I loved Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne for many reasons, but the one frustrating aspect of the events that transpired in these expansions was their grandiosity. These expansions ask the question: wouldn’t it be awesome to actually win and rule the galaxy? The answer is yes and no.
Spoilers for KOTET, KOTFE, and all post-expansion content (including the Nathema Conspiracy) ahead.
KOTFE & KOTET were simply too grand in their scope. This would be fine in a single player game where it all ends, the credits roll, and you move on, but in an MMO, players are always wondering what’s next. BioWare Austin sort of painted itself into a corner here by letting the player character truly win. By the end of KOTET, the player dominates the galaxy basically unopposed. You’ve got enemies, sure, but between the defeat of Valkorion and his kin and the possession of the Eternal Fleet, the notion of being under any sort of real threat is hard to swallow. To make matters worse, these expansions don’t make a whole lot of sense if you’re not a Force user, which is one reason I haven’t taken some of my favorite characters through it and that’s bothered me for years now.
The story post-KOTET has focused on a traitor arc involving Theron Shan and a mysterious Order of Zildrog, which has finally come to its conclusion with the recent release of Game Update 5.9: The Nathema Conspiracy. The short version of events is that this Order of Zildrog has sought out Valkorion/Vitiate’s superweapons with the goal of destroying the Eternal Alliance. It turns out that Theron’s betrayal of the Alliance was really just a ploy to get close to the mysterious Order and aid the player before it could make its move against the Alliance. Ultimately, the Order of Zildrog is defeated by the end of the Nathema Conspiracy, but not before the weapon is unleashed and the Eternal Fleet is destroyed. It’s not a very compelling storyline, but it accomplishes its goal of getting BW Austin out of a bind so it can move the game’s narrative back to a conflict between the Empire vs. Republic in the next expansion.
The 6.0 expansion was confirmed about a month ago on a SWTOR Central livestream with Charles Boyd and Eric Musco and it was here that we also learned that BioWare intended to wrap things up with the whole Eternal Throne story arc and get back to the Imperial vs. Republic conflict.
Personally, I’m really excited by this move. First off, I wasn’t even sure we’d be getting another expansion for SWTOR, BioWare recently put every Cartel Market item in the game up for Direct Sale for about two weeks, which gave me some strong going out of business type sale vibes. To find out that not only are we getting a new expansion, but that we’re going back to the classic Star Wars conflict was both a joy and a relief.
Going back to a classic conflict may not sound too exciting at face value, but it’s not like BioWare is retconning Eternal Throne. The events that transpired over the course of the last two expansions shook the galaxy to its core, upended both factions and cleared the way for all sorts of interesting possibilities. One such possibility is the potential for permanent faction switching. The Eternal Throne story let players align with the opposite faction at various points if one desired, but the very end of the Nathema Conspiracy Flashpoint offers players a choice on who to contact between the Empire and Republic, hinting at the possibility that we’ll be able to make a more meaningful choice along these lines at some point in the future. The great thing about SWTOR is that, unlike any other RPG, your characters have a sense of time and history to them. The events that occur as part of your origin story, Hutt Cartel, Revan, KOTFE and KOTET all add a richness to your journey that you just can’t get anywhere else. I’ve been playing the same character for years and years now and she’s grown and changed in all manner of ways through the decisions made in these stories. While she wouldn’t make a move to the Republic (she’s a Sith Warrior), opening up the possibilities for my other characters to make a switch like this as part of their own journey is hugely compelling to me.
For example, the Imperial Agent can be a sort of double agent working for the Republic in its origin story and maybe players who went down this path sided with the Republic when possible in KOTFE/KOTET now may have the opportunity to actually switch over for good in the next expansion. That would be pretty damn cool, especially if BioWare emphasizes these sorts of switches in the story that follows.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, sure, but my point is that just because we are going back to Empire vs. Republic doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same old story. A lot has changed, not just for the players, but also the factions, and I’m excited to see what that’s like at the ground level instead of just these occasional interactions we’ve had over the past few years.
What’s your take on the Nathema Conspiracy and SWTOR’s return to the Imperial vs. Republic conflict? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!