Echoes of Vengeance Review

This week I’d like to share some spoiler free thoughts on SWTOR‘s Game Update 6.2, Echoes of Vengeance. I won’t lie, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to SWTOR‘s first significant story update of 2020. I doubt there is anyone out there from the players to the developers who isn’t disappointed that we didn’t get more story this year, but I do think the game has closed out the year with a bang.

Echoes of Oblivion

MMOs aren’t really known for endings. To one extent or another, they’re all about keeping the treadmill running and hyping up the next big thing. Echoes of Oblivion, however, feels like the capstone to a journey started nine years ago. It ties together the major strands and story beats woven through eight class stories and all of the expansions, and brings them together for a conclusion that felt to me immensely satisfying.

There are the expected heroes and villains doing their thing, a few pleasant surprises, and one or two things put right that had gone wrong. In service of the story, there is once again an incredible setting to explore. We visited a similar mindscape before during Knights of the Eternal Throne, but this time the environment seems to have been modeled on the landscape of a brain with synapse-like paths connecting suspended islands of memories illuminated by glowing neuron-like formations. It’s unique and fantastic, and I definitely recommend taking your time to look around as you make your way through this adventure.

The who story itself is appropriately epic with moments of high drama and even a funny running joke early on. Each of the major non-player characters get a moment to shine and be cool, but none of it feels like kill-stealing or overshadowing of our characters. It’s our choices and actions have made it all possible and brought us to the end of all things.

With so many story beats and characters to juggle, it’s not surprising, however, that not every thread got pulled, even ones that perhaps should have. The climax surely could’ve had more personal impact if the Consular’s Shielding technique or the Inquisitor’s Forcewalking powers had been invoked. Moreover, I think it’s fair that players of Jedi Knights who have newly reignited or recently started romances with Kira and Scourge might be disappointed that their relationships weren’t acknowledged on-screen, despite their major roles in the story. I know there are countless combinations of characters and companions, and I don’t envy Bioware’s task of finding space for them all, but it does feel like any romances outside of Lana and Theron have gotten the short end of the stick for quite a while now.

I suppose I could also argue that Echoes of Oblivion is just SWTOR taking a victory lap, but if it is, it’s well deserved. Bringing a decade’s worth of story told by countless writers, artists, designers, developers and players to a rewarding climax is no mean feat, and the good folks at Bioware should be commended for sticking the landing.

The Spirit of Vengeance

But, of course, this is not the end. No sooner have we caught our breath than a new threat has emerged, and we’re off to a new flashpoint, the Spirit of Vengeance. Given the popularity of The Mandalorian, it’s not shocking that SWTOR would want to explore Mandalorian’s unique brand of politics. But they’re hardly riding any coattails. Generations of Star Wars fans have been mad about this stuff since Boba Fett made his debut in 1978, and SWTOR has been having fun with Mandos since launch. If the show’s popularity is an excuse for a deeper dive, I’m cool with that.

The flashpoint focuses on three clans familiar to SWTOR players, and each section is distinctive, giving the whole flashpoint a sense of progression. I’ve run the SoV on solo, veteran and master modes and each of the boss fights are pretty fun, although it’s not always clear how their mechanics work. I’m still not sure how best to deal with Bask Sunn’s tether and Troya Ajak’s songbird volley. That said, aside from the healing check on Troya, I didn’t find the flashpoint too taxing on Master Mode, especially as compared to the Onslaught‘s other new flashpoint, Objective Meridian. It is a long flashpoint, and that may not be for everyone. Personally, I consider Hammer Station speed runs to be the death of fun, so I am more than fine spending some extra time in SoV. That said, a group of four should have no problem moving through at a reasonable click. Curiously, I found solo the slowest mode since I had to slog through all the trash by myself. I wouldn’t mind if those power-ups from the Uprisings were a standard feature of solo-modes. A thermal devastator or two certainly would have come in handy!

Dar’manda

The flashpoint comes with numerous decorations to collect including three new Mandalorian themed posters. One can be seen below.

