The last few Roadmaps we've received for SWtOR have been built up over a few weeks - sometimes even a couple of months - before they're released and people can discuss their expectations and other feelings.
The most recent Roadmap, released today, received no such build-up. It was just released without any pre-announcements whatsoever, just 'boom' there it was.
So with this pleasant surprise, what have we learned?
With The Nathema Conspiracy beginning to tie our characters to either the Republic or the Empire for a more substantial alliance than that on Iokath, there are a fair amount of potential scenarios we could be seeing as a direct result of our choices since last April.
As of Iokath, Acina or Malcom could be deceased and the decision made here decides who the leader of either faction is. Vowrawn steps into the breach left by a dead Acina while Malcom's demise leads to the infuriatingly faceless and voiceless Supreme Chancellor Jebevel Madon stepping down and allowing Galena Rans to succeed him.
The Nathema Conspiracy adds to this by setting up the eventual option for the facilitator of either of the changed outcomes to actually join the faction they potentially screwed over back on Iokath. Alternatively, of course, they could just continue on with their previous alliance and thus avoid any awkward outcomes.
This is a fair amount of variety that we could be seeing going forward, and this isn't even going into what else could be factoring into the factions' strength. This is something which BioWare have attempted to address with Nathema by reintroducing or introducing people who are or used to be important politically and killing them off for certain Classes. Given who some of these individuals are and how difficult it would be to align them with both the political status we've been given throughout KotFE and KotET and how they could severely impact a future balance, it's relatively safe to assume that all of these characters have been given a final farewell.
However, that doesn't mean that there still aren't questions and observations that need to be addressed. Be aware that every significant character a Class will face during the Nathema story will be mentioned here, so if you don't want to know who you'll face before you do, I advise you to stop reading here.
Yesterday, we were treated to a grand total of four Companion reunions. Smugglers and Hunters got to reunite with Akaavi and Mako respectively whilst also being introduced to the other for the first time, Consulars got to meet only their second returned Companion since Qyzen, Felix Iresso, and with the conclusion of the Traitor arc we also get to see Theron Shan 'up close and personal' once again.
Unlike the previous two entries in this series, I don't have any outstanding reunion scenes or - thankfully - any "no skipping" lectures this time around. This one is just purely focusing on the three missions for each of the Companions.
So on Monday my guild did something insane; they listened to one of my ideas. We had sixteen people and had just tried (and failed) to locate an alive version of the Revanite Command Walker following a Temple of Sacrifice run and were after something else to do. I jokingly suggested 10-stack Dreadtooth.
It's in situations like this that I now plan to have one of the Cat's quotes from Red Dwarf on immediate standby: "You're going to go with one of my plans? Are you nuts? What happens if we all get killed? I'll never hear the last of it!"
Red Dwarf has so many quotes which suit a good number of our guild's extravaganzas.
Long-story short, we did eventually kill it on the third attempt, resulting in me completing the Big Game Hunter Achievement at long last; this was the Achievement which has formed the main spine of a sort-of "bucket list" of Achievements or stuff to do before SWtOR ends. With this having been accomplished, it's time to start focusing my attention to other Achievements on this list.
There's just one small problem; this list never actually existed as a proper list. It always just rested on my desire to complete Big Game Hunter and, until last year, I Am Death Incarnate.
With these two big Achievements now out of the way, it's time to actually create a proper official bucket list. Some of the items included are Achievements, while others are more random bits-and-bobs that I've had on my mind for a while without being 'official' Achievements.
5.8 brought back two Class Companions, so it's time to continue with the Reunions series I started in January.
Once again, I won't just be covering the newly-returned Companions; there's a new Alliance Alert for Arcann to look over and my Juggernaut recently completed the story up to and including the Iokath story, so there are the Companions she's re-encountered along the way as well.
So the most recent Roadmap has been posted by Keith, pertaining to Game Updates 5.8 and 5.9. As per usual, it's now the time for the blogging community to pick the most recent news apart and see what's interesting, unexpected, or potentially worrisome.
So yesterday, as most of you should be aware by now, we were graced with the first returning Companions of 2018; Risha and Corso for the Smuggler, and Andronikos for the Sith Inquisitor.
Since all of these Companions required the completion of Chapter IX of Eternal Throne, this meant that I decided to spend my limited free time this weekend taking my own Sith Sorcerer, Vahnora, through the remaining Chapters she had yet to do. There's a further tale to this than meets the eye, so I hope you're ready for yet more boring text before we get to the interesting bit about the reunions.
