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Star Wars: The Old Republic Column: The Best (and Worst) of Rise of the Hutt Cartel

By Michael Bitton on April 17, 2013

Rise of the Hutt Cartel, the first digital expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, officially went live for everyone this past weekend. With a couple of days playing the expansion now under my belt, I’ve completed the main story on the Imperial side and dug into some of the staged weekly content made available at its completion. This week, we’ll be discussing some of the better and the more concerning points about the expansion as we see it so far.

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Epic Story

While BioWare Austin was shaken up by a tumultuous 2012, it’s certainly not showing in terms of the quality of the storytelling found in Rise of the Hutt Cartel. RotHC doesn’t extend your class stories, but instead focuses the content on the overarching story of your respective faction and how it plays into the resource rich world of Makeb (which is now under control of the Hutts).

On the Imperial side, this represents a clandestine operation to steal Makeb’s resources from right under the Hutts’ noses, all while not alerting either the Hutts or the Republic to their presence. While this may sound like a slower paced story, it plays more like a Bond or Michael Bay movie. The story is told well, but isn’t incredibly deep. However, it is full of high production values, tons of explosions, and some really catastrophic possibilities that make up an altogether entertaining package.

New Abilities and Talents

The reworked talent trees and new abilities have really reinvigorated the play of my existing characters. I’m getting some serious mileage out of my Marauder’s new Double Lightsaber Throw, in particular. Lining up a great throw and hitting a bunch of enemies is much more satisfying than you would probably think. The new talents have also changed the pace of play and the same can be said for the changes for the Alacrity stat, which allows you to reduce the activation times of abilities, including instant abilities by bringing them below the GCD.

Value

I dropped a whopping total of $10 (-$10 for subscribers) on this expansion and so far I’ve gotten hours upon hours of enjoyment out of it and I’ve only really gone through the main story content. There’s actually a breadth of new content additions in the expansion from the aforementioned staged weekly missions, to achievements, to new world and raid bosses (including the Golden Fury on Makeb!), to the new Seeker and Macrobinocular missions, and more.  Even if I weren’t a subscriber, the $20 price point feels completely fair to me.

It’s Over Too Soon!

This sort of contradicts what I just mentioned above about the expansion’s value, but it’s more of a looking forward sort of criticism. This package of content has been anticipated for a long time (E3 2012, to be specific) and as is the issue with all themepark games, players will consume content far faster than developers can create it. Basically, where do we go from here? As awesome as all of the above may be, it probably won’t last the most casual of players more than a couple of weeks. I think it’s important for BioWare to put a significant focus on adding new systems along with any new content, especially when it comes to expansions. New systems and methods of gameplay can really extend the experience far longer than any amount of content can (this is the sandbox enthusiast in me speaking, for sure).

Experience Pacing May Be Problematic

I’ve seen complaints from a number of people that the pacing of the expansion content may be off a bit on the experience side of things. You may find yourself underleveled if you jump into the expansion as a fresh level 50 without any experience boosts. I made it to level 54 (out of a possible 55) by the end of Makeb’s story content, but my particular character also had months and months of rested experience to help push her along. I’m not sure how far you’d get without significant levels of rested experience (I still have enough left over to get me to just about level 55), so your mileage may vary.

The End of Class Stories?

While I never expected BioWare to extend the eight class stories of the original game with a $10-20 expansion, some players were disappointed nonetheless that Rise of the Hutt Cartel doesn’t really include anything along those lines. To make matters worse, some of the recent language coming out of BioWare may indicate that this is the direction the studio will be taking towards story content for the foreseeable future.

In short, much more focus on the larger game story, rather than how your individual character plays into it. It makes sense from a financial point of view and it’s also much more MMO friendly. While I’d love to see my class story continued in future expansions, it’s fair to say that they did kind of break up the pacing of the game a bit. A focus on the overarching story helps address this while also giving the developers the most bang for their buck.

What are the best and worst aspects of the expansion to you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


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Michael Bitton
MMORPG.com's Community Manager Michael Bitton gives us his thoughts and opinions on the happenings in and around the world of MMORPGs.
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