Monthly Chapters - Yay or Nay?

I think I've expressed most of my opinions on KotFE's story in my summary of chapter sixteen (and to some degree in the write-ups of previous chapters), but I still wanted to talk a bit about the chapters' monthly release schedule.

Before saying anything else, I have to give Bioware kudos for actually managing to pull it off (mostly) - only two of the seven post-launch chapters suffered some sort of delay. I honestly wasn't sure whether they were going to succeed at making this ambitious update schedule reality... because they failed at it before. (SWTOR was originally meant to have monthly updates at launch.) Or remember back when Wildstar promised large monthly updates, sixteen of which were already supposed to be in pre-production before the game had even launched? The only example of an MMO successfully sticking to a really fast update schedule in recent years that I can think of is Guild Wars 2's first living story, but considering that they haven't repeated that after the first season came to a close, it probably wasn't completely without issues either.

So while it's fun to joke about things like Bioware endlessly delaying the Eternal Championship until its final release, they did a good job at sticking to their update schedule with the actual story chapters. Personally I thought it was also evident that they learned a lot from the process as they went along. At least from my experience, later chapters suffered from a lot fewer glaring bugs than some of the earlier ones (naked cat-man, anyone?), and there were marked improvements to gameplay as well as time went on. You could tell that Bioware took our feedback seriously and made a clear effort to move away from too many boring trash fights towards more engaging boss encounters.

From a storytelling point of view, I'm not entirely convinced whether monthly chapters are a good thing though. If you want people to treat it like a television show, a month between episodes is actually a bit long, and you end up constantly wanting to remind the viewer/player of what's going on - which is why I've been joking about so many chapter intro screens starting with a view of the Alliance base to remind us where we were. This results in somewhat choppy storytelling, with every chapter trying to tell an almost completely self-contained story, and I think that chapters ten to sixteen turned out to be a lot less "elegant" than chapters one to nine for that reason. I suspect that the story flow would be somewhat improved if at least two chapters at a time could be tied together, even if that would result in bigger breaks between each "chapter pair".

Of course the reason Bioware opted for monthly updates is that the subscription renews monthly, and you want to give people a reason to stay subscribed. I really wonder how that worked out for them. In a recent interview with the Bad Feeling Podcast, Ben Irving stated that they were very happy with KotFE in terms of metrics like engagement, but if that's true it's certainly not something most of us were able to observe. In my own guild - which is somewhat atypical I suppose, consisting mostly of raiders and all - people were already continuously subscribed regardless and the chapters had little influence on people's activity. In fact, as time went on I noticed that several people seemed to lose interest in keeping up with the chapters even though they were active in game, falling further and further behind in the story - though it might be that, like Njessi, they made an "executive decision" to let the chapters build up and then play through several of them at once.

Meanwhile, the hosts of the Bad Feeling Podcast reported that they got the impression that the monthly chapters caused overall engagement to decrease, as people just logged in once a month to play the new chapter and then logged off again. I suppose it doesn't matter as much for Bioware as long as people stay subscribed and keep buying Cartel crates, but it's less good for people who enjoy content that requires as many people as possible to be active and playing (such as flashpoints and PvP).

What are your feelings about the monthly update schedule? Did it make you play more, less, or the same as before? While it didn't affect my own play time, I certainly enjoyed getting new content that frequently... but as I said above, to be perfectly honest I suspect that slightly bigger and slower releases would be beneficial in terms of story flow. Then again, I'm one of the few who'll stay subbed anyway, regardless of how quickly the patches roll in.



I've found that for a lot of people, whether they do or don't like SWTOR seems to depend largely on whether they feel that it is or isn't enough like the original Knights of the Old Republic games. I've always felt a bit out of my depth when people argue about this, as I never played either of the KOTOR games and have therefore always judged SWTOR purely on its own merits (and based on how much it reminds me of my favourite parts of WoW I suppose, can't deny that). People have repeatedly recommended that I give the KOTOR games a shot as they are supposedly still good and enjoyable, but my problem is that I just don't fancy playing single player games anymore, not when I have the internet at hand anyway.

However, two weeks ago an opportunity arose: I was going on holiday and knew that I was going to be away from the internet for a week. I was still going to have my tablet with me though, and guess what's available as a "mobile" game these days? So whenever I had finished my proper holiday activities for the day, I sat down in bed for a couple of hours and dove into the original KOTOR. I played for about eight hours that week and barely got off bloody Taris!

But first things first. The graphics are a bit meh by this point but still hold up alright. They just reminded me of how everyone was switching to 3D around the dawn of the millennium, even though the technology was nowhere near ready to produce anything as beautiful as the pixel graphics that were the standard at the time, which led to the bizarre situation of some sequels actually looking worse than their predecessors (Dungeon Keeper 2 comes to mind). Fortunately KOTOR already isn't too bad, though there isn't really enough variety in character models for a game with this many NPCs. All the ugly male twi'leks I've talked to sort of meld together in my head.

Something that isn't the core game's fault but the port's is that movement is a real pain on the tablet. I wish they'd made it tap to move or something. Instead you constantly have to press and drag to move your character around, which has resulted in me constantly running into environmental obstacles or getting myself boxed in. Just walking from one room to the next shouldn't be this much of a challenge.

The combat is turn-based and has been a bit boring so far. I wish there was an option to not have to confirm things by pressing the "play" button for every single round but to instead have it running non-stop and only pause when I want to actually change things up. Having to hit "play" twenty times to bash down an inanimate object such as a door or strongbox is not exactly engaging gameplay. Since there are no tool tips for anything, I'm also largely in the dark about what a lot of my special moves actually do. When is it better to power attack instead of critical attack? Maybe that information is hidden away in a menu somewhere, but it's certainly not obvious. After I suffered a couple of deaths, the game got me to at least use medpacks though.

The game starts off with your character being roused from her sleep by a guy called Trask Ulgo because you're about to miss the battle of the Endar Spire. As a SWTOR player, you're immediately in name-drop country, as everyone you meet and everything you see had either a server named after it in SWTOR (at launch anyway) or some sort of related item/clothing set released on the Cartel market. I'm not sure why people have strong feelings about the battle of the Endar Spire though. It's the freaking tutorial! Also, the cut scene at the end kind of shows the ship going "blap" in space, so it makes no sense that we find its wreck on the planet's surface in SWTOR.

Your first companion is a Republic soldier called Carth Onasi (more Cartel pack armour!) who is what I would call a typical Bioware character, always wanting to be the good guy and coming off as kind of whiny at times in the process, though I found him sort of endearing anyway.

