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Bonus Series? Or Troll Series? You Decide!

By Michael Bitton on January 04, 2012 | Columns | Comments

Bonus Series? Or Troll Series? You Decide!

BioWare has brought their signature RPG storytelling talents to the MMO genre with Star Wars: The Old Republic, and in the game you'll find many ways to experience a number of stories. One of these are "world arcs," which are cohesive stories that span the entire planet you're currently playing on and often come to an epic and satisfying conclusion.

That is, until you're ready to leave the planet.

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Imagine this: you've spent significant hours completing all the content on a particular planet, including your class story, the sidequests, the heroics, and you've just finished out the planet's "world arc" and feel pretty good about the conclusion. You've enjoyed the planet thus far, but you're really feeling that urge to just get off and move on at this point, especially to find out what happens in the next leg of your story. So, you head to the spaceport, satisfied with yourself and ready to go, only to be ambushed by what I can only describe is a troll of an NPC who surprises you with more (and supposedly urgent) stuff to do. The first time this happens you won't think anything of it at first. Oh, one final quest to finish things off here, right? No big deal.

Wrong.

What you'll often find is you have enough new stuff to do to probably fill the time it took you to do about one third of the planet you thought you just completed. Surprise! These are what BioWare calls their Star Wars: The Old Republic's "Bonus Series" quests, or as I like to call them, Star Wars: The Old Republic's "Troll Series" quests. Why troll series? The way you're ambushed by these NPCs honestly feels like BioWare designers and writers are trolling you with these things. On Balmorra, for example, you'll finish out the planet and head to the spaceport, only for a familiar NPC from the world arc to approach you and say something along the lines of "Did you think you were leaving the planet so soon?" I honestly imagined her with Trollface.jpg superimposed over her face when she said this to me for the first time and every time I've experienced this "bonus series" ambush since.

 

It's an odd problem to have. A game that sometimes feels like it has "too much" content for its own good, but it's not the content that annoys me, so much as the way it is presented. If this stuff were all just part of your natural run through of the planet, it wouldn't bug me at all. The way it's presented to the player, at least to me, almost seems like an intentional way of trying to annoy: "Oh, you thought you were done here?" "Not quite!"

Worse, as you get deeper into the game, you'll start encountering these "Bonus Series" quests at levels either too high for you to actually complete at your level or too low to really be worthwhile. Well, then, who cares? Right? Just move on. Yeah, I guess you could, but for those of you out there who are like me and want to have to finish everything on a planet before moving on, these "Bonus Series" quest lines will either be a huge annoyance when you just want to leave, or not worth your time at all as you've outleveled them (or both!). I've even run into a few planets where I thought BioWare simply spared me the torture of a "Bonus Series" spaceport ambush, only to find an NPC on the Imperial Fleet or on an unrelated return to said planet later in the game that kicks off the planet's "Bonus Series."

Many of my friends who just started out with the game have heard several of us on Balmorra moaning and groaning about the planet and couldn't really understand why. We just tell them that they'll understand when they eventually get there, only for them to comment that they don't see what the big deal is once they do. That is, until they "finish" it. Then they understand. They always understand.

I took a quick gander at TORHead.com for the Balmorra 'Bonus Series' quest line and found this gem at the top of the comments (mild spoilers ahead, typos are the poster's own):

"Unless you want to experience all the story on Balmora, DO NOT DO THIS.

I picked this up after finishing all other quest lines on Balmora. I was on my way to another planet when I saw a quest giving NPC in the spaceport that wasn't there before. Thinking one more quest wouldn't take long I foolishly accepted.

The moment I accepted the quest, and then discovered it took me to yet ANOTHER quest hub on Balmora, I was enraged. Determined to wrap up quickly, I set out at full speed on finishing these quests. From there I turned in the quest, only to find one that led me to ANOTHER quest hub. From there I picked up a heroic quest or 2 (I honestly don't remember when, I was a bit loopy after the marathon session to finish this thing) and finished a few more quest. After doing one of the heroic sessions I discovered ANOTHER quest hub in this nightmare. This quest hub had ANOTHER HEROIC QUEST. And they only led to MORE QUEST HUBS WITH MORE HEROIC AND NON HEROIC QUESTS.

Finally I was down to the last series of quest involving the bugs from Starship troopers. The bonus quest to kill bugs had me killing 45, I thought that would take forever, I underestimated. Before I left that area I had exterminated 100's of these god forsaken dementor bugs. I turned in all these quest, went back to the spaceport, turned in the main quest, eager to leave. Some snotty story teller from Bioware decided to give me the option to flirt with the quest giver. I didn't want to flirt, I wanted to MURDER THIS CRAZY WITCH with lightning only to heal her back to life so I can kill her again."

I feel your pain, good sir.

Have any of you found yourself frustrated by these "Bonus Series" quests for any of the number of reasons outlined above? Vent your frustrations or tell me how much of an idiot I am for caring in the comments below!

Just don't tell me you were happily surprised when you ran into them and enjoyed the whole thing. I've got the banhammer at the ready for trolls like you! :)

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.
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