Last year, we finally released the long awaited New Republic faction in our Beta 1 update, giving the galaxy a New Hope for salvation. This year, we oscillate back to the Dark Side. Emperor Palpatine has returned, not somehow, but as a result of decades of experimentation with Sith rituals and cloning technology. Along with him comes his long promised flagship, the Eclipse, new Star Wars planets, new units for Imperial factions, significant post release balance changes to the New Republic, and something once thought to be impossible - a Campaign!
I am pleased to announce Beta 2 is officially Star Wars Interregnum: The Dark Empire Update.
The Dark Empire
As in the comic book series of the same name that inspired this update, Emperor Palpatine has been resurrected in his personal fortress world of Byss. A seemingly pleasant world corrupted by Palpatine’s influence, Byss is the seat of government of his new Dark Empire. Unlike his first Empire, in which Palpatine’s true nature was somewhat hidden behind the veneer of the Imperial government, the Dark Empire is founded entirely on the teachings of the Sith. The Inquisitorius and Dark Side Elite openly use the Dark Side of the Force while running the Empire in Palpatine’s name, and it forms the basis of the legal system, political power, and even some of its technology.
Isolated from the rest of the galaxy by artificially created hyperspace lanes in the Deep Core, Byss is a safe and secure haven for Palpatine to plot his return. Filled with cities of Palpatine’s loyal followers, shipyards, military bases, and an arsenal of secret super weapons, including his flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Eclipse, Byss has everything a deposed Emperor would ever need to stage his comeback. But its deepest secret is the vaults of cloning chambers and ancient relics hidden within the Emperor’s Citadel, known only to his Dark Side Elite, which provide the means for Palpatine to come back to life by possessing a new Clone body whenever he is killed.
In game, Byss takes its place among other Star Wars fortress worlds like Coruscant, Kuat, and Mon Cala, where it appears on special Star Wars maps, or has a small chance to appear on random maps. Byss supports a very large number of tactical slots and a potent defense fleet, but all of that is insignificant compared to its most powerful defender: Emperor Palpatine himself. While commanding the Eclipse, Palpatine is truly a force of unrivaled destruction, and takes his place as the most powerful “PVE Boss” in the mod. I will not spoil what challenges await you if you lack vision and choose to take him on, but should you somehow defeat Palpatine and capture Byss, you will be rewarded with the ultimate power in the galaxy - the ability to construct your own Eclipse Star Dreadnaughts. Planet killing capabilities included.
...And originally, that was our plan for Byss and the Eclipse. But thanks to some recent modding discoveries (which is somewhat to blame for this update taking longer than anticipated), it turned out to be just the beginning! Palpatine was always intended to be a primary antagonist for the player, but surely some of you would want to join the Sith Lord, not destroy him. Yet how could we possibly balance unlimited power itself with the playable factions of the mod?
The answer is, if you want to be faithful to the source material, you don’t. That is why Emperor Palpatine and his Dark Empire are only playable in special campaign missions!
Let’s break down that last sentence. Sins lacks a campaign, and unfortunately it truly does not have any real support for narrative, story based gameplay. However, we have figured out a way to make some really interesting missions with special objectives, starting forces, and yes, even unique factions. A future news post will discuss the individual campaign missions in more detail, but Beta 2 will contain several “what if” scenarios where you can either take command of the Dark Empire yourself, or lead its enemies to ensure Palpatine is defeated once and for all.
Gameplay wise, the Dark Empire is a unique Imperial subfaction that is only available in campaign missions. It cannot be used in regular games. The Dark Empire has a unique blend of ships and technology from both the Galactic Empire and Warlords, without having any of those factions’ weaknesses (Morale and Fleet Size penalty respectively), along with a couple of unique surprises. Chief among these are of course are related to the dark side and superweapons. The Dark Empire has a chance to resurrect destroyed ships at Byss, can build more Galaxy Guns than other factions, field them easily with extra tactical slots, can research major bonuses to planet bombing, and of course use the Eclipse and Palpatine as a Titan. They can also build Allegiance Battlecruisers normally and have a unique hero unit, Executor Sedriss, who also gives access to a new insidious Starfigher, the Shadow Droid. The Dark Empire lacks any of the usual bonuses to Diplomacy, but surely you were not expecting the Emperor to negotiate with Rebels and other insignificant invaders!
