SWTOR - Knights of the Fallen Empire
I decided to return to SWTOR today, not because I wanted another MMO but instead required a narrative driven RPG. I’ve been convinced by several websites and podcast that BioWare has effectively given us KOTOR 3 via Knights of the Fallen Empire and so I decided it was time to revisit the proverbial galaxy far, far away etc. I initially played SWTOR upon its launch in late 2011 and returned to the game after the F2P conversion, when Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion was released. Although I enjoyed the game more second time around I still felt that it sat somewhat uncomfortably between an old school MMO and a more contemporary variation. The less said about Galactic Starfighter the better, as that expansion just wasn’t to my liking. Essentially my return to the game is based on the promise of a single player RPG experience and the underlying appeal of the franchise.
Overall re-installing the game wasn’t too difficult. I managed to download the entire game client within an hour and forty minutes. To get the benefits of the latest expansion, a subscription is required which meant logging into the official SWTOR website. The one time password verification system quickly became trying but I sorted out a month’s fees while the game was installing. Once the game client was updated I logged in to find all three of my old characters. I had a brief look at them all but soon concluded that I had absolutely no idea how to play them or navigate around the game. So rather than waste time with these and play through the slightly older, more traditional MMO content, I decided to create a level 60 character for the new storyline. However before I proceeded I checked my cartel coins and found that I had nearly 5,000. So I bought some account wide inventory space and unlocked the Sith Pureblood skin.
Despite having played SWTOR before I’ve never explored either the Jedi or Sith classes, so this time round I decided to go all in and create a Red Sith Juggernaut. As ever the only stumbling block during character creation was trying to find a suitable name that hadn’t been already taken. This game mechanic has often been one of the MMO genre’s Achilles Heel. However once a name was secured I jumped straight into the action and played though the first chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire. Despite many familiar aspects such as the GIU and the basic game mechanics, the story takes a far more dominant place in the proceedings and the narrative moves events forward very much like a single player RPG. Checkpoints are regularly reached and as a player I can log out of the new story and return to the more traditional MMO content should I see fit. However for those wishing to avoid the usual trappings of an MMO such as other players, chat and people just generally getting under your feet, then there is a large onscreen button to return you to the instanced episodic content.
So far although I have not gone far into the story, I am enjoying my return to SWTOR. It has the usual Star Wars ambience with its strong idiomatic soundtrack and quality voice acting. As I didn’t play through the last expansion Shadow of Revan, I’m not up to speed with the plot. However I have spent some time perusing the Star Wars wiki and this has helped no end. After all Knights of the Fallen Empire is virtually an RPG and for me the appeal of that genre lies mainly with their narrative content. I don’t have many negative comments at present, although I do feel that SWTOR still has an excess of skills. The time I spent in Guild Wars 2 in recent years has certainly taught me that less is more. My hot bars in SWTOR are already awash with icons and I really don’t think that all of them are essential. I guess time will tell. At present I have a month to decide if Knights of the Fallen Empire is to my liking and it has only cost me £8.99, which means that if it goes ill, I won’t feel especially out of pocket.