Agents get to choose Operative or Sniper when they hit level 10. This is a brief intro to the Operative with some tips on how to play effectively in groups.
1-5 is pretty straight forward. Crouch, grenades, snipe. It's hard to die at this point so have fun and learn how the game mechanics work. For people who have only played WoW in recent years, the game will feel different and you need to get used to it sooner than later.
6-10 is also straight forward, but you start getting into heroic groups and fighting groups of bad guys.
1) Check out the health of each target in a group of 3-5 before engaging. Chances are they are all low (AOE!) or low + 1-2 high.
2) Attempt to CC the one with the most HP, or at least let your companions deal with this one first to minimize your personal damage taken
3) Nuke the small ones to reduce your overall damage taken (3-5 people killing you while you deal with the big one, or 1-2 people killing you while you deal with the big one.)
4) Don't be afraid to run in and stun, disorient, etc in order to interrupt abilities that could hurt. Just because you have a blaster/lightning/etc doesn't mean the enemy doesn't need to be kicked in the teeth now and then.
Sometimes you will fight "bosses" - mobs with 2-5x more hp than you are used to.
1) Don't stand in the fire (Force lightning storms, charged aoe knockbacks, gatling-blaster barrages).
2) Do use cooldowns, cover, and other tactics. Break line of sight if the mob is channeling.
3) Be conservative with your resource use - you don't want the mob to be at 25% and killing you while you're resource-starved. Play it safe!
So you're level 10 now? Well here is the single question that was asked in general chat over and over and over again. AND I MEAN IT. OVER AND OVER.
"I'm at my trainer, I'm level 10, why won't it let me pick my advanced class?"
Your advanced class is part of your main quest chain. Open your quest log and look at the headings - you will see "Class" as a quest type. Follow and complete that quest and you will get to choose. Do not run to your trainer and expect it to be there.
At this point you get to choose Operative vs Sniper. Here are a few differences:
Operatives are melee & short range focused. Snipers are long range (30yards) and can equip Sniper Rifles.
Operatives have three trees that focus on different playstyles: Healing, Melee, and short range/poisons**.
Snipers have three trees that focus on similar playstyles: Physical Ranged attacks, Kinetic Ranged attacks, and Medium Range / Poisons**.
Operatives get a buff called "Tactical Advantage" that functions like Combo Points. Snipers get additional benefits from using Cover.
**Lethality is a shared tree, which means both Operatives and Snipers have access to it. The way it differs is that the core AC abilities you have tweak how it plays. For example, Operatives and Snipers both get Cull from the tree, but Operatives must use it from 10m while Snipers can use it from 30m.
Lethality - This tree focuses on poisons (dots) and control. The basic playstyle is to get dot's up on the target and to execute finishers such as Cull. Overload Shot is your filler and your other abilities exist to keep control, grant Tactical Advantage, or apply dots & debuffs.
Concealment - This tree focuses on stealth and stabbing people in the face. Just check out the description of Jarring Strike (Hidden strike has a 50%/100% chance to knock the target flat on its face for 3 seconds.) Get poisons up, stab the crap out of people, Overload Shot for filler.
Medicine - This is my focus here, as I've touched on the other trees enough.
Leveling as a healer:
To be honest, you won't have some of the neat tricks the other two trees will have, but you do have the advantage of nay-unlimited Tactical Advantage at level 11. Your tactics will be simple: use your companions to their fullest, use cover as much as possible, and heal often.
A typical combat scenario will go as follows:
Group of 3-5 mobs. Find and get cover.
Figure out who is melee and have your companion attack them.
Do not over-use your damaging abilities to start or you'll be energy starved. Focus on Snipe (Frag Grenade when enemies are clustered) and Overload Shot is great if melee come running for you.
Healing in Heroic Quests/Flashpoints (2-4 Players):
Your contribution to the group is greatest as the healer. This way your party members can focus on spending 100% of their resources absolutely obliterating the enemy. You can heal them and provide control (Debilitate, Flash Bang, Frag Grenade for aoe).
Healing as an operative is quite simple. Energy use is going to be a problem (more below) so you can choose from three different methods:
1) Heal your companion to full with Kolto Shot, Kolto Infusion, etc, then regen energy with Rifle Shot.
2) Use damaging abilities, then regen energy with Diagnostic Scan.
3) Full on healer mode - Heal everyone (overhealing is bad!) and use Diagnostic Scan to keep your energy regen levels near-max.
The first two options are viable in 2 man or soloing, but you must go full-on healer when it comes to 4 man groups and flashpoints. Here is your healing arsenal:
Diagnostic Scan - low amount of healing, free. Use this as filler to regen your energy.
Kolto Shot - This is your Tactical Advantage generator. Rotate this in to use your larger abilities that require TA, but not too much. It is a decent size heal but is slightly more expensive.
Kolto Infusion - Consumes tactical advantage to heal for as much as Kolto Shot, but uses 5 less energy. You should be using this heal as often as possible to save that 5 energy per use.
Stim Boost - Not a heal, but is imperitive to your healing. Keep at 100% uptime.
Tox Screen - It's Cure Poison. Use it when you should use it.
Kolto Probe - It's a HOT that stacks twice. Use it as you should use all hots - filler on someone taking constant damage or set-and-forget top up from occasional other sources.
Surgical Probe - Consumes TA to heal people. Grants TA if used on someone near death (talented). This is your emergency button. It's not strong but its free, instant, and lets you regen your energy to use bigger heals. It can also be used to replace Kolto Infusion in spiky damage situations to keep your energy regen high for when you need it.
Recuparative Nanotech - AOE Heal. It's wild growth. Since it's a hot effect, you should get this up sooner than later. In any situation where 4 people can benefit from healing, this is your best throughput spell.
Resuscitation Probe - Combat Rez.
I highly recommend macro'ing "Don't probe me bro!" to all your heals.
The yellow bar is your energy. It depletes quickly when used, and doesn't always regenerate at the same rate.
See the four carets on the right in the image? " >>>> "
That's your regeneration rate. Four bars is maximum, no bars is dirt-slow. Your goal is to stay at 3-4 bars at all times to maximize your ability to heal. If you start dipping into your energy too quickly, regeneration drops off and results in a long stretch where you are doing basic attacks/healing, which is not a sufficient contribution to your group. Basically, it's a mini-game where you are penalized for being reckless and rewarded for maximum efficiency, but never completely "OOM"
Use Diagnostic Scan as filler to regen energy, as it is a free heal.
Use Surgical Probe often
In times where there isn't a lot of damage going around, use dots (corrosive shot, etc) and Rifle Shot.
Load up on Kolto Probe and do nothing while it ticks.
Yell at your group to use cover, defensive cooldowns, cc, and to spread the f$%# out so grenades don't double your healing requirements.***
***Tried and true method in all video games.
That's all I have for now. I plan on getting more in depth with math when I get more time into the game.
I only think it's ridiculous that you summon probes no one can attack. Jedi's just collectively rolled in their graves/funeral pyres. The game would be much more interesting in PVP if all healing abilities had an npc that existed for 1s that could be destroyed by fast players.
Balance problems up the wazoo, but interesting to think about.
Kolto Missile - I just saw that! KABOOM! "We're better than before! Hurray Missiles!"