Behind Closed Doors with SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Knights of the Fallen Empire. A wrap up of a behind-closed-doors demo I got to see in person at E3. The gameplay footage to my knowledge hasn't been released just yet, but this is everything (and I mean everything) that I remember from the demo. And to note: when I was with the developers, the playthrough mainly chose Dark Side decisions.

Let me guide you through the first hours, of choice and story, in Knights of the Fallen Empire. 

The story begins with you, The Outlander, released from your carbonite prison after many years, with the help of Sith Lord Lana Beniko. You learn in brief moments that your ship was attacked, your crew detained, and you imprisoned. The Eternal Empire considers you a threat and liability that they want to keep under control. What you know or have will be unveiled and is a huge plot point that the developers do not even want to disclose just yet.

In the standard plea of "Help us, you're our only hope", you flee the chambers with Lana and encounter different troopers and soldiers. After fighting through waves, you encounter Tanek and his companion. Both are Sky Troopers who want to stop you. The dialogue provides 3 choices. Two are standard responses to initiate battle or avoid it, but the third is a Force Persuade that tries to diffuse the situation. However, your force persuade does not work, as both Troopers seem to be force sensitive and stare at you in disbelief, saying something along the lines of "Is this guy kidding?" and then attack you. At the end of the battle, the other Sky Trooper retreats to a higher pipe, telling Tanek to leave. However, Lana grabs him into a force choke and it's your decision to either let him go, or allow the kill. It's important to note that not only does she voice her pleasure or distaste in your decision, but also she stops herself before the kill as if she's asking for your permission. The developers chose the dark choice to kill this time, with the Outlander saying something along the tonality of "finish it already". With this decision, Tanek's companion will actually hound you in the future. When I asked the devs if the return will be merely a joking one-time encounter at a later time, the devs stated that the repercussions, both positive and negative, will have an effect in how your journey proceeds throughout the main quest. If you let Tanek live, his companion will actually remember this as well in another encounter. Whether this action compounds other relations with companions or NPCs has yet to be seen.

In any case, let's continue. There's a good back and forth between pilot Koth Vortera as he struggles to get a ship ready for your escape, while you drive through enemies. As you fight through, you learn the world's Sun Generator is about to explode. Two visible paths stem from this situation, Light and Dark. In the Light path, you can choose to save the Sun Generator, which will have gameplay up to around 30 minutes where you fight to restore the sun. Afterward, you can escape from the world.

On the Dark Path, you can choose not to save the sun generator, saying along the lines of there are more pressing matters. Such as escaping. Lana Beniko agrees, though Koth is in disagreement. The Dark path avoids the stabilization quest of the Sun Generator and cuts to the escape. Whether you choose to save the Sun Generator or not will actually have outstanding consequences later on, especially since you can return to the world Zakuul. Notably, you'll visit the surface and certain swamp regions of this world as well. Unfortunately when I asked whether the denizens of these regions will know what you did with the Sun generator, there wasn't a clear cut answer besides "people will know" and your impact or lack thereof is definitely noticed.

In the final escape, you are confronted by Vaylin, who tries to stop you and Lana. More notably, Lana is familiar with who Vaylin is. Lana is actually willing to sacrifice herself to fight Vaylin so you can escape, but certain role-play dialogues pop here to say whether you want her to sacrifice herself or not. As the fight looks like it's about to start and more Sky Troopers join in, Vaylin puts away her lightsaber, saying she does not need it. In the next moment, Koth appears with the ship and shoots at Vaylin, where this screenshot appears. As you jump onto the ship and are pulled in by HK-55, a yellow/orange model of HK-47, your escape is where the demo ends.

When a developer believes in their game, passionately jumping to show off what makes their gameplay changes exemplary and worth the play, it makes me want to believe as well. After what I have seen in the demo, as well as the genuine care in how the devs represented their game to me - someone extremely close to other Bioware titles but not so much Old Republic, I think Knights of the Fallen Empire is what will steer gamers to playing this MMO. Even those who have had no interest before. By taking a firm hold of the narrative, in both reflecting on the end of Shadows of Revan, of current companions, and of the new narrative...by thrusting the player into more conflicts and twists, in lieu of straddling the same path, Fallen Empire has I think the drive to level the playing field of storytelling across all of Bioware's current IPs. And as someone who's reported on Dragon Age and Mass Effect extensively for the past few years, I am taking the risk in saying...Knights of the Fallen Empire? You may want to pay attention.