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Is KOTOR 2 Still Worth Playing in 2024?

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, self-proclaimed “highly anticipated sequel to the 2003 game of the year.” Development studio Obsidian Entertainment was still fresh, and looking to grit their teeth on a big project. In what proved to be something of a tradition for Obsidian, KOTOR 1 developer BioWare left them the follow-up to their acclaimed RPG. Immediately, Obsidian began a rushed development schedule. The task before them was to fully develop the sequel in about a year-and-a-half. Despite this intense pressure, when KOTOR 2 released in 2004, it received near-universal praise.

KOTOR 2 is one of the most beloved entries in the Star Wars gaming lexicon. Since its initial release, fans have lauded it. The dark, mysterious tone of the story, as well as its more nuanced themes than Star Wars typically receives, drew a lot of positive attention. But 20 years later, is it really as good as everyone says? Does it hold up in the modern era? Could the game’s fans have their visions on the game obscured beneath rose-tinted goggles? In this article, we’ll be examining the question of whether or not KOTOR 2 is worth playing in 2023.

Is Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords Still Worth Playing?

Note: Gameplay for this article was done with the Restored Content Mod (as well as a number of graphics enhancements) installed. We’ll cover it more in depth in the article itself, but just know it’s a fan project that adds in content originally left on the cutting room floor. That said, most fans recommend the mod as a must-have element of the game.

Character Creation and Customization

KOTOR 2 Character Creation
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

If you’ve read our article on the first game, know that this aspect hasn’t changed much. Visual character creation at the time was generally pretty limited. As a result, the options are limited to a number of preset faces. Aside from this, the D&D-based stats system carries over from KOTOR 1. The only differences here are some additional feats and force powers.

The biggest change is the way classes work. In KOTOR 1, you chose a standard beginner class, then chose a new Jedi class later on. The sequel iterates on this by having you begin the game as a Jedi, then eventually decide an advanced version of the starter classes. This allows players to begin the game far closer to where they likely want to be. It also serves a narrative purpose, tying into the Jedi Exile. Additionally, the advanced classes available to you change depending on your alignment, adding another layer of roleplaying.

Like the first game, KOTOR 2’s character creation can seem a bit dated to new players. That said, although it’s been done better in later RPGs, the KOTOR series gives you enough tools to make any character feel like your own.

Story

KOTOR 2 Story
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Knights of the Old Republic II provides a much more merciful opening than its predecessor. The prologue (this game’s equivalent to the Endar Spire) is significantly shorter. Players may also freely skip through it at any time. Additionally, it provides a much more in-depth and experience-focused tutorial that doesn’t hold your hand to quite such an irritating degree.

After progressing past the prologue, players are introduced to Peragus, this game’s version of Taris. Peragus skirts the issue of having a far too long and drawn-out starting planet, and never overstays its welcome. It does feel somewhat longer than it actually is, especially on consecutive playthroughs, but it’s a fair bit shorter than its counterpart while having a more compelling story.

Peragus Mining Facility
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Peragus presents players with an engaging mystery. Every aspect of the mining facility raises lots of questions. These questions ultimately form the basis of the game’s entire narrative. In fact, many of the plot points introduced in Peragus won’t fully conclude until KOTOR 2’s final hours. It also sets up this game’s significantly darker tone. That isn’t something that’s inherently an amazing aspect, but the second game’s story is quite a bit more interesting because of it.

KOTOR 2 also includes quite a deep and nuanced take on the Star Wars formula. It asks moral and philosophical questions with no easy answers, presenting concepts that make you think a lot about them. There’s a reason why several hour long KOTOR 2 analysis videos are a dime a dozen. The story is by far the most noticeable improvement upon the first Knights of the Old Republic.

Companions

Companions
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

The game’s companion system has seen quite a bit of an overhaul. Its basics remain similar — you meet a number of charming and interesting characters with unique stories who help you on your journey. In KOTOR 1, these companion characters each had their own alignment. For example, Canderous was firmly on the Dark Side, while T3-M4 was firmly on the Light Side. There were two companions whose alignment could change, and only one of these was due to player choice. Knights of the Old Republic II expands this into the influence system.

Speaking with companions will sometimes allow you to gain or lose influence points. Whether you gain or lose them depends on if the companion likes what you say to them or not. Your influence over your companions affects how much of their backstory you learn, if you can train some of them as Jedi, and even their alignment. You can drag HK-47 over to the Light Side or corrupt T3-M4 with the power of the Dark Side. What’s even greater is that each character’s alignment has tangible effects both on their general appearance and their role in the story.

For example, here’s a side-by-side of Iridonian Bao-Dur when on the Light Side and when corrupted by the Dark Side. As you can see, his appearance is far more sinister, strongly evoking the likeness of famed Sith Lord Darth Maul.

The influence system also allows you a lot more opportunities to really engage with your companions. Your relationships with them are likely to be vastly different in every playthrough. Furthermore, some companions are locked behind specific choices, namely Handmaiden/Disciple and Mira/Hanharr. This, combined with the influence system, provides this sequel with a lot more companion interest and replay value than the original game. Sure, you may have gotten to know Atton’s Light Side character pretty well in your first playthrough, but what changes in your next playthrough if he takes a more Sithy approach?

Gameplay

KOTOR 2 Gameplay
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Once again, not much has changed here. You spend most of the game either in dialogue or walking around exploring the game world. The biggest difference in this sequel is in the lightsaber forms and behavior stances. As Force-user characters level, they gain access to a number of Force or lightsaber forms that influence how their abilities function in combat. Each character also has a set of behavior stances which affect how the AI acts and operates in combat. It’s not a huge amount of depth, but it’s still a nice little addition.

Dialogue System
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

Dialogue is still performed in the BioWare standard shot, reverse-shot format with choices strewn about. It’s a good conversation system, if a simple one.

Community/Mod Support

KOTOR 2 Mods
Image: Obsidian via HGG / Noelle Roberts

We’re mentioning this because it’s kind of unavoidable when talking about this game. A community of loyal fans has followed KOTOR 2 since its release. Alongside a number of mods seeking to improve graphical features and introduce all-new content, there’s the Restoration Project.

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned KOTOR 2‘s rushed development. This rush led to many aspects of the game getting left on the cutting room floor. As a result, vanilla KOTOR 2 can feel a bit unfinished, especially towards the end. The Restoration Project is a mod that adds in this previously-cut content. It significantly improves the game, revitalizing this masterpiece to match the developers’ original creative intent. It’s considered by fans to almost be necessary in order to play the game properly, and we can’t strongly disagree.

Aside from the Restoration Project, though, the game has a stable modding scene which consistently puts out great content. Check them out!

(Special thanks to mod creators such as Effixian, Kexikus, and Sithspecter, who created many of the graphics mods we use.)

So is Knights of the Old Republic 2 Really Worth Playing Right Now?

We say yes, resoundingly. Like the first game, some aspects haven’t aged too well. That being said, the game is well worth powering through the jank. In our KOTOR 1 article, we said that while 1 is a great game in its own right, The Sith Lords is a must-play RPG. A masterpiece of storytelling, let alone Star Wars storytelling, let alone game storytelling. If you’re a fan of RPGs, video games, Star Wars, or just good stories, you owe it to yourself to at least try KOTOR 2.

Join the High Ground

That’s gonna wrap up our thoughts on whether KOTOR 2 is worth playing in the modern day. Have any extra thoughts on this article? Feel free to share it on social media or leave a comment down below to let us know. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more Star Wars game guides and other gaming content.

Happy gaming, and may the Force be with you!

 

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