This week, at long last, let’s finally take a trip to the newest world added to Star Wars: The Old Republic: Ruhnuk. SWTOR’s Game Update 7.2 Showdown on Ruhnuk revisits the Mandalorian conflict begun in Onslaught’s Spirit of Vengeance flashpoint and the challenge to Shae Vizla’s rule from the mysterious Heta Kol. If you’ve yet to check out the new update, don’t worry, I’ll be keeping this light on spoilers.
This is an addition to the game that I very much enjoyed. Ruhnuk from the air is a stark, stony environment, but once you settle into its lush river canyons, the world’s beauty reveals itself. The stories told on Ruhnuk do a nice job leading players across the world’s zones, and the planet’s various exterior and interior spaces feel different enough to keep things fresh as we progress.
This update further explores Mandalorian culture which is very much front and center in the most popular Star Wars lore these days. However, this time, our character, the Alliance Commander steps aside to let Shae Vizla take the lead in this adventure. I found it amusing that Shae’s seems to treat my character in a way that SWTOR traditionally treats our companions. I’m quite okay with that. Since Fallen Empire, SWTOR has so strongly focused on the Outlander/Commander as the key figure in the larger conflict that it is nice to see the narrative put the attention elsewhere for a bit. Shae is a character with ties so deep in SWTOR lore, that it doesn’t feel out of place to give her the spotlight for a bit.
Showdown on Ruhunk’s story of feuding Mandalorian clans is the most epic in scope we’ve seen since Fallen Empire, and I had fun watching it all play out. This chapter also integrates lost Jedi Padawan Sahar Kateen and her brother Ri’kan into the narrative, so it also successfully keeps SWTOR’s main story in motion as well, and our trip to Ruhnuk doesn’t quite feel like the distraction that the events on Manaan did.
I have not yet played Showdown on Ruhnuk with a character who saved Torian during Knights of the Eternal Throne, but it was nice to see Akaavi Spar involved in the story’s events. I think Akaavi is an under-rated companion, and I’ve come to appreciate my characters’ interactions with her even if they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Likewise I enjoyed the interplay between and with the Ordo brothers, both of whom I’ve become quite fond of since their introduction. Akaavi, Jekiah and Rass are three very different characters that do a good job showing the range of personalities that those who call themselves Mandalorian can still have.
To my great surprise, the end of the main story was not the end of my time on Ruhnuk. It was, in fact, only the beginning. A second story, which I cynically assumed was meant only to introduce the daily area, once again had me criss-crossing Ruhnuk on an entirely new adventure. And then there was the “Relic Hunt” which has the players exploring the world’s hidden corners for power-ups and eventually the game’s latest Datacron.
I always take things slow, and it took me a few weeks on Ruhnuk before all I had left to do there was the daily quests. If this is to be the model for new additions going forward, I highly approve!
Before I talk about Ruhnuk as a daily area, I should describe my approach to dailies these days. I mostly avoid daily areas now. To be honest, I’m bored with Conquest. Outside of Galactic and PVP Season objectives that also score Conquest points, I am not particularly motivated to do the same objectives I’ve been doing for years on end. With one odd exception I have not visited CZ-198 or the Black Hole since last fall. I know they are good sources of credits and Conquest, but I feel like I’ve done that content more than enough and I want to spend my time doing other things for a while.
I have never measured my playtime by the metric of credits-per-minute. This probably explains why the dailies I prefer are on Ziost and Iokath, two areas with unusual mechanics and less emphasis on traditional combat. During Legacy of the Sith, the majority of my daily questing has been during once a week visits to the Manaan Invasion Zone and most recently, Ruhnuk. In both cases, I progresses my reputation at a slow and steady pace, and once I capped out the reputations associated with both zones, I haven’t revisited either since.
As a daily area, Ruhnuk definitely tends towards the Iokath side of things. You can’t zip over to Ruhnuk and expect to blaze through it like CZ-198. While I was working on the Mandalorian Trat’ade (“Forces”) on Ruhnuk reputation track, I’d set aside an hour or so of time to complete the weekly quest and heroics.
And here’s the thing: I had fun doing it. I’ve often written about how I enjoy the exploration aspects of the MMO experience. I don’t mind getting lost or turned around; I like figuring out the best ways to traverse a zone, and it did take me a few weeks until I felt like I always knew where I was when on Ruhnuk.
