Encased Basic Gameplay Guide

Character Creation Part One: Wing And Attributes

Welcome to the world of Encased. This game wears its Interplay Fallout inspirations on its sleeve so many terms and terminology are carried over. This guide is meant to give new players a bit of background knowledge and as a reference for veteran players.

Wing

Your first step into Encased involves you choosing a Wing to belong to. Now this is more Skyrim than it is Final Fantasy; a Wing gives you a unique Perk reflecting your Wing's aptitudes, has a modest effect on your starting equipment and has some impact on the story. Certain dialogue options are only open to certain Wings which tend to award XP rather than solve quests.

A brief rundown is as follows:

Black Wing: Military, police and security

+1 Muscle, +20 Fortitude, +15 Heavy Weapons, +15 Hand to Hand, +15 Melee Weapons, +20 Piloting

Blue Wing: Technicians

+1 Guts, +10 Learnability, +10 Melee Weapons, +15 Contraptions, +15 Tech

Orange: Menial labourers, all of whom are convicted criminals

+1 Deftness, +30 Encumbrance, +20 Criminal, +20 Survival

Silver Wing: Management and administration

+1 Charisma, +2 Skill points per level, +20 Psionics, +20 Influence

White Wing: Science and engineering

+1 Brains, +10 High-Tech Weapons, +15 Medicine, +15 Science, +20 Biochemical Resistance

In general your starting gear will be your Wing's standard uniform and a weapon in which your Wing is skilled. It is possible for Black Wing characters for example to start the game with a machine gun. The uniforms have a variety of features, they grant various resistances but tend to also have drawbacks. Silver Wing uniforms are great at inspiring a crowd, not so good at dodging bullets for example. Personally I have found Silver and Black Wing characters have the easiest time of it. Silver Wing gets a lot of access and their +2 skill points a level snowball really quickly. Black Wing characters get some delicious heavy armour and firepower early on which makes combat much easier. Blues also have a decent bonus (+10 Learnability translates to free experience points) but there are relatively few dialogue options involving the Blue Wing.

Attributes

Ye olde RPG standard. Your character may not be S.P.E.C.I.A.L. but they do have defining characteristics in the form of Attributes. During character creation you will have 45 points to spend on these and they are precious. There are not many ways to increase Attributes permanently in game. Two Perks can do it and some Skill Capstones also give permanent bonuses. Otherwise drugs, which often lead to nasty addiction or side effects, can give a temporary boost.

Attributes give the base rating for a given set of skills and often affect secondary statistics. There are quite a few Attribute checks in the game, not all of which are spelled out for the player. It is entirely possible for an option to be completely absent should the player not have the right attributes.

Many perks and certain Skill Abilities also require a decent rating in an Attribute, cross-reference with other guides already available on Steam to find out which. Generally a score of 6 is sufficient for most needs unless the Attribute is central to your play style. Note that there is a Perk at level 15 that will give you +1 to all you lowest ranked Attributes and another that will give you +1 to all Attributes if all of them are at least 5 or better.

Do be advised that many Combat Skill Activated Abilities often use Attributes as part of their damage calculations.

Muscle

Skills Affected: Heavy Weapons, Melee Weapons, Tech

Secondary Statistics: Hit Points, Encumbrance, Close Quarter Damage

Other uses: Bashing open locks, digging up buried treasures

Muscle is also a prerequisite of many Heavy Weapons (4 will let you use shotguns, 6 is needed for heavier weapons). Ironically, it is also the easiest Attribute to ignore as the game does let you obtain Servoshells (ie Fallout style Power Armor that adds to Muscle) later on. Fair warning though, this is someways into the First Act and requires some tech skills to repair a damaged Servoshell you receive. Other Servoshells are available in the Second Act and later.

Perception

Skills Affected: Light Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Hi Tech Weapons, Piloting

Secondary Statistics: Initiative, Precision, Evasion, Learnability

Other Uses: Detecting traps, finding hidden secrets, some dialogue options

Look at that list of things that Perception affects. Now ask yourself if you would be any good in a fight without it. Early on, Perception 8 is required to obtain a rather decent relic during the Prologue.

