BioWare recently released “Visions In The Dark,” the 12th chapter of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s story-driven expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire. And it may have been one of the best chapter releases yet, if you’re a Force user.
At this point in the story, your alliance is planning a decisive strike against Arcann and the Eternal Empire, and it is suggested that the commander confer with Emperor Valkorion since he is so familiar with the targeted area. Heading out to a secluded area to chat with ol’ Valkorion, he gave me a speech about how mastering the Dark Side of The Force is not enough to reach my full potential. I’ve been continually rejecting Valkorion’s offers of power throughout the KOTFE story, frustrating him to no end. He decides he’s had enough and we fight. After a protracted battle, he continues to make his point against my stubbornness, and leaves me with a token of his favor and a reminder that he’s never been my enemy. If I’m to succeed, I must achieve my full potential. Yeah, yeah.
It’s following my discussion with Valkorion that things get incredibly interesting – or incredibly confusing, depending on whether or not you’re playing a Force user. Valkorion’s token of power knocks my character out and she later wakes up in a strange ship somewhere in the Odessen wilds. After waking, I wandered around activating a bunch of lore objects in the area focusing heavily on the history of The Force, before eventually coming to a small camp where I encountered Jedi Master Satele Shan, a recurring character that we’ve seen conversing with the Force ghost of Darth Marr throughout the KOTFE story. It’s here that we finally learn what Satele has been up to, the changes in her (and Marr’s character), and their plans for what lies ahead. In short, both Marr and Satele feel they were both wrong in their approaches to the struggle against the Eternal Empire (and The Force). Shan and Marr feel that making The Force your ally as a Jedi or enslaving it as a Sith isn’t the right approach. According to them, The Force has a will of its own, and we must anchor ourselves to its power. It’s neither light nor dark.
From here, the rest of the chapter takes the form of a sort of Luke on Dagobah series of trials. In practical terms, it’s more of a scavenger hunt heavy on exposition, with a few key boss fights strewn throughout. Chapter XII is where things take a pause in terms of gameplay, focusing instead on a large dose of story. It may be disappointing to some, but I enjoyed the overall experience. Of course, I was playing a Force user (Sith Assassin), but for everyone else, this chapter doesn’t do much to convince players that BioWare didn’t write KOTFE assuming you’re playing a Jedi or Sith character.
It’s an issue I’ve had with KOTFE overall since completing the initial nine chapters released last year. When thinking about replaying the expansion on other characters, it’s hard for it all to make sense for anyone but a Force user, and Chapter XII in particular really solidifies this notion for me. I’ve seen members of the community complain about this as well, and I can’t say I really blame them. The Force looms large over the Knights of the Fallen Empire narrative and if you’re not playing a Force user, I feel like your experience and satisfaction with the story so far probably won’t line up with my own and others who are experiencing it through the eyes of a Jedi or Sith.
As a Sith Assassin, KOTFE feels like a natural extension from my origin story and Shadows of Revan. As a former member of the Dark Council, my character feels very much connected to what’s going on and it makes the experience so much more interesting. It creates a sense of time and growth that you can’t even hope to find in BioWare’s single player RPGs. Even now my character is growing. She’s faced with the possibility that she was wrong in adhering to the Sith Code in her quest for power. She’s chosen to reject Valkorion, Marr, and Shan, but is she wrong to do so? I’m eager to find out. The flip side is that this seemingly one size fits all storyline makes these sorts of questions pointless for, say, a Republic Trooper. At this point, I feel I’d be frustrated playing through KOTFE, and especially frustrated playing through Chapter XII, as anything but a Force user. Heck, my favorite character is my Imperial Agent, and even the possibility of reuniting with Kaliyo isn’t enough to convince me that I’ll enjoy the experience of getting there. I'm not sure what BioWare can do at this point for KOTFE, but this issue is hopefully something to consider for future story based expansions.
What’s your experience with Chapter XII been like? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!