Exploring the three levels of Taris was quite fun (except for the pain of moving around). The whole reason I spent so much time there is that I got quite caught up in talking to every NPC and doing most of the side quests. In fairness to the game though, it was never unclear to me what I'd have to work on to advance the main storyline. The only time I was briefly blocked was when I had to sneak past a rancor and couldn't figure out what to do from a mechanical point of view even though I knew what I was supposed to do in terms of logic. Turns out the pile of bones in the middle of the room counts as a container and you need to deposit the items you want the rancor to eat inside it...

Some things were familiar from SWTOR in a good way, such as the exiles in the undercity. Other times I was simply baffled by how much Bioware has been copying from itself. For example there is this side quest where you can step into a duelling ring, and guess what nickname you are given if you do so? "The Mysterious Stranger", just like in the Eternal Championship... similarly, I was quite surprised when I walked into a spunky blue twi'lek voiced by Cat Taber, voice actress of Vette, who soon became my companion. Talk about typecasting!

I also finally got to try both Pazaak and swoop racing and to be honest I have no idea what all the fuss is about/why people want to see these things in SWTOR. Pazaak is a pretty boring card game, and swoop racing is an extremely generic racing game. Though after seeing it for myself, I don't understand why Bioware has said in the past that they can't implement it in SWTOR due to lag. After all, every racer has the track to themselves and their time just gets added to the overall leaderboard...

I have to admit that finally being reunited with Bastila was pretty funny, and after that it didn't take long to escape the planet. Except! That bloody space battle with the Sith fighters. I'm not good at shooting games at the best of times, but the super awkard tablet controls (dragging to aim the gun turret, then tapping to shoot) made it nearly impossible to kill anything. What's worse is that there was no opportunity to save right beforehand, so every attempt required me to sit through the same six cut scenes and three loading screens again. Eventually I got annoyed enough that I googled for advice and found someone saying that if you spam shoot the moment the fight starts, you get a whole bunch of fighters at once that are initially positioned right in front of you. That ended up being the godsend that finally saw me through, though it was still only by a hair's breadth, as the Ebon Hawk seemed to be mere seconds away from exploding when I accidentally managed to hit the last enemy ship.

I've now started on Dantooine and am continuing my journey an hour at a time while commuting every day. It's going to be slow, but it's not like I've got many other things to do on that train...

Oh, and if you have the urge to comment about a big upcoming twist or something of the like - save yourself the effort, I've already been spoiled. Though it's remarkable that it took as long as it did for me to run into that particular spoiler, considering that the game is thirteen years old and I've been playing SWTOR for nearly five.


New Group Content Speculation

I think that most of us who have been following the game for a while are pretty used to Bioware being cagey about upcoming content. They weren't always like that... before launch they promised us the moon and then some! But we all know where that got us, so I can't blame them. I'm guessing they have very strict directives from above in regards to what they are and aren't allowed to talk about these days.

Still, the silence in regards to Knights of the Eternal Throne and what it's going to entail has been somewhat stranger than usual in my opinion. It's been over a month since it was officially announced and we still don't know anything more about it than we did back then. You can tell that we as fans are starved for information as people are even getting excited about leaked music. That isn't meant to be a disparaging remark about the music in any way - it's just that when an MMO announces a new expansion, the new music isn't exactly the first thing on my mind to get excited about. We just don't have anything else at the moment.

The continued silence about group content is particularly baffling. They know that people want it. James Ohlen has gone on record in an interview saying that "there will be "a lot of great co-op and multiplayer challenges" included in Eternal Throne. The story focus is there, similar to Fallen Empire, but they redoubled their efforts to make the expansion attractive for their loyal subscriber base as well." And in the latest producer livestream (Dulfy coverage here) they again confirmed that they are working on group content but refused to say anything about what type of group content it is.

While I can understand Bioware's fears about accidentally promising something that they then can't deliver for any reason, I would think that by this point in their development cycle a good chunk of this mysterious content must be close enough to being done that they know what's going to be ready by the time KotET launches. So why are they so afraid of committing to two new flashpoints and a new operation (or something to that effect)?

I can only imagine that the reason is that whatever it is they are working on doesn't strictly fit into any of the traditional formats and would require a more detailed explanation than they are willing to give (yet). There are actually several reasons why this would make sense. With KotFE, Bioware sent a very clear message that they were done with being like every other MMO out there in terms of the solo quest experience and that they wanted to do their own thing - whether you liked it or not, they did take a stand on that! Considering that, it wouldn't be a surprise if they also decided to approach the way they do group content from a new angle instead of relying on the classic formula of dungeons and raids.

More than a year ago I also wrote a post called Solo Flashpoints - Good or Bad Idea?, in which I explained why it seemed to me that Bioware didn't really know what they wanted flashpoints to be and why I thought that solo modes were an awkward band-aid solution for that problem. I'm not saying that anyone at Bioware actually read that post, but it's not hard to imagine someone over there asking themselves similar questions at some point.

I am, as usual, somewhat wary of changes like this. On sites like Massively OP you see a lot of people condemning the old raid model these days, but it does the job it's supposed to do! This is even truer for small group content, which I'm sure is the more popular format due to being more accessible. I don't really want Bioware to reinvent the wheel. Not to put too fine a point to it, but when they decided to change the way they delivered story in KotFE, they could at least point to a long history of doing the same thing successfully in single player games, but what sort of track record do they have of making their own type of group content? Mass Effect 3 multiplayer?

However, also as usual, I'm happy to wait and see what's to come. I'll appreciate the addition of more group content no matter what form it takes. But I do think it would be best if nobody hung all their hopes on it being a new op or flashpoint.


Dark vs. Light: Update After Eight Weeks

As another month has passed, I thought it might be time to take stock of my progress towards the DvL achievements once again. At least one commenter was already completely done with the event when I last posted, and at least two guildies have finished legendary tier as well since then. My pet tank is quite close too; he only needs to finish the crew skill achievements and wait for the Gree to come around again to kill some of their droids. For some reason he was terrified of facing the GSF achievement required for legendary tier and asked me to complete that one for him. I did, but I'm still baffled that this out of all things was such a big deal to him, especially after he power-levelled multiple alts to fifty in about eight hours per character.

My own progress hasn't been too great, but then I was away on holiday for a week and another weekend was more or less taken up completely by attending a wedding. Let's look at my progress one character at a time again:

Shilu, the Scoundrel

Nope, still haven't even started KotFE and am therefore officially still working on tier three. But at least I finished Shadow of Revan and did Ziost. I also ran some more hardmode flashpoints, though I still have plenty to go.

