Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire is the latest expansion pack to the SWTOR game, picking up after the events of the previous expansion pack: Shadows of Revan. In this expansion pack, the player goes through a 5 year time-skip to a point where the Sith emperor from the previous game, Valkorion, has been defeated by his son who is now waging a war across the galaxy. It is up to the player to lead a rebellion against the Empire and to free both the Republic and the Sith from subjugation.
The storyline begins in the past (I guess), with the game picking up just after the events of Shadows of Revan. However, there’s a new threat to the galaxy and so we head to a new space station to investigate. This is the battlecruiser of the Eternal Empire, headed by the Sith Emperor Valkorion. After a battle against the emperor and his son, Arcann, the emperor is betrayed and killed. The player is then put into carbonite stasis for an undisclosed amount of time. During this time, the galaxy is subjugated by the Eternal Empire and must be saved by the players alliance. Or at least, that’s the direction that I’m assuming that the story is headed.
What I like about what’s available of the story at the moment– the first 10 chapters– is that it takes the game back to a more Star Wars kind of feeling game. It’s not really an MMORPG style story, which is odd for an MMORPG to have, but the story itself feels really Star Wars. The xpacs story feels like it is trying to go for the feel of Return of the Jedi, and it borrows a lot from that particular film. The emperor get a bit of the spotlight, the rebellion is expanded upon and you’ll probably end up saving the day at the end of the story if it ever gets released. However, it also does a lot of it’s own thing, with the story still being it’s own tale while taking notes from the film. If you played a Sith Inquisitor before, the story will feel very familiar to you already, as it tackles similar themes from that particular classes storyline.
Returning to the game in what initially felt like a bug and out of place is the more classic style conversation system, similar to the one found in Knights of the Old Republic. This doesn’t mean that the old cinematic Mass Effect style conversation is gone, it’s not, it’s still there and available in all of the storyline parts of the game. But for when you complete Chapter 9, you’ll get access to your alliances headquarters and will be dealing with a bunch of commander-like characters that act as dumping grounds for rewards. When dealing with these characters, and other follower characters, you’ll activate this kind of classic system.
At first I didn’t like the classic conversation system, and I really honestly thought that it was a bug or something. There was no tutorial to using it until after I had finished a conversation, which I thought was weird. It feels like an accident that was allowed to stay in the game because of this. The pro’s of this system is that it works well for what you’re using it for, multiple conversations of the same type, but the cons are that it is very static and that there is no voice acting for the player character. I think for some players it may feel like a cheapened experience because of this.
There’s this cool new companion layout for KotFE that replaces the old companions tab. This new layout organises your companions in various groups and allows you to take a select few of them on missions with you. The game still only allows for one companion to accompany you at one time though. As the game progresses, you’ll unlock more and more companions. After Chapter 9, there are also what seem like optional quests to unlock more companions. What is annoying about this system though, is that the companions that joined you in the base game and the expansion packs are now missing, although you might recover one or two of them from these optional quests at the moment.
These optional quests can be fun sometimes, but other times, they can be pretty terrible. For example, one quest has you hunt down 20 rare mobs, or kill 3 world bosses. Another has you participate in 20 pvp sessions. These quests to find new companions do feel a lot like padding to be honest, especially with some of the requirements to complete the quests dragging on. Namely, the two mentioned.
But these aren’t the only missions with this padding feel. There are also these 2+ quests to attack orbiting battleships threatening certain worlds. However, to unlock these 2+ quests, you have to complete a companion quest on the surface of said planet. Now, this is where the game takes a cue from Return of the Jedi in that you have to disable a power generator on the surface. It’s complete with sequences lifted straight from the movie, like killing a chicken-walker and a bunch of troopers and then ending with an explosive exit. Luckily there aren’t any Ewoks. Where the padding feel to it comes in is that this mission isn’t done once, it’s done multiple times. Even more, the Return of the Jedi sequences are spaced out between needing to redo Heroic Missions on that planet. 5 of them. You can take a transport ship to get to them faster, but the sheer quantity of repetitiveness takes away from the experience and makes it feel like needless padding. I’d love for the game to have mixed these quests up just a little.
As for Flashpoints and Operations, so far, none have been added to the game. There was a solo Flashpoint at one stage, but it doesn’t appear in the group finder, nor could I run it a second time. This sucks pretty bad because who knows when, or even if, they’re adding those to this part of the game? With only companion quest padding, I can see a lot of users getting bored with this pretty quickly without these elements to tide them over between storyline content.
I think I remember hearing somewhere that the combat would be revamped. If you also heard this rumour, this is false. Aside from some changes to abilities, the core gameplay is still the same.
Overall, Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire is still a Star Wars The Old Republic expansion pack. While I did enjoy the story content, after what was available dried up, it was apparent that the rest of the game was just filler padding that quickly became uninteresting. I’m hoping that this is recitifed after future chapters are released. We may write a new review or update this one as the game progresses. We are still playing it! Gotta do my Inquisitor next!
Rating: Going the World of Warcraft route fast /10
The author of this review was able to enter the pre-launch week of the expansion pack by being a subscriber. EA have not supplied us with a code for the game. KotFE is free for subscribers. This review is based on the pre-release version of the game. Since then more content may have been added.