We've talked a fair bit about having a more story-based focus in our campaigns, as well as trying to fill in some of the gaps left by the era system, and era three is going to be one of the most changed in the mod. Before anyone asks, no this does not mean we're making people go through both Eclipse I and Eclipse II, simply because that would get kind of redundant. The jump between Era III and IV left out a fairly important period with the Crimson Empire and parts of the Imperial Mutiny, which made Era IV unclear as to what exactly was being reunified. Much like Era I was split into Sate Pestage and Isard, Era 3 is now going to be split between these two fairly distinct periods, with Operation Shadow Hand and Crimson Empire. There will also be some changes to the jump between Era II and III.
Death clones are underway!
We've shown off the Regicide feature before, where you can jump between eras manually without having to go on a suicide run with your leader, but the basic nature of the eras is changing a bit as well. For the most part, the idea is still if your leader is defeated, you move on to another era, but some eras were always more attractive than others, and from both a story and gameplay perspective will require a bit of a different way through. Here's a new summary of what the eras consist of and how you progress. This may all seem like gibberish to a lot of people right now, however it will all be clearly and helpfully explained in-game, so you should never feel confused as to what's happening or your options and objectives.
Era I: This era has been moved from a solo-Isard focus into being represented by Sate Pestage and Ysanne Isard sequentially. In order to proceed from Sate's portion to Isard's portion, the Empire will either have to lose Coruscant, lose Pestage, or pay to extract Lusankya up from of Coruscant.
Era II: We've always limited Era II to Thrawn, however while he was still touring around and therefore makes sense to have during the period in which the New Republic was canonically hunting for Zsinj, there was a significant gap between the end of the Thrawn Campaign and the start of Shadow Hand. Losing Thrawn will no longer directly end the era. The first option is that his defeat will start a countdown leading to the emergence of Palpatine when playing against the AI, however as the player in order to proceed to Era III you'll need to actively join Palpatine, which will be fairly expensive and time-consuming. You can do this entirely without losing Thrawn, however there will be a bit of a penalty possible in the form of a schism event for losing Thrawn without having joined your forces with Palpatine.
Era III: What used to just be Shadow Hand is now both Crimson Empire and Shadow Hand. This whole era will be explained in this news post, so basically for now I'll just say you kill Palpatine, bad things happen for the Empire, then you kill Jax.
Era IV & V: As far as the direct era-change related process goes for these guys, they essentially work the same as always; Daala gets defeated, resigns and hands the reigns over to Pellaeon. There will be a lot stuff within their eras, but not a huge change to the link between them.
Tech Research: Instead of just getting new ship options automatically as you progress, there will typically be some research associated with the creation of these new classes for the Remnant (rarely), New Republic (primarily them) and Empire of the Hand. We can't do it with the Warlords unfortunately, as there's some story scripting that won't work with these groups because of engine limitations. Typically these research options will become available when the ships started to be developed, whereas the pure-era based approach was based on when the ships started active duty. This means, for example, the Viscount, with proper investment, could become available as early as the second half of Era III instead of the end of Era V, as it was developed in response to the effects of Shadow Hand's massive dreadnaught slugfests.
Schism Events & Emergent Factions
The Imperial groups during the mod's period by virtue of their sheer number demonstrate just how hard it is to keep an Empire together in a post-Endor galaxy, and schism events are one of the ways that is represented. This refers to a point when one faction splits into more factions, whether altogether or in small parts. It will also be conditional on the faction having certain territory at a certain time, though there are certain points where control will switch to an emergent faction regardless of who controls it. This list isn't necessarily exhaustive, but here's some of the bigger points when this can happen:
Era I-V: Warlord Zsinj dying while his Empire controls the Corporate Sector (Etti IV and surrounding territory) will cause the Corporate Sector to break off of his Empire and become independent.
Era I: Progressing to Isard from Pestage will cause Zero Command to split off from the Empire at Kalist VI and Abregado-Rae, if these planets are controlled.
Era II: Losing Thrawn without already having joined Pellaeon will cause the Ciutric Hegemony and Corellian Sector to split off from the Empire.
Era II: (Hunt for Zsinj GC only) - killing Zsinj will cause the alliance of the New Republic and Imperial Remnant to break off, giving the Empire Kuat and surrounding territory.
Era III: Losing Palpatine will cause the Greater Maldrood, Eriadu Authority, Zero Command and Pentastar Alignment to break off. The entire territory controlled by the Empire will be divided up between the Empire and these 5 factions depending on where the Empire controls at the time. We've thought about having the Imperial factions all coalesce back into the Empire under Palaptine if you're not playing as them, but at least for now we feel like that could get a little problematic.
After this point, Daala pretty much makes them all come to their senses, so that should cover the major ones. Again, these will all be pretty clearly explained in-game when they're happening and the player will be warned of the consequences of their losses in these situations.
Operation Shadow Hand
"Someone...or something...has been biding its time, while the feuding Imperial factions distracted our attention..."
Time Covered: Pre-Shadow Hand Campaigns (10ABY),Operation Shadow Hand (10-11ABY), Crimson Empire (11 ABY)
Since the Battle of Endor, Imperial forces would occasionally mysteriously disappear, leaving no records of their destination. In fact, these forces were being called to the new fleet of Emperor Palpatine, whose spirit had survived in a clone body. After Thrawn's defeat, Palpatine eventually reunited all of his former Imperial forces. The three massive Deep Core fleets comprised of multiple types of Star Dreadnaughts and their support ships struck outward while Kaine and Teradoc attacked from their respective holdings towards the core, catching the New Republic off guard and quickly reclaiming massive amounts of territory. The Imperials quickly fell to infighting, however Palpatine paid this no mind and instead continued with his campaign using new new types of superweapons; the Eclipse and the World Devastator.
If Palpatine is defeated, Warlord forces then unlock and the game progresses into the Crimson Empire period under Carnor Jax, detailed below. The Imperial territory will also divide back up into component Warlord groups.
New Republic - Coruscant
Imperial Remnant - Byss
Pentastar Alignment - Entralla*
Eriadu Authority - Kampe*
Greater Maldrood - Hakassi
Zero Command - Kalist VI
These factions will only emerge with territory already owned by the Empire, except for their capitals.
"The galaxy has changed—it's mine for the taking! I will rule the Empire…I will sit on Palpatine's throne."
Time Covered: Crimson Empire (11 ABY)
The Empire has once again broken down into Warlordism. As the New Republic tries to regain its footing from before Shadow Hand, Carnor Jax is attempting to gain control of what's left under the Ruling Council's control. Warlord infighting is also at an all-time high, with long-time rivals Harrsk, Teradoc and Delvardus at each other's throats in the core. With Kaine's death in Shadow Hand, the Pentastar Alignment has also begun to fracture and succumb to outside pressure. This GC essentially takes up where the schism event in Shadow Hand occurs, but using a more canon-based interpretation of where each faction would have been at that time instead of, obviously, being based on how the game had progressed within that campaign. It also allows you to play Era III as a one of the Warlord factions.
New Republic - Coruscant
Imperial Remnant - Ord Cantrell
Pentastar Alignment - Entralla
Eriadu Authority - Kampe
Greater Maldrood - Hakassi
Zero Command - Kalist VI
Just like he did with Warlord Zsinj, Corey is doing another preview playthrough with Maldrood on his channel, so subscribe there if that's something you're interested in seeing. The first few episodes showed off some of the new schism events as well.