For a few credits more

Bounty hunters. We all know what they are, right? Boba Fett from Empire Strikes back and Return of the Jedi, Jango Fett and Zam Wessel from Attack of the Clones, Calo Nord from Knights of the Old Republic, these are iconic figures in Star Wars. There are other bounty hunters as well who make appearances in various Star Wars pieces, but they are generally not pivotal characters. Bossk, the Trandoshan seen on the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer Executor in Empire Strikes back has received a lot of attention in fiction and games of various kinds. Princess Leia disguised herself as a bounty hunter to gain entrance to Jabba’s palace in return of the Jedi. And then Mira was a HAWT bounty hunter in Star Wars the Old Republic II. Bounty hunters are well known.

But what IS a bounty hunter? According to Wikipedia:  A bounty hunter captures fugitives for a monetary reward (bounty). Other names, mainly used in the United States, include bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, and bail fugitive investigator. Bounty hunting, and bounty hunters, are actually legal in only two nations: the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. Other countries do not have bounty hunters; they use only standard law enforcement agencies to recover suspects. (Bounty Hunter) So there’s a legal definition of what we know about bounty hunters.

There is another way we recognize bounty hunters. Movies have portrayed people hunting fugitives or outlaws for financial reward for a long time. Movies such as ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ with Clint Eastwood are likely the best known of the bounty hunter westerns. The characters portrayed in those movies are barely one step removed from the scum they are hunting. The thought is that to catch a bad man, you must send a bad man. The Star Wars bounty hunters certainly fit that category as well.

But – the bounty hunters in Star Wars are not JUST bounty hunters. Many of them are assassins as well. Jango Fett, whether he was a Mandalorian or not -which changes from week to week depending on who you ask- was probably the best example of a Star Wars bounty hunter. He was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, up to an including setting a bomb on a public landing pad to kill everyone in the area to try and get his target. He was willing to shoot his partner to keep her from talking after she had been captured by Jedi. He not only condoned, but participated in the initial acts of the Clone Wars, until he was killed by Mace Windu.

It seemed for a long time that bounty hunters in Star Wars fell somewhere between comedy relief and nameless, faceless masses to be slaughtered by the good guys. We all remember Boba Fett falling into the Sarlacc and the monster burping, right? And that was AFTER he had been 1) Disarmed by a very young and inexperienced Jedi, 2) knocked unconscious by a stray cannon round, and then 3) blindsided by a blind man.

Calo Nord in Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic didn’t even fare that well. He had a ceiling fall on him, and then he was slaughtered with his backup and left to rot in the Tattooine suns. Some ’greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy’ huh?

Then Mira came along. She made bounty hunters cool, not just faceless or stupid incompetents. Her wrist rocket launcher was simply too cool. But then we get a massive let down. Of course she had to be a Jedi in disguise, didn’t she? Bummer. But I have to admit, she looked really, really good in her outfit.

Ok, so we come to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bounty hunter is the Sith Empire armored ranged class. The images that we have seen draw heavily on the images of Mandalorian armor from KOTOR I and II. The character is not a Mandalorian, that we know of. Of course we do not know a lot of the story yet, and likely we won’t until much closer to launch, if then. We want some surprises. But the mechanics look good.

The idea of a single blaster armed warrior taking on a Jedi or Sith is laughable under normal circumstances, but the TOR bounty hunter seems up to the task. He/she does not just have blasters. Heavy armor, flamethrower, various darts, rockets, a jetpack, all of these have been shown as well as a very cool lasso-type ability. The thought of pulling an opponent through the air to hit him with something is strangely satisfying to me. Maybe I have played too many games where the bad guys can hide and snipe from inaccessible locations. We don’t know a lot about the classes yet, but we have seen glimpses of what is likely the ship for the bounty hunter and various sources have stated bits of gameplay. I hesitate to use some of those sources, because I do not want to violate any legal restrictions. But what we do know is that bounty hunters will have the heaviest armor of the Sith Empire classes. And the armor does look cool. Much cooler than the Inquisitor’s clown outfit.

We know that the bounty hunter is a neutral character, at least at first, not affiliated with either Sith Empire or Republic. But with the current Mandalorians serving the Empire grudgingly, there is lots of room for cool story arcs and plot twists. I look forward to seeing what Bioware can come up with this time.

Over to you: what do you want from bounty hunters in TOR?

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