New Toys for the Empire
You won’t need to play a campaign or conquer special planets to find some new content for the normal Imperial factions however. While the Empire performs quite well in the mod currently, there are a few situations that it cannot adjust to very well due to some holes in its roster. Beta 2 will give the Empire a few well needed adjustments (nerfs and buffs), mostly to its economy and research progression, and in exchange receive a number of interesting new and often requested units. Among these are:
Procursator Star Destroyer: A Star Destroyer largely made from the same components as the more famous Imperial class, only scaled down and optimized for Space Combat only. Originally shunned due to its limited role, the Procursator has seen a resurgence in the resource limited, space warfare dominated Interregnum. With missiles and a powerful main battery mounted forward instead of to the side like other Star Destroyers, the Procursator can deal significant damage to whatever is in front of it and even give the Imperial fleet some much needed mobility and repair support. It completely lacks a hangar bay and fighter capacity however.
Golan I Defense Platform: An earlier space station model that is about half the size and cost of the Golan III currently available to the Empire. It is an affordable alternative defense option that is particularly good against lighter enemy forces and raids, but lacks the Golan IIIs firepower against heavier ships. Like its bigger brother though, it carries both weapons and a small hangar bay for TIE Fighters.
Arquitens Command Cruiser: A famous veteran of the Clone Wars like the Dreadnaught Heavy Cruiser, Carrack Cruiser, and Lancer Frigate. Any Arquitens still in service with the Empire have been converted to Auxiliary “Command Cruisers”, where they can use their upgraded communications equipment and sensors to keep allied ships prepared and informed as well as disrupt the abilities of enemy frigates.
Vigil Corvette: A new Light Frigate that will replace the Carrack cruiser for the Warlords faction only. Smaller and cheaper than the Carrack, the Vigil is nonetheless an efficient and modern combatant that can hold its own against other ships of its type thanks to its powerful main battery of 3 dual turbolaser turrets.
If time permits we may go more into the capabilities of these new units, as well as the more significant balance changes, in a future article before Beta 2 is released.
Oh, and while not directly related to Imperial factions, it will allow more fan favorite Star Destroyers to be obtained by everyone else. The planet of Fondor will be joining Byss as the second new Star Wars special planet coming in Beta 2. Control of this massive Industrial Center will allow the player to construct as many Allegiance class Battlecruisers or Bellator Star Dreadnaughts as they can afford.
While the Alliance factions won’t have as many new units in Beta 2, they have nonetheless received a lot of attention from the Dev team, our tireless QA testers, and of course you, our players, on the balance front. With the New Republic having only just been released last update, a number of much needed bug and balance fixes will be coming out in Beta 2 based on player feedback and testing. Among these will be some new technologies to help the New Republic’s early game defense and mid game economy, research locked Mon Calamari ships being unlocked earlier in the tech tree, and a readjustment to most new class unit abilities and ships, and dozens of other changes. The overall theme and content is still very recognizable, but the details and numbers have seen major adjustments.
The Rebel Alliance has also received some changes with improved capitalship experience gain rates, a tweak to the MC30s weapon type to make it threatening to more types of units, and even a new Capitalship, Rebel One. Replacing the standard Providence in the Rebel line up, Rebel One is the most well known example of the variety of refits and modifications the Rebellion made to the Providence Destroyers they acquired. Rebel One will mostly have different abilities than the current Providence that encourage a more offensive style of play. The classic Providence meanwhile will continue to be used and obtainable from NPC factions in the mod.
As with every major update since the Minor Factions DLC was released, we have added a number of new minor factions to the mod for you players to either defend or conquer. This set has a rather corporatist flavor as three of them are major companies whose goods and services have played a major role in galactic history. They are:
Yes, that’s the Intergalactic Banking Clan best known for joining the Confederacy of Independent Systems in the Clone Wars. A lot of things have changed in the galaxy since then, but they still have a few of these old things floating around to defend their territory. Perhaps they’ll sell them to you should you choose to befriend them.
Also, while they are not exactly a new minor faction, several new ship designs have been seen in the vicinity of the Hapes Cluster. Perhaps some of you will find them in your fleets as well.
You can expect all this, a number of update ship models and textures, new general purpose gameplay maps, a new minimod, new player faction symbols, and more all coming soon in Star Wars: Interregnum Beta II. Coming to Moddb in the next few months.