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Bounty Hunter Beginner’s Guide - Star Wars The Old Republic

Learn the essentials of the Bounty Hunter class including primary stats, abilities, combat strategies, gear choices, and more.

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Mercenary For Hire

Some have called you a cold-blooded killer. Others say you're only out for yourself. Truth be told, you're proud of the fact that you're a mercenary for hire. Nothing can stand between you and your target. The Empire's finest hire you to do what you're best at, and you do it well. Welcome to being a Bounty Hunter. All Bounty Hunters start from somewhere. Today we're starting on Hutta, the introduction planet for Bounty Hunters, which is where you'll find plenty of action.

Animated overview video of the Bounty Hunter Class

Even though this is a beginner's guide, there are a few things you should be aware of before reading ahead. This guide will be written only for Bounty Hunters. Some points will be general, but most will directly be for the Bounty Hunter's playstyle. You should also have a basic idea of how the controls work while playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, also known as SWTOR. One last note: I won't go into any storyline spoilers.

Hunting 101: Choosing a Side

Learning how to claim victory in combat is of utmost importance, but before we begin, let's talk about your alignment. As a Bounty Hunter, you're a freelance killer for the Empire, but that doesn't always mean you have to agree with the reasons behind the kills. Credits talk, and your ideals are yours alone. There are three alignment options. One option is to decide between dialog choices as you naturally play, choosing options instinctively. Many players will play their first character in this manner and it can be enjoyable.

Unfortunately, there is a negative side if your Bounty Hunter ends up balanced between Light and Dark. Once you pass certain levels of Light and Dark points (Dark II, III, etc.), you're able to purchase gear and other items while leveling. If you remain "grey" (in between both), purchasing those items becomes difficult due to your alignment being split. There's nothing wrong in deviating from either pure side, but keep this note in mind.

A Light Side aligned Bounty Hunter? Stranger things have happened

The other option is to go with a pure alignment. Bounty Hunters are often portrayed as following the Dark Side since hunting Imperial bounties isn't exactly the cleanest career choice. Trusting anyone in your line of work can be dangerous and it's sometimes best to get in, fire your shots, claim the reward and run far, far away. Dark Side Bounty Hunters are a little more expected throughout the galaxy and your dialog options will be witty and slightly arrogant. Alternatively, you could surprise everyone you come across by being the Bounty Hunter who refuses to take lives unnecessarily. Are you willing to take a stand and fight against the chaos? If so, Light Side might be worth a shot.

Hunting 101: Powertech or Mercenary?

All Bounty Hunters start out mainly dealing damage from afar, but after finishing up on Hutta, you'll have to choose between Mercenary and Powertech. These are the Bounty Hunter's two advanced class options, and there are vast differences between them.

Mercenaries focus on taking down enemies from far away with the help of dual plaster pistols and plenty of heat-seeking missiles. Mercenaries can also heal party members with the Bodyguard skill tree. Powertechs concentrate more on defensive maneuvers and can choose to tank for their group, protecting friends from harm by forcing enemies to attack them instead. Powertechs can also dispatch enemies quickly using ranged attacks, close range blaster techniques and flamethrowers.

A Bounty Hunter's Flamethrower can be a powerful close quarters weapon

It's probably best to start thinking about your preferred role while leveling on Hutta. If you prefer to remain on the offensive, you have two options. Offensive Mercenaries and Powertechs perform at roughly even levels when it comes to straight DPS (damage per second). DPS Powertechs are more mobile, but DPS Mercenaries have more versatility and can provide a bit of emergency healing.

If you enjoy protecting your party members or healing them, it should be pretty simple to choose a route based on that role. Both advanced classes can level solo (without any help) extremely well, and since the Bounty Hunter class wears heavy armor, both Mercenaries and Powertechs are two of the most sturdy classes for leveling.

