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.
I'll start with the easiest three to talk about; Akaavi, Mako, and Iresso. Theron's tale is understandably much more intricate given that his return is the culmination of a storyline started essentially two Novembers ago.
Especially as - as the title also blares out loud - there will be spoilers for the most recent Flashpoint story within this post. Proceed at your own risk!
Akaavi and Mako are a nice pairing, since there's a lot of common ground between them. Akaavi lost the rest of her clan and suffered extreme dishonour as a result despite her quest for vengeance, and Mako of course lost her own 'family' then travelled with the Bounty Hunter whose honour was sullied by Jun Seros.
This is a pairing which I wouldn't have considered back when Companions were being returned in Chapters but now they're in small missions tailored personally to the specific Classes it works perfectly. I have always thought that the Hunter would easily see some aspects of themselves in their old ally's new ally, so they couldn't have received a better option of all the other Companions out there in my opinion.
Speaking of the two Classes, I find it rather amusing that with Mako now being a Smuggler Companion this means that I've automatically qualified for seeing each eventual Companion returning without getting my Hunter (or Trooper, but Tanno's a non-entity going forward anyway) to the same point as the other classes.
So it is with a Smuggler's perspective that I write my take on the mission. Long story short: whichever Companion is not your own gets a really disappointing treatment.
The mission, The Tatooine Rundown, starts with you being sent to pursue two bounty hunters (guess who?) who are in the midst of tracking down a target. Following debris from their hunt leads you to Akaavi and Mako in a back room of the alleys of Tatooine, standing off against a Rattataki who promptly gets shot. In my 'version' of the scene the Rattataki gets shot by Akaavi after being threatened by Mako, but it is likely that the 'heroic' moment of pulling the trigger is given to Mako for Hunters.
Once this is done, the player is then mistaken for a rival by whichever Companion is not their own, only to be quickly corrected by the familiar one of the pair. Pretty much immediately after this correction, the stranger of the two is sent outside without any opportunity for the player to interact with them.
That is a major missed opportunity. For all the spiel above about how similar Akaavi is to the Hunter and the assertion from Akaavi that she sees a lot of the Smuggler in Mako (which I myself struggle to see at this moment in time), there is nothing in this Alert which gives the player the opportunity to find out about them more themselves.
|Exhibit A: Akaavi|
|Exhibit B: Mako|
I sincerely doubt it, though.
For what the Smuggler learns of Akaavi's time since their disappearance, it's revealed that she had given you a Mandalorian burial and then pretty quickly afterwards turned to Bounty Hunting which is how she met Mako. Business is business. That's all there is to it really for those who aren't or can't be in a romance with her.
I'm someone who finds it very difficult to find a lot of things to like about Consular Companions. With the exception of Qyzen, they all just seemed rather generic to me whenever I've played through the Class story; beyond the traditionalist alien hunter, you had the quirky scientist, the hard-lining revolutionary, the honest hard-working and amiable soldier, and the plucky eager-to-learn apprentice.
Not that the other Classes were entirely immune from having walking character tropes as Companions (Ashara, Jorgan, and Rusk all spring to mind in particular), but the Consular just seemed to get a package deal.
This said, Felix Iresso was always the Consular Companion I found myself liking most, probably because until Nadia became a full Companion he was the only one who aligned most with a 'true' Consular. Qyzen is a bit too hard-lining and reluctant to offer aid, Tharan despises destroying science even if it's in the galaxy's best interest (cough the Imprisoned One's Mind Trap cough), and Zenith is, well, Zenith. It does make perfect sense for Zenith to be the way he is, certainly more so than several other 'Dark' Companions, but for a pure light-side Diplomat who achieved notoriety for their ability to heal a Dark Side Plague as the 'canon' Consular is suggested to be played as he never really seemed to be an ideal fit within their inner circle to me.
I highlight my own interpretations of each character as I remember them since of all the Class stories the Consular is now one of the most outstanding for completion, with my current Sage being an Instant-60. Thus, this also means that Vhiallia is automatically ineligible for the Iresso romance.
Admittedly, this gave this mission an interesting perspective as this is the first of the reunion scenes where a character who could have been romanced by my particular character wasn't. Interestingly, the music that played throughout was very "romancey" despite the fact that no romance could be rekindled.
Not that I'm complaining!
The name of the Alert, Jail Broken, pretty much sums up what happens to Felix during the Consular's absence. He gets imprisoned on Zakuul - where else? - and has only just been released. He reveals that during this time his captors tried to get the holocron out of his head but failed. He's also acquired a scar and a newfound hatred for the Republic; not only did they send him into what turned out to be a very obvious trap - basically Zakuul led the Republic to believe that the Outlander was in a particular place and Iresso is sent to investigate it - but they also left him to his fate.
