10/11/2019

Musings on Onslaught's Story, Part 3: Corellia & Beyond

After either helping or sabotaging the Republic fleets on Onderon and Mek-Sha, it's time for the big battle for the Meridian Complex on Corellia. Once again, spoilers abound!

On both factions, the briefing before the battle includes a lot of exposition about ships and battle plans. I couldn't help but think that to the type of player who just wants to jump straight into the action to get up close and personal, this could be a bit boring, but personally I appreciated the call-backs to weaponry developed in previous storylines such as the Isotope-5 powered ships of the Empire, and just the general effort to convey that both sides have competent leadership with an actual plan. Also, your involvement in these briefings emphasises that though the Alliance may have lost a lot of its power, it and by extension you are still considered very important to the war.


However, since you are also known for being good at kicking arse in person, you get asked to assist the ground troops, which leads to you doing the new Objective Meridian flashpoint. I think the flashpoint will deserve a post of its own later on... for the purposes of this one, it's enough to know that you spend some time fighting either Republic defenders or Imperial invaders in the streets of Corellia, until you get into the Meridian Complex itself, where it comes down to either shutting down or protecting the installation's shields.

The first place where you expect to do this turns out to be have been rendered useless as controls have been rerouted to another level... by none other than Tharan Cedrax, yay! That leaves only one consular companion unaccounted for now. I'm really pleased that Bioware managed to weave his return into the main story here, and it fits well too. The encounter with him also features some pretty funny lines depending on your choices - I have to admit that I had to chuckle when I ordered him killed on my Marauder, and his last words "Holiday, I'm sorry" prompted Major Anri to go: "Holiday? What a weirdo." Also, my Sage looked hilariously put out when she recognised him.


On Imperial side you also get the option to flirt with Darth Malgus himself around this point! His response is a character-appropriate "ugh" before moving on. I just loved this.

Finally you have the big showdown between either you, Tau and Arn vs. Malgus or you and Malgus vs. Tau and some unnamed Republic soldiers/Jedi. These are both pretty well done and the fights quite interesting - though I swear the first time I did them they either bugged out in some way or I was completely zoned out because I came away thinking that they were really boring and the boss(es) had seemingly no interesting abilities.

Then I heard others talk about the fight and was confused when they mentioned all kinds of stuff happening of which I had absolutely no memory. The second time around I definitely noticed the actual mechanics too, so I have no idea what was going on there. (EDIT: On replaying the fight again last night, I think at least the first instance of me failing to notice any mechanics may have been simply due to the fact that if you have both Tau and Arn set to dps, they burn everything down very quickly, even Malgus.)

The one bit I found a bit wonky is what happens immediately after the fight, as your big feat of heroism basically consists of making a superhuman jump in a cut scene to get to the crucial console in time, which... didn't feel very heroic to me personally. Even worse, both your wounded opponent(s) and allies roll off the platform in the final moments and you just run off without as much as a: "Gosh, I hope he is/they are alright!" At least to me it didn't feel right for my character (any of them!) to have zero concern for the people that just fought by her side only two minutes ago.


On the plus side, everyone does definitely survive, and I do highlight this as a positive thing because I went into the final fight actively worrying about Malgus or Tau dying, which would have felt like a colossal waste to me considering how little time we've had with these characters so far. I didn't even want to have the option to kill either of them, not yet! So I'm glad to say that they lived to fight another day. Some enemies are just too much fun to have around for me to want to defeat them too quickly.

After securing victory for your faction in the final battle (from what I understand this is one place where you can't sabotage/betray anyone), you get a lot of honours bestowed on you. Regardless of your class, you get asked to integrate fully into the Empire or Republic or to make a conscious choice to maintain your independence. I thought that was actually an interesting question even for a loyalist, because while my trooper was instantly on board with simply serving the Republic again for example, my loyalist agent never liked being under the heel of Sith who had a 50-50 chance at best to be either competent or capricious. So while she's still definitely loyal to the Empire, it's because she cares about the people of the Empire. She definitely had no interest in going back to subjecting herself to the direct authority of the Dark Council again.

Then there are some neat rewards for you depending on your class: troopers get promoted to the rank of Colonel for example, while Jedi get offered a seat on Master Gnost-Dural's newly reinstated Jedi council. My warrior was basically offered her old job back (yes!) and I haven't played through the story on my inquisitor yet, but I heard that you get the option to go as far as to claim your old Dark Council seat back. All of this is simply awesome, period. I don't know how they are going to keep this much class specific detail straight if the story is going to stay generic, but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth here.


