SWTOR Content on YouTube

I've gradually increased the amount of time I spend watching videos on YouTube (getting a second monitor may have had something to do with that), and of course I'm always on the lookout for SWTOR content. I wanted to share some of the channels I've found - sorted by their subscriber numbers, not by my personal preference. All of these are also linked up on the sidebar, but since I get the feeling that most people don't pay that much attention to that, I thought it might be worthy of its own post.


Even though this is the biggest channel with SWTOR content that I've found (more than 25k subs), I wasn't really aware of it until fairly recently. As far as I can tell, the guy's main thing is that he has loads of alts and records playthroughs while making all sorts of different choices. I prefer not to just watch other people play the game, without commentary, however his collection of videos is great if you ever find yourself wondering what would happen at a certain point if your character had made a different choice and you don't want to use an alt to actually see for yourself. At first I thought that the creator doesn't do any other SWTOR content at all, but then I found this review of chapter ten (with spoilers), which offers some pretty interesting insights that wouldn't necessarily occur to anyone who hasn't played through the game in a dozen different ways.


Kranitoko aka Charlie is a pretty well-known personality in the SWTOR community as he has repeatedly guest-starred on OotiniCast (and possibly elsewhere) and viewer interaction is an important part of many of his videos. He is the rare sort of MMO player who is both casual in his approach to the game and yet also highly committed and social. As far as I'm aware he doesn't raid and I don't think he's even completed all the class stories. Watching his levelling videos is pretty fun - while he's not the greatest player in terms of skill, he knows this and likes to poke fun at himself for it, while just being all-around entertaining. Recently he's tried different series like one where he's trying to learn how to PvP and another where he tours other people's strongholds.

What he's most "famous" for however are his pack opening videos, where he buys a hypercrate of the newest shipment of Cartel packs and opens them one at a time, showing off the contents to his viewers. It may sound like an odd form of entertainment, but it seems to be quite popular, and it does offer an alternative way of getting an idea of what's in the newest shipment instead of just checking a list on Dulfy. It probably also helps that he often includes giveaways in these (I won something once) and used to create machinima-like intros for these particular videos that evolved into a wacky story after a while. Here's one of the earlier ones:


Vulkk aka Alex is another rarity in the SWTOR community: a player who's been here since launch, loves to run operations and still tries to keep a positive outlook on the game. Whoa! He's from Bulgaria, which causes him to have a very noticeable accent. Personally I find it endearing, but apparently a lot of people have complained about it in the past, which has caused him to be quite self-deprecating about it. Vulkk's channel covers a wide range of content types, from playthroughs and guides to news and opinions (and ops runs of course). Personally I like the "editorial" sort of stuff best, like this three-parter called "SWTOR in Retrospect", in which he talks about his own beginnings in Star Wars Galaxies and his history with The Old Republic:


Beattieus (whose name I can't spell without looking it up) is from Scotland as far as I can tell from his accent and likes to rant about everything that's wrong with SWTOR. His videos tend to not have high production values; they are just gameplay recordings with him rambling about whatever's on his mind that day, usually for about fifteen to twenty minutes, though he sometimes also records himself pugging flashpoints or running ops with his guild.

I actually find his negativity grating sometimes and he has a bit of a habit of going on for longer than the subject remains interesting (in my opinion), but the point is that he is often entertaining regardless and that many of his criticisms are valid (even if I don't necessarily agree with the importance of whatever issue he's talking about).

SWTOR Central

SWTOR Central is a newish channel that seems to be focused on guides for new players and giveaways. I found it because of the name, clicked on one of their most popular videos (entitled: "SWTOR: Tips 'n Tricks") and was astounded that I learned something new from it even though I've been playing since launch. Definitely worth checking out.

Feel free to leave any recommendations of your own in the comments; I'm always happy to find out about more SWTOR content creators! More than anything I wish I could find a YouTuber who enjoys creating SWTOR machinima with some regularity (the best ones I've seen tended to be one-shots), as this seems to be an area that's somewhat under-developed.


Heroics Are The New Dailies

I'm not much of a daily runner, so feel free to laugh at me for stating the obvious four months late, but it's actually quite weird what Bioware has done to heroics in KotFE.

It sounded good in theory: make them interesting to all levels with level sync and by providing endgame rewards, make them easier to get to by handing out instant travel gadgets like candy etc. but the pratice has just been... weird.

The combination of all [Heroic 4]s getting downgraded to [Heroic 2]s and combat in general becoming easier - while our characters and their companions got more powerful - means that heroics are a complete joke to solo now. It's not a matter of being high level, having good gear or having a high-influence healing companion. I went to Savrip Island on a newbie smuggler with Corso set to tanking mode, accidentally pulled three groups at once and survived without too much trouble. Alone, in a heroic area. What the hell?

Because these "new" heroics are so easy and a major way of progressing your Alliance at endgame, lots of people do them. All the time. Whenever I've tried to do any of them that weren't inside an instanced area, there was always crazy competition for all the spawns. Why is the Dark Temple on Dromund Kaas so busy at one o'clock in the morning, you guys?

It makes you want to stick lightsabers in your eyes! (Love that graphical glitch.)

The old "regular" daily areas on the other hand are virtually abandoned. The other week I fancied doing the Black Hole on an alt that had never done it before and my jaw dropped when the little indicator in the top left corner showed me that I was literally the only person in the zone. This has never happened to me on The Red Eclipse before, anywhere. Even if I'm in some obscure story instance at the edge of the galaxy, there's usually at least another couple of people doing it at the same time. But the Black Hole? Nope.

I tried Section X next. That one had four or five other people at least. I tried looking for a group for the [Heroic 4] (which was still labelled as such) but nobody responded to my repeat requests while I made my way around the zone completing the other missions. Eventually I decided to go in alone after I had seen a Jedi do the same. The mobs in there have actually not been downgraded and are still scaled for four players (which made the combat at least somewhat fun, especially the boss at the end), but all those mechanics that used to require other players to unlock doors and such have been removed. Not a pretty solution, but sensible considering the population of the zone.

What bugs me about all this is that it just feels wasteful. Based on the theory, it sounded like the changes to heroics were going to make casual, non-instanced group content a bit more accessible. However in practice, they are so faceroll easy that there is little point in grouping up for any of them (unless you're short on cash and want to benefit from the insane multiplier for bonus missions). If you are playing in a group anyway and are looking for some open world content to challenge you and your friends... there just isn't any now. (While levelling my Vanguard I even soloed a duo of two champion mobs at the same time, with no healer... what does it take to kill a character these days!?)

If you're the type of person who liked to run dailies before, you can now run the heroics instead and get more bang for your buck. Regular dailies feel pretty pointless though unless you're trying to work on a particular reputation.

So basically, they removed one "tier" of open world content (the stuff that could challenge an individual and was fun in a group) and obsoleted another one (regular dailies). It makes me sad to say that I don't see the win here.


KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 5: From the Grave

Time to continue my detailed discussion of Knights of the Fallen Empire's individual chapters! Unsurprisingly, this post will contain spoilers for the chapter in the title and may contain spoilers for previous chapters as well.

It's unclear what this "Dark Sanctuary" that you just discovered inside the Gravestone is supposed to be, except that it's centred around a so-called ancient monolith. Ghostly Valkorion confirms what you were already suspecting since chapter two - that he's basically in your head and will follow you wherever you go now. He tries to convince you that you two are on the same side, since you're both fighting against Arcann and Vaylin.

Suddenly the ship is rocked by explosions - you've been found by skytroopers. Well, there's a surprise. You fight your way to your companions on the bridge. Koth says that he just needs a little more time to get the Gravestone ready, so you and Lana head out to hold off the attackers, which include Knights of Zakuul as well now.

Just when it seems like things are getting pretty tight, you are joined by a female knight. Her name is Senya and Lana seems to have expected her. You continue fighting but eventually get surrounded as the knights use their Force powers to erect a barrier. Lana gets disarmed by a knight and seems to be about to be struck down, when suddenly time appears to freeze and ghostly Valkorion appears next to you. He says that if only you'd allow him a brief moment of control, he'd be able to save Lana from certain death.

If you accept his power, he'll let you unleash a massive wave of Force power, knocking all your remaining opponents down at once. If you refuse, Lana gets struck down, but not lethally, as Koth and HK come out of the ship just in time to shoot her attackers. Koth is appalled by Senya's presence and doesn't want to take her along but there is no time to argue.

The ship is ready to go but probably won't be able to pull itself up from the muck. Lana and Senya help along with some Force power, and so do you if you're a Force user. If you're not, you stand off to the side and look around as if you're keeping an eye out for additional attackers while really just looking a bit silly.

I'm useful, honest!

Finally, the Gravestone is in the air and majestically making its way into space... where you run straight into the Eternal Fleet. Your character agrees to man the cannons and somehow there are skytroopers in the corridors already that you have to clear out first. Those things are worse than sand, simply getting everywhere!

The ships of the Eternal Fleet seem to be incapable of leaving their perfect formation and have worse aim than stormtroopers, so while they fire at the Gravestone by the dozen, she barely gets hit. When you fire up her cannon on the other hand... it turns out to be as powerful as the stories say, as its single shot chains onto two dozen ships and destroys them all. By that time, the hyperdrive is up and you can escape into hyperspace.

A shot of Arcann and Vaylin at the Eternal throne shows Arcann raging at his sister about your escape, though he then quickly backs off to say that he's not blaming her and that their father always held her back. It's another interesting little snapshot of their relationship that makes you wonder how well these two really work together or if there isn't trouble brewing in this sibling relationship as well.

Meanwhile, the Gravestone didn't make it all that far before its hyperdrive and cannon gave up the ghost again, though fortunately you're at least away from the fleet. Koth complains about Senya's presence again, explaining that she used to hunt him after his desertion. He also accuses Lana of not consulting with him about her plan. Everybody storms off in a huff. You can choose whether you want to check up on Koth or Lana first.

When you check on Koth, you get given a small bonus mission to collect tools to help with repairing the ship. He talks a bit more about how he impressed he is by the Gravestone and how he distrusts Senya.

Meanwhile Lana is shooting Force lightning at a target dummy - if you didn't accept Valkorion's help earlier, she's also still in some pain from being wounded, yet if you did use his power to save her she grouses about how dangerous that was. She's also a bit sulky about Koth's negative reaction to Senya and reassures you that asking her for help was the right choice. Apparently she knew her from before she even met Koth.

On your way around the ship you run into HK. If you agreed to take the exiles aboard, he mentions that they are settling in nicely, as well as snarking about the "meatbag bickering" and contemplating what unexplored passages on the Gravestone might contain. You can tell him to assist your other companions or let him continue to roam free.

Finally you find Senya in the Dark Sanctuary and talk to her. She seems oddly chipper after the very serious demeanour she put on earlier and explains that while being a knight means everything to her, she's not letting it define her, which I feel comes across as a bit of a contradiction. Either way the point is that she displays a very different personality when she considers herself "off duty". You talk about your reasons for opposing Arcann and she says that he's become oppressive and cruel, while most Zakuulans are still too caught up in their grief for their deceased Emperor to see what Arcann has become.

After your conversation you are treated to a shot of a slightly older looking Satele Shan meditating by a campfire in a forest - looks like it could be on Tython. She talks about how Valkorion lives, but something is different, and a disembodied voice responds to her. It's the ghost of Darth Marr, who concludes that Valkorion's presence in the Force is deceptive: "Even when my life depended on it, I did not see him properly until it was too late..." This is a throwback to chapter one and reminds us that the Vitiate/Valkorion connection is not quite as straightforward as it seems.


This chapter feels a bit like an in-between chapter, in the sense that the Gravestone needs to get off the ground but it doesn't really take that long so... we get some more skytroopers to fight (whether it makes sense or not) and random bits of companion dialogue that don't really tell us that much (except that we get introduced to Senya, but we don't learn a whole lot about her yet other than that Koth hates her).

However, this chapter also contains several very important events. First there is Valkorion offering to "help" you for the first time. It comes at quite a crucial moment, because after having been told beforehand that our choices would matter and that we could lose companions, the threat of Lana's death seems quite real to the player encountering this scenario for the first time. Like in chapter one, I think a lot of people were probably disappointed when it turned out that their decision didn't "matter" because Lana survives either way. I think you can take a different lesson away from this though: don't trust Valkorion! It's not clear whether he's intentionally trying to deceive you or simply doesn't really know whether Lana would die from the attack or not, but the point is that he's trying to make you believe that he knows what's going to happen and it turns out that he's wrong. This is something to keep in mind for future chapters.

The next important event is the Gravestone blowing up a significant chunk of the Eternal Fleet. While it's a bit dubious that she seems to be able to withstand so much fire (in the same way that stormtroopers in the original trilogy have ridiculously poor aim), it's certainly impressive that she's that powerful, which makes the notion of your little group going up against Arcann and the Eternal Fleet at least a little bit more believable.

Finally, we have the surprise ending of Satele meditating on what's been going on and chilling with Darth Marr's Force ghost! Was he a good guy in the end for standing up against Valkorion? Still, why is he hanging out with Satele? What is he talking about when he says that he didn't see Valkorion properly? Lots of questions!

The one thing that bugged me about this chapter is that you spend quite some time hanging out in this mysterious Dark Sanctuary but you never get a chance to talk about what it is - it seems a bit ominous to rely on a ship that contains a chamber like that. Valkorion seems to feel right at home at it, and Senya appears to be comfortable around it as well, yet there is definitely something sinister about it.

In hindsight, the chapter's title, "From the Grave", is quite clever, as it can apply to multiple things: the Gravestone rising from the swamp, Valkorion trying to influence events even though he's supposed to be dead, as well as Darth Marr sharing wisdom from the great beyond.


