When I last talked about Star Wars The Old Republic, I really only touched on the Sith characters. Like the Republic, there are another two character classes lacking Force Powers and lightsabers, but are equally as deadly and fun to play, the Imperial Agent, which is the closest in play style to the Republic’s Smuggler, and the Bounty Hunter, which is closest to the Republic’s Trooper. There are a few differences between them even though they’re comparable classes, mainly stemming from weapon’s choices and abilities tied to those weapons, but they fill a similar role. I’d actually say they’re the bigger step away from mimicking the other classes they fill the role of, while the Jedi and Sith more closely mimic each other.
The Imperial Agent, as far as play style goes, compared to the Smuggler, is more about controlled attacks, rather than frantic attacks. Instead of a blaster pistol, the Agent is equipped with a sniper rifle. They share a similar crouch mechanic, and while the Imperial Agents attacks are a bit more devastating, they do attack slower than the Smuggler, although they both share some quick attacks as well as some of the sneaking abilities should you go down that path. That really changes up the play style a bit between the two, not that they’re a big change, but it was enough of one for me to really notice it swapping between characters.
While the Sith character storylines really engaged me and sucked me into them, the Imperial Agent’s started off much slower. The cloak and dagger you use against the Hutt’s feels like it takes to long to really get interesting, and without that I found myself not really caring about the events all that much or really what was going on until I was just about to leave and head to the Imperial Fleet. Bear in mind this was my experience with it. That’s not to say Hutta was a bad planet, but the Agent just lacked something to hook me. I’ve heard the exact opposite from people about the Smuggler storyline though, which I absolutely loved. My wife has started an Imperial Agent and loves the storyline enough that she’s overlooking playing a ranged character without a lightsaber and force powers. She’s more a fantasy lover than sci-fi, so for her to be playing something with a rifle and enjoying it enough to keep playing is a big deal. It really comes down to personal taste really, and while I liked the class mechanics, my Imperial Agent might sit unused for awhile.
The Bounty Hunter has grown on me. At first the story line felt, well, bland to be honest. After a few excursions out though, things really pick up. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Bounty Hunter is the equivalent of the Trooper, with wrist rockets and blasters instead of powerful slung rifles and grenades. The Bounty Hunter feels faster-paced in combat than the Trooper, but with a similar survivability. They can play DPS/Healer or Tank just like the Trooper, but instead of pelting with heavy blasters and grenades, you quick fire off like the Smuggler with quick blaster attacks, and my new personal favorite, Death From Above where you kick in your rocket pack, yes, rocket pack, and lift off the ground and deliver a lethal AoE attack using your wrist rockets. It’s a thing of beauty and I had to go do another circuit around Hutta laying waste to random NPCs just to continue trying it out after I picked it up from my class trainer.
Getting back to the story for the Bounty Hunter, it starts off a little slow, with you trying to figure out a way to get into the Great Hunt, a way for Bounty Hunters to make a lot of money and make a name for themselves. You do have much clearer goals than the Agent, which I think carried me through to when it gets really interesting. Since this happens so early in the game, I don’t think it’s a spoiler, but you’ve been warned. The guy assembling you and a few others as a team gets killed by a Mandalorian looking to make a name for himself in the Hunt, but has decided to eliminate his non-Mandalorian competition beforehand. You and your computer hacker, Mako, decide to get some revenge and do what you intended in the first place, enter the Great Hunt, win it, and kill the guy.
This puts you into some shady deals with a Hutt named Nem’ro who is basically looking to use you and toss you aside, barely interested in sponsoring you in the hunt at all. I think one of the more interesting things is that the Bounty Hunter gets a companion that can heal as their first. None of the other classes I’ve played do that, at all. So really, if you’re looking to solo, and in an MMO I can’t see why you would except to kill time, the Bounty Hunter is a great choice at first as it is much easier to play with a healer starting out. This is a bit like LOTRO and WoW in that you can solo if you want and don’t have to work with others quite so much. Granted you don’t get Mako until you’re done with a good chunk of Hutta, but after that it’s all gravy.
So while I loved playing the Sith characters, the rest of the Imperials, the Agent and Bounty Hunter, ended up being a mixed bag. The Bounty Hunter has become my second favorite class behind the Smuggler while the Imperial Agent has slid to my least favorite of the classes available to play, but I didn’t hate it. This can obviously change as I get further and further into their respective stories, but this is my first impressions with the classes and those do count for quite a bit.