The Old Republic tries out survival-horror with its next endgame Flashpoint, Kaon Under Siege

Josh Augustine at
It's easy to forget that the world of Star Wars is filled with dirty, scary places--it's not all Gungan cities and Ewok campfires. BioWare's tapping into this darker side of Star Wars in the first Flashpoint added to The Old Republic after its launch, in the big Rise of the Rakghouls update coming on January 17th. It looks spooky, frantic, and - most importantly - will feature a full story with group choices and consequences, much like the game's first two Flashpoints: Black Talon and Esseles. A mad scientist has been working on developing a new strand of the rakghoul virus--which players will remember has already turned everyone on Taris into crazed, bloodthirsty beasts. And like all mad scientists, he's been quite liberal in his test-subject policy and his strand has caused another planet to be overrun with the virus. In this new level-50 Flashpoint, your four-person group must descend to the run-down wasteland of the ruined city planet and take out the scientist and all the people-turned-rakghouls that get in your way.

Being turned into a mindless killing machine does not excuse poor parking skils.

When the city world plummeted, so did the infrastructure--meaning there's no electricity and most of the world is dark. Players will have to find flashlight probes, one at a time, that cast a cone of light in front of them to help them make their way through the ruined corridors. It's not all spooks and ghouls, though--you'll have the opportunity to lay the smack down on plenty of baddies. Lead Flashpoint, Operation and PvP Designer Gabe Amatangelo walked us through some of the Flashpoint's boss fights, including the first one, which has players backed up against a wall as waves of Rakghoul swarm in on them. One player can jump on a turret to mow down the attackers, while others set explosives and shoot whatever they brought with 'em to keep the hordes at bay.

You can turn off the flashlight probes if you're feeling brave, but I'll keep my nightlight, thank you.

The Flashpoint has the usual 3 regular bosses, with another bonus boss that can be unlocked by completing side objectives. At the end of the Flashpoint, players will uncover who was behind the research, which Amatangelo tells us will open up the story arc for a follow-up Flashpoint, which will come in a later expansion. While Kaon Under Siege doesn't extend players' class quests, each class will have unique dialog options to chime in with during the course of the Flashpoint. Amatangelo estimates that anyone level 47 or higher should be able to easily get through the Flashpoint on normal difficulty. After your team takes it down in normal mode, you can jump straight into Hard Mode, which is designed for coordinated groups of level 50 characters with full sets of blue-quality gear and a few epic items. In addition to the new Flashpoint, the patch will also smooth out the difficulty bumps and bugs in all Flashpoints currently in the game.