Flashpoint Friday: Taral V

Let's talk about Taral V today. That's the Roman numeral for five by the way, so please don't call it "Taral Vee".

General Facts

Taral V is the first flashpoint in the mid-level Revan storyline. The arc consists of four flashpoints in total, two of which take place on Republic side and two on Empire side. (I've written about the first one on Empire side, Boarding Party, before.) I think this storyline shows that Bioware was counting very heavily on people playing alts right from the beginning, as you have to play both factions to experience the story in its entirety. Taral V was originally designed for levels 31-37, though it is now accessible from level 15 onwards. It had a hardmode version from launch and received a solo mode in 4.0.

Things start with the story quest The Jedi Prisoner, in which a Jedi Master called Oteg who also happens to be a fleet admiral recruits you for a top secret mission. You meet him on the Telos and he's quite a charming chap, of the same species as Yoda from the original trilogy, just quite a bit younger and actually capable of using proper grammar. He reveals to you that the Force ghost of a human woman has been appearing to him, and even enables you to briefly see her for yourself (even if you're not a Force user). She spouts cryptic messages about impending doom and gloom, and Oteg explains that she told him of a Jedi prisoner that is being kept in an Imperial prison in the so-called Maelstrom Nebula. It's absolutely vital to the Republic that he's freed, but the Maelstrom Nebula can't be navigated via ordinary means. To actually find the prison, you'll need to steal a Gree computer from an Imperial base on the planet Taral V. You'll have to infiltrate it with a small strike team by landing in an Imperial shuttle. Got all that so far?


Taral V is a rainy jungle planet very similar to Dromund Kaas and is populated not just by Imperial soliders and scientists, but also by a bunch of hostile wildlife, mostly reptiles of some sort. Oteg says that the Imperials are fond of them, but there's also a small scripted scene where a bunch of swamp monsters climb a bridge with Imperial soldiers on it and they start fighting each other.

In general, the trash seems to have been designed in a way that prioritises style over substance, as there are lots of occasions where mobs come running out of tunnels or fly in from above, but most mob groups are so weak that they barely provide more than a speed bump.

The bosses are for the most part not terribly interesting, with some very basic mechanics. There's the guy with the two animal adds, the guy with the single animal add (which should die at roughly the same time as him) and the guy who spawns multiple waves of weak animal adds. The bonus boss is the first real challenge, a Sith who has the ability to pull everyone on top of him and then casts a heavy-hitting Force storm that also slows you. I remember him being one of the first real challenges we faced while levelling up, as it was almost impossible to survive the Force storm if the whole party got caught in one. It turned out that the best strategy was for anyone with range to stand near the door and learn to predict when the boss would do the pull so you could break line of sight just in time to not be affected. That's some pretty advanced stuff for someone still levelling their first character.

The droid just before the final building is a fairly straightforward tank and spank, however when doing a tactical run recently I found his damage output to be somewhat overtuned, with unavoidable instant attacks hitting for 20k a pop, which is nearly half of a bolstered levelling character's health bar. My pug of four damage dealers eventually fell apart because even though people made an effort to click the kolto stations, we simply ran out of kolto too quickly and were unable to keep up with the droid's damage. To finish, me and the only other dps that didn't quit had to whip out a tank and healer companion, and even then the boss still hit pretty hard on the tank.

The last boss, General Edikar, is also challenging as he summons adds that are very spread out and casts a dot on a random person that hurts pretty badly. Again, this is a problem on tactical mode, where it's not even guaranteed that anyone will have a cleanse. On a side note, back at level fifty I think that Edikar on hardmode was probably the boss that people were cheesing most regularly to circumvent his mechanics. Anyone else remember how everyone would hide behind a box in the corner so all the adds would arrive in a nice clump for AoEing and his turrets couldn't hit you?

In quite a few previous Flashpoint Fridays I've talked about the problem of people skipping trash and this causing conflict between these players and those who want to do the bonus content as well. Taral V is another prime offender here. At level fifty I remember people claiming both that they hated getting this as their random hardmode because it's so long as well as saying that they loved it because so much of it can be skipped.

As someone who generally likes to do the bonuses, I have to confess that Taral V probably has the worst bonus mission of all the flashpoints because it's incredibly spaced out. Most bonuses really only require you to follow the intended route through the flashpoint and clear all the trash along the way instead of trying to skip pulls. The objectives in Taral V on the other hand are both so numerous and so spread out that you actually need to clear out several side buildings if you want to do the bonus boss, which is pretty annoying to be honest. I'll admit that I found it pretty exciting the first time though, having to explore what felt like the entire flashpoint just to find all of our bonus objectives.


You fight your way from your landing point through the jungle, shut down the Imperial security grid and then invade their base, getting occasional advice from Oteg and hearing the voice of the mysterious Force ghost predict more doom and gloom. Just as you enter the final bunker, you suddenly have Grand Moff Kilran on the holo, whom you previously met on the Esseles. He's pleased to see you again and vows to get you this time, even if it means bombarding the whole facility into oblivion. Oteg advises you to finish up quickly, though he will try to stall the Imperial fleet as much as possible.

After defeating General Edikar, you confront an Imperial researcher called Doctor Narem. He gets quite uppity about this Republic "act of aggression". When you ask him about the Gree computer, he complains that you stealing it would result in the deaths of loads of researchers that are scouting the nebula right now and would be lost forever without the device's guidance. You have the option to tell him to send them new coordinates to get them back home before handing over the computer or you can say that, civilians or not, you don't care about Imperials dying. As soon as you have the Gree computer, you make your way out.


While levelling up my first character and feeling rather let down by the story-light flashpoints that followed after the Esseles, I considered Taral V a refreshing return to story-heavy group content. It doesn't have many cut scenes, but the storyline it is a part of is a pretty epic one.

It's also quite a sprawling instance by SWTOR's standards, with a whole bunch of "optional" buildings that you can ignore if you like. I remember finding it exciting to explore these and to discover hidden treasures like bonus loot chests, though those seemed to get removed quite quickly (I'm not sure why). Nowadays it mostly just feels unnecessarily long, considering how much time you spend doing nothing but fighting unchallenging pulls of jungle beasts and Imperials. Even as someone who usually likes to do all the bonus missions, I find Taral V's to be a bit of a pain to complete so that I wouldn't want to do it every run.

Nonetheless I personally have a considerable fondness for this flashpoint. It left a strong impression on me as a new player, and to this day I consider it one of the more atmospheric flashpoints. Meeting Grand Moff Kilran again ties the story nicely to that of the Esseles, and considering how many instances take place on space stations and ships, which tend to make for rather dull environments, infiltrating an Imperial base on a largely untamed jungle planet is a refreshing change of pace.


The Group Content I Miss The Most

Ever since Bioware got onto this "all personal story, all the time" tack for Knights of the Fallen Empire, people have been moaning about the lack of attention being paid to group content. Over a year since the last operation! Nearly two years since the last new warzone! Where are the new flashpoints!? Etc.

