“There was someone following me.”
“I’ll put him on my ‘To Kill’ list.”
“You are so fantastically simple sometimes.”
– Mako & The Bounty Hunter
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the prologue 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.
The Bounty Hunter is my favorite class story in the game you guys. For reals. It may not have the complexity, betrayals, surprise twists or earth shattering revelations that the Imperial Agent story has (My number two favorite story thus far). But it does have a fun action packed romp of revenge, rising to stardom, and walking the lines between neutrality and servitude as well as lawfulness and savagery. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re only on the prologue for now.
But just to let you know, I am writing this about my second bounty hunter. Yes, I did it twice. One if a strictly neutral hunter that always completes the job he is hired for. He can’t be bought off or bribed. He follows the bounty hunter code of take them alive unless ordered to kill. No depravity bothers him, but he doesn’t indulge in unnecessary violence. At level 50 my first bounty hunter end up completely neutral. My second hunter however is a bit greedier. He isn’t a psychopath, but he doesn’t put a ton of value on life if there’s money to be made. He does take bribes and pay offs, unless doing so puts him at a disadvantage to what he wants. He holds very few allegiances, and honestly views people as means to an end.
So with these very different personalities, I’ll hopefully give you a good idea of what paths of the bounty hunter story can take and share with you my thoughts.
The tale begins with the Hunter arriving on Hutta and meeting with his team: Jory the muscle, Braden the veteran hunter, and Mako the computer prodigy. You’ve essentially been brought on as the shining star of this team to get them in to and hopefully win the Great Hunt, a massive bounty hunter competition made up of Mandalorians and Crime Lord sponsored bounty hunters. Since you’re not a Mandalorian, it’s time to schmooze a Hutt. Most of your time on Hutta is spent doing jobs for Nem’ro, the Hutt that runs the town you start in. But first you have to make a name for yourself.
Sadly, while you were out taking down a bounty that feels oh so good to make fun of, your team sans Mako got themselves a slight case of dead. Turns out that a rival has appeared. The Blue to your Red, or the Red to your Blue, if you will. His name is Tarro Blood and oh geeze does this guy have a problem with voice so doesn’t match the face. He’s got this deep guttural voice that’d you expect from a grizzled bastard like Michael Ironside, but he has the face of a tattooed Justin Bieber. Seriously, he has that hair cut. His side kick, Snidely Whiplash (no that’s not his name but that’s so who he reminds me of) has a voice that matches his ugly mug, but Tarro Bieber still freaks me out. Anyway, Tarro Blood had his lackies kill your lackies so you didn’t have a support structure in hopes of kicking you out of the Hunt.
With only you and Mako left, it’s time to work double time to get into the Hunt for a shot at revenge. So you start your slog of doing tasks for Nem’ro which mostly involve cutting off someone’s head and then placing it on the floor somewhere. First is a local that wants the Hutts off the planet revolutionary leader type, and the second is an accountant that went to work for Nem’ro’s rival. Both times you are given the option of not killing them if you want and returning with something else instead. Though personally I was never able to bring myself to do that. Namely because the entire reason you’re doing this is to kiss up to the slug to get into the Hunt for riches, glory and now revenge. Why would risk that? You don’t want to kill? You’re a bounty hunter! Sure, it’s not assumed that you have to kill them, but dangit if that’s what your employer wants you should be ready to deliver.
The next task is to go and kill Nem’ro’s supposedly treacherous Beastmaster. I say supposedly because not only does this turn out to be a trap as the Beastmaster was warned by Nem’ro himself that you’d be coming but then you are made to fight the beast pit for the Hutt’s amusement, but also because while the other two targets had very good explanations for why Nem’ro wanted them dead, the Beastmaster is simply called a traitor and nothing else. No more details are given. Which should be your first tip that this job was not like the others. But with the Beastmaster dispatched it’s time to confront Nem’ro and demand your earned entry token. But shocked upon shocked, Nem’ro the upstanding worm that he is, has given it to someone else.
All the while, Tarro Blood keeps sending goons after you as well. A Rodian shows up to blast you which leads to one of my favorite gags as you start counting down as she keeps running her mouth. Finally when you get to zero, you blast her. More or less the exact way you get introduced to Calo Nord in the original Knights of the Old Republic. Tarro also makes it a bad habit of tipping off enemies, cutting off resources, and generally being an annoying pest. But you better get used to it, because he does it through ALL of Chapter One too.
So now it’s time to go get that entry token. Some Trandoshan has it and you’ve got to get it back. So how do you do that? Well, the best bet is probably laying a trap. So you find the biggest bounty on Hutta that you haven’t already pocketed: a scientist/medic/something smart lady in the employ of Nem’ro’s biggest rival: Fathra. So you have to bust into a Hutt palace, and hold the nice lady hostage until the rival bounty hunter shows. Which he – predictably – does. Once you claim the token off his body, it’s time to decide what to do with the scientist. Technically, there IS a bounty on her. There’s also the matter of her being a willing hostage in an “aggressive negotiation” with a fellow hunter. So it really comes down to you what happens. I collected her bounty. Money is money. Honor doesn’t buy us a ticket off Hutta. And I have GOT to get me to Dromund Kaas.
