Shadow of Revan RIP #2 - New Planets
Introducing new environments to explore is a staple of MMORPG expansion packs, and Shadow of Revan does not disappoint. After the prologue missions, the new content kicks off on the relatively obscure planet of Rishi, home to some interesting looking bird folk and a whole lot of pirate business. Bioware reached way back and dipped into the classic trilogy for the second planet (or rather moon), Yavin 4, recognizable to fans as the home base to the Rebellion in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Both areas bring fresh visuals to the game, and each has its own distinctive features. Adding more variety to the game, especially the generally repetitive elder game daily and weekly missions, is a good thing. Are Rishi and Yavin 4 enough to satiate lore-hounds and commendation-addicts alike? Read on to find out.
I’ve never been great about following all the stories and developments in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, so the only mention I’d heard of Rishi was in Episode II: Attack of the Clones when Dexter Jettster mentions the Rishi Maze to Obi-Wan Kenobi. The planet, and its cool humanoid bird inhabitants the Rishii, have been mentioned and explored in several expanded universe novels and in the Clone Wars animated series. This being my first real exposure to the planet, I was intrigued with what I found there.
The planet is a tropical environment that strikes me as being similar to the Caribbean or some of the Pacific Islands. It seems like it would be a nice spot for a hard working Sith Inquisitor to take a little vacation and work on her tan (dark side corruption has left her looking a bit pale), except that the place is a haven for pirates and low life gangsters.
The civilized (using the term loosely) urban area is a slick blend between turn-of-the-century boardwalks and neon-lit modern day Hong Kong, all with a Star Wars sci-fi space opera twist. The characters that live there and the different factions add a lot of personality and flair to the environment, all of which is helped by the compelling storyline that takes players through the planet on the first go ‘round.
Outside of the main settlement, the world has the feel of a peril-frought tropical paradise, with beautiful flora and fauna that will bite your head off if you get too close. Among the dangerous fauna is the amusing jungle wampa, seemingly far from its native Hoth. The first time I stumbled on one of these intimidatingly huge yeti-cousins, I immediately thought of the polar bear in the first season of Lost. Whether or not that was intentional, who knows, but it seems like Bioware is having a little bit more fun with pop culture references in this expansion. The treasure hunting crew skill trainer in town is named “Laiurea Crafyt”, and looks suspiciously like she just got back from raiding some tombs.
The final part of Rishi involves working with the natives to attack a Revanite compound that brings to mind Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. The Rishii village is made up of generic “island native villager” scenery, which is disappointing given some of the the work and originality applied to the rest of the planet. The Rishii themselves are strange and entertaining, though; supposedly they are superb imitators of speech (like a… parrot?) so they speak with weird accents and obnoxious voices. It’s pretty humorous stuff, and their appearance is pretty outlandish as well adding some nice color.
Once things are tied up with a nice bow on Rishi, the action moves to the iconic moon of Yavin 4. As I mentioned before, Yavin 4 is the spot where the Rebels from the very first Star Wars movie set up their headquarters then patiently waited for Luke and his X-wing pals to take out the Death Star so they wouldn’t get blown to smithereens.
Expanded universe aficionados also know that Yavin 4 also plays a large role in the ancient history of the native Sith species, creating some interesting lore tie-ins for players who have chosen to play native Sith characters. There might be some cool role play opportunities as they try to reach out to their ancient Massasi cousins, bridging a family rift that has existed for millennia, but then get their generous offer rejected by a pointy pointy spear.
There isn’t the same amount of variety on Yavin 4 as there is on Rishi, but what is there is nicely crafted and evocative. The main adventuring areas consist of a rainforest-like jungle with mushroom-filled caves and grottoes, all containing hints at the ancient Sith culture that once thrived here. The themes around gathering artifacts and exploring tombs create a great sense of swashbuckling adventure, and Yavin 4 presents a beautiful environment to swashbuckle in.
All told, the new planets breath fresh air into the game and give some variety to the continuing story. They also offer additional environments in which to grind out commendations for elder game gear. I’m not sure if it was because of people flooding the new area, but I experienced considerable frame rate issues on Yavin 4. There was a lot of chatter about it in the general channel, and Bioware has mentioned the issue on their Twitter account. The content was still playable, but the performance issues did present a detriment to the overall experience. Hopefully they will find a way to permanently relieve these issues soon.
That’s it for part two of our three part review of Shadow of Revan. Next week I’ll be tying it all together and going through point by point the plusses and minuses of the new content. For those folks who have tried out Rishi and Yavin 4, what are your impressions? We’d love to hear in the comments below!