Shinister, the Assassin

I said last time that I was probably going to "retire" her for now, but as it turns out I still needed to spend a lot of time at least logged in on this character to max out her artifice (done) and grind diplomacy to get towards Dark V (still ongoing). This is taking foreverrr!

Zeresa, the Commando

Hit fifty, largely stopped playing her as nothing more was required for the event. Still logged her a couple of times to max out her armstech, but that's done as well now.

Corfette, the Sniper

Sniper is another advanced class that I actually never played before, simply because I love the stealth gameplay of Scoundrel/Operative way too much and didn't find Gunslinger particularly enjoyable when I tried it. Upon reading Vrykerion's detailed reviews of Imperial agent chapters two and three recently, I was overcome by an urge to replay the agent story. Despite of the many interesting choices you can make in that one, I've still only completed it once! My Cathar on the Progenitor was an attempt to give it another go but got stranded on Hoth when KotFE came out and my focus shifted back to my home on The Red Eclipse. I might still finish her story some day, but probably not any time soon.

So, despite of how (comparatively) slow I've found it to level through the class story on Shilu, I decided to go down that route again with this character - and I planned specifically to aim for the path that has you defecting to the Republic in chapter two, which is why her name is (almost) an anagram of "defector". I haven't yet made it far enough to do so though and have only just completed chapter one (they really condensed that bonus mission with the holograms on the chapter end boss's ship...).

As an interesting side effect, this character has also turned into a bit of an experiment in just how far you can get by just sticking to the class story - no side missions, no flashpoints or PvP, no nothing. Funnily enough, I'm still just about on track at the end of chapter one, even though things were supposed to be tuned in such a way that you had to do something extra. I guess exploration XP counts for more than I expected, as I do enjoy opening up the entire map of each planet and gathering mats for my crew skills in the process.

Also, being only just about the right level for my missions has reintroduced a surprising amount of challenge to the game. Without being level synced or wearing level-appropriate gear, my sniper's rifle hits like a nerf gun and it's mostly Kaliyo who kills things (I have her set to dps instead of healing). While exploring Alderaan, I also died repeatedly from mobs up to five levels higher than me dismounting me and mauling me to death. Who'd have thought that the game could still be this deadly if you only try hard enough to make it so?

Shin-dow, the Shadow

Yes, at this point I'm struggling for names too. I opted to make my event consular a Shadow, since I "only" have one of those as opposed to multiple Sages (and Sorcs). At first I was going to make her the same back-stabby spec as Shinister but then decided that for variety I should probably go Serenity instead. While this spec is supposed to be very powerful, I can't say that it seems to suit me very well. In a world in which most things die very quickly, relying on dots just isn't that much fun in my opinion. It reminds me of when I tried to level a lowbie warlock through dungeon finding back in WoW. And in PvP I just seem to suck at not dying.

As an aside, for some reason I felt really inspired by this character's looks and bought her a whole oufit from the Cartel market as well as a matching green mount and pet from the GTN. I'm not much of a fashionista, but sometimes a look just "clicks".

Shi-rah, the Mercenary

I haven't done much with this one yet, but I wanted to create another Imperial character with whom to run random flashpoints while Corfette sticks to her "class story only" levelling experiment. I got her up to level ten to be able to pick an advanced class, but otherwise she's still slumming it on Hutta. Bounty hunter is one of those classes of which I have too many alts for odd reasons, so this is actually my fourth. Like Zeresa, I specced her dps as I don't really need yet another healer. I also made her a togruta since I've barely used that unlock since purchasing it and I felt that I should probably cut down on creating even more twi'leks. (I can stop any time I want to, honest...)

Getting good-looking armour for togruta is a pain in the neck though, much more so than with twi'leks. That clipping! I eventually settled on the Mandalorian Clansman set, which I thought looked good and didn't seem to suffer any clipping issues. The whole thing cost about ten million on the GTN, so it wasn't exactly cheap. Then I put it on... and in the first cut scene I could see that a tiny bit of armour does clip through the top of the front montrals, just small enough that I didn't notice it on the preview. Sigh. I'm going to keep it anyway.

I also put a black/black dye into it since I happened to get one from Shi-rah's cantina crates. And for some reason it refused to take! It would look fine in most cut scenes but as soon as I was back in the regular game the chest piece was back to its basic gold/grey. I googled it and found people reporting issues with this armour not taking dyes properly as far as two years back - of course, what else did I expect? I was about to write off the dye too, but then I added some gloves to the outfit, which I hadn't done before, and suddenly the colour changed to what it was supposed to be. Who knows how these things work?


Flashpoint Friday: Blood Hunt

Yep, I prepared this one in advance as well so I wouldn't break my perfect fortnightly publishing streak while away.

General Facts

Blood Hunt was released as part of the Shadow of Revan expansion (patch 3.0) in December 2014. Both Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi were part of the expansion's main storyline and the first two flashpoints that launched with a solo mode right off the bat. Group-wise they only offered a tactical version initially, with the hardmode getting added in 3.1 two months later. Since 4.0, the tactical version is available from level 15 and the hardmode from level 50 onwards.

Even though nearly two years have passed since Blood Hunt and Battle of Rishi's release, we haven't seen another "regular" flashpoint since then. I don't really count the Star Fortresses, but I will be talking about those in more detail in another two weeks.


Blood Hunt is all about fighting Mandalorians and their pets, which is not totally unheard of (*cough*MandalorianRaiders*cough*) but not exactly a common theme in flashpoints, so it provides some variety from the usual fare. There is minimal trash, but instead there are six mini bosses aside from the three main boss fights, none of which really amaze in terms of mechanics, but none of them are boring either. In an interesting departure from most flashpoints, there isn't a single droid to fight in Blood Hunt.

The first boss is a giant jungle wampa called Kyramla Gemas'rugam (which apparently means "deadly hairball" in Mando'a) that throws rocks and summons adds, with the fight's main difficulty being a mix of considerable damage output and the fact that it is incredibly busy visually, making it easy to miss something important, like that your healer is getting mauled by adds for example. Said adds even used to have an enrage on hardmode (not sure if they still do), as does the boss himself.

The six mini bosses continue the theme of murderous pets, and three of them (one of two sets picked at random) need to be bested before the second "proper" boss fight unlocks. On hardmode, killing the other three afterwards counts as the flashpoint's bonus encounter, making this an incredibly easy bonus to snag.

