Critiquing Class Stories #5: The Bounty Hunter

I'll be honest; deciding on which class to kickstart the Imperial faction critiques has been rather difficult. I decided to go from weakest to strongest, which was fairly easy for the Republic. Empire, though, has very strong stories and so deciding which is the "definitive weakest" is difficult. That said, the Hunter's storyline is the one of the four which I feel I could be most critical of.

Spoilers have returned after yesterday's neutral foray.



I do have to say that I believe this story to work best with a flexible alignment depending on chapter. Chapter 1 works well for Dark, Chapter 2 works for Light, and Chapter 3 can be flexible. The reason for this is because the first chapter doesn't present you with any discernible "traits" to value and honour and so you can just do a good job. You do get a conscience in the form of your first companion, so if you want to go Dark watch out for her. Chapter 2 does give you some ideals and a sense of honour. Chapter 3 is a pure "seek revenge/justice" chapter, so Light and Dark can both work superbly.


So the prologue opens with your character being informed that they are working towards a space in the Great Hunt, a challenge issued by Mandalore himself to find the definitive "best" Bounty Hunter. As such, you need to locate various bounties around the planet to secure your place as a good bet for sponsorship by Nem'ro the Hutt. This is unfortunately made difficult by Tarro Blood, a Mandalorian who uproots his competitor's chances by dealing with their support squad. As a result, you and the 16-year-old Mako (her age is never actually revealed in-game, but this would make for a very interesting conversation regarding her skills) are left to work for sponsorship alone.

And there really isn't much to say regarding Hutta. You meet Nem'ro, do jobs for him, and work your way up on his "List of respected beings". Your journey on Hutta ends with killing a Trandoshan who the slimy Hutt gave his sponsorship token to and potentially taking an unarmed woman's life for the sake of a bounty. With this, you move onto Dromund Kaas to finally earn your position in the Great Hunt. Trouble is, there are a lot of Hunters eager for it as well.

So again you do jobs for various people; you track down a missing Republic official, find an Admiral's daughter-turned-Sith, and locate a missing squad in the Dark Temple. These tasks earn you the right to partake in a melee, which of course ends with you as the only survivor and earn your place in the Great Hunt. Blood attempts to intervene, but you are forbidden from killing him. So whilst there is some sense of "honour" in the first chapter, it's trussed up in obligatory rule-following and isn't a choice; most would shoot Blood there and then.

You steal a ship and you're off hunting!

Chapter 1

I must admit that the idea of the Hunter's storyline involving this Great Hunt across several planets is fantastic. We don't really know what regular employment is like for Hunters, and I can imagine bumming around on your D5-Mantis waiting for a call to be incredibly boring. This way, you're constantly active whilst actually hunting bounties, and we also learn a good amount about Mandalorian culture at the same time.

Each of the planets is also different in terms of target and rival Bounty Hunter. Balmorra's target, for example, is an Imperial Admiral who must be encouraged to come to the planet through exposing the "idiocy" of an officer on the ground, whilst your rival is pretending to be a simple-minded alien trophy aide of the man who helps you accomplish this until she reveals herself at the end. Nar Shaddaa's target is a feared and ruthless assassin who no-one can apparently kill, whilst your rivals are a team of Ugnaughts who can either be told to leave with their unfinished combat droid or just outright killed. Tatooine's victim is a con-man who constantly escapes assassination who actually pays off your rival and eventually joins your crew, escaping death yet again. Alderaan is unique in that both target and rival are already dead. At least they kept it fresh and unique each time.

Tarro Blood also keeps cropping up, leading to a near-confrontation on Balmorra with relatives of a chap you killed on Hutta, asking House Rist to kill both you and your rival on Alderaan, and even stealing and selling the list of targets for the Hunt itself. Because of the constraints of the Hunt and the fact that you can't definitively prove that he is behind any of it, though, he evades persecution. He even has a group of his buddies meet up on Nar Shaddaa after the Alderaan mission to the effect of organising your death, but with the aid of a Mandalorian veteran, you surprise them and kill them all.

The Hunt ends with your being assigned to take on a Jedi by the name of Kellian Jarro who slaughtered many Mandalorians during the Sacking of Coruscant. Blood reached his ship before you, however, and after being mind-tricked into surrendering made you out to be his accomplice, so a stealthy entrance is ruined. You encounter and kill him either through a cheap shot, honourable duel, or simply leaving him behind in the brig. I would say something about the pay-off, but the real pay-off from this mission is finally ending and winning the Hunt, so I will call it even. You kill Jarro after perhaps one of the most memorable rebukes in the entire game; Jarro attempts to mind-trick you and you can simply wave your hand in his face and call him a "complete idiot". Perfection. You can also choose to spare or kill his padawan at this point.

Chapter 1 ends with you being proclaimed the Grand Champion of the Great Hunt in a majestic ceremony.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 begins with you being summoned to Mandalore's ship. He tasks you with finding a Sithspawn and bringing back its heart, and this proves to be your rite of passage into becoming a Mandalorian. You also meet up with the past three Great Hunt winners and are simultaneously inducted into the "Blacklist", an elite list of targets for only the very best hunters.

