Old Wounds - Story Review

The latest story update is here and I have thoughts - lots of them! If I had to sum up the experience in a single word, I would simply call it "interesting" - which is mostly a good thing, with some caveats.

First off, the team tried something slightly different with the way the content is structured this time around, and I'm honestly still undecided on how I feel about it. Basically you start with a "normal" story update with fully voiced dialogue, cut scenes etc., then you end up being sent to Voss, and what you do there is done in the KOTOR style and feels more like a planetary storyline. That storyline in turn then asks you to do a bunch of what I'd usually call side missions before you can continue, except that doing some of them is mandatory for story progression. At least one of these minor quests even has sub-tasks of its own... it's all nested like a Russian doll and honestly a bit weird.

I mean, people asking you to run errands for them before you're able to continue is a tried and tested MMO trope and I'm not against it, but I felt it was a bit extreme here in parts. When I was sweeping the floor of the Gormak cantina I was definitely questioning the life choices that had led me there when all I wanted to do was get a bit of intel from the Three. On the other hand though, there was a part of me that liked how that particular setup felt like it gave the update more "gameplay meat", instead of ending up in a situation like on Ruhnuk where you spend an hour watching a lot of cut scenes and then the optional content is to grind mobs in tunnels for the next month. I always do all this side stuff anyway, so having it a bit more integrated into the main story did work for me in a way. I'm conflicted.

Anyway, so much about the structural part of the update; let's talk about what actually happens in the story and my thoughts about it. As usual, full spoilers ahead!

We start with Darth Rivix and Tau Idair having a confrontation in some ruins, fighting over one of Darth Nul's trinkets. The winner depends on which faction you're playing. It's an opportunity to feature a cool lightsaber fight scene I guess, but the part that actually intrigued me the most is that Rivix is accompanied by a rival Sith called Lord Sovu and uses this opportunity to get rid of him. I played Republic side first, where the scene begins with Tau arriving and Rivix just having killed someone, but at that point it's not clear who it was. Seeing the Imperial version afterwards, with the brutish Sovu giving Rivix crap and the latter cunningly luring him into a trap was a delightful surprise. Meanwhile Tau gets an earful from Admiral Rava (whom you might remember from Manaan), for prioritising her relic hunt over helping with a planetary defense mission.

We cut to Odessen where your character receives Rivix or Tau, and they suggest that Doctor Oggurobb might be able to help with learning more about the relic they found. This soon leads to another cut to Sa'har and Ri'kan, where we learn that Sa'har thinks that her brother is Force-sensitive like her and wants him to try and unlock his potential. He does briefly try to move a datapad with his mind but quickly gets frustrated and tells Sa'har that he's fine having earned his position the hard way, once again highlighting the tensions between the two siblings.

They are interrupted by Heta and her entourage arriving. She gives a speech about how she's identified the reason her plan failed on Ruhnuk, and she blames it on the Dar'manda and Bask Sunn for his manipulation of the duel. If he's still alive, she shoots him right out the airlock! RIP, Bask; I quite liked you. (Though Indigo sends you a letter afterwards in which he notes that he's quite pleased to be rid of Bask.) If you betrayed Shae to collaborate with Bask, he's already run off and Heta is actually quite pleased, merely commenting on how shocking she found the other Mandalorians' level of fear for Shae's life. She then announces that Sa'har's holocron will form the basis of her next plan, and that only the two of them will know all the details, much to Ri'kan's visible dismay. In fact, we see that Sa'har was right about his latent Force abilities as his sheer anger ends up pushing the datapad from earlier off the table, unnoticed by anyone.

Back on Odessen, the relic is identified as (part of) Darth Nul's lightsaber and as having contained Adegan crystals, which are usually only used by Jedi. My immediate thought was "oh, so she was a Jedi before becoming a Sith", but your companions all go on about how she must have used the Jedi's powers against them or something like that. With this new knowledge, you're off to talk to Malgus again! I've got to admit that didn't seem like the most natural progression of things, especially considering how uncooperative he was last time, but whatever.

In an interesting twist, you enter Malgus' fleet prison to find an agitated Shae having her way blocked by the guard droids. We're reminded that she worked with Malgus once, in the original Deceived trailer, and she wants to question him about the holocron and Heta. I'm very glad that your character automatically points out that she had precious little interest in the holocron back on Ruhnuk... however, one way or another she does get to listen in on the conversation and share information via comms.

