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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter Three

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third chapter of the Bounty Hunter storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

<— Chapter Two || BOUNTY HUNTER ||

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So picking up from last time, the Hunter had just been declared the number one most wanted target in all of the Republic for repeated acts of destruction and terrorism, MOST of which I did not do.  In the wake of the pretty much losing every possible outlet for work, a call comes in from one Darth Tormen, a big wig Sith that further solidifies my theory that Sith don’t know how to finish writing their scary words.  He invites you to his ship, and this is IMMEDIATELY following the whole ‘The Sith Empire disavows ever working with you” and essentially burns all the bridges with you.  Since Sith normally don’t like to leave loose ends, it pays to come prepared. Unfortunately, they are also prepared and you get the lovely choice of going in blind, or fighting your way to Tormen’s office.  It’s almost worth it to fight simply so you can see a mildly annoyed Tormen that you broke his toys.

The Darth has an offer for you when you see him.  He wants to hire you – the Republic’s Most Wanted – to help him take out choice targets that might impede his attempt to overthrow and conquer Corellia for the Sith Empire.  Your payment for this job is not only a healthy heap of credits but also a chance to strike at the man who was turned you into the least employable bounty hunter in the galaxy: The Supreme Chancellor.  Hot doggie, it’s time to hunt!

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Belsavis

Our target on Belsavis is a smuggler turned patriot named Zale Barrows.  Zale has been ‘escorting’ Republic forces and prisoners around the galaxy and getting them past any sort of blockade or attacking force.  You can see why Tormen might want him gone. His most recent job has been acting as a ferryman to the prison on Belsavis.  You think finding a smuggler would be hard enough, but because life is anything but easy for you at the moment, you are repeatedly “assisted” by a Houk named Skadge.  Skadge is…  unpleasant.  He’s the dark side companion that the Sith WISH they had.  You first meet him beating the hell out of Zale’s girlfriend for information and not like in the ‘Ve have vays of making you talk’ kind of way.  Like the bone cracking, internal bleeding, kind of way.  The whole bit is completely uncomfortable to even watch and while I love the story of these games, I won’t deny spacebarring through this scene the second time I got to it.

Even with what little info Zale’s love interest has (turns out she doesn’t know much but that might be because she likely has a concussion and brain damage after Skadge interrogated her), the massive Houk still isn’t done making your job harder.  You and Skadge finally corner Zale, but while you are cutting the power to open the doors he sneaks off.  Skadge in his frustration destroys Zale’s droid.  You know, the ONLY frigging lead to where Barrows was headed.  So now you get to drag a heap of droid parts around trying to find someone to fix it and giving your bounty a huge lead to get off world.  Ultimately, you get the location of Zale’s destination and catch up to him in the Deep Tombs.  There he actually gives you an offer: help him stop the Imperials from freeing prisoners and he’ll come with you, or take him by force and help the Imperials.  Really, it comes down to how much of an Imperial loyalist you are.  Yes, they are your current employers but freeing these prisoners isn’t your job. Capturing Zale is however.  So really it’s your choice how to handle it.

However you choose to, the matter of what to do with Skadge is still in the air.  Except it’s not.  Skadge is on your ship and is on your crew now.  Because he says so.  No, really. He doesn’t give you a choice in this matter.  It’s not even the game not giving you a choice.  It does.  You can tell him no, but he’ll just say tough noogies and join your ship.  Which REAAAAALLY makes me uncomfortable having him wandering around the place where I sleep.

Voss

The next target on our hit list is a Republic general stationed on Voss.  Essentially, our goal is primarily to discredit her and then take her down.  I’m not sure about the necessity of the whole discrediting thing. Maybe they just don’t want her to be a martyr because she quite clearly has a goal in mind and the Voss do support it to the point of breaking their neutrality to impede your efforts to find her.  This planet more or less follows the ‘Chase someone across the world with lots of near misses’ archetype of the bounty hunter storyline.  You chase her to the Shrine of Healing, then to the Gormak death arena, and finally to the Nightmare Lands.  That’s where you find out the whole dark secret that she’s been trying to reveal: the Voss and the Gormak used to be the same species! But the Sith and Republic drove them apart and caused them to take separate paths of evolution ages ago.

The revelation is kind of a ‘yea duh’ moment for anyone who has played through Voss but for me this was my first time going through and this is one of only a couple class storylines that go into detail about Voss’ history, so it was kind of a cool reveal that does explain why both Gormak and Voss were making your life hell trying to get the general.  Speaking of the general, she agrees to come with you if you let the Gormak with the truth go and spread this knowledge.  Or you can kill them all and take her in by force.  But why?  Is there really any reason this info shouldn’t get out?  I mean, I know in another storyline the Sith actually want this information to become public knowledge because it paints the Jedi in a bad light, so it’s not like it is a big secret that the Sith want to keep a lid on.  I dunno why you would take that option other than some quick dark side points and maybe a bit of XP?

The actual interesting part is the ambassador that has been assisting you this entire time.  He keeps trying to appease the Voss in the wake of your actions.  So the more disruptive you are, the harder his life becomes and I kid you not you can actually drive the man to commit suicide at the end of the storyline.  It’s not on camera or anything but it makes it pretty darn clear what’s going on.  I just find that to be the far more interesting choice and consequence on this planet than how to handle the general.  You can actually make or break a man’s career to the point of him just ending it all.  Which is kind of uh… wow.

Interlude – Reclaiming the Tyrant

Darth Tormen’s ship is under attack! Fight to the bridge and help reclaim it.  That’s it.  Seriously. Nothing else happens.  I have no idea if there is a quota for interludes on these story missions or the experience budget needed some padding but this entire sequence does NOTHING to advance the story and Tormen actually shows up at the end and quite clearly could have reclaimed the ship on his own.  So I really have no idea what this bit is for.  Maybe we just needed another run around a ship?

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Corellia

Alright, all the distractions are out of the way.  The board is clear for Tormen’s big move on Corellia.  Job done right?  Well, sort of.  You still have one task ahead of you: Help Tormen seal the deal on Corellia.  Are you kidding me?  Help conquer a planet?  What kind of bounty does that pull?  Cause I will tell you there better be one heck of a pay day at the end of this.  What do you mean my pay is “Jun Seros?”  What the heck is…  Oh.  OH.  Jun Seros is Mister High-And-Mighty-Jedi that has been giving me lip and is responsible for all those attacks on my person and convincing the Supreme Chancellor to ruin my career!  Oh this is gonna be good.  You got a deal, Darth.

So to help with the ‘transition’ of Corellia, Tormen wants you to hunt down some of the more prominent figures of the planet’s political and economic spheres who are involved with the resistance and bring them ALIVE to the Darth so he can show the people their leaders swearing allegiance to the Empire.  There are three targets you have to capture: a corporate big wig who offers you a deal that turns into a trap, a Selonian (think ferret people) that you blackmail into coming by threatening their small breeding caste, and finally the former commander of Corellia Security (which I guess is the police force?)  Once you deliver them to Tormen, he reveals the location of Jun Seros.  Not only that but he informs you that the actions of the Empire on Corellia have drawn the Supreme Chancellor out of hiding on Coruscant and is now in orbit around the planet on his private ship. Now is when things get FUN.

The fight to get the Jun isn’t anything special.  You break into a Jedi fortress and find him chatting up with a bunch of his allies.  Jun is fully convinced that victory is guaranteed and that the Republic has this one in the bag, hence him inviting the Supreme Chancellor to help finish it and secure Corellia for the Republic.  He is delightfully smug and sees you as less then a threat to his grand design.  That’s when you kick his ass.  You kick it good and when you’re done, you can one up the whole thing by telling Jun before he dies that his “victory” has only brought ruin because all it did was leave the Supreme Chancellor out in the open and you’re gunning for him next.  Oh yes, Jedi Seros.  You’ve just activated my trap card.  The look on his face as he dies is great too.  Considering this putz has made your life hell for the last two chapters, it was fun to rub it in his face that all his ‘plans’ and ‘schemes’ were all used against him in the end.  Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it is very cold in an air conditioned Jedi conclave…  Yesssss.

Grand Finale

This is it.  A showdown with the man who turned you from the most famous bounty hunter to the most infamous in the galaxy.  The most wanted criminal in the Republic for simply doing what you were paid to.  But before you get your revenge, you’ve got to get on that ship.  The ruse is to steal a Republic ship and fly it toward the Supreme Chancellor’s broadcasting emergency codes and being chased by Imperial ships making it look like your under fire and need sanctuary.  Of course, the Imperial ships will be actually shooting at you.  All they’ve been told by Tormen is that a Republic VIP is on that ship and to take it down.  Got to make it look convincing.  Right?  And should I actually die, you need not pay up either.  Nice play, Darth.  The whole trick does successfully work and you get on the Chancellor’s big fancy ship and starting shooting your way through the place.