My time on Ruhnuk was not without hitches. Looking back, I wish I’d completed the Relic Hunt quest chain before focusing on the dailies and reputation track because having access to the Jump Pad shortcuts really make a difference when questing there. In my final weeks doing the dailies with the perks unlocked, I felt comfortable on the planet and cleared the dailies at a pace that felt good to me.
Do I plan to keep going back every week? Nope. And I’m fine with that. I don’t think whether Ruhnuk should be deemed a success should hinge on how fast it takes to do the dailies or how efficient it is as a source of Conquest. If I want quick Conquest points, there are dozens of things to do in SWTOR that I’ve done dozens of times to score those points. I’d rather judge a zone by how I felt exploring it and what nooks and crannies I discovered on the way.
Because it doesn’t feel like we’re done on Ruhnuk. The second story involving Lane Vizla and Clan Ha’rangir certainly feels unfinished. And there are interactable objects and extra areas all over the world that seem like they might be relevant to adventures to come.
Until then the reputation track offers a ton of cool decorations (not to mention the dozens I looted while questing), a fun mount and one of the best looking Legacy armor sets in the game. At the very least, the Legacy titles unlocked along the way “Be’mand’alor Tomad”/”Mandalore’s Ally” and “Par’jilla Gehat’ik”/”A Tale of Triumph” are cool for anyone roleplaying a Bounty Hunter. I don’t feel like my time on Ruhnuk was wasted.
Well, mostly. I farmed up the two items necessary to unlock the “Wraid Night” achievement and discovered that the drop rate for one, the Fresh Dewback Corpse, is way, way too low. I told my guild-mates we’d complete the achievement on our fun run night, and in preparation I spent hours upon hours over three days mindlessly killing dewbacks. This reminded me of those truly awful vanilla World of Warcraft quests with horrible drop rates, and what should’ve been a fun and funny achievement left an extremely sour taste in my mouth.
My other wish is that the power-up perks unlocked by the Relic Hunt quest should be Legacy wide, especially since the hunt ends with the discovery of Ruhnuk’s Datacron whose benefit does apply to my entire Legacy. As I mentioned earlier, those perks make questing on Ruhnuk easier, and I think it’s fair that alts have convenient access to them since there is no need for them to hunt down the Datacron.
Finally, let’s take a look at a brand new Mandalorian banner, which we discover on Ruhnuk and can be also unlocked as a stronghold decoration. The banner belongs to Clan Ha’rangir, the latest erstwhile Mandalorian clan to have joined Heta Kol’s crusade. This banner is interesting to examine because there are elements of its design that directly relate to what kind of clan Ha’rangir is.
Most obviously, the writing on it is not Mandalorian at all. It’s the ancient script that SWTOR players first encountered on Ossus, and is typically associated in Star Wars lore with the Jedi and Sith. But not in all cases. After seizing control of Jabba the Hutt’s palace, Boba Fett sits on a throne engraved with this ancient form of writing. I think we can conclude that both the Hutts and Clan Ha’rangir chose this “language” to establish and connect themselves to something that is not just old and traditional, but something ancient and immemorial.
Likewise, the clan itself is named after the Mandalorian god of the underworld Kad Ha’rangir; indeed, its clan leader Kur Ha’rangir claims to be a descendant of the god himself, a bold claim to make in any era, but especially in one where the Mandalorians don’t seem to be particularly religious. It does do a lot to suggest that the goals and methods of Clan Ha’rangir aren’t just old fashioned, they’re positively medieval.
It will probably not come as a shock to learn that the symbol emblazoned on the banner is not a traditional Mandalorian Mythosaur skull, but a helmet that matches the only known depiction in Star Wars lore of Kad Ha’rangir who is shown wearing armor festooned with barbs, spines and spikes, and that is reflected in its symbolic appearance on the banner.
I am no expert in Mando’a, the Mandalorian language, but my best guess for a translation of “Ha’rangir” would be something along the lines of “Hell Fish” which suggests to me that Kad Ha’rangir is decked out in armor inspired not by a Porcupine as it might appear at first glance, but rather a Puffer Fish. I’m certain Kur Ha’rangir would condemn me as a heretic for such a assertion, but I stand by my interpretation.
As we discover on Ruhnuk, Clan Ha’rangir’s focus is on restoring a mythical past that probably never really existed while ruthlessly consuming whatever resources it takes to make their vision of Mandalore a reality. The motto on their banner speaks of tradition, but it’s a hollow promise, nothing more than a flimsy excuse for more war and conquest without regard for the future of the Mandalorian traditions they obliterate along the way.