And yet, despite of being someone who really enjoys group content, I've stayed fairly quiet on that front. I'm almost a bit ashamed to admit it, like I'm letting the team down or something, but it honestly hasn't bothered me that much. I love how they've equalised all the operations in terms of loot (even if the system isn't without its flaws), as we rarely run the same operation two weeks in a row now. There are over a dozen flashpoints to tackle while levelling and at endgame, on multiple difficulties. If I get tired of them, I do some PvP instead and vice versa. Seven different PvP modes spread out across ten different maps are not too shabby either. It seems to me that you would have to be pretty single-minded in how you play to run into serious problems with repetition, and I'm not. Mind you, all of this isn't to say that I don't want to see new warzone maps, flashpoints and operations of course. Just that my enjoyment of the game doesn't hinge on those things in the same way that it seems to for others.

There is one type of group content that I don't see getting much attention from either devs or players though and whose absence I've been very painfully aware of since 4.0: regular quests that have been designed with (optional) group play in mind.

My pet tank and I have spent many, many hours levelling alts together, and the release of a new patch or expansion was always something that we looked forward to tackling together. Our grouping experience started to show its first cracks in Shadow of Revan with its numerous personal phases, but at least there were still some missions and conversations to be had outside those phases at the time. When KotFE released, we both sat down at our PCs together, launched the first chapter simultaneously... and then played through the entire story on our own. It wasn't much of a social event. Where previously we would have gone on to level up our next set of alts together, we were simply at a loss. There just wasn't any new levelling content that supported us actually playing together.

To be clear, I'm not begrudging the KotFE story its solo-centric nature. As I've said before, I basically view it as a continuation of the class story in terms of overall style, and that was also a solo affair from the start. But I miss everything around it, the planetary story arcs and even the "stupid" side quests. They added much-needed perspective: Your character is a big deal but not the centre of the universe, and there are small people with their own concerns all around you. It gave flavour to the world.

More importantly for me though, they were open to group play. If you've only ever quested on your own, you may not know this, but many regular quest givers actually have little bits of extra dialogue if you approach them in a group, usually along the lines of: "Wow, so many illustrious characters at once, it must be my lucky day!" These missions supported a full group of four participating in the cut scenes while striking cool poses. It was the most amazing thing to me.

In fact, if you've ever read my "about" page, it does say there that the group conversation system was the whole reason I got into the game. I'd heard about SWTOR before then and didn't give a fig about it, Star Wars or not. Until I saw this video, that is. If you can't be bothered to click the link, it's a dev walkthrough from 2011 that shows some Imperial characters questing together on Tatooine. I can't emphasise enough how amazing I thought the group conversation system was. Only months before, I had played through WoW's Cataclysm expansion, and I remember doing this quest in Hyjal where you had to interrogate a harpy about something. I was in a group and my questing partner just clicked through the dialogue quickly, causing the harpy to fly away again before I'd had a chance to read any of it. As someone who actually cares about the story, I was livid. This isn't a particular failing of WoW's of course; most MMOs don't give much thought to how to maintain a coherent story experience while in a group. It's as if the devs think that "likes story" and "likes to group" are polar opposites that nobody could possibly be interested in reconciling. But SWTOR did, and while other, newer MMOs like The Secret World or ESO have also "copied" its cinematic storytelling, as far as I'm aware the stories in those games are still always single-player affairs.

Nobody else that I've heard of has attempted to make quest interactions interesting while in a group, and now the system is falling into disuse even in SWTOR itself. The Star Fortresses are the most striking example. Their prequests can be done in a group, and you get to roll off as usual in the little scenes, such as before you blow up the shield generator. However, as soon as the cut scene plays, you are alone! It seems that they haven't even been designed to accommodate more than one character! My pet tank and I joked about this ("I guess you must have put me in your pocket before running outside") but really, it just makes me sad.

Last year MassivelyOP asked their readers about the best MMOs for duoing, and SWTOR got a lot of mentions in the comments, even though it wasn't particularly popular with the crowds at the time. And hey, the original game is still very duo-friendly (except that the overall difficulty of the levelling content has been nerfed to a point that running around as a duo can feel a bit like shooting fish in a barrel). But the newer content most definitely isn't, and it breaks my heart to see Bioware discard one of the game's most unique and social features with seemingly nary a thought. I enjoy the personal story, but I really miss there also being a story that I can play through with a friend.


Which Healing Class Should I Choose?

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Reddit by a self-proclaimed "salty veteran" who wanted to know how he would make the game a better place for new players. The response was overwhelming and quite insightful, with the majority of replies coming down to new players confessing that they were unsure about certain parts of the game and had difficulties finding up-to-date guides. Now, I've never been much of a guide writer and don't intend to become one either, but one of the questions that was brought up - which healing class to choose if you know you like the role but don't know which class would fit your playstyle - stood out to me as something that I could see myself writing a post about, seeing how I enjoy healing more than any other role in the game.

"The Best"

Now, often when people ask which healing class they should choose, what they really mean is: "Which healing class is currently the most overpowered?" As of 4.0, Sages/Sorcerers are the kings of ranked PvP healing, however in casual PvP and in PvE all healing classes are viable. These things can change with class-rebalancing introduced in patches though, so if you're reading this several months or even years into the future, I would advise you to check the PvP section on the official forums and simply look at which class players complain about as the most overpowered right now. The following is more about the "feel" of each class, regardless of their current power level.

Commando / Mercenary (Base class: trooper / bounty hunter)

Both Commando and Mercenary are heavily armed and heavily armoured, with the trooper representing the loyal soldiers of the Republic while the bounty hunter is a gun-for-hire operating within the influence sphere of the Empire. They heal by using technology appropriate for the job, which usually comes in the form of healing probes for the Commando and healing scans for the Mercenary.

These two used to be known as single-target "turret healers" back in the day, due to their low mobility and reliance on heals with a cast time. This has been considerably improved since then, though it takes until the higher levels until you've unlocked all the abilities and upgrades that allow you to heal efficiently while on the run. Their AoE heals are pretty decent nowadays as well. Nonetheless they've somewhat maintained a reputation for being strong single-target healers, largely because they have several single target heals that synergise with each other and can put out a pretty big burst of healing within a matter of seconds if used correctly.

There is also a dimension of "pre-emptive" healing to this healer, as one of their later abilites, Trauma Probe/Kolto Shell, is placed on targets in advance and then heals them every time they get hit (with an internal cooldown). If a WoW comparison is helpful, it works similar to a shaman's earth shield, only that you can blanket the whole raid with these probes.

Sage / Sorcerer (Base class: Jedi consular / Sith inquisitor)

If you like the idea of using the Force to heal, this is your healer of choice. Sages envelop their targets in a warm golden glow, while Sorcerers do the same in purple (probably to match the purple lightning theme of the class). Lore-wise they are the scholars/researchers of their order, with a bit if diplomacy thrown in on Republic side.