Hunting 101: Combat

Playing through Hutta gives you a great sampling of how higher level Bounty Hunters play. Let's talk about your abilities, beginning at level 1. Every class gets a buff that players should keep up at all times, even while grouped. Bounty Hunters get Hunter's Boon, which adds Endurance and lasts for an hour. Endurance helps survivability by raising everyone's maximum health. Also make sure to keep Sprint up if you have it (as free-to-play, you won't learn it until level 15). Sprint's a useful buff that will increase your movement speed while you're not in combat. It's toggled and will stay on unless you use the ability again to turn it off.

Getting ready to launch a Fusion Missile

You will automatically know two attacks at level 1: Rapid Shots and Missile Blast. Missile Blast is a great attack for groups of enemies while on Hutta. It does have a rather hefty Heat cost, however. Heat is your special ability resource, which is a yellow bar that shows up beneath your own health. Heat starts out at 0 unlike most resource pools in SWTOR, and if you reach 100 heat, you are unable to use special attacks and abilities until some of your Heat dissipates (or "vents"). Each special ability has a Heat cost. Missile Blast, for example, costs 25 Heat.

Heat naturally dissipates over time. If you're not fighting, it dissipates quickly. In combat it takes much longer. The dissipation rate during combat will shift and is based upon how much Heat you have at that moment. If you have 25 Heat or below, the venting rate is the quickest it can possibly be while in combat. When you are at 75 Heat or above, it dissipates at its slowest rate. Taking this information into account, it's good to keep an eye on your overall Heat and not raise it too quickly.

And that's when Rapid Shots becomes your best friend. Rapid Shots is a ranged shot that doesn't have a Heat cost. It does less damage than Missile Blast, but it's often effective in taking out a single enemy. Rapid Shots can also be used while moving. It's a good idea to get in the habit of interlacing Rapid Shots with special abilities like Missile Blast that have a high Heat cost. For example, in a group of three enemies, Missile Blast is a great way to begin combat. Afterwards, your first target should be knocked down and almost dead. Finish them off with a few Rapid Shots, then follow up with a Missile Blast to the remaining bunch.

Vent Heat is also an option when it comes to controlling your Heat resource. Vent Heat dissipates 50 Heat over three seconds. The ability has a pretty hefty cooldown (wait time), however. After using it, you must wait for the two minute timer to run down before using it again. In most cases, it's a good idea to save Vent Heat and other abilities with cooldowns for emergencies. If a wandering group attacks while you're in the middle of a fight, using Vent Heat and some quick Missile Blasts may ensure a win.

Recharge and Reload is the Bounty Hunter's out-of-combat ability that's channeled and vents Heat as well as restores health to you and your Companion. Channeled abilities keep dealing damage and/or healing until you use another ability or move. It's always recommended to use Recharge and Reload between tough battles, especially if the enemies hit fairly hard. As a general rule, you should never begin a fight with low health or high Heat.

Learning Abilities

As you gain levels by completing missions, Bounty Hunter trainers will sell you new abilities as well as new ranks of abilities. The first time you'll encounter a trainer is in the outdoor market near Nimro's Palace in Jiguuna. You'll return to this area quite a bit while on Hutta. If you train at level 2, you will learn a decent close range ability called Rocket Punch. Rocket Punch is a decent alternative to Rapid Shots for single enemies since it's less expensive Heat-wise than Missile Blast.

Your new ability at level 3 is Unload. Unload is an attack that must be channeled. It deals continuous damage as well as stuns a single target. It only costs 16 Heat and is great to use between Missile Blasts. Unload's stun is good way to lock down a tough enemy.

The most dangerous enemies on Hutta are usually the large humanoids and droids. It's also possible to look at the colored borders around an enemy's portrait frame to decipher its difficulty. This frame appears when you click on (target) an enemy. Enemies with intertwined gold and silver-bordered portraits are Champion mobs. They're very dangerous and will usually require a group. Flashpoint bosses and World bosses are usually classified as Champion. The portraits around Elite mobs have golden borders and can be challenging, but can generally be taken on alone with a Companion. Strong mobs feature silver borders. They have more health than Standard mobs. Standard mobs don't have a special border.

