A guide for people who are familiar with the basics, but struggle with the harder combat encounters.
Can you drag a combat team through the Pit if you avoid the tougher encounters, only to not be able to handle a single encounter in chapter 2 onward? Have you read the advice on selecting combat feats, throwing consumables, and tagging combat skills, but you still die horribly whenever you attempt to follow someone’s build? I was there once, now I consider soloing Bart to be easy. This guide will try to explain to you how to build a good character and perform well in combat, assuming you already know the basics.
Note: This guide focuses on the solo playstyle, which I find much more fun. Also, since the game is in early access a lot of what’s here may become obsolete.
The biggest rule of combat is that the best defense is a good offense. Offensive feats will help you kill enemies, and in turn those killed enemies won’t be attacking you. Outside of meme builds, you should not be taking defensive feats. Instead, rely on initiative, grenades, and gadgets to handle defense.
Another thing to keep in mind is this: defense does not make you invincible, it only gives you more time before you die.
That being said, here are the three forms of defense:
DR: Shields and natural dr will reduce damage at a 1 to 1 rate, while armor dr is subject to penetration. That fancy riot leg armor won’t give much protection against frogs and their 50% penetration bites. An extra point of dr will give you 1 effective health per enemy attack. Compared to regeneration, this is almost always better.
Regeneration: Gives you health per turn. Since combat usually lasts 3-5 turns, this doesn’t amount to much effective hp. However, in very protracted fights where stats get bottomed out your regeneration can be what saves the day.
Evasion: Evasion eliminates half of accuracy and converts the other half to graze. Outside of very specific builds, you won’t be Neo. Instead, evasion works alongside other defenses by stopping a few hits and converting a few hits to grazes. When considering what armor to wear, keep in mind that one 8 damage attack missing gives the same effective hp as 1 dr against 8 attacks. A little penalty is fine if the bonuses are significant, but please don’t bottom out your evasion by putting on riot leg gear with -26 in unmitigated penalties.
Gas: Your best friend. These will lay down a 3 turn zone where any enemy in the zone gets permanent stat penalties and damage over time. Even with 50% toxic resist, enemies will take 2 points of STR, DEX, and PER damage, making them much less accurate and evasive while reducing their ap almost as much as a flashbang. If it’s a hard encounter and you can hit 3+ enemies, go for it. Their supply isn’t infinite, but you can afford to throw 1 in difficult encounters and 2-3 in super hard encounters. Keep in mind that there are very few opportunities to use these in chapter 3 onwards, since the majority of enemies will be immune.
Flashbangs: 1 turn stasis grenades with a huge radius. They’re duration is short so if you want to rely on them for a few turns you’ll burn through them fast. These are most useful in fights where you have allies, who will take advantage of the reduced evade.
Smoke: With high thermal vision you can make yourself invincible for 3 turns while shooting at enemies with impunity. The problem with these is you’re spending ap on something that doesn’t help you kill enemies, just stay alive longer. I would use these if there isn’t a good opportunity to use the other grenades or if you’re just running low on stocks. They can help if you just need a couple more turns to survive and deal damage.
Note on rare grenades: Stop hoarding! You have more than enough rare grenades for the super hard encounters. On my first successful full combat playthrough where I did all the hard fights I spent two disruptors and two gas grenades on Bart, 2 pulse and 2 disruptors on Great Mother, and 2 stasis, 2 pulse, 2 disruptors, and a gas on Shadow with turrets. Now I can get by with a lot less, but the point is you’re not going to screw yourself if you need to chuck a disruptor during a big fight. Proper consumable usage is the biggest hurdle you will need to get over in order to excel.
Disruptor: Takes away almost all ap and evasion from enemies is a large area for 3 turns. Also does a small amount of damage over time. Neural resistance is very rare, so you can use these in pretty much any situation. You get more of these than you think, especially if you side with Jonas.
