08/12/2015

What's the deal with Valkorion?

This post contains spoilers for the Shadow of Revan story, including Ziost, as well as for some of the early chapters of Knights of the Fallen Empire. Read at your own risk!

As much as I've generally enjoyed the KotFE story so far, there's one thing that's been bugging me about it: Valkorion.


Shadow of Revan's main story arc ended with the Emperor being newly strengthened, if still incorporeal. Then things went wild on Ziost to show us just how powerful he had become: not only could he possess countless people at once, including trained Jedi Masters, but he could also consume a whole planet just for the fun of it. I remember Rohan commenting that the character seemed to have become too powerful for it to be very believable that we, the player characters, could still defeat him.

Then the Knights of the Fallen Empire announcement came and we were all a bit confused. What did any of this have to do with Vitiate? Surely we weren't suddenly going to ignore the biggest threat to the known galaxy? Players like Xam Xam did intricate research in an attempt to tie it all together, but it all sounded a bit far-fetched (to me) any way you sliced it.

I was pretty shocked when the big mystery was already solved in chapter one of Fallen Empire and that it was really as trite as Vitiate = Valkorion.

Your character has the option to express confusion about this on a couple of occasions, and of course you have Lana and Koth to embody and remind you of the two opposing and seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints of Vitiate still being his same old self, just in a new disguise, or Valkorion supposedly being a fine old chap and generous ruler. However, you get so swept up in the events of your escape and everything that happens afterwards that there isn't much time to think about the subject in depth.

Fortunately I could suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy the ride, but the problem of Vitiate and Valkorion supposedly being the same character kept nagging at me at the back of my mind the entire time. First off, there is the feeling that the whole premise simply violates everything we've known so far. The Sith Emperor has always been described as supremely powerful, but not without limits. The Jedi knight story has a heavy focus on fighting him, and there are parts of the Sith warrior story that also show that the Emperor's powers could be curbed by cunning individuals. That we are supposed to accept that during all this time he also happened to inhabit a different body half a galaxy away does not mesh with this at all.

And then of course there is the problem of personalities. The way Vitiate is described in the lore is basically as batshit insane. Even as a baby he was emotionless and scary, and went on to torture and kill his own parents at a young age. While he certainly possessed a certain amount of cunning, he was never the subtle type. He enjoyed killing and made no secret of it. He's basically just an extremely powerful psychopath.

And then we have Valkorion, who entered a relationship with a Zakuulian woman that seemed genuinely loving at least at first and which produced no less than three children. His subjects have nothing but praise for him and the way we see him in KotFE he comes across as incredibly charismatic and impossible to truly read. You might want to argue that it's just good old Vitiate putting on a show again, but it just doesn't fit Vitiate's character in my opinion... not like this.

I have a hard time imagining how Bioware is going to come up with a convincing solution for this dilemma that won't feel incredibly forced. I suspect that it will come down to Vitiate and Valkorion not being quite the same, perhaps different aspects of him or something. There was one line during my Marauder's playthrough which caught my eye, though I don't remember the exact wording - my character said something about how she immediately recognised her old Emperor in Valkorion's throne room, and Valkorion replied with a comment about how it's a shame that she didn't see other things quite so clearly... which I understood to be an implication that there is more to the Vitiate = Valkorion equation than meets the eye. I hope it won't be too similar to the solution to the Revan storyline though.

What do other people think about this?

9 comments :

  1. I saw another commenter express the opinion that what really gives hope is the fact that Bioware is not evading the issue. The conflict between the Vitiate and Valkorion personalities is a central part of the story (as shown by Koth and Lana). So that's (hopefully) a sign that Bioware has something in mind.

    I think it will end up being something like "an Empire reflects its Emperor." To create the Sith Empire, Vitiate had to be the ultimate Sith. To create Zakuul, Valkorion had to be the embodiment of Zakuul values. Both of them are masks, and the true entity underneath might be different entirely.

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    1. Also, there's a really interesting line in KotFE chapter II, as an Agent. You see and kill a vision or shadow of Darth Jadus, and Valkorion says something like, "Jadus was the greatest Sith my Empire produced, and he was still a failure." It sounded like Vitiate had created the Sith Empire in a specific form for a specific purpose, and it failed in that purpose.

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    2. If you run an Inquisitor through Ziost there is a bit of dialogue from Master Surro during the Armory scene: "The Empire is a failure. You can have it--not that you should expect it to last much longer."

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    3. It's true that Bioware are not evading the issue, but to me as a player it just seems like it should be a much bigger issue than it is. If this was a story in a tabletop roleplaying game, my character's main goal right now would be to find out more about Valkorion's true nature as I'd expect that to contain the key to defeating him. (And yes, I'd even prioritise that over fighting Zakuul, due to... Valkorion's location.)

      I have to admit your suggestion makes little sense to me, but it does sound like something I could see Bioware using. Not sure what that says about me!

      And I find Valk's constant jabs at how much of a failure the Empire is pretty annoying actually, even as someone with a Republic main. Stop disapproving of my life choices, Dad!

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  2. I think Revan's split (spoilers!) in SoR will play into Valky's motivations and/or odd behavior. Also, when you ask "What's the deal ... " all I can see is your commando adopting a Jerry Seinfeld pose.

    Reference for my comment:
    http://bitterempire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Untitled-11_aa89fc12067e3c2d063a4e6b1896c3eag.jpg

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    1. Posting this here as well:

      https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KmoKQyWBNQY/VmnZcCt7UHI/AAAAAAAACo8/n9a8cPmSElI/s991-Ic42/Shintar%252520what%252527s%252520the%252520deal%252520face.jpg

      :P

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  3. I'm still hoping there is an intricate plan behind this all that will slowly unfold itself while new KOTFE chapters get released. Think about TV series that have plots that take seasons to finish; it can be done. Totally agree that there are many question marks, though, and that they will need answering in order to feel happy about the current story.

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  4. My question is: who would win in a fight? Valkorion, or Snoke?

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    1. I think we'd need to learn a bit more about both of them before we'd know for sure. Right now I'd go with Valkorion though, simply because Snoke hasn't been shown to be anything but a giant hologram!

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