Early Access for Star Wars: The Old Republic is upon us – for some anyway! People will be scrambling to get on their servers, pick their names, and choose their class. I would like to help you in one of those areas today – you should name your character Stumpy. Wait no, that’s not the area I was going for. I will be helping you make the correct decision to choose the Imperial Agent.
**SPOILER WARNING/DISCLAIMER: I pride myself on keeping this guide spoiler-free. However, there are some minor details that might give a little bit away for your first 10 levels. No story information is revealed but skills and planet info are discussed. If you wish to remain completely in the dark, avoid this guide. Also, all information is based on testing in Beta. As with any MMO, information may have changed.**
Here is a video overview of the Imperial Agent to show you why it is the class of choice:
Why Pick an Imperial Agent?
Need continued reasons why you should pick an Imperial Agent? Try these out:
- Imperial Agent is great for people who can’t decide how they want to play initially. Agent gives you a little bit of everything to start; range, melee, gadgets, entrenchment. You are a veritable bag of tricks.
- In my opinion, two very strong advanced classes that are wildly different from each other. This opens up the Agent to a wider range of play styles.
- You have one of the most interesting stories of any of the classes. I have played the starting stories of every character type in the game. I liked them all but I was really drawn into the Agent. Also, Daniel Erickson has mentioned in a previous interview that you will find out the most Old Republic secrets of any class by following the Agent story.
- As I mentioned, the Imperial Agent is the least popular class. I consider this a reason to play as you will be much more unique than the one million Drth_Vider’s running around the universe.
The Imperial Agent as a Character:
Imperial Agents, as I mentioned, are very flexible in how you play them. Now they are not really known for their tanking abilities, but beyond that, you have some good range. Your levels 1-10 life will be a versatile grab-bag of ranged, cover, and melee abilities. From my experience, your character does survive better using the ranged/cover abilities in the first 10 levels. Once you hit level 10, you have quite the choice to make. You can go the stealth/close-range route of the Operative, or the long-range/entrenched route of the Sniper.
The Operative Advanced Class is built from an eclectic mix of melee, stealth, close-range, and healing. Going deep into the Concealment Tree will make you a deadly stealth DPS threat. In addition to the heavy use of a vibroknife, the Operative also has the use of a shotgun-like weapon that is used for good close-range damage.
If you decide to go down the Medic tree, you will become a rather effective healer class. When you mix that with your stealth abilities, you become amazing at keeping out of enemy sight while you covertly keep your allies in the fight.
On the contrast, the Sniper Advanced Class is for those who love to attack from afar and stay entrenched at one position on the battlefield. I love the Sniper class; I’m just going to put that out there and let you all process that for a moment. I have a man-crush on the Sniper class. Not only does this class have some of the best alpha-strikes in the game (basically very high damage single attacks), but as you progress on, you become a one-man pillbox of destruction. When you are fully entrenched, I pity the poor sod who tries to rush you head on.
The Marksmanship tree is where you are going to find all of your long-range DPS abilities and modifiers. This is a good tree for those who want to raise their damage output even higher. The Engineering tree is meant to support you with various tweaks to bombs and droids. These can be very effective in supporting your sniping abilities.
Both classes use medium armor and vibroknives, while the Operative uses a blaster rifle and the Sniper uses – you guessed it, a sniper rifle.
This has no real bearing on your character. TOR leaves this choice as purely cosmetic so feel free to pick your poison (literally and figuratively). Every race has its own personal social emote. This does nothing for your class, however. If you are really into immersion of the universe, the Chiss are known to be great Spies and Agents. Besides them, Human’s are looked on the most favorably in the Imperial hierarchy. The NPC characters will make comments from time to time based on your race and you can also make race-specific comments every now and again. These do not change the overall flow of the story though. But again, no real difference so feel free to pick whatever you like best.
Again with appearance, there is no bearing at all on your stats based on how you design your character. You want a fat, midget Agent with spiky purple hair and a Fu Manchu mustache? Go for it.
Again, if you are looking for a true immersive experience for the ‘typical’ Agent, I would give these suggestions. Make a character that has a medium body size and height, and has a fairly neat complexion and appearance. You are not making a crazy Bounty Hunter here; you are making an Agent of Imperial Intelligence. I’m quite certain they have an appearance mandate in their employee handbook. Again it has absolutely no impact on how NPC’s perceive you so do whatever you wish with this and have fun doing it.
Cunning and endurance are your primary stats, though endurance seems to be a primary for everyone. Raising your endurance will raise your hit points thus letting you take more damage – pretty bread and butter.
Your cunning is what you definitely want to focus on. For an Imperial Agent, this stat will determine your ranged and tech damage bonus and critical chance so raise that as high as you can. For all the Operatives out there screaming about the lack of melee support, they consider your vibroknife to be tech related and healing bonuses are added into cunning for you as well.
Not too much to talk about here. Both advanced classes get the use of medium armor and no modifiers to that like shield generators. Here is your setup: medium armor, sniper rifle/blaster rifle (primary), vibroknife (secondary). The only real difference is the type of rifle between advanced classes.
So really this makes equipping a breeze. Just put on whatever medium armor you find that gives you the maximum armor, cunning, and endurance bonuses. If you find a piece of armor that has a higher armor rating but raises, say, strength instead of cunning; resist the urge to wear it. Having slightly better damage mitigation in no way makes up for the loss of the cunning bonus. Always focus on that.
Nothing really to talk about here. The Agent does not have anything exotic to manage like ammo or rage. Instead you just have energy that is depleted when you use skills. Nothing to write home about and no real issues early level as far as running out. It will be pretty easy to maintain ability use in the starting levels. Even so, you should pepper your abilities with the stock attack so you don’t drain your energy too quickly.
