Beginner tips regarding early level characters - August 20, 2015

Daily posting, on the topic of beginner hints for early level characters.

After the introduction/tutorial quest, you will be able to go out and do whatever you wish, and you will be able to select a team that contains your custom main character and 3 out of 8 allies to accompany him/her.

Your custom main character's early level use varies based on class:

Guardian - Enviroarmour is the most notable ability the Guardian starts with. It cuts damage in half to the character it is applied to for 5 minutes, and it can be used 3 times. Very useful for protecting weaker characters like Erica or Lucia.

Vigilante - High HP and Attack to start. These stat boosts don't provide any specific boosts, but tend to make dungeons and skirmishes easier overall.

Scout - Some small speed and stealth boosts, but begins with Sonic Ball, which can be useful for drawing enemies away from an area and/or getting several enemies to clump in a bunch for a Rocket Launcher attack.

Medic - Begins with Heal and some decent starting boosts to it, making dungeons more survivable early on.

Specialist - Begins with Fire Shot and has stronger Fire damage. Useful for taking on Indestructibles and Coheres, though boosting Fire damage further and learning Napalm Ball to take advantage of high Fire damage can be useful early on, regardless of weapon choices.

Engineer - Beings with Assault, Defense and Ammo Drones. Very useful for support, though Drones only act in combat and can take time to set up mid-combat, making them most useful for dungeons rather than skirmishes.

Summoner - Can summon Golems from the start. Though it takes 2 turns to summon a Golem mid-combat, making them less useful for skirmishes, Golems are great for dungeons, where they can run interference on enemies. Boosts to Golem Power make them immensely strong in the early game, even if this damage wanes in usefulness in later parts.

Glasscannon - High Attack and can hit harder at low HP. Glasscannons begin with the Risk Competency, which sets their HP to 25% of the maximum and activates their Adrenaline Competencies to boost their damage further. This does high damage outside of combat with Rifles and Combat Knives (and can also be great if Fire Shot is learned). In combat, if the Behemoth is a weapon of choice, the Tech Nightmare can obliterate a single tough opponent with rapid-fire knockback. This class takes double Physical damage, though, so it may be a bit trickier for beginners to use.

The 8 starting allies:

Craig - Craig starts with 200 HP (over the average 100 most characters have), but no other abilities. His offense is moderate (20 Attack power), and it could be useful to focus on boosting Attack/Weapon Damage before his HP, as Craig's 200 HP is what most characters starting at 100 HP would have if they invested 8 points into HP, meaning Craig can already take a lot of hits and it could be best to boost his hitting back.

On the other hand, to contradict myself, investing all 12 points into Craig's HP will get him to 800 (whereas 100 HP characters would hit 300), making a great early tank (even if he has no other real options for fighting).

Rory - Rory starts with high HP (150) and amazing Attack (35, over the average 20), but takes double Physical damage. Since most attacks in Skylight Freerange 2: Gachduine are Physical, this means that Rory's survivability is less than his high HP makes it appear.

It may be best to focus on upgrading Rory's Attack stat, and it can be done very easily to great benefit: 6 points nets him +100 Attack, totalling at a whopping 135 (for reference, average Attack characters max out at 60 total after 12 points). This makes Rory great with a variety of weapons for combat and sniping (and Rory specializes in Rifles and Rocket Launchers, making his skill at picking off enemies from a distance invaluable for early game and beginner players).

Kyra - Kyra starts off with above average Attack (25) and a boost to movement (1.5x the other party members), but she also has the Brute Force Competency. Brute Force boosts Attack by 10 (making her base Attack at level 0 as high as Rory's) and cuts all damage by 10, and is one of the few abilities in Gachduine to cause minimum damage dealt to the player to be 0, rather than 1. Brute Force lasts until Kyra is hit a certain number of times (making rapid-fire attacking foes a worry for her).

In the early game, Kyra acts as a sort of high move power tank (at least, compared to other characters in the early game). Though she can take hits with Brute Force, it's best she not be on the receiving end so that Brute Force can last longer.

Zippy - Zippy starts with high acting speed, but everything else about him at the start is average. His strongest early customization options include large boosts to Stealth Damage, movement speed and acting speed.