So here we have that code of honour I vaguely referenced in the foreword. Mandalorians, of course, have a strict code of honour which they have to stick to. What better way to ram the point home than for your first Blacklist hunt to involve tracking down a former Mandalorian cast into exile following a duel with Mandalore himself? You meet his son, and together you bring the renegade down. The son is therefore inducted into your crew, so you now have a Mandalorian warrior to learn honour from in conversations by seeing what he positively responds to. Hoth sees you tracking down a Trandoshan pirate who has been giving the Chiss trouble, and at the end you can choose to spare his life or mercifully end it so that he can be with the Scorekeeper and keep his own honour. Honouring a deal or honouring... honour... is a very interesting mental tussle.

The Hunter is also privy to one of the three best Quesh interludes. You're contacted by an Adrenal company to be the face of their publicity campaign. However, it turns out to be a Republic trap, set by a mysterious Jedi master. If you spared the padawan at the end of chapter 1, she reappears here, although she is swiftly decked and shot in a cutscene. You kill the strike team and the Jedi Master swears vengeance. He's a Jedi, though, so it's not as if he can truly wreak horrible vengeance upon you, right? ... Right?

How to describe the Hunter's second chapter conclusion? In a word, gut-wrenching. Pure and simple gut-wrenching.

The former champions host a party on Nar Shaddaa in your honour because you succeeded in completing the most difficult bounties. When you arrive you discover that the Republic has infiltrated the party and slaughtered every last person there, including your new friends. There's even a moment where you discover Jew'la Nightbringer's corpse in the hall and roll it over with your foot. The Jedi Master from Quesh was behind everything that has transpired. After you dispatch the team he sent - he himself is not present - you retreat back to your ship only to discover that crime after crime after crime has been attributed to your name. You are now Most Wanted by the Republic, and even your Imperial friends shun you because of this report.

One thing which will become apparent throughout the Imperial reviews is that BioWare really know how to make you loathe a certain character. Tarro Blood started out like this but he is nothing - nothing - compared to this one Jedi Master. Despite the fact that the scenario on Nar Shaddaa is entirely fictional, the fact that it deals with something that could very easily happen in real life - talking about happy tidings with friends and then discovering that they died somehow - makes your reaction all the more emotive.



Chapter 3

After some time alone, you are contacted by Darth Tormen who is willing to work with you to kill Jun Seros, the Jedi Master who framed you. Since he is the personal advisor to the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic himself, the Sith has seen the possibility of reaching and hurting the Chancellor through your quest for vengeance/justice with the Jedi. Even though this is a very forced faction tie-in, you're still hunting targets, just not for money or notoriety but to make Seros and the Chancellor vulnerable.

Belsavis sees you hunting down a privateer and encountering perhaps the default go-to worst companion. The privateer is attempting to stop Imperial operations on the planet, notably Operations Group One in the Tomb (the other four are all part of the Imperial planet quest to free the Dread Masters), and so he in turn must be stopped to allow these processes to continue and halt Republic defense initiatives. The target on Voss is a Republic General who is heading the diplomatic efforts to convince the Voss of the Republic's worth. As a result, you need to be aware of dealing with the tenuous diplomacy; going Dark would result in Voss-death and would likely reflect badly on the Empire, and going Light would result in the Empire's efforts being praised and respected by the Voss.

So after dealing with these two you move onto Corellia and arrange for a treaty to be concocted which would result in Corellia seceding from the Republic. The Chancellor predictably falls for this and comes to Corellia, sending a certain Jedi to the front to tear up the treaty. You encounter Seros on the surface and duel him to the death; much like Tarro Blood, the pay-off is the larger goal, although I think many would have preferred Seros to be the ultimate goal of the Hunter's story. Considering how detestable the guy is, I personally believe that the pay off could have been better, but at least he actually dies!

So you then board the Chancellor's ship and can either spare him, resulting in your exoneration from all crimes, or kill him. Sparing him will result in his asking you to kill Darth Tormen, who has committed war crimes in his desperate ploy to get his goals achieved. With Seros dead, your quest for vengeance and justice has been for the most part sated, so I would call the choice to take his offer of exoneration as the "sensible" choice, but the concept of wrestling the solution mentally is still fantastic.



The first thing that I will say to wrap up the Hunter storyline is this: for all its flexibility with alignment, it sticks to its guns throughout the entire story. Whilst there is a forced faction tie-in right at the very end you're still hunting targets, and of course the first two chapters are nothing but bounty-hunting. This story could teach the Smuggler story a thing or seven about coherence! The choice of chapter 1 focus makes sense as it keeps your character active and doing as they were designed to do, which is all that you could ask for, really.

The reason why I chose to focus on Bounty Hunter first, I think, is because there really isn't much to say with regards to what happens in the story of all three chapters. You go to a planet, there's a guy who's your target, you find him, you're done. Sure, each scenario is different and different things happen each time, but at the end of the day it's all very staple. That said, this story does surprise with its ability to hit the nail right on the head in certain situations.

The second chapter's conclusion is perhaps the most emotive mission in the entire game. It comes out of nowhere, you don't anticipate it until it's too late, and your character is just left facing a wall of impossible odds with only three planets left to visit. I'd wager that a lot of people felt that they were in their character's boots during this mission simply because of these factors. Jun Seros is additionally of the most, if not the most, detested bosses out there, and for good reason.

All in all, the Hunter does have a good story that is worth seeing.

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