Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire – preview

Star Wars: The Old Republic arrived on our screens back in 2011, with the promise of bringing a breath of fresh air to the MMO market and making everyone forget World of Warcraft. Almost four years later we can peacefully admit that the disappointment, after an initial brief period of euphoria, was great and cast a shadow that even today the title has not managed to shake off.

Bioware, however, is tenacious and has never thrown in the towel, we are still facing one of the most structured and best organized software houses in the industry, capable of producing exceptional game universes such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Indeed, it has constantly tried to evolve The Old Republic, even going so far as to make it a free-to-play title and constantly churning out new expansions.

And it is precisely on the occasion of the next expansion entitled Knights of the Fallen Empire, arriving on October 27th, that we will witness a new change of perspective with which we want to revolutionize the product from the point of view of its overall gameplay.

Finally the developers have fully embraced the one real element that from the beginning has been a strong point of each of their projects: the development of a first-level narrative, able to completely involve the player.

Here is the Emperor of the new faction that we will face in Knights of the Fallen Empire. Our task will be to stop him and put an end to his rule.

The history of the various classes present today in The Old Republic is in fact of an excellent level and is also perfectly usable without spending a single euro. The expansion will focus even more on this element and on proposing a personal story that we will live in first person, also going to eliminate all those secondary missions that in any other similar product tend to water down and excessively dilute the really important events.

This change of perspective could not fail to be accompanied by a strong narrative twist, Knights of the Fallen Empire sees the arrival of a new force in the galaxy that, after defeating both the Imperial and the Republic forces, it will be up to us to stop.

The entire plot will initially unfold in 9 chapters, available on October 27, and will continue to evolve in subsequent episodes arriving on a monthly basis starting in January 2016. The hopes of the developers are clearly to keep the attention high by constantly proposing a stream of stories to experience firsthand.

All beautiful and interesting so far, but will the narration be able to be really interesting? In recent months, the developers have shown the upcoming news on various occasions, such as a part of the third chapter of the expansion that we are now going to retrace.

Two elite guards we saw in the closed-door demonstration. After facing them, we could choose whether to spare them, perhaps instilling in them the doubt that we were not the bad guys.

In the first scenes you could see the character of the player held prisoner, in a sort of state of hibernation, inside a base of the new enemy faction. Suddenly he was released, for reasons that are not entirely clear which will be explained as the story progresses, and his goal has become to be able to escape.

To succeed in this aim, he found himself faced with different choices and possibilities. One of these was to decide whether the base’s energy generator should be destroyed, in order to create chaos in the enemy and perhaps facilitate his escape, or preserved to avoid unnecessary losses among the civilians present in the installation. Each choice, according to the words of the developers, substantially modified the subsequent events that would have led us to escape.

We’re all a bit bad inside, so they opted to show generator destruction and the hero’s escape continued with the enemy base getting more and more damaged. It was not possible to see what situations the other choice would lead to, but soon after came another example of this narrative duality when the character faced two soldiers who were tasked with stopping him. He defeated them and ultimately had a choice of whether to let them go or execute them.

The developers on that occasion stressed that by saving the two soldiers there would be the possibility of instilling in them the doubt that we were not the bad guys, that perhaps our actions and motivations had a grain of truth, but at the same time it could even none of this happen and we would simply have to face them again in the future.

Lana Beniko is one of our fellow adventures. These characters will be much more integrated into the story than ever before.

Precisely this element, of seeing an effect on our actions even some time after their execution, has been taken up several times in the last few weeks. These choices will in fact have a much greater impact than in the past and will also profoundly affect relationships with our fellow adventures, another of the revisited elements of the game. Their story will be even more integrated with ours, we will know perfectly well why they are with us and above all the various actions we will perform will have a very evident influence on these relationships. In short, the aim is to create a much stronger bond with those around our character.

Obviously these are in fact only promises at the moment, inevitably up to now only brief demonstrations have been seen and not all these possible future interconnections have been revealed, but Bioware’s intentions seem not only genuine but also very stimulating. Having finally figured out what was the only element that worked perfectly in Star Wars: The Old Republic from the beginning and having decided to direct all your energies in this direction is an excellent sign.

However, to have even a minimal chance of success and to take advantage of the wave of popularity that Star Wars: The Awakening of the Force will bring to the whole brand in December, it is essential to make these innovations accessible.

Bioware understood this perfectly and included in the expansion the possibility of starting your adventure directly with a level 60 character and therefore being able to immediately access the new content, without being forced to play years of past updates.

Some of the enemy soldiers in the service of the Emperor; from a graphic point of view their style is quite captivating.

The premises are all there, Star Wars: The Old Republic seems to have reached a turning point that on paper should only bring him benefits. We can’t wait to be able to experience Knights of the Fallen Empire first hand on October 27th, to directly evaluate the true extent of this transformation.