Missions: VotK re-established the famous “mission tree,” with a slight change: there was not an extensive “losing track.” Each new system to which the Concordia jumped offered a series of winning track and losing track missions. When players failed a mission or series of missions in any particular star system, they would then play through that system's one series of losing track missions that offered the chance to get back on the winning track. Of course, should the player fail at both a regular series of missions and its subsequent chance at redemption, the player would then see a “losing” ending, which is being reassigned back to Caernaveron station, losing the entire main campaign, and Angel.
Though this does not give the player as much of an opportunity to claw their way back to victory after a series of losses due to some bad luck, it’s definitely better than the “all or nothing” approach of Secret Missions and Crusade. Of course, most players never see the losing ending, because VotK gives you the option to immediately replay a mission after a loss, or to "continue script." Which do you think the majority of players are going to choose? I had never seen the above losing screens, in point of fact, until I lost intentionally just to get the screen grabs.
Story: VotK expanded the Wing Commander universe substantially, as well as adding elements of uncertainty, doubt, and fear into the game by using the human traitor subplot; the reveal for which is done very well, keeping you guessing as to who the traitor may be the entire time. Of course, the scripted deaths added just the right element of suspense and impending doom. Developing a relationship with Angel over the course of the game only added to the fear that "anyone can die."