The demo took place in a factory on Nal Hutta, and we got to see a female Imperial Agent navigate the space from one end to the other. The first reveal we saw in the demo was the Imperial Agent taking cover. The system appeared to work much like the Smuggler, gumby and all, with multiple little green men to choose from. Once in cover, the enemies on the screen gained a green icon over their heads indicating that the Agent was receiving a defense bonus against them. We were expecting to see the Agent start laying down fire from her position like the Smuggler, but that's when things got a little different.
Daniel Erickson, lead writer and the man behind the machine for this demo, explained that the Imperial Agent is designed to approach combat situations intelligently, setting up a plan of attack and then executing on that plan, as opposed to just going in guns a-blazing. His first example of this approach was an "Exploding Probe" that the Agent could send out from behind cover. This probe moved to the target and began hovering, with the mob completely oblivious to its existence. The Agent then shot the target and, at the first tick of damage, the probe also exploded causing a cascade of damage that killed the enemy.
The next ability we were shown from the Agent's bag of tricks was a "Sleep Dart". Another in a long line of crowd control abilities, the dart incapacitates a target without aggroing any adjacent mobs. The Agent gained cover in front of a group of three enemies, put one to sleep without alerting the other targets, and then loaded up another new ability: the "Toxic Dart".
Similar to the "Sleep Dart", the "Toxic Dart" went unnoticed when used, however this is not a form of crowd control. The Agent shot one of the sleeping mob's compatriots, who then started taking damage over time without noticing he had been hit. After taking well over 50% damage the enemy started to realize what was happening, but it was too late. The agent dispatched the single healthy target with her sniper rifle, finished off the one weakened by the "Toxic Dart", and finally woke the sleeping target with a painful dose of sniper fire.
Daniel proceeded to take us through a few more similar encounters. You could see a rhythm developing with the Agent moving into position, setting up an attack, then executing it with lethal efficiency. Eventually the combination of using an "Explosive Probe" on one target, "Sleep Dart" on another, and "Toxic Dart" on the last revealed exactly how premeditated Imperial Agent combat can be. The addition of "Laze Target", a skill that causes the next sniper rifle attack to do multiplied damage, caused encounters to last nearly as short as the set up time. Three or four sniper shots and the battle was over with the Agent receiving little, if any, damage.
Thankfully the demo didn't end there. The room the Agent was navigating gave way to catwalks without any form of cover. These catwalks connected elevated platforms, each being patrolled by a single mob. Daniel then revealed the "Stealth Belt", an ability that causes the Imperial agent to turn invisible, allowing her to get from one platform to the next without drawing fire from the guards.
The "Stealth Belt", in its current form, resembles the stealth seen in other MMOs, such as World of Warcraft. The Agent assumed a "sneaky" pose, and moved forward at a reduced speed. This ability was not timed and could be toggled on and off, with a short cooldown before being reactivated. It appeared that it was only able to be activated while out of combat, but that was never explicitly said. It should be noted that the "Stealth Belt" is not an actual equipable item, it is simply the name of the stealth ability.
Now that the Agent could move around unseen, she was able to get close to the guards and use another new ability called "Shiv". "Shiv" is a melee attack that lets the agent skewer an enemy with some form of vibroblade, possibly the "supercharged imperial vibroblade" hinted at by Rob Chestney. The most interesting part of this attack, beyond the one-shot kills we saw, was that the blade actually stuck into the target and stayed there, leading to a death animation with the blade remaining lodged in the victim long after the skill was used. This is another ability where it seems like there should be an item associated with it, but there is not, for all intents and purposes, Imperial Agents carry around a lot of vibroblades.
After leaving a few shived bodies in his wake, Daniel Erickson realized that there were no more targets left in the building, and with that the demo was done. He left us with some poignant words on the Imperial Agent, saying that the class is for players who want a combat style that is "subtle, thoughtful, and clean." Now that we've seen this approach in action, we can't wait to get our hands on the game and start planning.
Holonet Update: In light of the videos released with the Imperial Agent holonet page, I felt I should address two small points. What we have recorded as a "Sleep Dart" may or may not be the same ability that the holonet entry calls a "Stun Dart", at this point in time we don't know. Additionally, when Daniel Erickson loaded up the live demo the chat window briefly displayed "Portable Cover" among a list of other ability names, however we never saw it in action. It is probably a safe bet that "Portable Cover" is the actual name of the energy field in the first video.