It’s been almost three years since Star Wars: The Old Republic got a new expansion. While I’m the sort of player who only returns to SWTOR for new story content, I’ve still been eagerly awaiting the game’s next big story drop. Despite some misgivings, I really enjoyed Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne and I’ve been craving more. Now that Onslaught is finally out, is it everything I’d hoped for?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. There’s a lot to like about Onslaught, but it makes me feel sad more than anything else. BioWare Austin is clearly strained for resources and it shows here. The entire thing clocks in at around six hours (three for each side’s campaign) and its size and scope are a far cry from the sort of story we got in KOTFE/KOTET. It’s more akin to expansions of old, such as Rise of the Hutt Cartel or Shadow of Revan. The premise is large, the Republic and Empire are at it again in full scale war, but the story is small. It feels like you’ve taken part in no more than a handful of missions before you’re into the Flashpoint finale.
Where Onslaught excels is in the margins. It’s in the little things. Interactions with old characters from your former life in the Empire or Republic (if you are returning to your original faction), the way some conversations go depending on which companions are around; that sort of thing. There are a lot of smaller nods here that add up to make the expansion a bit denser than its shorter runtime would imply.
Even though I’m mostly underwhelmed with Onslaught, this expansion means more to me than the amount of content it offers, or even some of the new and revamped systems it brings to the table. It represents a return home for my characters, something I’ve been longing for for a while now.
I’ve written several times over the years that one thing that makes SWTOR incredibly unique is that it has a real sense of time. Your character’s journey through the origin story, first couple of expansions, and then a galaxy shifting event in Knights of the Fallen Empire sends you far off from your original beginnings in the Empire or Republic. The events of the last two expansions changed the contours of the conflict forever, forcing characters from both factions to work together against an existential threat. And while all this is going on, all sorts of things shift at home over the course of that story that when you finally return in Onslaught, you can really feel the difference.
I enjoyed and appreciated BioWare’s opportunity to make a truly unique mark on the Star Wars mythos (even if it is Legends material) with the story put forward in the Knights expansions, but boy am I glad to be back now. The return to the iconic conflict between Empire and Republic feels great after a long reprieve. It’s also easier to tell stories that fit all of my characters in this setting, whereas the Knights expansions focused heavily on Force users to the point it just feels awkward to play anything else.
I won’t spend too much time on the features Onslaught offers, we’ll have a review soon that will dig deep into all of that, but I do want to say that after hoping for playable Nautolans since 2010, that I’m glad they’re finally here. Now I just need to figure out what class I want to play! It’s between Sorcerer and Marauder, by the way, in case any of you want to help me out in the comments.
Have you played through Onslaught yet? What are your thoughts so far?