Nov 23, 2011

Posted by in Havoc Squad: Life as a Trooper | 8 Comments

Havoc Squad: Reporting In!

As part of my time in Beta, I decided to give the Trooper class a whirl. I have heard, many times, that the story was magnificent, and after watching some Troopers decimate people in PVP, and seeing the flexibility of the class itself, I leapt at the chance to try it. However, I was simply unprepared for the amount of depth that the story has.

Character

“Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?” –Princess Leia, Episode 4: A New Hope

The Trooper is a formidable adversary – he/she is tenacious in every way. “Never say die!” is a great motto for them. For anyone who enjoys the military fantasy, this is the class to play, period. You are immediately thrust into a world where politics affect those above and disinterest those below, leaving you to find the medium ground and reconcile a solider’s life with the greater events at play.

The unstoppable war machine that is the Trooper.

The Trooper’s dialogue options boil down to: “respectful/agree,” “disrespectful/disagree,” and, “shut-up-I-need-to-shoot-things/violently disagree.” Your character will be a mix of these three, and your companions will respond differently to the various conversation choices you make.

Your character essentially plays as either a soldier who won’t compromise his/her morals to get the job done; a distrustful soldier who has seen too much of war; and a brute who will beat down or kill anyone in his/her way. Of course, you can blend these together to form your own version of the Trooper tale.

One other tidbit: the female Trooper is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who, of course, is the voice of Female Shepherd from the Mass Effect series – this may or may not affect your choice on which gender to play as. She also voiced Bastila Shan, for those historically-minded about BioWare. Some may not appreciate the “Mass Effect” vibe; for me, I just wished there were some renegade options to punch people in the face.

Story

“TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?” –Dead communications officer, Episode 4: A New Hope

Your Trooper will hit the ground running. In the first 3 minutes of your Trooper’s existence on-screen, you learn that you are the prodigy of Havoc Squad, the elite and selective SpecForces unit that you get inducted into. You were the top of your class, have participated in successful and difficult missions, and ultimately guaranteed that you would catch the eyes of the elite unit.

At the end of this, your vehicle comes under attack and is disabled – and your life as a Trooper begins.

Reporting for duty, sir.

The story weaves in a lot of fun details for fans of action films, and there are plenty of serious moments. All the notable elements of a Star Wars plot are present, minus affinity for the Force – and for many people, that’s a-okay.

Unfortunately, the more I say, the more I ruin of the story – and that in and of itself is probably a spoiler (sorry Awal!) – but it’s very involved, perhaps more so than the Jedi stories, in that your experiences from Level 1 on up affect the end of your story. Unlike the Jedi, who are completing their training, your training is done – and you are already in the center of your own space opera.

Abilities

“There’s one! Set for stun!” –Stormtrooper that Princess Leah killed, Episdoe 4: A New Hope

The Trooper starts with these base abilities:

  • Hammer Shot – your free attack that shoots a stream of fire at your enemy.
  • Explosive Round – A minor AOE attack that also knocks standard and weak enemies to the ground. Powerful at low level.
  • Recharge Cells – Grants you 6 ammo immediately.
  • Recharge and Reload – Regenerate health and ammo over 15 seconds.
  • Fortification – Increase Endurance of party by 5%.

Sith? Let's see how they deal with my assault cannon.

The following are the abilities you will get as you progress through Ord Mantell.

  • Plasma Cell – Self-buff, chance for a DOT effect on damaging shot.
  • Full Auto – Not only does a high amount of damage, but stuns weak and standard mobs. Channeled.
  • Stockstrike – High damage melee attack. Costs ammo – I think some must fall out.
  • Sticky Grenade – AOE attack that also stuns the standard of weak enemy it is attached to.
  • Pulse Cannon – Frontal cone AOE attack, short range.
  • Tenacity – Stun or movement impairment removal effect.
  • Cryo Grenade – Your stun. Single target.
  • High Impact Bolt – High damage shot usable on targets with damage-over-time effects or that are stunned or otherwise incapacitated.
  • Mortar Volley – High damage AOE attack that also knocks down weak and standard enemies for the duration.

The Trooper has a lot of area of effect damage abilities, which, for a damage-dealer character, might be problematic if the tank doesn’t have those abilities. Troopers make for great tanks as a result, but also for high damage – so long as they can survive. They are also great for breaking crowd control!

Itemization

“Target, maximum firepower.” – General Veers, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back

All Troopers wear heavy armor. The difference is not in heavy versus not heavy – the main difference is in the secondary stats. All of them will want high Aim and Endurance, and then have to decide (at higher levels) what secondary stats are prioritized more.

This is what you look like at level 10...

As for the weapons, that’s the big difference: a Vanguard uses a blaster rifle and either a shield off-hand, or generator; the Commando uses an assault cannon and a generator in the offhand.

Much of their gear conforms to the stormtrooper / clone trooper armor standards, though there are many different designs. Add in the mod system for longevity and you will be able to find a set to your liking, and keep it!

...and this is what I look like at level 23.

As another note: all the Trooper armor has the Havoc Squad insignia on it. It’s a nice touch to see the added detail.

Combat

“Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.” –Obi-wan Kenobi, Episode 4: A New Hope

A Trooper doesn’t bother himself with cover; he isn’t looking to fight with finesse. The Trooper is about punishment, and bringing the pain.

