In an attempt to keep things flowing for the next few weeks until something new actually does present itself, I'm going to satisfy my "inner critic" by turning to everything that has been in the game since get-go which is uniquely class-based, from class stories to companions, every couple of days. Unlike my Rishi class missions "glance-over", which kept details to a bare minimum, these posts will be laced with spoilers and so should be avoided if you've yet to complete the particular class.
So, without further ado, I launch this with a detailed look-over and critique of the story of the Smuggler.
To me, the Smuggler has the prologue story which is the most fun. Unlike the vast majority of the other stories, whose introductions are tied up with various intricacies and sometimes even "politics type situations", the smuggler just goes on a simple and plain quest to reclaim their stolen starship. No real politics or worries about factions, you just do whatever you can to find your
The personality of the Smuggler is something that makes itself very apparent throughout both Ord Mantell and Coruscant. You're given the chance to deliver absolutely fabulous one-liners and conclude a good number of situations through wit and not just your blaster. Everyone remembers the "Womp Rat" hairstyle put-down on Coruscant and dead-panning your way past a naive separatist on Ord Mantell. The humour is just so rife and tailored so very well to each and every situation, and remains so throughout the entire story.
This prologue is also unique in that not one but two potential late-game bosses are revealed. If an NPC outsmarts you in the prologue and escapes, they're sure to be chapter 1 bosses. However, besides Skavak stealing your ship, you also hear mention of another character, one with a much more fearsome reputation: Rogun the Butcher. I'll get to this guy in more detail later, but the very fact that we get these two nefarious characters introduced to us from the very first cutscene is something that stands out and immediately makes you realise the troublesome world of smuggling you're thrown into.
Chapter 1 continues the theme of "situations you'd expect a Smuggler to find themselves in" that established itself in the prologue. You're completing deals and hunting for parts to upgrade your starship that will enable you to find a lost treasure belonging to a long-dead crime lord. Going from planet-to-planet to accomplish all this does make sense; finding the various upgrades all on one planet would be far too convenient.
I will say that, when first starting this chapter, the notion of finding treasure at the end seemed much more of a long-shot than a bullseye. Ferrying cargo and completing deals for upgrades made absolute perfect sense, but the finding of treasure is much more of a "pirate" aspect than a "smuggler" aspect. It paid off in a way that I did not dream of anticipating, though, as it turns out that this treasure is something far more personal than just plain valuable. The goal and dedication of your partner, Risha, throughout makes fantastic sense at the end compared to at the start.
As with the prologue, you're pretty much your own being. You don't find any friends with Republic officials, as you even make a passive enemy of one on Taris if you go light side. All of your allies are, again, just people much like yourself, trying to find their own way in the world and taking any opportunities that they can. Every one of them is in a precarious position, and if any one thing were to go wrong it would topple their world. Nar Shaddaa is the only planet where this is different; your business partner is a secure Hutt and it's his fanatical opponents who are in the precarious position and you need to stop them in order to complete the deal. Point is, you see a great deal of what is wrong with the galaxy from the smuggler's perspective throughout chapter 1.
Here's where this story starts to fall apart. You start as your own free being, completely independent of all Republic ties, and you've made a name for yourself by finding Nok Drayen's treasure. How best to continue? Becoming a Republic Privateer - having no choice in this matter - being bogged down in "Republic versus Imperial" politics, and even making an enemy of an Imperial Admiral is not the answer which you'd ordinarily give. Unfortunately, it's exactly what we receive.
I know that the war was presented as being almost inevitable from Coruscant onwards, but it was actually quite nice to seemingly have a character who doesn't give two hoots. They're just there for the ride, and hopefully nothing else. A simple and non-committal perspective of a galaxy at war is something which would give this story a lot of edge and uniquity.
