Star Wars: The Old Republic was originally released in December 2011, and has received numerous story expansions and updates since then. These expansions have introduced new heroes, villains, and plots for players of all classes and allegiances to explore. However, BioWare has consistently returned to one of its most common villains: Darth Malgus. He first appeared in the Return, Hope, and Deceived SWTOR trailers and consistently guided Imperial players through in-game flashpoints and missions. Players could defeat Malgus in an operation, but he was revived in the Onslaught expansion as the Emperess’ Wrath.
Legacy of the Sith, SWTOR’s upcoming expansion, will once again be placing Darth Malgus in an antagonist position. The Legacy of the Sith‘s story summary states that players will be participating in a military campaign for their respective allegiances, and begin to uncover Darth Malgus’ hidden plot. If this was Malgus’ debut as a villain, the upcoming conflict might seem more exciting. However, Malgus’ constant presence as an enemy seems to suggest a lack of creativity on BioWare’s part rather than an investment in an interesting character. There are many options for interesting new SWTOR villains that could be much more exciting for players.
Aside from Darth Malgus, there are plenty of evil Sith to introduce into Star Wars: The Old Republic. Now that Disney has made large portions of Star Wars’ old canon into Legends, BioWare has the opportunity to revive long-lost favorites into their universe. Characters such as Darth Revan appeared in Star Wars: The Old Republic expansions, opening the opportunity to revive other ancient evils. Darth Nihilus was a Sith that rose to power after the Jedi Civil War and could make a return to the franchise. He was able to absorb the energies from beings imbued with the Force and grow stronger. This would make Nihilus a dangerous, unique opponent for all SWTOR players.
Star Wars has often placed Jedi in the position of protagonists and heroes. The Jedi Code dictates that Jedi operate as Peacekeepers, refrain from attachments, and seek total balance with the Force and the world around them. Crafting a Jedi villain in SWTOR that doesn’t succumb to the Dark Side would be an interesting shift from the traditional stories told in Star Wars. While the Order’s ideology has been criticized by members of the community (and the recent films), its flaws have yet to be explored in video games. Defeating a Jedi intent on securing peace through galactic domination could be a fairly new take on Star Wars villains in games, and diversify a dull antagonist formula.
The eight class stories in Star Wars: The Old Republic all contained unique characters and conflicts that expanded on the in-game universe. One of the most popular stories was the Imperial Agent, whose primary conflict dealt with a galactic conspiracy group intent on overthrowing the status quo. Abandoning the concept of Force Sensitive villains entirely could introduce a dynamic shift from standard Sith villains. Radical terrorists suppressed by Star Wars‘ Jedi and Sith would make an interesting addition to the war-torn galaxy and shift focus toward blaster-wielding player characters for the first time in a long while.
With so many options to choose from in Star Wars, BioWare needs to move onto villains that are not Darth Malgus or related to his character. Crafting unique stories in a popular franchise like Star Wars can only be accomplished when its storytellers take risks. Consistently using Darth Malgus is a comfort zone that needs to be abandoned to continue providing Star Wars: The Old Republic with new, original content.