SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire Preview – A Return to BioWare Storytelling

While at E3 2015 I had a chance to meet with senior development team members who work on Star Wars: The Old Republic. They had something new to share with me, an upcoming expansion titled Knights of the Fallen Empire.

Knights of the Fallen Empire is a package that BioWare calls the “largest story driven expansion to-date”. I was shown a 10 minute live demonstration that substantiated this claim, showcasing the great storytelling that BioWare is known for

During the demonstration the player Jedi Knight Guardian was shown venturing through a large-scale area defended by new units. There was a great sense of scale in the environment which was taken advantage of when the player would launch an enemy off the side of a platform, sending them hundreds of feet down to their death. Sequences of story were prevalent, with a couple epic moments where the player was able to make a narrative-altering decision (they were kind enough to allow me to make these decisions). These moments were punctuated with great voice acting and the best cinematic pacing I’ve seen from the game.

 

There are many decisions to be made in Knights of the Fallen Empire.

I took the opportunity to ask the team how they feel about the binary morality system in SWTOR, where players commonly feel a responsibility to commit to being either good or evil. They responded by saying that there won’t be rewards for being one or the other, and instead they feel that players will recognize that they are able to choose the outcome that best fits each situation no matter their moral alignment. The reward will be a sequence of events that are a direct result of that decision.

One element of the new story content that was emphasized was its single-player orientation. The story elements of Knights of the Fallen Empire are designed to be enjoyed alone, and harken back to the glory days of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic due to widespread fan request. This is an MMORPG, so you will enjoy content with other players, but from what I can tell the major selling point are the instanced narrative pieces which are interwoven between the game’s multiplayer world.

Noticing the addition of new class skills, I questioned if there will be any theme behind the skills. The team replied that mobility and pacing is something most classes will see improve with the expansion. It is likely that new dungeon and raid encounters will require a lot of movement from players.

This is one of the new units, the Sky Trooper.

Due to Knights of the Fallen Empire‘s close release proximity to Star Wars Episode 7 I asked if there will be any tie-ins that players can look for. The team responded that due to SWTOR‘s events taking place several thousand years before the films, there will be no elements of the film present in the expansion. They then shared that they feel honored to be able to craft their own story and explore the universe without some of the constraints that are usually present in a game based on a huge property like Star Wars.

Equipped with nine chapters and more to come, SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire will debut as an expansion free to all subscribers ($14.99/month). With that purchase will come a free level 60 boost for a single character, allowing players of all kinds, new and old, to enjoy the new chapters which extend from level 60 to 65. The team did share with me that they have made an effort to design the early content to introduce new players to high-level play.

SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire will debut on October 20th exclusively for PC.