The presentations are complete. The information is out there, and the hype is over. Now the reality of what is actually being delivered in Knights of the Fallen Empire is starting to set in.
Story, and lots of it. Star Wars: The Old Republic has been referred to as the greatest single player MMO of all time, and Knights of the Fallen Empire would seem to do little to help the game shed that moniker.
Case in point, take this snippet from the official news article for the expansion.
Additionally, many of our existing Flashpoints and Operations are being scaled to 60+, giving you many more Elder Game options at Level 65.
With the focus clearly on story, little or no resources are being spent on new Flashpoints and Operations. Not even solo or tactical ones. Players wishing to engage in end-game PvE will now be forced to play through recycled content albeit at a renewed difficulty level.
I’ve raided enough over the years to know that part of what makes raiding fun is overcoming new boss challenges and mechanics. Gear and power are just one aspect that makes defeating bosses possible. The other, and arguably most important, is the learning that comes from repeatedly doing each encounter.
Ramping up the difficulty of existing content removes the learning curve and the challenge becomes acquiring the gear necessary to defeat the encounters once again. One begins to feel like Sisyphus pushing that same boulder up the same hill.
I’m curious to see what impact this has on the game once players have completed all sixteen story chapters on the army of characters they’re building.
The other piece that may not go over well is the handling of the Republic and Empire. Knights of the Fallen Empire takes the two factions and tosses them to side.
The Sith Empire and Galactic Republic have fallen. The Jedi and Sith have retreated to their temples. No one remains to stand between the Eternal Empire and the utter destruction of all we hold dear.
If there is one Star Wars story that people love it’s the conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire and the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. Even the makers of The Force Awakens are smart enough to know this and are embracing that concept.
I would have loved to see more done with these two factions. Now it looks like there will just be one, and at least for the moment, we’ll be facing this singular common enemy – The Eternal Empire.
The one benefit of this is that we should now get a single coherent story. I enjoyed the Shadow of Revan and Ziost storylines, but I didn’t like that there needed to be different versions for each faction. The stories were essentially the same, but with subtle differences that left me having to choose which “reality” I liked better.
A couple of other things that stood out to me today were the mention of a level cap increase to 65 and the ability to create a level 60 character. There was no indication that a level increase would come with new abilities or another tier of points to spend. It would seem odd to just increase the level and get nothing more than increased stats, but you never know.
With the ability to create an insta-level 60, I can’t help but wonder if I’m wasting my time with the epic story boost. I also don’t know what this means for class stories and other content. World of Warcraft has their level 90 boost, but the story prior to Warlords of Draenor is mostly irrelevant to ones character. This is not the case with SWTOR.
Finally, there is the new cinematic. It’s over four minutes long and it does not disappoint. I know I shouldn’t draw a correlation between the cinematic and The Force Awakens, but I’m going to anyway.
If a game company can produce a Star Wars cinematic of this high quality, I feel like it’s almost impossible for J.J. Abrams and crew to make a bad Star Wars movie. My hopes for Episode VII are soaring even higher now, but I digress.
I’m doing my best to look at Knights of the Fallen Empire in the context of the content that has preceded it. When it comes to telling a story, BioWare is the best. I have no doubt that the story will be gripping and there will be moments where I sit frozen at the screen with my mouse hovering over option one and option two knowing that no matter which one I choose, I’ll wish I had gone the other way. I’m expecting many an Ava Jaxo moment this time around.
It’s going to be good. Really, good. I know I’ll look forward to spending many an evening logging into The Old Republic as if I were opening up a good book.
The problem is I tend to read alone, and I don’t know that I want that experience from an MMO.