Now you want to make sure that there’s no way for anyone to escape. That would ruin a perfectly good hunt. So you destroy the other ships in the hangar, the escape pods, and pretty much anything else that they could use to get off the ship.  The next big challenge you face is the Chancellor’s elite guards – which was a complete nightmare on my powertech and a complete breeze on my merc.  I think the big difference is a) gear and more importantly b) crowd control.  My merc could knock out one of the two guards and deal with them one and one and my tech had to deal with them both.  Either way when they die it is just you and the Supreme Fancy Pants.  Shockingly, he is extremely apologetic.  He blindly trusted Jun Seros without looking into the matter and realizes now that he was played for a fool with Jun’s machinations of revenge against you for you just doing what bounty hunters do.  He clears your criminal record, and explains that no matter the outcome of this meeting that he will be forced to resign from just the scandal of abusing his powers or just driven from office for removing your wrongfully given most wanted status. Still, he offers you the choice: You can kill him (Dark side), freeze him in carbonite and haul him back to Tormen as a trophy (neutral) or take his offer to do something ‘good’ with this opportunity and go back to the ship and kill Tormen and remove a complete jerk from the galaxy (Light side).

I really like this choice because it offers you a wide variety of choices that each have their own unique effects.  If you have no love for the Empire and no care for Tormen (He doesn’t spend much effort making himself likable. Heck he force choked Mako when I first met him.) then you can take the offer to off your employer and make the galaxy a bit happier.  If you’re still really sore about the whole being framed and having your entire career flushed down the toilet because of a sore Jedi and a gullible leader, then kill him.  Or if you just want to do the job, get paid, and get the heck out then there’s always the freezing option that grants no dark or light points for all the gray alignment folks out there.  It’s worth noting that this is really one of the few ‘gray alignment’ friendly endings to a class story I’ve seen where a neutral option is flat out offered alongside the typical light/dark ones.  Also for you troopers and Jedi who were wondering why Saresh shows up at the end of Chapter 3 as the new Supreme Chancellor – this is your answer.  The Bounty Hunter offs the old one out of office in some fashion.  (If you thought the Horde being the only ones who saw the end of the Worgen storyline is bad, imagining having to wait till max level on the opposite faction to find out what happened to your faction’s leader.  Heh.)

When you eventually get back to Tormen, you will either try to kill him as a true final boss on the level of most of the other storylines or you will just accept your payment and get one last job offer to become a permanent retainer of the Sith Empire.  You can shoot down the offer saying you want to remain a free agent that can be hired by anyone, or you can sign on and become an official asset of the Empire’s galactic conquest.  I really don’t understand that last option unless you are really hard up for a steady paycheck.  It’s really your choice, but in the wake of the recent Shadow of Revan class quest, I’ll just say that it might have more impact than I previously thought.  I always choose to stay neutral though.  That’s how a bounty hunter rolls, yo.

My Thoughts

Chapter Three of the Bounty Hunter storyline really feels a lot like the Chicago Way of storylines: They bring a knife, you bring a gun, they send of ours to the hospital, we send one of theirs to the morgue.  It’s revenge plain and simple, unlike the chapter one story that was more like vengeance or revenge for a fallen ally.  While the whole thing kicks off with your friends getting killed, it never feels like your doing this FOR them like you did for Braden and Jory back in the first chapter.  They were killed to get to you.  They try to take everything they can from you.  You are the target.  It’s almost immediately followed by a Faustian pact from Tormen to get back at those who are after you.  In fact for a while I was kind of thinking that Tormen had arranged the whole thing with Seros, but that would severely lessen the ‘fallen’ Jedi aspect of Jun Seros who just spent all of chapter two and three trying to get his revenge on you for killing his former padawan in chapter one.  Which again is something that REALLY could have been explored more.  Definitely more so than a side mission to save Tormen’s fricking ship.

The third chapter is by no means bad.  Like most of the Bounty Hunter story, it’s simple but solid.  It does have some points that could have been polished more to really make the story shine.  Like I said, Tormen having some twisted machination behind all this or exploring Jun Seros succumbing to a desire for revenge despite being the Jedi adviser to the highest office in the Republic are things that would have really stood out in the story but little if any is done with the ideas.  I will however compliment the idea that just because you’ve ended up with this deal with the dark side to get to the Supreme Chancellor, it doesn’t mean you have to like it.  After all, the bounty hunter ISN’T an Imperial.  No Space British accent. So you are always given the opportunity to not blindly do the loyal Imperial thing.  You can help Zale kill the Imperials to get him to come along nicely.  After all, he’s your target and helping the Imps is of no concern of yours.  What do you care about some Imperial ambassador’s reputation?  You have one objective to do and that’s all that matters.  You can quite honestly stick it to the Empire to further your own agenda of doing jobs for the Empire.  In that way, there’s something really enjoyable about this chapter.

Looking Back

So I started out this class saying how I viewed it as the strongest at the beginning and then weaker as it went on.  I don’t know if I can actually agree with that initial assessment.  It could have been ignorance of how all the other class stories went and how BAD they could be (*cough*Trooper Chapter Two*cough*) but I really think I sold the later chapters of the Bounty Hunter short. Especially after coming back, playing through them again and acting not with some agenda of neutrality but allowing the story to influence my choices, and I enjoyed it a lot more.  Now I won’t say there weren’t plenty of missed opportunities but the story as a whole is a simple and more importantly complete narrative.  There is no compartmentalization of the narrative.  Chapter one flows into chapter two and then into three fairly naturally.

Another thing the story does really well that I haven’t spoken of up to this point is the questioning the moral gray area that bounty hunting serves as a profession in the galaxy.  Periodically, Mako the Moral Compass stops to ponder if all the people who have died up to this point have died BECAUSE of you.  It’s an interesting question.  Your a bounty hunter, if someone offers a bounty wanted dead are they responsible for the death or are you because you pulled the trigger?  The question is actually core to the story itself because Jun Seros is motivated entirely by the fact that you killed a Jedi at the end of the first chapter as part of the Great Hunt.  That Jedi had a bounty on him from someone (you never do find out who, just like the rest of the Great Hunt targets) and you collected it by killing him.  You killed him.  Does that make you responsible?  Seros thinks so.  Mako wonders if you are responsible for the deaths of the other Grand Champions because they wouldn’t have been targets if not for being involved with you and yours.  There is a certain dubious morality that comes into play as someone who gets paid to kidnap or kill people and I think the story really does a good job of exploring those themes without bogging it down.  They pop up here and there and make you think about it from time to time.

There’s also the question of honor versus profit.  Introduced toward the end of the first chapter is the idea of honor that the Mandolorians subscribe to.  That there’s is a sort of ritual to the hunt, some kind of noble code of the warrior, and a level of respect for one’s target.  This becomes much more prominent in the second chapter where you offered the chance to become a Mandolorian as well as the Mando death war game across Taris and the noble hunter warrior on Hoth.  This is offset by the chance to a product endorsement deal between them on Quesh, which of course was a trap, but it’s an interesting comparison.  In fact, if you choose to eagerly take the offer of becoming a spokesperson, the only person who gives you negative affection is the newly joined Mando, Torian.  Beyond that the whole thing gets explored quite often on a smaller scale of things like: give them a fighting chance or just kill them and take the money or even betraying your employers for a bribe which is shown in quite the dishonorable light back on Tatooine.  It’s probably one of the most underlying themes of the entire story and it’s interesting to explore in your play-through of where you personally fall on that spectrum.

So in the end, is the bounty hunter a good story?  Yes.  It could be improved but it could also be much worse.  It has interesting themes but simple and sometimes uninspired content that is used to explore those themes.  It can feel repetitive a lot for some I imagine, after all you’re just plucking up a bounty on each planet.  The real interest is explored more in the ideas that are presented than in the actual missions, which I can see being a turn off for many.  Still, for a story about a bounty hunter it could have been MUCH worse.  I mean, it could have just been ‘get bounty.  go get another bounty. do it again.’ with no over arcing connection or driving goals of vengeance or revenge.  Plus the class is really fun to play mechanically.  Especially with the Shadow of Revan discipline revamp. Powertech is super fun again!

<— Chapter Two || BOUNTY HUNTER ||

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SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter Two

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second chapter of the Bounty Hunter storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

<— Chapter One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

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Welcome back from your vacation Mister or Miss Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.  Ready for a REAL job?  Well, that’s what Chapter Two brings you.  Fame, fortune, and work. Legitimate, actual, bounty hunting.  Some of the hardest bounties in the galaxy!  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have to meet Mandalore first.  Mandalore, as his name might suggest, is a Mandalorian.  In fact, he’s the leader of the Mandos. Like, all of them.  He has invited you to his personal starship (what, you need a guild to have a starship? HA! Don’t you wish you were Mandalore?) Where he gives you a task – not a job sadly – to go to Dromund Kaas and take down a giant beastie living in a cave there.  The cave in question is surrounded with Mandalorians who are trying and failing to kill this beast.  Which is weird, cause it’s just a gold mob.  You also meet a lad named Torian Cadera who I’m sure will be unimportant forever hence why I’m calling specific attention to him.  Anyway, you kill the beast and head back to Mandalore (Yes, you fly all the way back to Dromund Kaas to kill one thing and then fly all the way back to the Outer Rim.  Now I’m GLAD space travel is just pushing a button) to be told that congrats! You are a Mandalorian now!  That’s all it takes apparently?