Sages used to be the game's big AoE healers but have become more of a jack-of-all-trades since then. They have loads of very different healing abilities, from Force bubbles that shield their allies from damage to glowy puddles of goodness that heal people when they stand in them. They've also always had decent mobility, and while their light armour makes them kind of squishy, they have some great cooldowns/escapes to ensure survival in PvP these days. They've always reminded me of World of Warcraft's holy priests (which was my favourite healing class in that game). In 3.0 they even got their own version of WoW's Prayer of Mending (Wandering Mend/Roaming Mend).

You can get a lot of fun out of healing as a Sage/Sorcerer, but the large amount of very different abilities can also be a bit confusing to someone new to healing in MMOs.

Scoundrel / Operative (Base class: smuggler / Imperial agent)

Whether you prefer to be a Republic privateer always on the lookout for opportunities to make money or an Imperial spy dealing with undercover work and conspiracies, both of these classes offer some of the best class stories the game has to offer, though they are very different in style (humour vs. intrigue). When they slip into the role of healer, they use technical gadgets like medpacks and kolto darts to heal their allies.

One of the defining features of these two classes is that they can stealth. So if you want to be a healer but also enjoy sneaking past your enemies whenever possible, this might be the class for you.

Other than that their major trick is that they rely heavily on heals over time. One of their staples is Slow-release Medpac/Kolto Probe, a single-target heal over time that can be stacked - vaguely reminiscent of a druid's Lifebloom in WoW, though without the bloom - and can add up to impressive numbers if a whole raid group gets blanketed with it. They also have strong AoE heals, but to get the most out of the class, one needs to be able to plan ahead and get the HoTs rolling before the big damage hits, otherwise burst damage can be a bit of a struggle.


KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 4: The Gravestone

Time to continue my detailed discussion of Knights of the Fallen Empire's individual chapters! Unsurprisingly, this post will contain spoilers for the chapter in the title and may contain spoilers for previous chapters as well.

At the end of the last chapter, you and your new companions (Lana, Koth and HK-55) barely escaped Vaylin's clutches, but your escape vehicle was damaged in the process. As night falls, you find yourself forced to crash-land in a nearby swamp, dubbed the Eternal Swamp by the locals (according to Koth). Nobody is hurt by the crash and people are in relatively good spirits, with Lana and Koth immediately falling into more banter, indicating a long history between the two.

HK-55's scanners indicate a large metallic technological object nearby which seems your best bet at escaping the swamp, considering that the crashed shuttle is a complete pile of scrap. You set out to investigate with HK while Koth and Lana stay behind to cover up the evidence of your landing.

While investigating the swamp, you emerge into the first public area of KotFE... which was actually a bit of a shock to the system for me initially, because upon seeing another player I realised that I had spent the last three chapters without this ever happening, completely secluded in my personal instances the entire time. There's also a bonus mission to kill some wildlife if you fancy. I found it a bit disappointing that all the animals are reused models from other planets, which doesn't make Zakuul's wildlife look particularly interesting. There's also a chance of running into more random skytroopers, which really makes you wonder how these things operate, seeing how they seem to get sent out in small groups to scout, yet it never seems to alert anyone when one suddenly disappears and never reports back.

Finally you run into a new monster type called iknayid, probably more commonly referred to as "ugly spider things", and find various pieces of scrap metal that appear to be part of something bigger. As you make small talk with HK, he reveals that he's been programmed to be just as loyal to you as to Lana or Koth and to prioritise your survival above all else. You can humbly tell him that you're not that important or abuse your position by asking him to alter his programming further to obey you above Lana or Koth if it comes down to it.

Eventually you find the object that HK's sensors had been picking up and it turns out to be the wreck of an ancient starship. According to HK's scans it's centuries old and doesn't match any known Zakuulan designs. Koth gets quite excited about this and concludes after a brief inspection that you've found the legendary Gravestone, the only known ship that went up against the Eternal Fleet and won. It's also revealed that the Eternal Fleet is actually older than Valkorion and possibly even Zakuul, so the details of how the Gravestone faced off against it are lost to history. Koth is convinced that you finding this ship - one that others have supposedly been looking for for ages already - is a sign of destiny, that you are meant to win this conflict. You clear part of the ship of more wildlife with Koth by your side, while Lana and HK do the same to other sections of it.

At this point we get another glimpse of the Eternal Throne, showing that Arcann and Vaylin suspect that your team must have landed in the swamp and intend to search it. A Zakuulan Knight reports to Vaylin and submits himself to her judgement since he was the one who was supposed to oversee the security of the carbonite prison. Vaylin draws her lightsaber and stabs him without a second thought. It's interesting that Arcann actually seems a bit taken aback by this.

Aboard the Gravestone, you get more backstory about it from Lana and Koth. Koth has determined that the ship was intentionally scuttled after the defeat of the fleet, and clearly didn't crash. It's revealed that the Eternal Fleet is fully automated and was reactivated by Valkorion. Arcann can actually fully control it from his throne. Also, the gravestone has a mailbox. I loved that after three chapters of relentless movement, the first chance to check your mail comes inside of a centuries-old crashed starship. Logic!

Your companions suggest that you need to look for fresh water and supplies as well as scavenge for spare parts to repair the ship. You can choose which one you want to do first, look for water with Lana or go scrounging with Koth. I haven't noticed the order making any sort of difference to the actual conversations you have with them. Either way it is... exposition time!

(Also, while out in the swamp you get a little side quest to pick up a couple of speeder parts which then get assembled into a broken speeder, which is clearly meant to give players starting at 60 their first vehicle. I thought that was a neat way of incorporating that into the story.)

While searching for water with Lana she gets you caught up on the state of the galaxy. Apparently everyone knows by now that Valkorion was the Sith Emperor, since his death sent massive ripples through the Force. Arcann invaded both Republic and Empire soon after, framing it as revenge for an Outlander killing his father. The technical superiority of his ships was such that neither faction could compete and both were outmatched within three months or so, so that both eventually surrendered/negotiated a ceasefire. Most members of the Dark Council have died or disappeared, with Darth Acina (of the Imperial Seeker droid quest line) having declared herself Empress. On Republic side, Saresh has officially been replaced as Supreme Chancellor but apparently still wields all the power behind the scenes. Both factions have to pay heavy tributes to Zakuul, but instead of teaming up against their common foe, they still try to snipe each other while they perceive the other to be weak. Lana also says that she has allies looking for your old ship and crew but that it might take time to find them. She considers you an important piece in her plan to restore some kind of order to the galaxy. Also... she suspects that something is different about you since the carbonite prison - you can confess that you've had Valkorion talking to you in your head or deny that anything has changed.

While out searching for parts with Koth he tells you that he was in the Zakuulan army but deserted when he and his troops were ordered to massacre civilians during a mission in the core worlds. He also kind of fishes for your approval, wanting you to agree with his assessment that you finding the Gravestone was clearly fate, and wanting more reassurances that you don't plan to take down the population of Zakuul as well as Arcann (if you saved the civilians from the damaged generator in the last chapter, you already got some brownie points there).

