A World of Warcraft player's primer to Star Wars: The Old Republic's advanced classes, part 2

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Yesterday's look at the comparison between Star Wars: The Old Republic's specializations and World of Warcraft's classes began with the resolute Republic. Now, part 2 deals with the power-hungry Empire. As before, each listed class specialization gets a brief description and an approximate comparison to their WoW counterpart(s).

Ready for a little totalitarianism? Then read on!

Sith Warrior

The Sith Warrior's particular brand of modesty mostly entails belittling his inferiors and belittling his inferiors with lightsabers. Whereas the Jedi Knight espouses discipline, the Warrior harnesses his Rage – operating similarly to the Rogue's combo points system – to power through his opponents with jazzy melee strikes.

Juggernaut
Those Frankensteinian boots aren't just to make you feel like the prettiest girl at the dance – they compliment the Juggernaut's adoption of bulky, heavy armor as his primary defense against incoming damage. Well, besides his massive ego.

The Immortal talent tree is best suited for Protection Warriors seeking a comparable tanking playstyle. You'll use cooldowns with similar effects as Shield Wall and Last Stand in conjunction with Sundering Assault – aka Sunder Armor – for keeping threat squarely in your court.

For those of you desiring heavier hits while still looking like a walking metal workshop, check out the Vengeance tree. Eschewing the Immortal's beefiness for DoT-boosted one-handed strikes, Vengeance equates to the Arms Warrior's steady, pounding damage. Don't forgo Sundering Assault, either – Shatter, Vengeance's top-tier ability, benefits from a significant bleed bonus on targets with reduced armor.

Marauder
The Marauder has anger issues. He starts his day with some extreme toothbrushing. His to-do list says “kill.” Wielding a lightsaber in each hand and donning medium armor, he's literally the Empire's Fury Warrior. It's all about pumping out maximum hurt for this berserker.

Take up the path of Carnage for a bumped up Rage regeneration rate and the powerful Ataru Form, a stance that gives your attacks a chance to grant a free extra strike. Sound familiar? The classic version of WOW's Sword Specialization carried a similar effect.

Putting points into the Annihilation tree still focuses on pure damage but with the added flair of debilitating periodic effects. The Deadly Saber ability, for example, boasts an on-demand Deep Wounds bleed with stacking benefits.

Sith Inquisitor

If the Sith Warrior represents the smoldering heart of the Empire, then the Sith Inquisitor is the sickly, scheming brain. Wearing light armor and comfortable with either sending surges of crackling lightning energy from range or mincing opponents as a whirling dervish in melee combat, the Inquisitor's versatility juxtaposes stealth, tanking, and spellcasting – all powered by a fixed Force “mana” pool – in a happy little bundle of cruelty.

Sorcerer
Emperor Palpatine's trademark “unlimited power!” is the Sorcerer's motto, and it shows. Luckily, sporting that “melted candle” look isn't a requirement. (Although, he's evidently lifted some spare robes from Rita Repulsa's closet.) You'll shame Zeus in electrical endowment after progressing through the Lightning tree as a nuker specialist.

It's near identical to how Fire Mages operate, favoring slow-casting and channeled spells with big, pretty numbers. You even get a Polymorph to assist with CC: Whirlwind tumbles a target helplessly in the air for 60 seconds. Make sure to pick up Lightning Storm, a Hot Streak-like talent that sometimes allows you to zap off a free Chain Lightning when attacking.

Don't be fooled by the Corruption tree's name...unless healing your buddies somehow involves a degradation of morality. The Sorcerer specializes in protective shields and multi-target heals, so Discipline Priests will feel right at home increasing shield efficiency via Corruption's talents. To top it off, nabbing the Revivification ability provides an additional AoE heal resembling Holy's Circle of Healing.

Assassin
It's only a matter of time before the Altair jokes start rolling in, but the Assassin still retains mastery of the shadows. Heck, anyone who ostensibly lugs around a double-bladed lightsaber staff while staying stealthy deserves no less.

Thus, the Deception tree aids the Assassin's subtlety when edging behind someone for a massive Maul backstab. The impetus for spike damage works well for Assassination Rogues who aren't unfamiliar with positional superiority and carefully timed DPS cooldowns. You'll start noticing similarities right away with the early Dark Embrace talent. Analogous to Overkill, it bestows brief high Force regeneration out of stealth. At level 18, you'll receive Jolt (essentially Kick) for interrupting channels and casts.

