16/07/2016

The Social Side of KotFE

While doing all these chapter write-ups for Knights of the Fallen Empire, I've come to appreciate that KotFE does actually have a social side. Admittedly not in the gameplay itself, but in talking about your choices.

Now, you might want to dismiss me right there because a) obviously I like talking about games more than the average person or else I wouldn't have a blog and b) you can talk about anything, so what makes talking about KotFE in any way special?

I think that Bioware RPGs in general (and similar games as well probably) lend themselves to a particular kind of socialising because of their odd value proposition: that the choices you make will result in a unique (but still pre-crafted) story, so you're basically paying for lots of content that you won't see. Sure, in theory you could play the game over and over to explore all the different paths, but who really does that? In a single player game I suppose you can at least mess with save files to explore different outcomes for some situations with minimal effort, but in KotFE you don't even have that. While you can buy a level sixty character these days, that's just going to be based on a template, meaning that some options will still be locked out by default. If you want to know how things differ if you made different choices in your class story or romanced a companion, you'll actually have to level an alt from scratch.

So, if we accept that most people won't see the results of a lot of the built-in choices, how do they even know that they are there, that they aren't actually playing a completely linear game that's merely pretending to offer multiple different outcomes? And the answer is of course: by talking to other people.

As soon as I'd finished my first playthrough of KotFE's first nine chapters, I asked my pet tank if and when he had accepted Valkorion's help and we exchanged stories. When chapter ten came out, nothing very exciting happened in my own first playthrough... imagine my shock when I opened a forum thread about the new chapter that immediately started off with a player grousing about how a certain companion had left them. And so on and so forth. I don't really want to get into spoilers in this post, but basically I've discovered so many more things that can happen in KotFE - and that I would have been unlikely to ever have discovered myself - by simply reading about other people's experiences. References to companions. Choices from previous chapters leading to surprising results later on. I actually get super excited every time I find a mention of something like that on a forum or on a blog now.

I score very high as both a socialiser and an explorer on the Bartle scale, and I always like to remind people that exploring is about more than uncovering bits of the map. It's about finding things that most players don't usually see, and KotFE is quite a treasure trove in that regard - if you are willing to put up with some repetition while replaying chapters, but even more so if you are simply willing to share the experience with other people.

4 comments :

  1. (Comment spoiler-free to match the post's nature)

    For me, the most interesting thing to have come from this which I missed for a long while is the choice regarding HK-55 in Chapter IV, something which itself of course then leads to a further option later on.

    Considering the logical paradox of this initial option, you wouldn't think it to be at all possible, but there it is!

    It will be interesting to see what happens in Chapter XVI and how far things differ based on immediate and long-standing choices. Chapters X - XV have been somewhat disappointing in this regard.

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    1. Yeah, that HK thing was another one I only learned about by proxy, due to my light side leanings... you've got to be pretty damn cruel to not just leave those exiles but to actively want to murder them!

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  2. I've mostly talked to Conrad about whether I'd regret picking option 1 or 2 (the answer always was no), when I heard something ominous was about to happen from a kinnie. Usually we hang out with a lot on voice chat and there's always at least one that hasn't played through a chapter, so we don't speak about the story as much. So for me there's not that much of a social side to KOTFE, if I think about how many minutes I've actually spent discussion the story.

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    1. I could see how having to avoid spoilers around your friends could put a dampener on sharing too much about your story. One kind of has to actively seek out posts about them where everyone is OK with talking about them.

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