As of Sunday night, I’ve completed all eight class stories in SWTOR. It’s been a fun few weeks, and I’m glad I managed to get through them all– there were a lot of really cool things that I would never have seen otherwise. The last two class stories I have were for two classes I’d barely put any time into– one because I wasn’t interested thematically at all, the other because I wasn’t excited by the class mechanics. They’re the Bounty Hunter and the Smuggler, and they’ll round up my class story reviews.
As before, spoilers ahead, about as much as the other class stories. Without further ado:
So, it’s Han Solo. This class probably has the fastest jump into its plot of any of them, and it’s a pretty great hook. Your ship gets stolen out from under you by a jackass named Skavak who takes the time to mock you and vanishes, all before you’ve finished your very first class quest. Obviously you’re going to get it back, and get a bit of revenge on Skavak, and there’s your setup.
Act 1 is all about getting your ship back and getting revenge on Skavak. You chase him from Ord Mantell to Coruscant, with him mocking you the whole time, Handsome Jack-style, until you finally steal your ship back on Coruscant, only to find that he was planning on using it to find a lost crazy treasure of a legendary former space pirate. Stealing his own job out from under him seems like pretty good revenge, so the meat of Act 1 is completing this plan while fending off Skavak and the minions of a crimeboss that Skavak screwed over and left you to take the fall for. It’s a great story, with each planet revolving around the buyer of some random bizarre object that you’ve acquired. The planets are varied and interesting; sometimes the buyer is hard to find, or wants to back out of the deal, or has been compromised in some way (usually Skavak). As you get closer and closer, Skavak gets more and more annoyed, and when you finally come out ahead, he starts getting desperate.
The Act 1 finale is solid and satisfying, with you taking down Skavak one on one, becoming a legend of the underworld, and getting a new crewmember who’s been your assistant (and the mastermind behind the treasure hunting plan) the whole time. You haven’t tied up all of your loose ends– after all, there’s a crimeboss out to get you, but in general things are looking up. Then things go off the rails.
Act 2 opens up with a meeting with a contact of yours from Act 1, who has a proposal for you. You’re warned about some dangerous Imperial admiral called the Voidwolf, who you’ve never heard of before, but otherwise you go to meet your contact and– surprise!– have the party crashed by the crimeboss’ thugs. Fight your way out, suddenly there are also Imperials and the Voidwolf, I’m not really sure, but you escape. Good times. Your contact still has a job for you, suggesting that you take up work as a privateer for the Republic, which seems a little out of left field but he’s got a Senator vouching for the idea. Sure, whatever, anything for some credits. The Act continues with you doing odd jobs for this Republic Senator on various planets, culminating in you rescuing her from the crimeboss’ thugs (but not going after the crimeboss himself). She’s very grateful, and something something the Voidwolf is out there and is scary.
I left Act 2 confused and a bit lost. I’ve got a major villain who’s been set up for me, but who I don’t seem to be doing anything against, I’ve got some random ominously-named Imperial that keeps getting mentioned but who I’ve seen once and don’t really have a lot of reason to care about, and I’ve spent the entire Act doing odd jobs for a Senator for some reason, and there’s the occasional hint that I’m building up my own pirate army, or at least that I’m some bigshot in the underworld with lots of followers. I don’t actually see any of these people once I “recruit” them, and I’m not really sure what they’re doing, or what I’m doing, or why. I know that I have exactly one notable foe and I’ve spent the last several planets not actually acting against said foe. Whatever, moving on.
Act 3 starts with “let’s take down Rogun the Butcher”, the crimeboss that’s been coming up since Act 1. We’re chasing him by tracking down the source of the creatures he used to attack the Senator at the end of Act 2, which were apparently terrifying considering how many times they’re mentioned over the course of the missions, but I’ve fought enough weird stuff by level 40 that they didn’t really register. Either way, we’re hunting down my last rival, who may or may not be working with the Voidwold, that Imperial who keeps coming up for some reason, and have a plan for getting him. I’m on board.