The Imperial Agent is very situational which makes a set skill rotation difficult to recommend. However, early on, whether you are going to go Operative later or not, I advise using Cover and Snipe a lot. You do get some out in the open and melee abilities but I don’t think enough to maintain a long fight. Those are more for use when enemies come charging at your cover.
A barebones starting character should do something like:
Cover > Snipe > Rifle Shot > Snipe > Rifle Shot
You can change this up based on the number and strength of targets but a single Snipe and Rifle Shot usually takes out normal enemies with up to date levels and weapons on the starter planet. Always try to start with an ability that has a charge as it is a free charge before the enemies see you. I always mix in the Rifle Shot so I don’t drain my energy too much.
A later Agent against tougher enemies might use:
Cover > Explosive Probe > Snipe > Flash bang (then work the targets over one by one)
Use the Explosive Probe on the stronger enemy (Strong/Elite). Again remember to pepper in Rifle Shot so you are not too drained.
If you insist on staying out of cover, try something like this:
Fragmentation Grenade > Flash Bang > Corrosive Dart > Overload Shot > Shiv
You can then alternate Overload Shot and Shiv until abilities recharge or other tactics are needed.
You can certainly come up with your own strategies and I certainly encourage you to do so. What I laid out is only a suggestive approach that has worked for me in the past but I have been known to change things up all the time. As I said, the Imperial Agent is very situational for some of the abilities. Some have a long recharge time or are only used in specific circumstances.
Basically what you are looking to do is control a group while focusing damage on one enemy. This will give you a better margin for success and works for both cover people and close combat types.
Agent Combat for Beginners
So you want to play an Agent but don’t want to worry about so many abilities? Well then my friend just go with this effective skill rotation (note: these all rely on using Cover):
Flash Bang > Snipe > Rifle Shot > Snipe > Rifle Shot (and so on)
Simple as that. Now there are a few drawbacks. Namely you are not doing optimal damage or crowd control and the Flash Bang has a bit of a recharge so you can’t jump from enemy group to enemy group at a massive pace.
If you wanted to go a bit faster you could go this route:
[GROUP 1] Flash Bang > Snipe > Rifle Shot > Snipe > Rifle Shot
[GROUP 2] Explosive Probe > Snipe > Rifle Shot > Snipe > Rifle Shot
Then just repeat this. It gives Flash Bang time to recharge while you continue killing. The downside is that Explosive Probe will not control the group like Flash Bang; just one person. But, this or the previous skill rotation is easy to pull off without clicking through a mass of abilities.
Starting World – Hutta:
You will begin your Agent journey on Hutta. This is a fairly depressing place filled with Hutt controlled settlements, slaver camps, and mile after gloomy mile of swampland. Know this, when you are ready to leave Hutta, you will be happy to be rid of it – right into the waiting arms of the sunshine and roses that is Dromund Kaas.
However, it is a perfect place to start an Imperial Agent story with so much corruption and backstabbing to be had. I also found several very difficult choices to make. There are some really terrible moral decisions to be made in both the main story and the side quests. Know what you are getting yourself into.
Travel on the planet is a bit more daunting than other starting planets. There is a tad more walking involved to get to your quest areas. This isn’t really that massive of a deal as the starter planets are not as enormous as some of the later ones, but just know it’s a little more footwork.
Without giving anything away, your main storyline involves you going undercover with all the spy accompaniments along the way and a few surprises. It really is a nice story.
The Art of Leveling:
Other guides have similar rules for leveling, but you are here reading this guide so I will give you my two cents:
- Rule Un: Pick up and complete every side quest you can get your hands on. BioWare made this easy by activating side mission givers after you’ve picked up a main quest in a certain area. As soon as you advance to the next main quest, find the side quests that go with that area and you will be able to finish them without that much extra traveling.
- Rule Deux: If you are on a mission and all of a sudden a secondary objective pops up that says to do something – do it. This usually involves killing enemies in the area but it gets you a nice chunk of experience for your trouble, especially later on when these objectives have multiple parts to them.
- Rule Trois: Explore, explore, explore. It is a big world out there and there are many things off the beaten path that can give you extra experience. Datacrons, secret quests, hidden bosses, codex entries, and even informational plaques give you added experience.
- Rule Quatre: Do the Heroic Missions. These may seem like a chore if you are a solo player but don’t skip them. On the starter planets they can be finished with just you and your companion. They give great experience and give some nice loot. If you’re not keen to group up later on after the starter planet then just wait until you are above the base level of the mission by a few levels.
Following these steps will assure that you will never be underleveled for the content. Some people have suggested killing everything in your path as well. Honestly, I did my above steps and didn’t really need to do that in order to be on pace. I killed enemies that were in my way, were needed for the mission, etc, but I never grinded enemies in an area to get levels nor needed to. Certainly that was my experience and yours may be different but follow my rules and you should be just fine.
This is a great class to play, period. It does not get the love it deserves but that only makes the rest of us feel more special (at least that’s what I tell myself). I hope this guide was able to enlighten you to the Imperial Agent and his/her ways. My only hope is you give this overlooked class a try. It has a great story and plays quite well once you get used to the mechanics. The best part is, you aren’t really forced to be a douche like those Sith. Seriously, I tried to be a ‘good’ Sith Warrior in the last build and I still came off as an ass. But you can make the Agent whatever you want it to be.
With the lessons you learned here you should be well on your way to level 10 and beyond. Look forward to more guides about the Agent to help navigate you forward and infuriate the other classes. Because if the Imperial Agent is good at anything – it’s pissing off the rest of the classes who think they are better.