Here’s Where the Story Ends

Despite SWTOR being in an end of expansion lull, there is a lot of stuff worth discussing happening in the lead up to the Legacy of the Sith expansion, and I’ve been struggling to snatch one notion out of the ether to discuss. Prompted by Shintar’s recent review and motivated by a desire to get my own hot take on the record before the weather turns cold, I’ll start with a long overdue look of the flashpoint, Secrets of the Enclave. Beware! There will be some light spoilers ahead.

Secrets of the Enclave is a lush and loving tribute to one of the Knights of the Old Republic era’s most famous locations, the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. Abandoned for centuries, nature has begun to reclaim the complex, and it’s fun to explore the ruins like a Star Wars equivalent of Indiana Jones.

The flashpoint is not long, but players will move through a remarkably diverse series of environments, starting outside among Dantooine’s rolling hills, then down into caves leading into the ruin, and finally through the crumbling libraries and halls and council chambers of the enclave itself.

The previous flashpoint, The Spirit of Vengeance was criticized for its copious trash packs and over-tuned bosses, but Secrets dials those issues back, and players in all modes should have no problem making their way through. I especially appreciate that power-ups have made their way from Uprisings into the flashpoint, even if they are not necessary to overcome any of the challenges facing the players. An experienced group should not have any problem with the flashpoint even on the Master Mode difficulty, with the optional bonus boss presenting the flashpoint’s greatest challenge.

All of Onslaught’s flashpoints have experimented with new mechanics and graphics to telegraph special attacks, and it’s cool to see the trend continue. Secrets may be the first time SWTOR has used a fear mechanic in the game and seeing friends react to it was most amusing! I hope to see more of these types of innovations in future flashpoints and operations.

Like other recent flashpoints, Secrets has plenty of weird achievements and unique decorations to discover. However, this time around, the drop rates for the decorations is quite low on Story and Veteran modes. If you want to farm those cool decos, you’ll have to start running Master mode!

Regarding the story of the flashpoint, I think it’s interesting that while Darth Malgus is the MacGuffin driving the action, Secrets is more about what happened to people Malgus has left in his destructive wake. Aryn Leneer and Darth Krovos are quite literally haunted by Malgus, and it’s fascinating to see their differing reactions, from Aryn’s fear to Krovos’ denial. Likewise the supporting characters get moments to shine as well. For Republic players, it’s satisfying to see Arn Peralun coming into his own as a Jedi. And on the Sith side, I kind of adore Darth Rivix. He clearly has his own agenda and has no interest in being another Alliance flunky. Figuring out how my characters want to deal with him and watching other players’ reactions has been a treat. Secrets continues Onslaught‘s tradition of also taking time to revisit characters from SWTOR‘s rich history. I was happy to see the return of Leeha Narezz from the Jedi Knight story, but not surprisingly the years seem to have burdened her with a great deal of anger towards the Sith.

All that said, however, if Secrets of the Enclave is to be the conclusion of Onslaught’s story, it feels lacking. If you’ll forgive the metaphor, Onslaught seems to be ending on an ellipsis instead of an exclamation point or question mark.

Compare Onslaught to SWTOR’s previous cliffhangers. Shadows of Revan’s climax has us saying “Oh, shit! The Emperor’s back, and he’s pissed!” The final chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire asks, “Did we just make things worse by allowing Vaylin to claim the Eternal Throne?”

Onslaught, by comparison, is ending with open-ended questions.

Darth Malgus is out there, and he’s up to something…

Heta Kol is out there, and she’s up to something…

Heta Kol remains a cypher, and Malgus’ motivations are opaque. I feel like we needed at least one more story beat to bring either or both of those plot threads into focus or together to build excitement for the next part of the story.

Don’t get me wrong, Secrets of the Enclave is a terrific addition to the game; it is arguably the strongest of Onslaught‘s new flashpoints, and whether or not you’re a KOTOR fan, it’s worth a visit.  But Legacy of the Sith is still a ways off, and storywise it feels like we’re just cruising towards it, and I wish Onslaught‘s finale accelerated the stakes a bit more in the lead up to our next big adventure.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Onslaught

2 Responses to Here’s Where the Story Ends

  1. The telegraphs on the bonus boss have been interesting, especially that they appear to have been patched in later. I remember during my first few runs I was hopelessly confused by how I was supposed to react to certain mechanics, but more recently there were suddenly arrows and stuff that made me go: “Ooh, that makes sense now!”

    Personally I don’t mind the more open-ended nature of the current storyline – those big cliffhangers you cite were quite long ago now, and I’ve got used to the more episodic flow of content since then… though I will admit that it makes the points at which they decide to insert an expansion feel a bit random. The return of Malgus started before Onslaught and isn’t wrapped up by its end, so what has Onslaught really been about as an expac? The one thing that came to a satisfying conclusion was Echoes of Oblivion, but then that only tied into the main events quite loosely. And where does the Mandalorian stuff fit in? Here’s hoping LotS will provide some answers.

    • TWIA-Mark

      I like the new telegraphs and warning symbols, although it took a few runs and good screen shots before I fully could make sense of them. If they are to become standard in flashpoints and ops, and I hope they do, we’ll definitely need a guide or two explaining them to folks.

      Onslaught overall has felt rather scattershot. It’s about the Republic-Sith war! Or, maybe’s it about Malgus! Wait, it’s about the Emperor again! Nope, it’s about the Mandalorians! Nah, Malgus is a back, sorta! I’ve enjoyed all the pieces but they haven’t formed a cohesive whole. I guess I keep looking for the big picture, but, as you say, the structure is more classically episodic, and it has allowed SWTOR to go off on tangents without having to awkwardly justify them like they had to during Fallen Empire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.