The first step is chasing down his former mentor, in prison, so you can find Rogun’s stashes, safehouses, and so on. It’s one of the only times I’ve thought Belsavis was interesting, but the whole thing turns into this bizarre chase where said mentor is seeking ancient alien powers or maybe a hidden starship or something, and you’re pursued by a guy who’s supposedly working for Rogun who doesn’t seem to die properly, until you kill him in a cutscene at the end. I honestly have no idea what ultimately happened on Belsavis except that I recruited the mentor who apparently decided I was okay and told the Republic that I’d killed him. There might be some immortal guy who’ll come back for me and has a bunch of clones, or maybe he just ran out of lives.
We move on to Voss, which we’ve heard about at the start of the Act and is where Rogun is smuggling weird monsters out from. How Rogun found out about Voss when it’s ‘recently discovered’ is beyond me, but whatever, Smuggler isn’t the only class with odd questions regarding the Voss. Either way, you track down Rogun’s supplier, get embroiled in Voss court, and find out that the Sith are connected to Rogun’s supplier, and are working for the Voidwolf, who keeps tangentially showing up. The whole thing unfolds quite nicely except for the fact that I don’t actually get what I came for on the planet– information about where to find Rogun. I get a bunch of other assorted tidbits, but nothing on my actual goal. That’s okay, that mentor I rescued from Belsavis knows where Rogun is meeting, and apparently it’s soon and I can show up and stop him.
I roll up to this secret meeting, slip past Rogun’s guards and confront the crimeboss, who accuses me of working for the Voidwolf. Some Sith show up and it’s big reveal time. You see, that contact I had in Act 1 and the Senator were both in on it, and everything I did in Act 2 and some of Act 3 was directly benefiting the Voidwolf. Somehow, this escaped my notice entirely and I’ve had no way to check up on my own pirate army. The Voidwolf is crafty and bad, and Rogun (read: the guy who’s been touted as a menace since Act 1) is maybe okay and we team up to fight some Sith and now we’re sorta-bros. In a sudden final-planet twist reveal, we’re now going to Corellia (?) to hunt down my contact and the Senator who were lying to me and also maybe the Voidwolf because wow people won’t stop telling me how scary he is. Spoilers, you catch up with all three of them and wind up shooting the Voidwolf on the bridge of his own ship. He’s got some plan to hit the Republic with a pirate fleet or something, and you
accidentally heroically step in to stop him.
If I sound flippant about the latter two chapters of the Smuggler story, it’s because I spent most of both of them grasping at straws to figure out who I was dealing with, why I was dealing with them, who my enemies were, and what my motivations were. It really felt like the two Acts could have been “I hunt down Rogun the Butcher, find out he’s working for the Voidwolf who suddenly is after me and my merry band of pirates with overwhelming Imperial force, and I turn to the Republic in Act 3 for help against this menace”. It would have been a nice incremental progression of bad guys and WAY less confusing than what I actually played. Act 1 is so strong, and has me ready and excited for what feels like an inevitable escalation, and then I just get lost in the mishmash of names and events. I don’t even get very much face time with either Rogun or the Voidwolf; there are two conversations with Rogun over the entire course of the story, and I think three with the Voidwolf, even though both are sending minions against me.
Having played through it, I understand Kodra’s utter disappointment with his class story. It’s got a lot of good writing on a line-by-line basis, and some of the one-liners and exchanges are genuinely funny, but the overall plot is a mess. I can only assume it was hit hard by some late-in-development content changes, and two fully fleshed out stories got gutted and had to get frankenstein’d together into one.
That having been said, though, Smuggler Act 1 is one of the best first acts of any of the class stories. Moving on.
I expected to hate this story. It appears to mostly be about becoming a champion of the Great Hunt, which isn’t really well defined early on. You’re put in with a crew of people who have brought you on as their point man, while they play support so you can win the Great Hunt. You’re looking for a Hutt to nominate you, and do a bunch of odd jobs and various services to get his nomination. Along the way, your support team gets murdered by another Great Hunt participant, but that doesn’t stop you; you’re a badass.
