This is mainly due to one thing; there sadly hasn't been much reason to talk about either as nothing has emerged to encourage people to complete these quests especially since a lot of people just do the final Heroic-4 missions once and want nothing to do with them ever again.
Potentially, this might no longer be the case.
The HK-55 Bonus Chapter, Shroud of Memory, is confirmed to feature the antagonist of the Macrobinocular questline, the Shroud. He's had numerous mentions throughout 4.0 - a probe sits outside the Star Fortresses which can be scanned for an Achievement and Theron Shan mentions that he came across him as part of his idle chatter - so it will be nice to see him again.
Admittedly, it does hurt that our characters themselves won't be able to do so...
I figured that with the oncoming approach of the Shroud it would be good to finally send Calph to do as much of the questline as she could with the aim of completing it this weekend - just in case completing it yielded extra information for 'us' to pick up from the Bonus Chapter - and finally note my opinions on this infamous questline.
Although admittedly my timing on this post couldn't be worse, as I only just learned while making final preparations for this post's scheduled posting that this subject was touched on for exactly the same reasons over on MassivelyOP just two days ago, so now it looks like I'm pilfering ideas yet again. Yay for annoying coincidences!
Let's start with the obvious. The Macrobinocular and Seeker Droid questlines were designed to run in-tandem with eachother. You'd be sent to the same planets in each individual stage, although the Macrobinocular quest takes you on a diversion to Quesh after Taris and Tatooine before you turn to Corellia and Hoth.
Despite the fact that each quest is the same for each faction, it's fairly safe to assume that the Empire 'owns' them both. The quest leaders for the Republic faction are SIS Agent Deena Riss and Jedi Master Cedral Gend, and whilst they're good characters they just can't compare to former-Shroud-lieutenant Evie Bo and the Dark Council member personally charged with watching over the Arcanum facility - and the current Sith Empress - Darth Acina.
Indeed, the entire premise of the Republic Seeker Droid quest is that Gend's Imperial spy is relaying information gleaned from a traitor from the Dread Guards to Darth Acina's interrogators, which is also the exact information relayed from Acina herself in the exact same manner to Imperial players. The Empire certainly has the more sizeable advantage!
Both quests also culminate in what are now the only non-Event Heroic-4 missions left in the entire game. Whilst it is possible to complete the Seeker Droid Heroic and the first of the two Macrobinocular Heroic missions with a less-than-complete group, and can now actually be done entirely by oneself if you know what you're doing, the final mission of the Macrobinocular quest is the only mission which requires a full group for the mission to be completable.
More on that later.
Both of these questlines are quite time-consuming, although trying to find the Seeds of Rage undoubtedly feels more tedious than simply traversing the landscapes of the various planets and scanning some antennae.
Even though this post is intended to purely relay my thoughts on the Shroud questline, I couldn't avoid talking about the general parameters for both quests due to how intricately they are tied together. Now, it's time to focus purely on the Shroud.
This questline is notorious for the puzzles which dominate the instanced excursions away from the "meat" which is scanning the antennae. These specific missions are located on Coruscant, Quesh, and Belsavis. The majority of these puzzles' solutions can be revealed with the Macrobinoculars, although some require slightly more intuition, such as lobbing some fruit onto a ray-shielded console to cause a starving Lurker to attack and destroy it.
The most notable of these "intuition" puzzles is on Belsavis, where you need to use the Macrobinoculars to determine a four-code sequence based on three colours. Using them to inspect the console reveals hand-prints of various temperatures, which then forms the order based on which ones are warmer and therefore more-recent.
The puzzles in these areas aren't exactly complicated - there isn't a single one as long-winded as the 'Towers of Hanoi' exercise in Naga Sadow's tomb in the original KotOR, for example - but they're still worth seeing.
Just one last thing to mention before the really interesting part. Occasionally, scanning the antennae can cause a Champion Droid named IR-77 to spawn. He's unkillable in these small skirmishes because he later crops up in the first of the two Heroic missions, but what makes these particular fights interesting is that his appearance pulls in any nearby friendly NPC to attack him as well. Depending on where he happens to appear, this may result in seeing a friendly Nerf trying to trample him or one of the Taxi droids revealing that they are armed, dangerous, and really not keen on unscheduled interruptions to their schedules.
Which then brings me to the final mission. Whilst its predecessor uses very few puzzles and instead is one long (yet enormously fun... and buggy...) jumping puzzle across the traffic of Nar Shaddaa...
|There's too much traffic in the skies these days...|
Firstly, you need to find a handle to access a hidden door, and then deactivate four sensors in a corridor at roughly the same time to access the main facility.