I actually found this conversation with Malgus much more interesting than the last one, because while the ending is ultimately the same, he does reveal some different bits of information depending on your conversation choices. I was also very intrigued by his last line implying that he kind of wishes the player character wasn't his enemy - which is something I've wanted for my Imperials since they originally brought him back, but part of me was like: "Really? Now you say that, after we had to beat you down how many times?" Plus he also says it to Republic characters, which I think makes less sense in general. Still, I'd be interested to know whether anything comes of that line and your response to it later on, though I barely dare to hope on that front. I realise that wanting another Malgus team-up after Ossus is just my personal fangirl vice and unlikely to happen.

Malgus senses Shae outside and mocks her, telling her that Heta will destroy her, which eventually leads to Shae rushing off in anger. When your character exits the prison afterwards, you get a call from Sana-Rae, who asks you to come to Voss.

She's returned from that mission you sent her or someone else off to several patches ago, and it's quite explosive: she found out Darth Nul's backstory. As it turns out, Nul was in fact originally a Jedi called Master Raniah (cue me going "I knew it!") who was expelled from the Jedi order for having the unique gift of being able to connect to other people's minds. She ended up exiling herself and her students to this mysterious planet in Wild Space where they did quite well for themselves for a while, until she unwisely mind-touched the old Emperor and he decided to subdue her and her students for his own purposes, turning her into Darth Nul in the process. This sequence was interesting to me as I believe it's the first time that the game has shown us a cut scene that is a flashback of the past, which incidentally revealed Darth Nul/Master Raniah to be a Mirialan.

Arcann is also there if he's alive in your playthrough and tells you that he felt like he had seen some of the locations relevant to Darth Nul before, and that he apparently had dream visions of these and other places while being cured by the Voss mystics. He then gets philosophical about all the horrors he's inflicted and wonders how he can ever atone for them. On my knight, who's romanced him, I thought that whole interaction was quite sweet. On my trooper it gave me more of a slightly exasperated feeling of: "Why does everyone have to be so emotional today and tell me all about it?"

Anyway, Sana-Rae also reveals that the reason she brought you to Voss is that there are murmurs of the mystics having had a vision involving Darth Malgus which would surely be interesting to you, but it won't be shared unless you manage to soften the Voss up a bit first. To do so, you're supposed to go to a place called the Shrine of Contemplation, where the Three are overseeing a restoration project.

This is where we get to the new sub-zone and get to the bit that feels like a planetary story. The restoration is led by a Voss call Maton-Ja and a Gormak called Kodom, and naturally, there are problems. As it turns out, some Gormak who distrust the truce between the two factions sought the aid of Czerka mercenaries, but Czerka is never up to any good, so of course they cause chaos instead. You go through a bunch of steps to help out and put things back in order until you've earned enough favour to see the Three.

Even though this bit is what will probably take up the majority of your time during a playthrough, I don't really have much to say about it - it's basically a planetary story and it's solid. Maton-Ja is surprisingly likeable for a Voss, and so is Kodom, with both of them coming across as genuinely devoted to their cause. There are also plenty of roleplaying opportunities in the dialogue to express different sentiments about this whole "Voss and Gormak working together" thing.

Either way, eventually you earn the privilege of being allowed to see the Three, and their reaction to you is honestly a bit of a mystery to me, because they were quite unfriendly to my trooper in specific, even though I had been nothing but helpful throughout the quest line. I wonder whether the devs actually set some sort of flag based on how you talked to them during the original Voss storyline? God knows what sort of options I chose on each character that had an audience with the Three ten years ago.

You also speak to Sana-Rae once more before the audience and learn that she's become a bit of a persona non grata in recent times, since she was actually supposed to return to Voss after Zakuul was defeated but chose to remain with the Alliance instead.

Regardless of how the Three feel about you, they tell you that the mysterious vision about Darth Malgus revealed that great chaos is coming (due to Malgus awakening a "great power [...] that will tear the galaxy apart" and it frightens them because according to the vision there is apparently nothing they can do. All they know is that things will deteriorate even faster if Malgus dies, and that your character will be at the centre of it all.

Now this was a bit of a weird one for me because on the one hand it was yet more vague mysticism, meaning we still don't really know what Malgus actually wants, and that felt like a bit of a meh way to end the storyline. There's also a part of me that cringed a little about being made the subject of prophecy yet again, and it reminded me of how Heskal was always yapping on about your destiny during KotFE. But then I thought, well, in a way that's interesting because my character's been there, done that, so how would that make her feel? Everything the Scions ever said can be seen as having come true or having been complete bogus, depending on how you want to view it, so this pronouncement by the Three could likewise be taken as anything from "Yep, here I go having to save the galaxy again!" to "Bah, more mystical gibberish!"

And of course the bit about Darth Malgus dying seems like it should be an important plot point, whether we personally get to decide whether he lives or dies, or find ourselves in some sort of situation where we actually might want to save him to prevent something even worse from happening. But of course, who knows when we'll get to that...

