The one class that absolutely intrigues me so far is the Imperial Agent. Suave, deadly, and professional, the Agent is the Imperial spy that lives behind enemy lines and rains terror on enemies of the state. The Agent combines ranged firepower with mobile cover for some incredibly interesting story opportunities. I mean, who doesn't want to be the Empire's best assassin?
The way that the agent has been portrayed so far is ingenious ... he's not a gun-for-hire or a psychotic with a rifle, but a patriot. He believes utterly in the vision of the Empire and he's willing to do the dirty work to see it realized. He reminds me of the Operative in Serenity ... he knows he's a monster, but he does what he thinks is right to craft a world where citizens can be safe and (relatively) free.
And this, in short, is why I love Bioware. I don't RP. I think it's sort of silly to be honest; traipsing about pretending to be a character while you're already playing a character in a videogame. My previous MMO games never really rewarded or encouraged RP in any way, shape, or form. And yet, Bioware has me crafting reasons and justifications for a character I haven't played in a game that's not released yet. I can't wait to dive into the story of the Agent and discover what motivates him to kill for his government. I want to see what decisions I can make, how I can mold this assassin into my own Imperial Agent. To see my choices and the ramifications, good or ill. It's terribly heady stuff.
Combat for the Agent seems pretty straightforward. Move into range, pop cover, shoot. The Agent utilizes droids for self-healing, as well as flash-bang grenades for crowd control. Mike B, from ZAM, said that by about level 5 he had 8 usable abilities. This points to a flexible ranged DPS class; previous The Republic shows and Darth Hater fan site summit information also shows that the Agent can be an off-healer as well, although this is likely limited to self-healing or perhaps some HoTs on allies.
The cover mechanic seems to be the Agent's primary staple. They come with an ability called "Entrench" that prevents the Agent from being knocked out of cover. I can only assume that certain abilities can only be used while in cover, so the idea of mobile cover you can activate anywhere becomes mandatory. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out in the game. The two advanced classes that the Agent can be are Sniper and Operative. Sniper seems to be the DPS tree, like a Marksmanship Hunter from WoW. The Operative seems to be a jack-of-all-trades type of character who can perhaps off-heal. Breakdowns of the advanced classes can be seen here.
So far, the only two races that can officially be Imperial Agents are Humans and Chiss (the race Thrawn belonged to). Unofficially though, Rattataki, Cyborgs, and Zabrak can also be Agents, according to PC Gamer UK in their May issue. If you think I'm rolling anyone other than a cold-hearted Chiss Agent, you're on drugs. Plus, you get that sweeeeeet Jaguar-looking spaceship to jet around in.
Once open beta begins, I'll be bringing more information on playstyle, abilities, and quests, as well as an overview (as spoiler-free as it can be) of the story. Oh, and when will open beta kick off? This humble Agent doesn't know for sure, but I'd be willing to bet my rifle that we'll find out at E3, starting on June 7th. Here's my OFFICIAL GUESS™!
Open Beta Date: July 5th, 2011
Release Date: October 11th, 2011