This post contains a brief non-spoiler section then delves full-on into spoilers for the Iokath story.
The Iokath story is a continuation of the story post-Knights of the Eternal Throne. I’ve done the story (so far) on my Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight who sided with their respective class factions.
As I tweeted recently I didn’t really enjoy the story as much as I thought I would. It felt short and ended quite abruptly leaving more questions than answers. There were certain character interactions that I found quite weird and the minimal interaction with the returning companions (let alone existing romance companions) was disappointing.
Overall though, I liked the story better siding with the Republic then I did with the Empire (I will explain exactly why below). The story carries the same rhythm regardless of the faction you choose (which is okay) but the outcomes differ drastically. I’ve divided my initial analysis by faction then by other key elements of the story.
~ SPOILERS BEGIN AFTER IMAGE! ~
The one thing that really irked me throughout the story was Theron. I was very surprised by his tolerance of my decision to side with the Empire despite disapproving of my decision to side with them. He completely goes along with it. I know the Alliance means a lot to him and he doesn’t exactly like the Republic either but to just blindly go along with my decision felt really odd. There should have been some snide remarks at least and some tension between you given he’s your companion throughout the story. It’s especially odd given that he hasn’t been too happy with multiple dark side decisions made throughout KOTFE/KOTET. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d left the Alliance at the end of KOTET or if there’d been some other repercussions for his continual disapproval of your decisions (maybe there will be in the future?). But I guess in the end even if you go fully dark side through the story (which I didn’t quite do), in Theron’s eyes, the Eternal Alliance is still better than the Republic.
Then there’s Theron’s father Jace Malcolm whom Theron lovingly refers to as ‘Malcolm’. There’s clearly tension between the two of them given Theron’s allegiances but it reaches breaking point if you align with the Empire. Their interactions and Jace Malcolm’s subsequent death felt forced and unnecessary and only serves as a plot device to further Theron’s character down a potentially dark path and does nothing for our player characters. Will it have an effect on the story going forward? I certainly hope so yet at the same time I’m dreading what could happen.
One thing that I did really love about the story, however, was how good and right it felt for my Sith Warrior to be sinking her lightsaber through Republic Troopers and Jedi again. It felt just like old times like I was back doing my class story. I really do hope the story continues to go in the direction of returning to the war between the Republic and the Empire.
Lana is also surprisingly indifferent to your decision to side with the Republic but it didn’t feel as weird as it did with Theron. This is probably because she is absent protecting the base while Theron is with you so there wasn’t any opportunity for any tension simply because we didn’t see her enough. It also helped that Lana doesn’t have any family to create that extra tension that Theron had when you side with the Empire. This is probably the sole thing that made the story much more enjoyable on Republic side.
Yes, I did enjoy slicing through Imperial Troopers who refuse to surrender and ridding the galaxy of more Sith again on my Jedi Knight. Because a good Jedi needs justification for killing people.
Supreme Commander Jace Malcolm and Empress Acina’s Fates
I really didn’t like that their fates were sealed based purely on which faction you side with. If you side with the Empire, Supreme Commander Jace Malcolm dies and if you side with the Republic, Empress Acina dies. There is nothing you can do to stop their deaths. It does effectively leave the opposite faction quite crippled further pigeon-holing the story. It served more as a tool for dramatic effect (having our choices matter) especially for Theron when siding with the Empire than anything else.
I feel like overall siding with the Republic and, in turn, Empress Acina dying (due to using the Superweapon and it malfunctioning) will have more drastic consequences for the Empire then Supreme Commander Jace Malcolm dying, due to you siding with the Empire, will have on the Republic. Acina’s death will likely cause the Sith to go back to their infighting ways further destabilising them until someone comes out on top. Who will that be? Who knows. Jace Malcolm’s death while sad for the Republic (as he’s a war hero) won’t have too much of an effect (I’m assuming) on the overall stability of the Republic. It was already unstable anyway according to Jace.
It is clear though that having the Alliance align with a faction gives that faction a significant advantage by the end of the story over the other faction. How this will play out going forward remains to be seen given the inevitable consequences (I hope) within the Alliance for choosing one faction over the other.
Quinn and Elara barely played any role in the story at all which was disappointing to see. It made sense (given their history and their professions) to be where they were in the story, but they were very poorly utilised and had barely any screentime besides the initial encounter at the beginning (unless they were previously a class companion).