While the two other posters are written using the Mando’a font, this one is in Aurebesh, and for good reason. It features Indigo, leader of a clan of  Mandalorian exiles called Dar’manda who we met on Mek Sha. To their credit, the Dar’manda understand that it would be completely inappropriate for them to use the Mando’a language in their propaganda.

At first, I thought the text of this poster was a fairly basic aphorism, but in thinking about it in the context of the story and setting, it’s clear to me that the rewards being promised here are not the honor and glory sought by your bog-standard Mando, but far more material rewards. “Besom better have my credits,” as they might put it.

The logo at the bottom is a variation on the mythosaur skull and the standard Mandalorian T-shaped visor and helmet seen across Mandalorian lore. I don’t know if this is the first appearance of the symbol, but it’s pretty cool, and I hope we will get to see it in other contexts again.

I confess I went with a quick and dirty recreation here in hopes of publishing my take on the game update’s content while it was still somewhat hot. However, when I return next year, I plan to take a look at the two Mando’a posters in greater detail.

The Undiscovered Country

As this honestly crappy year comes to a close, I’m looking forward to the next. This silly blog, SWTOR and the good people with whom I’m honored to play have all been things that made a 2020 a lot easier to take. Next year is SWTOR’s tenth anniversary, and as Echoes of Oblivion closes the door on one adventure, the Spirit of Vengeance opens the path to another. Let’s see where it leads.

Stay safe, have fun and may the Force be with us all!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General SWTOR

6 Responses to Echoes of Vengeance Review

  1. Thank you for another interesting read! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts (and discussing them in game). Also, thank you for touching on my newest pet peeve concerning Jedi Knights 😉

    The level designers must have had fun with that story area, and I came away with a couple of pretty new screenshots. That the landscape is modelled after neural connections hadn’t even occurred to me, but now that you mention it the influence is obvious, and makes perfect sense.

    I absolutely agree that the new Flashpoint is a great plot hook, I’m very curious to see where this story will go. I also appreciated Bioware giving Torian a moment there (provided he’s still around). That is exactly what I’d like to see more of: not necessarily a long and involved interaction, but just a nod towards beloved long-time companions.

    (And yes, I’d also like to know how to deal with that tether…)

    • TWIA-Mark TWIA-Mark

      I must confess it was Alaer who pointed out the area’s similarities to neural connections. I’d been wondering what those glowing rock formations were and when I heard him say that the bridges were synapses, I realized those things were active neurons!

      As for Torian, I’m gonna have to finish KotET with someone who keeps him alive so I can check out his contribution to the story! My Vette bias is showing…

  2. Avatar Rye

    I haven’t run the story yet. SoV is a ton of fun and incredible to explore. I didn’t realize 😉 there was a tether issue… but those pesky song birds are trouble even if I am only the healer.

    Looking forward to 2021, since 2020 has been a pit. However, 2020 did bring me New Out Rider membership and lovely friends, so not a total bust. Intisar, thank you for stewarding this NOR family. As always, I enjoy your insights to this game.

    Happy New Year!

    • TWIA-Mark TWIA-Mark

      Aw, thank you, Rye! I am, of course, nothing without my team and guild mates, and I’m grateful you could join the fun! And, yes, let’s crush 2021!

  3. Ooh, I hadn’t seen that Dar’manda poster before! I guess that implies that the Mandos in the flashpoint are affiliated with Indigo? I wouldn’t expect all outcasts to be members of one big club but I did wonder…

    And I agree that the flashpoint mechanics on master mode are a bit of a mystery still… for us, it’s oddly been the first boss who’s either an easy one-shot or a wipefest and we’re still not 100% sure what’s going wrong when it’s the latter…

    • TWIA-Mark TWIA-Mark

      I think he gets tougher the more you interrupt him, but don’t quote me on that. Or maybe he starts one shooting ranged at the end?

      As for the Dar’manda I kind got the impression from Onslaught that there were less a clan than a club, just a bunch of ex-Mandos who teamed up to make money together. Maybe Indigo gets a cut from whatever action is going on in SOV, but I don’t know if he is necessarily involved or directing things.

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