Final Thoughts: Knights of the Fallen Empire

This story arc was of such quality that not only am I going to cancel my subscription to “The Old Republic”, but I’m hesitant to try the next Mass Effect or Dragon Age game in case it turns out the same way.

Well, okay, this was the last thing I really wanted to do in TOR after finishing all of the class stories once, and at that point I knew I’d have to make a decision on whether to keep the subscription or not. But this story arc is, well, mostly terrible. The marriage of the MMORPG conventions to an RPG story doesn’t work. At all.

The first thing is that while the story is at least as deep as the class stories — and to be honest, is probably a bit deeper — it fails because those stories were stories set into an existing war, and so offset with traveling to other planets, doing the planet arcs, and doing other side quests. This one is the main deal, and at that level is pretty much all you are going to be doing. So you follow it along from place to place with quests that are moderately interesting, but filled with lots and lots of lackluster combat. And most of that is not the usual “Kill things to complete bonus missions and, well, get to where you’re going” but is instead combat that the game tosses at you to try to make things interesting. Which means that they could have left some of it out. Which means that pretty much all of the combat you do is because the game designers decided that for some reason it needed to be there. But why? Levels? This is mostly fixed, so they could have even leveled up after all of the chapters if they wanted to. Loot? Again, they could have do that if they were worried about the characters not keeping up.

And the combat is annoying, at least in part, because it is very gimmicky. Which always annoys me, especially if overdone, as it is here. But the gimmicks themselves are often annoying, with enemies that go invulnerable and summon enemies to fight you, and stun or lockdown enemies, or staged enemies … they pretty much run the gambit of gimmicks here. And the worst part is that in the MMO structure there’s no room for them to tell you what to do … or, at least, they didn’t leave themselves that option. So, you have no obvious clues on what needs to be done, and no time to figure it out in the action-oriented and flashy combat that TOR goes for. Try to figure out what to do when Arcann is blasting away at you and you have to click on something or attack something that you can’t even see through all of the pyrotechnics. The final fight with Arcann is the absolute worst, where you have to blast him for a while, then find a shield somewhere and use it, and then I think kill some things, and then finally raise the shield again — after he’s been blasting it out of your hands for the entire other sequence — and hit him with it … up until the final sequence where you walk slowly through lightning blasts until you get close enough to hit him with it. In an MMO. Where you’re used to using your own abilities. Oh, and the interrupts are disabled in a lot of fights despite them being an important part of your experience up until now.

And the game pushes you forward from chapter to chapter in a manner that would be irritating in a single player game, but is even more so in an MMO where after a chapter you might want to do things like check your mail, buy new armour or weapons, go for a flashpoint somewhere else or maybe even log off. This includes between Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne. I sat through the credits and then wanted to log off, and had to wait through the intro to Eternal Throne which I had no intention of playing before being able to log off after finishing Fallen Empire.

And the story is stupid, for the most part. Especially the ending, with its setup for Eternal Throne with Scorpio and Valyn taking over to, well, keep on doing what they’ve been doing. There don’t seem to be too many choices of any import and the ending undoes a lot of what you did. Throughout the whole arc, I felt like I was participating in the movie created by the game designers, but not really playing things myself. And that’s not what I play games for.

As it stands right now, I have no interest in playing through Eternal Throne, and given that no real interest — or time — to play TOR anymore.

And I still miss City of Heroes …

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