Leveling Guide

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 MMO Lingo

Following are some NEED TO KNOW acronyms. You will see them spammed everywhere and if you don't understand them, you might end up losing an opportunity for something really cool! There are a LOT more acronyms out there but I'm only listing the crucial ones.

DPS: Stands for Damage Per Second. This is used to describe any damage dealing class. Sometimes people will make it easier on you and specify Melee DPS or Ranged DPS.

Tank: The character who takes all the damage and holds agro.

Agro (or Aggro): Short for Aggression. Stands for threat. High agro is good for tanks, bad for everyone else. 

Healer: A character who specializes in healing and whose role is to keep the group alive.

AoE (or AE): Area of Effect. Orbital Strike is an AoE.

LFG: Looking for Group.

LFM: Looking for Member(s). Looking for More.

WTS: Willing To Sell

WTT: Willing To Trade

BoE: Bind on Equip. These items can regularly be sold, traded, or mailed.

BoP: Bind on Pickup. These items cannot be traded after they've been looted.

DoT: Damage over Time. Corrosive Dart is a DoT.

HoT: Heal over Time. A heal that keeps healing you for a set amount of time.

CC: Crowd Control. Slice Droid is a CC. Used to disable a mob to prevent incoming damage/heals on other mobs.

Mob(s): NPC (Non-Playable Character) whose role is to kill you.

Rez(z): Resurrect. To bring a player back to life. 

Proc: Programmed Random Occurrence. When an effect passively activates through some action from the player. For example, performing an attack with a specific relic has a 30% chance to grant you X amount of Power for 6 seconds. When this activates, it is considered to have "procced."

SWTOR Specific Acronyms

TFB: Terror From Beyond
SnV: Scum and Villainy
EC: Explosive Conflict
KP: Karagga's Palace
EV: Eternity Vault
TC: Toborro's Courtyard
DF: Dread Fortress
DP: Dread Palace
Ravs: The Ravager
TOS: Temple of Sacrifice

SM: Story Mode
HM: Hard Mode
NiM: Nightmare Mode


Choosing A Spec

As a covert agent of the Empire, your life is one of espionage. Deception, daring, and danger are your closest of friends. The force is not with you. But, what you do have is a very particular set of skills; skills that make you a nightmare for those who stand in the Empire’s way.

Your goal is a simple one; to complete the mission at hand, no matter the cost. NO MATTER THE COST.
With that said, the Imperial Agent gets to choose between two specializations (level 10); the Sniper, or the Operative. This being a guide for Operatives, I shall assume that you have picked the latter.

As an Operative, you rely heavily on stealth. (This is a good thing!) But, as with everything, it has its pros and cons. On one hand, you get to sneak across entire maps and get to your objective quickly and painlessly, saving you time and providing no sold recorded data for the Chaos Theory.

On the other hand, the world will forever be oblivious of your path of destruction from the signature you left behind made up of mangled corpses and disembodied appendages. Also, you lose all the sweet experience you receive from MDKs. You can make up for this though by queuing for flashpoints and/or battlegrounds while questing.

From here you have 3 choices that can help your situation; level as a Medic, DPS or hybrid. I for one believe that one should level what they plan on playing at end game, but I also understand why people choose not to follow that path. Let’s look at the choices and their pros and cons.

Leveling as a medic means you will get the most out of your companions, since they will be fulfilling the roles of DPS and Tanking for you. Your first companion already has the option of being either Tank or DPS, so you are already at an advantage over the other two specs.

As a medic, you will have short flashpoint queue times, reliable healing (almost guaranteeing your survival), and usual top vote choice in PVP matches. The downside is you rely heavily on your companions. Meaning, you need to have their gear updated at all times in order for them to be able to keep up with the mobs of your level. Also, healing aggro is never fun.

As a damage dealing Operative, you have two choices to pick from; Concealment, or Lethality. While Lethality dps relies on poisons, Concealment has dots and stabs. From the research I’ve personally made, it looks like Lethality has the most damage output. Concealment, on the other hand, has better survivability in the stead, which is optimal for leveling in my personal opinion.

Leveling as a DPS will be quick and painful. Things will die fast, but so will you! It pretty much becomes a race on who can hit the hardest the fastest. As for companions, I always choose a healer as my primary backup. The healer might end up doubling as your tank due to heal aggro. I don’t suggest using a Tank companion unless you plan on off-healing for him. Double DPS can be fun, but it’s not the greatest idea.

As previously mentioned, I strongly believe people should level as what they plan on playing at end game. So, even though I do not favor hybrid builds, I can definitely see the advantages in it.

