The Voss Trainwreck

•January 17, 2012 • 2 Comments

For those that do not know, Voss is a planet in the Star Wars Universe, and one of the locales for SWTOR. It’s a high-level area, so one gets there after spending many hours playing the game and levelling up.

Thus, this rant will contain spoilers for the quests in the planet, and the Jedi Knight storyline in general.

You have been warned.

Twice. Spoilers follow.

I have just finished the first part of the main “Planet Storyline” (as in not the class quest, the planet one everyone in the Republic gets to run) for Voss with my Jedi Knight, and boy, what a trainwreck it was.

I get it, I get it. There’s only so much “choice” we can be offered, and we have to follow the story.

Let me recap first. The concept of “cutscene stupidity” comes from games where your character/party/etc. is defeated by an opposing party that would be trivial to defeat during normal combat, or triggers a trap that would be obvious to the player, or just does something massively idiotic (hey, Cloud, use a *********** Phoenix Down you moron!), as soon as a cutscene ensues and control is wrested away from said player. In certain ways, it’s not too dissimilar to the old “I give you dialog options, but you can only continue when you choose the correct one” seen in certain role playing games.

Voss seems to take this to a new level, in what I’m going to be calling “railroading dialog stupidity”, where you have choice, but not really.

There had been a few things before that bothered me to certain extent during the Jedi Knight questline. Prominent above all is the fact that, when the “let’s hunt the emperor” shenanigans started, my first thought was “this is a stupid idea”. As I “progressed”, it changed to “this is a really stupid idea”. When the moment of truth came, it was “we’re going to get our asses kicked”.

Nothing I could do, and moreover, the railroaded stupidity of it all added insult to the injury when supposedly my Knight got Dark-side brainwashed, was rescued by her Master of all but a week who apparently taught her all she knows (may explain something, that), and all in all made a fine display of classic Cutscene Stupidity.

There’s always the nagging “this is so a trap” that one finds here and there, but nothing, _nothing_, compares to Voss.

Massive spoilerage follows, obviously.

I am greeted in the space station with an explanation on how Voss is neutral, they kicked the Empire’s butt once before, they distrust outsiders, and zealously defend their neutrality. Point driven home, or so I thought, I go to meet the guy in charge of Republic diplomacy here.

I enter and there’s a discussion going on between the Republic, the Empire, and the locals. In the first exchange I can already see how this is going to play out. The options given are:

1) You suck at diplomacy.
2) You REALLY suck at diplomacy.
3) You suck at diplomacy, and you’re a douchebag to boot.

Great.

So, feet firmly planted in mouth, trilateral discussions come to an abrupt end, and I proceed to concoct a plan with the Kofi Annan wannabe, who suggest I break neutrality to go poke at some old equipment the empire is using.

“Are you a *********** moron?” wasn’t offered as an option.

I know the stupidity of this idea is of gargantuan proportions, but I stick to the rails and oblige, slicing away at the three little towers to acquire “evidence” of the Empire’s badness, and taking great care not to attack any imperials. Never even went into combat with them.

It was still a stupid idea. I tried to have my character execute it with less stupidity than expected.

Anyway, I have the data, so back I go to the greatest threat to Galactic Peace since the Empire’s assault on Korriban: Ambassador Jannik. As expected, the Empire’s complaining, and with good reason, that I was sticking my nose where I shouldn’t. Perfectly in-character, the Voss boss tells the others to shut up and let me speak.

My options are:

1) I’m a moron and suck at phrasing things properly.
2) I’m a zealous moron who can’t think past “Republic good! Empire bad! Ooga Booga!”
3) I’m a moron, and rude to boot.

The fact that I didn’t even touch an imperial doesn’t come into play, of course. Not that I expected it at this point. The options given ALL make it sound like I’m an idiot, and they’re not even very fitting given how the mission went and what was involved. But I have to choose one. The Voss reminds me that I’m a complete moron and informs me that the towers I sliced into had been abandoned and they didn’t care what the Empire did with them.

GREAT intel work there, AmbASSasdor Jannikass. Why were we doing this again?

Oh, right, I remember now, more than a dozen writers with extra supervisors weren’t able to come up with a way to play the “neutral force” scenario without insulting the player’s intelligence.

But nevermind that! Our genius diplomat has a new idea that is, ominously, called “damage control”. The imperials are about to execute one of their OWN spies. I should go rescue him to see if he talks!

Let me get this straight, I pissed off the Voss even when NOT attacking anyone as I sliced some towers you forgot to mention had been abandoned, and now you want me to invade an imperial base where I’ll have to fight my way to rescue another imperial who may or may not talk.

That’s totally not breaking neutrality or interfering with something that, distasteful or not, can only be considered an internal Imperial affair in the eyes of the Voss.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!

No, it’ll totally work. Now the moron makes a quip of not knowing who has the hardest job of us two. That’ll be me, genius, I have to listen to your idioticy and implement your ACME-quality plans with complete disregard of common sense and sound judgement.