Don't get me wrong; there are some fantastic elements in this chapter, but some of these are lost because of the sudden need to tie everything back into "Republic" needs. Darmas Polloran from the prologue returns, but he's now in league with a Republic senator named Dodonna. Rogun is now apparently allied with the Empire, and Dodonna and Polloran offer you the chance to stop his power-base growing whilst completely sanctioned by the Republic. Trying to synthesise these two ideals sounds clunky and is executed especially so.
Take the conclusion of the Balmorra quests: you're tasked with retaking a Republic project now being managed by the Empire. At the very end of the quest, you have a choice to either send it to the Republic as planned or sell the developments to Port Nowhere's inhabitants. The main problem I have is this: if this project is being managed by the Empire, how is it that they don't have anyone processing requests for transportation? I can see them being "okay" about it being sent to Port Nowhere (remember, we've been told that Rogun and the Empire are now linked; we might believe the Empire being fooled into processing this under the impression that he is there), but processing this to Republic space is something I can't fathom. Transferring it down to a specified location on the planet to be picked up by Balmorran resistance would be an interesting neutral outcome, but alas, we can only be "goody two shoes" with the Republic rather than the people who need it most on Balmorra.
Hoth, however, brings it back to the more neutral aspect. Whilst Guss Tuno can pretend all he likes, he has no real Republic affiliation. Indeed, he even admits that he was sent by Rogun to kill your character. Thus, we go from nearly-whole Republic support to pirate support, and this return and change is very much welcome. The story is similarly faction-neutral, as you're stopping pirates again, and not focusing more on Imperial activity. I'd far rather have seen more of Hoth again than Balmorrra in terms of story development, and considering that it's Hoth, that's saying something.
Whilst I thought that the conclusion for chapter 1 seemed very out-of-place and was pleasantly surprised, the conclusion for chapter 2, sadly, proved to be far worse in this regard. Once more, you're off discovering treasure. This would be fine if we hadn't just had the vast majority of a chapter devoted to the war and the smuggler's place in it. They even tie this heist into the factions: you rob an Imperial ship! Now, robbing complex military computers and technology, I can see. Fighting and killing the Voidwolf, I can also see. But simply going after treasure? I get that a Privateer is sanctioned by the authorities, but I don't get how crucial only stealing treasure is, or even how that can be justified to prying eyes higher up in the Republic.
Also, sadly, our friend the Voidwolf does survive chapter 2. We don't even meet him fully, as we just see him in hologram form. This survival means that chapter 3 is going to have some extreme convolution in order to wrap everything up smoothly.
This chapter has both good and bad parts. Belsavis and Voss are, annoyingly, much better than you'd be led to believe with chapter 2 as the build-up and your mission objective in mind, whilst Corellia is just awfully executed and very rushed when considering a particular revelation.
Whilst you're helped at first by a Republic official, you spend most of your mission on Belsavis by yourself and being helped by other inmates whilst dodging Rogun's hired assassin. You even have the chance to completely free Ivory, the man you've been tasked with tracking down and re-imprisoning, and have him work for you, rather than simply imprisoning him once more.
Voss is, again, mostly devoid of Republic official help. Indeed, you're helped by an eccentric shop-owner and a rather enthusiastic Voss throughout the entirety of the quest. What exactly happens in this quest, though? You're tasked with ending Rogun's trade routes and supply of foul beasts, and are actually framed in being involved in this yourself and have to both clear your name and do exactly as mentioned above at the same time. Now this is exactly the sort of thing I'd expect to happen to a Smuggler. It's just a shame that it took so long to finally see it.
Both Voss and Belsavis are fantastic as the choices, independence, and potential outcomes are so very different compared to the build-up and tying-down of chapter 2. It's out of the blue, but as a result of what came before they both do feel annoyingly out-of-place: with what happens across both worlds, this shouldn't be the case.
So after this we go to Tatooine where we finally meet Rogun the Butcher, who in fact reveals that he's now trying to help you by revealing that the Voidwolf, Polloran, and Dodonna are in fact in league with each other and have been using you to get rid of Rogun. With this in mind, you leave Rogun and head to Corellia to stop your former comrades and, of course, the Voidwolf.
