Hyperspace Beacon: Find your blaster at your side

Hyperspace Beacon: Find your blaster at your side
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side," Han Solo said, enlightening us on the smuggler philosophy in the original Star Wars film. (I'm fairly certain that line has not been cut from the Blu-Ray edition.) In Star Wars: The Old Republic, it's not just the blaster that gets him by -- it's all the other dirty tricks this scoundrel has up his sleeve, in his pockets, or under his hat -- that's right: hat.

In past editions of the Hyperspace Beacon, we've talked about some specific abilities of the Jedi Knight and Jedi Consular. We have learned that the Advanced Class determines the role and playstyle of a specific class and that the overall class determines the story. Even more so, the specific skill trees narrow your focus. I believe that hybridization weakens your character, but there are others (including those who have played the game) who believe that hybrids are viable. Given that this game is still in beta, actual playtime has been limited to conventions and other special events.

The Smuggler class is the class of the weekend. BioWare released the progression video on Friday, and as anyone who knows me can tell you, I love this class. After the break, we'll chat about some of the announced abilities of this unique character.

Hyperspace Beacon: Smuggler
The Advanced Class page on the official SWTOR website states that "Smugglers survive by being slick, sneaky, and street-smart." That's an adequate way to put it. As far as mechanics are concerned, that means a lot of crowd control and cover mechanics. Each faction has one class that can take cover behind objects in the world. Of course, those of you who have been following this game at all know that the Imperial Agent and Smuggler are the classes that use this mechanic. When I played the Taral V Flashpoint at Pax East, cover didn't affect my gameplay. Although I did take cover as often as possible, if the others in my group were effective in controlling aggro, I didn't have to.

The progression video shows us what I believe to be the pivotal role of the Smuggler beyond the classic trinity: crowd control. Although the names of the abilities have not been officially announced, we saw the Smuggler drop items out his his pockets as a diversion, throw a sticky flash grenade to distract the opponent, and my favorite (which I believe to be called Dirty Kick), gave a swift kick to a sensitive area, incapacitating an opponent for a short amount of time. And as we will see below, there are more abilities that add to or enhance these crowd control abilities.


The Gunslinger Advanced Class breaks into two different DPS skill trees and a third shared tree that assists with debuffs or crowd control. The Saboteur has been shown so far to be a buff and debuff tree that directly affects the Gunslinger's damage output, as you can see from the Overload Charges and Stun Bomb abilities. The Sharpshooter relies heavily on cover but can deal a tremendous load of burst damage. There is also a tree that is shared between Advanced Classes. In the case of the Smuggler, we are talking about the buff and debuff tree of Dirty Fighting. I don't have any proof, but I believe this is also the tree where you will find a good chunk of crowd control abilities, too.
  • Saboteur
  • Overload Charges (Instant, Cooldown: 2 mins): Overloads all nearby Shock Charges, dealing 582 kinetic damage to all affected targets. Resets the cooldown of Cool Head, Defense Screen, Sabotage Charge, and Incendiary Grenade.
  • Stun Bomb (Passive): Targets affected by Flash Grenade have a 100% chance to be stunned for 2 seconds on taking damage.
  • Sharpshooter
  • Exploit Weakness (Passive): Quickdraw can be used on targets recently hit by a pistol ability critical hit.
  • Surprise Attack (Passive) Rolling into cover has a 100% chance to make your next Charged Burst an instant-cast ability.
  • Dirty Fighting (shared)
  • Heightened Evasion (Passive): Reduces cooldown of Dodge by 30 seconds. Dodge has a 30% chance to grant a speed boost to the player while active.
  • Cold Blooded (Passive): Bleed effects do 25% more damage against targets with less than 30% health.

The Scoundrel sports an interesting combination of stealth and healing abilities. The Smuggler I played at PAX was a Scoundrel built to heal. I did not see any stealth abilities on him, but that could mean that the developers just did not place those abilities on the toolbar.

From the MMORPG.com interview with Georg Zoeller, we know some of the active abilities of this Advanced Class, but I am not exactly sure which tree two of these abilities fall under. As for the other specials, these are easily divided in to healing (Sawbones) or rogue (Scrapper) abilities.
  • Terminate (Active): A scattergun ability that deals extreme damage to wounded enemies, usually finishing them off.
  • Shrapnel Bomb (Active): A crude, thrown explosive device causing explosion damage and bleeding wounds to all targets.
  • Sawbones
  • Field Medicine (Passive): Reduces pushback from damage on healing abilities by 70%. Lowers threat of healing abilities by 10%.
  • Amnesty (Passive): Dodge has a 100% chance to heal you and increase your armor by 10% for 10 seconds.
  • Slow Release Medpack (Active): An over-time medical pack applicable to smuggler and allies alike.
  • Scrapper
  • Swift Kick (Passive): Reduces cooldown of Dirty Kick by 15 seconds.
  • Shock (Passive): Vital Shot deals direct damage when applied.
  • Decloaking Screen (Active): Modification to the stealth field generator that projects a temporary protective screen around the Scoundrel whenever they exit stealth.
  • Dirty Fighting (shared)
  • Heightened Evasion (Passive): Reduces cooldown of Dodge by 30 seconds. Dodge has a 30% chance to grant a speed boost to the player while active.
  • Cold Blooded (Passive): Bleed effects do 25% more damage against targets with less than 30% health.
I'm very interested in learning more about this class when the game launches. Personally, I want to focus on crowd control. Not since City of Heroes have I personally seen a class that offers this type of gameplay style. I hope it turns out to be effective in group gameplay. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
This article was originally published on Massively.