The two sets of mini bosses are a k'lor'slug, a lurker and a rancor, or a jurgoran, a krak'jya and a tonitran. (All six are always present, but it's random which set of doors is open.) They all have little gimmicks to them, like the k'lor'slug only spawning after you've destroyed enough of its eggs, or the lurker slowly patrolling around its enclosure in a circle, but nothing that's in any way difficult to figure out. Like the first boss, they all have names in Mando'a, with the translation given underneath as a title. They are horrible to pronounce and nobody calls them by these names except crazy Mandalorian fanboys (you know who you are), but let's list them for the sake of completeness:

K'lor'slug - Adeen Edeemir - Merciless Bite
Lurker - Pirun Ut - Water Slime
Rancor - Cerar Be Kyr'am - Mountain of Death
Jurgoran - Yustapir Kyramid - River Assassin
Krak'jya - Dralne be te Oya'karir - Strongest of the Hunt
Tonitran - Hodayc Sur'haai - Cunning Eye

After besting these three randomly selected pets, you go up against the Mandalorian couple Jos and Valk Beroya, about whom I've written my fair share, mostly about what a horrible pug killer this fight is. You fight them separately at first, then a bunch of animals swarm the floor, and then you have to fight both at once. They have several high damage abilities that complement each other, and Jos has a brutal knockback that instantly sends players to their death if they are too close to the edge of the platform.

This fight is infamous for causing people issues on every single difficulty - yes, even on solo mode, as the GSI droid can get knocked off as well, or cause the bosses to evade by jumping to places he isn't supposed to be.

Tactical mode used to be relatively easy when it was originally released, but the 4.0 re-turning has turned it into a brutal death trap. The kolto stations at the edge of the platform almost feel like a cruel joke, considering that trying to activate them means leaving the safe middle and putting yourself in danger of being pushed to your death. The mobility requirements and the bursty damage that was originally designed with level 55 characters in mind - who had the tools to deal with them - is also a terrible burden on anyone coming into this flashpoint at a lower level these days.

Finally, the hardmode was incredibly punishing on release. Many groups couldn't even make it past the first boss's dps requirements, and if you did, Jos' incredible burst damage could kill even a tank in best in slot gear in seconds. Unlike the difficulty of Lost Island, which I wrote about two weeks ago, this inspired few declarations of love. Maybe the player base as a whole is less interested in challenge these days, but I would bet that the lack of any meaningful rewards and an instance with so much higher difficulty being thrown into the same mix as the other hardmode flashpoints definitely had something to do with it as well, neither of which were an issue with Lost Island. After completing Blood Hunt on hardmode for the first time since 4.0 the other night, I'm happy to say that Jos' worst abilities seem to have been tuned down a bit, but it still remains one of the more challenging hardmodes, no doubt about it.

The last boss is positively easy in comparison - while very flashy visually, she's basically a case of "stay out of the fire" (even if there is a lot of it), and as long as everyone can do that you'll probably be fine.

Story (spoilers?)

As this flashpoint is part of the main Shadow of Revan storyline, this is mildly spoilerish, but only very mildly.

While trying to find out what the Revanites are up to on Rishi, you've learned that a Mandalorian called Torch was in league with the Revanites for a while but had a falling out with them later on. You decide that it would make sense to question this Torch person to find out more about the Revanite's plans.

You borrow a shuttle to fly to the island where she and her fellow Mandalorians are hanging out. As you approach, you get shot down by its defenses and end up crashing on the edge of the island at night. It soon becomes clear that Torch is observing you and enjoys watching you fight the vicious wildlife she keeps on the island as well as her clan mates.

When you finally reach her, it turns out that "Torch" is Shae Vizla, the red-haired Mandalorian of "Deceived" trailer fame, only with some more wrinkles around her eyes by now. She still isn't too impressed by you and offers to talk only if you best her in a duel first. Once you do, she does commend you on your martial skills and is willing to share what she knows about the Revanites' plans.


Blood Hunt is a flashpoint of extremes. It's very atmospheric, and the Mandalorian compound could rival any James Bond villain's base of operations. I mean, Star Wars is often a bit over the top and generally embraces this, but the elaborated folding floor surrounded by lava falls in the last room is ridiculous even by those standards. While the animal bosses' names are hard to pronounce, the humanoid bosses are quite memorable, whether it's Shae's ruthless calm or Jos and Valk's endless bickering.

However, narratively it's in an awkward place in the story, forcing you to effectively spend more time and effort on interviewing a random Mandalorian than taking down the Revanites' fleet. The fights aren't bad in principle, but their wacky tuning has unfortunately made them stick in people's minds for all the wrong reasons, making Blood Hunt the sort of flashpoint many people immediately want to drop out of if they get it as their random of the day.


Random Moments

Since I'm away from the internet this week, enjoy this automatically published filler post of random screenshots that I've taken over the course of the last two months, always thinking "haha, I really need to show this to someone some time" but then never doing so.

I'm open to caption suggestions for this one.

What's better than getting Risha as a companion? Two Rishas! It seems that this graphical glitch is loosely related to the "working on console" animation, because on Rishi I had the exact same thing happen with Theron.

No, tell us how you really feel about the Dark vs. Light event...

Has the group finder ever put you into a pug that consisted of nothing but stealthers? It actually took us a few pulls to realise that we could skip all the trash! Fastest Athiss run I've ever had. As a bonus, I had characters called Decent Person and Sad Panda in my group.

Speaking of interesting character names in pug groups...

One thing I quite like about Voss are the many named champion mobs. There's an achievement to get all of them (and it's a long list), and without ever having consulted a guide, I've only found about two thirds of them. The guys pictured above were new to me when I encountered them on my event Scoundrel, and the combination of two champions and two golds linked together was actually quite challenging!

I took a screenshot of this because this was the first time I saw all the nodes in the Proving Grounds active at the same time! Not seen this again since then.

I'd heard of stronghold "hauntings" before, phasing issues that cause people to appear in the wrong stronghold and such, but this was the first time that I ran into one of these myself - naked Andronikos is definitely not supposed to be there in my Dromund Kaas stronghold. When I turned around, 2V-R8 was right behind me as well. Creepy.

This was possibly my most decisive GSF win ever.

Dealing with Jakarro on my new Scoundrel, who always has Bowdaar by her side, was kind of weird. He's always roaring and mad about something, and I kind of wanted to point at Bowdaar behind me and go: "Look, it's perfectly possible to be a wookiee and act in a civilised manner!" They should have put some dialogue in there if the two wookiees meet up. It's not like it would have required the recording of any new lines.

From the category "interesting glitches observed in PvP", I present you the Voidstar match in which the left bridge extended itself invisibly. Took a bit of bravery to step on that at first.

