23/09/2016

KOTOR Adventures: Manaan Manaan

Last time on Knights of the Old Republic, I had finished my Jedi trials on Dantooine and was being set loose upon the galaxy to find the pieces of an ancient star map, which supposedly hides a very important secret.

I had literally bankrupted myself buying enough medpacks for the last fight on Dantooine and was looking forward to now being able to explore the galaxy and extract money from it. I flew to Tatooine first because to me that one sounded like the most appealing out of all the available planets, however on exiting my ship I was immediately accosted by some Czerka officials who demanded a one hundred credit docking fee to even let me out of the spaceport. Since I didn't have that of course, I thought "screw you, guys" and took off again, intending to find a planet first that wasn't ruled by greedy Czerka scum.

I picked Manaan next, and did indeed manage to get off my ship and talk to a couple of NPCs there. However, as soon as I wanted to access Ahto City proper, there was the hundred credit docking fee again. It dawned on me that this was probably a requirement on every planet and that you're basically screwed if you're out of money at this point. Since on Manaan there was at least a vendor nearby, I grudgingly sold him a couple of bits and pieces that I had been hoping to keep, in order to be able to cover the fee. The Selkath gatekeeper told me that a map of the city was included in the fee, but apparently it wasn't, because unlike on previous occasions when I was given a map, the area was not revealed to me.

When Manaan was added in SWTOR, even without offering anything but the staging point for the Depths of Manaan flashpoint, a lot of KOTOR fans seemed very pleased, so I figured that they had fond memories of the place Sadly my own experiences did not reflect this at all. While the "flying in" cut scene looked gorgeous despite its age (taking screenshots of specific things is really hard on the tablet by the way, as tapping it to bring up the screenshot button also registers as "skip this please"), actually walking around Ahto City just felt kind of... boring. There was no "outside" to explore, and relatively few NPCs wanted to talk to me. The peaceful music actually managed to make me doze off once while I was trying to sort out my inventory...


Eventually it became apparent that my only avenue for progress was to do a job for the local Republic representative which involved breaking into a nearby Sith base to retrieve some stolen data. Funnily enough, they made a big deal out of how I had several different options to break in there, a problem that was solved easily enough, but I didn't even know where the damn base was and nobody deigned to tell me that. Eventually I googled it and realised that I had missed the exit to an entire part of the city that I hadn't even discovered yet... if only they'd given me that map...

So I broke into the Sith base and had a horrible time. I cleared the first two or three rooms, but soon ran into problems. One way was blocked by some sort of door puzzle, which - even though I had found a datapad with instructions - made zero sense to me. I decided to go another way instead, and found a room with a couple of uber powerful droids that I once again couldn't even scratch. After reloading (they killed me of course), I tried a different door and ended up being massacred by a bunch of Dark Jedi for a change. "I hate this place, I'm going home," I thought, and exited through the front door... just to be arrested by the Selkath for trespassing in the Sith base for no good reason and getting sentenced to death.


After moping for a bit about having got myself stuck in situation with no pleasant way out of it, I gave in and googled a guide. Fortunately the killer droids didn't really matter, and the Dark Jedi weren't as bad as they had seemed at first, going down relatively easily on my second attempt. The guide explained to me how to get past the door puzzle, and revealed that at the very end, I would be able to find proof there that the Sith were up to no good which I would then be able to use to exonerate myself when the Selkath came to arrest me on my exit.

But first I ran into Shasa, a young Selkath whose father had asked me to look for her as she had gone missing. Turns out that she and her friends had been lured in by the Sith with false promises. I was easily able to prove the Sith's duplicity to them though - apparently a friend of theirs had been tortured to death literally in the room next to them and they never noticed. Suckers. They all went home after that, but clearly nothing good came of Shasa, considering that she later went on to found her own flavour of the Revanite cult on Manaan.


Then came the final room with the datapad I would need for my trial later. It was guarded by another Dark Jedi and his two Selkath apprentices. They killed me, but this time I wasn't going to give up so easily, so I tried again, and again. I pumped my party full of stims, had them all activate personal shields, saved and tried again. Following simple logic, I had them burn down the apprentices first before focusing on the big guy, but once I finally got that far, I once again ran into the problem of none of my characters being able to actually hurt him, and eventually he whittled down my party to nothing yet again. This was weird because a chunk of his health was already missing, and when I paid closer attention on the next try I realised that my group was able to hit him pretty hard whenever he was stunned - so I switched my strategy to focusing on the big guy first, with all three party members rotating through their stuns while they still had Force, which finally resulted in a hard-earned victory.

The whole encounter made me realise that clearly my biggest problem with some of the fights so far has been me "doing it wrong" in some way, whether by using the wrong abilities or the wrong weapons. The problem is that I'm pretty lazy when it comes to the numbers part of roleplaying. This was actually what led me to eventually quit my pen and paper roleplaying group, because the other players were all the exact opposite. The GM would frequently kill off characters, but everyone else was almost happy about that since it allowed them to whip out their rulebooks and try to build a new combination of feats and abilities that would hopefully turn out to be OP. Meanwhile I was always crushed when yet another budding character arc came to an abrupt end and I had to deal with the tedium of distributing stats again.

