Fans of the Smuggler class know that most things pale in comparison to the satisfaction of being able to blast a mob from cover, then dive into melee range to finish it off with a kick to its nether regions. But what’s a Smuggler to do when it comes to choosing their advanced class at level 10? This class offers a wide range of versatility, utility, and differing playstyles between the two advanced classes. All six trees play considerably different. There’s a bit of blasting to meet everyone’s personal Smuggling style.
The only question that remains is: Which style fits me? Here to help provide an answer to that question is a little playstyle guide. Rather than break down the trees by their talents and abilities, I’m going to break down the classes and trees by their unique features. If a set of features calls out to you, then that gives you a good idea of which trees to take a closer look at. Speaking of talent trees, take a look at both the Gunslinger tree and Scoundrel tree while we go through the list of features.
Oh, and feel free to take this playstyle guide into consideration for you Imperial Agents out there, as well. I’ll even add the Agent trees in parenthesis where appropriate. The applicable talent trees are the Operative tree and the Sniper tree.
Basic Class Features
The cover feature is unique to the Smuggler and Imperial Agent classes. The default version of cover works in a couple of ways. You can crouch in place without getting any defensive bonuses, which enables you to use abilities that need cover. Alternatively, you can roll into cover behind an actual object and receive defense bonuses toward any normal ranged damage you take, in addition to gaining the ability to use cover-only abilities. This isn’t explained the best in-game. Pictured here are two screenshots depicting this.
That green circle under your character appears when behind an object. You’ll also notice a green shield icon in the enemy’s name plate. That signifies that your character is protected from ranged abilities by that enemy. By choosing the Gunslinger (Sniper) advanced class a Smuggler will gain additional benefits to the cover system, and will be able to pop up a screen anywhere that provides defense on-the-go.
Cover is extremely important for all Gunslingers, so if you enjoy being able to deal damage safely from behind a protected barrier, Gunslinger is probably a good choice. If you find the cover system somewhat limiting, you may wish to look toward the Scoundrel (Operative) tree. Luckily, you’ll get a chance to play with the cover system before deciding this.
In the Smuggler (Agent) class, stealth is unique to Scoundrels (Operatives). Gamers usually know how they feel about stealth before they approach a class – either they’ll love it or hate it. Take it for what it is, but it can be incredibly useful for PvP combat and PVE leveling.
Stealth is done well in SWTOR. It doesn’t have a timer or a long cooldown. Scoundrels and Operatives will get a Vanish-type ability on a cooldown that enables stealth during combat. Your companion will also stealth along with you, which is awesome. Stealth can be considered the main gap-closer for these classes, since most of their strongest abilities are from melee range.
This one’s pretty simple. Smugglers and Imperial Agents have both ranged damage and melee damage available to them. If you’re more comfortable with ranged damage, Gunslinger (Sniper) is most likely your style. If melee’s your flavor, Scoundrel (Operative) is probably the experience you’ll enjoy most. If you like mixing it up, both classes may have options for you, but Gunslinger offers the better ranged experience. Don’t forget that Gunslinger offers an automatic 20% extra range to most shots!
Let’s move beyond the advanced classes and into the talent tree choices. Unless specified, it is assumed that at least 31 points will go into the suggested tree. Hybrids are possible in SWTOR, but for the purposes of this guide, they will be mostly left out. After placing 31 points into the main tree suggested, consider both the rest of the talents in the original tree as well as the beginning talents in both of the other two trees. The bottom tiers often contain bonuses for all specs.
Advanced Class Playstyles
This one’s pretty straightforward. If you’re interested in healing full-time, go Sawbones (Medicine). If you’re interested in healing part-time, for a PvP build for example, it’s still best to put the majority of points into Sawbones. This is because many of the strongest healing talents are far up the tree. The least amount of points you can probably get away with is 24.
Single-target Ranged DPS
For Smugglers seeking the greatest single-target ranged DPS, the Sharpshooter (Marksmanship) tree of Gunslinger (Sniper) is probably worth a look. The tree features high-damage shots and the ability to fire them off quickly.
Single-target Melee DPS
For this role you’ll want tochoose at the Scrapper (Concealment) tree. The playstyle of this tree is similar to rogue-style classes in other MMOs. It utilizes stealth and some attacks that require being behind the target. The tree also offers poison damage and armor penetration. Hybridization may work well with this tree.
Ranged AoE DoT DPS
The Saboteur (Engineering) tree offers more flexibility than Sharpshooter. The majority of the tree’s abilities are either area-of-effect grenades, drones that deal elemental damage, or single-target elemental shots that deal damage-over-time. The emphasis is placed on ranged combat. This tree seems like it would be well-suited for Smugglers who spend more time AoE-ing than killing single enemies. There are also a small amount of survivability talents in this tree. This is another tree where hybridization would work well.
Both the Gunslinger and Scoundrel have Dirty Fighting (Lethality) talent trees. These trees provide a good mix of damage over time abilities, survival abilities, and utility abilities. There’s an awesome low-tier talent that reduces the cooldown on Dirty Kick (Debilitate) for example, which should be considered by all aspiring PvP Smugglers. Both trees have the same talents, so the main factor when considering the two are the perks that each advanced class grant. Stealth and minor healing abilities are offered from one angle, and additional range on most abilities is offered from the other.
This tree seems more mobile than the other trees, largely due to the fact that DoTs play a large part in the rotation. The Gunslinger Dirty Fighting tree, for example, might be great for a PvP player who wants to stay in the background and fire off DoTs to the entire opposing team. Hybridization definitely seems possible for these trees. The first idea that sticks out to me is a Sawbones/Dirty Fighting hybrid.
As you can see, there are a lot of fun options when it comes to Smugglers and Imperial Agents. The classes offer some fantastic utility, and some fun while experimenting with all of the options. The galaxy’s the limit. Enjoy the ride!