Warning: This post contains spoilers for the second 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.
Welcome back from your vacation Mister or Miss Grand Champion of the Great Hunt. Ready for a REAL job? Well, that’s what Chapter Two brings you. Fame, fortune, and work. Legitimate, actual, bounty hunting. Some of the hardest bounties in the galaxy! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have to meet Mandalore first. Mandalore, as his name might suggest, is a Mandalorian. In fact, he’s the leader of the Mandos. Like, all of them. He has invited you to his personal starship (what, you need a guild to have a starship? HA! Don’t you wish you were Mandalore?) Where he gives you a task – not a job sadly – to go to Dromund Kaas and take down a giant beastie living in a cave there. The cave in question is surrounded with Mandalorians who are trying and failing to kill this beast. Which is weird, cause it’s just a gold mob. You also meet a lad named Torian Cadera who I’m sure will be unimportant forever hence why I’m calling specific attention to him. Anyway, you kill the beast and head back to Mandalore (Yes, you fly all the way back to Dromund Kaas to kill one thing and then fly all the way back to the Outer Rim. Now I’m GLAD space travel is just pushing a button) to be told that congrats! You are a Mandalorian now! That’s all it takes apparently?
Now whether you take Mandalore’s offer to become a Mandalorian is completely up to you. You take the honor, or you can say ‘screw honor, I want money’ and forsake the noble warrior lifestyle for a shrewd cash grabbing merc way of life. If you choose the latter, you enrage Mandalore who was hoping to make you take his place on the… council… thing of former Grand Champs… I think? It’s not terrible clear. You’re not becoming the new Mandalore that’s for sure. He’s going off to work for the Empire doing something. You never find out what. However, regardless of your choice you meet up with Grand Champs Bloodworthy, Jewla Nightbringer and yes, The Defenestrator (Cue the squeeing) who welcome you – and laugh at Mandalore if you shoot him down – to the club and offer you the Black List. The Black List is a premier listing of bounties that are exclusive to winners of the Great Hunt. They are the toughest and more importantly best paying bounties in the galaxy. This is the big leagues. Your first job is actually an oldie but a goodie. A bounty so hard to deal with that a betting pool has been establish for anyone who tries their hand at it. Whoever finally brings in the target gets the whole pot. You pay up your ante and get the info. Looks like we’re headed to…
Oh joy. Okay, I don’t like Taris. At all. In any incarnation. It’s a winding confusing mess of a world infected with rakghouls who by defeat cut through armor like butter which means lots of downtime healing. But that actually works to the advantage of this mission, because we’re about to be reenacting a bunch of action movies from the 80s and hunting down a guerrilla warrior in the Jungle. His name is Jincoln Cadera, and yes he is the father of that completely-unimportant-for-reals Torian Cadera, who has also shown up on Taris.
The majority of Taris plays out with you and Torian working together to take down Jincoln who has challenged you to a Mandalorian death game. Which is a lot like capture the flag but with sniper rifles and pits lined with sharpened sticks that impale you. So what I’m saying is that it’s not really so much like capture the flag but more like capture the flag at summer camp. Torian helps you flush out his father, who then leaves his kid to die and you can either do the same (in fact, Torian insists that you do) or help Torian and loose the trail. Either way it doesn’t make much in the way of a difference because Jincoln actually contacts you next for a formal declaration of the rules. You need to find all of the ‘trophies’ that Jincoln has hidden in the jungle and then find his hiding spot to even earn the chance at a duel to the death. You know, this is why I snubbed the Mandalorian invite on my second playthrough. Honor bound war game grab ass bull. Look, all you need is two guns and we’ll play ‘whose the better killer’. I’ll even let you have the tea cup this time.
So you run around the jungle picking up little doodads like a sword, or a hat, or some such, and all the while Jincoln is taking shots at you from who knows where. Torian is working on finding the hideout so you don’t have to worry about that step. Once you got the four doodads, you meet with Torian who finally gets his revenge on Jincoln ruining the family name and you get paid! Oh, you got to beat Jincoln first I suppose and if you don’t relish that after all the annoying loops he just sent you through, well then I don’t know what’s wrong with you! After all is said and done with Jincoln and your ready to collect your sweet sweet credits from Bloodworthy, you find that Torian is waiting for you. Seems like the kid wants to sign on with you and see the galaxy. Well, uh, sure? I guess, kid. Guess you WERE important after all, huh?