Leveling with a hybrid spec is like being a jack of all trades, but master of none. Depending on how you do it, you'll have a nice arsenal of damage abilities to take down the mobs while keeping you and your companion alive with some enhanced or new heal abilities.

The thing about true hybrids is that you do not get the chance to reach the top tier of a specific tree; meaning that the top ability of said tree will not be yours to cherish. But, that clearly changes in the end when you hit level 55, for staying as a Hybrid is NOT recommended for endgame flashpoints/raids/warzones. In other words, these are great for soloing content.

 Leveling Trees

Talent Trees are nowhere near what they used to be. They are a lot more user-friendly than before and a lot more lenient when it comes to choices, making cookie-cutter trees quite pointless for the most part. A lot of your options will be solely based on your play style and overall goal of your gaming experience. That said, the following trees are three different ways to level as an Operative with specific utilities chosen for specific situations.  

Medic Leveling
As a Medic, you want the least incoming damage and bigger heals output. This spec picks up utilities that help mitigate damage, enhance you mobility, and maximizes energy for heals!  

Lethality Leveling
This is a basic Lethality build. You have your range so a bit of mitigation was sacrificed for a HoT.

Concealment Leveling
This build picks up a bit of dps boost by buffing carbine burst and also picks up a few heal utilities because, odds are, you will need it. 

Concealment Leveling Alternate
This alternate build is more in your face DPS. It's meant for those who rather play by jumping in the melee both feet in and without looking back. Good luck, Agent. 


Following are the abilities you will learn throughout your leveling. The list includes the level they are learned at, the type (tech, ranged, or passive), a brief description, and range (#meters). Damage numbers not included. Operative specific abilities are of this color.

Level 1
Armor Proficiency: Adaptive, Light, Medium
Weapon Proficiency: Blaster Rifle, Vibroknife
Coordination: Increases self and group Crit hit chance by 5% for 60 mins.
Crouch: Crouches in place, enabling cover only abilities.
Recuperate: Recover health and energy over 15 seconds out of combat.
Sprint: Increase movement speed by 35% out of combat. Free-to-Play gets at Lvl. 15
Take Cover: Roll into cover.
Quick Travel: Takes you to uncovered bind point of choosing.
Rifle Shot (Ranged): Basic attack. 30m range.
Snipe (Ranged): Strong ranged attack. 30m range.
Fragmentation Grenade (Tech): Hits up to 5 enemies in an 8-meter radius. Knocks down primary target if weak or standard. 30m

Level 2
Shiv (Tech): Stab ability. Yields tactical advantage for 10 seconds or until used. Shares CD with Veiled Strike. 4m

Level 4
Debilitate (Tech): Stuns target for 4 second. 4m

Level 5
Corrosive Dart (Tech): 18 second DOT (Damage Over Time). 30m

Level 6
Flash Bang: Blinds up to 5 targets within 5 meters for 8 seconds. Damage ends it.  10m

Level 8
Overload Shot (Ranged): Powerful ranged attack. 10m

Level 9
Escape: Breaks incapacitating and movement-impairing effects.

Level 10
Evasion: Removes hostile removable effects and increases Dodge chance by 100% for 3 seconds.
Sprint: Increase movement speed by 35% when out of combat.
Backstab (Tech):  Strong Melee Attack. Only usable behind target. If used while in Stealth, grants Tactical Advantage. 4m
Carbine Burst: Short burst that hits up to 8 targets in a 10m cone.
Laceration (Tech): Strong melee attack. Requires and consumes TA. 4m
Medical Doctor (Passive): Allows you to revive players out of combat without a CD (cooldown).
Preparedness (Passive): Passively regenerates your energy by 1/sec. Flash Bang blinds up to 7 additional targets within 5 meters. Evasion purges negative removable effects.
Skirmisher (Passive): Increases Overload Shot damage by 15%. Increases weapon damage by 20%. Increases Frag grenade radius by 50%. 
Stealth: Makes you invisible until detected or you enter combat. Slows you by 85%.
Tactical Advantage (TA) (Passive): Activated by Shiv, Veiled Strike, Stealthed Backstab, or defeating an opponent. Activates your Laceration and Kolto Infusion for 10 seconds. You can have up to 2 charges of this at once.

Level 12
Slice Droid: Incapacitates one droid for 60 seconds or until damaged. Target heals during CCed. 30m
Kolto Infusion: Strong heal. Consumes TA. 30m

Level 14
Adrenaline Probe: Recovers 50 energy over 3 seconds.
Kolto Probe: Summons a heal droid. Stacks twice. 30m

Level 15
Heroic Moment: Finishes CD on Adrenaline Probe and restores 2% of max health every 3 seconds. Requires a companion and activates Legacy abilities.
Speeder Piloting: Allows you to pilot a speeder (Subscribers).
Imperial Brew (Passive):  Increases Corrosive Dart damage and Kolto Probe heals by 5%.