Guts

Skills Affected: Melee Weapons, Survival

Secondary Statistics: Hit Points, Regeneration, Encumbrance, Defense Class, Fortitude

Other Uses: Certain dialogue options, notably those that require you to not die from sudden, catastrophic injury. The stats that are governed by Guts also reflect your survivability.

Charisma

Skills Affected: Influence, Medicine

Secondary Statistics: Authority, Inspiration

Other Uses: A LOT of dialogue options are influenced by Charisma or by skills governed by Charisma. This is an RPG, only the PC can use dialogue skills.

Brains

Skills Affected: High-Tech Weapons, Medicine, Tech, Science

Secondary Statistics: Saved Action Points, Skill Points per Level

Other Uses: Many dialogue options that ask if you're smarter than the average bear.

There is a special Trait, As a Bag of Hammers that require you to play a low intelligence character. Effectively mentally retarded and incapable of speech, you also get certain Skill Abilities that other characters cannot access.

Deftness

Skills Affected: Light Weapon, Hand to Hand, Criminal, Contraptions

Secondary Statistics: Starting Action Points, Action Points, Movement Speed, Initiative, Evasion

Other Uses: Dialogue checks for you to get out of the way of that incoming train

Another vital combat Attribute. If you have played the Isometric Fallouts, you will know just how incredibly, vitally, indescribably precious Action Points are. They are spent in combat to move, attack, reload, use skills and items. In other words without them you might as well be a paperweight. There are certain Debuffs that affect Action Points in the game, it would be a shame if your Heavy Weapons character could not shoot due to having insufficient Action Points per turn.

Fortune

Skills Affected: Contraptions, Piloting, Criminal

Secondary Statistics: Action Points, Critical Chance

Other Uses: "Lucky Finds" which give you excellent loot if you can get them

Psyche

Skills Affected: Psionics

Secondary Statistics: Resilience, Learnability

Other Uses: Psychic chicanery such as psychometry, low level clairvoyance and telepathy.

In isolation, the weakest of the Attributes. Unless you are going for a full on Psychic build there is very little reason to invest in Psyche

Character Creation: Secondary Statistics And Resistances

By now you might be scratching your head when the Attribute list includes things like Fortitude, Resilience or Learnability. These are part of a whole plethora of secondary statistics calculated in the game based on your Attributes, Abilities (more on them later) and equipment. A fair number of status effects also impact Secondary Statistics so fair warning, don't stand in water if the enemy is using a Cryogenic Laser.

Secondary Statistics

Hit Points: How much damage you can take before dying.

Regeneration: How many HP you heal naturally a day. Take a look at this number. It is a small number, a pathetic number, a rookie number. Sleeping and natural healing is a pittance compared to a mid level character's HP pool so you will need to find other sources of healing

Close Quarters Damage: How punchy you are

Learnability: Also called "Learning Ability" it functions as a percentage modifier to experience points earned. If it is below 100, you are earning less than the full XP per encounter. Blues effectively get a 10% XP bonus from their Wing Perk.

Initiative: Your turn order in combat. Can be safely ignored for the PC during lower difficulty settings as the PC always goes first in any difficulty below Classic.

Precision: Your chance to hit. Ignore this at your peril.

Encumbrance: How much sweet, sweet loot you can carry.

Inspiration: Aside from giving rousing speeches in dialogue, it gives a buff to Companion Evasion if its a positive number.

Authority: How much of a leader you are and how well you instantly command respect in dialogue. It gives a buff to Companion Critical Chance if its a positive number.

Movement Speed: How far you can move in 1AP. Does not have a huge difference in open world travel. It also comes in small enough numbers that even a decimal point can prove significant.

Critical Hit Chance: Critical hits do more damage, how much more depends on the weapon.

Psionic Damage: Your base damage with psionic gloves. Really, the main reason to spec into Psyche.

Skill Points per Level: Try to keep it at 15 or better. Each skill tree has new Abilities every 30 points. Thus 2 levels = 1 new set of Abilities makes for a decent rate of advancement.

Detection Time: How long (in seconds) before someone detects you sneaking about. Redundant for Black Wing characters who are piloting walking tanks anyway (and thus cannot sneak).

Resistances

Aside from resistances to the various types of damage you can receive during your adventures (and thus are self-explanatory), there are some that require a bit of exposition.