Mortar Volley has been discussed elsewhere, but it bears mention here: against packs of weak mobs, it can completely kill everything. Currently, the radius of it exceeds the icon range, and that’s fine – you get a good idea for the radius of the ability. It is a 3-second channel, but it fires at the end of a second, with projectile travel time – so your first hit is more like 1.5 seconds later, with the next 2 hitting a second in between.

When Mortar Volley is on its (short) cooldown, you can use any combo you like. Against standard targets, I generally like to Sticky Grenade one mob, Explosive Round another, and High Impact Bolt while he’s down. By then the Sticky Grenade should have gone off, and I finish off that mob quickly, leaving me with 1 (or 2) wounded mob left.

The only good lizard in a dark-side cave is a dead lizard in a dark-side cave.

Against strong mobs, a combination of these is fine for damage, but be aware that you can use High Impact Bolt only when he catches fire from your Plasma Cell, or stunned from your Cryo Grenade. He will not be vulnerable to Explosive Round’s, Sticky Grenade’s, or Full Auto’s secondary effect.

After 10, you get a different “main” shot for single-target – for Commando I currently have Grav Round and Charged Bolt, cycling between the two and using High Impact Bolt on cooldown. These skills are all affected by the Gunnery skill tree; it also modifies Full Auto.

The Vanguard has a good amount of shorter range abilities similar to Stockstrike, and use a large amount of elemental damage. As I did not specialize in it I have a hard time committing anything down, except that I have grouped with a number of Trooper tanks and they all did a great job.

Companion

“Look, sir! Droids!” –Stormtrooper searching the desert, Episode 4: A New Hope

Frankly, I can’t say a lot about the Trooper companions – doing so would reveal a large portion of the story, and I don’t want to do that. However, I will give some insight into them.

You do not get a tank for some time, but this is largely because a tank is unnecessary. As a Trooper, you wear heavy armor and can take a pretty large amount of punishment. Your first companion is a damage companion, and your second is a healer, which is the order (I think) that everyone would want to get them in.

None of your attacks have positional requirements, so having a tank is not as important as, say, on a Consular Shadow; also, you don’t take damage like a Consular Sage does if something does get into melee.

I'm so lonely...so lonely...blowing up this base by myself. I wish I had a friend.

I will say that your first companion comes pretty late, and unlike your Smuggler brethren, fighting the good fight on Ord Mantell, you don’t get your first companion going into your last mission; you get it after. I say, take pride, fellow Troopers; unlike those namby pamby Smugglers or Jedi, you have to solo your class quests and the last series of quests before leaving your origin world.

Obviously, while they are needed for crafting, they make life considerably easier in combat too, and allow you to really push what you can and can’t do. As a Commando, I felt a lot like Vasquez from Aliens. “I just need to know one thing: where they are,” in part because the companions really make a difference. That, and my assault cannon.

Summary

The Trooper is a fine class. You aren’t a nameless, faceless cog in the hero-grinding machine; you are a champion of good or a ruthless soldier who won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of his goals. You have a massive arsenal of tools to get your job done, and are well-equipped to deal with the challenges that come your way.

It plays in a very versatile fashion; each different advanced class can specialize in two distinct roles. Overall, I am having so much fun with this class that it makes committing to my main feel difficult. And that is a pretty impressive feat itself!

  1. BlueMeanie says:

    “TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?” You’re getting your Lucasisms in a twist. The cell block was 1138..

    • THX 1138 references Lucas’ first film and he has worked it into every one of his movies since then. The characters in that film all derived their names from California license plates.

      That’s half the battle. The other half, of course, being red and blue lasers.

      • You’re absolutely right! I did these late at night and did searches on ’em, so like half the internet is wrong.

        When I was typing it out, I kept thinking, “This sounds weird…” but I haven’t seen Episode 4 in quite some time.

        Thanks for pointing that out. :)

  2. Ever since playing the Legacy of Kain/SoulReaver series, quality voice acting has become a Big Deal for me, when picking my games. Jennifer Hale is right at the top of my favourites, alongside such greats a Simon Templeman (Kain, Teyrn Loghain) and the late great Tony Jay (Elder God, lots of other things). So deciding on making a female trooper was easy for me.

    Glad to hear the story stands up to the feel a Trooper should have, and that there is some moral ambiguity to it. I’ll be giving it a whirl this coming weekend, trying the Gunnery tree rather than the healer route I plan for launch.

  3. I have to say this class snuck up on me. I was one of the many who thought “I will play something I will not normally play at launch for beta to help protect the storylines” …. BAM I am hooked. The story line is engaging and the Light Side / Dark Side choice make me stop and think. Instead of knowing what character I will play at launch I am still up in the air just 25 days out.

    • PS … the first companion for the trooper is a great add. Funny, serious and the actor is from one of my favorite TV shows Pysch

      • The first companion even looks like Timothy Omundsun. I wish there were more comical Trooper lines so that I could do a Shawn and Lassie thing.

        • Yeah, I was purposely not mentioning that for the fans and spoilers, but comments are okay.

          Side note: Omundsun has voiced a lot of Star Wars video games. I’m guessing he’s a big fan. Now I want to hang out with him.

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