Also worth noting is that Republic characters finally get to meet the new Supreme Chancellor Galena Rans, and she seems pleasant enough to deal with, which is nice. Republic leadership has not been painted in the best light for the last few years, and we really needed someone actually embodying the Republic's values at the helm again.

Anyway, you won and got your just rewards, time to roll the credits and do dailies, right? Not so fast!

For the first time in an expansion story, Bioware decided to not just wrap things up, but to also make it very clear where we'll be going next. (At the end of KotET Lana was worrying about trouble brewing ahead, but that was all very vague.) Back on the fleet, Tau or Anri introduce you to two people who want to meet you and who helped them out of the rubble after the battle: Kira and Lord Scourge! Finally! Now people can stop spamming each and every one of SWTOR's social media posts with "When's Kira coming back?", regardless of the post's actual subject...


Also, it turns out that Scourge was the mysterious Sith that attacked you on Mek-Sha, to test whether there was anything of Vitiate left in you. Also, it turns out that these two were the "mysterious observers" you could see in the distance from your base on Odessen just before the expansion. I remember someone on Twitter calling it (unfortunately I don't remember who it was) and me thinking that this was a weird theory, but they were completely right! Good on you, whoever you were!

For the Jedi knight, it's a great little reunion and involves some romance too: Kira is now open for some same-sex loving and Scourge can be romanced too! I was really hesitant about how to react to the latter on my knight because I wanted to romance him so badly back in the base game, but that was seven years ago at this point... since then my Guardian's gone through a lot of story and ended up with Arcann. I chose some of the flirt options anyway, just to see where they would go, and then pulled out at the last moment. I kind of thought there'd be an "I can't, there's somebody else" dialogue option or something, but since there wasn't, my knight basically just ended up saying that she thought it wasn't wise to rush into anything and that they'd talk about it again later. Cheeky minx likes to keep her options open!

Anyway, the big question with Kira and Scourge was always going to be why they hadn't shown up any earlier, considering everything you went through with Valkorion and that destroying the Emperor was literally Scourge's entire purpose in life. Surprisingly, they have a good excuse! They were busy destroying the Emperor's original body, which he had still stowed away somewhere as a sort of life insurance. (I did remember hearing/reading about that before at some point, so it didn't come out of left field for me.) Afterwards they were afflicted with some kind of disease caused by Vitiate's decaying body that knocked them out for more than a year until they were rescued by Master Satele and her new students, but then it afflicted them and they are currently stowed away on a distant transport ship, more or less comatose until someone comes to rescue them. Kira and Scourge want your help in saving them and destroying the Emperor's last legacy.


I thought it was a very interesting choice to finish on such a... not cliffhanger exactly, but obvious plot hook for the next story update, whenever that's going to come. I guess the folks at Bioware felt that making players feel too obviously "done" at the end of the story wasn't good for long term engagement. I can't say I minded though; the main story still feels like it wrapped up in a satisfying manner, and this is more of a tease of what's to come next. That said, I thought that going back to the old Emperor in any way, shape or form was the last thing I really wanted from the story, but Kira and Scourge kinda sold it to me. Of course, it also sounds very much like this next story update is then going to be the same for both factions again, which I'm less keen on, but I guess we'll see.

Bonus for Imperials only: They also get a scene that shows Darth Malgus strapped to a medical table while a doctor and a droid talk about what a nuisance it is to have to repair all those cybernetics again. The droid remarks that even the explosive device was damaged and needed taking out (forget subtlety, apparently Acina just decided to plant a bomb inside Malgus' body, dang), though the damage doesn't seem to have been caused by the debris under which he was buried... we have a brief moment of the doc going "oh noes" as he puts two and two together before we switch to a view of Malgus having set the lab on fire and demanding to be off with the medical droid. Exciting! So he's going to be on the loose as well now, another potential future plot thread. I guess we'll find out where he really stands on the subject of Republic vs. Empire when he isn't being kept on a leash by Acina or Vowrawn.


All in all, Onslaught's story has been very enjoyable to me, ramping up nicely after a bit of a weak start and finishing with an ending that once again has me excited about whatever's going to happen next. It has it all: class-specific dialogue options, companion returns, hanging out with entertaining NPCs - I couldn't really have asked for more!

7 comments :

  1. My thought, my hope really, is that the Emperor set up a booby trap to take everyone, everything with him if they ever found and destroyed his original (real?) body. I hope the story line doesn't even remotely hint of him coming back, but that he would do his damnedest to kill all if he was destroyed.

    Having various traps left by the Emperor to deal with, time to time, would certainly fit his personality, and given how long he had been alive there could be many of them. The consequences of his existence and death should linger on...

