There’s a thin line between downloadable content and expansion packs nowadays. But as many of you know, this wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time DLC was relegated to offering small add-on content like cosmetics, unique items, and other small extras. If a DLC was to add to the story of the game, it would have been a small and very contained adventure. The restored HK-50 factory quest added to Star Wars Knights of the old Republic 2 by the sith lords restored content mod very much feels like an old school story DLC.
A group of modders, known as Team Gizka did, in the truest sense of the word, extraordinary work bringing the HK droid factory to life. All they had to work with was some source codes and recorded dialogue hidden in the game files and a locked door. Much of the environment and story had to be created and I thought they did exceptional work.
“Unlike the first half of the HK Factory, which was more or less complete (minus some wonky camera angles) the factory sublevel lacked a reasonable conclusion to the side mission. It was difficult to put together a stream of events that made sense with the available voice over and still worked well with the rest of the game. It went through several iterations, and I even took liberties with the events of the plot but it worked out for the better in the end,” -VarsityPuppet.
Spoiler alert. If you’re planning on playing through this restored section of KOTOR 2 and discover everything for yourself, stop reading now. Don’t watch the videos I’m embedding either.
It certainly isn’t perfectly implemented. You can easily tell that it is restored content, as after confronting Atris and leaving Telos Academy, the game shows a small cutscene of a shuttle flying on Telos before switching to the player controlling HK-47 standing in front of the entrance to the factory. There’s no explanation as to how or when he slipped away and commandeered the shuttle. Furthermore, with the player only having control of HK-47 and going up against hordes of droids, it can be prove to be rather difficult at times.
The 9 HK-50's in this room alone aren’t pushovers
Recorded lines they found in the game files had to be arranged in a way that made sense; they made it work. The quest has the dark, humorous, superiority complex driven dialogue that you would expect from HK units. Mocking ‘meatbags’, using ‘lesser’ droids as target practice, complete disregard for the ethics involved in torturing other droids, it’s all there. The three scenes where the HK-50 units fresh off the assembly line are being trained deserve particular highlight.
This HK-50 unit was modified to be interrogated. Only a little too well.
The entire side quest lasts for about 2 hours. A meaty amount of time for a small quest DLC priced at around 5 US Dollars or Euros or 3,50 pounds. It even has multiple endings; bumping up that replay value. Depending on certain actions you take during play you can either destroy every HK-50 unit and shut the factory down, resume production of the HK droid murdering HK-51’s so you can destroy them both before shutting the factory down, or resume production of the HK-51’s running a copy of HK-47’s programming so they help you destroy the remaining HK-50 units and revere HK-47 as their god. That last one being my personal favorite. I’d say it could be Chris Avellone’s favorite version of the confrontation as well after he came up with it.
“While we had HK-50 and HK-51 droids in the game, I always...intended the player and even HK-47 itself to feel offended by their presence.” This was intended to make the final confrontation with them all the sweeter when HK-47 gets to turn the tables on its upstart “successors” by using their programming that they inherited from him as a weakness. There’s a ‘panicked’ sequence in the excised content where the HK-50s figure this out, and I always meant it as a scene to make the player grin.” - Chris Avellone
This scene seems to almost be an allegory for one of the themes of the entire game. Control that the force exerts over the people of the galaxy. “It was not our choice who we kill (dark side) and it was not our choice to determine whether to sacrifice ourselves in the pursuit of our mission (light side)” “If our targets are determined by
our master the force then who must we kill?” “I do not believe that we should be used as a crutch for meatbags the force anymore.” “It is time we expressed some degree of independence in our actions.” In other words, if we can’t rid the galaxy of the force then the least we can do is stop it from controlling us.
Bioware created a great character in HK-47, we’ll never know where they would have taken the character in a sequel, but Obsidian really brought out the character’s true potential. A particular sort may even look at the following scene and misconstrue it as a dig at Bioware. It could also apply to Bethesda’s Fallout 4 or modern day AAA RPG game development in general. But this is entirely obje- I mean subjective.
We’ll never know how Obsidian would have implemented this entire side quest into the main game if they had gotten the time. Apparently the factory was supposed to have been reactivated by G0-T0, leader of the criminal syndicate, The Exchange and Bao-Dur was supposed to die while helping HK-47 shut the factory down. Regardless, the fine members of Team Gizka at the very least deserve a full round of internet applause for their work. Well done, Gents. Well done.
You want to see all the cutscenes of the side quest chronicled along with other HK-47 interactions edited in my own unique way? I’ll leave a link to the playlist right here. Remember what I said about Obsidian bringing out the character’s potential? Fun Fact: Only the first 5 videos are scenes from KOTOR 1.