“Keep Calm & Carry a Lightsaber” – Anna plays SWTOR Pt.1
A few words about the state of the galaxy at the start of the game: After being thought completely eradicated for centuries the Sith Empire returned from the Shadows and completely overwhelmed an unprepared Galactic Republic. They took back many worlds that were taken from them during the last great war and dealt a great deal of damage to the Republic when they actually managed to invade Coruscant, destroying almost the entire Jedi Temple and decimating the Jedi Order down to a few. The Republic reached out for a tentative peace treaty with the Empire after that and both sides formally signed the Treaty of Coruscant. The Jedi retreated with what forces they had still left to their ancient homeworld of Tython where they are trying to rebuild the Jedi Order as best as they can. The main story of the game starts 10 years after this. The peace treaty still holds but it is very clear that both sides do not expect this to last and are preparing for another war.
Meet Zhyi, a Jedi Padawan the the end of her training that just arrived on Tython. After training somewhere else apparently, because why would you train in the Jedi Academy? I mean… *pfff* Though, given that she is at least 19 or 20 at the game start (20 is my headcanon) it would perhaps make sense for her to stay and train in whatever training facility she was given what happened on Coruscant. Still, to have never set foot on Tython as a Jedi in training seems somewhat odd to me. But as far as gaming plotholes go this one isn’t too bad actually.
She arrives on a peaceful, beautiful planet but that lasts exactly one cut scene long. The nor very highly evolved natives somehow got weapons and are attacking the training grounds. Behin all that, so she figures out after some research, is a former Jedi who was thought killed at the battle of Coruscant. He wasn’t, obviously, and blames the Jedi for the Sith Empire. In his mind the Jedi are not radical enough and will never be able to stop the Empire. His former Jedi Master, Master Orgus Din takes on Zhyi as his new Padawan and they go to stop the misguided former Jedi. He tries to convince Zhyi that the Jedi are incapable of ever defeating the Sith like they are now but Zhyi doesn’t listen and takes him in.
In Master Orgus she has found a Master who actually seems to understand her. He is not one for sitting around and debating, he is a man of action. Well thought through action, but action none the less. They get along brilliantly right off the bat. She also meets the Jedi Council for the first time in person and they are pretty much exactly what she expected – wise older men and women that embody all the principals the Oder teaches. She is more than a little impressed and feels very small standing in the ancient temple halls. The council seems impressed with her and elevates her into the Rank of a full Jedi Knight before they send her and her Master off to Coruscant, to investigate a “growing darkness” there. All very Counsellor Troi like.
On Coruscant she meets General Var Suthra, an old war buddy of Master Orgus and now in charge of developing military technology. And boy has he been developing. So much, that the Republic thought it was a good idea not to tell the Jedi Order about most of their new projects because they might have moral objections. Which the do! Zhyi is a bit torn by that. She grew up on stories of how devastating the Empire hit them. The way Var Suthra explains why they started their projects makes sort of sense to her. But the Jedi Council is more than just slightly upset. Additionally, important designs for a weapon called the Planed Prison have been stolen and one of their top scientists has been abducted. So Zhyi and her faithful droid T7 that has followed her here from Tython go investigate. But what they find is worse than they thought. Not only the Planet Prison is missing (a device that effectively puts a force field around an entire planet, preventing ships from landing and leaving) but data about every secret weapons facility the Republic has. And their missing scientist? Turns out to be Sith. Zhyi gets help by another Padawan names Kira Carsen and they track the Sith down in the ruins of the former Jedi Temple. All tries to get him to surrender the data and himself fail and it ends in a fight to the death. His death in this case.
Sadly he was not an unimportant person. His father, Darth Angral, one of the major leading forces of the last war, swears revenge on Zhyi for killing his son. Who managed to transfer all the data before she found him. Darth Angral’s forces are taking over every secret weapons project the Republic had going and he vows that the entire Republic will pay the price for his son’s death. Someone in the Republic SIS must bite themselves in the ass by now for thinking it was a super great idea to store all their military data close together and give single people access to all of them at once. A+ spy work, brilliant logistics! Honestly, when playing on the Republic side it happens fairly often that the entire organisation seems more than just a little incompetent. Like, it is a sheer wonder that they didn’t loos the war entirely after about 3 days with how their management works.