Now whether you take Mandalore’s offer to become a Mandalorian is completely up to you.  You take the honor, or you can say ‘screw honor, I want money’ and forsake the noble warrior lifestyle for a shrewd cash grabbing merc way of life.  If you choose the latter, you enrage Mandalore who was hoping to make you take his place on the…  council…  thing of former Grand Champs…  I think?  It’s not terrible clear.  You’re not becoming the new Mandalore that’s for sure.  He’s going off to work for the Empire doing something.  You never find out what.  However, regardless of your choice you meet up with Grand Champs Bloodworthy, Jewla Nightbringer and yes, The Defenestrator (Cue the squeeing) who welcome you – and laugh at Mandalore if you shoot him down – to the club and offer you the Black List. The Black List is a premier listing of bounties that are exclusive to winners of the Great Hunt.  They are the toughest and more importantly best paying bounties in the galaxy.  This is the big leagues.  Your first job is actually an oldie but a goodie.  A bounty so hard to deal with that a betting pool has been establish for anyone who tries their hand at it.  Whoever finally brings in the target gets the whole pot.  You pay up your ante and get the info.  Looks like we’re headed to…

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Taris

Oh joy.  Okay, I don’t like Taris. At all. In any incarnation.  It’s a winding confusing mess of a world infected with rakghouls who by defeat cut through armor like butter which means lots of downtime healing.  But that actually works to the advantage of this mission, because we’re about to be reenacting a bunch of action movies from the 80s and hunting down a guerrilla warrior in the Jungle.  His name is Jincoln Cadera, and yes he is the father of that completely-unimportant-for-reals Torian Cadera, who has also shown up on Taris.

The majority of Taris plays out with you and Torian working together to take down Jincoln who has challenged you to a Mandalorian death game.  Which is a lot like capture the flag but with sniper rifles and pits lined with sharpened sticks that impale you.  So what I’m saying is that it’s not really so much like capture the flag but more like capture the flag at summer camp.  Torian helps you flush out his father, who then leaves his kid to die and you can either do the same (in fact, Torian insists that you do) or help Torian and loose the trail.  Either way it doesn’t make much in the way of a difference because Jincoln actually contacts you next for a formal declaration of the rules.  You need to find all of the ‘trophies’ that Jincoln has hidden in the jungle and then find his hiding spot to even earn the chance at a duel to the death.  You know, this is why I snubbed the Mandalorian invite on my second playthrough.  Honor bound war game grab ass bull.  Look, all you need is two guns and we’ll play ‘whose the better killer’.  I’ll even let you have the tea cup this time.

So you run around the jungle picking up little doodads like a sword, or a hat, or some such, and all the while Jincoln is taking shots at you from who knows where.  Torian is working on finding the hideout so you don’t have to worry about that step.  Once you got the four doodads, you meet with Torian who finally gets his revenge on Jincoln ruining the family name and you get paid!  Oh, you got to beat Jincoln first I suppose and if you don’t relish that after all the annoying loops he just sent you through, well then I don’t know what’s wrong with you!  After all is said and done with Jincoln and your ready to collect your sweet sweet credits from Bloodworthy, you find that Torian is waiting for you.  Seems like the kid wants to sign on  with you and see the galaxy.  Well, uh, sure? I guess, kid.  Guess you WERE important after all, huh?

I suppose I should say a few words about Torian Cadera.  He’s… uh… male.  He has hair.  Some tattoos I suppose.  Okay, I find Torian to be the most boring character you get as part of the Bounty Hunter storyline.  Pretty much everyone else has some weird personality quirk – even Gault for all his slime HAS a personality.  Torian is just…  well…  I’d say he’s a Mandalorian but he doesn’t even fit with any of the other Mandos you meet in this or any other class’ stories.  Even odder is that he’s the romanceable companion for female bounty hunters, and apparently he has quite the following.  I don’t know, I’m not a woman.  I’m barely even a human.  I’m a fricking hat.  What do I know about this guy’s appeal?  But I find him to be absolutely boring.  He’s like Corso if you take away all the annoying country boy junk.  A nice, boring, male human.  Welcome to the ship!

Quesh

Your next mission is actually a short diversion to the planet Quesh.  Seems that an adrenal company would like the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt to be the spokes-model for their newest line of combat adrenals.  This is actually my favorite mission on Quesh, because unlike almost every class mission on that planet, this one requires you to fight ZERO enemies to reach the door.  You just land and ride up on to the factory which is just a stone’s throw past the Imperial starter town.  However, when you actually show up for the meeting things don’t seem to go the way you expect.  No contract or credits are waiting for you. Just a team of Rebuplic SIS and if you let her live at the end of chapter one – a very angry apprentice. (Told you it was worth it to let her go.)  They are here under the orders of some big wig Jedi who is the right hand, top adviser to the Supreme Chancellor to bring you in for crimes against the Republic.  You can try to explain how the concept of a bounty hunter works to them – you know, you were hired to do a job by someone.  You’re the tool, not the user? Yea, none of this is getting through.  So you are stuck with surrendering (which you can’t actually, it’s not even an option in the game.  Just in a narrative sense.) and taking out your pursuers and getting a second chance to kill that padawan.  I did this time.  You get one freebie.  After that, I’m not mister nice bounty hunter.  Luckily, it has been dealt with and we can go back to getting paid now.

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Hoth

There’s another biggie on the Black List that’s been there forever and is just begging to be collected upon.  The Chiss Ascendency placed a bounty on a Trandoshan hunter/big shot pirate with the White Maw that has been terrorizing Chiss starship routes for years.  They want him brought in and alive to pay for crimes against the Ascendency.  Your only lead at the get go is a prisoner at the base – a small little jawa troublemaker named Blizz.  Blizz was an accomplice to the White Maw who used to tinker and make gadgets for the pirates until they kicked him out for some reason (too cute?).  Blizz gives you a lead on the Trandoshan and you actually find him.  Like right away, but he doesn’t want to mess with you because you’re not worth his time.  He just sicks his goons on you and walks off.  Call me Dangerfield because I still can’t get any respect here.  Blizz however has another idea to help you out.  You need to become worthy by taking down some of the biggest lieutenants in the White Maw.

So you start your Jagga-Point collecting spree across Hoth with Blizz’s tinkering helping you along the way.  Blizz builds a shield nullifier to help defeat a cyborg, boosts some heat shields to help dismantle a smelting operation in a volcano, and finally a freaky force sensitive alien that runs the White Maw’s day to day operations.  Once you’ve wiped out all of these goons, you can finally have your duel with the Trandoshan in his base.  The lizard does request that you kill him and give him an honorable death at hands of a superior hunter or you can deny him his wish and freeze him like the bounty contract stipulates.  Unlock a lot of contracts where you get a light/dark choice like this, the Chiss WILL be quite upset that you killed him and didn’t follow the conditions of the contract.  I actually want to say they stiff you on the payment too but I can’t confirm that.

However, you do get a chance to bring little Blizz with you.  In fact, if you have Mako with you she’ll practically beg to save the little guy from jail or whatever worse fate awaits him.  You agree and bargain to get him released into your custody.  If Torian feels like a blank slate, Blizz is all personality.  The wacky genius inventor who wants nothing more than to be “Boss'” (read: Your) best friend.  He talks fast, he’s constantly inventing weird little things, and he just always seems so happy to be around.  All that despite you never seeing his face.  He’s a Jawa, he looks like the rest of the Jawas (okay, he’s got fur around the edges of his coat.) But you would never mistake him for one once he starts talking.  I agree with the Bioware developers on this: I want a Blizz plushie.

Finale

After taking down two of the biggest bounties on the Blacklist in a row, your fellow grand champions would like to throw a party for you at the casino on Nar Shadaa! However, you arrive at the Casino to the sound of gunfire.  It seems the SIS are not done with you yet and have shown up ahead of the time with another Jedi – possibly by tapping your comm lines – and they’ve killed Bloodworthy, the Defenestrator and Jewla Nightbringer!  All three of them are gunned down and gone. Permanently.  Those bastards!

After killing the Jedi and the SIS, that top dog Jedi from Quesh appears via holo again to threaten you and to spout on and on about how you won’t get away with this.  This is all your fault for not surrendering. Blah blah blah. And he concludes by showing you a message being broadcast across the Republic from the Supreme Chancellor:  You are now the most wanted person in the entirety of the galaxy.  It’s no bluff either.  The team back on the ship confirms it all. The Empire is burning all bridges with you and disavowing having ever done business with you claiming that you are a rogue acting on your own.  The entire Republic is gunning for you.  Oh and you can bet that being Most Wanted to about to lure out all sorts of scum that would try to collect your head for money.  Glad I killed Tarro Blood. The only real hope is to go underground and lay low.  That is until you get a message from someone named Darth Tormen demanding you appear before him.  Hey, it MIGHT be good news? Bring the guns just in case.