Defense Class: Armour class by any other name, gives you a chance to shrug off a hit with no damage

Fortitude: Your constitution save against any sort of physical status effect.

Resilience: Your will save against any sort of mental status effect

Evasion: Your chance to dodge any incoming attack

Character Creation: Skills And Abilities Overview

Overview

Under the "Abilities" tab you have a whole list of skills that govern your character's Abilities. Each skill tree offers up to 4 Abilities every 30 points which then can be further subdivided into Passive Abilities and Active Abilities. The Skill Tree is rather incestuous as you often need ranks in other skills, Attribute scores or the occasional As a Bag of Hammers trait to access an Ability.

Each Skill Tree has 17 Abilities; four from skill levels 30-120 and the Skill Capstone Ability at level 150. Most Capstones are pretty powerful and many Abilities at lower skill ranks are crucial for your progress in game. Generally if a task requires an Ability and you do not have it, it does not matter how high the skill is, you still cannot attempt it. The only exception is if you have a Tool that gives a bonus to the skill.

For example Lockpicking is accessed at Criminal Rank 30, Tech Rank 15. Until then you cannot pick locks even if you have a higher Criminal Skill Rank higher than the lock's difficulty. You can however use a Tool (lockpicks) if you have one to bypass this requirement. Tools add to Skill Ranks for the purposes of tasks but inevitably break after a set number of uses.

Traits, Attributes and assigned Skill Points permanently raise a skill and grant you access to its abilities. Bonuses from equipment, Abilities and some Perks do not. They raise the skill level for checks but have no effect on whether you have access to Abilities. In game you will find a lot of Skill Magazines that can give a bonus to skills for 600 turns, these are meant for you to pass particular checks that are too high for your current skill rank. The only exception to this are Skill Books which give a permanent +15 increase to a Skill and can grant access to abilities. A rare and valuable find indeed since they effectively give you a level's worth of progression towards a skill. That said, bonuses from Equipment, Perks and Abilities, despite not granting access to Abilities, do have their niche. Your character has a maximum of 150 skill ranks in any skill. A maximum which does not count these bonuses. Thus they allow you to surpass the Skill Cap for those extra hard challenges. Like stealing the New Committee Chairwoman's personal firearm.

At character creation, your skills are mainly based on your Attributes and you have three Tagged Skills to select. Tagging a skill adds 30 points to it, unlocking the first tier of Abilities. It is recommended to select at least one Combat Skill and one Applied Skill as Tagged skills. Influence helps greatly in dialogue and Criminal is essential for lockpicking. That said, many essential functions (lockpicking, hacking, trap disarmament, grenade throwing, persuasion, cooking, reconnaissance, etc) are locked behind first tier Abilities. This encourages you to spread your skill points early on since a lot of game progress relies on them.

Character Creation: Combat Skills, Abilities And The Weapons Who Love Them

Combat skills keep you alive in the harsh environment of the Dome. Any character in theory can pick up any weapon and use it but investing skill points into Combat Skills makes you so much better at it. The vast majority of Abilities associated with the Combat Skill Trees are Activated Abilities that give you far more options in combat. That said, not all weapons are created equal; every weapon you find has a big honking huge number on it. That is the weapon's upgrade level. The higher it is, the more "advanced" a model it is and the better its stats. Weapons can be upgraded by a combination of special Manuals and crafting materials.

Weapons can also be level locked. Do not be surprised that you have not encountered a grenade launcher until sometime in your early teens in terms of level. Some weapons are also ammunition hungry. In a game where ammunition can be scarce, it is best to save automatic fire for when you really, really need it.

Light Weapons

Weapons: Handguns, Assault Rifles, Submachine Guns, Shotguns

Overview: Conventional firearms. Cheap, plentiful, light and generally all deal Mechanical damage. This can be a problem when facing things highly resistant to Mechanical Damage.

Heavy Weapons

Weapons: Tactical Rifles, Machine Guns, Grenade Launchers, Disc Throwers

Overview: Squad level weaponry. Most specialize in dealing damage to more than one person, allowing for crowd control. They also tend to be heavy, expensive and slow down the user terribly. Some weapons impose a steep Initiative penalty. Also a weapon class heavily dependent on Mechanical Damage. Too bad flamethrowers were removed from this class and moved to High-Tech Weapons. The Tactical Rifle deserves mention as one of the few long ranged options available.