On my Sith Warrior, I did choose to let Quinn live. That was honestly an easy decision. The decision I had a hard time with was whether to resume my romance with him or not. I haven’t romanced anyone else on her even though I want to (*cough* Arcann *cough*). But in the end, I decided I didn’t have the patience to wait for what could potentially happen so I continued the romance with Quinn mainly because I doubt there will be any ongoing romantic interaction. We haven’t really had any continuing romantic interactions with any of the other returned romance companions so far, unfortunately. So it almost feels like there isn’t really much of anything happening. I did, however, choose the not trusting Quinn option so Theron will keep an eye on him for me.
I did, however, choose the ‘I don’t trust Quinn’ option when talking to Theron and Lana. I did appreciate that that was included in the story and that they said they would keep an eye on him. It fit my headcanon very nicely.
The Hooded Figure (New Villain?)
I really dislike this character. Who could this ‘hooded figure’ (pictured above, click image to enlarge) possibly be and are they the new villain in the game? I really don’t like the idea of having a mysterious villain. We already had that with the Shroud (now we know why they concluded his story) and a repeat of that seems silly to me. I’m finding myself already yearning for the return of Vitiate/Valkorion. I mean, how can you top him for a villain? I honestly would have zero issue with him returning in some form. I know they said he wasn’t coming back but still I really do miss him being the villain of the whole story.
But anyway to the subject at hand. Whether this mysterious figure is the villain or not isn’t quite our main concern just yet. Who they are is much more pressing. TYTH (yes, I capitalised his name) offered us some cryptic clues as to who they are:
- ‘The rage in your shadow. The traitor.‘ ‘You are betrayed.‘
- (Referring to who the traitor could be) ‘One marked by anger. Pain. Hope eroding.‘
- ‘The Betrayer lured you to Iokath. Ignited war. Sparked the engines of rage, envy, passion, hate, sorrow‘.
- ‘The betrayer now offers you: sacrifice prime. Fuel for the six gods.’
The story seemingly makes it clear both with your conversation with TYTH and with Theron and Lana afterwards that it is someone close to you, in the Alliance, who is the betrayer. But I don’t necessarily want to rule people who you’ve had no direct interaction with just yet. So let’s attempt to rule out some people first before we discuss who it could be.
Physically, the hooded figure seems to be female (but could still be male). They do appear to have pale human hands, however. Otherwise, there is nothing more we can yet discern about them physically. We know they are very angry, in pain and full of despair. They’d also have to have a decent grasp and knowledge of Iokath technology and perhaps Zakuulan mythology to be able to sabotage the throne.
I think it is highly unlikely that the ‘hooded figure’ is one of the vanilla companions. It would seem incredibly silly to me to make one of them the ‘hooded figure’. It also can’t be someone who we could have potentially chosen to kill previously or died in KOTFE/KOTET. So this rules out pretty much all fo the vanilla companions who have returned throughout the story. However, it does leave the door open for those companions who have not returned. Another point to consider is that it would be weird to have some random companion (from another class) who you’ve never met be the betrayer. It sounds ‘personal’ for whoever the betrayer is.
We can rule out some of the newer characters as well including Arcann, Senya and Koth given that again there is the option to kill those characters (and because they die by your hand if you choose to kill them so they can’t come back). This leaves us with the four Alliance Specialists (Aygo, Dr Orrogaub, Hylo and Sana), Shae Vizla, Satele (?) and pretty much everyone in the Alliance and other characters outside the Alliance you’ve interacted with. Hell, it could even be the guy we’re seen talking to at the start of the story (pictured below). I don’t think it could be Jace Malcolm or Empress Acina either given that one of them dies in the story depending on your choice of faction.
But the elephant in the room. Could it be Theron or Lana? I would really really really really really hate it if either of them turned out to be the hooded figure. It would just be awful. Really, terribly awful. To think that after all the time and effort they’ve put into helping you build the Alliance that they would then decide to betray you? I can’t see it happening and I would be super pissed off if the ‘hooded figure’ ended up being either one of them.
Ideally, the hooded figure is someone who is not directly in the Alliance but someone who has agents/spies in the Alliance and perhaps the Empire or Republic and/or a means of getting into all of their communications. However, the use of the phrasing ‘betrayer‘ and ‘the rage in your shadow‘ does imply some sort of personal connection. Or it could be someone who is incredibly jealous of your accomplishments and is ‘beneath you’ in skill or achievements. Perhaps someone you’ve come across who once allied with you but now hates you. See how I don’t want to take the wording too literally?