At this point, what my character should be doing is getting to her ship, giving Satele a call, and informing her that, unless they remove that moron from Voss in the next 24 hours, he’ll hand the planet to the Empire, with a red bow on top and free servings of cookies and milk.

This is when my suspicions that Jannik is “secretly” an imperial agent begin to grow. I also wonder how many dark side points I’d earn myself if I lightsaber-skewered him and replaced him with a baked potato. The potato would at least keep its non-existent mouth shut.

So I get to the spy, and what do you know, he’s none-too-happy about it, or in other words, he’s not an idiot and realizes he’s got all the cards. Which makes the dialog choice-induced stupidity of my Jedi only more irritating.

Mission accomplished, back I go. To my relief, and I have to say, my surprise, the idiot diplomat isn’t waiting with a full audience so I can get another mouthful of my own boot, instead I’m off to fight even more Imperials to rescue some Voss.

And before I go, he gives me this pearl:

“As soon as you ‘rescue’ the Voss, commlink me from there so I can speak with them.”

I’m the one who’s put the ‘ ‘ around ‘rescue’. Because I’m going to “rescue” Voss that, as far as I know, joined the Empire out of their own free will, and we don’t know how that’s going to fly with the local high command (although I strongly suspect they won’t be amused). I don’t know because I’m new to the planet. Sir-screws-up-alot, on the other hand, is just plain incompetent.

My options to answer him are:

1) The last thing I want is you talking with anyone, much less the Voss.
2) [Lie] Assuming I can set up a proper link…
3) I don’t think so [Kill him]

Oh sorry, that was my imagination, I am given no options, I’ll be giving him a chance to dig deeper as soon as I’ve finished with the ‘rescue’. I leave the instance without a chance to take the shovel out of his stupid hands.

In case it isn’t obvious, the correct way to handle this whole operation is with the SIS.

Hmmm, I think they handle assassinations too.

So, I get to where I’m going. There are no Voss (gee, that’s a surprise, the spy was a trap? SAY IT AIN’T SO!!). I open the comm to the biggest diplomatic failure in the service of the Republic, and who do I get? Our friend the Sith Lord, Lord Beldiss.

Who proceeds to mock me for all the blunders I’ve committed that cast me in a bad light in front of the Voss.

Let me get this straight, the writing railroads me into acts of abject stupidity, gives me dialog options that would only qualify as coming from someone with room-temperature IQ in Hoth, and then MOCKS ME FOR TAKING THEM!

WHO THE HELL GAVE THIS WRITING A PASS?!

( I will note that I’m writing this as I go through the quest, i.e., I’m not writing this as “it was obviously a trap now that it’s hindsight”; I started it as soon as the first IDIOTIC dialog options were offered, because it was obvious where this was going).

I calm down enough to blunder my way through the awful dialog, pretending that the last three stims I used were actually spice and that’s why my Jedi Knight is acting completely braindead, all the while secretly dreaming of joining the Empire due to their policy regarding absolute failures like our friend Jannik (well, I suppose the Empire would pin a few medals on his chest actually).

As I work my way into my next idiotic plan, the mission objectives updade:

1. Confront Lord Beldiss. (Even if you’re the one who’s been breaking the Voss rules and you have nothing to confront him with! Blunder in there with the lightsaber! RAWR!)
2. ???
3. Profit!

After I rub my eyes I realize steps 2 and 3 were only a product of my imagination.

And most of objective 1.

I think.

So I FIGHT MY WAY to Lord Beldiss (I make sure I kill everyone in a very neutrality-respecting diplomatic way; hey, since it’s not going to make a lick of difference I may as well get the bonus objectives), and in the most awkward, stupid, un-foresighted turn of dialog, the Voss suddenly turn to the Jedi as my retarded Knight finds some hidden powers of persuasion with a couple of lines that lack both power and conviction, moving the aliens to the light side with such alacrity that it forces me to do a double-take to make sure these Voss aren’t hiding a hyperdrive in their rear end. And, as expected, the Sith, who had not done a single misstep, who was holding all the cards, who didn’t give a single reason for the Voss to turn to the Jedi like that, and who only had to sit back and let Jannik the Digger do his spadework to win without breaking a sweat, goes all ragey “AAAARGH!” to make sure this trainwreck arrives at the designated lightaber duel end station.

Yeah.

Sure.

Whatever.

The Voss I just rescued make a quip about senseless violence, which I have to admit, as a self-reference to the horrendous questline is actually quite amusing, and I go back to receive the _ooohs_ and _aaahs_ of everyone for my amazing skills at bringing forth the truth.

It looks like, from this point on, the questline is a straight “kill ’em all before they kill us”. Apparently they gave up trying to be clever at them and I, for one, can only thank them.

What a way to mangle the perfectly good “neutral faction” premise. Bad writing, idiotic choices, terrible planning, and all the while beating the player with the “how could you do something so stupid” stick, only to resolve it with a massive asspull at the end. Who the heck was in charge of editing this planet?

Trick question, nobody was.

*Facepalm*

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