Because of this I had been happy to let KOTOR's "auto level up" feature do all the work for me and hadn't bothered too much with reading gear tooltips and the like. Only after this did I finally sit down and take a slightly closer look at my character's numbers, only to realise that whatever the auto-level had been doing, it was the exact opposite of what I wanted. Why did I have so many points in demolitions, which I never used? And no wonder my persuasion attempts always failed, considering I had almost no points in it! I immediately switched to adding any newly earned points manually, but for the moment the damage was done. I've also been told that lightsabers are kind of weak against certain droids... but of course I vendored all my vibroblades once I'd got my saber, thinking that surely lightsabers would be superior against everything. (Maybe that vendor at the spaceport still has them...)

Anyway, I successfully escaped the Sith base at last, proved to the Selkath that they were evil and retrieved the stolen Republic data. Because nothing is ever easy, the Republic now wanted me to investigate a secret underwater base they were building and where something had apparently gone horribly wrong as everyone who was sent down to check on it had just disappeared.


After the struggle in the Sith base I decided to try a different party composition and took my little astromech droid T3-M4 (like the German SWTOR server!) down to the underwater base with me. I was delighted by his slicing ability, but when it came to fighting a giant battle droid things were once again touch and go, making me swap companions once again. I think it was only around then that I realised how easy that actually was... for some reason I thought that I'd have to walk back to the Ebon Hawk every time.

As it turned out, the Selkath in the underwater base had all gone mad and torn everything to bits, leaving only a couple of panicked survivors behind. Apparently this madness was induced by a giant sea beast that got woken up by the base's pumps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, turns out to be to either poison said beast or to try to calm it down by getting rid of the noisy machinery. This has you walking around on the ocean floor in a special environmental suit for a bit, which clearly served as inspiration for the underwater part of the HK bonus chapter. It was a neat change of pace I suppose... except for the part where I was forced to take down several groups of mad Selkath without any companions (since you only have one suit to cross over to that part of the base). Seeing how I had trouble with certain fights with a full group before, this bit was just painful. I died sooo many times... eventually I even turned the option to pause after every combat round back on because I simply couldn't afford a single round to go to waste with an accidental auto attack or anything like that. Somehow I managed to muddle through in the end. (It involved a lot of grenades and a breath mask that made me immune to the Selkath's poison.)


As for the big beastie, I decided to go with destroying the machinery since that sounded more light side, though I temporarily regretted my choice when I was then faced with a small puzzle to actually get things blown up, which took me way longer to figure out than it should have. It wasn't actually hard at all, I'm just getting dumber with age I think. With the machinery gone, the giant fish withdrew and conveniently revealed some ruins with the next piece of my star map. Wahey.

Of course, as soon as I was back on the surface, the Selkath insisted on arresting me yet again. They spoke with awe of the giant sea monster, referring to it as the Progenitor (another server!) - I can only guess that if they really think of it as their ancestor, taking the option to poison it can't go over well. As it was, I was absolved of everything and finally allowed to leave the planet of the fish people behind. I still don't know why people talk so fondly of this place. Onwards to nicer planets (I hope)!

7 comments :

  1. For me, Manaan has always been about the music and not a lot else. It's similar to Alderaan in SWtOR whereby the music is one of its most defining features, but at least Alderaan actually has diverse and beautiful landscapes to help define it further.

    It's like Tatooine and Hoth; you wouldn't find people calling either beautiful because each square inch of the planet which isn't artificial is the exact same. It's either all sand, all ice, or all water.

    I do love how they recreated the fly-in animation for SWtOR, though...

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    1. Although I will say that I still hold my views that SWtOR Manaan is a very beautiful environment. Maybe because it's so much smaller than the KotOR original (and thus easier to find your way around) this makes it easier to look at it more objectively?

      Maybe I'm just a sucker for modern and more updated reconstructions of older game environments. Rakata Prime definitely got a much better facelift in SWtOR.

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    2. I do suppose the environment is quite pretty, but I actually prefer SWTOR's more open version. The Selkath with their enforced neutrality are super annoying though. Also, all the alien gibberish conversations! I don't think I mentioned it before but for some reason every alien conversation in KOTOR goes on for about 50% longer than in SWTOR. It's "skip this" central. :P

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    3. I do also prefer SWtOR's open version. :P

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  2. Oh noes. The auto-level up is terrible (not min maxing or min maxing makes a huge difference in KOTOR), so I'm not surprised to hear you're having a difficult time.

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    1. There's a mod that lets you respec your points. I'd probably go for that. Then you can enjoy the story without spending a huge amount of time on getting through encounters.

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    2. Hm, I don't think I want to mess around with mods on the tablet, it's fickle enough when I do regular updates! If that particular mod even exists for the mobile version.

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