Now at some point before you return to the ship, HK calls for you to join him at his location. I can't figure out how the game decides when this happens. In all three of my playthroughs it actually happened after the dialogue with Koth, even though I mixed up the order in which I took him and Lana out into the swamp. In fact, it was only thanks to a random YouTube video that I realised that there is a chance that HK will call you while you're with Lana instead! It turns out that he's run into a bunch of space hobos exiles that were expelled from the city for protesting Arcann's rule (seems Arcann isn't quite as ruthless with his punishments as Vaylin) and isn't sure what to do with them. You can offer to take them aboard the Gravestone or tell them to get lost. (Koth approves of the former, Lana of the latter.) The extra cruel option is to tell HK to shoot them once your other companion is out of earshot.

As you set out to repair the ship in earnest, you're shown what's quickly become known as "the eighties montage", which has Koth putting some cantina music on while he tries with mixed success to get the Gravestone up and running again. Meanwhile Lana uses the Force to tidy up and HK gets into a private little war with the iknayids outside, which makes for some hilarious viewing.

When the Gravestone is powered up again, you hear some strange sounds. You follow them to investigate the part of the ship where they seem to orginate and find a "Dark Sanctuary" in the bowels of the ship where Valkorion's ghost appears to already be waiting for you.


I remember reading the title of this chapter on the original KotFE preview page and wondering who dies. So deliciously misleading!

You can definitely start to detect a pattern here in terms of how the chapters play out. Chapter one was all action, chapter two contemplation. Chapter three was very focused on action again, now chapter four offers another chance for contemplation.

"The Gravestone" is probably one of my favourite chapters released so far. The Eternal Swamp at night is hauntingly beautiful if you actually take the time to look at it, especially with the impossibly large city looming in the distance. And of course you finally get some answers about what's been going on. They are only morsels of information really, but for me personally they definitely whet my appetite for returning to the Republic or Empire and seeing how they've changed.

A lot of small comments are made in this chapter that become relevant somewhere else later. For example it's mentioned that Zakuul has built powerful battle stations over several planets - these are the Star Fortresses you get to destroy later. There's also Koth harping on about fate, which will be shown to be a concept important to other Zakuulans as well. I wouldn't be surprised if even more things that get talked about here will turn out to be important in the upcoming chapters.

Of course the notion of getting a thousand-year-old starship back up and running within a few hours is patently ridiculous, but hey, this is Star Wars. It's never been too big on this kind of thing being anywhere close to "realistic".


Patch 4.1 - Over Nine Thousand!

At last, yesterday it was patch day again, almost four months after KotFE's early access. Remember when we were never supposed to go for more than eight weeks without a major patch? Those were the days.

I had read that 4.1 was going to be enormous and that it was advisable to "pre-download" the patch. As I didn't know how to do so, I googled it and found this nifty tool on TORCommunity. I fired it up for about an hour on Tuesday morning and it worked great! When I came home in the evening and opened up the launcher, it went straight to installing everything.

For once, I was ready to play right away on patch day! Which of course meant that the servers went down. Apparently they were up for a whopping four minutes before Bioware had to announce that they had found a problem and no ETA for how quickly they could fix it. /rage
I stayed up for a couple of hours, hoping that the servers would come back up, while Musco practised damage control on the forums by giving people free Cartel Coins for guessing what colour shirts people were wearing in the office, but eventually I grew too tired and went to bed.

Fortunately I had a bit of extra time today to catch up. I won't comment on the new story chapter yet because I want to avoid spoilers for now and I'll eventually get to cover it in my "KotFE Chapter by Chapter" series anyway, except to say that some of the mobs behaved in a really strange manner, seemingly teleporting around or running over to attack me from three rooms away. There was also a majorly scripted encounter which I apparently managed to finish before the script had run out, so the following cut scene took place with sky troopers standing everywhere and things blowing up all around us while we were having a perfectly calm conversation. But hey, that's what "early access" is for, right? Bug testing?

I think that despite the new story chapter, the biggest thing this patch really brought to the game was a small but meaningful quality of life change: Item stacking now goes up to 9,999 instead of 99. So many more crafting mats in my legacy bank! Of course I'll have to relog all my alts and upgrade their crew skills and sort their inventories... but that seems like a small price to pay in the long run.

My favourite 4.1 patch note was this one:

Players can no longer toggle off the “Dusted with Snowflakes” buff that is received when hit with a Snowball. 

Mostly because we have one guy in our guild who's professed to hate the snowflakes and always clicks them off instantly whenever someone snowballs him. He's going to go nuts.


500 Posts!

Can you believe that this is my 500th post on this blog? I can! I never quite get when people say that they have nothing to post about - if I can write 500 posts about Star Wars: The Old Republic alone, there is always something to say.

Traditionally I like to use these milestones as an excuse to look at the search terms through which people found this blog and see if there's anything funny in there. Here are the links to the previous posts in that vein:

100 Posts! (August 2012)
200 Posts! (May 2013)
300 Posts! (April 2014)
400 Posts! (March 2015)

Now, let's dive into what Google Analytics showed me this time:

why you should not be a soldier swtor - I'm guessing this was a German speaker, because troopers are called Soldaten (soldiers) in the German version. Anyway, there is no reason not to be a trooper! They are awesome! (Though I'll concede that their class story isn't the best.)

blakhol jnawa - There are no jawas in the Black Hole. If that is what you were asking about...

darth revan face swtor german - After thinking about it for a bit, I'm guessing this person was looking for the cut scene at the end of Yavin IV in German or something? The idea of people finding something particularly German about Revan's face amuses me though.

dirty-flirty swtor - /blinks in confusion

everyday i'm tanking - I don't know what this person was really looking for, but my first thought was that they were searching for an MMO parody version of LFMAO's Party Rock Anthem. Searching YouTube for "Everyday I'm tanking" just led me to this bizarre clip of part of the music video overlaid with the intro music to Thomas the Tank Engine. If the title isn't that important though and you would just enjoy a parody song about tanking, you might enjoy this song... or this one.

find me the meaning progenitor - Does playing on the Progenitor really need to provide special meaning? If you've ever wondered where the server got its name, click here.

glaciers in lack saperen lowlands - I put this one into Google myself and what do you know, my The Art of Achieving Map Completion post is the first result. What the heck? This is why spelling is important, kids! Best I can tell this was actually meant to be about this area in Wisconsin.

how do i get into the counselor phase next to the cantina in tython in swtor - Time to get out this image again:

To actually answer the question though, if I recall correctly you get to go there at the end of chapter one. Why not just play through the whole story and find out?

i want you to be a sith inquisitor - But I don't wanna!

lurfg - This search term invokes the mental image of someone trying to say "LFG" and then throwing up halfway through because the thought of having to pug makes them sick.

makeb kill it with fire - Aw, come on, Makeb's not that bad! Of course then I remembered that there's this achievement: Kill It With Fire. I haven't got it myself, but I seem to remember that it's either bugged or kind of awkward to get in that the kill won't count if your companion gets the killing blow, the fire doesn't actually cause the killing blow, or something like that.

new different golu decoration - My Sage is intrigued.

sith individualism - Yes. It's definitely a thing.

swtor jedi knight major hardon - I want to believe that this person thought that there's a character called Major Hardon in the Jedi knight story. The alternative is too awful and confusing to contemplate.

swtor whats a gf - While general chat requests like "need more for DP in GF" might give you the wrong idea if you have a dirty mind, it generally stands for "group finder".

tell me the meaning of foot commando. - What is it with people looking for meaning today? Surely feet are useful to have either way?!

warp speed from the earth to the moon in 4 minutes - warp speed - Sorry, wrong franchise. Though I do like Star Trek too.