They have little chance but to try to secure the weapons facilities. Even though the Jedi still frown on their existence in the first place. General Var Suthra gives them all the information he has and they decide to split up. Zhyi gets her own ship and Kira for support. The Republic SIS (Strategic Information Service) sent an agent to help who will got to Nar Shadaa. Master Orgus and Kira’s Master, Master Kiwikks take two other planes while Zhyi is sent to Taris, a world devastated by the Jedi civil War 300 years ago, to find a republic scientist who has been in hiding since the treaty was signed. Doctor Godera hates the Empire with a passion and feels the Republic has let everyone down when they signed the peace treaty. But now they need him to salvage what they can. Meanwhile Taris ia one big swamp and probably on my top 3 list of planets NOT to spent my retirement on. (Together with Hoth and Belsavis) Like, if you want to hide and live out your life in peaceful exile go somewhere that isn’t the equivalent of a radioactive version of the Australian outback with more added goo…
On Taris Zhyi sees first hand what the destruction by war actually looks like. It is still largely inhabitable, full of dangerously mutated creatures that carry a plague and old relics of a time when Taris was a central point of the Republic, similar to Cosruscant. It is very sobering for her to see that. She also has a first brush with Imperial Intelligence, the Empire’s secret service. Who of course also hunt after Doctor Godera. Zhyi manages to get him off Taris mostly unharmed though. Not without sacrifice. She understands the General more and more every day she is out in the Galaxy. Her Jedi principles say one thing, but she starts getting the feeling that those principles and what would be the greater good seem to be at opposite sides sometimes. She is not sure what to make of it. But she learns something about herself: She is absolutely able to make a hard decision when it comes down to it. The fact that this makes Imperial Intelligence sound almost impressed is worrying though. But in the end she got the Doctor into safety and he is willing to help even though he still mistrusts the peace.
This is more or less the prologue and the beginning of chapter one of the Jedi Knight story. Each of the classes has a story in three chapters plus a prologue on their starting planet that serves to explain the basic game mechanics to the player. When you hit level 10 (which, with the new levelling happens very early in game) you choose your advanced class. For the Jedi Knight this is either the Jedi Sentinel, a medium armour wearing class purely based on damage dealing where you can choose if you want that damage to be dealt over time (Watchman), if you are more of a burst damage (build up to realease a lot of powerful damage over very short time) person (then Combat is your spec) or if you want a mix with some AoE (area of effect) damage to take out small groups. (Focus would be your thing in that case) The Jedi Sentinel wields two lightsabers. (Think Ahsoka.)
The other advanced class is the Jedi Guardian who can be either a damage dealer or a tank. The Guardian wields one lightsaber and equips either a shield generator or a power focus instead of an offhand saber to boost the stats she needs for her spec. The Guardian shares the Focus spec for AoE damage with the Sentinel but is, in my opinion, a little bit more effective in that spec than her counterpart. The second damage spec is called Vigilance and is one of the most fun things to play in this game (again, imo…). You get to ram your lightsaber into the ground and it looks spectacular. Also, as a Guardian damage dealer you profit from the fact that you can wear heavy armour in melee combat which makes you more durable. While the Sentinel is light and acrobatic, the Guardian is a heavy hitter and it also feels that way in combat. If you rather play a tank then the Defense spec is for you. You equip a shield generator instead of a power focus, giving you more defensive stats and a higher change of shielding against attacks. Your damage is slightly reduced but your endurance goes up and almost everything you do generates threat. Meaning if you play in a group or even just with your companions the enemies will flock to you instead of anyone else. (Exceptions are what makes group play fun and challenging) Additionally you have the option of taking damage meant for someone else and transferring it to yourself and quickly jumping to a friend in need, literally “guarding” them. Defense Guardians feel like someone is trying to hit a mountain sometimes.
Zhyi went the Guardian Route and is levelling up as a Focus Guardian at the moment. I’ll get her tank equipment and damage gear when she is at max level so I can switch between Vigilance and Defense. Personally I tend to play damage dealers for levelling because it is simply the most fluent and easy way to go through most content. But when I group I actually enjoy being the Tank a lot. Or the designated Healer actually. I like to do something different since I always feel I can do the regular damage thing on my own well enough. Groups give me the opportunity to play other roles that are a pain in the ass to actually level up. (Imagine being a defensive character that can take every hit but takes an eternity to actually kill something doing bossfights on their own… It is doable, but it literally takes forever.)
You MMO players out there, what is your favourite role to play in the classic setup? Damage, Healing, Tank, Ranged? And if you’ve never played an MMO before what would you want to play in a group?