21 October, 2015

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War: FoC, Legacy Era

We reach the furthest point along the now renounced Star Wars canon as we delve into the Legacy Era; a time when new Star Destroyers look more archaic than their ancient predecessors, and the Jedi have been erased once more. It’s a good time to be Imperial again.  

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era

Legacy Era

The Legacy era is one of those really awesome areas of the Star Wars timeline that most fans have never heard of and they likely never will, because of Disney’s renunciation of the old lore, this entire period will probably be rewritten by the new movies. For the record, I think it’s the right approach for Disney, but it does mean that the wider fan base will probably never experience the insane odyssey of Darth Krayt, or witness the drug-addled depths to which a Skywalker can descend. And don’t get me started on the Imperial Knights, those boys and girls are the hottest thing since the advent of the Star Destroyer. The later days of the Legacy era were (I believe) entirely chronicled through comics, the Legacy and Legacy –War series, I’m not a particularly well-versed fan of comics, but for what it’s worth I thought both were great reads. Not so much the second shorter Legacy series that came later following Ania Solo, no that thing nearly bored me to tears.

Legacy Era: Second Imperial Civil War is the only mod I’ve encountered that explores this time, and unfortunately the 1.0 version released more than two years ago, has some substantial bugs as well other areas of weakness. A 1.1 patch was also released, which fixes some but not all of the issues.

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era battle

Two factions vie for dominance in this mod; the Krayt Empire and the Galactic Alliance, both are substantial with swelling rosters of space units, but there are only two. The Second Imperial Civil War (time period) had three major factions two of which were Imperial, the one with the red hot Imperial Knights is disappointingly absent, meaning technically it isn’t an civil war at all because there’s only one Imperial faction.

So no Star Destroyer on Star Destroyer action in this mod, at least not of the proportions I’m looking for, but there is an impressive assortment of completely new, great-looking starships for both factions. Necessary of course, because the mod is set around 130 ABY; technology has moved on substantially, yet somehow to my eye at least, this era’s Star Destroyers look older in design than even the Old Republic’s Harrowers. Regardless, there’s a lot of interesting ships to throw into battle on both sides, in my experience battles usually degrade into a violent maelstrom of heavy craft just slugging it out. The more forces you commit, the worse (or indeed better, because it’s great to behold) it gets.

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era ardent class

The Krayt Empire overflows with Star Destroyers and smaller ships that bear the same pleasing wedge shape; like the Ardent seen above and the taller Apprehender, with the Pellaeon-class forming the backbone of the fleets.  The Pellaeon’s are juggernauts in their own right, but they pale in comparison to both the heavier Imperious-class and Krayt’s own Dragon ships, seen left to right below. (Click to enlarge).

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era pellaeon-class
Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era imperiousMod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era drayt dragon ship

On the Galactic Alliance (formerly the New Republic) side of things, ship designs see the hammer-head shapes of the Old Republic meet the organic curves of the Mon Calamari. From left to right you can see the bulky forms of the Tri-Scythe-class frigate and Scythe-class main battle cruiser, followed by the only hero character in the game, Cade Skywalker, piloting the Mynock. (Click to enlarge).

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era tri-scythe
Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era scytheMod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era mynock

Sadly though, Second Imperial Civil War is riddled with bugs of varying severity. Some are as simple and harmless as missing unit descriptions and names, annoying but otherwise a nonissue, but every now a again you’ll enter a system patrolled by some unnamed aging Star Destroyer variant with a seemingly invincible hardpoint, or better still, no textures. I’ve also never been able to fully finish the (single) Galactic Conquest scenario as it seems impossible to reach the Nal Hutta system to capture it.

Not all of the mod’s problems are strictly bugs, there are design decisions I take issue with too, though I suspect most simply need more development to be fully realised. With any new campaign map comes some amount of learning, you have to study the hyperspace roots and determine exactly how each system is linked to those around it. Ideally, each is connected only to some of its neighbours, because that makes visual sense on the game’s 2D map. In this mod however that’s not quite the case, some areas are logical but there are plenty of spots where planetary systems form some elaborate mesh structure that you really have to eyeball and map out with a fleet to fully understand. Doing so isn’t particularly fun, but systems interlinked in such a way make defending your territory a much harder proposition; more ships to cover more angles is expensive, I found myself frequently stretched thin and overwhelmed by my enemies attacks. It is an interesting tweak to the flow of the high-level battle, I’m not convinced its implemented particularly well in this mod, but I see techniques appeal.  Perhaps a greater consideration, there’s almost no ground combat and thus no real roster of ground units to speak of. Despite not being a massive fan of the game’s ground component, its presence is missed, if nothing else ground combat provided additional strategic consideration to the campaign. I’ve come to understand by reading some of the developer’s posts that it’s something that they had planned to develop in the future.

One thing the campaign does to great effect, and partially because of the loss of the ground component, is introduce a new starship-based economy. Traditionally, credits were generated by mining facilities on planets and thus star systems were more than mere battlefields, in Second Imperial Civil War though starships; freighters and haulers, generate income. You rely on merchant fleets, consisting of aging warships ill-suited for actual combat, so watching an enemy fleet, even a small one jump into a system housing such ships is heart stopping. When your merchant fleets burn, you’re losing more than just ships, you’re witnessing the erosion of your economy; your powerbase. The feeling is a powerful one, but it can be mitigated by carefully managing the deployment of these ships, keeping them gathered in one of two systems can proved disastrous, as I found out first hand.

Mod Watch – Star Wars: Empire At War, Forces Of Corruption, Legacy Era pellaeon battle

Second Imperial Civil War isn’t flawless in its execution but it’s the only source of Legacy era action I have encountered, the units are all present and pretty, with some interesting changes to the campaign. No doubt I would have grumbled less had I not been spoilt by the Thrawn’s Revenge mod we took a look at last week, here’s the other eras we’ve explored: 

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