Alright. I got my golden ticket. I got me a girl. I got myself to Dromund Kaas. What else could go wro- WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE TOO MANY ENTRIES? Oh for Cad Bane’s sake, are you serious? You overbooked the biggest tournament in the galaxy? That’s a load. But yes, it’s true. Turns out that there are way too many bounty hunters showing up for the few spots in the brackets left, so it’s time to thin the herd out a bit. So the Huntmaster has the idea of pitting hunter against hunter in a race to successfully complete three bounties on the Imperial home world. That means not only finding and capturing your bounty, but you have to deal with the Empire’s anti-Alien, anti-Non-Imperial, and generally just Anti attitude.
You also meet Crysta Markon who is your contact for this little party. Now I’ve made jokes about Space England and Space Scotland and all sorts of other jokes about the myriad of accents that the Imperials use. But behold, dear readers, Crysta Markon is apparently from the ever elusive Space Texas. Oh yea. An honest to goodness Southern gal in a galaxy far far away. It just raises so many questions. Where is she from? Where did she get that accent? Why doesn’t anyone else have it? Maybe the Empire blew up Space Texas and she is the last surviving member of her kind. Her parents worked for Space NASA, and shot her out of a rocket to Dromund Kaas were given her lack of alien traits she would be raised as an equal, but when she got to be in her teens she learned she was not like the other kids with their fancy Dromund Kaas accents. No, she said things like “Y’all” and punctuated sentences with colorful strange terms like “Shoot, son. I ain’t nevah seen nobody do that before.” Outcasted by her weird vocal inflections, she turns to the Mandalorians who offer her a home working with up and comers so that they may find acceptance somewhere, even if it’s not with their home or with the Imperials.
Or it just could be that the division of Bioware that made SWTOR is from Austin. That too.
So your first bounty is to track down a Republic noble that somehow got sold as a slave on Dromund Kaas and is now stuck in the middle of a slave riot. His family would like him returned, preferably alive but hey slave riot, so a corpse to send back will also pay some too. Wow. Uh. Okay. That seems kinda chaotic. But that’s not all! Once you find the camp, he’s not there! It turns out that he once had a fling with an Imperial noble, who has found out that he is a slave on the planet and arranged for an escape. The two lovers are now posing as brother and sister (which seriously creeps Mako out) and hanging out in Kaas City at the Cantina. Well, time to go break up that date. You’re given a few choices with this one too. You can capture the bounty, kill the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble and capture the bounty, or kill the bounty and the crazy pseudo-incestuous noble will pay you the difference between the live and dead payments. Really there is no reason to harm either of the nobles, other than sheer squick factor. There’s also a small bit where Tarro Blood (AGAIN?) sends a squad of Imperial troops to stop you. They didn’t live long. But the best part is when Tarro calls and the other troops demand a cut of their leader’s pay off to kill you. How many times does a thousand credits split DEAD ways? Oh yea. You guys! That’s how many. HA!
The second bounty is a bit more straight forward if not a bit more depressing. A big to-do officer in the Imperial Navy has a daughter who is a Sith. They are all very proud. She has a master. Aw, that’s awesome. Her master is insane Sith Lord who rebelled against the Dark Council. Isn’t that cu- WAIT! If people find out that might make us look bad. We must hire a bounty hunter to KILL her! Yea. That’s the next bounty. Kill the dude’s daughter before anyone can find out they’re related and potentially cost him his job and his life for siring a kid who got picked by an evil dude. Evil-er dude. Okay, wait. Where on the moral spectrum IS a rebelling Sith Lord? How does a Sith Lord rebel? Do they do charity work? We know they like ergonomic chairs.
Despite the bounty being to kill the target, you can actually elect to spare her. This will actually lead to a scene where the guy who hired you expresses the deep regrets he was having about essentially sending an assassin after his daughter. That family is more important to him than his career. It’s really touching. And I’ve only seen the scene by looking over someone else’s shoulder. Yup, I always have killed the daughter. Why? Why would I do something so heartless and cruel? Because that’s what I was being paid to do. If you get hired to install a TV in the bedroom, do you install it in the living room instead because you feel watching TV in bed is unhealthy and that you are sure that the people paying you will agree after it’s all said and done and pay you anyway? Do the job you get paid to do. If he had any doubts, he shouldn’t have put out the contract I say.
The third and final bounty at first seems like the most cut and dry of the three. Imperial Intelligence sent a squad into the Dark Temple to investigate the strange going ons in there. But the team went insane from the Temple’s power. But since the Sith are kind of touchy about not wanting anyone but Sith in the Temple, Intelligence needs to clean up the mess. Enter the bounty hunter, tasked with collecting the ID cards of the troops sent in to the Temple so no one knows that they were sent by Intelligence. Straight forward, yea?
