As much as I loved Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne, it’s plainly obvious that BioWare wrote itself into a corner with those expansions. Making the player the ultimate power in the galaxy would be a fine ending to a singleplayer Star Wars RPG, but as a live service the story must continue and this decision left us with nowhere to go but down.
The last few updates were part of BioWare’s attempt to put the genie back in the bottle by knocking the Eternal Alliance down a few pegs. Jedi Under Siege is the first real step towards a full course correction and return to the game’s roots as a story of conflict between the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic. The problem is that, at least so far, it’s about as awkward as I expected it to be.
Before I get into that, I do want to say that I appreciate BioWare returning the game to that classic Star Wars conflict and I feel the game’s overarching story is better for the events of KOTFE & KOTET on the whole. Even with their flaws, the way those expansions shook up the balance of power in the galaxy did a great job to create the sort of sense of time that is unique to SWTOR as an online Star Wars RPG. Though we are returning to the classic conflict, so much has changed over the course of the last few expansions and it leaves the team with a lot of new and interesting ideas to explore. Unfortunately, none of those ideas were really on display with Jedi Under Siege.
The update kicks off with players having to take a side: support the Sith Empire or the Galactic Republic. You can decide to support the Republic as an Empire character and vice-versa if you like, but I played things straight as my Sith Warrior and decided to return home.
For someone of my character’s stature, the mission the Sith Empire needed my help with was decidedly mundane. Introduced to Moff Pyron, he explains that the Jedi have a secret compound on Ossus where they are training and the Sith Empire want to take them out to strike the first blow. This sounds straightforward, but as with all things involving the Sith Empire, the mission is rife with issues involving internal politics. Darth Malora, a member of the Dark Council, is running the operation on Ossus and Moff Pyron isn’t confident she can pull it off. Malora's a bit off her rocker and she appears to be focused on her weird experiments, much like her master was in the past.
If you’ve played the through as the Sith Inquisitor or Sith Warrior, you’ll remember Malora as the apprentice looking to sabotage her master on Korriban in one of the game’s early sidequests. It looks like things worked out pretty OK for Malora after all, even if you did end up screwing her over like I did. I have to say that I do love when BioWare brings back characters this way as the discussion between my Warrior and Malora was as amusing as I expected it would be when we reconnected on Ossus.
In any case, back to the mundane task at hand. Before we can strike at the Jedi, we'll need to rescue Brax, a member of the operations team, Raven Squad. Major Anri, a twi’lek member of Raven Squad and my partner on this mission, explains that Darth Malora intended these mutated Geonosians as a vicious weapon, but the problem is that they aren’t taking sides, leading to attacks against both Republic and Imperial forces alike. I’ve been looking forward to a more grounded story after the previous expansions, but all of this felt like I was playing a character earlier in its career. It didn’t get much better after I found Brax.
Brax was on his way to an unscheduled supply drop when he got attacked and now that we've saved Brax, it’s up to Major Anri and I to secure the mysterious supply drop. Along the way we burn down some Jedi farms and Anri suggests we should make a play for the Jedi’s farming data. Ossus is a harsh planet and the Jedi have figured out how to grow crops there. Stealing the data and wiping it from the Jedi’s computers would give the Empire a leg up in the conflict by allowing them to grow food anywhere in the galaxy and feed their forces. I feel like I was supposed to be given an option here, because I got a message saying my Imperial handler (a droid!) was pleased because my decision to go for the data would boost troop morale. But, uh, my character just decided to support the idea without any input from me at all. If that was a bug, it wouldn’t be the first one for this update, but we’ll touch on that later.
Once we secure the drop we return to base and Malora has a paranoid freakout over its contents. Her paranoia serves her well this time, because now it’s time for the twist of the update. The drop pod opens up on its own and Darth Malgus steps out. Hold up, I’m pretty sure I defenestrated this dude in the False Emperor Flashpoint years ago, but uh, he survived somehow, I guess? Apparently, Malgus has been going around in secret as Empress Acina’s enforcer and he’s arrived to take over the operation. Malgus flings Malora off of a ledge, but like him, she somehow survives and reappears later in the story.
Malgus is ready to strike at the Jedi, but we’re first tasked with knocking out their sensors (and getting that exciting farm data!). Once that’s done we meet up with Malgus and get to team up with him to murder a bunch of Jedi, including Master Gnost-Dural, who you’ll remember from the neat holorecords detailing the SWTOR timeline from before the game’s release. Stomping around the ancient Jedi Library on Ossus and massacring a bunch of Jedi with Darth Malgus was pretty fun, I’ll admit. The dude is a hulking badass, but I do think bringing him back was kind of weak. Hopefully more is explained later, but I feel this would’ve been a great opportunity to introduce a new character.
Once done mopping up the Jedi, we return for a debrief with Empress Acina and then it’s all over. Yep. That’s it. You can do dailies on Ossus and there are Alliance Alerts to recruit returning class companions (Jaesa, Khem Val, and Nadia Grell return), and there are some other important bits to the patch, but as far as story goes, that’s all there is to it. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this update, but certainly something a bit more exciting than rescuing a scout, burning down some Jedi farms, and murdering a couple of Jedi. I get that it's all a prelude to the next expansion, but I just wasn't impressed.
An underwhelming sense of “meh” wasn’t all this patch left me with, however. There was also considerable anxiety over bugs that have plagued the update. There were issues discovered early on after the update’s deployment that required a server shut down and roll back. I wasn’t caught up in that situation, but when servers returned there were still some issues.
From what I understand, players who completed all the story content up to this point were supposed to receive the next mission automatically, while those who hadn’t and wanted to just skip ahead to the new content were to be directed by the game to pick up the mission on their ships. I’m not sure what happened, but it appears everyone was directed to pick up the mission on their ship instead and the game basically yells at you numerous times to let you know that by accepting the mission this way you would be skipping to the new content and it would be using default choices for your class. Confused, I looked for answers on Reddit and the SWTOR forums, and thankfully BioWare’s Charles Boyd explained that the game will only use default choices for choices you haven’t made yet and that they would be updating the game to clarify this wording later. I’ve been playing this one character for years and I’ve made choices for her from her origin story through numerous expansions and post expansion content. I wasn’t looking to lose all that. Reassured, but still apprehensive, I decided to go confirm the dialog and start the update. The first words I saw on my screen sent me into a panic: “Theron Shan has joined you as a companion.”
I left Theron to die in the last update. Did I just get screwed over? The contacts list still describes him as dead, but I can summon him as a companion. He’s even standing around in my Alliance base. Thankfully, this turned out to be some non-story related bug, because he never shows up in any of the cutscenes or anything, but it definitely gave me a scare. There appear to be other companion related issues going on as well, but I’ve not verified if any of them are affecting me at this point. Either way, I do hope BioWare has plans to sort these issues out soon.
Have you played through Jedi Under Siege? What are your thoughts on the update? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!