Some important bits out of the way first.
Similar to Fallen Empire, we do not have to actually purchase the Eternal Throne expansion. We just need to stay subscribed (now termed as 'Premium' player status) and when it launches on December 2nd (November 29th for Early Access players) we'll gain access.
There will also be some rather decent subscriber benefits.
Similar to last time, we'll be getting a Companion and a Mount. In this case, the Companion is Shae bloody Vizla and the mount is a Rapid Recon Walker.
I find it amusing that so far both of the special Expanion-launch Subscriber-only Companions have been those from the CG trailers, both of whom also faded into relative obscurity compared to characters like Satele and Malgus. Granted, Shae has now been in-game since late 2014 whilst Nico was only added in 2015, but it's still somewhat bizarre to see this occurring.
However, this also raises an interesting point of contention: whilst Nico is important for saving Satele and helping to alert the galaxy to the return of the Sith, he's at his roots a fairly insignificant 'down-to-earth' smuggler. Shae Vizla, on the other hand, not only used to be one of the Empire's most notorious Mandalorian allies, but she's now the bloody Manda'lor. Recruiting such a galactic and political figurehead - never mind the potential to discover a rift in the Mandalorians - is something which surely everyone should have access to?
Regardless, Shae's a decent character and I'm looking forward to seeing how she fits into the overall scheme of things!
The walker is actually pretty damn decent regardless of its status as a sub-reward. It seems to be a melding of AT-ST and AT-AT shapes and design elements, and it comes together quite nicely.
As with Fallen Empire, Eternal Throne will launch with nine Chapters. However, there is no mention of any further ones beyond this as a part of the overall expansion. Fallen Empire listed all sixteen, but blanked out the names of Chapters XIII through XVI.
It sounds very much like the story for Eternal Throne will be significantly shorter than that for Fallen Empire. I personally don't mind this, as I feel that the first nine Chapters for Fallen Empire provided greater overall 'closure' than the following seven, and so to repeat the monthly Chapters scenario would be very detrimental.
This also implies that any future story updates will be handled in a similar 'bulk-release' manner which again I believe will result in far more 'complete' storylines.
Interestingly, in the family tree Thexan has a little portrait of an in-game representation of his character. It will be interesting to see whether this actually means something for the story, or whether it's just a fancy little tidbit.
It looks like once again there will be no new Operations with the initial release. Rather than comment on how this will affect the game and how people will leave in droves, I'll look past this and focus on what actually is coming up.
We're going to be seeing several new four-man instances called "Uprisings". These seem to be the Flashpoints of 5.0, as the Star Fortresses claimed to be (but failed to succeed at being) the Flashpoints for 4.0.
It's nice that we're getting so many actually 'proper-group' instances, and I look forward to seeing what the Uprisings comprise of specifically. Certainly I hope that each one is at least cosmetically different, if not functionally. You do one Star Fortress and, really, you've done them all.
I'll certainly be paying close attention to these Uprisings when they do come out.
From what little info has been released, Galactic Command seems to be a merging-together of Social Points, Dark/Light Points, and Reputation all worked into one package. It will be interesting to see how one increases Influence with Command, whether you simply need to kill mobs in Operations, Flashpoints, or Uprisings ('ignite light or dark side enemies' is very peculiar wording), whether there are specific missions (because, really, who doesn't need to grind more in MMOs?) or whether it's something else entirely different.
Regardless, if this system is character-bound which it is implied to be (seeing as it starts at Level 70) then this seems to be their way of making us grind more stuff repeatedly on our characters. So basically it's Reputation and Social points wrapped up into one slightly bizarre package.
Yay for Grind!
We'll actually be able to choose difficulty modes for story Chapters now. I doubt that this will do anything more than increase health and damage values of mobs and bosses (although I'd love to be surprised!) but certainly this should be interesting to see in-practice. Certainly I know a lot of people have complained that Fallen Empire is too easy, so hopefully they'll be sated.
The final thing to talk about, really, is also the most flashy.
The Betrayal Trailer actually manages to not only match but in many ways surpass what the Sacrifice Trailer managed for Fallen Empire.
I never actually got my thoughts on the Trailer out there, so I'll summarise my thoughts now:
I absolutely adored the powerful characterising element it had. Neither Arcann nor Thexan spoke a single word and yet you could read their every thought and intent. I also loved the repetition of Arcann and Thexan clasping hands to show Thexan's continual support of his brother, only to become a tragic symbol when it was Arcann's turn to support his fatally-wounded brother.
The Betrayal trailer is in many ways a direct parallel. It also starts with a flashback (but this is actually a flashback from the central character's perspective in the past rather than the present) for the Zakuul royal family, except this time instead of Arcann and Thexan under Valkorion this is Vaylin under Senya.
Immediately, I pretty much fell in love with the trailer because of this; it not only focused on delving into Vaylin and Senya's character backgrounds (something which yet to be seen anywhere else) but it also showed their perspective on one of the scenes from the Sacrifice trailer. It was wonderful to see Senya in her youth as well as how Vaylin idolised both of her brothers (something which was only briefly touched upon in Chapter XIV and only for Thexan).
This chapter also shows Vaylin's rapid growth in power and how Valkorion cages her mind. Interestingly, the forces he leaves her with are wearing robes which are labelled in-game as Nathema Zealots' robes, so the indication that this ritual takes place on Nathema (the world Vitiate stripped of life and Force to grant him immortality) is quite an interesting development if it is indeed correct.
The titular betrayal is also an 'ambiguous' betrayal; it becomes apparent that Vaylin resents Senya for leaving her with her father and allowing him to chain her mind, and, feeling betrayed, refuses to join Senya when she tries to free her. However, this in turn is also a betrayal on Vaylin's part, so it's hard to know exactly which betrayal is being referred to in the title.
I do like it when there are multiple sides to consider, even if this isn't intentional!
The trailer ends after a harrowing scene set at some point near the present when Senya is scouring the aftermath of a battle where nothing but corpses of her personal guard remain. She is soon set upon by an adult Vaylin, now adorned with glowing red eyes and a second hood.
As trailers go, this one was fairly epic. They added a new perspective on two pre-existing characters - especially since one was already really interesting and the other had all the character development of a sandwich - the characterisation was spot on for Senya (although her face in the trailer is more pointed and seemingly more stern than her current in-game visage), and what duelling there was was very nicely animated.
Bonus points for Senya not keeping her saber activated for the entire fight and for throwing one of the Zealots' knives at another.
So yeah, very nicely done trailer!
Overall, I like what I see.
Could the release have gone better? Of course it could. It's still a bit too vague and waffly (note the ambiguousness about how the Command scheme works), and of course there's the taunting fact that once again no new Operations have been announced.
But then really I'm not too surprised.
I'm interested in seeing how the new difficulty mode changes things (I'd love to say that they'd actually require a high-influence healer to survive but I do have some reservations about this hope) and I'm very eager to see what the Uprisings bring to the table. Yes, they're just Flashpoints, but at least they seem to be more proper than Star Fortresses were..!
Rather interestingly, the official Star Wars website recently released an interview with Charles Boyd describing six reasons to be excited about Eternal Throne, which also revealed some interesting concept arts and even screenshots from the upcoming expansions.
Most notably, it seems that Vaylin's dual-hood from the trailer, as well as her bared tattooed arms, are transitioning over to her in-game model:
I do have to say that I am greatly looking forward to Eternal Throne. Here's to the new expansion, then!