An advanced class of the Bounty Hunter, the Mercenary can fill the roles of a combat medic or jump into the fray dual pistols blasting as a DPS. The come laden in the galaxies finest heavy armor, and pair it with highly effective defensive abilties that make them a difficult target to take down. Akin to the gun slingers of the wild west, these soldiers of fortune have made blasting a business, and business is good.
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As a Mercenary you’ve got two options when it comes to play style, take the role of a healer or that of a ranged DPS. For those looking to dish out the pain rather than relieve it there are two skill trees to choose from. The Pyrotech tree focuses on enhancing the effects of the Combustible Gas Cylinder and is better suited for those who wish to do more damage over time. If you prefer bigger one time hits then you may want to consider the Arsenal tree instead. Speccing into this tree will grant you two new missile attacks and buff the damage of unload as well as powershot, in addition to some new damage mitigating and enemy slowing procs.
Healers are going to want to fill out the Bodyguard tree. It contains three new healing abilities; including an AOE heal and a high output instant heal. Output of your standard healing abilities will also be increased along with a decrease in cast time.
The Bounty Hunter's "combat currency" is Heat, which builds up with each attack. When the Heat bar fills up, most skills are locked out and the heat must be vented. Vent Heat has a rather long cool down, so heat must be managed carefully, especially at lower levels. The more heat you have, the longer it takes to cool down - at 0%, you drop 5 heat per second, but as your heat level rises, this rate decreases. Big-damage skills generate more heat, so spacing them out instead of burning them all in rapid rotation will prevent a heat lockup. You can also use Rapid Shots to drop a tiny bit of heat while still doing damage, and treeing up in Pyrotech allows you to vent heat in different ways.
Bounty Hunters of all flavors use different energy cylinders to achieve different effects. These are essentially the equivalent of stances for melee classes - you want the right cylinder for the scenario.
Combustible Gas Cyclinder - Loads your blaster with combustible gas, giving all your blaster attacks a chance to deal additional elemental damage over time. For players going the Pyrotech route, this is the ideal cylinder to use. Pyrotech is all about elemental damage and Rail Shot, a powerful ranged tech attack that can only be used against enemies who are incapacitated or suffering from a damage-over-time effect. This is the first cylinder you get, and is shared with Mercenaries.
High Energy Gas Cylinder - All internal and elemental damage is increased by 5% while active. This is another good cylinder for DPS-spec, as it makes stacked damage-over-time effects do more damage per tick.
Combat Support Cylinder – Causes Rapid Shots to charge your power cell with each use. Each charge will increase the damage or healing dealt up to a maximum of 3% at 30 charges. Using rapid shots on a friendly target with Combat Support active will heal that friendly for 100% of your tech bonus healing.
Healing as a Mercenary can be both a challenge and rewarding role to play depending on the situation you’re in. While they lack a traditional heal over time ability that many of the other classes have, they do have a proc that deals HoT and also Kolto Shell, which provides a small shot of health whenever the recipient is hit. Even though they may not be putting out the top healing numbers, they are one of the tougher healing classes. Heavy armor coupled with a variety of knockbacks, incapacitating effects and shields for mitigation keep you healing longer.
When specced as a DPS the Mercenary has no shortage of powerful and unique attacks in their arsenal. The bread and butter of the Mercenaries attacks are their dual blasters, which they use to dish out Power Shots and the high damage channeled attack unload. The next weapon up their sleeve, literally, is the rocket launcher. There is a rocket for nearly every situation that arises, Tracer Missiles to deal damage and weaken armor, Fusion Missiles for damage over time, and of course everyone’s favorite Death From Above which is capable of decimating anyone caught within its area of effect. If an enemy survives all of this long enough to get up close the Mercenary can employ their deadly Flamethrower to torch them, Rocket Punch to finish them off, or Jet Boost to send them flying.