Although the official early-2018 Roadmap is not due out for "a few more weeks", yesterday Eric posted a small tidbit about what we'll be expecting to see in 2018, starting with an official list of things which GU 5.7 will be bringing to us on the 23rd of January.
The fourth boss of Gods, the matriarch of mayhem SCYVA will be released probably a month or so earlier than people were anticipating considering that it took about three-and-a-half months to coax the previous boss, NAHUT, out of the shadows. Just one more boss to go after her and then we're looking at Master Mode territory and anything which could come with that.
More interesting, however, is the fact that with this update we'll be seeing more Companions returning with 5.7, with the added twist that all three will be Class-specific. Risha and Corso will be returning as a double-team for the Smuggler while Inquisitors get to reunite with their beloved pirate Andronikos.
Part of me is slightly disappointed that they're only Class-specific as I was hoping that Andronikos would make a good addition to a Smuggler or Hunter crew, but at the same time I won't deny that this is ultimately a better route than trying to find a way to shoehorn in too many characters under one roof, an act which is becoming increasingly harder to do now that the Eternal Empire is no longer the galaxy-uniting threat it used to be.
More than this, though, it also negates an issue which is currently affecting every single returned Companion; that there are just some Classes that they will never suit. Sure, Andronikos works with a Smuggler, Hunter, and maybe an Agent or Warrior, but this is realistically where the line stops for him. Meanwhile Risha would only really suit a Hunter but would more than likely find life with Blizz and eventually Mako a nightmare. Finally, Corso would avoid any Imperials on principle and would probably find the Trooper and Knight too inflexible, especially if Jorgan and Rusk are around for either character.
One thing which I am interested to see is how a potential refusal will work. I imagine that there will be a way for people who dislike any of these characters to refuse them back into their crew, which is simple enough for Andronikos but leaves Corso and Risha in an interesting place since there is some potential flexibility here; you should of course be able to accept or refuse both as a pair, but it might also be possible to only accept one. As somebody who has come to absolutely dislike Corso (despite -or because of - my Smuggler main Cal being in a romance with him), even I don't know what I'd do if presented with the option to kick him out and keep Risha alone.
Still, this bodes well for the future of returning Companions, or at least those which will be designated as Class-specific. Not only will their return be more personally-tailored to their original Class character but it will also allow for the most problematic characters to have as smooth a return as possible. I'm of course referring to Jaesa Willsaam, Khem Val, and to a lesser extent Lord Scourge. In the former two cases, giving them to all characters would result in them 'canonising' their fate in one way or another, which wouldn't be an easy situation for some Players to find themselves in.
However, it is worth noting that even though this means that people who chose to keep Jaesa or Khem as a certain way will hopefully now undoubtedly see their choices reflected in their return, the 'canonising' effect may very well still be in place for an Instant 60/65 Character. Since Khem and Jaesa are both tied to Imperial Classes and particularly an Instant 65 Imperial is treated as having made all the Dark choices 'in-canon' these particular characters will probably be designated whichever of the alternate fates is the darker. While with Jaesa that's fairly easy to work out, it's going to be interesting to see which version of Khem gets designated...
While nowhere near as intricate, the reason why I listed Scourge as being fairly problematic alongside these two is because of his connection to the Emperor and the Knight. He's too ingrained as a bridge between the two to really translate across comfortably to any other Class, especially thanks to his prophecy of seeing the Knight as the Emperor's killer; how would that be explained away? On the other hand, I would be really interested in seeing what the reaction of an Imperial character will be to the former Wrath, and particularly that of his immediate replacement, so I would still be slightly aggrieved to see him only become Class-specific even if ultimately it makes most sense.
I'm very interested in seeing where we go in 2018 beyond this. We've known for some time that there would be a third Flashpoint, the remnants of the Operation, and more returning Companions, and now we're starting to be on the final stretch before we see how everything they've already announced will be playing out.
It's interesting to see that returning Companions have been given a varied treatment across the past twelve months alone; 5.2 brought Elara and Quinn back as very minor characters in a Story update intended only to personalise the faction choice, Raina Temple back in a more involved way as the default Companion in a new Flashpoint, and now we'll be getting Companions back in what are presumably simple conversation-only Alliance Alerts again.
As long as this time the Alerts are fully voiced, I don't mind them being handled in this way from now on, although I wouldn't mind the odd few cropping up in a more significant capacity in the future.
2018 realistically can't do all that much for 5.0, especially since so much happened during 2017. Hopefully we'll get the first hints about a shiny new Expansion within the next few months so that this entire pattern can begin anew within the year.