Stasis: Removes entities from play in a very small radius for 3 turns. These are pretty rare, but a grenade in the field is worth more than infinite grenades in your pocket. Use these to put a troublesome enemy or two on pause while you deal with the rest. You can stasis your allies to save them, or stasis yourself if you want to troll the enemy by waiting out their zerk stim/gadget. Entities coming out of stasis suffer a heavy ap and accuracy debuff.
Pulse: Disables gadgets or shields, and does damage based on implant number. Also does decent damage to robots. I’d save these for enemies that need to die immediately but have a gadget, or shielded turrets. You get almost as many of these as normal grenades, but I’d save as much of them as you can for shielded turrets and the monk fight.
Healing: You get loads of these from enemies who die before they can use theirs. Don’t worry about supply, you’ll have them by the dozen. Use them if you’re gonna die, or you can use them preemptively if you’re about to take huge damage. They have a small stat penalty so use them at the end of your turn, unless you’re so low that reaction fire could kill you.
Berserk: You get enough of these that if you use them only when you need to, you won’t have to buy any at shops. They give you more ap and better accuracy for a few turns, then give you a heavy stat penalty. Make sure you’ll be able to finish off the encounter when it runs out.
Note on timed effects: If you activate a gadget or inject a stim during deployment, you’ll have one less turn with it in effect as it’ll tick down the counter when it becomes your turn, even if you’re the first to act in a fight. This is one reason you want high initiative, you don’t want to be forced to use timed effects during deployment.
Zen: Use these against neural enemies. You get enough of them through loot.
Cloak: Following my build, you’ll only be able to get one once you can get entrance to the protector’s store in habitat. However, it’s the best gadget and once you get it you probably won’t ever take it off. It trivializes most stealth sections. In combat, enemies roll in order to be able to detect and act against you. You can clear smaller encounters before anyone is able to see you. For larger encounters, it’s about killing as many as possible before your cloak degrades. Cloak is going to go through some major reworks soon, but shouldn’t change that much. For now, beware, because while cloaked every enemy will do a reaction check against you every time you shoot, even if they haven’t detected you. This, however, isn’t a problem for fast runners.
Disruptor: Provides a temporary evasion boost, but not enough to be helpful. Hurts melee enemies, but not enough to be helpful. In Bart you can use it to get enemies to focus on Smiles instead. Other than that it converts quite a few shots into grazes. Helpful for you, but not helpful for the enemy if you’re running a graze SMG build.
Riot shield: Riot shields can keep you alive another turn and are most helpful in prolonged encounters, but battles tend to be short so the gadgets that are powerful but temporary tend to be much better. These prevent spitters from blinding you, but don’t prevent frogs from knocking you down.
Energy vest: Gives you an energy shield you don’t need to activate. Blocks 10 damage. The problem is the damage to shield happens before armor, so every attack will drain 10 damage. A couple bursts and there goes your shield. These do not block spitters, but do block frog knockdowns.
Your goal is to do as much damage as possible before you get killed. Pay attention to damage per ap. Aimed leg and arm cost 2 more ap than regular attack while doing the same damage. Aimed weakpoint costs 3 more, and aimed head costs 4 more. Unless an enemy is heavily armored, your best bet is to unload with regular or snap shots. Against heavily armored enemies, you’ll want to use aimed weakpoint.
Note: The build I’m going to recommend for your first full combat solo is going to be a graze based SMG build where you almost exclusively use 3x and 5x burst. Also, don’t play melee. It’s hard.
On initiative: When I was new to the game, I undervalued initiative. Take fast draw: why spend a feat on something that will only affect the first turn? The truth is this: if you move first, you can grenade the enemies, kill the most troublesome enemy, and use stims and gadgets without wasting a turn. If you move last, the enemies will reposition, grenade you, cripple you, and kill you before you have a chance to act.
General threat priority: Snipers > SMG > Assault Rifles > Shotguns > Pistols
Snipers will have great accuracy no matter what you do, and can bullseye you for an almost guaranteed knockdown. In Bart I kill the sniper at the bottom second, right after the flashbang enemy.
SMG users are dangerous for the same reason you will be dangerous when you follow my recommended build. Distortion field, smoke, cover, it doesn’t matter. They’ll spray you from across the map with 50% graze chance and their grazes are almost the same as regular hits.