I think the huge influx of event alts has us all struggling for good character names... it seems this guy decided to go for the "whatever's lying on my desk right now" method of naming.

Two for one in Hypergates: I quite like the name and costume combination in the foreground, and the bouncy person in the background is just funny.

I was quite gutted to lose that Proving Grounds match... closest I've experienced so far in that warzone!

Oi, Eric, get back to work!

Apparently pop-up trainers don't fall into the category of objects that get phased out during cut scenes. Since Calphy got out his Revan statue after every wipe on the tanks in EC, holo-Revan being part of the team quickly became a running gag.

The Dark vs. Light event made me realise that I hadn't created a new character on The Red Eclipse since they revamped the guild window. If you open it without being in a guild, it presents you with this nifty image plus text snippets encouraging you to join a guild.

I saw this guy and immediately thought: I bet he doesn't do regular group content (or maybe this is just his 427th alt). Why? Because we once had a guy join our guild who had foolishly named his first character "TheSexyKnight". Since he was actually a boy in his teens, we were all incredibly weirded out when during every operation he ended up being addressed as "Sexy" by everyone. He got himself a name change soon after!

You can't see it very well because I only caught it as it was already phasing out, but the latest announcement in the middle of the screen reads: "Intelligent Manhood has been defeated." I don't think any additional commentary is needed...

One of the disturbing side effects of NPCs being available as interactive furniture? You can sell Felusia Stato to herself, and apparently she only values herself at a hundred credits.


KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 16: The Battle of Odessen

Let's cut to the chase. How does it all end? Not as amazingly as I had hoped, but it was still a fun ride. Time to spoil it all!

After the brief reprieve in the last chapter, we're back to starting with an outside view of the Alliance base. You and your companions are discussing the questions raised by the end of the last chapter. How much of a threat is Arcann still? What's Scorpio's endgame? Fortunately you don't have to wonder about the latter very long, as she actually interrupts your meeting by calling. She just wanted to let you know that Arcann is on his way to level Odessen. How does he know its location? Because Scorpio gave it to him... nothing personal, you understand. She just wanted to see whether he'd rather go after you or after her if given the choice.

Indeed, Arcann's remnant of the Eternal Fleet drops out of hyperspace even as you're talking about it. Theron opines that you can face it down, but you need to leave someone on the planet's surface to defend the base. Aric and/or Kaliyo volunteer (depending on who's still around) and you're asked to pick another one of your companions acquired in chapters thirteen and fourteen to stay with them. The remaining two plus your usual crew will board the Gravestone with you. If you are in a romance with anyone, they will share a brief moment with you before boarding (thanks again, YouTube - I haven't actually seen any of these for myself), otherwise Lana will just give you a brief generic pep talk.

The Gravestone flies up to face Arcann's remnant of the Eternal Fleet (which still consists of hundreds of ships)... and they shoot her a bit, but not that much. Do these ships actually ever do anything other than fly around in perfect formation? We see Arcann still obsessing about finally taking down the Outlander/his father on the bridge of his flagship.

Apparently the Gravestone will be just fine as long as she doesn't get too close (because it seems the Eternal Fleet ships really do hate leaving their formation) so you'll want to board the flagship with a shuttle. Theron volunteers to stay behind and man the omnicannon. Lana explains that Arcann's ship needs to be annihilated in case he has some kind of failsafe that could still instruct the fleet to attack Odessen after his death. She plans to go for the bridge with you while the two companions you didn't pick to stay on Odessen will sabotage the ship's guns and shields respectively. Oh, and Senya is coming along of course because it's her children we're about to kill. If Koth is still around, he also thanks you for being allowed to be part of something greater than him.

The whole part with assigning Gault, Vette and Torian to different roles is strangely reminiscent of the Sith warrior's final mission on Taris, where you have to assign different companions to different roles during an attack. Sadly, after playing through this chapter with three different configurations, it doesn't seem to make any difference whom you assign to which task. Unlike in the Sith warrior story, all your companions are competent in every role.

Theron clears a hole for you to land the shuttle, and unlike in the last chapter, the place where you landed does indeed immediately get swarmed by skytroopers! After a fun little melee with four companions at your side (whee!), the two companions you picked to take care of the ship's weapons and shields go off to do their jobs.

Meanwhile on the Gravestone, Theron is having way too much fun with the omnicannon... and promptly breaks it somehow, which prompts Tora to some laugh-out-loud meme quoting: "You had one job!" She goes off to help him fix it, and in her absence from the bridge Scorpio appears to make another attempt to take over the Gravestone remotely. Fortunately Koth is there to shut her out with the press of one button. I guess this scene is supposed to show how much of a tech wiz he is, but it comes across as a bit odd. Also, he is there to do this even if he ran off at the end of chapter ten! Apparently he managed to sneak back on board before the battle, much to T7's delight.

On the flagship, Vaylin watches you through the security cameras and makes unusually chipper conversation - she's looking forward to finally facing her mother. She also says outright that she doesn't care about the Outlander herself and won't get in the way, but hopes that facing you will cheer Arcann up since he's been so moody lately. Senya agrees to do things Vaylin's way and splits off to keep her distracted and away from you.

At a "combat terminal" you get the option to pick up either some weapons or shields, or some turrets. Based on your choice you gain different temporary abilities, and these are actually fun! I generally haven't been too impressed by these in previous chapters, usually because they were too weak for me to bother, but these abilities are actually some good stuff.

If you choose weapons and shields, you gain a knight's tower shield which slows you down and disables all your regular abilities but allows you to reflect enemy attacks, an anti-personnel rocket that does huge damage (it one-shots silver mobs) and a thermal grenade that does generic AoE. All of these can run out and need constant replenishing as you run through the ship, but they can be a lot of fun to use if you apply them correctly, for example to reflect a major attack by a mini boss.

Choosing the turrets on the other hand provides you with some portable turrets which you can plop down at the beginning of each fight to do extra damage to your enemies and which do a bit of "tanking" for you. Also, all the small turrets that pop out at various points during your journey through the ship will be friendly to you instead of hostile and shoot your enemies. I would say that the turrets are a more straightforward damage boost (and it sure is nice not to have to kill all those pop-up turrets), but the weapons and shields are more fun if you actually care about being engaged by the combat. Also, there are lots of exploding barrels to blow up on the way!

Just one small bug: a certain weapons locker can kill you instantly when you try to open it.

Thusly armed, you make your way through the ship's corridors, taking out bunches of droids and various mini bosses in the process. At one point Koth tries to shoot one for you from outside but fails to kill it - either way you know about his presence after that if you didn't before. After fighting a skytrooper with a big assault cannon, your other companions radio you that they've succeeded at disabling the weapons and shields. You can tell them to return to safety or encourage them to do more damage.