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    1. I don't mind if it turns out that the plague was one more last-ditch effort to preserve his immortality, as long as it doesn't come anywhere close to succeeding, because I'm definitely tired of Vitiate as a villain at this point. He's been through too many drastically different iterations already; I want to be done with him.

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  2. "I thought it was a very interesting choice to finish on such a... not cliffhanger exactly, but obvious plot hook for the next story update, whenever that's going to come."

    Now...imagine...chapters released on a monthly basis, like KotFE and KotET, with this story-arc. Ossus, Onderon, Mek-Sha, whats new with the Dark Council, a new Republic Chancellor, the meaningful return of your Companions (Scourge, Kira).

    Bioware could have made soooo much money. But they wasted years with Zakuul. Yeah...it was nice to play through it once, but it doesn't come even close to the new stuff.

    The players are much more invested/engaged in the good old characters they know. Malgus, Kira, Satele. Star Wars is Repbulic against Empire. We have this finally again. Best Story since the base game.

    Sadly...we are out of players, and money...so there is no chance to go back to monthly story-chapters. It's so sad.

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    1. Honestly, I can't say that I miss the monthly chapter format. While I agree that they would have been better with a more traditional story, the format was still too linear, solo-centric and really hurt the rest of the game in my opinion.

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  3. You know, I'm not at all surprised that the Emperor has a Horcrux. I mean, he should have several - and this is a good case of "rip it off but so good it doesn't matter" if, after helping with Satele's problems, you ended up in a hunt for his other Horcruxes. It doesn't even need to be a whole new thing, but new areas in old planets or even several flashpoints around the subject would serve the game nicely. The ever looming threat of him managing to regain some physical form should be enough to push the story forward. And, meanwhile, you have an actual war to "win".

    I've only gone through the new content with my main - a consular - and she was happy to see Theran; the first words out of her mouth were to ask about Holiday. I was surprised but amused to hear Arn behind me going "What? His name's Theron too?" - and can't help but think we should've had the option of answering it with "Yeah, I've got a type" (because my main does AND because with no romance trigger one can go "Yeah, that makes it easy to remember" or whatever). I really loved the whole personal dialogue thing that we had in the tail end of the storyline.
    I quite liked Galena, which is a surprise - I don't think I ever felt warmly about a Chancellor before. Still, she made it easy the idea of coming back to the Republic, and to take a seat in the Jedi Council... If they'll take my very married ass in it (then again, considering my husband's the former GrandMaster's lovechild, it'd be hypocritical of them to care too much). Still, Lana took it as gracefully as she possibly could (her conversations with Gnost-Dural must've helped), and Theron was charming in my very short romantic interaction (but, hey, at least there was one!).
    It felt right, all the throwbacks to who my character originally was; like telling Kira/Scourge that I could help Satele's crew because I knew how to shield them from a dark plague. Of course, it can't be that simple, or what would the otehr classes do? Still, I wonder if you'll get the chance to kill Satele... And how would Theron react to you being responsible for both his parent's dying - if you didn't kill him in the meantime.
    Now, I'm just waiting to see them release my Tharan back to me (hopefully, with Holiday). I think I have him in an Obi-Wan kinda look that was dashing, I just need to find where I put it once it was dropped... Hopefully I didn't loose it! Hahaha
    Oh, sidenote: I don't care much for the JK at all, but boy I was glad Kira and Scourge are options now. Doc definitely doesn't do it for me, and my original JK spent all her time flirting with Kira and having Kira respond... So it makes sense that after some time apart and much needed clarification, they'd get together. Similarly, I like the reasoning used for Scourge to not have felt it before, but being open to it now... Very neat. I like him as an option as well. It seems I'll have to muddle through more JK's (I have a grand total of 0 that have completed ClassStory; the one I did I deleted during DvL for characterspace) so I can get nice romances.

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    1. Horcruxes! Now there's a comparison I hadn't heard before, but I guess it fits. I'm not sure I'd want to spend my time hunting down more of these, but I guess I'm open to the possibility.

      I'm looking forward to getting Tharan back too. He's not my favourite consular companion (that honour goes to Zenith... still waiting for him...), but I never shared so many people's dislike for him either. I just find him amusing.

      And I could definitely see my Sentinel romancing Scourge too - but she's only finished her class story, nothing else. Another one for the bucket list I guess!

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    2. Oh, I like Zenith better, but I do like Tharan. I find his storyline and his ultimate dedication to Holiday very... Touching. Shows more depth than you'd expect from the persona he sells :)

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