Assault rifle users are dangerous for the same reason snipers and SMG users are dangerous, just less so in each role. They have good accuracy and damage, and can spray.
Shotgun users are like shorter range snipers. Double shot damage can add up, and a lucky crit will pretty much always end in your death.
Pistols are actually my favorite non SMG weapon, but pistol enemies just aren’t built to make the most of them.
Note on enemies with grenades: These guys will obviously fall outside the usual kill order. In Bart, I kill the enemy with a flashbang before he can act, but in the courthouse I use glareshield+work goggles to negate the flashbang as much as possible. If you’re playing with a party or allies, make sure you spread your guys out and try to have enemy grenades hit just one guy.
These guys have high dr and vampirism, you’ll probably have to break out the energy weapons in tougher encounters. I’d target these guys after neural enemies and before frogs. Their gas counts as both poison gas and smoke, so make sure to have good thermal vision. Note: Energy vest will almost entirely block their attacks.
Despite how scary bullfrogs are, I would go after spitters before bullfrogs if it means you won’t get blinded. Spitters do no next to no damage but will flashbang and poison the character they hit. If you can’t avoid them, try to get your optical resist and poison resist as high as possible. The fireman’s helmet is great for creature encounters.
They’ll bite you with high penetration, don’t bother trying to out armor these guys. Their crits will knock you down, if that happens the first turn might as well reload. In creature encounters, you generally want to target these guys last.
Kill these guys first. As well as being neural enemies, they also have low evasion and health. Don’t worry about the shield, it follows the same rules as the energy vest.
Note on neural enemies: The main issue with panic is massive ap reduction. If you’re going to take on neural encounters you’re going to want a party or a solo with very high ap. Always use zen stims when available.
Not as soft as advertised, they have extremely high dr for when you first encounter them. Use aimed weakpoint on these guys. I’d kill these guys after floaters and psykers.
Take them out first, as they do the most damage. Like mind worms, they have high dr. There aren’t any encounters together, but if there are in the future, I would kill these guys after psykers. For neural enemies, you want to reduce the amount of neural damage you’re taking as fast as possible.
As of writing I just avoid him. Someone else can give you better advice.
These guys have low accuracy but high graze. If they hit they’ll suppress you, taking away all your reaction for a turn. If you can get your dr really high you can just ignore these guys, otherwise they can be as dangerous as SMG users. As with all mechanical enemies, they have high dr, so use aimed weakpoint. If they need to die immediately, don’t feel too bad if you have to use a couple energy shots.
With these guys and robots, you’ll want to use energy weapons for the most part. Some come with energy shields, you’ll want to pulse grenade those down. I would target these down before robots.
I don’t have that much experience fighting robots after they got buffed. These guys will neural grenade you, so make sure to spread out.
Go all out on these guys. Use a pulse grenade on each, and use aimed weakpoint with energy weapons. Target priority: Tau Six, Delta Nine, then Azrael. Stasis Azrael at the start.
Strength: Dump stat. Recoil control is useless, you don’t need it for accurate double shots and it hardly affects graze on bursts. The bonus armor handling is useless, if you want to handle armor a full suit of combat armor just get a spine overclock and armored warfare. Even without it light armor doesn’t have that much less dr. Bonus melee damage is useless to gunners, which you better be.
Heroic: Juggernaut. You’re gonna have to find melee advice somewhere else.
Note: My build will have you at 6 so you can reach 8 with spine overclock and get controlled burst, which will let you shoot a couple more bullets per turn.
Put all spare points into this. Gives you more implants, which correspond to more points in other stats. This isn’t as good as it used to be, since it’s now 2 points per implant instead of 1. Con also gives you more hp, which is very important since having 0 hp means you die. If you have 40 hp you’ll die from an enemy or two focusing on you. Keep in mind: enemies will target based on who is putting out the most damage and who is most vulnerable. If you have more hp, you’ll be targeted less in group battles.