I suppose I should say a few words about Torian Cadera. He’s… uh… male. He has hair. Some tattoos I suppose. Okay, I find Torian to be the most boring character you get as part of the Bounty Hunter storyline. Pretty much everyone else has some weird personality quirk – even Gault for all his slime HAS a personality. Torian is just… well… I’d say he’s a Mandalorian but he doesn’t even fit with any of the other Mandos you meet in this or any other class’ stories. Even odder is that he’s the romanceable companion for female bounty hunters, and apparently he has quite the following. I don’t know, I’m not a woman. I’m barely even a human. I’m a fricking hat. What do I know about this guy’s appeal? But I find him to be absolutely boring. He’s like Corso if you take away all the annoying country boy junk. A nice, boring, male human. Welcome to the ship!
Your next mission is actually a short diversion to the planet Quesh. Seems that an adrenal company would like the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt to be the spokes-model for their newest line of combat adrenals. This is actually my favorite mission on Quesh, because unlike almost every class mission on that planet, this one requires you to fight ZERO enemies to reach the door. You just land and ride up on to the factory which is just a stone’s throw past the Imperial starter town. However, when you actually show up for the meeting things don’t seem to go the way you expect. No contract or credits are waiting for you. Just a team of Rebuplic SIS and if you let her live at the end of chapter one – a very angry apprentice. (Told you it was worth it to let her go.) They are here under the orders of some big wig Jedi who is the right hand, top adviser to the Supreme Chancellor to bring you in for crimes against the Republic. You can try to explain how the concept of a bounty hunter works to them – you know, you were hired to do a job by someone. You’re the tool, not the user? Yea, none of this is getting through. So you are stuck with surrendering (which you can’t actually, it’s not even an option in the game. Just in a narrative sense.) and taking out your pursuers and getting a second chance to kill that padawan. I did this time. You get one freebie. After that, I’m not mister nice bounty hunter. Luckily, it has been dealt with and we can go back to getting paid now.
There’s another biggie on the Black List that’s been there forever and is just begging to be collected upon. The Chiss Ascendency placed a bounty on a Trandoshan hunter/big shot pirate with the White Maw that has been terrorizing Chiss starship routes for years. They want him brought in and alive to pay for crimes against the Ascendency. Your only lead at the get go is a prisoner at the base – a small little jawa troublemaker named Blizz. Blizz was an accomplice to the White Maw who used to tinker and make gadgets for the pirates until they kicked him out for some reason (too cute?). Blizz gives you a lead on the Trandoshan and you actually find him. Like right away, but he doesn’t want to mess with you because you’re not worth his time. He just sicks his goons on you and walks off. Call me Dangerfield because I still can’t get any respect here. Blizz however has another idea to help you out. You need to become worthy by taking down some of the biggest lieutenants in the White Maw.
So you start your Jagga-Point collecting spree across Hoth with Blizz’s tinkering helping you along the way. Blizz builds a shield nullifier to help defeat a cyborg, boosts some heat shields to help dismantle a smelting operation in a volcano, and finally a freaky force sensitive alien that runs the White Maw’s day to day operations. Once you’ve wiped out all of these goons, you can finally have your duel with the Trandoshan in his base. The lizard does request that you kill him and give him an honorable death at hands of a superior hunter or you can deny him his wish and freeze him like the bounty contract stipulates. Unlock a lot of contracts where you get a light/dark choice like this, the Chiss WILL be quite upset that you killed him and didn’t follow the conditions of the contract. I actually want to say they stiff you on the payment too but I can’t confirm that.
However, you do get a chance to bring little Blizz with you. In fact, if you have Mako with you she’ll practically beg to save the little guy from jail or whatever worse fate awaits him. You agree and bargain to get him released into your custody. If Torian feels like a blank slate, Blizz is all personality. The wacky genius inventor who wants nothing more than to be “Boss'” (read: Your) best friend. He talks fast, he’s constantly inventing weird little things, and he just always seems so happy to be around. All that despite you never seeing his face. He’s a Jawa, he looks like the rest of the Jawas (okay, he’s got fur around the edges of his coat.) But you would never mistake him for one once he starts talking. I agree with the Bioware developers on this: I want a Blizz plushie.
