Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
I don't work for BioWare, and I definitely don't believe that Star Wars: The Old Republic is the greatest, most ambitious project in videogame history. However, I do believe that SWTOR is a great game, and its expansion Rise of the Hutt Cartel only makes the game better. It's not because Makeb has waterfalls. (Sure, a concept artist said that, but did that really need to make it into the final promotional video?)

I think fans forget that Rise of the Hutt Cartel is not just Makeb. There are multiple additions to the core game, like new armor sets and questlines. Over the past month, I've had the opportunity to play through all of it. And for the first time in a long time, I can't wait to play through the single-player questline. Let me give you the highlights of my experience and what I believe are the best parts of RotHC.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
In the last couple of Hyperspace Beacons, I spoke in-depth about the level 55 operation coming with RotHC, so I won't spend too much time here rehashing it. But there are some very important things you should know. Scum and Villainy has more bosses than the previous operations, capping out at seven. The Boss fights start immediately; you don't have to wade through a whole bunch of trash to start the fun. More than a couple of the bosses have very interesting mechanics. The puzzle boss beat all other puzzle bosses, even more than the Tower of Hanoi boss in Karragga's Palace.

When I first spoke to developers about operations in SWTOR, I said that I hate it when bosses become stale, requiring no communication between group members. Some of the endgame instances from other games I've played became that way over time, and I didn't want to see that trap again. And I can honestly say, S&V will not suffer from that.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
Aside from the lackluster same-gender romance dialogue options, the story on Makeb offers some interesting twists and turns, and I don't think I'm giving anything away by telling you that the ending is epic. It stands as the best planetary story in the whole game. I know some people were disappointed that it's not a continuation of the individual class story, but I honestly believe that there is enough class-related flavor thrown in to make it feel as if it's personal to your character. I thought I'd miss the class story when I started the quest chain, but looking back on my experience, I believe additional content would cheapen the story the SWTOR writers have given us.

I'd also like to mention that Makeb has a minimal number of side quests. I remember my first run through Belsavis. I was completely lost; I had no idea which one of the bajillion quests in my log was the primary planetary story. In fact, it wasn't until I was leveling my second character that I realized that I'd skipped part of Belsavis' main story. Makeb is the exact opposite. Even though there were a couple of side quests, the main storyline really drove me from one area to the next.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
I cannot tell you how much I love double saber-throw. In fact, I used that ability so much during beta testing that when I jumped back to live, I forgot I didn't have it. I would constantly hit the key wondering why my two lightsabers weren't flying out of my hands.

Marauders aren't the only ones with cool new abilities. Have you seen the invincibubble for Sorcerors and Sages? This ability allows this squishy class to surround itself with a Force bubble for a few seconds of invulnerability. Granted, she's rooted in place and can't cast anything else while casting the bubble, but it could give her an extra few seconds for her cooldown to drop or someone to rescue her. The Juggernaut and Guardian's new ability reflects all damage back to its foes, and finally, Operatives and Scoundrels get a gap-closer.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
The Shroud, for lack of a better term, is a terrorist. He likes to do things just because he can or because they are hard, especially things that cause mayhem. However, the beginning of his questline isn't that difficult. In fact, I just kind of dismissed the whole thing as being a simple, standard MMO questline. But after the first couple of missions, it's evident that BioWare took this line in a fantastic direction. Again, I want to avoid spoilers, but wait until you see what the designers did when the quest hits Nar Shaddaa -- pure awesome.

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
I mentioned in my talk with Jeff Hickman that Rise of the Hutt Cartel has environmental puzzles. I did not see these coming. They are kind of like some of the datacron hunts, but taken to the next level. There are laser traps, jumping puzzles, secret switches, and more. Some are difficult to execute, while others are hard to figure out. Although there will be a lot of guides about these puzzles, I suggest that you not use them. I found it more satisfying when I didn't have to ask my friends, "So how did you do this?"

Hyperspace Beacon Six reasons Rise of the Hutt Cartel makes SWTOR better
I had a Twitter follower ask me to convince him to buy RotHC. I told him that it wasn't my job to do that. I simply report on things the way I see them. However, I told him that it's only $10. If he doesn't like it, then he's not out a whole lot of money. In long run, $10 isn't a huge investment if you really end up liking the expansion. If you really like the expansion, then you got a steal.

What are you looking forward to in Rise of the Hutt Cartel? Let me know in the comments.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.