Heroic: Healing factor. It’s ok, but not the best. 70 hp vs 60 hp isn’t that big of a difference. For solos, the extra 2 implant slots are useless since one of those slots is the subliminal broadcaster. With 10 con and bionic, you can get all the implants that affect you. I’ll get more into implants later. As for the regeneration, it’s alright but see the defense section for why regeneration isn’t that useful. The stat healing is the real significant part. The only other place you’ll find stat healing is with the heart implant, and only when under 13 hp. However, this falls into the same problem as regeneration: fights tend not to last long. Yeah, in a prolonged engagement you’ll be unstoppable but those are rare, and you’ll need a evasion regen troll build to convert most encounters into prolonged engagements. You also get a “free tag” in biotech, which is nice.
You always want this to be at 10 or 8, 7 maybe if you’re running a full party. It gives you more action points to kill people with. Also a lot of stealth segments can be done with no stealth tag or feat if you have 18 or 20 ap. On top of this, dexterity gives you more initiative and evasion.
Heroic: Fast runner. Amazing feat, it doesn’t even require you to over-invest in a stat as you should already pump dexterity as high as possible. Gives you an insane 6 movement ap, which you can use to either run across the map without spending gun ap or stand in place and gain 6 evasion. You get insane initiative, acting first in pretty much every combat encounter. You get a “free tag” in evasion, which you can add another tag on top to get super high evasion. On top of all this, enemy reactions are disabled. Run around and miss with impunity, you are no longer stuck to a spot. You won’t get shot and smacked 3 times every time you slightly reposition. An amazing feat for both offense and defense, guess what heroic my recommended build will use?
You want this to be at 10 if you’re running a crit build, else set it at 6 so you can push it to 8 for the penetration feat. Perception doesn’t actually do that much to affect accuracy, you mostly want this to meet feat requirements. Feel free to drop it to 4 if you’re playing a full party and want a character with both high INT and CHA.
Heroic: Dodge this. You’ll get super high crit with this, a tag on crit isn’t necessary. Crit builds are powerful, more powerful than the graze SMG build I will recommend. The problem is they require some amount of thinking to play. Have a successful run with graze SMG before you give them a try.
You want this to be either 4 or 8/10. Given that checks come in pairs, it’s not that helpful to just tag computers or lockpick. With 4 int you can get 2 tags with education, 3 with overclocked brain implant. The only tags you need are weapon and biotech.
Heroic: Mastermind. Hybrids are powerful but harder than combat only given they have to invest 6 attribute points into INT. Similar to dodge this: give it a try after you can beat combat with a combat monster.
Charisma: Dump stat lol. Go somewhere else for party advice.
Heroic: Cult leader. See above.
You want to tag your weapon skill. After that, crit/biotech if you’re going for crits. After that, biotech/evasion. For masterminds, tag weapon, biotech, computer, lockpick. Then, electronics. Then, evasion/sneak.
Put them on all your combat skills.
Important for feat perception requirements. Also has very useful upgrades, namely glareshield. Glareshield + fireman helmet will let you ignore smoke and flashbangs.
Important for DEX requirements, has some ok upgrades. More ap is nice.
The exp bonus is not as significant as you might think. Overclocked gives you an extra tag, but you should already have enough tags. Has decent upgrades.
Used to give armored warfare to 4 STR characters. If you’re a mastermind with feats to spare this is pretty good. Also has decent upgrades.
As always, regen isn’t that useful. Tox resist is. Overclocked you can get 5 regen with upgrade and 100% resist with a 50% respirator.
It’s nat dr, which is the best kind of defense. You can overclock to +2 nat dr and upgrade for +2 energy armor.
Fast Runner, lone wolf, gunfighter, (educated and sprayer), (controlled burst and big game hunter), opportunist… Take educated 5th if you can get enough xp chapter 1, else take it 4th. You want to tag biotech with your second tag and harvest all you can chapter 1. Level 6 and onwards won’t make or break you. Here I recommended a few good ones.
Use only 3x and 5x burst unless against a very high DR enemy. Prefer one handed SMGs, they have much better ap breakpoints. You’ll have to buy out all the 9mm available in the pit.