From the good old "I don't know why Google thought I'm writing about that game" pile:

eq2 keeps crashing to deskop like i wasn't even playing
fallout 4 max companion affection
ff14 3.02
mwo keeps crashing why?

If I'm being honest though, the most fascinating part of going through the search terms for me aren't even the funny ones anymore, but simply the oddly specific searches some people go for. It actually makes me want to write a couple of guides - not about generic stuff like how to execute the perfect dps rotation (not that I know anything about that anyway), but... well... to answer oddly specific questions like these:

old republic dromund kaas entire map - Dromund Kaas is one planet I didn't mention in my Art to Achieving Map Completion guide, but I bet I still know which bit of the map this person was missing, because it's the same one I always forget about. You know that body of water located between Lord Grathan's Estate and The Unfinished Colossus? The Dromund Kaas world boss spawns in it, which is why it has its own name and needs to be uncovered separately even though it's a very small area.

swtor 4.0 heroic 2+ false history - I know it doesn't say so, but I'm pretty sure what they actually want to know is whether you can still solo this. I remember having to look this up pre-4.0 myself because I was struggling at the time. I just tried it again and it still works fine. I even recorded it, just for you you, anonymous Googler!

all interactions with juda (hutta) swtor - I don't have a list of all interactions with her, but I thought this one was interesting to highlight since you get the option to talk to her a couple of times even when it isn't highlighted by a quest icon, you just have to be curious enough to click on her without prompting. Republic has a similar thing going on with the planetary quest line on Belsavis, where you can spare a Sith Lord from death and work with him for a bit, and you can talk to him afterwards even though it's not required for or even pointed out by the quest.

can the revan quest line be continued without completing the torch flashpoint - Nope! It has a solo mode though, so you can just do it solo any time.

flashpoint kaon under siege solo swtor - I'm afraid they haven't given this one a solo mode yet. It's also not in the group finder as a tactical, but you can always queue for hardmode. Or you can try to solo the normal version at 65 - it hasn't been scaled up, so all the mobs are still level 50.

heroic moment abilities not in legacy since patch 4.0 - Don't worry, they are not gone, but they show up on a temporary quickbar instead whenever you activate your heroic moment.

i can't get out of kuat drive yard - Never fear! The "exit area" button above your mini map shall come to your rescue.

swtor what happend to the side quest? - I'm afraid they didn't make any for KotFE; it makes me sad too. If you are wondering about the old ones, those are (mostly) still there but hidden by default. To see the quest markers, you have to open your map and toggle the "show exploration missions" option in the top right corner.

what is a monsoon baffle - I was really surprised how often this one came up! Google defines a baffle as "a device used to restrain the flow of a fluid, gas, etc." so I guess the monsoon baffles on Rishi are supposed to protect Raider's Cove from the rain. Though I'm guessing what you really wanted to ask was: "Where the hell do I find those things?" Here's a screenshot of what they look like. There's a whole bunch on ground level right under the market near where you land.

which flashpoints have solo mode - So many questions about solo modes! Bioware actually posted the full list back in September last year, but I understand that this can be a bit hard to find nowadays.

To the next 500 posts!


Flashpoint Friday: Colicoid War Game

Today I'd like to bring a flashpoint to your attention that hasn't thrived in the wake of the changes introduced in 4.0. In fact, the opposite has been the case: this flashpoint seems to have been pretty much abandoned, which is a crying shame considering its qualities. I'm talking about Colicoid War Game.

General Facts

Colicoid War Game is one of the launch levelling flashpoints accessible to both factions that are relatively light on story and can be accessed from your faction's fleet dropship hangar. It was originally designed for levels 39-45... and is still only interesting to that level range, as it didn't receive an update to make it scale with level in 4.0. Worse, it was also removed from the group finder (which only shows you tactical, level-neutral flashpoints up to 50 now), and when I asked some guildies to run me through it so I could see the current state of affairs for myself, we found all the loot chests locked and the last boss dropping no loot. I've reported this as a bug, but I'm not sure it isn't intentional. Which is a real shame as Colidoid War Game is actually a very interesting flashpoint in many respects.


Colicoid War Game was the first flashpoint to which I dedicated a whole post on this blog... all the way back in January 2012, because it was so strange and defied our expectations of what this kind of content should be by featuring little combat and being heavily focused on puzzles and dealing with environmental hazards. In essence, it consists of four parts:

First, you are led onto a plain with four turrets. As soon as one member of your party mounts one, waves of colicoids and colicoid-shaped droids start spawning around you, which you are supposed to hold off with the cannons. At launch this event was pretty darn unforgiving as you had no opportunity to heal and the droids tended to shoot you as soon as they spawned. This was alleviated considerably when they changed the turrets to automatically emit a trickle of heals onto the people mounted on them. By this point the biggest challenge became to simply remain calm, as the turrets - very unintuitively - shoot without prompting, so you must only use the directional keys to aim then. If you end up doing anything else in an attempt to make them fire on command, such as press a mouse button, you'll end up dismounting instead. During my first run of the place, I was so good at accidentally dismounting myself that eventually my turret just vanished in disgust.

After two rounds of mowing down colicoids, you face a corridor with a few "trash" mobs. They are pretty hard hitters though, and there are multiple champions among the lot. Add to that the fact that some of the droids have an ability that temporarily makes them immune to all damage if you let the associated cast go through and you have the recipe for something that can be pretty painful for a pug... though at least this section isn't very long.

Next, you face the infamous force field puzzle. Your party has to split up to hold down various buttons to gradually unlock a way towards the end of a "mini maze", though you can cheese things a bit if you have someone with a leap in your party. To keep things interesting, there are also fire and fast respawning droid patrols that will knock you off the narrow catwalks to your death. Fun for the whole family! Like on the initial encounter with the turrets, there are two stages to this that you need to complete.

In the end you emerge into an arena that is very reminiscent of the battle on Geonosis from Episode II, where you have to fight three big beasts and finally one final giant colicoid war droid who is a fairly straightforward encounter but amusingly certain of his victory in his voice snippets. 


Why do you have to do all this? Because the colicoids, an alien race of bugs whose non-sentient cousins players will have encountered on Balmorra, have issued a challenge that they will only trade their highly advanced weapons with whoever prevails in their crazy tournament, and of course neither the Republic nor the Empire can miss out on an opportunity like that (lest the other faction get there first).

