Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Trooper storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.
Last time on the Trooper storyline… We killed a bunch of traitors. Now you’re caught up. As you can see from the above picture, I hit up the Cartel Market to outfit Havoc Squad with a bit of the ol’ technological superiority going into chapter two. So what is chapter two anyway? Well, if you recall from Chapter One, we pretty much exterminated, arrested, or generally dealt with all the traitorous former members of Havoc Squad while picking up a few replacements of our own in the forms of Aric Jorgan (aka Sgt Meowmers), Elara Dorne (aka The nice imperial lady in my medic bay I never talk to) and M1-4X (aka THE MOST AWESOME ROBOT EVER). I neglected to mention and folks pointed out in the comments that the Trooper has one of the quickest accumulation of companions in the game. Reaching three companions (not including the Ship robot) before even reaching Tatooine. Continuing that tradition, we’re going on a recruitment drive in Chapter Two picking up our last two companions and building a complete squad of companions before even hitting Chapter Three (An honor shared also by the Smuggler and the Sith Warrior who both pick up their last companions on Hoth as well.)
Why the neccessity to fill out the ranks? Well, the Republic Army has a new target for Havoc Squad to tackle, a mysterious new star destroyer – er… whatever we call them in The Old Republic timeline – called the Gauntlet. The Gauntlet has the ability to blow up ships while they are traveling in Hyperspace. Which is impressive. And problematic. And quite possibly impossible but who am I to question physics of hitting an object traveling at lightspeed in a galaxy where space wizards fight with laser swords that just stop after a yard for no reason. The name intrigues me though. The Gauntlet. So either a hazardous obstacle course of doom… or a glove that one throws down to challenge people. Neither of these really fit the situation though as we’ll find out. The ship has a fairly standard design in it’s layout. In fact a lot of it gets re-used in the False Emperor flashpoint and several other Imperial base/starship areas. And it’s not really a challenge because… well, I’ll get to that at the end. So in order to stop the Gauntlet, we need three things: An explosives expert, an infiltration team, and a security/electronics whiz. Luckily, all those things just happen to be on the next three planets we can level through! So grab some pamphlets, it’s time to recruit us some new Havoc-ers.
So it’s time to start our recruitment drive on Balmorra. The goal is to find and recruit one Tanno Vik, an explosives expert that was discharged from the Republic military. However, this hunt is fraught with unexpected complications. It seems our Mr. Vik is a bit of a con-man. You routinely find people that enlisted Tanno’s aid to perform some manner of operation with the reclamation of Balmorra, but he usually just takes their equipment and runs off with it before completing the job. This leaves you in the unfortunate position of having to do his work for him and help those who he’s left high and dry all across the planet until you can figure out what he’s up to. Yaaaaaay.
But you find out soon enough as you eventually make contact with the jerk and discover that he’s been “borrowing” the equipment to help break in to a top secret Balmorran Arms vault to “liberate” these high tech weapons from the Imperials. I have to use the quotation marks there, because Tanno Vik isn’t the type to be honest as illustrated by all the friggin’ messes of his you just had to clean up. It’s not a far off assumption either. After using the stolen equipment to launch a homemade missile into the factory, he breaks into the vault to take the weapons. Actually, he gives you the choice. Turn the weapons over to the resistance, keep them for havoc squad, or sell them for a profit. Really, only the last option seems like the clear cut jerk move. The other two are clearly up for debate. True, SpecForce could use the weapons to further their goals, but giving them to the resistance could endear trust with the Republic. Both good uses really. I kept them for Havoc squad since my Trooper is very pro-military and my orders did not include ‘assist the resistance’.
Tanno Vik’s personality is pretty much summed up in these missions. He seems to be a guy who believes the end justifies the means, in doing the right thing so long as he gets something in return. He’s eager to skim off the top when you get the weapons, he steals equipment for ultimately a good cause – okay, he’s attacking the Empire. Other than that, I dunno if plowing a missile into apparently the largest factory on the planet is a ‘good cause’ – but doesn’t use them for the job he was hired to do. If anything, I’d describe him as somewhere between Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral. He seems noble enough in his intentions, but he’s also quite self serving in the same stroke.
