Star Wars: The Old Republic – Knights of the Fallen Empire (first impressions)

From "Shadow of Revan"

From “Shadow of Revan”

October 21, 2015, marks the day that subscribers of the MMO – Star Wars: The Old Republic had Early Access to the highly-anticipated expansion that is a sequel to its Shadow of Revan expansion months prior. While I was unable to acquire access to the game on its test servers, the wait has been well worth it. While it will take me another few days to finalize my thoughts on this expansion, there are a few points that need to be shared concerning this game in order to better understand what it means to MMO players and the overall Star Wars franchise.

First and foremost…

Is this canon?

During the livestream last week, Phil Owens, a freelance reporter from Playboy, asked a question during a round table Q&A. The production team offered the response:

We are set in a different time from the movies. When Lucasfilm made their status to update their canon for the movies, we already talked to them. We are in our own special place in time in the Star Wars universe. It doesn’t interact or interject into the movie timelines. We are in our own special space – our Knights of the Old Republic space. LucasFilm is still heavily involved in everything we do. They are full invested in what we do. We are fortunate to be so far in the past that we can’t really get in their way.


Is this a sequel to KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic)?

The MMO, since its inception, has acted as a sequel to Knights of the Old Republic. While you will encounter Revan (KOTOR) and the Exile (KOTOR2), it serves as a concluding arc to that storyline, which ends in Shadow of Revan, the expansion prior to Knights of the Fallen Empire. To be clear, Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place around 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic.

Do I get to play Revan?

Unfortunately, no. You play your own custom character which you can start at level 60 if you are a subscriber in order to engage the Knights of the Fallen Empire content immediately or start fresh from level 1.

From "Shadow of Revan"

From “Shadow of Revan”

Can I come into this not playing the previous content?

Yes. Speaking with the development crew at BioWare, some of the veterans were asking the curiosity of this third faction coming out of nowhere to challenge the Empire and Republic. In relation to the question, this is what they had to say:

The new movie is an inspiration for us. We started it with Shadow of Revan. It was extremely well received. We were inspired by the response and lit a passion with the team. We set the bar high for ourselves, and this is a really exciting year for us, for all Star Wars fans. Large part of this expansion for us is to make it accessible for new players. We wanted a story we people can jump in and they can make new decision, know the key players. And for returning players, this expansion is very meaningful, various references from the previous story arc. If you are that new player, you don’t need to have the years of background with playing this game. It’s kind of a reset point for new players.

Is this another MMO grindfest?

Despite there being a grind in Vanilla SWTOR, they have streamlined the process to ensure that all the actions you make are meaningful. Similar to how they have streamlined the pre-level 60 experience, where you are mostly directed to important story missions, they carry you through the experience of Knights of the Fallen Empire with a cinematic feel.

From "Shadow of Revan"

From “Shadow of Revan”

What makes this MMO a BioWare game?

Initially, Vanilla SWTOR felt much like any other MMO. It was grindy, it had vendors, and it had crafts. To its credit, it implemented followers whom you could send on resource gathering missions. So what changed? Much in the same vein as how Destiny‘s The Taken King was a vast reformat of their product, Knights of the Fallen Empire does similar for this MMO. Immediately when you enter the game, it is a rapid-fire pacing that shares closer proximity to its single-player narrative and less MMO. Some may argue, “So how is this an MMO?” after the handful of chapters, by Chapter 9 you will be able to join the shared hub of the galaxy once more. And through the experience, you will realize it shares a lot of similarities to Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Inquisition, showing that BioWare definitely understands the parts of their product which players enjoyed.

Do I have to grind for gear?

Previously, grinding for gear was normal in various MMOs, particularly during End-Game. I’m not saying this expansion removes that aspect, but considering you hit level cap of 65 by Chapter 5 of the expansion, it’s easy to care less about gear and more for the story content and activities the expansion has available.

From "Knights of the Fallen Empire"

From “Knights of the Fallen Empire”

Do I keep all my previous followers/companions prior to this Expansion?

During Chapter 9, you will have the opportunity to gather your companions. However, it will be a mix of every classes’ set of companions from vanilla SWTOR. For instance, I could end up following a mission that had me recruit someone who was previously a Republic Commando companion despite me being a Sith Inquisitor.

Is this subscription-based? Or free to play?

It is Free to Play, but further chapters in Knights of the Fallen Empire require a subscription. Further chapters beyond 9 will be released after the holidays, starting in January.

Knights of the Fallen Empire is released to everyone October 27, 2015.

From "Knights of the Fallen Empire"

From “Knights of the Fallen Empire”

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