31 October, 2015

SW:TOR, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt

Now that the Knights of the Fallen Empire has released for all subscribers and enough time has passed that I don’t feel bad about talking spoilers, we’re going to do exactly that! As I explained in yesterday’s prologue, I’ll be recounting the journey of Ravanor, my original character, in a somewhat dramatic, screenshot-heavy form.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt Darth Marr

Chapter I The Hunt



In response to Darth Marr’s summons, Commander Ravanor, formerly of the Imperial Intelligence rendezvoused with the joint Imperial-Republic taskforce that Marr helmed. Upon docking with the flagship, a Terminus-class Destroyer, Ravanor was greeted by its Captain and an honour guard of troopers.

Elsewhere, a lone shuttle flew towards the high-orbit throne room of Zakuul, the capital of the mysterious force attacking the Empire and Republic. It delivered the scarred figure of Arcann, Emperor Valkorion’s only remaining son, and together they orchestrated the beginning of the end for Marr’s unsuspecting force.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt Zakuul

Back aboard Marr’s flagship, a small, nimble probe was spotted in the midst of the Coalition’s formation, unbeknownst to them it was their only warning of the impending attack. Moments later a fleet of unfathomable size dropped out of hyperspace; hundreds if not thousands of strange looking hulls formed in an impossibly perfect formation. The unknown force immediately opened fire with lasers and boarding pods, leaving Ravanor in an all too familiar position.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt  marr's flagship

But not totally familiar. As Ravanor’s blaster bolts punched smoking holes in the gleaming and weighty forms of ‘Skytrooper’ boarders, I was struck by the close and oppressive nature of the corridors around him. Unlike almost every other environment in the game this area was appropriately sized, the cold angular imperialistic walls closed in around my camera and it all felt so perfect. Coalition troopers traded shots in ferocious fire fights against ranks of faceless white aggressors, in the confined corridors of a warship. The Episode IV: A New Hope parallels were not lost on me.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt fleet action

During Ravanor’s sweep of the deck he encountered two corporals, one Imperial one Republic, holding a shielded doorway, beyond which soldiers were being quickly overwhelmed by Skytroopers. Ravanor could have aided them and led a counterattack, but time isn’t in abundance, instead he ordered the blast doors sealed, and thus he made the first ‘significant’ choice of the expansion. And then came a second; seeing no way to reach his Phantom, (his personal ship) Ravanor ordered his crew to take off and carry news of the attack back to the Empire, little did he know that’s the last he would be seeing them for a good long while.

Despite having cleared the invaders from the command deck, Marr’s ship was virtually dead in the water. Ravanor descended to the engineering deck, upon arriving he was greeted by a display of Darth Marr strength, and the two rapidly cut a path through the Skytrooper invaders. With the engines safe and the ship mobile again, they took the only rational course of action and ordered the ship to ramming speed. (Click to enlarge).

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt  ramming speed
Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt ramming contactStar Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt ramming destruction

The feeling was awesome. It’s a good time to stress how different the presentation has been during this chapter. Cutscenes spark every few moments, dynamic cutscenes depicting actions like fleet battles and close quarters combat, more elaborate than pretty much any in the base game, oh and the music, it never stops. If Knights of the Fallen Empire didn’t share the same graphics and combat as The Old Republic, I could have easily mistaken what was happening on screen for another game; it’s all about the moment, the experience, not the MMO gameplay.

Ravanor awoke sometime later, cuffed but unharmed in a cell surrounded by dark robed, masked guards and watched by Arcann. The Prince questioned Ravanor but was met only with stoic silence – the agent was a professional after all – while Marr, also a prisoner, used every exchange as a means to goad Arcann into biting. The Prince revealed they were now in the Eternal Empire of Zakuul.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt  marr prisoner

On their way to the throne room of Zakuul, walls lined with staff-wielding armoured guards, Arcann and his prisoners were waylaid by an older man named Heskal, referred to as a Scion. The animosity between the two men was palpable; there is rift between them,  but the many questions within Ravanor’s mind were swept aside as he was led into the throne room.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt zakuul throne room

Almost immediately Marr identified the Eternal Emperor Valkorion as the missing Sith Emperor Vitiate; he may have been wearing a different skin but Marr could sense his true self through the Force. Valkorion neither confirmed nor denied Marr’s conclusion, but merely extended his two prisoners an offer, to kneel before him.

Marr of course refused and seized the opportunity to attack; using the Force he snatched a light-staff from the hands of a nearby sentry and struck them down with it. But Valkorion ended his resistance with a burst of Force lightning, he swatted the dark lord aside like one might a bothersome fly.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt zakuul throne room marr's death

At the sound of commotion Vaylin, a dark hooded woman entered and ordered the guards and onlookers to leave the throne room. Valkorian extended the offer again, just to Ravanor this time.

Who accepted.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt zakuul throne room kneeling to valkorion

The decision was not an easy one, I sat mulling it over for a quite a while, before concluding that Ravanor being the slick operative he is would accept, if only to increase his chances of survival and escape. He knelt and Valkorion poured the Force, his dark essence, into the agent. Until his chest was seared open by a lightsaber, in a fit of jealousy at what he viewed as an unearned gift, Arcann cut down his father. Ravanor was thrown aside by the force of the Emperor's passing, cast unconscious, and framed for the Immortal Emperor's murder. Thus began Arcann's reign.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter I The Hunt zakuul throne room valkorion betrayed

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