Just before you get to the final arena, there is a brief cut scene where you see a team of the enemy faction emerge from the trials on the other side of a force field. You have the option to manipulate the local turret controls to make them fire at your competitors, which is pretty hilarious, though it doesn't affect the outcome either way as you don't get to fight them even if you let them live.


While Colicoid War Game's story is not particularly exciting, voluntarily entering a deathmatch competition is a nice change of pace from constantly having to hunt down generic baddies. It's similar to what the Gree event would do later by inviting players to pit themselves against alien droids to test their strength.

It's the mechanics that really make this flashpoint shine though. The turret fight is admittedly somewhat dull once you get the hang of it, but the platform puzzle never ceases to amuse me. It can create some very different experiences, from the pug that takes ages to figure out what to do, with people repeatedly getting knocked to their deaths, to the experienced group that clears the whole area within a couple of minutes. One might call it "the Huttball of flashpoints", eliciting either love or hatred in people, with little space in-between.

I was really quite upset when I realised that this flashpoint hadn't been given any love in 4.0, and even more so when I had to find out that it's also been removed from the group finder and had all its loot taken away. (All the screenshots in this post were taken in "better" aka pre-4.0 days.) I honestly don't understand why that is, as I would have thought that the puzzle mechanics would lend themselves particularly well to being adjusted for a role-neutral group - the only thing you'd really have to do is nerf the hitpoints of the droids in the second section a bit.

I sincerely hope that this complete neglect is only an oversight or at least a temporary measure if there are any particular challenges to this flashpoint that the devs are still figuring out. It would be a real shame to see this fun and unique piece of content go quietly into the night.


KotFE Chapter by Chapter - Chapter 3: Outlander

Time to continue my detailed discussion of Knights of the Fallen Empire's individual chapters! Unsurprisingly, this post will contain spoilers for the chapter in the title and may contain spoilers for previous chapters as well.

You awake from your carbonite-induced dreams, blinded and in pain, just to immediately get injected with something to counter the carbonite poisoning... by a very different looking Lana Beniko, who managed to stop her nose from looking perpetually runny and looks like she about quadrupled the amount of muscle in her body. It feels only appropriate that one of the options is to say that you don't recognise her, though I suspect the main reason it's there is that a player jumping into the game at level 60 really wouldn't know her.

She briefly re-introduces herself if necessary, as well as astromech droid T7-01, formerly a companion of the Jedi knight and now also part of this rescue mission, though he mainly stays in the background to hack into things and manipulate various systems for you. Lana confirms that at least the part of your dream about Arcann ruling the galaxy now is true and that you better run for your lives... now. She becomes your companion from here on out, which I'm sure pleased a lot of people who romanced her in Forged Alliances and Shadow of Revan.

You fight your way through corridors with doors closing off escape routes and stuff randomly exploding while skytroopers keep attacking you. As you get stalled by a heavy door, Lana gets contacted by her pilot waiting outside, Koth Vortena, who gets a brief introduction. Through a security camera you see Vaylin, who is revealed to hold the rank of "High Justice", being informed of your escape, then taking her anger out on the messenger and clearly sensing your location through the Force. Lana emphasises that you're not ready to face her as your character is still very weak from the carbonite poisoning.

Lana summons up the strength to temporarily open the heavy door with the Force so you can both run through. You fight more skytroopers, but just as you seem to be approaching an exit, Koth radios you that he's under fire and can't meet you yet. He advises you to continue to another tower. Vaylin is shown ripping the door to pieces that Lana could barely open, adding a sense of urgency.

You ride a nice and clean elevator downwards, which makes for a somewhat amusing image as Lana and your character stare at each other awkwardly while doing so. After some more fighting (so many skytroopers...) you manage to make your way across a bridge into another building. Vaylin arrives just in time to see you disappear into it and decides to unleash her inner psycho by using the Force to grab bits of a nearby "sun reactor" and smash it into the building... which turns out to be a skytrooper factory by the way. (In case you hadn't noticed by this point, they are all droids, not people.) Guess what? The factory contains even more of them!

Inside the building you see people panicking about the damaged reactor growing increasingly unstable and Lana encourages you to get the hell out of dodge. Koth however, who has been staying in touch via comms and has been revealed to be a native Zakuulan, insists that you still have time to shut the reactor down and potentially save thousands of civilians. So... your choice! You can follow Lana's advice and piss off Koth with your selfishness. Or you can stay to shut down the reactor and have Lana yell at you the entire time about how you're insane (though you eventually succeed), showing early on that it will be impossible to please all of your new companions at the same time.

Eventually you finally reach a potential extraction point, just as the sun begins to set. However, Koth contacts you to say that he's run into a "maintenance issue" - while you see his shuttle having crashed behind him. (Humour created by cinematic storytelling letting you see the discrepancy between what's actually going on and what your character is being told!) Enemies approach from all sides but he gets out his blaster rifle, eyes an enemy shuttle parked closeby and assures you that he'll just need three more minutes.

You run across some maintenance catwalks, fighting off more skytroopers (yawn...) until you run into two Knights of Zakuul that want to arrest you. Finally a different type of opponent! Lana explains that they are "a policing body under Vaylin's charge", consisting of Force sensitives. You beat them up until one of them, Novo, decides to run for it. Lana has Tanek, the other one, in her grip and is about to kill him, though you can stop her.

After the fight, Vaylin catches up with you, but just before she can get to you, Koth's new ship rises up from below in a heroic rescue shot and shoots at her above your heads. She deflects the shots with a piece of catwalk that she rips up with the Force, but the distraction gives you enough time to escape. Vaylin throws her "shield" at the ship though and damages it.

Your character gets pulled inside by HK-55, Koth's droid and you make your escape, with the ship flying off into the sunset. Vaylin is shown reporting to Arcann that you got away, and he is still keen to have you found. If you allowed Tanek to live, Vaylin strangles him for his failure.


After the introspection of chapter two, it's time to get back to something more action-packed. Your escape from the carbonite prison is fast-paced and exciting, as Vaylin and her troops are always shown to be right behind you. It's also a bit confusing as you're kind of thrown in at the deep end, meeting "new Lana", Koth and HK-55 in quick succession, but get very little time to actually talk about what's going on, other than the briefest of introductions and confirmation that five years have passed since you were frozen.

Vaylin, who came as a bit of surprise in chapter one if you'd been avoiding spoilers, as the trailer was completely focused on Valkorion's sons, gets established as a frighteningly powerful and not entirely sane opponent.

I quite enjoyed this chapter. It features some very cool shots, such as Lana's opening of the heavy door or Koth's last minute rescue, as well as showing the first signs of the kind of roguish humour that we'll see from these characters as time goes on. It's a bit of a bummer that your character is repeatedly suffering from weakness and pain and therefore has to rely on the supporting cast to get anything done, however it also makes sense that this is the way it is, considering that you just spent five years frozen in a block of carbonite. The only annoying thing is that fighting the endless stream of skytroopers gets boring quickly as they're not even remotely challenging.