High-Tech Weapons

Weapons: Energy Pistol, Flamethrower, Penetrator, Cryolaser, Dart Gun

Overview: Weapons that tend to do exotic damage types; everything from Biochemical to Cryo damage. The go-to weapon class for the brainy types, it tends to over-perform simply because not as many enemies are resistant to the weird plethora of damage types that High-Tech Weapons can supply.

Hand to Hand

Weapons: Brass Knuckles, Cestus

Overview: The old fashioned art of brawling. The Manliest and Oldest art of combat. When fighting eldritch abominations with your bare hands, one does tend to review your life choices though. While it does supply a high number of Activated Abilities to pummel your enemies senseless, more than any other Combat Skill, it does tend to get you in sticky situations. Enemies are either melee, who will surround you and start curbstomping you, or ranged who will riddle you with bullets from a distance like the entire doctrine of modern warfare.

Melee Weapons

Weapons: Blunt, Bladed

Overview: Take what was said about Hand to Hand and then subdivide the number of Activated Abilities between Bladed and Blunt in a 1:2 ratio. Bladed gets half as many Activated Abilities in exchange for greater damage potential. You will still need some decent armour to survive going into melee range of a pack of wolpers though.

Contraptions

Weapons: Grenades and Gadgets

Overview: Aside from the core abilities to throw grenades and disarm traps at skill rank 30, Contraptions is the odd duck of the Combat Skills since they basically let you use a whole bunch of wonderful, expendable toys rather than being confined to a weapon class. Personal Teleporters, your own darned Jetpack, holographic decoys and even a mini nuke are all under the purview of this skill. Without it, all of them are essentially vendor trash.

Psionic

Weapons: Psionic Gloves which come in four flavours of damage; psionic, heat, cold and energy

Overview: Another odd duck. Psionic weapons do not require ammunition and never jam. In return their damage tends to be on the low side. That said, not that many enemies are resistant to psionic damage and having two gloves on means having up to eight Active Abilities to call upon. The real meat of the Psionic Weapons Tree are the Psychic Powers. Each type of Glove does not only do a different kind of damage but it also allows access to a different set of Active Abilities. In general Psychic Powers tend to be good at damage over time effects, crowd control and buffs. Ironically this pairs well with melee builds since you can, with a minimum of investment, use a teleportation ability to move enemies around the battlefield for fun, profit and righteous beatings.

Character Creation: Applied Skills And Living In The Post Apocalypse

Applied Skills are basically your professional skillset (given that your profession is not making other people dead from liberally applied trauma). This is where many important core Abilities lie and where the Skill Tree can get a tad convoluted.

Piloting

Core Abilities: Car Driving (Piloting 30, Tech 20)

Notable Abilities: Melee in Servoshell (Piloting 90) that gives you bonuses for fighting in melee while in power armour

Overview: An often neglected skill tree because it lets you drive various vehicles and get bonuses while wearing Servoshell Powered Armour. Since you cannot sneak, use vents or move very fast in one, it is not to everyone's playstyle. Still there is something to be said about being a walking tank.

Medicine

Core Abilities: First Aid (Medicine 30), Pharmacology (Medicine 60)

Notable Abilities: Being able to cure all those pesky things afflicting you. Like near lethal trauma.

Overview: An invaluable skill which can save tons of money just with a relatively small investment. The first tier abilities already let you heal 70% of your health for 100 Fatigue (a bargain), radiation, bleeding and poisons. Another 30 points lets you craft your own medicine for when you really need it. Ironically contains two Bladed Weapon skills based on scalpel work.

Tech

Core Abilities: Gunsmithing, Repair, Robot Maintenance (all Tech 30)

Notable Abilities: Reinforced Shielding (Tech 90) has the potential to double your DC if you are not wearing heavy armour.

Overview: Want to craft ammunition and weapons? Here's your Skill Tree. There are plenty of times a malfunctional device is causing problems you have to fix (it is the post apocalypse after all) and you can get at least one robot companion.

