Having spent more time with the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve gotten a better idea for the hot (and not so hot) aspects of the expansion. Read on for our look at both.
I haven’t replayed through the expansion just yet, but choices seemed a good deal more impactful on the first playthrough than Knights of the Fallen Empire offered. My one concern is that the most impactful of these choices tended to be deciding character deaths. In KotFE, you could permanently kill off a couple of characters, but in KotET, you can really thin out the cast. What I’m really curious to find out is to what extent my choices impact the narrative. Last week, I wrote extensively about killing Senya to get to Arcann, but I can’t say I was too impressed with how that decision played out. Arcann is basically absent for most of KotET and then shows up towards the later chapters to fight you and Vaylin. That’s about it. My hope is that his redemption arc is a bit meatier if you decide to spare Senya.
BioWare made significant improvements to level design in Eternal Throne when compared to Fallen Empire. It’s a true breath of fresh air. Each chapter isn’t just a slog through corridors lined with endless waves of Skytroopers. The layouts are varied, there are different enemy groups, boss fights are often interesting, and BioWare even introduced a number of different gameplay sections to spice things up. In KotET, you’ll find yourself doing everything from commandeering a giant walker (which is super fun, by the way), to sneaking around as a mouse droid, to infiltrating a party in disguise as part of what is essentially a stealth level.
Performance and Graphical Improvements
BioWare’s choice to use the Hero Engine for SWTOR has been controversial for many years now. Complaining about the game’s poor performance is old hat at this point and I never expected to see any meaningful improvements, but BioWare somehow managed to figure it out with Eternal Throne. That’s right, SWTOR actually runs well now. I know, I know. I had to pinch myself, but it’s true. The 100 FPS cap has been removed and there were seemingly significant improvements made across the board to keep framerates high. The game still nosedives in PvP situations, but depending on your hardware, nosediving could mean going from 150-200 FPS to 50+. More than playable.
Oh, did I mention it looks better too? BioWare made some improvements to shadows and facial animations in KotET. It’s not huge, but it is noticeable.
There are all sorts of growing pains with Galactic Command right now. Everything from wildly different levels of efficiency between activities for earning command experience, to a couple of exploits or other oversights have plagued the system since it launched. It’s also just not very rewarding. Most of the time you get junk, and even if you do manage to start getting some command ranks on your belt, it takes a while before you see any significant improvements in the quality of gear you’re receiving. The grind is real.
The worst part of Galactic Command, however, is the lack of a catch up feature for alts. BioWare said they might consider something like this going forward, but it’s a huge oversight to me that the team didn’t ensure something like this was in place for launch. As it stands, SWTOR, a game that has encouraged players to create tons of alts over the years, now punishes you for playing them, since Command Rank is on a per-character basis. This really needs to be sorted sooner rather than later.
Force User Bias
This is a complaint that carries over from Fallen Empire, but Eternal Throne still feels like a narrative geared towards the Force using classes of SWTOR. I’m not really sure why my Smuggler or Imperial Agent would want to rule the Eternal Empire (or be capable of taking out such powerful foes as Valkorion and his kids). The overall story of Eternal Throne feels a bit friendlier to these classes, but the main villains and the end goals just make me feel like I need to suspend my disbelief to make sense for many of the game’s classes.
Uprisings are basically shorter Flashpoints. They’re sort of neat and there isn’t too much inherently wrong with them, but they’re also kind of “meh” as the only new pieces of endgame content to come in with the expansion. As a new type of content, they fill a great role as shorter pieces to play through in groups that aren’t full-fledged Flashpoints or lengthy Operations. But in terms of keeping people playing the game after the credits roll, they just don’t do enough. Repeating old content is still the name of the game.
What are the best and worst aspects of the expansion for you? Share your list with us in the comments below!