Stealth Damage is useful with Rifles and Rocket Launchers (though Zippy doesn't specialize in them), but also apply obviously to Combat Knives, which are not only something movement speed can help with to catch up to patrolling enemies without alerting their friends, but Zippy can gain great damage boosts to Combat Knives and dual wield them for more damage, making Zippy a very useful for stealth character.

Zippy's acting speed can combine nicely with his Sulfur Ball Tree, which includes Quick Throw (to make his attacks faster). His Unarmed Tree has Snatch, which cause Unarmed attacks to gain ammo. This combination can make Zippy great against Miners in the early game, as he will quickly unleash several Sulfur Balls before anyone else gets a turn, punch to refill, and repeat, and is useful for facing down not just Miners, but large groups.

Miranda - Miranda starts off with low Attack (10), but has access to Heal and has some boosts to it. Though a lot of her abilities focus on healing, buffing, support and some debuffing, what is probably Miranda's greatest contribution to early level teams is her stealth capabilities. Unlike Zippy, who excels in stealth damage, Miranda's strong points are in avoiding detection, making her very useful for dealing with difficult dungeons.

Miranda's Stealth Tree nets her 16 Stealth Competencies, her Combat Knife Tree has 6 and her C4 Tree has 6, totalling to 28 (enemies that are not snipers, Phantoms or Spectres are completely blinded at 40 total for a team). Her Combat Knife Tree gives her Monster of the Dark, which outside of combat makes the party invisible for a short time, and her C4 Tree has Calamity, which causes enemies running to investigate a noise to be blind.

Though Miranda's low Attack makes her less useful for attacking from stealth, she is great for allowing a team to travel undetected through some of the most heavily guarded areas.

Noah - Noah has low Attack (10) which cannot be boosted, but Noah is the ultimate support character for early levels. He starts with Heal and the power can be upgraded to incredible levels for just a few points (6 points will heal for 200, which fully heals Craig at his base HP).

Where Noah really stands out in the early game is the fact that he can summon BOTH Drones and Golems from the start. Though his focus is more on Drones (and may be a good point to start customizing from), he can bring in 6 temporary allies (3 Drones and 3 Golems), which not only provide more damage, but act as other entities for enemies to target. Every shot not directed at your team (and better yet, at a high defense Golem) is for the best.

Erica - Erica starts out with below average stats (75 for HP, 15 for Attack), but she has a variety of abilities to aid in her versatility, including Fire Shot (she is one of two starting allies to have this) and Vital Shot. Vital Shot is a rechargeable unlimited range drain attack. While initially weak, investing 8 points into Vital Shot across 2 Trees can cause Vital Shot to not only heal the party, but triple the damage of their next attacks, as well, making Erica a powerful early game buffer. These 8 points also boost her Recharge Rate, allowing her to keep providing healing and attack boosts at a constant rate.

However, in the early game, especially for dungeons (and even moreso for the tougher world map dungeons), Golems are incredibly useful to have around. It may be best to invest into Golems, and 5 points will cause Erica's Golems to deal 450 damage per hit, making them able to go toe-to-toe with just about anything. In fact, with Erica in your party, you may find that her Golems will do most of the grunt work for those tough early level fights!

Lucia - Lucia starts off with horrible HP (50), but high Attack (30). She also begins with Fire Shot, as well as the status ailment abilities Debuff and Illusion. That said, I've found I've always taken the same customization path with Lucia: Invest 6 points into Elemental to gain the area-of-effect Napalm Ball, invest 6 more in Offense to boost her Attack to 100, then put 6 more points into the rest of Elemental for more Fire Damage boosts and Recharge Rate for Fire Shot. Lucia's all about offense, so why not?

Napalm Ball, in particular, is the big one to get early for Lucia: 3 uses, large area of effect, 2x Fire Damage. Though Erica can learn it (and her acquisition of this ability would still benefit the team greatly), Lucia's higher Fire Damage and vastly higher Attack make her use of this more important. With this setup, Fire Shot will eliminate just about any enemy in one shot, save for Phantoms or Miners, and Napalm Ball can take down just about any group of enemies. Powerful Indestructibles or sturdy Coheres gathered to guard a door in mass numbers? They'll all be gone with just a single Napalm Ball from Lucia.

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