Chapter XVI thoughts
Spoilers for the following
KOTFE chapters 1-16
JK Class Story
Mass Effect 2
Outlander: Auryyn, Jedi Guardian
Before I get into this, I want to talk a little about the build up to this chapter. It’s been a long time coming, and whereas we knew it wouldn’t be the ending, we knew it was going to be intense. I could not wait to get stuck into this chapter, to the point where I was putting it off because I didn’t want it to end (for this part, at least) and the suspense was overwhelming. Unfortunately, I did see a spoiler before going in but thankfully without much in the way of context.
When the chapter starts with all of the main characters in the war room huddled around the ‘war table’ you know things are going to go from zero to serious fast. Before Auryyn and co could really get started, SCORPIO informs them of Arcann’s approach but also that it was she that informed Arcann of the Odessen base. My Outlander was not best pleased, but I was pleased with the options that she was given to respond to SCORPIO with. She’s a 100% lightside Jedi Knight, and yet none of the responses could be considered the “good” option. I thought this was fantastic, and really brought to life the idea that without the Republic/Empire as pillars of light/dark, everything becomes a little more grey. Bioware teased that in KOTFE you would feel “tempted” by the dark side, and whereas “tempted” wouldn’t be the word I’d use to describe this situation, it made the point of having to compromise on your ideals very nicely I felt. My Jedi has never lied, but this time, she did – it might have only been a tiny white lie but it’s a slippery slope.
Assigning a babysitter for Aric and Kaliyo was fun and offered a tiny bit of humour – but instead of alleviating the tension it just made me feel uneasy. I get suspicious of humour in games when it’s the final act and there’s a lot at stake…
Before boarding the Gravestone and moving out, Lana and the Outlander have a private chat, which I felt was one of those conversations that is perhaps more poignant if you’re in a romance, but it was still a great moment. I felt as though I’d get to have one on one chats with each of the inner circle (which you do) and I was looking forward to it. I feel like companion conversations are a little lacking this side of the game – I miss that happy feeling when the mission icon pops up over a companions’ head, but that could just be me. I like the way that interactions are woven into the story and cut scenes rather than being isolated (sometimes immersion breaking) vignettes but I would welcome more of them.
Auryyn and co arrive
Armed with a plan of taking down Arcann’s ship, the Outlander and company board not so sneakily. You get to choose who gets to disable shields or weapons out of Vette and Gault. I sent Vette weapons and Gault shields, and they seemed happy with that, but I thought about it for a while first – I wasn’t taking any chances with any of my decisions. It was incredibly cinematic, so that even when everyone inevitably ended up splitting up, there were constant updates from everyone, whether via cut scene or commlink. It was at this point, with everyone working together that I felt that I’d done a good job with my Alliance and more importantly, that my Outlander had. Everything seemed to be coming together, despite challenges being thrown at the team almost every step of the way. I enjoyed fighting together with multiple companions after boarding Arcann’s ship, which reminded me of Mass Effect and Dragon Age – I really hope this is something that SWTOR considers doing more often as it’s a great way of getting the companions that we love involved and giving us that sense of battles on a more epic scale. As much as I love Auryyn to have her solo heroic moments, there’s a lot to be said for the power of a party. Jus’ sayin’.
Due to the spoiler I saw, I wasn’t particularly surprised when Senya separated off to find Vaylin but still found myself not wanting her to go. I really like Senya as a character and she and Auryyn get on very well; even though I knew the answer, I still found myself asking if I would see her again, because all the signs were pointing to “no”. Senya’s exit left Lana and the Outlander alone – fitting, I felt, and a callback to how it all started when Lana rescued you from carbonite – it was a nice touch. Lana had a fantastic moment where she stands her ground before the Zakuul Knights, and I got the strong sense that she did this not only because it’s the pragmatic option, but because she understands that the Outlander needs to face Arcann alone. She would never express something as sentimental sounding, but I felt her actions spoke louder here. There’s a fantastic cinematic moment where the two of you walk your separate ways – it was a solid set up for the face off with Arcann.
Auryyn blocks Arcann’s blow – to her surprise
I debated whether to put the Arcann fight in the Middle or End section of my review, but it’s the climactic battle, it’s the definition of an end point. I love battles on the bridge of ships, they always feel epic and it gives a great space for the protagonist and antagonist to have a stare down in which there may or may not be monologuing. Arcann didn’t waste much time talking. Despite Valkorion not having any words of wisdom, he appears to intervene to prevent Arcann from striking the Outlander. I like the ambiguity here – it’s most likely Valkorion taking control, but Arcann does comment on the fact that the Outlander is “different” and Auryyn responded with a reference to the teachings that Satele and Marr have shared with her. Maybe it’s a little of both Valkorion’s powers and their teachings. Arcann is still under the impression that everything the Outlander has is something gifted by his father, and that’s enough to send him into a jealous rage – and the fight begins in earnest.
The fight with Arcann was interesting from a mechanics point of view. I liked the use of the Knight’s shield to deflect attacks (although it took me ages to figure out what to do with the thing!). It was very different to the last encounter with him, and his range of attacks made him a formidable opponent. I would describe the fight as protracted but not as a grind – it has phases where you have to do certain things but he isn’t just a giant health bar. I look forward to other fights in a similar format in future. I’ve not really commented on the combat in this chapter, but aside from this fight, it’s not really a combat heavy chapter.
With Arcann no longer a threat, it’s time for a game of escape the exploding ship which is always tense. Every corner I turned I expected a cut scene of a companion’s brush with death. The main cut scene during this section, however, was a family affair – Senya finds Arcann and they are joined by Vaylin. She attempts to attack Senya who gets protected by a still alive Arcann. This development is something that’s been coming for a long while – Vaylin’s growing disappointment and distrust in her brother’s actions were always going to result in something. Senya escapes with an injured Arcann and the Outlander is given the choice to let them go or shoot them down. Auryyn let them go – a Koth tantrum ensued, but that would have to wait until later. The Gravestone took out the remainder of Arcann’s ships with the Outlander and the Alliance having a close call with the blast radius but everyone makes it back to Odessen. I loved the scene with all of the ships making pilgrimage to the base – hopefully this opens up the way for more familiar faces to come back into the story. Valkorion tells the Outlander that they’re ready. So is the Alliance, and so am I.
“You are ready”
The final scene is SCORPIO inviting Vaylin to take the throne once they’ve discovered that their goals align. I actually suggested that this might happen back in my review of Chapter 15, although I admit that I hadn’t really put much thought behind the reasons why. But it does make sense – being free and self-serving is something that they both share. I look forward to seeing where this newly forged partnership goes…and how much trouble they’re going to cause my Alliance.
A dramatic climax that closes one door but opens many others. There are many directions that Knights of the Eternal Throne could take moving forward from here. And I’m looking forward to it, I really am. Bring on the tough decisions and companion reunions. I’ve heard/seen/read about variants on the events in this chapter and I’ll probably explore those with some other toons at some point, which will be interesting to compare.
And another thing…
With the battle coming to us this time, I thought there was a chance that Alliance influence might matter. Bioware have previously had mechanics where if you ignore the upgrades system etc for your base of operations it can mean bad things for your base or companions (cough, Mass Effect 2, cough) and so I began crate farming like crazy. I’m still not sure if I’m relieved or annoyed that they didn’t matter – probably a little of both.
Thank you for making it through roughly 1,598 words of my opinion on Chapter 16! Please share your thoughts in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter – just be sure to spoilertag for those who may not have played it yet :)!