Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Storytelling in the Fallen Empire

An Epic Tale in a Pretty Little Package

Hats off to the writing team on Knights of the Fallen Empire. Scooter and I are only up to Chapter VI, but we are thoroughly engrossed. Actually, my compliments to all the folks behind the animation and cinematic cutscenes, as well.

Both Glember and Morrenia picked up new outfits on Ziost, just in time to jump into the expansion story. While Scooter kept the original colors for Glember, I've got Morrenia in her customary black and red. I even sprang for yellow eyes to give her that Dark look, wishing that I had done so some time ago. Five years in carbonite has just made her angrier.

Scooter pointed out that she loves the strong female characters that drive so much of the plot of the game; women who can move mountains and shape galactic events. While Glember's and Morrenia's stories are somewhat similar, they do lead me to wonder, how will the non-Force users' stories differ?
The improved cinematography has led to some epic shots. None handy right now, sorry. Besides, screenshots can't effectively portray some of the angles, pans, and zooms that give KotFE its epic feel. And, true to Star Wars, there are plenty of comedic beats interspersed among the thrilling heroics. I am loving the improved facial expressions and especially the more realistic eye movements on the player characters. The new characters are both well "drawn" and fleshed out, lots of details on costumes and expressive faces to go along with great personalities and agendas, both overt and hidden. I also like that I don't have to be "nice" to people if I don't want be, or think that Morrenia would not be. Not that she's rude, per se, but she is ruthless, and I like being able to be ruthless, even if Koth or someone else doesn't approve. I'm tempted to restart a couple characters just to change how they went through their first few planets.

You Got Some Single-Player in My MMO

The one irritation in all this is how poorly the folks at BioWare have incorporated grouping into the story. On Makeb (Rise of the Hutt Cartel), pretty much every mission conversation was potentially group-based, though not really requiring a group for Main Story mission completion. With the Shadow of Revan, that changed slightly, so that doing the Story missions was similar to how it was in vanilla SWTOR when two characters were the same class. There might be some repetition in the conversations, but group members were not necessarily separated for much of the action and most particularly, the mission objectives.
However, with Knights of the Fallen Empire, there is a significant hurdle masquerading as a new feature. If I am in an instanced area, I can summon Scooter to help complete my objectives. But at the end of every chapter, she is unceremoniously dumped to Spacedock while I  get caught in a cutscene that can't be stopped without exiting story mode and also dumping out to the fleet. So when we are doing her Story, I have missed the first part of almost every chapter so far, and Scooter has to re-summon me after the introductory cutscene ends.

With both of us at essentially the same stage, Scooter and I had to go through fairly lengthy sections with one of us making significant progress while the other was just along for the ride. This got a little better about Chapter IV, when we ended up on a planet that had a few instanced areas. Similar to SoR, we'd do each instance twice, once for each of us, before moving on. I think I will let Scooter just finish out Glember's story through Chapter IX, then we'll go back and finish Morrenia's.
If either of us were going through solo or we had decided to plow through all of one character before returning to the other, I can bet we'd have seen the whole story by now. I can understand how we were already seeing folks at 65 by the end of the evening last Tuesday. They'd probably taken the day off and binged their way through. I can't blame them; as I said, the story is exciting.
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