It took longer than expected, but BioWare Austin finally unveiled SWTOR’s next expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne, at this year’s New York Comic Con Cantina event. Keep in mind that there will be spoilers for the current (and upcoming) expansion ahead, so you’ve been warned if you haven’t wrapped Knights of the Fallen Empire up yet.
To quickly recap, Knights of the Fallen Empire sets the player up as the Outlander, a veteran of the Great Galactic War, who has been frozen in carbonite for five years while the Eternal Empire, a threat greater than both the Sith Empire and Galactic Republic combined, conquers the galaxy. This Eternal Empire was led by Emperor Valkorion (formerly the Sith Emperor), until his son Arcann betrayed and killed him to take the throne for himself. Throughout the course of the expansion, the Outlander builds up an alliance to challenge the Eternal Empire, eventually removing Arcann from the throne, but fails in eliminating him due to the betrayal of Senya, one of his closest allies, and mother to both Arcann and Vaylin.
Knights of the Eternal Throne (or KoTET) continues where Knights of the Fallen Empire left off. Vaylin has ascended to the Eternal Throne following the defeat of her brother Arcann at the Outlander’s hands, while Senya has fled to Voss seeking aid from its powerful mystics to heal Arcann back to full strength. As empress, Vaylin is savagely ruling the galaxy, and both the Outlander and Vaylin’s armies are duking it out on Voss while also seeking to finish Arcann once and for all. As the battle tears the planet apart, Senya reaches out to the Outlander asking for help in saving her son, and the player must make a critical choice: forgive Senya and give Arcann a chance to find the light or try to finish him off.
BioWare admits that it didn’t quite deliver on the promise of meaningful choice in Knights of the Fallen Empire, but it’s looking to rectify this with KoTET, and this critical choice was highlighted as an example of one of the more consequential decisions the player will have to make in the expansion. We were shown a tease of the results of both choices and from what we can tell, Arcann is a completely different character depending on which path you take. Have faith and him and he’s appeared to live up to his mother’s claims that he could return to the light, looking more like his old self before he was wounded in the “Sacrifice” trailer. Go down the other path, and Arcann seems to be more evil and vicious than ever. Brutally taking out anyone he feels is in his way in his mission to reclaim the Eternal Throne.
Speaking of the Eternal Throne, as the expansion’s name might imply, your goal this time around is not only to unseat Vaylin – but to rule the galaxy upon the Eternal Throne yourself. We didn’t learn too much more than that, but it’s a pretty lofty goal and I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
One of the more interesting additions coming to KoTET is the introduction of difficulty modes. Many criticized KoTFE for being too easy, so BioWare has responded with a trio of difficulty modes that should accommodate players who just want to see the story as well as players looking for a challenge (with commensurate rewards, of course!).
Knights of the Eternal Throne will not be episodic this time around. Instead, BioWare is going the traditional expansion route of releasing the content all in one go. There are fewer chapters this time, but KoTET’s particular balance of content represents another way that BioWare Austin is responding to criticism of KoTFE. Basically, players loved the story content, but felt like BioWare may have neglected the more MMO aspects of the game in KoTFE’s almost singular focus on story. This time around, you’ll get nine chapters (similar to the launch content of KoTFE) and a renewed focus on repeatable multiplayer content in Star Wars: The Old Republic, starting off with two new gameplay features, Galactic Command and Uprisings, and continuing with post-expansion multiplayer content.
BioWare didn’t offer too much detail on these modes just yet, but we learned that Galactic Command is a max-level activity that will allow players to influence the galaxy through a series of actions. Players will align themselves with either the dark side or light side of the Force and everything they do (including Uprisings) will help to shift the balance of the Force on your server towards your chosen side. How this will impact your character isn’t entirely clear yet, but the worlds on your server will reflect its alignment by spawning enemies from the dominant alignment in increasing numbers as the galaxy shifts more towards one side or the other. Uprisings were described as fast-paced content for one to four players with multiple difficulty modes, but that’s about all we know so far.
Knights of the Eternal Throne will be free with your subscription and is set to release on December 2, 2016. There are a number of “pre-order” rewards, including early access, a Shae Vizla companion, and a recon walker mount. You can learn more about the expansion and pre-order rewards here.