Next up is hitting the backwater adrenal manufacturing planet of Quesh. Quesh has always been something of a filler planet that usually only has a single class quest that teases something coming up in the plot. Like for the Jedi Knight it’s the first time you meet a powerful npc that plays heavily into the plot twist at the end of Chapter 2, the Bounty Hunter has a run in with the antagonist that drives the plot into Chapter 3. However in case of the trooper, we’re just picking up some buddies for later.
Yea, that’s apparently it. Along with the new recruits from Balmorra and Hoth, you need to get a team of infiltration experts that appear to have broken in but can’t break out of an Imperial camp on Quesh. Since you need them for the Big Mission(tm), it’s up to you to break them out and cover their escape. Namely fighting wave after wave of baddies at the front door.
And that’s it for Quesh. I wish I could say there was more to it for the Trooper, but really it’s just do this one thing and extract the pinned down team so they can join you in the big assault later. Yaaaaay.
This is the final stop on our recruitment drive. This time we have to get a gant (bug person) named Yuun. Luckily, he’s not running off and making us chase him like Senor Grumpy Pants Vik. Oh no. You meet Yuun quite quickly. But the catch is you need to help him finish his assignment before he can depart. Okay, say it with me now: Yaaaaaaaaaay. Essentially, our Bug Man is trying to assemble the Umbra Encrypter – a device responsible for decades of uncrackable Imperial codes. Yuun wants to remake one from parts scattered across the frozen snowball of a planet, that quite frankly I hate with a burning passion. Why? Well, everything is white with a blue-ish tint. That means the lights from dropped items are harder to see, quest items are harder to see on the ground, and it just hurts my eyes after a while. So I hope I can cling to my patience and sanity while trying to help Yuun.
This process is not made any easier by Yuun’s strange methodology which is akin to that guy from Ancient Aliens mixed with Sylvia Browne playing with a tarot deck drawn in crayon. He reads the signs and energy wavelengths and other oddities and uses that to know exactly how to proceed. And it works! Which I would say is weird, but this is the same setting as the Jedi and Sith, so let’s give the non-Force using Bug Man some credit. Your tasks are generally simple retrieve X, where X can be people or an object, punctuated in the middle of the chain by a mission that requires you to distract the Imperials while another team fetches X. The only real moral dilemma is do you warn Yuun of the approaching pirate attack or use him as bait to catch them off guard. I used him as bait. What? He’s a psychic/bug type poke-companion, I’m sure he saw it coming even if he never said anything about it.
So you rebuild his thingie, he is happy and gets on the ship. The end. No, seriously. That’s really all it is. It feels like it takes forever, and it’s really just four fairly basic tasks and then he puts together a device that we are told is really, really, REALLY important and will save countless lives and we never see it do anything and I REALLY hope it comes back later on or this will be the most disappointing over-hyped mcguffin thus far.
Finale: The Battle of the Gauntlet
So now that you’ve reassembled a brand spanking new Havoc Squad it’s time to assault The Gauntlet. A big old star ship that can blow up other ships while they are in hyperspace (which is bad, and also previously thought impossible). Two of your squad will take the bridge, Yuun will accompany you to disable security, and then you’ll switch over with Tanno Vik to plant the explosives and blow this joint! Oh and the last team member will offer support. It’s kinda cool to see the entire squad of companions getting involved like this. Especially right at the beginning when you burst onto the Gauntlet only to find a gold, two silvers, and a squad of weaker goons there to swamp you, and all six of you unleash hell in a huge opening battle! It’s epic! It’s awesome! Aaaand that’s where the excitement ends.