While Theron and Tora work on the omnicannon, Theron notices that the fleet has stopped shooting but appears to be lining up to fire at the flagship instead, which doesn't change your plan but means that you have to hurry up. As you approach the bridge, you notice that you've got a whole bunch of knights on your tail. Lana offers to hold them off, since she sees it as her destiny to enable you to defeat Arcann.

When you meet Arcann, he claims that his grudge isn't actually aimed at you, but only at his father. You can try to tell him that Valkorion is no longer in your head, but he doesn't believe you. When he tries to strike you, you instinctively raise a mental shield that blocks his saber the way Valkorion blocked him in chapter one if you chose not to kneel. This is a kinda cool scene if you're not a Force user but feels a bit contrived if you are. So you are using the Force to defend yourself... big deal?

Arcann is convinced that Valkorion is still tied to you and wants to fight. If you remembered to equip your super special weapon from chapter twelve, you will have some support abilities such as a damage absorption shield or a speed buff at your disposal (depending on your choices), but they are not in any way necessary to win the fight. I actually forgot to equip my special weapon two times out of three.

There is however another special ability that you'll need to pick up. At one point Arcann will become immune to damage, at which point a friendly green arrow will direct you towards picking up a shield similar to the one you might have used earlier. You need to use it to knock Arcann about some by reflecting his attacks, and also use the reflection power to destroy the Force manifestations that he summons. Reflecting attacks also builds up power, which you can eventually unleash against Arcann in the form of a mighty shield slam. This fight was so confusing to me the first time around because I couldn't figure out what to do with the manifestations and why I couldn't reflect a lot of Arcann's attacks (you're meant to get most of your stacks from the manifestations instead). However, eventually you get him down, which is about when the Eternal Fleet ships outside start nuking the flagship. Arcann refuses to surrender if you give him that option, and you strike him hard... then he appears to get buried under some rubble. While chapter eight should have shown us that this isn't a reliable way of getting rid of him, there is no time to worry about whether you really got him... you've got to run.

The omnicannon is back online and all of your companions except Senya are at the shuttle. You're told that you will have to find another way to escape the burning ship. Gee, thanks! Fortunately there are some small patrol ships nearby which you can hijack. As you make your way there, stuff explodes all around you. Fun fact: After dying repeatedly from falling to my death in the previous chapter, I was super careful not to fall into the first hole that opened up in front of me here... but of course that one actually required jumping down!

As soon as you're away, my favourite cut scene of the chapter takes place. Senya digs her way onto the bridge, tearing at the rubble in a way that's quite reminiscent of Vaylin in chapter three, and finds her son's limp body. She is heartbroken and moans about being too late... which is when Vaylin shows up and accuses her of always being too late. Senya pleads with her but Vaylin is inconsolable... and in a perfect mirror of the KotFE cinematic trailer, she makes a running jump to slice her parent in half - which is when it turns out that Arcann isn't quite dead after all, and he pushes Vaylin back. Her outraged "Why?!" at being betrayed once again is chilling. As the ship continues to collapse, she gets away, and Senya focuses on rescuing her remaining son.

You grab one of the scout ships and make your escape. Senya contacts you to let you know that she's alive but won't be joining you because she wants to take Arcann away to redeem him. Koth is outraged by the notion (as usual) but you have the option of letting them get away... or try to shoot down their shuttle. They'll escape either way.

The omnicannon has been repaired and gets used to blow up the flagship... which explodes into a huge ball of glowing... blueish... whiteness? It briefly looks like it might consume you before you can escape, but you do get away. Hurrah, victory! Except if you pissed off Koth in chapter ten, because it turns out that his renewed goodwill towards you was only temporary. He's captured your remaining crew on the Gravestone, ejects them in the escape pods and makes off with what's apparently your only ship. Jerk.

When you return to the base on Odessen, there are a bunch of NPCs cheering for you at the entrance... Bioware's attempt at phasing? Everyone is happy with your achievements (except Koth if he's still around, because he likes to rain on your parade no matter what). Lana emphasises that Scorpio is still a threat, but the battle has brought renewed support from both Republic and Empire. Valkorion's ghost appears briefly and declares that you're ready. (For what?)

Back on the Eternal Throne, we see Scorpio finally taking over command of the entire fleet and then... setting the captains free, causing some of them to shoot off into the galaxy to explore. Vaylin fights her way into the throne room, but Scorpio tells her skytroopers to stand down. Scorpio is surprisingly sympathetic to her situation and offers her the throne. Her own interest was supposedly only in freeing the Gemini droids, whom she refers to as her children. She also offers to stay and teach Vaylin how to destroy her enemies. Vaylin grins and takes her seat as the new Empress.

I know I'm not the only one who was quite confused by this scene. I can sort of buy Scorpio caring about the Gemini droids, though it's weird to see her referring to them as her children when she previously constantly derided them as inferior knock-offs. Was that all pretense? Likewise, while I can sort of believe that she has some sympathy for Vaylin, I don't really get why she would want to stay on as her adviser and offer her the services of her "children" after just making a point of freeing them from servitude. Maybe it will all make sense later.

Then... really, really, really long credits roll! So much for the frequent claims that there's only a "skeleton crew" working on this stuff...


I'm not usually one for hype, but I have to admit that after the brilliance of chapter fifteen, I was pretty excited to see how Bioware would wrap it all up and couldn't wait to come home after work on Tuesday to play the final chapter. When I came in and my pet tank told me that he had found it somewhat disappointing, my heart sank. And sadly, after playing through it myself, I found myself in agreement with him. The Battle of Odessen is by no means a bad chapter, but I didn't feel that it provided a satisfying conclusion to Fallen Empire.

I didn't expect to get closure on every single story thread that had been brought into play over the course of the storyline, because honestly there were a lot of them. However, it actually felt as if nothing was wrapped up at all - really, the only thing that was accomplished was Arcann getting dethroned. However, the Eternal Empire remains as much of a threat as before, Valkorion is still on the loose and we still don't have a clue what he is up to.

