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DBSI NPCs Are Preposterous

I can’t stop laughing at Star Wars: The Old Republic’s recently announced companion character for the Smuggler class, the mighty BOWDAAR! Not only is he a famous and undefeated gladiator, he’s a famous and undefeated gladiator that’s racked up over ten thousand deathmatch victories—unarmed—against enemies like rancors and Jedi! Even for a guy that’s been fighting for 108 years, that is an obscene number of victories. Honestly, is he going to be our companion or are we his? I’m left wondering if over-the-top storytelling is just a style we can expect from SWTOR, if Bowdaar is just a blip on the radar, or if our characters are going to have to be even more ridiculous sounding in order to compete with this type of companion.

Seriously, this Bowdaar guy is out of control.

Bowdaar crush, Bowdaar smash!
Bowdaar claw, Bowdaar slash!
Mighty Bowdaar never stops!
You see Bowdaar, call the cops!

He’ll eat your babies!
He’ll maul your face!
He’ll frown at puppies–
In bows of lace!
Bowdaar crush, Bowdaar smash!
Bowdaar smoke entire stash!

Undefeated, he’s never lost!
‘Till PvP, where you both got tossed!

I mean, this is SWTOR‘s version of Chewbacca? He makes my favorite Wookiee look like a chump! Chewbacca died when a moon fell on him, so let’s take a look at how Bowdaar would’ve handled that situation:
And here I was worried about Revan stealing the player’s spotlight! At least Darth-Master Revan won’t—presumably—be a companion character that’s constantly following you around. We could conceivably be surrounded by “larger than life” uber-NPCs in SWTOR. And really, I should have expected this. If I’d been paying attention to the ridiculous status being afforded to the Sith Emperor who is nigh-immortal, the best tactician in the galaxy, more powerful than Revan—able to bend him to his will—and has basically been behind every major threat to the Republic since the Mandalorian Wars or earlier according to the Timelines (other than the Sith Triumvirate from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, which is largely being ignored). I let this slide for the Emperor because, hey, he’s the central villain of the game. Villains kind of have to be over-the-top threats. But now that we’re getting more details about other NPCs that we’ll be meeting and even running around with, I’m starting to worry that this is par for the course.

How would it look if every companion comes with a backstory like Bowdaar’s? Either these super companions will be able to live up to the hype and overshadow us completely, or they’ll fall flat and we’ll be left wondering why they stopped being awesome the second they joined up with us. I don’t want to be the “loser factor” for my companion characters that makes them turn to suck. Another possibility is that Bowdaar and others like him are high-level, rare pokém—companions. If we don’t get these beastly (pun intended) companions until near the endgame, then I suppose it will make sense that they’re so incredibly capable. Still, one would think our hirelings wouldn’t be so powerful, or at least wouldn’t be as strong as a player character. Companions are currently available for use in every aspect of the game—

Matt Jarbo, Ask A Jedi: “Will companions be limited to specific parts of the game such as the open world, instances, Warzones, or can they be used at any time?”
James Ohlen, lead designer: “Currently we have them being able to be used at any time.”

{AskAJedi.com: “Exclusive: James Ohlen Q&A”}

—so how will it feel in PvP when we get killed by somebody’s companion, or in a raid where a companion is being used as the group tank?

Of course, it may be that our characters are really just that baller. That we make the Bowdaars and the Sith Emperors and the Revans of the galaxy look like saps. I just wonder how many “mook” or “redshirt” enemies they’ll have to sacrifice validating such preposterous status. If they’re throwing wave after wave of ineffective and doomed henchmen at us in order to make the back stories fit, well I worry that will make the majority of the game seem easy. If each player’s back story involves them killing twenty thousand enemies barehanded using only harsh language, any accomplishment we achieve in the game will seem small by comparison. If everybody is special, nobody is.

But let’s look at some of the other NPCs BioWare has detailed and see if this is really a legitimate concern. If the only offenders are the Sith Emperor and Bowdaar, two characters do not a trend make.

The biographies section includes some companion characters, but mostly seems to consist of faction leaders. Like the Sith Emperor, the faction leaders should probably get some slack, as they have to be big time in order to lead, and really none of the others—Grand Moff Kilran, General Garza, Darth Malgus, Nem’ro the Hutt, Artus (Mandalore the Vindicated), and even Grand Master Satele Shan—are as remarkably uber as the Sith Emperor. I’m not going to nitpick faction leaders that they’re too impressively leaderly. They’re all about what one would expect from the galaxy’s premier movers and shakers. Lower ranked NPCs will probably be better examples of how worried we should be that everyone we run into will be a “Bowdaar.”

The companion characters we know about so far are, in addition to the Mighty Bowdaar for the Smuggler, Vette for the Sith Warrior, Kim Vaal and Xalek for the Sith Inquisitor, T7-O1 for the Jedi Knight, Qyzen Fess for one of the Jedi classes, and Mako for the Bounty Hunter. Kim Vaal is a member of a rare species, Dashade, but otherwise we don’t know much about him. That he’s “rare” doesn’t mean much anyway because, in speculative fiction, rare means commonplace. We know even less about Fess and Xalek, so we can’t really evaluate them on the ridiculous meter. However, Vette and T7 both have biographies pages and we actually got to see Mako in gameplay during the first Bounty Hunter gameplay video. Vette is apparently some sort of Twi’lek Robin Hood, but otherwise unremarkable. Mako is supposed to be a “tech genius,” but seems pretty green otherwise. Finally we have T7, who is closer to Bowdaar status than any of the others in that he’s also had over 100 years of fighting experience. 200 years worth in fact. And he’s had a list of prominent owners under whose employ he’s modded himself up to be more capable in a fight. This is a utility droid that sounds more like a tank. Still, T7 strikes me more as “experienced and capable” than as “incredibly overpowered.” None of the companion characters—other than Bowdaar of course—strike me as unusual for Star Wars, and some actually seem pretty modest.

I’d say it’s too early to take this concern seriously. I could point out other characters in the timeline videos who seem pretty hardcore—Hylo Visz, Eison Gynt, Barel Ovair, or Belth Allusis—but most of those characters are dead and gone by the time SWTOR kicks off. It seems like, from what’s been announced so far, the only preposterous “ringers” we can expect to meet in the game are the Sith Emperor, Bowdaar, and maybe Revan.

I almost wish that weren’t the case. I know, I know. I present a concern, figure out that I’m most likely worrying for nothing, and I’m still finding something to complain about. But it occurs to me that if the majority of SWTOR characters were over-the-top to the point of ridiculous, especially our characters, then that would make this general “redonkulousness” seem more like a stylistic choice—similar to that of the Clone Wars (2003) animated shorts and The Force Unleashed—rather than a mere handful of uber-NPCs stepping on our spotlight. That might not fly with some fans who want a more unified presentation of lore, but if I had to choose I think I’d prefer it to only a handful of god-mode Sues. But hey, whenever I get one-shotted by a wookiee uppercut, I’ll just repeat the Mystery Science Theater 3000 mantra and get back to enjoying the game. Besides, as I’ll most likely be playing a Smuggler for my main character, I’ll be the one showing off my huge, furry, raging Bowdaar in PvP.

Anybody else think Bowdaar is ridiculous? Is this something to be concerned about or is it just a matter of writer talking up their character a bit too much? Comment below or discuss here!

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