Act 1 is basically entirely about the Great Hunt. The Hunt is, apparently, a big bounty hunting competition run by the Mandalorians. You get various jobs through the Mandalorians, who have themselves gotten them from clients, wherein you hunt down some particular individual who’s wanted for some reason and bring them in, dead or alive. After Dromund Kass, things shift, and you need to both catch your mark and eliminate your opposing hunter, who has also been assigned the same target.
This gives Act 1 a lot of interesting variety– you’re hunting down interesting characters and dealing with interesting bounty hunter opponents, and you’re never certain when you’re going to run into each. Sometimes catching the mark is trivial, but you have to deal with the opponent. Sometimes you run into the opponent immediately but it takes a while to find your mark. Sometimes you get embroiled in various bizarre situations just to get to your mark, and have to resolve those before leaving the planet with your target. While the premise of each planet on Act 1 is the same, the execution is different and it stays fresh through the Act. Along the way, you’re noticing that the game is being rigged against you. Your targets are much more difficult than they ought to be, and you suspect it’s that Hunt rival of yours, but you can’t prove anything and the Hunt has rules against hunters killing each other outside of specific situations.
Act 1 concludes with you hunting a particularly nasty target: a Jedi, who’s able to overwhelm your rival who beats you to the Jedi’s ship. There’s some interesting back and forth here, where you can grant your rival’s request for an honorable duel to the death by letting him out of the prison cell he’s in, or you can leave him there to rail at you in anguish, knowing that you’re probably going to blow up the ship before you’re done. It’s an extremely satisfying end to the smug rival who’s been a problem the whole way through, and denying him his shot at glory is especially sweet. You also bag the Jedi, which is good times, and call it good. You win the Great Hunt!
i’m sold on the Bounty Hunter on the strength of its characterization, and Act 2 doesn’t disappoint. Having won the Great Hunt, you’re summoned by Mandalore himself, who wants to make you into a Mandalorian and have you join an elite cabal of Great Hunt winners who hunt particularly high-value, exclusive targets. You meet some of these other legendary hunters and get slowly brought into the fold over drinks, then go out hunting your targets. Your targets in Act 2 are basically hazing on the part of the Great Hunt winners, who send you some difficult targets mostly because it’s funny and something of a tradition to grief newbies. They’re put in their place when you actually bring the targets in, and Act 2 is set to culminate in a big party in your honor, thrown by your newfound close friends, who have warmed up to you over the act and who are generally pretty cool.
Sadly, the party is crashed by Republic soldiers, who murder your newfound friends and put a huge bounty on your head. They’re not happy about you killing a Jedi, and are out for blood. Another Jedi is hunting you down and being awfully smug about it. On top of that, the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic (not Saresh, the person who Saresh replaces, hint hint) has named you Public Enemy Number One.
Act 3 is about revenge. This Jedi and the Supreme Chancellor have killed your friends and gotten on your bad side, so you team up with a Sith Lord, Darth Tormen, to hunt them both down. You attack their close allies and important people to try to goad them into coming after you, and ultimately face down both the Jedi and the Supreme Chancellor, while Tormen gets more overbearing and vicious as your deal starts to sour. In my playthrough, the Chancellor made a deal for his life– clearing my name as long as I stop Darth Tormen, who’s crazy (as many Sith Lords are) and unspeakably cruel (also like many Sith Lords). The Chancellor would rather lose his position forever than have Tormen (who’s become kind of a dick by the end) in power over Corellia, and I opted to agree and cut ties with the Darth, as well as cutting him down with
a blaster lots of fire.
The Bounty Hunter is a really solid story, start to finish. Act 1 requires that you buy into the whole Great Hunt concept, but if you do, the entire class is really satisfying. It doesn’t have the twists and turns and genuinely surprising moments of some of the other classes, but it does have some great lines and a very solid plot. I knew who I was after and why at every step of the way, and getting there was much more enjoyable than I’d expected.
More on SWTOR stories as a whole later on, I’ve written enough today, but this was a fun thing to do and it was absolutely worth it for me to go back and play through all the content I’d never seen.