Sunday, February 16, 2014

Star Wars: The Old Republic - A Story of Regret

Yesterday I had a full day at home to relax alone, which meant a full day of playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. I finally completed everyone's quest lines on Coruscant and Dromund Kaas (the Republic and Imperial homeworlds), so now my characters are off traveling the galaxy, each on their own missions.

I started with my Jedi Knight character, who traveled to the planet of Taris, which was pretty much leveled 300 years prior during the events of the first Knight of the Old Republic game. I have no intention of telling each character's story here on this blog, but something happened on this planet. Something I'll have to live with.

Each character class in The Old Republic gets a unique storyline, something that's, as far as I know, pretty unique in MMORPGs. Obviously Imperial characters have different stories than Republic ones, but even a Jedi Knight and a Jedi Consular will have completely distinct story-lines, develop in different ways, and meet different characters along their main quests. However, not all of the characters' stories are equal, or so I thought.

For instance, for a long time I found the Jedi Consular's quest very bland: go here, find this artifact, then go here, find that artifact, repeat. I'm still not invested in it.

On the other hand, the Imperial Agent's quests are very fun and unique: you're a secret agent in an MMO! Basically, a Man in Black. For an evil regime, sure, but the way I play it my agent is basically undermining the Sith and saving innocent lives in the shadows of this evil government. It's fascinating.

Leading up to Taris, the Jedi Knight's story was rather straightforward: Jedi Knight is the best at Force, but only wants to use Force to help people. However, there is Darth Bad Guy with Evil Force, and Jedi Knight has no choice but to use Force to fight for Justice. Darth Bad Guy sends his son, Darth Bad Guy Jr. to stop Jedi Knight, but Jedi Knight wins and kills Darth Bad Guy Jr. Now Darth Bad Guy really, really hates Jedi Knight, and now it's up to Jedi Knight and Jedi Knight alone to stop Darth Bad Guy once and for all.

Going into Taris, I wasn't really sure what was going on anymore. The last time I had touched the Jedi Knight's story was about a year ago, so there are probably some holes in my memory of the story. For instance, I think the Jedi Knight's master is also out there, fighting against Darth Bad Guy's plans, but I don't remember.

Anyway, for some reason Jedi Knight goes to Taris to find a scientist who left the Republic when they signed a peace treaty with the Empire a few years ago to end the war. Now that the peace seems to be coming to an end, the scientist's brain is needed again for something.

Upon finding the scientist's hideout, however, it turns out that the Empire is looking for him, too. The scientist escaped, and the Empire is tracking him down. Imperial Agent Watcher One (an important code name, as I learned during my time as an Imperial Agent) is running the operation for Imperial Intelligence.

Now, the thing about Imperial Intelligence is that, despite their secrecy, they are far more human than the Sith they serve. The Sith are evil. Imperial Intelligence are just people doing their best to protect their people.

Luckily for Jedi Knight, the scientist's droid, RE-M0, survived the Imperial attack and can trace the scientist's location. Jedi Knight tracks down the scientist, only to find him dead at Watcher One's feet. Watcher One apologizes for the situation, says that the scientist wasn't supposed to die, and since neither party is going to get what they came for, they should both leave in peace. Jedi Knight was going to have none of it, but them RE-M0 busts in saying that the dead guy is not the scientist! A battle ensues with the fake Watcher One, and RE-M0 gets shot. He manages to pass on the scientist's location before his systems shut down. Jedi Knight saves his memory core.

Watcher One contacts Jedi Knight and apologizes for the deception. He says he needs to interrogate the scientist, and can't let Jedi Knight interrupt. So, he proposes a bargain: he happens to know that a Sith is planning an attack on a nearby settlement. Left alone, there's no doubt the Sith will wipe out the people there, likely demoralizing the rest of the restoration efforts on Taris in the process. If Jedi Knight saves the settlement, that will give Watcher One enough time to interrogate the scientist, and then he will happily hand over the scientist to Jedi Knight unharmed.

Naturally, Jedi Knight saved the settlement from the Sith attack. The Sith was caught totally unprepared, not expecting a Jedi to be there.

After defeating the Sith, Jedi Knight rushes to the secret Imperial base and arrives to find Watcher One on holocommunications talking to Darth Bad Guy! He had transmitted his interrogation information, and is forced to explain to Darth Bad Guy why he revealed that other Sith's mission to the Republic, since it was apparently important to Darth Bad Guy to attack an unprotected settlement on a dangerous, questionably significant world, since Sith are douchebags like that.

Watcher One is all ready to hand over the scientist unharmed with no further violence, as promised, but Darth Bad Guy notices Jedi Knight and orders Watcher One to kill Jedi Knight, since that seems like a fair fight.

Watcher One sighs, turns off the holoterminal, and apologizes that he must follow orders. He's easily defeated, but Jedi Knight holds back from killing him.

From here, Jedi Knight has three options: Execute Watcher One for some Dark Side points, Arrest him for some Light Side points, or simply let him go, also for Light Side points.

In hindsight, I wish I had let him go. Watcher One was a decent enough guy, following orders since disobeying Sith is a recipe for death, and he certainly didn't deserve to die. He couldn't go back to the Empire at this point since, having failed, he'd probably be put to death. In the end, it would have been awesome to have a skilled agent out there who owes me one. He wouldn't join the Republic, of course, but he wouldn't hurt it anymore either.

However, I chose to arrest him. Watcher One appreciated the mercy, but his pride as an Imperial Agent prevented him from allowing himself to be detained and interrogated. So, Watcher One took his life right there in front of me.

This being an MMO, there was no quicksave to load or any easy way to go back and choose again. Watcher One was dead, and he didn't need to be. I completed my quests in Taris in somber contemplation, returning the scientist to the Republic and, eventually, leaving the planet behind.

I learned an important lesson about mercy from Watcher One. Perhaps one day I'll show an Imperial the mercy I should have shown Watcher One, and perhaps that'll be a mistake as well. There's no right answer when it comes to dealing with an enemy. Still, I think from now on I'll be going with the option that might, somehow, make that enemy into a friend. The odds are long, but I think it'll be worth that chance.

RIP Watcher One.

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