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Black Talon Flashpoint Preview

By Michael Bitton on April 28, 2011 | Previews | Comments

Black Talon Flashpoint Preview

BioWare recently invited us out to EA’s Redwood Shores office for a few days of all things The Old Republic. Part of our experience in San Francisco included the debut of the Black Talon Imperial Flashpoint. Those of you who have been following this game might recall the Black Talon was the first Flashpoint revealed and the choice of killing or sparing the Captain has often been used to illustrate the impact player choice can have in the way The Old Republic’s content plays out.

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We haven’t seen much of the Black Talon Flashpoint since then, but this week we’re bringing you a full hands on-preview.However, be warned, there are certainly spoilers ahead!

Once you complete your starting world as an Imperial character you’ll hitch a ride on an Imperial transport in order to make your way to the Imperial capital of Dromund Kaas where your adventure continues. However, things are never this simple, and shortly after you board you are contacted by Grand Moff Kilran who wants to use the transport to intercept a large Republic ship carrying a Republic hero known simply as “The General.” Kilran wants you to capture “The General” as taking such a well renowned hero from the Republic would strike a significant blow to Republic morale. At first glance, the task would appear to be a suicide mission, and in order to complete it you’ll need to take control of the ship as the ship’s Captain has refused to comply with Kilran’s order. In order to take control of the ship you’ll have to fight through waves of your own brothers-in-arms and secure the bridge. At this point, you can decide to spare the veteran Captain for disobeying the Moff (though this is not required), or you can take the more pragmatic approach and spare him as his experience would prove useful in accomplishing the daunting task before you. Executing the Captain causes unrest with the crew and without the veteran Captain’s expertise the ship is left exposed to attack.

Once the bridge is secured, the ship is attacked by Republic droid forces and we’re forced to deal with them, though they are easily dispatched, well, for us anyways. If you read our earlier preview of Hutta you’ll know that we were fairly geared out and overleveled by the time we got to the Black Talon Flashpoint and so things weren’t quite as challenging as they were for the other groups who’d gone through it before us, at least one of which wiped several times at the end.  With the Republic forces defeated, we made way to the hangar in order to board the Republic ship.

Once aboard we again fought through waves of Republic forces, including several bosses, and there was much loot to be had. In fact, Flashpoint enemies drop their own Flashpoint specific item sets and even tokens that can be redeemed for snazzy gear later on. Of course, Flashpoints can be repeated so one could theoretically acquire as many tokens as they want and deck themselves out in some fairly strong items.

As we drew closer to our target, we learned that Republic forces had diverted to the Escape Pod bay, clueing us in to the fact they may be trying to evacuate The General. We made our way down to the Escape Pod bay and found ourselves before a young Twi’lek Jedi Padawan named Tannar Va, who was ready to lay down her life in defense of The General, and as you can guess, we were more than willing to take her up on her offer! Again, we were a bit overleveled and overgeared for the fight, but it was easy to see how the fight would be challenging and fitting of a final Flashpoint encounter as the Jedi leapt around the room, pulling us in with her Force powers before knocking us away, all the while epic Star Wars tunes played in the background. Unfortunately, we pretty much rolled over the Jedi and defeated her with fairly little effort; she did drop some great gear though. Once Tannar Va was defeated, The General surrendered himself over to us and we had the option of killing him or capturing him for the Grand Moff. We decided to capture him and head back to the Black Talon, only to discover that the crew had basically slaughtered each other in mutiny of their new inexperienced Captain. With the crew gone and the General captured we reported in to Grand Moff Kilran who debriefed us and allowed us to set off for Dromund Kaas.

While the Black Talon wasn’t ultimately a challenge for our particular group, it definitely put to test everything we’d learned about our classes on Hutta and especially how our classes played together as a group. I could see how the Black Talon would be much more challenging for a group of players who had basically solo’d through their starting world and were essentially grouping for the first time, though it’s important to keep in mind it is your very first Flashpoint experience and so that seems only fitting.

In the end, there are certainly familiar feelings of running through a group instance together in Flashpoints, but like everything else in Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare’s signature storytelling comes through, and this really ends up setting the experience apart from your typical dungeon romp. There is dialogue, but it’s generally quicker than what you find out in the world. BioWare’s strengths come through here with the way the story is told visually. Enemies are bursting through walls and boarding your ship, sparks fly everywhere, and huge space battles are erupting outside as you’re making a mad dash through a hangar to board a transport.  While you’ll mostly feel like you’re running through your typical MMO dungeon, there is a lot going on screen to draw you into what’s going on whether it’s simply stuff going on in the background or slick cutscenes foreshadowing an epic boss fight. I don’t know if all this will hold up through multiple runs, but it certainly makes for an entertaining and engaging first go to be sure.

Be sure to check back tomorrow as our adventure continues on to the Imperial Capital of Dromund Kaas.

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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