Let's get back to abilities. At level 4, Bounty Hunters get a toggle ability that should be used at all times while on Hutta. This one's called Combustible Gas Cylinder and gives your blaster attacks a random chance to deal extra damage over time. Damage over time is sometimes shortened to "DoT". Only one cylinder gas ability can be used at a time.

At level 5 you will get a nice bolster for your AoE (area-of-effect) damage thanks to Explosive Dart. Tossing an Explosive Dart into a group of enemies right before using Missile Blast will cause both abilities to fire off together, dealing a sizable chunk of damage to enemies. This is around the time when you may start to realize that Rapid Shots is more of a finishing ability. If an enemy has a mere sliver of health remaining, Rapid Shots comes in handy to complete the job.

Rail Shot, our next new ability, is gained at level 6. Rail Shot is an attack that can only be used when an enemy has a DoT effect on them or is disoriented. For now, the only DoT effect you have is through Combustible Gas Cylinder, so Rail Shot will not be used too often. When you can use the ability, its key on the quickbar will brighten.

At level 8 you will learn Flame Thrower, which is one of the iconic Bounty Hunter AoE abilities that must be channeled. If enemies are ever clumped up in a tight pile in front of your Bounty Hunter, Flame Thrower may come in handy. It uses 25 Heat like Missile Blast, but deals more damage. Bounty Hunters have a plethora of area-of-effect abilities which makes them enjoyable to level.

Level 9 gives Bounty Hunters Determination, which is an escape ability that breaks you free of a blind, stun or similar impairing state. At level 10, the Bounty Hunter AoE arsenal increases further with Death from Above, which places an animated circle under your mouse cursor. Place the circle anywhere by clicking, and that area will detonate in a flurry of channeled missiles that will destroy anything in your path. As a bonus, you'll also look pretty cool.

This Bounty Hunter easily takes out a group of enemies with the Death From Above area attack

Level 10 is also when you'll finish up on Hutta and head over to the Fleet. Once there, you'll be able to choose between the advanced classes, get a feeling for the various talent trees and learn new abilities. You're also able to join up for your first Flashpoint at this point. Flashpoints are the game's group content that requires four players. You can also pick Crew Skills on the Fleet, which let you make better gear and other items for yourself.

Combat Tips: Looking Ahead

  • Try out multiple ways of starting and ending fights until you find a method that suits you well. Some players like to begin a fight using AoE attacks, while others would rather nuke down single targets.
  • If you ever find yourself extremely low on health during a fight, use a Medpac. For easy access, open your inventory ("I") and drag and click a stack to a quickbar.
  • While in combat, if your health drops dangerously low, you can sometimes run away and cause enemies to reset (this is called "leashing"). It's sometimes better to live for another day than perish.
  • Learn to plan out tough battles before engaging in combat. Pick a priority target and make sure there are no wandering enemies nearby to make the fight more challenging.
  • If you have any Stims, make sure to use them. Stims buff a stat for an hour and can be purchased from vendors. As a Bounty Hunter, make sure to use Aim Stims.

When you near level 8, you'll gain a new friend to help you during your adventures-- a Companion, Mako, who is a ranged healer and partial damage dealer. Having a pocket healer makes everything on Hutta much easier. Mako plays an important role during the Bounty Hunter's storyline. She can also be romanced by male characters and will randomly strike up conversations and accept gifts. When it comes to affection points, Mako likes it when the Bounty Hunter remains professional yet keeps Credits in mind and also shows compassion. As a general rule, she can be considered a Light Side Companion, but she is also influenced by cold, hard cash.

Heroic Missions

After you have obtained the company of Mako, soloing the Heroic missions on Hutta becomes a possibility. Before grabbing her, it's also an option to join a group of players who are working on the missions. These missions suggest two or more players, but Companions can often be included in that suggested number. Since having a healer makes these missions considerably easier, I'd suggest waiting to do them until Mako joins you.