I’m also really am desperate for the hooded figure to not be Theron or Lana. But unfortunately, there is no evidence to fully rule them out. They could both fit the profile to some degree depending on choices you’ve made throughout the story which leads me to one last theory.
One last possibility to consider is that this hooded figure is a different person depending on what decisions you’ve made throughout the KOTFE/KOTET story. Yes, realistically this is unlikely (given both the story and technical complications?) but given how the story has branched off to the point where there are now two different stories I don’t want to rule out that possibility just yet. Maybe our choices have mattered all along?
I did appreciate the tension the potential traitor caused in the Alliance. On my Sith Warrior, I choose to spy and monitor/question everyone and on my Jedi Knight, I choose not to spy on the Alliance. However, Theron is already supposed to be monitoring Alliance communications anyway (mail we get from Theron after Chapter 9 of KOTFE I think it was) so I was slightly confused by why this was a big deal even though it was already happening on a smaller scale. But I think it suited my Sith to be a lot more paranoid and want more vigorous monitoring of the Alliance and for my Jedi to be content with the amount of monitoring already happening.
The Gods and Scions
It is quite interesting seeing them continue to draw on Zakuulan mythology for the story. It was pretty apparent that given that we knew that Iokath droids had gone to Zakuul previously that they had a role to play in shaping Zakuulan society before Vitiate came along. When you speak to the Scions (after doing a couple of those daily missions), they tell you more about TYTH and the other gods and how they ravaged Zakuul a long time ago. They also ominously tell you that you’re destined to take on the gods and if proved worthy, can assume their mantle but your fate beyond that is undecided. How poetically cryptic of them.
You get this codex entry after talking to the Scions further explaining the situation:
It was also fascinating to learn exactly what happened to the race who built Iokath and how that could have an impact (if you wanted it to) on your choice of what to do with the superweapon. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing all the Operations bosses, especially their personalities and how that part of the story plays out in regards to the superweapon.
It was disappointing to not see other characters/companions from KOTFE/KOTET get any screentime in the Iokath story. Although pretty much outside of Theron and Lana all the other characters have story restrictions based on the option to kill them meaning not everyone would have all the characters anyway. It wouldn’t be easy to account for the various choices we’ve been able to make throughout the story. So ultimately, its easier to just leave them all out of the story. Although, one thing that would be nice is to get mail from the ones who you chose to let live (especially if they were class companions). Like Arcann, Senya, Koth, Aric, Kaliyo, T7 etc.
I was relieved that there was some (brief to the point where I almost missed it) acknowledgement of my romance with Theron on my Jedi Knight. But I was kind of hoping for more. I was hoping for a moment with Theron at the same point in the story my Sith Warrior had a moment with Quinn. That would have been nice. But I guess I can hope for more mail from him? (Hint hint!)
One last thing that was barely really touched on (which was again a little disappointing) was how your decision to side with one faction over the other will impact on the Eternal Alliance given the Alliance is made of individuals from both factions. There is more tension created by choosing to spy on everyone in the Alliance than there was to support one faction of the other which I found a little odd. Hopefully, in the next lot of story, we’ll see more tension and consequences within the Alliance due to your decision on who you sided with.
So what now?
It is abundantly clear now that our player characters (I refuse to call them ‘the Outlander’ anymore), Theron and Lana are the stars of the story. They’ve also pigeonholed the story into two different outcomes which they’ve been slowly developing for a long time it seems. One ‘light side’ and one ‘dark side’. Will they continue with this? I’m not sure but it would certainly be interesting to see our choices finally really having an impact on the story. What will the consequences be for the Alliance? Will the events in the story ever affect the open world/greater galaxy of SWTOR? I highly doubt it, unfortunately. While I didn’t fully like how the story played out on Iokath, I am curious to see where they take the story given the two different outcomes depending on faction chosen.
While I didn’t fully like how the story played out on Iokath, I am curious to see where they take the story given the two different outcomes depending on faction chosen.
The next lot of story we’re getting is going to be in a flashpoint (yes, an actual vanilla style flashpoint according to Teo on OotinCast Episode 306) set on the planet Umbara in Game Update 5.3 (date and more details TBA).
What did you think of the Iokath story? What do you think the consequences of our decisions will be and are you looking forward to seeing what they do in the story?