So as long time readers know, I got into The Old Republic a fair time after it was released and been quite a fan of it. I’ve completed all 8 class stories and was very excited to hear about Knights of the Fallen Empire.
In basic, Knights of the Fallen Empire introduces a 3[sup]rd[/sup] group into the mix, the Eternal Empire of Zakuul under the leadership of Valkorian, the former Sith Emperor. The player character is captured and imprisoned for five years, returning and leading a resistance against the Eternal Empire under its new leader Arcann. You must gather allies and fight back against this enemy whilst also quelling internal tensions.
The story is split into 16 chapters, with 9 being released in a burst, then 7 being released once a month thereafter.
I will review each chapter in turn and then give my thoughts at the end.
Chapter 1 – The Hunt
Story: You join a mixed Republic/Sith force under Darth Marr to investigate raids by an unknown party. The force is attacked and you fight off enemies until your ship is destroyed and you are captured. You then meet Valkorian who offers you a partnership giving you a choice here whether to submit or resist. Valkorian is destroyed (seemingly) and you are frozen in carbonite.
Review: As a setup, this is great. It introduces the antagonists and you get a nice final shot of your crew under your command. Having Marr as a companion is fun and you get a couple of light/dark decisions to make. The ending seems to give you a genuine choice about whether to join or resist the Emperor. A great 5/5.
Chapter 2 – A Dream of Empire
Story: In your carbonite freeze you see visions and trippy images. You see your crew drift apart, most of whom you will not be seeing for a long time. You see the fall of the Republic and Sith, and you confront Valkorian. You also get some of the few pointers to your actual class based on which enemy you fight. It ends with you being determined to survive, no matter what.
Review: As a bridge between the old and new timeline this works quite well. The trippy images and surreal visions really do a good job of being stylish. As for the story they tell…well it’s a bit more confusing. You have no real choice here and you are basically being told that you are the special snowflake which the Emperor has deemed worthy. Why? I’ll get into the Force User paradox later, but it seems like it sets up some things it never follows through on. Solid 4/5 though.
Chapter 3 – The Outlander
Story: You are rescued from your carbonite prison by Lana Beniko and T3. You then work with Koth to escape from the capital of Zakuul. You battle lots of Skytroopers and some Knights of Zakuul until you escape in a cutscene from Vaylin.
Review: This chapter is quite exciting. There’s chases and battles and a couple of light/dark options of note. The chapter also introduces Koth, HK-51 and reintroduces Lana. These are your main protagonists who will be with you for the rest of the story…mostly. Overall a good action chapter. 4/5.
Chapter 4 – The Gravestone
Story: You crash-land in a jungle and have to find a way to escape. This is one of the few chapters with sidequests, and they are of the ‘kill x’ and ‘find y’ but they further the plot somewhat. Eventually you find the Gravestone, a massive ship which is a legend on Zakuul for fighting the Eternal Fleet. Whilst you clear out the Gravestone you eventually come to an ancient monolith and meet Valkorian again. You are interrupted by word of an attack.
Review: This chapter seeks to expand the characters and story by pairing you with each of the three and trying to get you working towards a goal. The mystery of the Gravestone is good and the settings are new and interesting. There’s a very odd HK-51 musical comedy piece here too which is out of place but slightly amusing. For the character moments and mystery this too is a solid 4/5.
Chapter 5 – From the Grave
Story: Whilst your crew attempts to get the Gravestone functioning you must hold off an attack. You battle to the entrance of the ship and encounter Senya, who you will find out later is Valkorian’s wife and mother of Arcann and Vaylin. Together you fight off various enemies. It is here you get your first choice about whether to use Valkorian’s power which seems to be a big decision to save Lana or not. Finally, the Gravestone lifts off into space and escapes Zakuul. After this there’s some more character moments, especially regarding if you use the power, Lana is interested.
Review: We meet another character here, the mother of the antagonists and wife of the Emperor. We’ll go into more about her at the end, but her role here is interesting enough. The battle is fairly repetitive and the choice to use the power ends up having only minor ramifications. Overall for an action piece with some character moments this is a solid 4/5.
Chapter 6 – Asylum
Story: You land at Asylum and there you encounter some of Koth’s people. You are sent to find his engineer, encountering various criminals and eventually the Trooper Companion Tanno Vik. You can choose to kill or leave peacefully. You then encounter the Scions and their leader who tests you for…reasons. You get a choice to use Valkorian’s power again to defeat their leader Heskel, and more discussions if you do so.
