Star Wars: The Old Republic Preview

There's a massive six-page, hands-on preview of Star Wars: The Old Republic on GameSpot, during which they share their impressions of the bounty hunter profession, recount their exploits with the "Lando Calrissian-esque" character, and cover some of the game's overarching mechanics.  A solid read throughout:
The bounty hunter profession wears heavy armor--a fitting chassis for bolted-on flamethrowers, missile launchers, and jetpacks--and is one of the Imperial faction's premier frontline fighters. Once they reach level 10, they can choose one of two specialization paths--the "mercenary" path, which focuses more on dealing damage by dual-wielding blaster pistols, or the "powertech" path, which focuses more on standing up front and soaking up damage. (We chose the powertech specialization, though because we were in such a hurry to get to our ship and because we only got to level 11, we didn't get much of a chance to explore this path.)

As we've discussed before, in battle, bounty hunters aren't restricted by action points that build up over time. Rather, these characters can use any of their combat powers whenever they like, except that most of the profession's abilities generate heat within the bounty hunter's armor suit, which must be vented (using the appropriately named "vent heat" ability), lest the character suffer from an overheat state that temporarily locks out the use of all other abilities. Bounty hunters start out equipped with a single-handed blaster pistol with which they can use the basic "rapid shot" power to zap their enemies. At level 2, they can learn "missile blast," which fires a concussive, wrist-mounted rocket at enemies that may knock them over, temporarily preventing them from attacking as they try to regain their footing. At level 3, bounty hunters can use their wrist-mounted flamethrower to deal close-range damage over time that may cause weaker enemies to become unable to attack (being set on fire will cause some enemies to cower in fear). At level 4, bounty hunters learn the "electrodart" skill, which lets them fire, of all things, an electrified dart that will briefly paralyze its target--a powerful skill that seems crucial for group play but that takes an extremely long time to recharge.


All armor pieces in The Old Republic have a base numerical armor value (for instance, you might find a pair of gloves that provides 42 armor), and in some cases, different armor pieces will also provide bonuses to your character's attack abilities, defense abilities, or damage, or to your character's basic statistics of strength, aim, endurance, cunning, willpower, and presence. We put no real focus on strength (which enhances melee damage), willpower (which enhances force-powered abilities), and presence (which has not been fully revealed, but presumably has to do with the game's dialogue options). Instead, in the few instances when we had a choice, we focused on equipping armor that built up our statistics in aim (which directly affects how well you attack with ranged weapons, such as our blaster pistol), endurance (which affects your character's health and durability), and cunning (which affects how well your character does in battle while using "gadgets," which include wrist-mounted missile launchers).

Since we opted out of playing a dual-wielding character that would have carried two pistols, we simply kept rotating out our current pistol for the next best one that we happened to pick up. The best ones seem to offer not only enhanced base damage (which also appears as a simple numeric value--a low-level blaster pistol might have an attack rating of only 35 or so), but also ability score boosts. Again, since we were so focused on making progress, we spent very little time visiting merchants to do any sort of comparison shopping for better items, aside from picking up a few healing stimpacks as last-ditch survival gear, and otherwise acquired all our character's weapons and armor from either loot drops from monsters or as quest rewards. Like in a certain other world where war is crafted, in The Old Republic, quests will often offer multiple reward choices from which you can choose just one. Our choices were simple--we always picked the best heavy armor and the best blaster pistol from the bunch.