My Thoughts

Chapter Two of the Bounty Hunter honestly is one of those things I have two minds about.  Namely because it was the first one I played through and now the most recent.  The first time I played it was the first time I actual ‘got’ the bounty hunter.  The idea of the hunt, and of Mandalorian honor and all that didn’t click until this point for me.  But I was also playing a straight laced ‘do the job’ bounty hunter, so the whole thing with the Republic came off as a pointless “Hey, I’m just doing my job” and nothing else.  So the entire story of the SIS coming after you and the Jedi wanting revenge wasn’t really something I even cared much about.   However, after revisiting the story I can see what it is.  This is the turning point.  You are being attacked, your friends are being attacked to remove any chance of supporting you, and you are being left with nothing to turn to.

Chapter Two takes on small bit of Chapter One that you probably didn’t think twice about at the time and turned it back on you.  It continually pushes you to the ropes and leaves you with nothing at the end.  It’s pretty much the perfect set up for a revenge story, which is pretty much what Chapter Three ends up being.  You’ve seen movies like this, we all have, about people set up to take a fall, pushed to the edge, and forced to take things into their own hands to set things right.  It’s that. Only you weren’t set up.  You did kill the guy. Just as a bounty.  The point is that the chapter does a really good job as a middle bit that builds on the first chapter and uses the established story to subvert and set up the conflict of the third part.

The concept of the Black List isn’t exactly ground breaking but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a hook, nothing more.  But it does a good job of not negating your efforts in the first chapter.  Take the Jedi Knight, or Trooper and there’s is very little connecting the first chapter to the rest of the story.  The first chapters seems to sit on little islands with their own self contained ideas.  But here?  You are doing Black List jobs BECAUSE you won the Great Hunt. You are chatting with and hanging out with former grand champions (that were conveniently set up all the way back in Mako’s first few lines of dialogue in the prologue as being BIG DEALS).  This chapter feels like it is the result of chapter one.  Which is a nice feeling.  We’ll get more of that when I eventually get around talking about the Imperial Agent.

The big thing I would have to say in this chapter is how much are you willing to bend your character?  Are you going to be the same person you were before?  My first character was a neutral but leaning toward light side bounty hunter who always did his job and never back-stabbed anyone.  The idea of taking revenge on the Republic was silly because it didn’t mesh with my character. I didn’t let the events of the story change my concept.  The second time, I ran with it.  If the Republic was gonna declare war on me, I’d declare war on the Republic.  Because of that, I will say that Chapter Two and Three became WAY more enjoyable to play through.  Just something to keep in mind from someone who has done it both ways.  This also applies to just role playing in general I think: Let the story change you just as much as you change the story.

<— Chapter One || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Three —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Chapter One

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first chapter of the Bounty Hunter storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

<— Prologue || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Two —>

bountyhunter_chap1_1There’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt, the rush of competition and utter carnage that awaits a competitor in the Great Hunt.  A handful of bounty hunters after the biggest prize in their profession, and not only do you have to take out your appointed bounty but also take out the other bounty hunter you’re competing with?  This is going to be fun.  Luckily, I got my best gal Mako working the intel angle, my freak called Treek packing a double barreled blaster, and a ship droid that…  apparently likes repainting my ship over and over.  Sigh…  Well, Miss Crysta Marko the Space Texan, where am I going first?

Balmorra

So our first target is some big wig admiral working on the seige of Balmorra.  Which right from the get go just goes to show you how different this is from any of the other Imperial class stories: Your first target in the Great Hunt is an Imperial Admiral.  Wow.  If that doesn’t tell you that the Bounty Hunter is on the outside of the Imperial power structure, I don’t know what will.   Unfortunately, said Admiral is a bit of a recluse.  He stays on his ship above Balmorra and never leaves the damn thing, and there is no chance of sneaking aboard something like that and not turning it into a suicide mission.  The next best thing is to lure him out.  Mako has a lead on an officer on the ground that works intelligence for another officer that works under the admiral and is looking to take over his superiors position by impressing the admiral.  Sort of.  See this is the Empire, where impress means “remove the competition” and thus is hiring for someone to discreetly sabotage his boss’ work on Balmorra and to make him look better by comparison.  I can’t POSSIBLY see how this could backfire, but what the hell it’s the best shot at dragging the admiral out of hiding.

The “accidents” you have to pull off are all pretty simple.  Help a slicer install a virus into the droid factory and then eliminate her as a loose end.  Stir the colocoids out of their subjugated state and into a full blown frenzy by killing their queen.  Finally, you steal a tracking device from a Republic ship being used to ambush and prove the link that the Republic is involved on Balmorra and stick on a garbage ship.  Each time reporting back to a gleefully scheming officer who stands in delight with his “pet” Cathar who I will refer to as Murglegurgle because honestly that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I see her jumble puzzle of a name.

After handling the accidents, the superior officer is so totally canned and you talk to the officer and convince him that the best way to show off to the admiral is to meet him in person so the duped officer calls the admiral to arrange for a meeting. Naturally, you and for some reason Murglegurgle are invited as well.  When you show up for the meet – and here’s a shocker – the Admiral is MAD at the officer because these flubs should have never happened if he was doing his job as intelligence. Ha! Don’t care. Time to take out an admiral.  But wait! There’s a surprise twist: Murglegurgle is your rival bounty hunter for the hunt! I am so shocked! Only not!  Because she clearly had alternative intent all through the planet chain.  She was always listening in.  The camera always included her in the background watching the conversations.  Still it was a pretty good build up for the twist and other than the camera angles hinting something was up, she never came close to tipping her hand in the whole thing.  Which was impressively done.  So with Murglegurgle dead, and the Admiral bagged it’s off to the next hunt.  Oh I suppose you can kill the wormy officer if you want. Don’t know why you would.  His dumb ass just helped you move on in the Hunt.

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Nar Shadaa

The next target is a former assassin turned security expert calling himself the Eidolon. Crysta is kind enough to point you to a contact named Gele’ren, a twilek who wants the Eidolon gone on behalf of the Hutt Cartels and who happens to work with Anuli, an old friend of Mako’s (Boooyfriend? COMMENCE TEASING!) and would like to see the Eidolon taken down to improve his stature with the Cartel and maybe become a boss himself.  I’m not entirely sure how the Cartel hierarchy works here. Sometimes they work like a gang, sometimes they’re more of a company, and sometimes it’s just “We all work for hutts.”  I have no clue.  The plan however is to once again force the ever elusive target to come to you instead of finding them.  What better way to accomplish this than by completely ruining  the Eidolon’s business ventures.

The first job is to blow up an entire warehouse of weapons for the Republic worth billions of credits. Really, that’s it.  We’re just gonna blow up a warehouse.  You have to admit there’s a sort of dangeresque mentality to this whole thing that makes me laugh.  No, we don’t sneak around.  No, we don’t blackmail.  We blow things up.  It’s brilliantly simplistic methodology and I would expect nothing else from the Bounty Hunter.

The next bit is some non-hutt concerning business with a certain rival in a certain Great Hunt.  Anuli actually helps pin down some strange order going towards one off beat warehouse here on Nar Shadaa.  Mako thinks this is probably where you’ll find your rival for this planet.  It turns out your rival is a team of ugnaughts who pilot a droid together.  Kind of like a weird Power Rangers set up only the robot doesn’t break apart into seperate smaller robots…. I think.  Apparently, they made it into the Great Hunt by having their droid malfunction and blow up killing everyone else in the melee.  This tells us two things: 1) These are some very lucky pigmen and 2) there was more than one melee, cause that sure as heck did not happen at the end of the prologue.  I would remember that.  So is the melee a standard part of the Hunt?  Because they made it sound like it was a necessity due to the number of entrants from the Hutts or other crime lords. So where there other melees on other planets to help trim things down?  No clue.  This is probably the only time we ever hear about another melee beside the one you participate in.

From here on out, it’s back to business nabbing the Eidolon.  In classic fashion, this quickly becomes an eye for an eye beat down.  You post all his secret dealings across the holo for all to see thanks to a security expert named Zee, and the Eidolon smacks back with going after Gele’ren and Anuli.  This actually seems to hit little Mako way more than any of the possible reactions your bounty hunter has.  She has a moment of utter hopelessness in the face of the fact that yes, even bounty hunters must face the repercussion of their choices and actions.  This is actually where we get introduced to a reoccurring question that gets posed in the bounty hunter storyline: are you responsible?  You were hired to take down the Eidolon.  Without your pursuit Gele’ren and Anuli wouldn’t be involved.  So is it your fault they died?  Are you responsible for those who get harmed or are you simple a tool of your employer and they should be blamed?  This question is actually central to the entire bounty hunter storyline as you’ll see in Chapters 2 and 3.