The Darkness tree probably takes the prize for emphasizing an unconventional defensive specialization, and besides, “tanking with lightning” just sounds plain awesome. Darkness' utilitarian abilities works less on direct protection and more on making an enemy's life miserable enough to draw threat. The combination of melee and short-range spells is akin to the Blood Death Knight's setup right on down to Dark Ward (Bone Shield) and Force Pull (Death Grip).

Imperial Agent

A connoisseur of cutting-edge weaponry and pressed medium armor uniforms, the Imperial Agent works behind the scenes of the Empire's war efforts. His skill sets employ an arsenal of laser rifles, carbines, and a vicious energy knife. Like the Rogue, the Agent uses a refilling Energy bar. And like the real deal, you'll need to pay close attention when your Energy bar dips into the single digits – the lower the value, the slower it regenerates.

Sniper
The Sniper loves taking cover. In fact, it's the only way to access the Sniper's most potent shots. The resulting stationary playstyle is like the Marksmanship Hunter. Indeed, even the talent tree carries the same title. Putting points into this specialization knocks seconds off induction abilities such as Snipe and Ambush that are both predictably similar to Aimed Shot and Steady Shot.

Of course, shooting people in the face only gets better when you have a small army of probes at your disposal. The Engineering tree boosts the Sniper's debilitating and explosive probes with expanded AoE and longer durations, a specialization similar to the Survival Hunter's enhanced traps. As an example, grab the Plasma Probe talent for the Sniper equivalent of Explosive Trap.

Operative
Never mind that the Operative seemingly shops for clothes in The Matrix – you won't get a chance to see him before he slides a knife between your shoulder blades. Specializing as an Operative means stealth, melee bleeds, and a wallop of an opening strike – in other words, the Feral Druid.

As such, placing points in the Concealment tree upjumps your Backstab and Hidden Strike knife abilities as well as improving stealth for that oh-so-important flanking maneuver. Netting the tree's culminating Acid Blade talent combines the effects of the Feral Druid's Rip and Ravage abilities into a massive initial attack from stealth.

Even healing doesn't escape the Operative's lethality. Sure, medpacs get the job done, but why opt for boredom when you can advertise the latest in Imperial medical techniques by flinging a dart filled with happy juice at an ally? In any case, the Medicine tree furnishes the Operative with improved healing abilities similar to the Restoration Druid's stacking heal-over-time effects. The specialization's final talent, Recuperative Nanotech, is a strong AoE heal akin to Wild Growth.

Bounty Hunter

Packing heavy armor and an arsenal more befitting in Doom than an MMO, the Bounty Hunter knows “hyperbole” doesn't exist in his vocabulary when engaging in ranged combat. If the problem isn't solved by the time the smoke clears, keeping steady pressure on the trigger should fix things.

Of note is the Bounty Hunter's peculiar resource system. Instead of carrying a flat cost, abilities generate Heat that slowly discharges during battle. Let your Heat creep up to 100 (minds out of the gutter, kids), and your attacks will lock up until your weapons cool down.

Mercenary
Mercenaries, like the Republic's Gunslinger, favor dual blaster pistols, hairpin triggers, and an insatiable hunger for credits. But they've also taken the plunge into overkill territory with a flamethrower. And a missile launcher. And a jetpack. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they walked up to a weapons vendor and said, “I'll buy the lot. Just shove 'em under my armor.”

The centerpiece of the Arsenal tree is the Tracer Missile ability, a stackable debuff that should stick on a target at all times for maximum damage. As a result, an Arsenal specialization plays much like the Warlock due to the importance of weaving in crucial debuffs among other attacks.

The Mercenary doesn't skimp on pimping the heals, either. The Bodyguard specialization's fast, instant heals has Holy Paladin written all over it, but the former wins an extra million style points for the simple fact that rendering aid sometimes involves slugging a healing rocket at an ally. Now I know I'm in another galaxy.

Powertech
The Powertech takes advantage of the run-and-gun nature of the Bounty Hunter when assuming the role of a skilled ranged tank. The defense-oriented Shield Tech specialization operates similarly to the Protection Paladin's strong AoE threat generation (such as when using Oil Slick, an AoE debuff that lowers accuracy).

The Advanced Prototype specialization draws the Powertech even closer to his target, granting movement boosts and upping his Rocket Punch and flamethrower attacks for bonus damage. The combination of a heavy melee strike earned through talents – Retractable Blade – and close-in ranged abilities make this playstyle equatable to the Retribution Paladin.