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.
There’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?
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.
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.
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!
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, 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.
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!
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.