This is a chronicle of our absurd, canon-destroying playthrough of Star Wars Conquest, a mod for sandbox RPG Mount & Blade, originally published in 2014. We brought it back for the holidays. Header illustration by JawaStu.
Uninstall KOTOR. Forget TIE Fighter and Star Wars Battlefront. There is only one Star Wars video game, and it's an unfinished mod for a six-year-old medieval RPG built by an indie studio from Turkey.
Star Wars Conquest is devastatingly open and filled with intentional and unintentional weirdness, and that immediately makes it more appealing than junk like The Force Unleashed 2. Broadly, the mod reskins Mount & Blade's map-roaming, army-gathering, and quest-taking sandbox gameplay with familiar Star Wars characters, settings, and weapons. Instead of riding in a caravan, you're in an X-Wing (crammed, presumably, into the cockpit with 60 soldiers and their gear). Instead of fighting on horseback, you ride a speeder. Instead of sieging castles, you conquer Hoth and Endor. Instead of running errands for kings, you pay fealty to Greedo.
Also, this guy.
But I'm getting ahead. The first step, as in Mount & Blade, is character creation: figuring out who the hell I want to be in this storied universe. I have a rich spectrum of Star Wars archetypes from which I can sculpt a nuanced, original role. I could be a Wookiee commander in Mon Mothma's army. I could be a silver-tongued Mon Calamari ambassador. Or I could play as a Jawa merchant loyal to the Empire, going about the mundane business of buying and selling blue milk, dodging Tusken raiders (who fly around in ships for some reason) and fighting only when I had to.
Each of these characters is compelling, worthy of receiving their own multi-part, GIF-based diary series on a video game website. I don't build any of them because:
- I can be a droid
- I can instantly make that droid a jedi
- I am given immediate, unchecked access to a lightsaber
Sold . Never, ever turn down the opportunity to play a video game as a force-sensitive C-3PO. Actually, that's something that The Force Unleashed got right, isn't it? I retract my criticism.
RISE, DARTH MOTHERBOARD
I'm a Jedi robot, with a Sith prefix, loyal to Jabba The Hutt. My very nature challenges the pseudoscience of Star Wars, and I plan to use this identity like a wrecking ball through George Lucas' canon. As my last act of character building, I dump ability points into navigation, mounted accuracy, wound treatment, and prisoner management, which'll allow me to take captives in battle that I can sell for ransom.
I'm thrown onto the overworld map, a galactic view of dozens of planets and satellites in the Star Wars universe. I'm sitting alone in a conical shuttle, the starter ship for characters loyal to Jabba. My first to-do is assembling an army, “army” being shorthand in Star Wars Conquest for “sponge-mob of dudes who absorb blaster fire so you don't have to.”
I pop between planets and moons, recruiting two or three low-level grunts at a time. I'll have to pay them at the end of each month, but I've got enough starting credits to put a modest pile of blaster-fodder together. With any luck, many of them will die in battle before I have to pay them anyway.
En route to a planet, I'm tracked down by one of the many groups of bandits roaming the galaxy. Great! A chance to break in my new recruits. What can possibly go wrong?
Oh god. Oh god. I'm wounded, and my nine militia are all killed. I only manage to cut down four Hutt Bounty Hunters on the enemy side.
Worst, I'm captured by my attackers, and made to helplessly zip around the system in their spacecraft until the game allows me to escape. I'd like to think I used this time well, perhaps helping tutor my Hutt captives' children so that they can attend a good technical college someday, or doing lots of robot push-ups in my cell, swearing vengeance. A few days later: “After painful days of being dragged about as a prisoner, you find a chance and escape from your captors!” I lose some basic items, and all of my army is gone. I'm floating alone in space, an escaped captive of my own faction.
Move to the nearest planet, Saki, to begin rebuilding a party. I make a stop at Corellia, which I notice is the address of none other than Grand Moff Tarkin, aka the badass grandpa of the Galactic Empire. Holy smokes! Minutes into my game and I'm already crossing paths with one of the most powerful figures in Star Wars. Time to get an autograph. I land on Corellia to meet with Tarkin.
All I've gotta do is assassinate some random guy named Nimm and the Moff and I will totally be bros . Screw the Hutt Cartel--if I do enough jobs for the Empire, I can get in good with them. Before I dart off, I remember something from my time spent in Mount & Blade: any major character can be challenged to a duel. Will Tarkin spar with me?
God, look at this badass. Moff parries my attack, takes a vibroblade directly in the mouth and still cuts me down. You're my best friend, Grand Moff Tarkin.
Elated from a productive and non-humiliating training session, I zip over to Concordia. Though careful robotic deduction, I find my target:
And blast his face. For the Moff!
There's an unexpected casuality in the fight, though: Concordia's brave planet administrator rushed to my assistance, and my target stabbed him. Some weird scripting logic holds me responsible, and my relationship with the Empire drops by several points as the administrator dies. Oh well. I'll turn in this quest to Moff, he'll forgive me, and my relation rating with the Empire will bump back up.
Minutes later, Moff's ship intercepts me.
OH GOOD, I WAS JUST LOOKING FOR YOU, SIR, GOOD NEWS—
I thought we were buddies—buddies who can have a good laugh when one of them permanently lacerates the other with a vibrosword. What happened to us , man? I totally killed that guy you wanted me to kill without asking any questions… can you at least let me turn in that quest so I can get the EXP and credits? Hmm?
I have to accept reality: my best friend wants to kill me, and he probably has an army of 92 Stormtroopers. I'm forced into a fight on Corellia. Saddle up.
Alright, I think I can do this. There's enough room to maneuver, and only a couple of them are on speeder bikes… as long as I maintain speed I should be able to kite the swarm for awhile, pick some of them off, and whittle it down. Stormtroopers have never been very smart, right? It'll take awhile, but—OH GOD. I immediately get lasered in the chest and fall off my speeder.
A humiliating defeat at the hands of my mentor. But this won't be the end of Darth Motherboard.
Next time on Diary of a Droid Jedi: I embark on the singular goal of stealing Grand Moff Tarkin's teeth. Also, bar fights!