Mako is a strong healer and a companion you should consider using often

Since Mako is primarily backup, you'll generally find it's more efficient to take the brunt of most attacks and let her keep your health topped off. Use your AoE abilities on these Heroic missions, but also try and prioritize between your targets. Some of the Heroic enemy groups may cause you to use most of your Heat every fight, and prioritizing enemies helps reduce the amount of damage you take. Also, be sure to Recharge and Reload in between Heroic groups to replenish your health as well as Mako's, which in turn makes Mako's job easier.

Leveling, Credits and Gear

Make sure to always have enough Credits to purchase new abilities and new ranks of abilities while leveling. Visit your trainer every time you're in the area. At the outdoor market in Jiguuna, it's possible to buy green-quality heavy armor, which is what Bounty Hunters wear. You can buy gear in this manner if you'd like to, but it isn't absolutely necessary. Alternatively, you can save your Credits and grab the Planetary Commendation chestpiece instead, which is also sold by a market vendor.

Humanoid enemies in SWTOR generally drop a good amount of Credits, although at this level, farming specifically for Credits shouldn't be necessary. Items can be sold at any type of vendor. You should make sure to vendor all unwanted white gear and grey items, as well as unwanted green gear. Later on, you may find a use for unwanted green gear.

Upon completing the Heroic missions, you'll be rewarded Plantery Commendations. These currency items also drop randomly off enemies on every planet and are shared. The gear obtained with them is quite excellent. If the eight Planetary Commendations needed for your chestpiece are proving stubborn, I wouldn't waste too much time killing extra mobs. The gear obtainable from completing missions and found off enemies is usually decent enough to make your way through Hutta. Plus, you can always save your commendations and buy better gear upgrades on other planets. Mission completion rewards are where a great deal of your gear upgrades will come from.

Speaking of gear, Aim and Endurance heavy armor is what Bounty Hunters wear. Aim increases your damage. If you plan on becoming a Mercenery healer, Aim also increases your healing. As a secondary stat at this level, Endurance will help you live longer. For a weapon, you'll want a blaster pistol. Mako uses medium armor and utilizes Cunning and Endurance. She uses a blaster pistol and vibroknife.

Leveling in SWTOR comes quite easily. There are multiple ways to go about doing so, of course. I personally find it efficient to focus on completing story missions whenever possible and add in side missions that happen to be close to the story missions. While exploring, check any new area thoroughly for new missions. They can be found where you sometimes least expect them.

It's also possible to find lore objects and datacrons that will give you extra experience. Datacrons grant permanent stat boosts, but can be difficult to find. Discover them if you happen to see any, but don't worry if you can't find your way to them on the first pass. It's very easy to come back later for them.

As you level, you will start to collect complimentary experience boost items as part of rewards for missions. These grant you extra experience and help make your leveling journey a little quicker. Feel free to use them as soon as you get them or save them for whenever you feel like you're slipping behind the leveling curve. If you really want to think ahead, it may be a good idea to save them until you're around level 40 or higher, since the amount of experience needed for each level increases substantially.

Grouping with Others

Due to SWTOR's Flashpoint and Heroic mission system, grouping up with other players whenever you get an opportunity to do so is a good idea. The various group conversations while taking part in normal missions make grouping enjoyable, and as you gain more levels, grouping becomes more and more important. It's also possible to make new friends while grouping.

While in a group, if you have three or more players in your party that are within range, you may notice that you may not be able to summon Companions. This is part of SWTOR's grouping feature. In a group of three players, only one Companion will randomly be able to be summoned. With four, all Companions cannot be summoned in the immediate area.

While on Hutta, if you find yourself in a group of four players, you may end up tanking temporarily for the group, due to your heavier armor which reduces the amount of damage you take. Prioritize enemies that are attacking players with lighter armor such as Imperial Agents and engage in combat first. This helps ensure enemies are attacking you and not your party members. When playing with others, teamwork is vital. Always be communicative and considerate.

Final Notes

The first time playing through SWTOR is definitely a treat. Enjoy the story, the fantastic bits of dialog and all of the adventures the Bounty Hunter gets sent on. Glory and riches may be the definitive plan for an aspiring Bounty Hunter, but first you'll have to risk your life to get there!


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