark Council Darth Malora. And if you know that name, it’s probably because she made an appearance on Korriban as an apprentice to a dark lord doing experiments on Tu’kata. You either helped her ruin her master or outed her. Moff Pyron believes that Darth Malora is wasting her time on Ossus and not pushing her mission forward fast enough. We find out from the Twi’lek Major Anri on Ossus that Malora has been spending more time experimenting on Geonosians than actually taking out the Republic. Pyron believes that the Alliance Commander (you) might be able to speed up the process.

The new characters

Your companion through most of the mission is Major Anri, who is actually one of the best characters in recent SWTOR history. She is voiced by the super talented Helen Sadler with a street-level British accent that fits the character perfectly. She’s respectful when she has to be but isn’t afraid to speak plainly when she’s with just you. My favorite line from the update is hers, and it’s all about her delivery. She was talking about a certain legend that was just revealed to be real. She said that the legend was used to encouraged Imperial youth to do what their parents said otherwise it would get you. Her line “brush your teeth and eat your vegetables” was just perfect and made me smile both times I heard it.

My Sith Warrior, who is a Light-Side warrior, usually ran around with Jaesa. In fact, she has the highest rank of any of my companions on that character. And her coming back was surprisingly well executed, although it confuses me why my Imperial Agent didn’t run into her, too. I believe it was smart how they kept her from my character for such a long time, and it made sense why she would rejoin him when he found her.

There were other intriguing bits from other characters, but I’m afraid that I would be traveling into spoiler territory if I dived too deep into them. But I want to make mention of one character that seemed to travel by stasis pod. And it’s not the character himself that I what to talk about; it’s his way of travel – because you end up finding him in a field. I find it hilarious to think that every time Acina wants to send him on a mission, she loads him up into some giant gun and shoots him into outer space toward the planetary destination. That’s not exactly how it happens, I’m sure, but it’s funny to think about.

My recommendation

I want to say that I liked the story overall. There were a few bits that threw me off and a few wasted characters, but the little character moments pushed me past the inconsistencies — especially Major Anri’s character moments. There is also a team-up at the end of the story that I really liked.

The story was short, and I wish it were paced to be a bit longer, but I also feel that it’s just a setup for a larger story coming in the expansion next year. Given that all it takes to play through this story is a $15 resub, I would say do it. About half of you will probably be disappointed in one thing or another, but the barrier to entry is so low that it shouldn’t matter much. It doesn’t take too long to complete, so it doesn’t cost a lot of time either.

I do want your thoughts as usual, but please, keep the comments spoiler free for those who want to see this through fresh eyes. You can save those comments for my spoiler article about the update coming soon.

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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Natalyia

Leaving the “SWTOR: The MMO you can’t team up in” aside (really, though? They did all the work to handle all the various permutations of group/solo-only/solo-with-spectator missions) and didn’t bother to use any of the tools they had available? Ahem. sorry.

The actual story itself “feels” a lot better than KotXX. The references/callbacks to the original story arcs feel a lot better than anything they did in Knights – and even though you can’t actually switch sides, it does more than just a token cutscene at the beginning to honor your choice, which I honestly was figuring was all we were going to get. It even remembered that one of my Agents has been a Republic double-agent since the end of the classic story. I was shocked. :)

The companions you run into in the course of the story didn’t feel unnaturally wedged in, and react well to characters they do/don’t know already.

Ossus isn’t really a full-fledged planet ala the ones from the classic stories, but it’s more of one than Zakuul, Nathema, or Iokath.

Jedi Under Siege isn’t a lot of story, but if we got an expansion with this level of storytelling quality and attention to character class/decisions I’d be happy to pay for it. Which is not something I thought I’d say after the KotXX stuff and its sequel stories.

I’d just like them to actually run through the missions in a team and make sure they don’t break in obvious, unmissable ways, k? :)

Oh, and I’m not subscribing, so as long as you have Knights of the Eternal Throne, you should be able to play the new story w/o re-subbing.

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Hikari Kenzaki

The new arc is entirely broken on a team.

You aren’t allowed in each others instances, but they still update when one person completes (or bugs out completely) and class specific companions appear and also cause bugs for the wrong player.

It’s a mess. You’re going to have quite a fun time on the CMA…

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Cory Ulvestad

R2 is pretty kewt, isn’t he? Not really evil… Just a coy cuboid.

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Trippin Ninja

It’s been awhile since I cancelled my subscription after playing since launch and this is the first thing that has me considering firing it back up since then. Glad to see more companions returning and the new planet looks great. Really need to finish Red Dead and God of War first though. So many good games, so little time!

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rosieposie

It’s an overall enjoyable update that has been long overdue. The one thing that it shows to me is that this game has always had and still has a lot of potential, if only it’s developers enjoyed the support of their corporate overlords. Updates like this should be if not monthly, then at least bi-monthly, not an annual thing.

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spencer quinn

You don’t need to sub to get it, you only need to be level 70, also no talk about Khem Val Romance? that alone makes this patch a 10/10

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Sana Tan

You don’t have to subscribe to play it.

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Zora

Played through both sides and enjoying a bit of dailies (because who doesn’t like to crown two hours of story with three months of grinding!) and the overall sentiment is that republic side gets a more cohesive narration start to finish while empire plays on foreshadowing

There’s diverging paths that it will be hard to reconcile but as an opening act it’s acceptable, I just have a hard time justifying why would we still be on ossus doing whatever after the chapter is concluded because well…no spoilers but both factions make it clear the task is concluded and this was not meant to be a turf war ever

In other news, the new guild activities and how easy to get a flagship has become get the highlight of the patch for me… wonderful, clever way to inject purpose in the existing universe without taxing what little devs they got left with

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NeoWolf

A relatively short chapter, however “okay” it seems is not in and of itself enough alone to bring me back. This game needs a lot of sorting itself out and getting BACK on track before that happens.

I step in the right direction though, which is something.

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Castagere Shaikura

So you have to be a sub player for this. LOL a big pass for me.

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Louie

Just like every single other content update since the game went F2P, yep.

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Sana Tan

NO, I played it without being a subscriber.