Finally, you’ll have a chance to take in the Eidolon.  Just before you get to your showdown you’ll be contacting by a representative from the Hutt Cartel who notifies you that they will give an extra reward for delivering an alive and detained Eidolon to them.  It won’t interfere with the hunt and you’ll still get credit for the bounty.  It’s just an extra bonus because oh do they want to make this scumbag suffer and hey, so might you.  So there’s your chance.  The option comes full circle when you finally do take down the Eidolon and facing the possible result of endless sufferring at the hands of the Hutts, he begs you from one warrior to another to give him an honorable death.  While not as prominent or frequent as the idea of responsibility, is the choice between profit and honor.  This becomes a bigger deal when the Mandolorians get more involved in the story later on and you will often get the choice to fulfill a bounty or give them an honorable death by combat or some such.  This is actually a weird inversion of the ‘take them alive’ light side or ‘kill them’ dark side choices in the game.  Killing them honorably usually results in light side points with the bounty hunter, where as straight up murder will result in ‘dark side’.  It’s a weird moral gray area to dance in, but that seems somewhat fitting for the hunter.

Interlude

Your hunt gets interrupted by the Huntmaster’s assisstant – Lek – who calls you back to Dromund Kaas.  Instantly this puts Mako on edge as the Huntmaster and his team are not supposed to contact anyone directly while the hunt is on. However, it turns out that they have a rather unique situation on their hands and that the entire target list for the Great Hunt has been stolen and is set to be auctioned off on Hutta.  This is naturally bad because of its effects on the Great Hunt.  Finding out you’re on the target list is pretty much a big “go underground. Leave galaxy now.” flag and it will screw up everything. You are being tasked by the Huntmaster himself to go and retrieve it and “take care of” any potential threat to the hunt: the slicer who stole it, anyone who might try to buy it or is aware of it, or just anyone who showed up to the auction really.  Most importantly is to try to find out who leaked this intel.

The mission itself is just a short hop back to Hutta to kill a ton of people.  But it has some nice moments like seeing Nem’ro’s secretary who handled your payments in the prologue again.  The real point of this whole thing is revealed in the big twist of who leaked the list to the sliver: a mandolorian.  The Mando did manage to hide his identity through voice filters and hiding his face, but there was one big clue.  The mando wanted to make sure that Tarro Blood’s targets were left off the list.  Well, that’s an interesting turn.  Who could benefit from that?  While your gut says Tarro himself and yes, that is true, the gambling scene surrounding the Hunt has put just enough incentive in exterior hands to move the indicator into ‘reasonable doubt’ in the eyes of Lek and the Huntmaster. Bah!

bountyhunter_chap1_3Tatooine

Your next target is on Tatooine and no sooner than you arrive than you get a ring from Crysta the Space Texan letting you know her pre-recorded briefing for this target is null and void.  Looks like the target caught wind of being a target and decided to high tail it but was shot down by your opponent in the hunt for this world sending the target – a Devoronian named Tyresius Lokai – plummeting into the desert. The good news is because of that, he’s probably still on the planet and is probably looking for a new way off.  So your first visit is to the spaceport traffic droid who tells you that no “Tyresius Lokai” exists in the records, but another Deveronian is about to depart.  Deveronians are apparently quite uncommon according to my MakoWiki, so the chance of there being two both trying to get off the planet at the same time is a bit fishy.  Treek! Fetch my investigation hat!

Of course the guy who claims not to be and to never have heard of Tyresius Lokai is in fact Tyresius Lokai.  He runs off leaving you to deal with his goons who happily divulge after being smacked around that your opponent in the Great Hunt – a Rodian named Veeboo – is in a cantina and may have info on where the ship crashed and where Lokai might head.  Veeboo is a fricking worm who took a huge pay out from Lokai to let him go.  After prying out that Lokai was going to see the “Lady of Pain” about a new ship (this is a really weird place for a Planescape reference honestly.) After the tip, I just blasted Veeboo.  Seriously, what is with all these wimpy rivals?

You find the Lady of Pain in the middle of talks with Lokai.  You offer her anything for Lokai instead and she asks for entertainment.  Apparently she needs a champion for her gladiatorial blood sport match this afternoon and you volunteer.  Lokai gets hauled off in chains and all you have to do is take care of one lousy gold mob and everything is in the bag.  Sort of.  Seems like Tyresius slipped away using a grenade in a false horn and took off into the Dune Sea with a speeder and a ship part. So now you have to chase him again! GAH! This guy is SO dead when I find him.

So into the desert you go, and actually not that far really.  The ship apparently crashed a hop, skip and jump north of an Imperial Outpost and right behind a sand people camp.  Tyresius on the other hand is one not to give up without some resistance (considering that’s all he’s done this entire time, this should not come as a shock) and he’ll send a couple of waves of disposable droids at you.  When you finally catch up with him, he has one final offer: Kill him.  Well, not HIM him, but a genetically identical duplicate of him that he just keeps around for uh… “emergencies.”  This is yet another one of those completely railroad-y decisions in the game that gives you no choice but to agree with the deal.  I do suspect that probably at some point in development you could refuse and just kill Lokai, but hey dems de breaks and here’s a new companion. Deal with it.  Of course, our new friend can’t go around calling himself “Tyresius Lokai, man who died in the great hunt” so he takes a brand new name: Gault Rennow.  He’s our DPS long range sniper companion.  I want to throw him out the air lock but can’t.

It’s not like Gault is a bad character at all.  He’s a snarky, selfish, con artist and self-titled businessman that is always looking for the quick and easy credit. His conversations are usually pretty funny. Funnier than most of our companions at least. No, really what has always irked me about Gault has been two-fold: first is the completely forced way he joins your crew.  The game just ignores the myriad of reasons this is a BAD IDEA and just shoves him into your hands and walks off like giving a love note to s-sempai.  Second is the fact that the guy is just a complete weasel.  His introduction is all about paying off people, getting others to do his dirty work, and squirming out of every situation.  He just comes off as slimy as a overly greased comb-over on a used car dealer. It just always put me off.  No matter how snarky or sassy his commentary gets, I just feel dirty when I work with Gault.

Alderaan

Alderaan, also known as dead planet walking, is either the most frustrating or most enjoyable RP experience in the entire first chapter of the Bounty Hunter storyline. Namely because you spend the entire planet trying to hobnob with noble elites who think your petty blue collar work beneath them.  At the center of this whole thing is House Girard who has the intel you need to locate your bounty of the day: The Durasteel Duke.  Named such because he is supposedly nigh unkillable with nerves of… well…  durasteel I would assume.  So to get the intel you need, you get to play errand monkey for a bunch of stuck ups in fancy duds that seem to enjoy bickering with each other.  Lots of in-fighting in this House it seems.

Most of the jobs you have to do can either go down in one of two fashions: You behave, or you don’t.  You can either put up with the self righteous jerk or you can break his nose and force him to take the package even though your employer was supposed to deliver it in person.  You can help the old curator of the museum find the fake relic that has the clue while covering him from oncoming fire or you can just smash all the priceless ancient jugs until you find the right one and get the heck out of Alde (You know, instead of Dodge.  Cause it’s House Alde.  Oh whatever.)

Things get interesting once you try to hunt down the duke at House Rist.  There’s a bunch of awesome booby traps to dodge and avoid.  The whole thing kind of turns into Indiana Jones for one area.  This is the kind of thing I wish they did more of in this game instead of just combat, combat, more combat.  Have puzzles! Put a maze in there!  I mean, they eventually added some more of this with Rise of the Hutt Cartel bu seriously, it works really well and I find it to be such an enjoyable break.  However, all is for not because you apparently JUST missed the Duke and found out that Rist already killed your rival for the planet for you. Yay? That’s not all though.  Impressed with your skill, the assassins of House Rist make you an offer: Kill House Girard.  All of them.  They promise you a fat paycheck to finishing their contract for them.  My first playthough I didn’t take the money because I wanted to stay loyal to my employer.  On a second time, I realized that these were professional hitmen and women with a contract to kill them anyway.  They were gonna die no matter what. Might as well get paid. Plus you get a title for doing the deed! You get to be “Homewrecker”.

So you finally get to the Duke at House Organa’s pad only to find out that the Duke has actually been dead for like weeks.  Natural causes, or some accident, or some other way that did not involve my blaster.  Apparently the Duke’s sister has been running around as him in a holodisguise to ensure that his diplomatic work finishes before they announce the death.  But hell, she doesn’t wanna deal with the likes of a bounty hunter that chased her across 3 noble houses and half the planet.  She just gives you the duke’s body to turn in and begs you to just leave her alone.  Which I always do.  Hey, why waste ammo?

The planet wraps up with a return to House Girard where the patriarch of the house that was signing your check has died to natural causes (Lots of that going around).  You still get paid, but you were also made his legal representative way back at the beginning to deliver that first package to Count Butthead.  So it falls to you to decide who is the successor to be the head of the house.  There’s actually three ways this can go:  1) Side with the son. You’ll get the Knight of Alderaan title if you are male and the Baroness title if you are female.  2) Side with the daughter.  No titles but you get light side points.  3) If you agreed to take on Rist’s contract, kill them all and get the Homewrecker title.  The Homewrecker option ONLY appears if you agreed to Rist’s offer earlier though.  Now with that settled, it’s time to go toe to toe to the finals of the Great Hunt.

bountyhunter_chap1_4

Finale

The finale for chapter one is actually told in two parts.  The first of which has you travel back to Nar Shadaa to meet with a former champion of the Great Hunt – a mandolorian who just happens to be the teacher of Tarro Blood and his lackies.  It turns out that Tarro has one last sneaky little trick up his sleeve and the former champion wants to warn you about it to help preserve the honor and integrity of the Great Hunt.  Naturally, as is almost always the case with these things he can only tell you about it in person. No unsecured communications.  Even though you have an expert hacker with a computer in her brain that should be able to get us a clean line.  Whatever.

