Imperial Agents are a very interesting class, and one which is fun to play as long as you don't like being a hero. And I'm definitely not talking about morals. Just like their name suggests, these aren't Bounty Hunters or Sith Warriors that charge in to save the day by taking the bullets, they're the sneaky fighters hiding behind cover taking snipes at anyone who comes within range.
Imperial Agents can choose to become either Snipers or Operatives. Regardless of the paths you choose, Agents are one of the best damage dealers in the game. The only problem with their power is that it isn't backed up by much durability. Wearing medium armor and relying on their first Companion to do most of the tanking, Imperial Agents can really put the hurt to enemies. as long as they don't get too much fire focused on them.
You have to be a bit more careful when playing as an Imperial Agent; rather than charging in like a Tank, you'll more often than not end up letting your Companion charge in first, taking the blows for you, then blasting the foes to nothing before they get a chance to switch targets. Imperial Agents either let others draw the fire away, or they sneak into battle using stealth and surprise to maximum effect.
Imperial Agents play a lot like your typical ‘caster’ class of other MMOs. Stand back, fire away, hope that you don't get hit too hard before you hit them with everything you've got. The fact is that the Imperial Agent can dish it out harder than almost anyone else; as long as he doesn’t get killed within the first opening volleys.
Imperial Agents and their counterparts Smugglers are the only class to make use of cover. When near a useable source of cover, you receive the option to roll into cover; once in cover you gain access to additional abilities, making fighting from outside of cover seemingly unviable, aside from taking advantage of the rare melee abilities.
If you can get them in cover, Imperial Agents have the ability to avoid incoming attacks. When behind cover, Imperial Agents have increased defenses, which not only helps with their low durability but allows them to last long enough for tanking companions or allies to take the heat off of them. And if you do get pinned down by an enemy wielding a lightsaber or other melee weapon, the Agent has special abilities designed for close range, including heavy damage, stun powers, and even an equipment spot for knives only used during these abilities. Of course, you’re not meant to stay at close range, but it can help you out in a tight spot.
At level 10, the Imperial Agent must make a choice, either to follow the path of a Sniper or the path of an Operative. Snipers are the extremely deadly agents, capable of eliminating targets before they even get a shot off. Snipers use Sniper Rifles rather than Blaster Rifles and specialize in high-damage attacks, if not necessarily quick to execute.
The most basic specialization tree to follow is the Marksmanship sniper, specializing in using their gun for exactly what it was mas made for. They use abilities like Snipe, Followthrough, and Sniper Volley to hit their foes with as many high-damage abilities as possible as quickly as they can, without running out of energy.
Engineering is a specialty that functions in a slightly odd way; it focuses on increasing the power of your droids. For instance, the ability Explosive Probe places a droid around the enemy that detonates the next time they take damage; with the passive Cluster Bombs, that droid will leave one or more cluster bombs hovering around the target after the Explosive Probe detonates. Other abilities focus on passives that deal additional damage over time or otherwise enhance overall damage in non-direct ways.
The shared specialty tree, known as Lethality, revolves heavily around the usage of poisons. Many long-term poisons (lasting upward of 21 seconds most of the time) and even abilities that increase their damage based on how many poisons you have afflicting an enemy at any given time. Picture an Affliction Warlock amped up to the max… with laser guns.
Operatives are more varied than Snipers; only one of their trees actually focuses on more and more ways to inflict massive damage, and that’s the shared tree with Snipers, so you can’t expect it to be anything but raw DPS.
The first tree unique to the Operative is Concealment, which basically gives you the abilities of the class right there. In a unique way, many of the abilities in Concealment are counterproductive to the rest of the class’ power; most of your specializations in this tree revolve around using melee attacks like Shiv, Backstab, and others, which for other classes are back-burner moves for when you need an emergency way out.
The last tree is the Medic tree, which is the obligatory ‘secondary function’ tree for the Imperial Agent Operative. It focuses on, obviously, using abilities like Kolto Injection, Kolto Probe, and Recuperative Nanotech to heal their enemies, as well as other abilities effective in keeping yourself alive or weakening enemies.
Imperial Agents are a great choice for players who are seeking a bit more of a challenge than other classes that can tank, or at least classes that are a little more durable like the Sith Inquisitor, even if it’s only by a small margin. And if you can master their unique combat style, you can get a lot more out of them than you might of another class, especially with how different their skill trees can feel.
Imperial Agents are one sign of success in the aspect of making every possible path you can follow in a class feel different from the others; some people will continue to play the class the same, but if you want, it’s very possible to make at least three Imperial Agents that can feel almost like separate Cheap Swtor Credits classes.