Science

Core Abilities: Hacking (Science 30), High-Tech Modifications (Science 60)

Notable Abilities: Smartypants (Science 60) adds 10% to all XP earned.

Overview: A skill tree that makes other skill trees better. Science is full of passive buffs to different kinds of damage (mainly of the High-Tech Weapon Class) and has what you need to upgrade High Tech weapons. Given that those are the favoured firearm of the White Wing, that really is not too surprising. Has the worst Capstone Ability which simply gives you one extra level.

Criminal

Core Abilities: Pickpocket (Criminal 30), Lockpicking (Criminal 30, Tech 15)

Notable Abilities: Smooth Operator (Criminal 150), Criminal's Capstone gives you a sweet +1 Deftness. Not only is it a precious Attribute point, it is in one of the best Attributes.

Overview: Unsurprisingly centered on Stealth and Larceny. Many of the Abilities come with drawbacks, something other Abilities rarely do, but the Capstone is pretty good. People are investing in it anyway so that they can steal everything not nailed down.

Influence

Core Abilities: Barter, Charm (Charisma 6), Intimidation (Muscle 6), Conviction (Brains 6)

Notable Abilities: Art of Excuse (Influence 90), gives +15 to Criminal thanks to you being such a smooth operator.

Overview: ALL of the Dialogue skills are here in one tree. Without at least 30 points in this skill forget about non-violent solutions. Also provides a decent amount of buffs to Companions making this skill something of a force multiplier.

Survival

Core Abilities: Cookery (Survival 30), Reconnaissance (Survival 30, Perception 6)

Notable Abilities: Relic Expert (Survival 120) which gives you a free relic slot and Seasoned Wanderer (Survival 150), the Capstone Ability which gives you +1 Guts.

Overview: Lets you cook the meat of most things you kill which can do for a meal in a pinch. Far more important is the ability to see what is in a Random Encounter before you choose to engage.

Character Customization: Traits And Perks

Phew! After all that, we finally hit the homestretch. Of the Character Building part of this guide anyway. There are two more parts to a character and they are Traits and Quirks.

Traits

Traits are more or less the same as those in Interplay's Fallout games. A malus somewhere for a boon somewhere else. There is a long list of them and it heavily depends on what build you have and what sort of play style you intend but two Traits stand out.

Penitent One gives you +10 to all skills which makes the early game goal of reaching 30 ranks in many skills somewhat easier. It also makes you more vulnerable to critical hits. If you think you can survive that, it could be worth all those skill points.

Speaking of which, Gun Fanatic gives you a massive +40 to Light Weapons, Heavy Weapons and High-Tech weapons. Each. This could easily unlock third tier Abilities for a Black Wing or second tier Abilities for a White Wing from the very start of the game. This means that you can wreck just about every encounter until the end of Act One all by your lonesome. The trade-off? A huge hit to initiative. Which does not matter at lower difficulty levels. And if you are an intrepid gamer challenging higher difficulties? A Heavy Weapon already puts such a penalty to Initiative that you will be going last anyway. Best trait hands down.

Perks

Another old friend from Fallout, Perks are obtained every three levels by default starting from level 3. This is where it gets finnicky. A lot of the best perks are locked behind Attribute requirements. Sometimes rather steep Attribute requirements. Rather than list every perk, I will just do the most notable here.

Observant

Requirements: Perception 6

Effects: +3 Skill Points per level

Here, right here, is your first perk at level 3. A double digit percentage increase in your skill progression per level with a very reasonable requirement. And it has its greatest effect if you take it early as it is not retroactive.

Optimizer

Requirements: Science 40, Tech 40

Effects: +25 Encumbrance, +40 Contraptions

Carrying more gear is good. Getting +40 to a skill that is used for hurling mini nukes at people? Even better!

Healing Factor

Requirements: Guts 6, Psyche 6

Effects: Heal 10HP per combat round so long as you are under 50% of your max HP.

Healing can be hard to come by in this game until you invest 30 points in Medicine. Being able to heal passively in combat can be pretty useful, especially if you are a melee build and tend to soak up all the damage from the enemy.

Renaissance Person

Requirements: 5 in all Attributes

Effects: +1 to all Attributes.

The best argument in this game for a balanced build.

