17/06/2019

Hearts and Minds

While game update 5.10.3's focus was on the release of Dantooine, it also included a surprising little story addition: a mission called "Hearts and Minds" that takes place after Ossus. It's quite short and purely dialogue-based, but really well done.

I've expressed disappointment in the past when e.g. the Arcann romance consisted of nothing but a few lines of dialogue and a kiss, but in this update it didn't feel like more should have happened, and the conversations seemed highly customised. (Plus we didn't even know that it was coming, which is always good for expectation management.)

As far as I can tell none of the events and choices in Hearts and Minds are of great importance, but a lot of variables are taken into consideration and expressed in some way, such as your faction, whether you're loyal or a saboteur, whether Theron and/or Koth are still around, whether you're in a romance with either of them etc.


I looked up videos of a couple of permutations that I currently expect to never see myself, but avoided others so as not to spoil myself. For example I haven't seen the Theron romance dialogue yet as I'm holding off on doing the mission on my Scoundrel because Koth's "exiled" state is apparently bugged right now. (And I think he exiled himself in her story... to be honest I'm sometimes struggling to keep track of what happened on which character at this point.) I'm also really starting to feel the pressure to level up a saboteur; as I heard that some of their dialogue choices are hilarious!

The basic non-spoiler summary of events is that you have a brief meeting with some of the high-ranking members of your Alliance, and then you visit the fleet to either take part in a brief interview (Republic) or hold a short speech for the troops (Empire).


This seems to mainly serve two purposes: to further cement your stance as a saboteur or loyalist, and to give you a refresher on where you stand with some of your Alliance members. For example my inquisitor had Theron asking for reassurance that she merely wanted to win the war against the Republic, not destroy them all - presumably as a set-up/reminder that he might leave you if you treat his old faction with too much brutality.

Imperials are also faced with Bey'wan Aygo handing in his resignation as he doesn't want to fight the Republic. I've been trying to find out if there's an option to kill him if you don't like him leaving, but I'm guessing not, even though I haven't come across anything conclusive. As it stands he offered my characters to train up a replacement in the form of Commodore Pardax, who then takes his place as the "contact" for any outstanding Alliance alerts you might still have in your log from him, and can be seen standing in the base's hangar next to him. You can tell that she still has a lot to learn because she's only level 21! I hope we don't have to level up our standing with her all over again though.


As I said there are a fair number of conversation options I haven't seen, but among the versions of the quest I did experience I wanted to note a few more things that I liked:

Paxton Rall gets a mention by Aygo as offering useful naval support if you recruited him.

Imperials get to meet up with Darth Krovos of Kuat Drive Yards fame, and if you rescued Admiral Ranken in KotFE chapter 15, she says that "Zasha and her family send her regards". I always wondered if those two were an item, considering that they seemed oddly close for a Sith and an Imperial officer, and that pretty much confirmed it for me.

I tried two different versions of the Imperial loyalist speech, the one to increase the troops' fervour for war, and the one emphasising change and reform. The former seemed to meet with approval from both of my Sithy bystanders, while the latter caused Lord Izar to express some doubt, just for Krovos to talk right over him and say that it was a great speech and that it expressed exactly what was needed.


Finally, a small thing, but I was kind of impressed by the number of Imperial soldiers that were actually lined up for the Imperial speech. I've long been somewhat disappointed by SWTOR's crowd scenes and assumed that they had to be kept small due to the limitations of the engine, but either that has changed or they found a way to work around it this time.

What were your thoughts on this mission?

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