This guide originally appeared on SWTORHUB and is in queue to be updated for 2015 SWTOR.
The Powertech is an advanced class of the Bounty Hunter. The Powertech uses advanced gadgetry and shielding technology to gain an edge in combat and bring his targets down. This makes the Powertech more suited to close-range combat than the Mercenary - with an array of defenses and short-range attacks, the Powertech serves as a ranged tank as well as ranged DPS. These are not simple "guns for hire" - they are "heavily-armored mobile weapons platforms for hire."
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Sith Juggernaut - Basics
The Powertech is built to do two things: dish out damage and take beatings. By swapping an offhand weapon for a shield generator, the Powertech has excellent survivability. Equipping a power generator instead of a shield generator means that he doesn't sacrifice damage output. By speccing into the Shield Tech tree, the Powertech makes an efficient ranged tank, capable of making big pulls with area-effect attacks and surviving the initial onslaught of enraged mobs. Players who prefer to focus on the damage-dealing aspect of the class can follow the Advanced Prototype or Pyrotech trees, giving them powerful short-range and damage-over-time attacks, respectively.
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 cooldown, 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.
- Ion Gas Cylinder - Gives all ranged attacks a chance to deal additional ion (electrical) damage. This cylinder also increases threat generation by 50%, increases armor rating by 60%, reduces all incoming damage by 5% and increases shield chance by 15%. Also allows the Powertech to Guard allies. This is the clear choice for tank-spec.
Some players will find tanking with a Powertech to be easier than tanking with a melee class. Ranged attacks generally generate more threat than melee attacks, and the Powertech has a fairly broad assortment of area-effect attacks - missiles and rockets all have a burst range, Flame Thrower and Flame Sweep can hit multiple targets, and Death From Above is one of the coolest fight-opening moves in the game. Grapple allows targets to be pulled out of potential trouble spots - for example, yanking a strong mob away from crowd-controlled enemies, allowing area-effect attacks to be used on it without breaking CC - as well as generating a large amount of threat. In a pinch, the Powertech also has a pair of forced-attack skills - Neural Dart (single target) and Sonic Missile (area-effect).
Don't let the single blaster pistol fool you - the Powertech is more than capable of dishing out the hurt. Blasters are fine and everything, but the Powertech's strength in DPS comes from tech attacks - Rocket Punch, flamethrower attacks, missiles, concealed blades and all the other lethal gadgets attached to the gear. Both the Advanced Prototype and Pyrotech talent trees enhance the Powertech's ability to subdue his targets swiftly, and using a power generator instead of a shield generator puts the class more or less on par with the Mercenary in terms of DPS. A popular DPS build involves treeing up in Pyrotech for the bonuses to Rail Shot, which can be effectively "spammed" without building up excessive heat.
In the right hands, Powertechs are beastly in PvP. Grapple plus Rocket Punch - especially when these skills are improved via talent trees - is a deadly combination and useful for dealing with troublesome opponents. Sonic Missile is really useful in hectic melees with multiple enemies - this skill causes enemies to deal 30% less damage when attacking anyone other than the Powertech, meaning you are effectively shielding everyone in the area. Any talent tree makes for a viable PvP spec - you get crazy defense, plus Oil Slick (reduce enemy accuracy by 20%) and Jet Charge (30-meter jump which interrupts and stuns the target) with the Shield Tech tree; Advanced Prototype gives the Immolate skill (a nasty fire attack) and Hydraulic Overrides, which grants immunity to movement-impairing effects and increases speed by 30% for 8 seconds (anyone ever caught carrying the ball in Huttball can attest to the usefulness of this little trick); and the Pyrotech tree allows you to stack DOTs on targets and spam Rail Shot.
Sith Juggernaut - Choose Your Destiny
There are plenty of reasons to choose Powertech as your advanced class. Mercenaries are flashy, with their paired pistols and frenetic healing, but the Powertech is more rugged and able to take a sustained beating without really sacrificing the firepower. Powertech is stronger in close-quarters fights than Mercenaries, capable of standing toe-to-toe with melee combatants without batting an eye. They have the ability to survive a more aggressive play-style.
The Powertech can pull aggro from the melee tanks and actually do something with it. They lack some of the defensive power of the tank-spec Sith Juggernaut, but they pack more of a punch in terms of DPS.
It's also a very engaging class to play. Setting people on fire is always fun, and everything is better with jet-packs. The Powertech seems to be modeled after Boba Fett - one blaster, but lots of secret gadgetry, and a knack for disintegration. But watch out for half-blind smugglers performing Three Stooges comedy routines with techstaves, or you could wind up in trouble.
Sith Juggernaut - Equipment
Powertechs have two main stats: Aim and Endurance. Both of these stats are important to consider when selecting new gear. DPS-spec Powertechs will get more use out of Aim, which affects ranged and tech damage, while tank-spec will get more use out of Endurance, which affects total health and resistances. Decent Powertech 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 Powertechs will want to look for Power, Critical Rating and Surge, and tank-spec will want Shield and Absorption Rating.
When gearing for PvP, Expertise rating will affect how much damage the Powertech is able to shrug off and how much damage they do to other players. Since the Powertech is something of a switch-hitter in PvP, stacking up on Expertise is even more important than picking which talent tree to use.
Sith Juggernaut - Companions
The Bounty Hunter has five companions, each of which assists the Powertech/Mercenary in combat and throughout their storyline. The Powertech and the Mercenary each have different needs when it comes to companions, although they share the same five, which you will find listed below.
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 there's pretty much no need for the Powertech to use anyone else. 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.
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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.
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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. He's certainly one of the most amusing companions and basically loves everything you do so long as you aren't mean to him. He's also one of the more useful companions for a Powertech - he's basically a pint-sized Powertech himself and can take over tanking duties.
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.
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