Level 16
Stim Boost: Grants you TA and boost alacrity by 10% for 15 seconds.

Level 18
Distraction: Interrupts target’s current action for 4 seconds. 10m
Diagnostic Scan: 3 second channeled heal. 30m

Level 20
Sleep Dart: Incapacitates a mob (except droid) for 60 seconds or until damaged. Only usable in stealth and out of combat. 10m

Level 22
Cloaking Screen: Immediately exits combat and enters stealth mode.  Great to use for rezzing when battle rez has already been used on a group member.
Sneak: Increases stealth level for 8 seconds.

Level 24
Toxic Scan: Cleanses a target from 2 negative effects. 30m

Level 25
Speeder Piloting: Allows you to pilot a speeder (Non-Subscribers).

Level 26
Sever Tendon (Tech):  Slows target speed by 50% for 12 seconds. 10m
Crippling Slice: Immobilizes target for 4sec. 4m

Level 30
Countermeasures: Instantly lowers your threat.

Level 32
Shield Probe: Absorbs incoming damage for 30 seconds.

Level 35
Imperial Education (Passive): Increases crit chance of Backstab, Kolto Infusion, and Lethal Strike by 15%.

Level 41
Veiled Strike (Tech): Go-to Stab ability. Yields tactical advantage for 10 seconds or until used. Shares CD with Shiv. 4m

Level 42
Infiltrate: Cloaks group members within 10 meters for 15 seconds. Usable in stealth mode only.

Level 50
Resuscitation Probe: Brings a player back to life during combat. 30m

Level 51
Exfiltrate: Roll forward 12 meters. Dodge increases by 30%. Can be be used twice within 10 seconds but at a penalty of a 10 sec CD.

Level 56
Tactical Superiority: Raid wide buff that consumes TA increasing crit chance by 10% for 10 seconds. 40m

Level 57
Volatile Substance: DoT that activates after a poison tick and makes the target Assailable (target takes 7% more damage from elemental and internal attacks). 10m

Concealment Tree (Passive)
Imperial Ammunition (12th point):Increases Crit chance of Carbine Burst by 15% and Crit damage by 30%.
Collateral Strike (16th point): Laceration triggers CS, dealing additional damage. 
Tactical Opportunity (20th point): Collateral Strike regrants TA when hitting a poisoned target. Can occur once every 10 seconds.
Scouting (24th point):Increase stealth detection level by 2 and chance to dodge by 2%.
Culling (28th point): Increases Laceration and Collateral Strike damage by 5%. You recover 2 energy when CS damages the target.
Ghost (32nd point): Exiting stealth resets Sneak CD. Sneak increases movement speed by 50% for 6 sec when used out of stealth.
Acid Blade (36th point): Causes Backstab to apply a DoT (internal damage) over 6 sec and increases armor pen by 30% for 15 sec.
Waylay (40th point): Increases Backstab damage by 5%.
Surgical Strikes (44th point): Increases Veiled Strike and Overload Shot dmg by 5%.
Calculated Frenzy (48th point): Granted by Backstab.Increases ranged and tech crit chance by 5%. Veiled Strike causes target to become Susceptible (takes 5% more damage from tech attacks).
Shadow Operative Elite (52nd point): Increase stealth level by 2, reduces aoe damage taken by 30%. Dodge all incoming damge for 1.5 seconds after using Exfiltrate.
Meticulously Kept Blades (56th point): Increases crit dmg of Veiled Strike, Backstab, Volatile Substance, and Laceration by 30%.
Enhanced Chemicals (59th point): Increases dmg and crit hit chance of Volatile Substance by 5%.

Tips & Tricks

Following are several tips and tricks for the new players that will help you on your adventures throughout the galaxy! The tips are gathered from various sources including sites, forums and players.

Both factions can communicate with one another only through “/say.”

Specializations cannot be changed once chosen. In other words, you can be an Operative OR a Sniper. So, choose wisely.

One you have chosen a specialization, you are able to interchange the points in your skill trees through a trainer at the fleet for credits. Free for Subscribers.

Log out in the fleet or in a cantina to gain Rested XP! This doubles your experience from anything you do that yields xp.

There's an 'Exit Area' button above your minimap when you're in a flashpoint.

Free up a quickbar slot by removing sprint. Once sprint is activated you can delete it from your quickbar and it will remain active.

