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So you have decided to be a 'fixer' for the Empire by playing an Imperial Agent. With surgical strikes and stealthy maneuvering the Republic won't know what hit them. So, let's get started! To start with, though their storylines are somewhat similar, the two advanced classes of the agent (Sniper and Operative) play very differently. The Operative can stealth up, which is immensely powerful in the ability to choose/time your fights. But then, the Operative's most powerful attacks are short range, and so this surprise is necessary for survival. The Sniper has the powerful long-ranged attacks but lacks the stealth. With various periodic, area effect, and crowd control abilities to control the flow of the fight, and greater benefit from the use of shooting from cover, the Sniper focuses on starting from long range and maintaining that range as long as possible. In both cases, these classes cannot take the big hits that a Trooper/Hunter can. With medium armor and fewer hp, both versions of the Agent rely on picking their fights well and ending them before they get beat up too bad.
The healing option for the Operative is a POWRFUL option, but mostly in a group setting. If you have regular access to groups, this path can ensure you always have a valuable position while the baseline Agent abilities leave you some solo ability when the group isn't with you. Think carefully though, as the best/most powerful abilities you have are group specific, and without a group you're a MUCH weaker version of the Agent everyone else is playing. Choose carefully...
The different races available for Imperial Agents include:
Start of the Game
Through the first 10 levels, you can almost get through all of your fights by spamming the free-cost shot (the low damage one with no energy cost). Don't. You'll get various tools: grenades, periodic damage shots, stuns, etc, as you level up. Practice each fight as if it were against a boss, so that by the time you need them, you'll have become accustomed to each of the tools. There are many successful ways to play, but they all require you to choose your targets strategically and cycle through your abilities in a prudent manner, using powerful tools when necessary and holding back when possible to conserve energy.
One tactic to begin early, is selecting a target and hitting cover, and then wait a moment... Use the TAB key to cycle through your opponents. Those linked in the fight will have a symbol on them to indicate this. Take the moment to see which of them is going to use ranged attacks on you and which will charge you to melee range. Also, are there any stronger or weaker than normal targets in the linked group? If so, finishing off the weakest first removes them from the fight. Remember that in this game, an opponent with 1hp left can still attack you at full strength. So when facing 3 opponents, and example of tactical thinking would be: -kill the weak ranged attacker first, with a single shot if possible -kill the weak melee attacker second, as he won't do any damage to you until he reaches you; you can probably finish him first -kill the strongest last, now that you can focus your full attention on him
The strongest opponent will take the longest to kill, so if you fight him first the weaker ones essentially get free attacks on you AND will be diminishing your DPS as their attacks set by your timers.
Practice this sort of tactic from level 1, when you don't really need it, and by the time you get to the tough fights you'll have mastered it.
Quests labeled HEROIC often require a group, even a couple levels after they're given. Almost everything else can be done solo... BUT, the xp is better and things move faster in a group. I suggest at least grabbing one other player that is doing the same quests you are. Duos move faster than larger groups, and reap most of the benefits of grouping. Plus, I've NEVER been in a group where I didn't learn anything. It's worth it... Quest, quest, quest. Yes, in other games you might have been the champion grinder. You can do that here too, but even the easy quests will grant you far more xp/hr and usually decent gear as well. Also, look into your legacy bonuses as soon as you get to legacy level 2. You can get several versions of xp boosts that benefit every character on the account. Since legacy xp is a portion of the adventuring xp you get, it is worth pushing a favorite character into the upper levels, rather than making lots of lower level characters. The higher level character will pump xp into the legacy levels far faster than the lower level characters.
A lot of missions will feature travelling to a location, doing something or killing someone, and then returning to the person who gave the mission initially. One way to speed up this process is to use the taxis that are scattered around each map. They are indicated with two yellow arrows pointing in opposite directions. Taxis cost credits, but are usually a very small amount, and can only travel to other taxi hubs that have already been discovered.
Another way to get around quickly is to quick travel. That is a special move that is located in the hot-bar on the bottom of the screen. It is blue and looks like a planet. After clicking on the quick travel button, select where to go, and the character will show up there almost immediately. Remember though, quick travel can only be used once every 30 minutes.
There is now a new free fleet pass option available. This allows you to travel back to the Imperial Fleet (Vaiken Spacedock) once every 16 hours. If you have purchased or use the app for a security key you can also buy fleet passes with a shorter cool-down time.
Companions also have feelings towards the player's character. Certain actions or dialogue responses will either gain affection from the companion or lose affection. With more affection towards the player's character, the companion will have better stats in and out of combat. If you play solo a lot, and therefore are more dependent on your companion than if you were in groups most of the time, it is very worthwhile to invest in the gifts that raise your companion's affection with you. It does, in fact, generate minor xp boosts (the companion will have a dialogue with you that ends with the xp reward), but the real benefit is that the companion is much more effective in combat: they hold agro better, allowing your to bring the damage or healing that might otherwise get you attacked, and it seems (subjectively, I have no data pool to examine) that they either have better defense or more hp as they have a greater percentage left after a particular fight than they would with a low affection rating.
When you get to level 10, you'll be asked to choose between the 2 advanced classes of the Imperial Agent: Sniper and Operative. There are several similarities and several differences that go into making this decision, and I'm only going to outline the simplest parts of it here. First, do you want to be a healer? If so, you're an Operative. For those that aren't going to be healers... Are you the guy that hangs back, trying to work at long range, to pick off targets? If so, the Sniper is probably more your style. All 3 Sniper paths focus on dealing damage from long range, and preferably while protected by cover. On the other hand, if you prefer to be mobile or even on the front lines, an Operative may be more your style. While both Advanced Classes share some core abilities, the Operative gets stronger combat skills for short range and point blank range, while the Sniper's strongest abilities are for long range. The last question to ask yourself is whether you want to be able to stealth (turn mostly invisible). That is the domain of the Operative. As you work through your first 10 levels, paying attention to the playstyle you most enjoy will help you enjoy the Advanced Class of your choosing even more. Of course, since both versions of the Agent are a lot of fun, you may decide you want to have one of each.