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 ||
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 ||