While the big emphasis in Star Wars: The Old Republic has been on story, where you can really see it shine with a group is in a series of repeatable quests that are much easier and a lot more fun to do in groups of four, called Flashpoints. While they are action heavy, there are some great dialogue options available in them, especially the first one on the Republic side, The Esseles. The idea is, once you’re done on your starter world you end up at the Republic Fleet looking for transport to Coruscant, which is the next planet in the chain before you can really branch off and do your own thing. They give you two options, the easy way, which is a quick shuttle ride for no experience in cramped quarters. Or you could take the more luxurious ride on board a Republic ship, The Esseles, which is the Flashpoint in question.
Imperials attack the Esseles because they’re after someone on board, and surprise, it’s not your player character. You have to retake your transport from the Imperials and the board their ship to de-activate the tractor beam holding you there and get back on your ship to escape. There are numerous points you can talk to other characters here and some of the dialogue really drives what you do in the mission. Now if you’ve got four people playing the mission, who gets to talk in cutscenes? Well you roll on each dialogue choice. This means you don’t always get to talk, and in fact I have run this flashpoint where I only spoke once, but it was my smuggler’s usual smart-ass reply. You also can’t affect other character’s choices. While they’ll go with whichever person wins the roll, if you selected the light side choice and the winner selected dark side, you still get your light side points, but the dark side option goes into effect. Like, say venting everyone into space instead of looking for other options.
This kind of random selection for dialogue really makes the conversations a bit more interesting, and you can get some other perspectives in on things. I actually had a guildie burst out laughing over Team Speak at one of my characters responses to a situation. They’d been running a pretty serious Jedi up until that point and here my character comes along to break up the serious mood just a tad. It ends up giving these moments a very Star Wars cinematic feel, even with the sense of humor. At the same time though, you have to be careful. While Flashpoints are more or less self-contained as far as decisions go, as they are repeatable, your main quest line is not. If you have a member in your party kill off someone you would have saved on the roll but you lost the roll, that character will still be gone as you play through the game. So be careful who you’re partying with if you’re trying to play a certain way and they’re most definitely not matching your style.
While the story really played a part in The Esseles Flashpoint, the second one, The Hammer, is more an action piece than anything else, but I still managed to get something in because of my class and crafting choices that cut us a break, even without many dialogue options. You do get some at the start however. The mission is given to you by holo-communication by Master Satele Shan, Bastila Shan’s descendant from the first Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It seems an old devastating weapon the Republic had developed had fallen into the wrong hands instead of being destroyed. It’s a weapon that launches asteroids at a planet at high velocities, basically wiping any planet out that doesn’t toe the line. The Jedi Master needs your help to destroy it.
You get dropped off at one point on the base and have to make your way through a series of enemies to reach the final boss and passed the rather large asteroid launcher that’s in operation by the time you get to the control area. One of the neat things I found, with my character’s salvaging skill, one of the Crew Skills you can take, was an in-operational drilling platform. I tried salvaging it for parts as I had the option to do so, but that ended up firing the drill up, opening up a new passage to cut out some of the enemies we’d have to fight through and fast-tracking us to a mid-boss, a mining droid with a fairly potent mining laser. I was highly amused that my junk collecting skill ended up being useful in the mission.
Even if you just want to play alone, Flashpoints are worth teaming up for social points, and better yet, some of the best gear in the game. And being repeatable, once a day, you can rack up some nice gear and bonuses.
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