I found myself wondering if I had misunderstood KotFE all along. Was it really supposed to be Arcann's story and nothing else? He was absolutely central to the cinematic trailer, that much is true, but I certainly didn't get the impression that he was all that important while playing through the various chapters. We always had those "meanwhile, at the Eternal Throne" cuts to him brooding about something or other, but the only times he actually interacted with the Outlander before this chapter was the very first one, and during the confrontation on Asylum. Yet somehow, the game seemed to expect me to have a deep hatred for him... I found that in this chapter - for the first time in a while for me - my character kept saying things that didn't sound quite right to me. Why am I supposed to dislike him so much? My beef has always been with Valkorion, and then with Zakuul. That Arcann kept making a mess of things as its ruler certainly didn't endear him to me, but it was still never personal. I was oddly reminded of chapter three of the Sith inquisitor class story and how its villain is hell-bent on killing you even though you've never done anything to him. I thought that was pretty annoying. So me realising that Arcann had a similar thing going on with the Outlander was not a good thing.

I suppose the other explanation for the lack of any real resolution is that Bioware really meant to take the whole "we're treating this like a TV show" thing to the next level and therefore decided that they needed to cram enough story hooks into this first season to provide material for the next six years. I can't say I'd be particularly thrilled by this, but I can kind of understand it.

The other thing that bugged me big time was this: Where was our Alliance? I'm not talking about the mechanics of grinding out influence with the Alliance specialists - I never expected that to make a difference because it would be very unlike Bioware to gate story content behind a grind. But even if we completely ignore that, the narrative of the chapters has us recruiting allies and building up our forces. So why then, when Arcann attacks, it's all down to a single ship, plus the very same crew that has been with me since chapter three (give or take a few I guess)? I get that Scorpio's betrayal caught us on the back foot, but I can't believe that the Alliance had literally nothing but the Gravestone to defend itself. No fighter ships to help with distracting the fleet? Even the poor rebels in the movies managed to muster that!

Also, for all the talk about choices mattering, it was quite a blunder to have Arcann survive no matter what. I'm not one of those who expects every choice to split the game into two entirely different experiences, but this was a choice that could have been implemented very easily, based on similar examples that already exist in the game: If you spare Arcann, he and Senya disappear into the far reaches of the galaxy, never to be seen again. If you kill him... well, then both he and Senya are dead. Either way, you don't have to deal with them again and can focus on something else going forward. It really feels like the writers' love of their own characters got the better of them here, wanting to keep their creations alive and available for a future comback at all costs, even if it comes at the expense of the players' agency. Also, we didn't see a pay-off for any of the choices that were presented with so much gravitas in the early chapters, such as whether to kneel to Valkorion and accept his help at various points. It's kind of funny that the one thing that did end up making a significant difference (the whole Koth drama) was based on a choice that didn't feel particularly consequential at the time.

Interestingly, the one area in which this chapter did really well were the mechanics. It's interesting because this is also the one area where many previous chapters floundered, getting clogged up with boring trash or tedious boss fights. Chapter sixteen actually manages to keep things reasonably interesting with a variety of mini bosses and the extra abilities it lets you pick up. I wasn't a huge fan of those in the previous chapters because they were honestly pretty weak most of the time, but in this chapter they are really good and fun. Nothing like taking nearly half a champion mob's health off with that anti-personnel rocket, or reflecting a mini boss' big attack right back at him and killing him in the process. I can see why the final fight against Arcann might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'll be honest: When I slowly walked up those stairs, preparing for that final shield slam, it felt pretty epic.

All in all, I have mixed feelings about this chapter. It was certainly fun to play through (or I wouldn't have been able to do so three times in four days), and I actually found that it became more enjoyable the second and third time, once my expectations were adjusted. Still, I don't feel that Bioware really delivered what they promised with this storyline. At least Knights of the Eternal Throne isn't too far off, so we won't have to mull over those unanswered questions for too long before things pick up again.


KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 15: The Gemini Deception

For some reason I had got it into my head that chapter 16 wouldn't release until next week - and was suitably annoyed because I'll be away on holiday during that week. With that in mind, my recent realisation that it's actually coming out this week was quite a pleasant one... except that it also made me realise that I'm out of time to complete my write-up of chapter 15. Oh well, three playthroughs will have to do. If I've missed anything important, feel free to let me know in the comments! Do I even have to mention anymore that there will be spoilers?

For once we don't start with an outside view of the base on Odessen - no, instead we get a great shot of the Gravestone flying through hyperspace. As discussed at the end of the previous chapter, we are now en route to intercepting a lone Eternal Fleet ship, in hopes of being able to hijack it with the help of Gemini Prime.

Senya lectures you about what sort of resistance you should expect upon boarding: skytroopers in the triple figures, which once again leads to some amusing bits of conversation on the subject of just how sick everyone is of skytroopers. Scorpio has figured out a trick to sufficiently confuse the enemy ship's targeting systems to allow a shuttle to approach and board. The Gravestone itself meanwhile remains either in Koth's hands (if he's still around) or Tora's. I have to admit that Tora is funnier to have around, and that's coming from someone who generally likes Koth! You are to take control of the ship with Lana, Senya, Theron and Scorpio while the Prime remains aboard the Gravestone for now since you don't want to risk her getting damaged in the fighting.

The shuttle takes some damage but you manage to successfully land inside the Eternal Fleet ship's hangar. Now the only problem is that it's eerily quiet there, and contrary to Senya's predictions not a single skytrooper shows up. Scorpio suggests that the Captain is acting intelligently and improvising. You can't really do anything but proceed into the lair of the beast.

You get the feeling that shit's about to get real as you finally get to venture forth with no less than four of your main companions... just to have a giant blast door slam down about five steps in, separating you from everyone except Scorpio. Meanwhile the Captain eyes you through a camera and comments on the foolishness of your endeavour, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Imperial agent's first encounter with Scorpio on Belsavis. She is however fascinated by Scorpio, and they once again start arguing about who's superior, which seems to be a thing with droids. The Captain finally sics some skytroopers at each team on both sides of the blast door, which you dispose of without too much difficulty.

Before you can work on getting the door open, the side with most of your companions gets flooded with some kind of gas, forcing them to move away. You and Scorpio continue to explore the ship on your own, with the Captain continuing to test your abilities with more skytroopers, poisonous gas traps, lasers you need to dodge and similar shenanigans. There is also a  bonus mission to explore as much of the ship as possible and gather supplies, which I still haven't fully figured out. Where is that damned skytrooper control device?! (EDIT: You can now find the answer here.)

Eventually you make it towards some sort of control terminal which Scorpio declares "will do". She's had enough of the Captain's games and has decided to take over. She plugs herself into the ship, shuts down the skytroopers, opens the blast doors and announces her intent to erase the Captain. At first it seems to work, but suddenly power starts to surge the other way, the Captain declares herself superior, and Scorpio is fried in her chassis, collapsing to the floor dead (as far as you can say that about a droid).