Well, the first kink in the plan turns out to be when you find the squad commander and are given the choice of making sure no one comes back alive, or snapping him out of his psychotic babbling. Then, to make things even worse, the guy who hired you tries to kill you when you get back. Oh yea. You’re not a Sith either, so technically you weren’t supposed to be in that Temple. Time to eliminate loose ends. And by that I mean beating the crap out of the Intelligence officer until he pays you. Damn spies and their cloak and dagger crap. They should have kept the whole thing in-house. I hear that Cipher-9 is pretty good. (That’s the Imperial Agent storyline, FYI.)
With the three bounties done, it’s time to hit up the Melee. Yea, everyone who actually finished their three bounties now gets tossed in an arena to viciously battle until only one remains. Why didn’t we just do this from the start? I mean, it would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining to have a royal rumble of like twenty-five bounty hunters going at in an arena, each chosen to represent a murderous thug of a crime lord. That’d be pretty cool, right? Instead there’s like six of you. And it’s pretty clear who is gonna come out on top. The only weird thing is that it says clearly “No assistants” at the beginning, but sure enough Mako is there healing you for the whole thing. A long-standing bug? Flavor versus mechanics error? No clue.
So now that you’ve taken care of the scrubs, the Huntsmaster (a big ole wookie) welcomes you to the great hunt, where Tarro Blood makes yet another huge stink about how this a contest of prestige and honor and I am somehow sullying it. Tarro, I’m curious. How? How am I sullying the contest? Is it because I’m a Chiss? No, you say the same thing about a human. Is it because I’m not a Mandalorian? There are plenty of those in the contest. All I can think is I am not worthy of this honor because I’m not you. That’s it. Your entire argument is less based in facts that your average internet troll. Hell, you’re bordering on 24 hour news channel editorial territory. If this was tumblr, I think they’d already have photoshopped a trilby on your head, called it a fedora and burned you in effigy. Actually, I’m gonna do that now. But no, now I have deal with your crap for at LEAST 15 more levels. But oh, chapter one will be fun. Because I know – I KNOW – that as long as I keep winning, I’m gonna get a shot at your head, Blood. Oh yes. TARRO BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.
Now all that’s left is to get off world and on with the Great Hunt. That’ll be fun right? Get a new ship, get a new droid, get some freedom. Oh, but it’s not that simple. See in every other class except smuggler you’re given a ship and the smuggler is reclaiming a ship that is already theirs. You? You get to steal someone else’s ship. It’s apparently a new hunter in the big hunt hazing ritual. Find a ship, steal the ship and get the hell off the Imperial homeworld. Of course, Tarro Blood messes with that too by tipping off the authorities and the owner of the ship. Seriously? That’s like trying to prank order pizzas to someone’s door to annoy them. Is this what the great Tarro Blood amounts too? Petty pranks? Oh geeze. I am gonna enjoy killing that man.
I already gushed about the storyline at the top, so I won’t repeat my adoration here. I hope you can maybe see why I like this story so much. From the get go you have a villain that is absolutely loathsome to the point where it is enjoyable to hate him. Like Joffrey in a Song of Ice and Fire you find yourself craving a gruesome death for him. There is nothing to like or respect about Tarro. He is an absolute weasel. And the story is richer for it. In a game where the stories are all over the map in terms of sympathetic villains, themes of redeeming the fallen and giving second chances, it is nice to have one guy you can just hate without a single doubt.
Otherwise the story is fairly straight forward. You want into the Great Hunt. You try to get into the Great Hunt. You get into the Great Hunt. But that’s not bad. Simple is not bad. You are given plenty to overcome on the road to getting your butt a spot in the Hunt, Tarro is throwing wrenches at you but never to the point where it is annoying. It’s only like one in three missions where he actually tries to mess with you, so it doesn’t become too petty or annoying. The other obstacles have to deal with either being set up, betrayed, or drawing on your moral sensibilities of what is right or wrong. And sometimes – SOMETIMES – everything just goes as planned. But overall things seem to be spaced out so nothing is too repetitive.
In the end, the prologue of the bounty hunter’s tale is a solid start without the feeling of staggering to the start. Something I can’t say for every prologue. You get a real sense of being outside the system since you are the only Imperial class that does not tie in to the government at all. You have your own goals that are outside of the Imperial scope, you go about them without aid from the Empire for the most part, and while yes they are your main source of income on Dromund Kaas (surprise surprise) it never feels like you are doing anything for them. You are being hired by them as a means to further your own agenda. And maybe that’s why the Bounty Hunter story stands out so much for me. It IS about your own agenda. There is no superior force commanding you to fulfill their wishes. You are in the Great Hunt because you want to be, you are doing these jobs because you want to take them, and you ultimately answer to no one but yourself. Heck, that even makes the moral choices seem a bit more interesting as you never have to worry about your master or boss condemning your actions. Oh sure, you can mess up the contract and upset the person you hired you. But that’s temporary. That’s one job. That’s hardly a blemish on your entire record that will stick with you for years to come. But the bounty hunter is his or her own master. That’s kind of an awesome feeling of agency you don’t get that often. Even in the Smuggler storyline you are furthering someone else’s agenda. No spoilers on whose yet though.
Now we have to see if that awesome feeling continues as we proceed on to the Great Hunt proper and have to deal with Tarro Manchild’s shenanigans.