So let's talk about Rogun the Butcher.
This is a character whose name is presented to us in the very first cutscene. By the end, he turns out to be nothing more than a vessel through which ulterior motives of the bad guys are revealed and then he can be left behind or killed in a cutscene. Talk about an awful payoff! They hyped him up to be something so much more powerful than just a guy with finite resources which, when stopped and stripped, leave him vulnerable and bare. How awesome would it have been to discover when you visit his stronghold on Tatooine that he's not there and is instead leading a Pirate fleet to Corellia, taking advantage of the turmoil, hoping to destroy the Republic shipyards, and then preside over a planet-spanning criminal empire? We don't see Rogun the Butcher when we go to see him; we go to see Rogun the Financially-Butchered. A big build-up, with a very unsatisfying climax.
I know that Rogun is meant to be the "Jabba the Hutt" of The Old Republic, but his early-in-Episode-VI ending was justified as that was one character's story ending for the sake of another's continuing. Here, there's nothing but the one character's story! Ending something for something else is fine, as long as there's enough reason to do so. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that there's more justification for ending the Voidwolf earlier and then focusing on Rogun in the conclusion, and not the other way around. Doing it the way that actually happened leads to convolution after convolution and leaves you asking "What?" after everything is said and done.
Corellia is where everything ends. You defeat Darmas, have the opportunities to imprison both him and Dodonna, and then go and defeat the Voidwolf who is leading a pirate fleet above Corellia, taking advantage of the turmoil, hoping to destroy the Republic shipyards and then invade the Core Worlds without anyone to oppose him. I think I've heard of this plan somewhere before...
Once you kill him, you then have the option to turn the fleet on the Imperials or onto the Republic. Now this conclusion would be fantastic if it weren't for the convoluted traitor-revealed stories and Rogun just becoming a wet towel.
There is one thing I absolutely love after all this disappointment. Whilst the Bounty Hunter story presents you with a whole other mission beyond the "official" ending if you go lightside, the Smuggler's is the only one of all eight to end the "official" story with a completely different cutscene with different characters depending on your choice. Most stories just have the exact same characters with various lines delivered differently, and focus on your overall alignment.
The "Dark Side" ending if you do turn on the Republic sees you meet with the captains you sweet-talked after defeating "Voidy" and even Ivory and Rogun if you freed them and kept them alive, respectively. You can either kill Rogun or make him work for you - which I must admit is actually quite fascinating - and actually make a very good name for yourself in the pirate world.
The "Light side" ending, in case you are wondering, sees your character be rewarded by Supreme Chancellor Saresh with a medal - I forget which - and after talking with her and Republic officials and then your companions, it just ends. No pirate captains, no Ivory, no Rogun. One of the pirate captains (the Trandoshan) even dies, but you only hear of this in the mail. As a result, the Smuggler story is the only story I would definitely say is worth seeing both endings for right at the very end.
This story is undoubtedly one of the "make of it what you can" types. It has a very strong beginning, a weak middle, and a very confusing ending. You go from near-total independence to being tied down to a faction and just keep going back-and-forth between them until the story ends. The only really consistent aspect throughout this is the character of the Smuggler. The wit and humour don't dissipate, even after the revelation in Rogun's stronghold.
Additionally, whilst I've complained at various points about "piracy" and "smuggling" being a blurred line through this story, at the end of it all I didn't find myself caring about that any more; you can see the various "pirate" antics throughout your various quests and they don't feel as out-of-place by the end as they did way back in chapter 1.
I do think that this story would have benefitted greatly from switching Rogun and the Voidwolf around; what began as a simple story becomes so convoluted in the rush to make the Voidwolf seem the bigger threat, whereas Rogun is built up from Ord Mantell and so deserves to be the bigger threat. If he had remained so, what might we have seen? We may never know.
With all said and done, this story has at least given us one of the most memorable player classes in terms of pure lovable character.