After a significant hiatus, I have returned to finish my goal of completing all of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s class stories. Just two to go. First up, Jedi knight.
If you ask most people what the best SWTOR class story is, most people will say agent, but second place is usually given to the knight story, which also receives almost universal praise.
I disagree with that praise, but I kind of understand where it comes from. You see, the knight story is the truest of all the class stories to the feel of Star Wars. It’s just like the movies.
That is to say the characters are paper thin, the acting is spectacularly wooden, and the whole thing is riddled with massive plot-holes. It’s pure spectacle, full of action, adventure, and excitement, but no brains and no heart.
Just like the movies.
Let’s start at the beginning, with chapter one. Oh, wow, chapter one is something else. I guess it’s a welcome case of faction equality. Normally you need to play Imperial to watch your character’s superiors achieve this level of cartoonish evil and clownish incompetence.
Chapter one of the Jedi knight story is such an utter mess it starts bleeding into the realm of “so bad it’s good.” It reminds me of Attack of the Clones. Unintentional comedy, but effective comedy nonetheless.
My favourite part is the Deathmark. A terrifying superweapon that can shoot dead anyone on the planet with no warning… as long as an assassin can get within 10-20 feet to target them.
In other words, it’s a “superweapon” that’s significantly less effective than a conventional sniper rifle.
Also, it’s a satellite. Why couldn’t we just shoot it down? Why was I running up and down Alderaan trying to find the control centre? My ship has guns on it…
Chapter two also makes the Republic and Jedi out to be idiots, though by then they’ve been upgraded to well-intentioned idiots. Still, as I’ve said before, it’s hard to be invested in a story that derives all its drama from the incompetence of its protagonists.
Chapter two is also later undermined by revelations in chapter three. If droids are immune, why didn’t we just send a droid army in the first place?
As for chapter three itself, it’s… not bad, actually. A little by the numbers, but it works, mostly. Kind of too little too late by that point, but it’s something.
Trouble is it’s not just the main plot that’s the problem. The Jedi consular story faltered near the end, but it still worked because by then you were invested in the characters. The knight story offers no such emotional hook, having one of the weakest companion line-ups of any class.
T7 joins Jorgan, Kaliyo, and Khem in the ranks of awful first companions. It’s pretty hard in the first place to form an attachment to a beeping metal box, but even if he weren’t a talking toaster, T7 still would have been a terrible character. What an obnoxious, over the top Mary Sue.
I thought I was going to like Kira because she’s played by Laura Bailey, who’s one of my favourite voice actresses, but to be honest she’s just kind of a flat character. A one-dimensional “bad girl.” Her backstory is pretty interesting — much more interesting than the player’s, in fact; like Elara, I wound up wishing we were playing as her — but the whole thing wraps up way too fast.
Also, while I think Jedi concerns over falling to the dark side are usually dogma and paranoia, I have to say Kira is one person who may actually be at serious risk of going full Vader at some point. I particularly liked the part where she casually mentions how it’d be cool if the Jedi overthrew the Senate and turned the Republic into a theocracy.
Then there’s Doc, who is just unctuous and insufferable on every level, and Rusk, who somehow manages to be even more of a robot than the actual robot on the crew.
Finally, we have Lord Scourge, who is actually pretty cool. He’s a little too hardcore Sith even for my taste sometimes, but on the whole he’s a pretty interesting character. Twisted, yet not without a certain strange nobility.
It’s a shame he didn’t show up during the Fallen Empire/Eternal Throne arc. Seems like he should have.
Interestingly, the most compelling character of the knight story by far isn’t a companion at all, but Tala-Reh of Voss. She is easily more likable and more interesting than all the knight companions combined, and it’s a crying shame she was relegated to a one-off character for a single planetary arc. I know I’d much rather have a beautifully tragic warrior-poet on my crew than Microwave Mary Sue, Sergeant Killbot, or Dr. Nick Riviera.
A bit of a tangent, but since we’re on the subject, how many dumptrucks of money do I have to drive up to Bioware to make Voss a playable race? Yes, I know that would be problematic from a lore perspective, but I’m willing to handwave that. I want to be a Voss. They’re just too cool.
With all of that ranting, though, I still haven’t gotten to the worst part of the knight story: The knight himself.
His voice acting is just so utterly lifeless and monotone throughout. It’s utterly impossible to inject any kind of personality into the character, no matter what choices you make. It sucks all of the soul out of the story.
I suppose I could have rerolled as a female, but from what I’ve seen, the female knight voice isn’t much better. I think “the knight has no personality” may have been a deliberate design choice on Bioware’s part, because I know the female knight is voiced by the same actress who did Kirsten Geary in TSW, and while I think Geary is a bit overrated, I could never claim she lacks for personality.
(Plus she also voiced Madame Roget and Bong Cha, and those are characters I liked just fine.)
As for good news? Well, I enjoyed playing the class as much as I ever enjoy anything in SWTOR. The spec I chose has a really tight combo at the heart of its rotation that feels really satisfying to use. Being a DoT spec seems to mitigate the pain of SWTOR’s button bloat a bit. No point in using every DoT on weaker enemies. There’s actual decisions to make in the rotation.
So it’s not all bad, but in short, the Jedi knight story failed to impress. I still wouldn’t say it’s the worst class story, though. I don’t think anyone’s depriving trooper of that honour at this point. The knight story was many things, but at least it wasn’t boring.
One more to go.
Get your boots on, Mako. It’s time.