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E3 2015 – Knights of the Fallen Empire Preview

William Murphy Posted:
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It’s the year of Star Wars with the new movie, Battlefront, and now SWTOR’s next big expansion: Knights of the Fallen Empire. Announced officially during EA’s E3 press conference, the expansion marks a new major story initiative for BioWare’s MMORPG, and we got to see just what that means in a behind-closed-doors presentation at EA’s press booth.

Knights of the Fallen Empire, as Jean described in this week’s column, takes place years after the events of Shadow of Revan. You’ll find yourself encased in carbonite, when Sith Lord Lana Beniko wakes you up and gives you the brief: both the Republic and the Empire have been decimated by new threat of the Eternal Empire. In short, you’re going to have to put some of your differences aside if you hope to survive.   In short, you as the Outlander have to find some way to unite both sides against a common threat.

It’s officially a huge continuation of the main story, with 9 chapters available at launch on October 27th (October 20th for subscribers) and it’s free to all subscribers, but what’s not clear is how non subscribers will access the content. BioWare did say that this isn’t something they want to segregate players with, as the hope is that the expansion’s content and the promise of monthly chapters will entice players to subscribe and spend money in the store. 

Now some of you might have been hoping for more class stories, and BioWare knows that’s still something folks want, but let’s face it: doing individual stories for each class would take considerably more time, resources, and money to do correctly. I think we can expect that the class stories are forever going to be the original game’s focus, and that from here on out we’re going to see more game-spanning stories that recreate the feel and scope of the stories we get from the movies and TV shows.

Speaking of that kind of cinematic experience, we got a brief taste of the beginning experience in Knights of the Fallen Empire and the story really is taking center stage. BioWare knows that a lot of their players like SWTOR because it’s a continuation of Knights of the Old Republic as much as it is an MMO. So for Knights of the Fallen Empire they are focusing really hard on upping their cut-scene and story-telling game. Cameras move during story scenes, animations and overall direction are far more diverse than in the other story-focused contents and expansions.  Watching the player, now known as The Outlander, escape from the carbonite prison with the help of Lana and Koth was an absolutely riveting experience.

Gameplay wise, BioWare promises lots more info to come on all the new class skills, but the main goal of the new powers is to increase the mobility and action of each class as they want the pace of combat to increase overall with KotFE.  Watching the Skytroopers fly around, come in through windows, and make combat more movement heavy gave a good impression that we’ll be doing a lot more moving during fights in the expansion.

There are tons of perks to be a subscriber from now all the way up until the early access launch of October 20th, and the 12X XP rate for the class story quests are still going from now until October 19th. But even after that point, the whole 1-50 game’s leveling process will be re-defined so that the the 1-50 experience will be far more streamlined for all players in the future.  You can take a look at all the perks over at the official site.

Now my personal opinion is that SWTOR’s strength has always been its story. It’s an MMORPG that has fun group content, but its best bits have been the more single-player stories. And that seems to be what BioWare has noticed as well.  There’s nothing wrong with catering to your niche, and in the year of Star Wars, the best bits of non-movie story may indeed come from BioWare just as they always have. I’m re-subscribed as of today, and I can’t wait to see how this third faction of the Eternal Empire factors in.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.