When you show up to the meet you find that Tarro’s lackies did follow you there.  Shock!  If only we could have avoided this by not meeting in person at one place where our enemies could get us both.  You get the option of either slaughtering all of Tarro’s goons or having an honorable duel to the death.  Either way though and the former champ still takes a shot and dies.  But if you chose the honorable duel, you did get some kind final words about you are the true ideal of what the Great Hunt and Mandolorians should inspire to be.   Not so kind words if you just blow them all to hell.  But you do get revenge.  Sweet vengeance on rye toast.  With a side of OJ.  AND PAIN!  *cough*  Moving on.

The actual conclusion comes in the form of one last bounty, and boy is it a doozy:  Get on board a Republic military dreadnaught, disable its hyperspace stabilizers so it gets shredded in the jump,  kill a Jedi master, and then set a timer to throw the whole ship into hyperspace to destroy it.  Oh, and also get off the bloody thing before it goes and defeat your rival. Very important.  Naturally, nothing is simple.  Your attempt to ‘sneak’ on board is immediately met with a troop of soldiers who already caught your rival – one Tarro Blood – who happily informed them that you would also be arriving soon in hopes to save his own skin.  He’s locked in the brig now.  You on the other hand get to fight your way through a now completely on alert ship.  By the Force, Tarro Blood is so slimy that I’m shocked all the fangirls who squee over $%#*stains like Draco Malfoy aren’t created fan shrine websites to his Bieber looking ass.  Those are still a thing right? Fan shrine sites?  Or did they just all die when Geocities went offline? God I’m old.

While rigging the ship to blow, you do stumble upon the brig and Mr. Blood sitting in a cell.  To twist a quote a certain moment in a certain game – This is the part where you kill him.  (This is that part.) And joy of joys, you actually get a choice in your method of dealing with this anthropomorphized mosquito. You can either leave him in the ship to be ripped apart when the hyperspace jump goes off, or you can be the honorable man and let him out to have a proper duel to the death or you can be just as much of a prick by agreeing to the duel, letting him out and then shoot him dead before he has a chance to grab his gear.  Surprisingly, Mako is very much on board with the leaving him here to be shredded idea.  I on the other hand went with the duel on my Powertech and the shooting him before grabbed his gear bit.  If this toad was gonna die, I wanted to be the one to pull the trigger.

Now that Blood has been dealt with – and OH! WAS IT SATISFYING – we can finally go after the actual target.  The Jedi is hanging out on the bridge with his padawan when you arrive.  He tries to force you to surrender, leading to probably one of the most screencapped moments of the game:

JEDI: *waves hand for Jedi Mind Trick* You will lower your weapon and surrender.
BOUNTY HUNTER: *mock waving hand* You will realize what a complete idiot you are.

The master realizes he doesn’t have much alternative to fight and then realizes he doesn’t have much choice to lose. Badly.  It’s important to note that this is the first Jedi Master you have to take on for the Great Hunt, and possibly your first Jedi opponent ever (Suppose it depends on what you do on the planetary storylines). So a victory is impressive.  You of course are also free to either let his apprentice go or to kill her as well.  But between you and me – let her go.  Trust me.  It’ll make sense in Chapter Two.  Makes for a MUCH better story in my opinion. Anyway, with the bounty dead and handled, it’s time to set the ship to blow and get the heck out.

The whole thing ends back on Dromund Kaas where you are given a triumphant award ceremony proclaiming you to be the grand champion of the Great Hunt!  Wealth, fame, and employment await! (So like the opposite of college nowadays.)  The ceremony ends with a notification that you have been called to meet with Mandalore.  THE Mandalore.  Like the big head honcho of the entire Mandalorian people.  He’s got a special task for you it seems.  But that can wait, for now its time to celebrate!

My Thoughts

Originally, I had long held that the Bounty Hunter storyline starts strong and then dwindles toward chapter three but after replaying the storyline I may have been somewhat blinded by it being the first storyline I played.  It’s still great. Don’t get me wrong.  There’s a lot of fun, and has a solid tale of personal glory mixed with revenge.  Tarro Blood is a scum bag villain that revels whose presence is felt almost constantly as he continuously attempts to sabotage your chance at victory. The final showdown with Blood, no matter which way you choose to end it, feels so satisfying and enjoyable.  More than just about any other ‘rival’ you have in other storylines.  The Great Hunt is a wonderful framing device for the story that always ensures you have something to work towards on each planet.

I was however slightly disappointed that each planet only had one bounty.  I was hoping that each world would be like Hutta where you are constantly chasing different people.  However, that was my first time playing the story.  After chapter two it sank in exactly what the hunt was about.  It’s about HUNTING. Setting traps, luring out the prey, and tracking across every environment possible. Going back and looking at the Great Hunt that way was a much more rewarding experience…  sometimes.  Other times, like on Tatooine, you just want it to be over and it starts to really drag chasing Tyresius only to have him slip away every single time.  Especially since after all that, you are forced to bring him along.

The storyline wasn’t flawless by any means either.  The weakest bit by far was the idea of the rival bounty hunter that you were supposed to square off against.  Let’s count how that goes down: One playing in the shadows till the very end (Good!), one trying to rebuild their winning megazord and die unprepared (Meh.), one got paid off and dropped out (Wha?), and one is dead by the time you get to the planet (You’ve gotta be kidding me…).  So after the first planet, the rival aspect is pretty much pointless until the showdown with Tarro.  This could have been something that really elevated the whole experience.  Not only having to hunt down a bounty but also have to stay a step ahead of the competition.  Maybe Tatooine would be a little less tedious had it been a three way race between you, Tyresius trying to escape, and your rival trying to catch Tyresius.  Maybe the arena battle for the Lady of Pain would be against your rival who has been working his own connections to get Lokai.  It just seems like wasted potential.

Same thing with the leaked list in the interlude.  All it ultimately ends up doing is adding another thing on the list of Tarro Blood’s offenses.  Like was it supposed to be some shock that Blood was cheating? The whole story started with him cheating!  It doesn’t even get him a single demerit with the Huntmaster or his crew. So what was the point?  I mean, it could have been a big turn for the character.  He gets kicked out of the Hunt, and then goes on a mission of revenge and starts killing your rivals and even the Durasteel Duke in an attempt to sabotage you since you were directly responsible for his expulsion and ruining his shot.  That would have been something!

For all its missed opportunities, the bounty hunter storyline is still one of my favorite first chapters.  It establishes you as someone who is only on the Imperial side by contract and have very little interest in the power plays of the Sith or the clandestine cloak and dagger plays of Imperial Intelligence.  In fact, you actually go directly against them at times.  Much like the smuggler, the hunter doesn’t feel like he’s part of his faction but simply works within it.  So why the Empire and not the Republic for the Hunter?  Well, we’ll get into that when Chapter Two rolls around.

<— Prologue || BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter Two —>

SWTOR Class Storyline Review: Bounty Hunter – Prologue

BHPro03

“There was someone following me.”
“I’ll put him on my ‘To Kill’ list.”
“You are so fantastically simple sometimes.”
– Mako & The Bounty Hunter

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the prologue of the Bounty Hunter storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  To see a spoiler-free summary of the storyline please check this page instead.

|| BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter One –>

The Bounty Hunter is my favorite class story in the game you guys.  For reals.  It may not have the complexity, betrayals, surprise twists or earth shattering revelations that the Imperial Agent story has (My number two favorite story thus far).  But it does have a fun action packed romp of revenge, rising to stardom, and walking the lines between neutrality and servitude as well as lawfulness and savagery.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  We’re only on the prologue for now.

But just to let you know, I am writing this about my second bounty hunter.  Yes, I did it twice.   One if a strictly neutral hunter that always completes the job he is hired for.  He can’t be bought off or bribed.  He follows the bounty hunter code of take them alive unless ordered to kill.  No depravity bothers him, but he doesn’t indulge in unnecessary violence.  At level 50 my first bounty hunter end up completely neutral.  My second hunter however is a bit greedier.  He isn’t a psychopath, but he doesn’t put a ton of value on life if there’s money to be made.  He does take bribes and pay offs, unless doing so puts him at a disadvantage to what he wants.  He holds very few allegiances, and honestly views people as means to an end.

So with these very different personalities, I’ll hopefully give you a good idea of what paths of the bounty hunter story can take and share with you my thoughts.

Hutta

The tale begins with the Hunter arriving on Hutta and meeting with his team: Jory the muscle, Braden the veteran hunter, and Mako the computer prodigy. You’ve essentially been brought on as the shining star of this team to get them in to and hopefully win the Great Hunt, a massive bounty hunter competition made up of Mandalorians and Crime Lord sponsored bounty hunters.  Since you’re not a Mandalorian, it’s time to schmooze a Hutt.  Most of your time on Hutta is spent doing jobs for Nem’ro, the Hutt that runs the town you start in.  But first you have to make a name for yourself.