We cut to a view of the Eternal Throne where Vaylin is clearly getting ready to punish a knight for failing to miraculously prevent the events of chapter 14 - which is funny, considering that she and Arcann were very much aware of the attack on Darvannis and simply couldn't be bothered with it! The knight seems more openly fearful and defiant than we've seen previously, claiming that she doesn't deserve such punishment. Suddenly Arcann becomes aware of the attack on the Eternal Fleet ship and urges Vaylin to accompany him to finally capture the Outlander and their mother. Delighted, she pushes the knight to her death anyway. Arcann is certain that they'll succeed this time.

Returning to the Eternal Fleet ship, Koth/Tora relays that the Gravestone has suffered a power outage, meaning that she's been briefly unable to jam the ship's communication systems, which leads to the Gemini Captain happily announcing that she called for help and that Arcann is on his way. You contact Lana via holo, and she's remarkably unconcerned by Scorpio's death and even refers to it as "one less problem". However, she also claims to have found the ship's cargo from the core worlds and that it will change the plan, asking you to meet up with them again to see it for yourself.

Senya meets you halfway and together you dodge more of the captain's obstacles, including lava streams connected to the ship's sun generator, an elevator getting stopped between floors, a giant skytrooper with sword and shield, and another gas trap, this time with a bunch of droids that continuously try to repair it! I'm not ashamed to confess that I've died to that thing.

Finally you reach Lana and Theron, who reveal the ship's precious cargo - a bunch of valuable prisoners with their entourage: Admiral Zasha Ranken, whom Imperials may remember from the Kuat Drive Yards intro quest; Tai Cordan of the Galactic Senate, former president of Balmorra and friend of the Jedi consular, and finally, an aging Zakuulan starlet called Malita Tal, who encourages her people to defy Arcann. All three have been wanting to join your Alliance.

Okay, that's nice and all, but how was this important and how does it change anything? Our mission is to capture the whole ship, so even if we never got them out of their cells, we would basically be freeing them by default by taking the whole ship along with us, right? Whatever... back to the important stuff, like capturing the bridge!

With Senya in tow you get rid of the last couple of skytroopers and droids in your way and finally face the Gemini Captain herself. She speaks somewhat oddly, as if she's developed a personality she's not supposed to have. This leads to one of the more interesting boss encounters in KotFE so far, as the Captain does decent damage and splits into four parts at several points, forcing you to find the right target to attack.

Once you've subdued her she actually seems delighted, rambling on about how she's kept up her end of the bargain and is free to make her own choices now. You can opine that the battle with Scorpio changed her somehow, which she confirms but doesn't elaborate on. Her final choice is to upload her consciousness into the "hive mind" of the Eternal Fleet and activate the ship's self-destruct mechanism. There is no time to get the Prime on board and try to stop it, so you can only abandon ship.

The escaped prisoners contact you to say that they've made it to the escape pods but can't launch them. Theron explains that he can launch them remotely, but only one at a time and there isn't much of that. You get to decide in which order they get ejected and whichever one you leave until last will get destroyed. It's obvious that this is one of those slightly artificial moral dilemmas (just press the buttons, Theron, don't waste time waiting for me to make a decision) that may not necessarily have any grand consequences on the overall outcome of the story, but it's a great character-building moment and I've seen people make interesting arguments for pretty much every order. Some say that "obviously" Malita Tal should be left to die since she's only a celebrity and can offer no military or political power. Others will leave the members of their former enemy faction to die because... duh! Or they'll abandon those of their own, arguing that the Outlander already has plenty of pull in their old home, making any additional allies there the most expendable.

Anyway, what with all the moral dilemmas to ponder, you mustn't forget to make your escape yourself. The ship is already partially on fire and there are holes in the floor... on my first playthrough I actually died twice to those, not watching my step in my frantic attempts to flee the ship before it explodes. (I know it's not timed, but I got really into it!) This made me tweet that this was the "deadliest chapter yet", which actually got a like from the official SWTOR account itself, hah! You escape just in time, and Arcann and Vaylin also arrive in time to watch you get away... again. Ha-ha!

On the Gravestone the companion from the faction whose prisoners you allowed to die will grouse at you some (Lana for the Imperials, Theron for the Pubs and Senya for the Zakuulans), but for once they are easily appeased.

Vaylin notes an "interesting development" in that the ships outside their sector aren't responding to Arcann's orders anymore, but he doesn't care because he just wants to hunt down the Outlander and his father above everything else now.

Koth/Tora explains how the Gemini Prime broke after an incoming transmission from the Eternal Fleet ship just before Scorpio died.

Finally, we cut to the Eternal Throne, where skytroopers and turrets enter the room and kill all the knights standing guard. Then Scorpio materialises on the throne... somewhat weirdly - at first she looks like a hologram, but then her body suddenly becomes solid? Nice tech there...

She contacts you and tells you that she needed you to believe that she was deactivated. Her real plan was to install herself on the throne as she was apparently after command of the Eternal Fleet all along.


I thought that chapter fifteen was easily the best chapter to be released this year, though I'll be happy if chapter sixteen tops it tomorrow. Chapter thirteen was fun, but this was the first time since chapters one to nine that I was truly immersed in what was happening, gasping or yelling at my screen based on the newest events and forgetting about everything else. My pet tank was quite amused at my loud yelp when I got caught in the first gas trap - it gave me instant flashbacks to suffocating in that dark room on the Theoretika.

There are simply a lot of things that this chapter gets right. A return to the story's "core companions" means that we don't have to waste any time with introductions. A small strike team infiltrating an enemy base against overwhelming odds is very "Star Warsy" and brings to mind events like Princess Leia's rescue from the Death Star in Episode IV. After how thoroughly sick we've all become of skytroopers over the course of the story, their almost complete absence at the start of this chapter is genuinely unsettling, but when they do show up later, they are used sparingly and interspersed with some fun little puzzles to spice things up. The fight against the Gemini Captain is actually moderately challenging and finally moves away from the by now pretty tired pattern of each boss becoming immune to damage for a fixed amount of time while you kill its adds.

And then there is the twist at the end of course. It's not just a surprise but also raises a lot of questions. While Scorpio has obviously betrayed the Alliance, it isn't clear to what extent. Seeing how she's only ever shown an interest in self-improvement, what does she want to rule Zakuul for? Does she harbour ambitions similar to Mentor from Directive 7? Or is it more about generic accumulation of knowledge and power, which might not be totally at odds with the Alliance? Are Arcann and Vaylin even still a threat, having been stripped of much of their power just like that? I'm excited to find out tomorrow!