Review: The crawl through Asylum is long and dull. The enemies are generic and simply there for something to fight. The Scions and their mystical nonsense never really play out much again and there are less important choices this time. This chapter is an average 3/5.
Chapter 7 – The Lady of Sorrows
Story: You learn of a Lady of Sorrows who has information which could aid you on Zakuul. After some discussion you go there with Senya and T3. You procced through long tunnels and do various tech items which lead to boring battles with Skytroopers. As you shake down people to learn about the Lady you are given a choice about whether to take Senya or Koth. You fight cultists and eventually confront the Lady who is…SCORPIO. If you’re an Agent there is some nice dialogue. Overall, you take SCORPIO with you and return to the ship.
Review: There is more wandering in corridors fighting enemies. There are some interesting interactions with people and a final interaction with SCORPIO. Overall though this chapter is building character for Senya and adding a new ally(?) to the crew. It’s an average 3/5.
Chapter 8 – Taking Flight
Story: You return to Asylum to find that Zakuul has finally decided to do something. Both Arcann and Vaylin are there and Arcann attacks you when you go to a meeting with the Scion leader. The Gravestone is besieged and you have to release the tractor beams holding it in place. To do this you must confront Arcann in a big battle. You can choose to use Valkorian’s power one last time. HK-51 is destroyed and regardless of your choice you are badly injured and carried back to the Gravestone as it escapes. Arcann survives like all villains who fall down pits, and Vaylin and Senya fight inconclusively.
Review: This is the real climax of the first 9 chapters. It has battles and combat, but also long grinds through tunnels against generic enemies. The battle against Arcann is entertaining enough though ultimately this chapter resolves little. If it weren’t for the frustrating walking through corridors this would be solid, but only rates as an average 3/5.
Chapter 9 – The Alliance
Story: This chapter is all about setup for the rest of the story. You found a new planetary base on Odessan and from there create your new Alliance. At this point Theron Shan also shows up, he will be a big part of later chapters. You meet the various members of your Alliance and then go to the cantina with your inner circle. You can then start a romance if you want with one of them if you have the approval. You get final discussions with Senya and Valkorian, then a final cut to a swamp where Satele and Darth Marr (in ghost form) have an ominous discussion.
Review: With no combat and some fun character building, this is a good way to setup the next stage of the story. It’s fun there’s no real problems with it. I give it a solid 4/5.
From here on the chapters were released once a month and are more episodic in form.
Chapter 10 – Anarchy in Paradise
Story: You have heard about a noted terrorist in Zakuul going by the name Firebrand and go to investigate and get them on side. It turns out to be the Agent companion Kaliyo being an anarchist. You learn she’s been allowed to thrill the complacent Zakull people with her antics but now wants to go full on. You have the option of disapproving or going with her terrorist actions. Regardless, she is recruited. Koth will leave you if you’ve done too much killing of innocents.
Review: Overall this is a passable adventure which works best as an Agent. The plot and fighting are quite so-so and there’s not a whole lot of reason for some classes to recruit her. This chapter is really quite short compared with the first set. Overall it’s an average 3/5.
Chapter 11 – Disavowed
Story: You meet up with Jorgan, the Trooper Companion, who is waging an unofficial guerrilla war on Zakuul. He has a new collection of Havoc Squad wannabes who are bland nameless grunts. You rescue some exiles from the Skytroopers and then plan an attack on an installation. Some bland action results and you are saved by the exiles. You can then either help the rebels or not, it makes little difference.
Review: This chapter is the first where there are serious issues. The plot contained here is short, padded by bland combat, and full of non-choices which don’t matter. This honestly feels like a recruitment mission promoted into a main chapter. Little of interest happens and the new Havoc Squad is uniformly bland. Only troopers will get anything from this chapter, but it’s still a disappointing 2/5.
Chapter 12 – Visions in the Dark
Story: You plan an attack on a Zakuul base and then have a chat with Valkorian. Unaccountably he complains you’ve not been quick enough overthrowing Arcann and abandons you. Long trips through the wilderness fighting annoying enemies ensues and you eventually fight Valkorian and lose via cutscene. He leaves and you wake up and find yourself with Satele Shan and the ghost of Darth Marr. They explain to you that a union of the Dark and Light is needed to defeat Arcann and even if you’re not a Force user you…use the Force. This culminates in them making you a magic weapon to fight Arcann. Finally you have learned all you can and return to find that your planned attack is in trouble and you can give orders which are usually ignored.