Sadly, while you were out taking down a bounty that feels oh so good to make fun of, your team sans Mako got themselves a slight case of dead.  Turns out that a rival has appeared.  The Blue to your Red, or the Red to your Blue, if you will.  His name is Tarro Blood and oh geeze does this guy have a problem with voice so doesn’t match the face.  He’s got this deep guttural voice that’d you expect from a grizzled bastard like Michael Ironside, but he has the face of a tattooed Justin Bieber.  Seriously, he has that hair cut.  His side kick, Snidely Whiplash (no that’s not his name but that’s so who he reminds me of) has a voice that matches his ugly mug, but Tarro Bieber still freaks me out.  Anyway, Tarro Blood had his lackies kill your lackies so you didn’t have a support structure in hopes of kicking you out of the Hunt.

With only you and Mako left, it’s time to work double time to get into the Hunt for a shot at revenge. So you start your slog of doing tasks for Nem’ro which mostly involve cutting off someone’s head and then placing it on the floor somewhere.  First is a local that wants the Hutts off the planet revolutionary leader type, and the second is an accountant that went to work for Nem’ro’s rival.  Both times you are given the option of not killing them if you want and returning with something else instead.  Though personally  I was never able to bring myself to do that.  Namely because the entire reason you’re doing this is to kiss up to the slug to get into the Hunt for riches, glory and now revenge.  Why would risk that?  You don’t want to kill?  You’re a bounty hunter! Sure, it’s not assumed that you have to kill them, but dangit if that’s what your employer wants you should be ready to deliver.

The next task is to go and kill Nem’ro’s supposedly treacherous Beastmaster.  I say supposedly because not only does this turn out to be a trap as the Beastmaster was warned by Nem’ro himself that you’d be coming but then you are made to fight the beast pit for the Hutt’s amusement, but also because while the other two targets had very good explanations for why Nem’ro wanted them dead, the Beastmaster is simply called a traitor and nothing else.  No more details are given.  Which should be your first tip that this job was not like the others.  But with the Beastmaster dispatched it’s time to confront Nem’ro and demand your earned entry token.  But shocked upon shocked, Nem’ro the upstanding worm that he is, has given it to someone else.

All the while, Tarro Blood keeps sending goons after you as well.  A Rodian shows up to blast you which leads to one of my favorite gags as you start counting down as she keeps running her mouth.  Finally when you get to zero, you blast her.  More or less the exact way you get introduced to Calo Nord in the original Knights of the Old Republic. Tarro also makes it a bad habit of tipping off enemies, cutting off resources, and generally being an annoying pest.  But you better get used to it, because he does it through ALL of Chapter One too.

So now it’s time to go get that entry token.  Some Trandoshan has it and you’ve got to get it back.  So how do you do that? Well, the best bet is probably laying a trap.  So you find the biggest bounty on Hutta that you haven’t already pocketed: a scientist/medic/something smart lady in the employ of Nem’ro’s biggest rival: Fathra.  So you have to bust into a Hutt palace, and hold the nice lady hostage until the rival bounty hunter shows.  Which he – predictably – does.  Once you claim the token off his body, it’s time to decide what to do with the scientist.  Technically, there IS a bounty on her.  There’s also the matter of her being a willing hostage in an “aggressive negotiation” with a fellow hunter.  So it really comes down to you what happens.  I collected her bounty.  Money is money. Honor doesn’t buy us a ticket off Hutta.  And I have GOT to get me to Dromund Kaas.

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Dromund Kaas

Alright. I got my golden ticket. I got me a girl. I got myself to Dromund Kaas. What else could go wro-  WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE TOO MANY ENTRIES? Oh for Cad Bane’s sake, are you serious? You overbooked the biggest tournament in the galaxy? That’s a load. But yes, it’s true. Turns out that there are way too many bounty hunters showing up for the few spots in the brackets left, so it’s time to thin the herd out a bit.  So the Huntmaster has the idea of pitting hunter against hunter in a race to successfully complete three bounties on the Imperial home world.  That means not only finding and capturing your bounty, but you have to deal with the Empire’s anti-Alien, anti-Non-Imperial, and generally just Anti attitude.

You also meet Crysta Markon who is your contact for this little party.  Now I’ve made jokes about Space England and Space Scotland and all sorts of other jokes about the myriad of accents that the Imperials use.  But behold, dear readers, Crysta Markon is apparently from the ever elusive Space Texas.  Oh yea.  An honest to goodness Southern gal in a galaxy far far away. It just raises so many questions.  Where is she from? Where did she get that accent? Why doesn’t anyone else have it? Maybe the Empire blew up Space Texas and she is the last surviving member of her kind. Her parents worked for Space NASA, and shot her out of a rocket to Dromund Kaas were given her lack of alien traits she would be raised as an equal, but when she got to be in her teens she learned she was not like the other kids with their fancy Dromund Kaas accents. No, she said things like “Y’all” and punctuated sentences with colorful strange terms like “Shoot, son. I ain’t nevah seen nobody do that before.”  Outcasted by her weird vocal inflections, she turns to the Mandalorians who offer her a home working with up and comers so that they may find acceptance somewhere, even if it’s not with their home or with the Imperials.

Or it just could be that the division of Bioware that made SWTOR is from Austin. That too.

So your first bounty is to track down a Republic noble that somehow got sold as a slave on Dromund Kaas and is now stuck in the middle of a slave riot. His family would like him returned, preferably alive but hey slave riot, so a corpse to send back will also pay some too.  Wow.  Uh.  Okay.  That seems kinda chaotic. But that’s not all! Once you find the camp, he’s not there! It turns out that he once had a fling with an Imperial noble, who has found out that he is a slave on the planet and arranged for an escape.  The two lovers are now posing as brother and sister (which seriously creeps Mako out) and hanging out in Kaas City at the Cantina.  Well, time to go break up that date.  You’re given a few choices with this one too.  You can capture the bounty, kill the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble and capture the bounty, or kill the bounty and the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble will pay you the difference between the live and dead payments.  Really there is no reason to harm either of the nobles, other than sheer squick factor.  There’s also a small bit where Tarro Blood (AGAIN?) sends a squad of Imperial troops to stop you.  They didn’t live long.  But the best part is when Tarro calls and the other troops demand a cut of their leader’s pay off to kill you.  How many times does a thousand credits split DEAD ways? Oh yea. You guys! That’s how many. HA!

The second bounty is a bit more straight forward if not a bit more depressing.  A big to-do officer in the Imperial Navy has a daughter who is a Sith. They are all very proud. She has a master. Aw, that’s awesome. Her master is insane Sith Lord who rebelled against the Dark Council.  Isn’t that cu- WAIT! If people find out that might make us look bad.  We must hire a bounty hunter to KILL her!  Yea. That’s the next bounty. Kill the dude’s daughter before anyone can find out they’re related and potentially cost him his job and his life for siring a kid who got picked by an evil dude. Evil-er dude.  Okay, wait.  Where on the moral spectrum IS a rebelling Sith Lord?  How does a Sith Lord rebel? Do they do charity work? We know they like ergonomic chairs.

Despite the bounty being to kill the target, you can actually elect to spare her.  This will actually lead to a scene where the guy who hired you expresses the deep regrets he was having about essentially sending an assassin after his daughter.  That family is more important to him than his career.  It’s really touching.  And I’ve only seen the scene by looking over someone else’s shoulder.  Yup, I always have killed the daughter.  Why? Why would I do something so heartless and cruel?  Because that’s what I was being paid to do.  If you get hired to install a TV in the bedroom, do you install it in the living room instead because you feel watching TV in bed is unhealthy and that you are sure that the people paying you will agree after it’s all said and done and pay you anyway? Do the job you get paid to do.  If he had any doubts, he shouldn’t have put out the contract I say.

The third and final bounty at first seems like the most cut and dry of the three. Imperial Intelligence sent a squad into the Dark Temple to investigate the strange going ons in there. But the team went insane from the Temple’s power. But since the Sith are kind of touchy about not wanting anyone but Sith in the Temple, Intelligence needs to clean up the mess. Enter the bounty hunter, tasked with collecting the ID cards of the troops sent in to the Temple so no one knows that they were sent by Intelligence.  Straight forward, yea?

Well, the first kink in the plan turns out to be when you find the squad commander and are given the choice of making sure no one comes back alive, or snapping him out of his psychotic babbling.  Then, to make things even worse, the guy who hired you tries to kill you when you get back.  Oh yea.  You’re not a Sith either, so technically you weren’t supposed to be in that Temple.  Time to eliminate loose ends.  And by that I mean beating the crap out of the Intelligence officer until he pays you. Damn spies and their cloak and dagger crap.  They should have kept the whole thing in-house. I hear that Cipher-9 is pretty good. (That’s the Imperial Agent storyline, FYI.)