Which sets up my biggest problem with some of these Alerts. Vector, Ashara (to some extent) and Felix have now had epiphanies whereby they don't want to be associated with their former factions. Their response is to sign up with the Alliance which, courtesy of certain story events, will be aligning itself ever closer to one of the factions in future story content.
Basically, for all the talk about being done with the Empire, the Republic, etc. etc. these characters are potentially going to be going back to their former employers despite their wishes not to, depending entirely on what the player decides. It does feel a little bit silly, but then again some players will be taking Aric Jorgan for a ride to the Empire or Talos Drellik to a position within the Republic, so... at least they'll be in good company...?
At the same time, though, I can't get too hung up on this detail since in-universe the decision to ally the Alliance with a faction 'properly' hasn't happened yet. My gripes are based entirely off the fact that we know where the story's heading; our characters now have an inkling but don't know for sure that's where things will be heading.
Ever since Eternal Throne was released in November 2016, the main story thread of the future content updates became clear through the Uprisings. There was this mysterious entity that had links within the Empire, the Republic, and the Alliance (as well as certain pirate groups) and they were making use of these links to attempt to destroy the Eternal Alliance.
So now, a year and a half later, we're finally at the end-point of this plot thread. Theron Shan was revealed to have been this inside source, having apparently decided on the day of the creation of the Eternal Alliance that it needed to be destroyed.
Well, The Nathema Conspiracy has come and gone and - what a shocker - it's been revealed that Theron wasn't an actual traitor but was just being a double-agent without telling us. The exact reason why he hasn't been telling us is because there has been another inside source all this time who had access to all the Alliance's communications. I'll say no more on this story detail, but it is nice to have another reason beyond just "you had to be in the dark" and that being all there is to it.
As is to be expected given the history between Theron and Lana, there's a reference to the time when Lana pulled a very similar manoeuvre on Theron on Rishi by deliberately letting him get captured by the Revanites without letting him know that was the plan. Adrenaline of the moment of course leads Lana to attempt to claim they're not the same thing, but the player character cuts this short. Gotta love those spies.
At the end of the story, with his innocence proven, Theron is able to be welcomed back into open arms and even married by those who romanced him.
And then there are people like me who allow Theron to die.
I am rather disappointed that there wasn't an option to peaceably let Theron go, though. As an actual character I don't mind him and I really didn't think he deserved to die for doing his job - especially given that it was extremely obvious that he was just doing his job thoroughly to everyone but the in-game characters.
People who have read this blog for a long time will know that I've never liked how prominent Lana and Theron have become and so I have taken the first opportunity the game presented to get rid of either one of them permanently. Maybe another opportunity would have raised its head in the future (said while looking with anticipation in Lana's direction), but it probably wouldn't come for several story updates if it would even come at all.
At the same time, though, having now witnessed exactly how the story sets up the choice between his living and dying letting him go in peace could never have been an option in the first place. I will thus give credit to this story for actually making me feel some remorse for having let him die.
Not enough to say that it's something I think I'll find myself wishing I hadn't done, though, of course.
5.9 has made me happy. We've got three great Class Companions back, with two being given as an inspired pairing, and I got the opportunity to say "arrivederci" to Theron Shan for all time.
That's not to say that I don't have some problems with how the Class Companions were handled. Akaavi or Mako are given a very big sideline depending on which of the two Classes is the 'incorrectly-associated' one. My biggest problems with Iresso have more to do with the fact that I know that I'll be pushing my Sage to ally with the Republic which of course contrasts with the "new Republic-free life" Iresso wishes to lead, but again this is from an out-of-universe perspective.
Then there's Theron. As I've said before I really do appreciate him as a character; I just feel that he and Lana became too oversaturated for their own good, especially since The Nathema Conspiracy has additionally wiped the slate clean by essentially writing out some very major players who in some cases had been as well established - if not better - than Theron and particularly Lana.
Lana's still kicking around for now, but I am curious to see how she'll handle working for the Republic on half of my characters from now on.
Additionally, with this Flashpoint and story update now released, the Knights expansions are officially over. Going forward we're saying farewell to Chapters and Zakuul, and moving back to the Imperial vs. Republic theme from way back when. Both expansions were an interesting experience and certainly a good experiment for SWtOR in general.
That said, I'm pleased to be moving away from the whole Chapters way of storytelling. They were nice, but they didn't give you nearly enough time to get to know the Planets you were questing on. Zakuul received a ton of exposure, sure, but Vandin, Darvannis, heck even Iokath and Nathema were all just... there. Hopefully we'll be getting some more 'proper' Planets in future and I can't wait to see where we'll be going next in the Star Wars Universe.