Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rise of the Hut Cartel: What to Expect (no spoilers)

The Rise of the Hut Cartel is Star Wars The Old Republic's first digital expansion. If you were really keen and pre-ordered back in January then you'll have access on April 9th, everybody else (who pre-order between 7th January and 13th April) will get access on April 13th. But what is this expansion? What will you get with it? Well, I had access to it for about a month so read on and I'll tell you what to expect, without revealing any story line spoilers.

What you get for $10

Just like all things in this world, you get what you pay for. This is a $10 expansion (or $20 if you are not a subscriber) and you really do get $10 worth of content. This digital expansion is more like a bloated major patch. It doesn't come with all the regular things we're used to receiving in our MMO expansions, like new player races, fifty hours worth of play time in missions, and new classes. The Rise of the Hut Cartel expansion is one new planet, two separate story lines - one for Imperial and one for Republic - and a bunch of new missions.  I was able to finish the story arc in two casual days of playing. If you are expecting this to compete with the expansions you may have experienced in WoW, Rift, and other MMOs, you will be disappointed. If you are expecting $10 worth of content, you will be satisfied.

Story lines

All eight classes have their own unique introduction to the main story line on the new plant, Makeb. After these introductory video cut scenes though, the story and missions are then the same for all Republic players and for all Imperial players. The re-play-ability is limited for players with multiple alts. BioWare tried to disguise the lack of variety by telling players that all their characters will have a unique experience but really, that is an overstatement. The only difference after that initial cut scene is what the NPCs refer to you as. The story on Makeb is not a continuation of your classes' main story.

The story also doesn't use your companions - they have nothing to say on any of the missions. Your companions do comment on things like the scenery though, but they have nothing more than a superficial role. It has been said in multiple interviews that class missions in SWTOR finish at 50 and that it is not cost effective for BioWare to extend with the same level of detail as in the first three Acts. So after playing through the first story on Makeb I tried it again on a second character. I found myself tabbing through identical blocks of voice acting to speed it up.


The Makeb story arc and adjacent missions don't provide enough experience to level from 50 to 55. If you start the new story in the expansion at level 50 then you will finish at around 53 or just above. The missions can be a challenge if your level of gear is basic. My full war hero geared Gaurdian had no problems for the first few levels but also didn't get any new gear until level 55. Players in recruit gear or story mode operations level gear will find it a little bit harder and might find the occasional upgrades at around level 53. I found the missions easier the second time around by first going out and doing a whole heap of dailies and getting to level 54 before even starting the missions on Makeb.

Mini games

Outside of Makeb there is a variety of new content in the way of microbinocular and seeker droid missions. These missions will excite people who like travelling all over the Galaxy on exploration style journeys. Using microbinoculars to reveal hidden items, or seeker droids to track down missions objectives - similar to tracking for Bounty Hunters in Star Wars Galaxies or mining in WoW - these new missions will be loathe by some and loved by others.

But what about my alts?

Playing through the story line in Makeb seemed very fluid as it moved from island to island and the story itself is very well written and enjoyable. Because the story is the same for all Republic or Imperial  players I think that many players will focus on playing one or two characters rather than a legacy of characters.

Same Sex Romance - The Gay Planet

This is an overstatement! There was an uproar all over the Internet about same sex romances being introduced in this expansion. People are still upset, but for a different reason. The story arcs only have ONE flirt option for each faction. Republic players will get to flirt with one female NPC, regardless of their gender and Imperial players will get to flirt with one male NPC, regardless of their gender. Players were expecting multiple romance options but this is simply not the case. The characters I played through on were both male, Republic and this new romance option was just no different to the options I'd had before the expansion. What a load of hooha for nothing.

In conclusion

So all in all I am disappointed that my character's story is not continued by this expansion but hey, let's get real - it's $10, it's new content, it's fun and it's worth every penny. End game really hasn't changed a lot, with one new operation and no new warzones. Expect to be doing exactly the same thing you're doing at level 50 when you reach level 55.

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