After that opening battle, the rest of the mission is visit a couple quest markers with Yuun and watch some cutscenes of taking down bad guys, then switch over and visit a few more quest markers with Vik and watch a cutscene, then fight a random gold mob and leave. That’s it. That’s the mission. Yes, there’s a bit where you’re contacted by the bridge team and they say they got pinned down by Imperial reinforcements and then you have the choice of “Send them back up to help them run away”, “Run away” or “RUN AWAY NOW!”. I don’t think there was a single light side/dark side choice in there. No daring rescue on the bridge even. Just ‘Bombs are set, let’s skidoo!’ and away you go to get your reward and promotions. Talk about a let down of a finale. No, I’m serious. That big explosive battle should have been at the end, not the beginning. Or have that energy continued the entire way through. Because despite everyone knowing you are there from that first initial blow up of a battle, absolutely no one is acting on alert. Hell, the droids are still mopping and the engineers are doing routine maintenance. And it’s not like you are the only threat here either! There’s a big space battle going on outside, a huge shoot out on the bridge, and you see NONE of it. Instead it’s escort and chat with the new companions while killing the bored janitors. What a joke.
When you finally get back to Coruscant, General Garza lets you know that a message has arrived from the Imperial who designed the Gauntlet and explains it was meant to be a tool for peace. That they hoped the threat of the Gauntlet would be enough that the Republic would back down and just let the Empire do whatever it wanted. You know, like nuclear deterrence. Only without the mutually assured destruction. Or the arms race that leads both sides to have a Gauntlet pointed at each other causing them to reach a standstill. So nothing like nuclear deterrence. But see what I mean earlier about the whole challenge aspect of ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ not applying either? They made the thing with the hopes that it was so powerful and threatening that no one would challenge it. So maybe the name is ironic? No clue. Anyway, the Imperial jerkface has decided that since the Republic can’t be REASONABLE PEOPLE and just lay down and die or convert, that there’s no stopping it. It’s all out war now. So there’s the reason the war starts up again in Chapter Three that you hear about in every other class story. It’s because the Trooper and Havoc Squad broke the Empire’s new toy. That’s all. Actually that about makes sense considering they just wanted an excuse. Hey, maybe that was the challenge to throwing down the Gauntlet. They made something that the Republic had no choice but to attack to give them an excuse to go to war. Ha!
I had mixed opinions of Chapter One due to the weird moral choices you were presented with, but Chapter Two just STUNK. There was nothing gripping or exciting. It never felt like anything was building or the stakes were being raised. Nothing felt like it was going to the next level at all. No, it’s a bloody recruitment drive. That’s it. For all of Chapter Two you are finding people to help you, and when they do they payoff is next to nil. I was hoping that after a meh-ish experience the Battle of the Gauntlet would add some serious excitement to the end and it didn’t. It just kept up the feeling of nothing big happening at all. You got a team, they all did their jobs, the f-ing end. That’s it. Nothing was risked, everything worked out with next to no complications or messy situations. Oh, one of the bridge team was critically injured? Oh shoot. Good thing that all we have to do is take them two steps to the ship and heal them because hey, mission is already done.
Again, if the big battle was at the end, then being one person down would have been interesting. It was a choice of who you sent where, so now that choice matters because it would affect who was injured and couldn’t help in the final battle. Maybe you could shake that up by sending Yuun or whoever was on support to help and then THEY would be injured for the final battle. Instead the entirety of the who is on the Bridge assault and who is on support is apparently MEANINGLESS. It doesn’t matter who you send. One will be injured, but that’s after everything is said and done and nothing will be lost for it. You can’t switch out with any of them – including whoever you left for support – during the mission because you will always be stuck with either Tanno or Yuun (or if you have her, Treek. Because they didn’t think of that when they first designed the mission).
The choices you make in the finale don’t matter at all in the outcome of the finale. That’s it. There is no bigger insult to this game than that. The bland moral choices, the dull friendship drive and it all culminates in a pointless final mission that leaves you with the rank of Major, 10 more levels added to your belt, and two new buddies to play with. Talk about a frickin’ disappointment of a chapter. I can only hope that Chapter Three is an improvement. I can’t see how it couldn’t be.