All in all, I thought this was a strong update. It included many different characters and had a lot of small ties to previous content, to the point that the moment I finished the story on my main, I immediately wanted to play it on an alt to see what was going to be different - which is always a good sign.

The character writing was on point, expanding on several NPCs' characterisations. Shae is coming across as increasingly unstable (just remember how chill she used to be in Blood Hunt!), which presents an interesting conundrum for your character in terms of how far you're willing to go to support her aspirations. Malgus actually sounds a little defeated at the end of his interrogation for the first time... and while that may just be a temporary lapse or even an intentional attempt at deception, it's acted incredibly well.

Arcann wrestling with his past is something that's honestly been a bit overdue - I still remember the addition of his Alliance alert back in 2018 (gosh, it's been a while) and how I and many others felt that it was very odd how his violent past just seemed to get completely glossed over at that point. And Sana-Rae's personal sacrifice adds a lot of new texture to a character who's been with us in some form since 2015 but used to be presented in an extremely utilitarian way.

The only two criticisms I have are that we once again spend quite a lot of time watching cut scenes or being told about stuff that our characters are not directly involved in or wouldn't even know about. Tau and Rivix get to hunt for relics, Heta executes one of her followers in cold blood (potentially, based on your choices), Sana-Rae stands up for herself against the leaders of her people... and we just get to hear about it all and then run some errands for the Voss. Slightly hyperbolic, I know, but I do wish they'd put a bit more thought into how to allow our characters to do interesting things themselves.

The second issue I had was that once again, we still don't know what Malgus is really up to. We made some progress on the Darth Nul front, so that's fair, but with the studio only being able to release about two major updates a year, story progress feels absolutely glacial. And this isn't me complaining about the update cadence, because I think you could stick to that schedule without having things feel quite so slow if more stuff actually happened in each update.

I appreciate that it's a bit of a conundrum because I can tell they are trying to have characters develop at a sensible pace and that takes time. There are many things I love about the original class stories (obviously) but they often feature NPCs having their minds changed and doing a complete heel-face turn after only two lines of dialogue, and that's a bit silly. So in a way I do like the writers taking a bit more time to build up to things nowadays, but coupled with the game's release cadence it just makes the story sooo slow in real time, I worry that whenever we do get to something actually happening with Malgus, it will either feel like a let-down because of how long the build-up was, or people will have just stopped caring altogether.

What did you think?


  1. I think the pacing was a little awkward. We spend the first half slowly building up to finally learning why Darth Nul is so special and paying off all of the decisions about whether to send Arcann and Sana-Rae to help on [still unnamed planet], at the low cost of watching a bunch of pretty well written cutscenes. Then we do a whole planetary arc for a vague vision. If they'd somehow moved the reveal of Darth Nul being an unwilling Sith to the end--maybe Czerka's kidnapped Sana-Rae or something--it would make sweeping up trash to get there a little more satisfying.

    (I have warmed up to the vision the more I think about it. I still don't think it contains any information that's useful to my characters, but it's interesting for *me* to know that Malgus's plan will succeed and the interesting choice at the end of the expansion will be how to deal with it.)

    1. I think the bit about how Darth Malgus being alive could potentially delay things was kind of useful in character, assuming you believe the vision is true. We don't yet know how it'll manifest, but it does seem good to know...

  2. Honestly, it's starting to get to a point where it's becoming less of a concern for me to push characters through the recent story. Were it not for the fact that I know I likely would come to regret not pushing them through in good time (although of course "in good time" has a wide parameter with the amount of time there is between story patches) as that would create a shedton of backlog again, I'd probably begin to whittle down the number of characters I do play story content on.

    I hope that they start ramping things up now and actually start to provide proper answers. They're juggling too many story threads at the moment, I feel, needing to provide an update here, an update there, and as a result nothing of import really happens; some cans just get kicked down the road a bit further.


  3. I found going from fully-voiced to KotOR-style back to fully-voiced cutscenes a bit jarring and clunky. I would have rather had them stay all fully-voiced or just make the Voss zone stuff be separate from the Old Wounds storyline. Other than that, I did enjoy the story line and now need to push an Empire character up to that point to see the other side.

    I also want to start seeing some resolutions in 7.4. I don't mind if we end up with another galactic war courtesy of the Mandalorians, but there's been enough mysterious build-up. Time to show the man behind the curtain, learn concrete details, and then they can push things towards the 8.x storylines.

    1. Oddly enough, the back and forth between normal and KOTOR style didn't really bother me. I was surprised when it first happened, but then just continued right on.


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