Monday, May 18, 2015

SWTOR: Bounty Hunter Done!

This post contains significant spoilers for the Bounty Hunter story in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

With the renewed 12x bonus, I finished up the Bounty Hunter story. I played as a somewhat Dark Side female Powertech DPS. I was trying for the consummate professional at first, but slipped over to pure brute Dark Side for a few planets.

If I had been in charge of SWTOR development (and had unlimited time and money), I would have scrapped the Bounty Hunter story and sent it back for a complete rewrite. It's not that the story is bad, precisely. It's serviceable, reasonably decent, and does cover the basics of bounty hunting pretty well. You're a hunter, here's your target, go get them.

The story is just not good enough, though. There is no over-arching theme or purpose. In each chapter, you're working for a different patron, who sends you after different, unrelated targets.

A lot of the problem also comes from the fact that a hunt is pretty much how every quest in every MMO works. Someone points out a target, you go and kill the target and they give you a reward. However, every other story has some extra dimension to the request. The bounty hunter is missing that extra dimension. So it feels like every other story in every other MMO, just "less".

The other class stories all had flaws. But those flaws were fixable. The underlying structure for those stories was sound. In my view, there's no real way to improve the Bounty Hunter story outside of a complete rewrite.

I'm not really sure what a better Bounty Hunter story would have been. Perhaps something that delved more deeply into the Mandalorians, maybe with you ultimately leading a new Mandalorian clan.

There are a lot of good elements in the current BH story. The crew and their interactions in particular are very good. One interesting item is that Mako and Torian are the romances, but there also seems to be an option to set them up with each other.

Many of the individual planet class missions are good, with interesting targets. The final mission is very good as well. But the individual planet class missions feel unrelated to each other. The only relationship is that your patron wants these targets.

For smaller flaws, the main antagonist is not that great. You don't interact a lot, he's just an image on the holo who occasionally sends incompetent Jedi after you.

The companion Gault is also a flaw. Not so much in his character, as he's a great character. But he's a target who convinces you to let him fake his death and join your crew. Yet one of the bounty hunter "fantasies" is to be the ultimate hunter, the one who always gets her target. The game forces you to violate this ideal, forces you to avoid killing or capturing one of your targets. No matter how awesome you are in the rest of the story, Gault will always be a blemish on your record, even if no one else knows about it.

Then we come to Skadge. Skadge is probably the most hated companion in the game. He's basically scum of the earth with no redeeming values. The bounty hunter has no reason to take him along. It's like Bioware wanted him to be the equivalent of Khem Val. But the Inquisitor needs muscle, and an ancient Sith monster that eats Force users is an awesome companion. But Skadge is just dumb, psychopathic muscle. The Bounty Hunter is already the muscle in the group, and doesn't really need an insolent extra.

Skadge really needs something in his character to make him attractive to the bounty hunter. Perhaps something like playing up the dumb, evil part of things, but have Skadge look upon the Bounty Hunter as an elder brother or sister.

In any case, that's what I thought of the Bounty Hunter story. It's certainly serviceable, and it does fulfill the Boba Fett fantasy at a basic level. Individual planets are pretty good. But as a whole it pales in comparison to all the other class stories in the game.


  1. Interesting take on the bounty hunter story, especially with the "bounties are just like regular MMO quests" angle. I have to disagree that there is no overarching theme though - Vrykerion wrote on this quite well I think. (TL;DR for those who don't want to click the link: morality and revenge.)

  2. For me, I felt the BH story only kicked it into gear at the end of Chapter 2. Chapter 1 was interesting, but I really couldn't get into Chapter 2 very much. But the end of Chapter 2... Oh, it was very much on.

    Skadge is the one guy I'd have dumped. Honestly, I'd have replaced him with my target on Belsavis, but I know that wasn't going to happen. I suppose Skadge serves the same purpose that the Inquisitor's last companion, the apprentice, serves: he's a brutal companion for those who want to play very dark side.

  3. @Shintar, I guess I didn't really think much of the revenge angle because I basically agreed with Jun Seros. I didn't see anything wrong with him sending squads of Jedi after me or the other bounty hunters, or even blackening my character. After all, I did a lot of things on that list, and I did kill one of his Jedi Masters in a time of peace. Striking at the bounty hunter is a sensible move.

    If Jun Seros made a mistake, it was a mistake in degree, not in kind.

    As for ruining your reputation, that was a pure "tell instead of show" moment. The game says my rep is ruined, but immediately some Darth offers me jobs. I guess I didn't see much difference between before my rep was ruined and after.

  4. Your criticism of the story is interesting. It seems like you feel the bounty hunter needs to be more "involved" in the story. Simply playing an emotionless, dispassionate killer doesn't work.

    However, that's exactly what the archetype of a bounty hunter is! A bounty hunter kills for hire, rather than for any personal stake.

    Maybe the character needs to forsake bounty hunter ideals, and get personally involved in their work. Are there any stories about "true" bounty hunters which are still interesting?

  5. @Chris, not necessarily more emotionally involved with the story. Just that there should have been more to the story.

    For example, you could play the Agent as a cold, dispassionate killer as well. Only the stakes were a lot higher and the story went nuts.

    One avenue could have been investigating the Mandalorians and their culture more. A different story might have dealt with the GenoHaradan and their attempts to influence galactic politics through assassination. Or perhaps a "Who watches the watchers" story where you police other bounty hunters who are excessively destructive or out-of-line.

    Consider the Sith Warrior Chapter II. Your master sends you after several Republic war leaders in preparation for the upcoming war. It's pretty much the same as bounty hunting, only there is a larger purpose to your actions.

  6. Congratulations on your achievement!

    Can you believe it... you are actually 'done' on your bounty hunter earlier than me! Mine is still hanging on level 59. Going to finish that tomorrow. :)

  7. Heh, my bounty hunter is still level 51 or so. I'm just doing the class stories, and not bringing them to max level.

    It's really "Bounty Hunter Class Story Done!"