Then there's a Droid with a console who activates various traps on his floor which need to be avoided as well as various adds. This then segues immediately into a much more intricate puzzle where one person sits where the Droid was and allows each of the remaining group members to access one specific area, which are a room which fills with poison, a production line, and just a ray shield outside of the lift which is cut off by three laser beams.
These three group members then need to hit a control panel which the first person will 'activate'. Because this puzzle has appeared several times before now, these panels all need to be hit at the exact same time.
Moving to the next area, the group will need to reactivate a light bridge. One group member will need to go to the left and keep a control panel activated whilst two others jump down onto pipes and wend their way to computer terminals while the fourth stays by the bridge and activates another control panel when everyone else has hit their own panel or terminal.
This then causes the bridge to emerge and a droid on the other side to walk across. I believe it used to be possible to deactivate the bridge and send it plummeting to its doom, but I haven't seen it for some time so can't say this with certainty. If I am remembering correctly then this does not require the puzzle to be done again.
After you chat with the Shroud and he unleashes holo-duplicates of various famous personnel on you - it is currently the only time you can kill Elin Garza if you feel so inclined - you find yourselves in his main hub and the final fight begins.
It starts off fairly simply, with no puzzle elements to speak of, until he activates a shield generator. This can only be deactivated by everybody - of course - deactivating one of four computer terminals around the perimeter of the room at the exact same time. Until the second phase begins, these computers will need to be watched carefully since repair droids will be let loose throughout.
The second phase negates the terminals, as the Shroud pulls you all in to his main base of operations and cuts you off from the perimeter. From this point forth, the only real notable puzzle element is when he disappears and roughly sixteen clones of him appear. Hitting the correct one will cause the others to disappear, while I believe it's a group-wipe if you're unable to find him in time.
The Shroud dies pretty quickly after putting you through so much, and after diverting a dreadnaught which he was sending at either Galactic City on Coruscant or Kaas City on Dromund Kaas - we assume that a global genocide is averted on the other faction through some other means - you return victorious!
Except that you don't; you return to Riss or Bo to find that the Shroud in fact wasn't even present in his facility. Instead, you fought a duplicate, whose skill he compliments. He then either threatens to kill Riss unless you wipe information that his decoy wasn't supposed to have from the Republic database or wipes Evie Bo's memories - although thankfully still leaving her with the memories of how to walk and talk - and vanishes from the scene once more. Republic players can choose to let Riss die whilst Imperial players get to influence Bo's new path in life and whether she is a free woman or a diehard Imperial fanatic.
The Shroud himself isn't necessarily an interesting character. He's certainly got experience in his field and a mysterious background, but much like certain aspects of KotFE the lack of closure certainly doesn't help matters as it isn't really intrigue but more frustration driving our motives to find out more about him.
It will be interesting to see what new developments are in store, but for now the quest is certainly much more memorable than the character himself, which I feel is a real shame.
The puzzles of the Shroud quest are absolutely glorious, and it's nice to see a quest which unashamedly uses puzzles to its advantage. However, the nature of the final mission is such that you'll be unlikely to find that many people be willing to do it.
Indeed, the only reason why I'm turning my head towards it now is because it is entirely possible that completing the quest unlocks something extra for HK-55 to discover in the Bonus Chapter. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice to see.
It also can't be ignored that this quest introduced perhaps one of the most interesting minor game mechanics yet seen in the form of the Macrobinoculars. Using these at various points around the in-game universe can yield some interesting secrets, notably including codex entries on CZ-198 and in the Yavin IV Stronghold.
It's a shame, really, that the Republic questline sees so little by way of 'consequence'. Imperials have no choice but to see poor Evie Bo's memory get erased and then get a really excellent Dark/Light choice, whilst Republic players just get the choice of seeing their ally die. Unavoidable consequences can be a good way of making us hate a character, but at the end of the day there is just not as much reason for Republic players to despise the Shroud as there is for Imperial players outside of the inability to kill him.
Still, the Shroud questline is undoubtedly one of the most unique in the game, and it would be nice - if incredibly far-fetched at this point - to see something similar in the future.
In the meantime, I'm just going to put my feet up and wait to see what the Shroud brings with him next Wednesday.
|Guss, we're going to be riding this train of thought for six days, so I really suggest that you take a seat.|