Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Disappointment on Umbara. A SWTOR review

It's no secret that I've been enjoying drawing more than gaming lately. And when I did play the past weeks, it was mostly Lord of the Rings Online's Mordor expansion. Nevertheless, I did fire up Star Wars: the Old Republic eventually, and decided it was about time to take on the Crisis on Umbara storyline on my main character. Which brought me straight to the Umbara flashpoint.

Some warnings are in order. This (overdue) review contains huge spoilers about the storyline, and also some crazy theories (that I, of course, believe are completely plausible). I recommend saving it for later if you're yet to play through the Umbara story.

Right from the very first moment, things seemed a bit off; it was all too rushed. Theron comes to you with a report, saying something along the lines of "we have a lead on the traitor, we have to go to Umbara, NOW!" - and that raised some questions. As a commander, I wouldn't just jump into a spaceship without a clue what's going on. But somehow, my character was satisfied with the promise that things would be explained underway. There was no conversation option to protest.

Sure, walking on the roof of a train is much more efficient than having to squeeze yourself in between the passengers down below.

Next thing I know, we jump out of a shuttle craft, on top of a moving train. Wtf? There is no convincing explanation as to why this is a good idea, but my character acts as if it's business as usual. I mean, I get that it looks cool and stuff, but wouldn't it be a lot less dangerous to arrest the traitor when the train makes a stop? I've seen this happen several times myself when a drunkard or aggressive person was harassing people. It's clean and efficient, and when it's handled professionally, most people don't even notice anything is going on. But apparently boarding the train the regular way is a no go since people on Umbara for some reason hate the Alliance.

So with the thought "this is all a bit random and unbelievable" in the back of my mind, I proceeded to explore the train, which apparently had to happen via the roof. 

I enjoyed the puzzle elements of trying to find my way around, jumping over things, evading illuminated floor panels (of course, every train is booby trapped...). Unfortunately, the ride was heavily guarded and I was forced to take out many random people that I had no quarrel with; I had no idea who they were and who they're allied with. Theron wasn't very helpful in this regard.

Theron looks guilty as he makes his contribution to this chapter's cliche lines

When we got to the front of the train, Theron locks my character and Lana up and makes the train crash, sodding off while making up some lame excuse, "the Alliance doesn't do enough for peace". Lana and I manage to escape the train alive and look at each other. So Theron is the traitor. Rather than the "OOooooooomg, mindfuck!!" effect that's undoubtedly sought after by the writers, I sigh to myself while I'm fighting through the Umbara jungle. It feels like a cheap writing trick to go with the least likely character as the traitor.

On another note, the Umbara landscape is fairly pretty, though a bit odd

After battling through a lot of aggressive natives, we finally make it off Umbara. My character offers Theron a chance to talk - extremely reasonable seeing the circumstances - but he refuses, repeating his lame excuse. It's just so out of character that it's unbelievable. Perhaps if you're the dictator like leader type that rules the Alliance with an iron fist it might be believable, but for my peace driven jedi it is not.

Me being my extremely reasonable self

At the end of the chapter, in a sort of epilogue, a scene appears that I had been half expecting: a teaser that might explain Theron's extreme out-of-character behaviour. Theron speaks to a cloaked figure. The theatrical way to 'dump the commander' was apparently a test to see if Theron would be fit to join his mysterious order (or whatever "we" stands for). I guess we're supposed to wonder who this hooded figure is next. Instead I wonder if it's all just a ruse and Theron will come back later to say "sorry, but this was the only way I could get into this super secret order and I needed to find out what they were up to because they are influential behind the scenes". It would be the only way I can think of that makes sense of it all - especially since the train crash is a bit of a half assed attempt on the commander's life. From up close (as Theron was), he could have chosen a much more effective, immediate method. The whole Umbara thing seemed mostly theatrical - which would make sense if you'd want to impress your secret figure without actually harming the commander.

Theron wants to be recruited by this weirdo

Or it turns out he just actually betrayed you, and that doesn't make any sense at all if you're a peaceful commander. Unless you're a dick commander, of course, then he should betray you, or choices don't matter at all.

Overall, I must say I am a bit disappointed by this chapter, and it's all because of the writing. The Umbara events are simply not believable. I feel detached as I watch the major characters speak their cliche lines. This will only make sense if all gets resolved more or less as described above, but then it's too predictable. More than excitement, the chapter makes me experience boredom and annoyance, and that's disappointing indeed.


  1. Your theories aren't as crazy as you think! In fact, a lot of people have said similar things; I guess you just missed everyone talking about it as the flashpoint first came out.

    Your thoughts on the story are pretty similar to my own really, except that I didn't mind the train thing. I think that expecting the authorities to just co-operate in a hostile environment would have been unrealistic too. ;)

    Overall I still wasn't really disappointed with the Umbara update though, because I really loved just getting a new flashpoint, which I think is nice-looking and features some interesting bosses.

    1. Haha, I don't *really* think they're crazy; in fact, I believe it's too predictable. I avoided social media like the plague when Umbara was just out, in fear of getting spoiled. It's nice to hear people came with the same theories, although that also just confirms my too predictable argument.

      I do like having a new flashpoint, although I still need to drag my guildies to their feet to come try it out with me. Cool to hear you like the boss fights! That's encouraging.

      On another note, I just wish there'd be another stronghold slot, as that would give an incentive to run the flashpoint. I don't want to deactivate any of my current ones just so I can get the train stronghold.

    2. Oh, you are out of the loop! They increased the stronghold cap to 10 over a month ago. :) So you can get your train without sacrificing anything else.

    3. That's such great news! Thanks for telling me. Totally spamming my guildies for FPs now. :)


    I just wanted to say that it's great to see you again, Rav!!

    1. Haha, likewise! Sorry for all the spoilers; if it's any comfort, the next post (a LOTRO one) is completely Redbeard-proof. :)


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