F2P accounts have a credit cap of 200k credits, while preferred status players (someone who has purchased something from the Cartel Market or former subscribers) have a cap of 350k.

Bind Points: All planets have scattered terminals which will bind to you once discovering the area. They are usually placed in Cantinas and in the middle of major quest hubs. These will make your questing go by smoother.

Pressing ESC during a conversation resets it. Pressing SPACE skips it.

There are commendation vendors for each planet (aside of Quesh) in your fleet supplies area; they sell the same gear as on the planets.

To make looting a lot easier and faster turn on auto-loot and area-loot in options.

User Interface (UI)
Shift+ Left Mouse Click on an item to display it in chat.

To buy more than one of a specific item on a vendor, hold CTRL + Left Mouse Click. Only works on stackable items.

CTRL + S mutes game sounds. Press it again to unmute.

If your UI freezes or loads improperly, press CTRL + U twice for a reset.

Under the portrait of your character and to the left of your main Quickbars are two small buttons. The padlock looking one locks/unlocks your Quickbars. The Crosshair looking one opens up an extensive UI Customizer that lets you edit your entire UI in order for you to make your gameplay as optimal as you would like it.

A good idea is to key bind all your Quickbars to maximize your gameplay. This can be found under Preferences in the Options menu, which is opened by pressing ESC.

You can click on stairwells/entranceways on the map to browse through them.

When you enter the chat you can use up and down arrows to scroll through and reuse what you already have written.

Alt+f to set a focus target then Ctrl+f to target focus target's target.

You can split stacks by shift-left-clicking and dragging a stack to a new, empty bag spot.

Preferences > Controls > Camera. Make sure to set Camera Max Distance to 100%. You might not use it now but you will eventually!

Each companion has a codex entry that discusses their personality and stats.

When your companion wants to talk 'somewhere private', you can talk to them in a cantina (and likely any designated Rest Area). You only need to go to your ship when it says 'on your ship'.

You can revive a companion more quickly by simply dismissing and resummoning him. You can heal one quickly by mounting your vehicle and dismounting.

In the preferences, you can enable the tooltip comparison for equipment/gear for your active companion so you can compare an item to your active companion's gear in addition to yours.

To quickly sell trash items, right-click on the companion and choose the Sell Trash items option

There are restrictions to how many companions you can send to craft at the same time:
2 – Up to Lvl. 25
3 – Up to Lvl. 35
4 – Up to Lvl. 45
5 – Up to Lvl. 60

As your affection with your companion increases, the time for crafting decreases. Mission success also increases.

There are 5 tiers of gifts divided into 2000 points each:
Tier 1: 0 - 1999
Tier 2: 2000 - 3999
Tier 3: 4000 - 5999
Tier 4: 6000 - 7999
Tier 5: 8000 - 10000

Space Combat
Press space to do a barrel roll.

To fire proton torpedos, hold your targetting reticule on a target for several seconds till it gets a special icon.

You can fly around using BOTH keyboard and mouse. Helps navigating while shooting.

Make sure to check the spaceship upgrades vendors on the fleet. In particular, don't forget to buy the power converter unit for 30 fleet commendations as early as possible! It lets you switch between greater shield regeneration and much more powerful blasters.

In space combat, hold the right mouse button down to "paint" multiple targets, release and fire multiple missiles at multiple targets simultaneously.

While firing lasers, your shields do not recharge. Take a break using missiles for a while to help your shields recharge faster.

You can craft by using materials in your cargo, i.e. no need to have it take up space in inventory.

You can queue up to 5 crafted items per companion.

Reverse-engineering a crafted item gives you a chance of learning an improved version of the schematic. REing a stack of 5 tends to guarantee an unlock.

Cancelling a crafting mission will not get your mats back, or your money.

You can use the Emergency Fleet Pass to instantly teleport to the Republic/Imperial Fleet from anywhere. It's in your skill box in general tab.

If you have a security key, there's a security key vendor on the Fleet that will sell you fleet passes with one hour cooldowns for 1000 credits.

Higher levels of speeders can take more hits before you get dismounted by attacks.

The /stuck command seems to work by teleporting you back a few steps, so it's actually useful for more than just being stuck.

Searching the /who window by 'LFG' will let you show everyone in the game using the system.

There are 3 datacrons on the starter worlds, and five on each beyond that. Datacrons are hidden objects which give stat boosts.

Dueling can be useful! You can leap or be pulled by friends to locations, say, for getting unstuck or finding datacrons.

If you like the appearance of certain pieces of gear, you can use the new Outfit Designer to save it for current or later use without losing any stats! For more info on how Outfit Designr works, click here