This interesting new addon won't please everybody.
By vencha88 on May 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm
Rise of the Hutt Cartel, the first expansion to The Old Republic, was released last month with a promise of fresh content to play through and more carrots to chase by upping the level cap from 50 to 55. So, with the galaxy saved and level 50 reached, my character headed back to his starship, to find a holocall waiting for him. After a cutscene featuring a delightful action sequence with some training droids, and a conversation about the imminent destruction of Makeb, my giant green Jedi zoomed off to the newest entry in Star Wars lore.
Players on the Republic side are tasked with trying to push the titular Hutt Cartel off the planet Makeb and save it from a mysterious energy that is pulling it apart at its core. Much of the story quest is well written, and provides ample opportunity to leave people for dead, save villages, flirt with daughters and all the other things one expects from modern RPG dialogue.
Many of the new cutscenes are a treat, with panoramic shots of your starship, hammy action sequences and general Jedi awesomeness. RotHC works towards adding some excitement into the conversations of your main character, who in previous cutscenes has been mostly static.
In the background, the planet Makeb makes a passable effort towards providing some fresh scenery. Its horizon is lined with towering mesas, while the ground has plenty of jagged rocks, canyons and mercenary bases to stop you staring into the sky for too long.
Like all other planets in TOR, Makeb has a long, fully voiced storyline that takes you across the entire zone to complete its many objectives. But unlike other planets, Makeb does little to give you something to do in between these objectives. Normally, you’d have quite a few side quests with dialogue cutscenes, then whatever you had to do would be spaced roughly between your location and the major storyline’s next objective.
For some reason, BioWare Austin have decided to forgo this and instead place repeatable daily quests in each area. These are almost always issued with a text popup and seem to invariably involve accessing a computer console of some kind, because apparently space-faring races enjoy leaving computers out on the patio. These quests are relatively short and only repeatable once a day, which means that you’re required to spend a fair amount of time moving between objectives by just grinding through mobs.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a bonus mission to give you some extra experience for killing them, but mostly you’re just grinding. This impersonal approach to side quests makes it hard to stay engaged with what you’re doing, as every story beat is followed by a mind-numbing mob-grind.
The new hope in RotHC is the addition of space binoculars macrobinoculars and scanner droids. These two new features come with brand new quest lines attached to them, both of which send you back to planets you’ve previously been on to find hidden items and new areas.
For example, the first quest for the macrobinoculars takes you back to Coruscant, a low-level planet, so you can search out droids and transmitters placed by a mysterious spy known as “The Shroud”. With a press of a button, you enter a first-person binocular view which allows you to zoom in on otherwise inaccessible places to scan the devices left by The Shroud. After finding all the objects in an area, you’re presented with a new objective that leads you to a hidden room inside a cantina. Here, you use the binoculars once again to solve a puzzle which finally allows you to confront one of The Shroud’s lieutenants. The addition of new, more puzzle-based questing makes for a really refreshing change in the TOR experience, and one which I’d like to see expanded on.
Alongside this new style of quest, RotHC also adds a fairly standard achievement system that rewards you with titles for completing some of the harder tasks, along with a range of class tweaks designed to remove previously unused skills and add additional ones for the five extra talent points players will receive. As well as these, RotHC offers new end game dungeons to take on with your guild — but as I’m not part of such a guild, I unfortunately can’t comment on their quality.
What Rise of the Hutt Cartel fails to add is an extension to The Old Republic‘s greatest selling point: its class quests. As I previously mentioned, planets in TOR had their own story that stretched over the time you spent in that area, backed up by a unique, fully voiced class-specific quest-line that stayed with you for your entire levelling career. I had hoped that RotHC would continue these brilliant class quests for another five levels, but I can only assume that budget constraints have forced BioWare Austin’s hand and prevented them from extending these. This makes most of the content feel more like an epilogue, rather than an extension to the grand story your character has participated in thus far.
With only the planet-wide quest and the new puzzle-style quests engaging me, and the grinding and lack of a personal story quest force-pushing me away, I found the expansion to be — for me, at least — wholly unnecessary. If you’re still playing and just eager for anything new to do on your max level characters, RotHC is worth looking into. But if you’ve previously left TOR and are waiting to see if this new content makes it worth getting back in, then this isn’t the expansion you’re looking for.
- Cutscenes are a step above the vanilla game.
- Planetwide story is fun, ample roleplaying opportunity
- New puzzle quests
- No addition to personal story
- Gets very grindy at times
Rise of the Hutt Cartel costs $9.99 for subscribers and $19.99 for free players. You can buy it at the official SWTOR website.
This review copy of the expansion was provided by the publisher.