With the three bounties done, it’s time to hit up the Melee.  Yea, everyone who actually finished their three bounties now gets tossed in an arena to viciously battle until only one remains.  Why didn’t we just do this from the start?  I mean, it would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining to have a royal rumble of like twenty-five bounty hunters going at in an arena, each chosen to represent a murderous thug of a crime lord.  That’d be pretty cool, right?  Instead there’s like six of you. And it’s pretty clear who is gonna come out on top. The only weird thing is that it says clearly “No assistants” at the beginning, but sure enough Mako is there healing you for the whole thing. A long-standing bug? Flavor versus mechanics error? No clue.

So now that you’ve taken care of the scrubs, the Huntsmaster (a big ole wookie) welcomes you to the great hunt, where Tarro Blood makes yet another huge stink about how this a contest of prestige and honor and I am somehow sullying it.  Tarro, I’m curious.  How?  How am I sullying the contest?  Is it because I’m a Chiss? No, you say the same thing about a human. Is it because I’m not a Mandalorian? There are plenty of those in the contest. All I can think is I am not worthy of this honor because I’m not you.  That’s it.  Your entire argument is less based in facts that your average internet troll. Hell, you’re bordering on 24 hour news channel editorial territory.  If this was tumblr, I think they’d already have photoshopped a trilby on your head, called it a fedora and burned you in effigy.  Actually, I’m gonna do that now. But no, now I have deal with your crap for at LEAST 15 more levels. But oh, chapter one will be fun.  Because I know – I KNOW – that as long as I keep winning, I’m gonna get a shot at your head, Blood. Oh yes. TARRO BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.

Tarro Blood in a Fedora. You're welcome.

Now all that’s left is to get off world and on with the Great Hunt.  That’ll be fun right?  Get a new ship, get a new droid, get some freedom.  Oh, but it’s not that simple.  See in every other class except smuggler you’re given a ship and the smuggler is reclaiming a ship that is already theirs.  You?  You get to steal someone else’s ship.  It’s apparently a new hunter in the big hunt hazing ritual.  Find a ship, steal the ship and get the hell off the Imperial homeworld.  Of course, Tarro Blood messes with that too by tipping off the authorities and the owner of the ship.  Seriously? That’s like trying to prank order pizzas to someone’s door to annoy them.  Is this what the great Tarro Blood amounts too? Petty pranks?  Oh geeze. I am gonna enjoy killing that man.

Final Thoughts

I already gushed about the storyline at the top, so I won’t repeat my adoration here.  I hope you can maybe see why I like this story so much.  From the get go you have a villain that is absolutely loathsome to the point where it is enjoyable to hate him.  Like Joffrey in a Song of Ice and Fire you find yourself craving a gruesome death for him.  There is nothing to like or respect about Tarro.  He is an absolute weasel.  And the story is richer for it.  In a game where the stories are all over the map in terms of sympathetic villains, themes of redeeming the fallen and giving second chances, it is nice to have one guy you can just hate without a single doubt.

Otherwise the story is fairly straight forward.  You want into the Great Hunt. You try to get into the Great Hunt.  You get into the Great Hunt. But that’s not bad. Simple is not bad.  You are given plenty to overcome on the road to getting your butt a spot in the Hunt, Tarro is throwing wrenches at you but never to the point where it is annoying.  It’s only like one in three missions where he actually tries to mess with you, so it doesn’t become too petty or annoying. The other obstacles have to deal with either being set up, betrayed, or drawing on your moral sensibilities of what is right or wrong.  And sometimes – SOMETIMES – everything just goes as planned.  But overall things seem to be spaced out so nothing is too repetitive.

In the end, the prologue of the bounty hunter’s tale is a solid start without the feeling of staggering to the start. Something I can’t say for every prologue.  You get a real sense of being outside the system since you are the only Imperial class that does not tie in to the government at all.  You have your own goals that are outside of the Imperial scope, you go about them without aid from the Empire for the most part, and while yes they are your main source of income on Dromund Kaas (surprise surprise) it never feels like you are doing anything for them.  You are being hired by them as a means to further your own agenda.  And maybe that’s why the Bounty Hunter story stands out so much for me.  It IS about your own agenda.  There is no superior force commanding you to fulfill their wishes.  You are in the Great Hunt because you want to be, you are doing these jobs because you want to take them, and you ultimately answer to no one but yourself.  Heck, that even makes the moral choices seem a bit more interesting as you never have to worry about your master or boss condemning your actions.  Oh sure, you can mess up the contract and upset the person you hired you. But that’s temporary.  That’s one job.  That’s hardly a blemish on your entire record that will stick with you for years to come.  But the bounty hunter is his or her own master.  That’s kind of an awesome feeling of agency you don’t get that often.  Even in the Smuggler storyline you are furthering someone else’s agenda.  No spoilers on whose yet though.

Now we have to see if that awesome feeling continues as we proceed on to the Great Hunt proper and have to deal with Tarro Manchild’s shenanigans.

|| BOUNTY HUNTER || Chapter One –>

Level 50 & Looking Back

If there was anything that could really be improved from the Bounty Hunter storyline? MORE BLIZZ. Make it so, Bioware.

I would like to blame my lack of writing on SW:TOR.  Just saying.  That game has its hooks in me right now.  So much so that I can happily say that without space bar skipping, I’ve already got my bounty hunter to level 50, and my Jedi knight and Sith inquisitor well into their chapter 1 story lines.  The game has just been really enjoyable, and I like doing different things in different playthroughs.  My professional bounty hunter didn’t do nearly as much sadistic crap as my inquisitor has, and sure as hell didn’t flirt as much.

I can’t say the experience has been downright fantastic though.  It has made me miss some things like the Dungeon Finder, a tool that I honestly never really had many problems with.  But the fact is that in my time playing several characters in TOR, I pretty much always run the Black Talon or the Esseles, and that’s pretty much it for flashpoints.  For me, it’s just not worth sitting around in the fleet and looking for a group for some of these things.  The only other time I’ve run a flashpoint was when I stumbled on a group for Hammer Station that just happened to be looking for a tank the same time I was meandering toward the space station on Balmorra.  While the comparisons of a single player game with a chatbox tacked on are usually meant to be insulting, I honestly found that mentality much more enjoyable.  Because honestly, looking for a group right now has SUUUUUCKED.  Maybe it’s just my server.  Who knows, when I wander over to the server my Inquisitor is on (Space Slug) there are a LOT of people looking for groups…  for Level 50 hardmodes.  And ONLY hard modes by the way.  I don’t think I’ve seen anyone looking for a group for regular False Emperor or Battle for Ilum.  Hopefully, this will change as people continue to push toward max level and I know Bioware is exploring options for a more robust LFG tool (or at least I hope so. They said they were working on one.)

Either way, my card has been charged and I’ve got my founder title.  Now Bioware has six months before I decide what I’ll be doing next.  In that time, you can bet I’ll be leveling a ton of alts and hopefully making friends in new guilds.  I hope at least.  I have almost as much of a hard time socializing on the internet as I do in real life.  Which means I have a hard time /whispering people I’ve never met before.  So finding a guild is hopefully my chance to meet some people to actually do stuff like flashpoints with.  (Speaking of which, if anyone is on Begeren Colony or Space Slug and knows of a friendly casual guild that I can enlist with, let me know.  I’m trying to keep with West coast servers.)

But overall, looking back from level 50, I really enjoyed my bounty hunter.  The end of Chapter One was immensely satisfying.  Like ‘Beat the Lich King’ satisfying.  Chapter Two felt a bit meh, as most middles do.  It mostly spent time setting up the Second Act Turning Point that launched me into Chapter Three.  The bounty hunter story definitely took some settling into though.  At first I honestly didn’t ‘get it’.  I just rode around space. Caught some dude. Rinse and repeat.  It wasn’t till someone on the SWTOR forums mentioned that the story isn’t about capturing bounties – it’s about THE HUNT.  That made it all click.  The class missions became much more enjoyable as I learned to appreciate the tactics of hunting prey.  I had honestly expected something a bit more like Hutta on every world.  Collecting lots of bounties for warlords, hutts, the Empire… whoever.  But as I settled in, I really enjoyed the long drawn out hunts and luring them out.  This especially becomes prevalent during Chapter Two when you reach Taris.  I’m not going to spoil it for you, but prepare for some Predator stuff.

The other thing I really enjoyed was how my reputation as a bounty hunter grew throughout the galaxy as the story progressed.  I land on Hutta as just some merc looking to make some creds.  At the end of the prologue, you start to see people recognizing you. “Oh you’re that bounty hunter.” and what not.  This becomes really noticeable on Nar Shadaa where you really feel your reputation grow as you get passed around from Imperial officer to Imperial officer around the massive city.  By the time you get into Chapter Two, you are a freakin’ VIP.  That’s not an exaggeration.  You literally get called a VIP by one of the Imperial troops.  You work your way up to becoming the Empire’s “go to” bounty hunter by the end of the story.  Which, really, is up to you how to proceed with that.  Personally, I blew off the Empire. I’m no one’s lackey.  You want me, you can hire me.

Overall, the game is a blast thus far.  Time will tell how fun it stays. But I don’t regret putting my money down for six months of game time.  Can’t wait to see what the Legacy system brings in March!

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