After taking down two of the biggest bounties on the Blacklist in a row, your fellow grand champions would like to throw a party for you at the casino on Nar Shadaa! However, you arrive at the Casino to the sound of gunfire. It seems the SIS are not done with you yet and have shown up ahead of the time with another Jedi – possibly by tapping your comm lines – and they’ve killed Bloodworthy, the Defenestrator and Jewla Nightbringer! All three of them are gunned down and gone. Permanently. Those bastards!
After killing the Jedi and the SIS, that top dog Jedi from Quesh appears via holo again to threaten you and to spout on and on about how you won’t get away with this. This is all your fault for not surrendering. Blah blah blah. And he concludes by showing you a message being broadcast across the Republic from the Supreme Chancellor: You are now the most wanted person in the entirety of the galaxy. It’s no bluff either. The team back on the ship confirms it all. The Empire is burning all bridges with you and disavowing having ever done business with you claiming that you are a rogue acting on your own. The entire Republic is gunning for you. Oh and you can bet that being Most Wanted to about to lure out all sorts of scum that would try to collect your head for money. Glad I killed Tarro Blood. The only real hope is to go underground and lay low. That is until you get a message from someone named Darth Tormen demanding you appear before him. Hey, it MIGHT be good news? Bring the guns just in case.
Chapter Two of the Bounty Hunter honestly is one of those things I have two minds about. Namely because it was the first one I played through and now the most recent. The first time I played it was the first time I actual ‘got’ the bounty hunter. The idea of the hunt, and of Mandalorian honor and all that didn’t click until this point for me. But I was also playing a straight laced ‘do the job’ bounty hunter, so the whole thing with the Republic came off as a pointless “Hey, I’m just doing my job” and nothing else. So the entire story of the SIS coming after you and the Jedi wanting revenge wasn’t really something I even cared much about. However, after revisiting the story I can see what it is. This is the turning point. You are being attacked, your friends are being attacked to remove any chance of supporting you, and you are being left with nothing to turn to.
Chapter Two takes on small bit of Chapter One that you probably didn’t think twice about at the time and turned it back on you. It continually pushes you to the ropes and leaves you with nothing at the end. It’s pretty much the perfect set up for a revenge story, which is pretty much what Chapter Three ends up being. You’ve seen movies like this, we all have, about people set up to take a fall, pushed to the edge, and forced to take things into their own hands to set things right. It’s that. Only you weren’t set up. You did kill the guy. Just as a bounty. The point is that the chapter does a really good job as a middle bit that builds on the first chapter and uses the established story to subvert and set up the conflict of the third part.
The concept of the Black List isn’t exactly ground breaking but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a hook, nothing more. But it does a good job of not negating your efforts in the first chapter. Take the Jedi Knight, or Trooper and there’s is very little connecting the first chapter to the rest of the story. The first chapters seems to sit on little islands with their own self contained ideas. But here? You are doing Black List jobs BECAUSE you won the Great Hunt. You are chatting with and hanging out with former grand champions (that were conveniently set up all the way back in Mako’s first few lines of dialogue in the prologue as being BIG DEALS). This chapter feels like it is the result of chapter one. Which is a nice feeling. We’ll get more of that when I eventually get around talking about the Imperial Agent.
The big thing I would have to say in this chapter is how much are you willing to bend your character? Are you going to be the same person you were before? My first character was a neutral but leaning toward light side bounty hunter who always did his job and never back-stabbed anyone. The idea of taking revenge on the Republic was silly because it didn’t mesh with my character. I didn’t let the events of the story change my concept. The second time, I ran with it. If the Republic was gonna declare war on me, I’d declare war on the Republic. Because of that, I will say that Chapter Two and Three became WAY more enjoyable to play through. Just something to keep in mind from someone who has done it both ways. This also applies to just role playing in general I think: Let the story change you just as much as you change the story.