Warzones can be a little tricky for Mercenaries whether they choose the healing or DPS route. This is due to many of their most powerful abilities requiring you to be stationary in order to use. Anyone who’s entered a PVP situation can tell you that standing still for any amount of time usually doesn’t end well. How the Mercenary makes up for this is with a variety of useful (and lifesaving) utility abilities that can either mitigate incoming damage, slow the enemy target, or knock them back a considerable distance. The most effective of these is Jet Boost, not only will it knock back any nearby enemies quite a piece, it also applies a slowing effect to them. Jet Boost is perfect for knocking opponents into the various traps in Huttball. If you’re tanking damage from a ranged enemy throw up your Shield, this will mitigate 30% of all incoming damage for 12 second. Just enough time to make an escape or throw yourself a heal.
Why choose the Mercenary you ask. Do you want to dual wield blaster pistols and where heavy suits of high tech armor? Do you fancy yourself a bit of an outlaw who would rather look out for number one? Are you looking for a ranged class that has a devastating AoE impact and enough tools to handle any situation effectively? Do you want the option to heal? If you answered yes to even one of the above questions then the Mercenary may just be the advanced class for you.
Mercenaries also transition from PVE to PVP very easily. Many of the same rotations you will find yourself using in a Flashpoint will be the same as those used in a warzone. This makes enjoying all the different game style SWTOR has to offer a lot easier and more…enjoyable.
Mercenaries have two main stats: Aim and Endurance. Both of these stats are important to consider when selecting new gear. Both DPS and Heal based Mercs will get more use out of Aim, which affects ranged and tech damage. Endurance of course increases health and should always be considered second to aim when looking at gear. Decent Mercenary gear is fairly common - heavy armor with Aim and Endurance is used by a quarter of all the advanced classes, and drops fairly often.
When using customizable gear, look for mods with the Commando description. Commando armoring and barrels have lots of Aim and heavy Endurance. For mods, look for Agile or Nimble mods - Agile adds Power, Nimble adds Critical Rating, and both add Aim and Endurance. DPS-spec Mercenaries will want to look for Power, Critical Rating and Surge, while healing will want to mix in some Alacrity in to decrease cast times.
When gearing for PvP, Expertise rating will affect how much damage the Mercenary is able to shrug off and also provides a bonus to healing. Since the Mercenary is something of a switch-hitter in PvP, stacking up on Expertise is even more important than picking which talent tree to use.
Companion utility varies a bit between the two classes. The Powertech can take a sustained beating and has excellent survivability, but a healer will help him last longer in tough fights. The Mercenary will get more use out of a tank, especially if he is heal-spec.
Mako is the starting companion for Bounty Hunters, and if you’re going DPS spec she’s likely the only companion you’ll need. She is a healer, and you get her right away - after having that for the first few levels, it gets hard to imagine why you would need any other type of companion. Mako makes tanks tankier, and gives non-tanks some added survivability. Her personality will be a poor fit for dark-side hunters, but what she doesn't know won't kill you.
Gault is the second companion for Bounty Hunters, picked up on Tatooine. He's a weaselly confidence man who's good with a rifle and serves as ranged DPS. His actual utility is somewhat limited, unless you are finding your DPS to be unacceptably low. He hits pretty hard, but he only wears medium armor and can't take much of a beating.
Torian is your third companion, picked up on Taris. He is a melee DPSer and is tough enough to take a bit of a thrashing. This is another companion of limited utility - the DPS is less necessary than the healing you would get from Mako, and he isn't a proper tank with forced-attack skills.
Blizz is your 4th companion, picked up on Hoth. He's a little firecracker - a ranged tank with heavy armor and a good choice for Mercenary Healers. He's certainly one of the most amusing companions and basically loves everything you do so long as you aren't mean to him.
The Houk gangster, Skadge, is your final companion, picked up on Belsavis. Skadge is a melee tank and would be much more useful if you got him earlier on. A melee tank is certainly useful for keeping groups of enemies at range, allowing you to pick them off with ranged attacks. But by the time you get Skadge, you will likely have developed sound strategies with Mako, Torian or Blizz that work just as well or better.