Where the Mercenary is the Bounty Hunter’s DPS orientated advanced class, sporting duel pistols and making you feel just a little like Clint Eastwood, Powertech slots either a Shield Generator or Power Generator to turn you into a walking, talking tank. Both classes offer plenty in the multiple ways to kill people department, with the main difference being that the Mercenary heals the damage you take whereas the Powertech stops it happening in the first place.
Powertech is the mirror to the Republic's Vanguard class with the obvious difference being that as a Bounty Hunter you don't really feel all that guilty killing groups of humans. If there are credits to be made then leave the feelings for guys with the pretty white armour.
Playing as a Shield Tech
The main abilities you will be focusing on as a Shield Tech are:
As you can see Shield Tech is a very busy class. You can easily take on 6+ mobs three levels above you no problem, even Elites cause little problem and if you can get a Champion one and one it becomes a battle of attrition rather than a fight. Contrary to everything you may have learned with other DPS/Ranged classes Shield Tech works just as well up close to your target as it does purely ranged. In many cases it is even preferable to bring your target within melee range.
Shield Tech is strange in that while it is very much Tank focused it does not let you just sit back and take damage like you may be used to. Rather it is a constant shuffle of abilities aimed at keeping your defences up while dealing damage in-between. For example it is generally the case that Tanks have very high damage reduction and very nice 'Panic Buttons' they can hammer if they wade in too deeply. This is turned on its head somewhat with Shield Tech in that you need to trigger these abilities before things go wrong to get any use out of them.
Oil Slick is indicative of how you will spend the rest of your time as a Shield Tech, it will reduce an AOE accuracy by 20% - while it certainly won't save you stacked with other abilities it can give you that fighting edge you may need to survive the battle. You have to think several steps ahead and strategically consider when to trigger these BOTs (Buffs Over Time) will be the difference between staying alive and dying. It is a tank class without panic buttons but more like you are getting focused to get into your Chuck Norris mode ready to take the punishment for the team.
As a quick honourable mention Mako is going to be your companion of choice for the majority of the game here. Whereas other builds can swap out quite easily Mako's healing is very useful to Shield Tech and later when she gets Electro-Stasis she becomes practically essential.
Playing as an Advanced Prototype
Advanced Prototype is the Bounty Hunters' DPS close range build, with some mid range abilities thrown in for good measure. You will want to be running High Energy Gas Cylinder for the internal and elemental damage increase as this build is very much about killing your target before they can hurt you. The main bonus for this is it will increase the damage dealt by Retractable Blade which causes 380 kinetic damage and more importantly at base will cause 459 internal damage over 15 seconds setting you up for a Rail Shot. You will want to follow up with Rocket Punch and at later levels Immolate.
Really important with Advanced Prototype is learning to use your Flame Thrower correctly. Generally it is quite an expensive ability for not all that much damage compared to other abilities in your arsenal. However if take Prototype Flamethrower you can use Flame Burst or Flame Sweep up to five times to stack a damage bonus to Flame Thrower taking you potentially up to 2389 base damage before you take into account any of your other bonuses. Correctly planned this build can take pretty much any mob one on one.
Playing as a Pyrotech
We covered Pyrotech in our Mercenary Guide, but there are a couple of things of note with a Powertech build that are worth taking into account.
Pyrotech sits with both of the other skill trees quite nicely. With Advanced Prototype topping out at Charged Gauntlets and then putting the rest into Superheated Gas and Incendiary Missile will provide very nice group DPS and decent heat management to keep you going.
Stacked the other way with Shield Tech it can take some of the button dancing from the equation and make you slightly more damage orientated. Iron Fist is a nice ability to pick up regardless but if you plan it right to trigger cool down and improve Rail Shot you can finish up your battle in half the time.
Whatever route you go down with the Powertech you are going to have nice survivability. I would say that the Powertech is heavily reliant on your companion and which one you choose is going to depend on what skill tree you decide on but ultimately if you will find something that will work for you. However be warned that once you meet your fifth companion all bets are off as he is several flavors of awesome.