Review: Whilst the previous two chapters had little plot, this one had too much, and none of it made sense. Valkorian annoyed at you for not being quick enough and then leaving is mystifying. Satele and Marr’s reaction is equally strange, and the sight of a magical assault cannon or sniper rifle is one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen. I will cover more on this chapter specifically later, but this one is a total mess which brings the Force User paradox to its height. This is a terrible 1/5.
Chapter 13 – Profit and Plunder
Story: Your Alliance needs money and supplies, taking no account of all the supply crates the player has acquired. You learn of a treasure ship containing plunder from the Sith and Republic, and to break in you bring in Vette and Gault to assist. After many complications you extract the treasure and flee. When you return you learn that the mission Kaliyo and Jorgen went on was a partial success but the new Havoc Squad is otherwise dead. If either of them disobeyed your orders you have the DS option of killing them.
Review: This chapter feels like an Ocean’s Eleven heist film and it’s a lot of fun. Vette and Gault add some much needed levity to proceedings and though laboured the action is not terrible. There is a lot of running through corridors and dull fighting against Skytroopers. Overall it’s a fun chapter but it doesn’t advance the main plot much at all. It’s an average 3/5.
Chapter 14 – Mandalore’s Revenge
Story: You team up with the Mandalorians under their new leader Shae Vizla to attack the Eternal Empire. You gain Torian as an ally and from there go and steal GEMINI Prime, the copy of SCORPIO which helps control the Eternal fleet. Along the way you can choose to thin the Mandalorians out, though this has no noticeable effect bar a line or two.
Review: This chapter is light on plot, and though it features a new area, it’s a quite boring one full of the usual dull enemies. The story that’s there is not of great interest except it leads into the next chapter. Torian was always dull and hasn’t improved, and the Mandalorians are stereotypical in their characterisation. There is little character development here and the fighting is repetitive with non-choices littering the path. It is a disappointing 2/5.
Chapter 15 – The GEMINI Deception
Story: Your goal is to assume control over the Eternal Fleet with the help of the GEMINI prime and Scorpio. To do this you board a battlecruiser and attempt the takeover. However, in a suspense lacking betrayal SCORPIO turns against you. You battle through long tunnels, past annoying traps and rescue some Imperial, Republic and Zakuul people. In the end you can only save two groups but the choice means little. You escape and learn that Arcann has finally summoned his forces to attack you.
Review: Featuring a predictable betrayal, repetitive and annoying battles and more non-choices this chapter does very little of interest. There is no character development to speak of, and the choices you make matter very little. This is a terrible 1/5.
Chapter 16 – The Battle of Odessan
Story: This is it, the final battle! Well…that was quick. Regardless, Arcann, and that part of the Eternal Fleet he commands arrives above Odessan, having been given the location by SCORPIO. You board the Gravestone and board Arcann’s flagship. Once there you battle through various enemies until you face the Emperor himself. To defeat him you must use a…shield? With this shield you reflect his attacks back at him and then brain him with it every so often. Before you can strike the killing blow rubble falls and you escape. But Arcann is not dead, and is rescued by Senya who fights off Vaylin. You have the choice of firing on the pair as they escape but they still get away regardless. If you dismissed Koth previously he returns and steals the Gravestone. Vaylin becomes the new Empress with the help(?) of SCORPIO and you return to Odessan after this great victory with a lead in to the next season, Knights of the Eternal Empire.
Review: After spending most of the 6 episodes waffling around with raids, that the final battle was here was unexpected. It is here everything is supposed together, but the story pulls punches. No one dies, not even the villain, and none of your crew perish either, even if you send them on unsuitable missions. The final battle is absurd that after making a magic weapon you use a random shield to beat Arcann almost to death. It’s annoying and makes little sense. The choice whether to shoot Senya and Arcann down has no consequences since it doesn’t make any difference. All that is left is a setup for the next and endlessly continuing string of chapters. This is a pretty terrible and disappointing 1/5.
Average first 9 chapters: 3.7/5
Average last 7 monthly chapters: 1.8/5
Analysis and overall review to come.