Rising Star

Requirements: Charisma 6

Effects: +25 Reputation in all Wings, +30 Influence

A huge buff to speech skills with everyone suddenly liking you better as icing on the cake. Makes a lot of early quests easier.

Sturdy

Requirements: NONE!

Effects: +3 HP per level, both anterograde and retrograde.

So basically you add +3 HP for every level you have and will have. Good at later levels but needs level 17 to outshine Roaring Good Health.

The Art of War

Requirements: Muscle 7

Effects: +7 Initiative, +7 Resilience

A perk tailor made for Black Wing as they easily fulfill the requirement and it adds to two stats they have problems with.

The Voice

Requirements: Psyche < 2

Effects: +3 Starting AP, +3 AP, +3 Max AP

If you used the character builder to make a Black Wing, you will find the default Psyche is 1. This is why. It is a massive increase in your combat lethality for sucking at something you already suck at anyway. Fair warning though, you will need to buff your Resilience or save scum to get around its drawbacks.

Roaring Good Health

Requirements: NONE!

Effects: +50 HP

And now we add massive survivability to the mix. 50HP is nothing to sneeze at when you are level 15 and have 300HP. It is a really big deal at level 3 when you basically double your health pool.

Badass

Requirements: Charisma 6

Effects: +15 Fortitude, +15 Resilience

Basically convincing yourself that bad status effects only happen to other people.

Happy Coincidences

Requirements: Level 6, Fortune 6

Effects: Add Fortune x 2 to your Evasion

And suddenly a lot more shots miss you. Worth it, especially if you built a dodge tank.

Mysterious Patronage

Requirements: Level 9, Charisma 9, Perception 9

Effects: -1 perks rate

The game's best argument against a balanced build. The requirements are steep but to get a perk every 2 levels rather than 3 is a massive leg up in power. Look at all the good perks that do not even have a level requirement....

Armadillo

Requirements: Level 12, Deftness 4, Guts 4

Effects: +5 Defense Class, no disadvantage from being attacked from behind

The bonus to defense is great, the extra is just for fun since why are you not facing the enemy? What's that? You're a melee build and are constantly surrounded by disgusting creatures trying to eat your face? Good thing you took that Perk!

Intensive Training

Requirements: Level 12, Muscle 4, Brains 4

Effects: +3 Max AP, +1 Starting AP, +1 AP

The Voice's somewhat less impressive kid brother. Arranging a reunion is not only heartwarming but it will help you shoot all the things.

Evolution

Requirements: Level 12, Muscle 4, Psyche 4

Effects: +4 Close Quarters Damage, +4 Psionic Damage

Seeing as Psionics are a good pairing with melee weapons, this actually is pretty useful. A decent little damage boost to something you are already doing. At least until you get the psi-katana and get your Jedi on.

Second Skin

Requirements: Level 12, Deftness 4, Psyche 4

Effects: +15 Evasion in a Servoshell

Totally not worth the benefit of The Voice if you are a shooter. A melee/Psychic build that runs around punching people in power armour on the other hand can appreciate the extra defenses.

Jackal

Requirements: Level 12, Perception 4, Charisma 4

Effects: +12 Critical Hit Chance

When you just want to pop some heads. +12 Crit chance is pretty good, that's more than most builds have.

Soldier of Fortune

Requirements: Level 15, Fortune 10

Effects: For each enemy killed, +100% damage for one round

Take Jackal at level 12, combine with The Voice and perhaps Intensive Training. Congratulations, you are now essentially Rambo. Kill minions and work your way up to the boss all in one round.

Attack Reroll

Requirements: Level 15

Effects: 33% chance to reset your cooldown when using an ability.

A bit of luck involved but it does proc often enough to be worth it.

Self-Improvement

Requirements: Level 15

Effects: All your lowest Attributes go up by one point.

The second best argument for balanced builds.

All as Planned

Requirements: Level 15, Brains 10, Fortune 4

Effects: +100% Critical Chance on the first round of combat.

If not for the steep requirements, it would have made a perfect combination with Soldier of Fortune. As it stands, level 15 White Wing characters can put out a lot of hurt in the first round.

Companions Part One: Basics

Running around the Dome can be pretty lonesome. A lucky wanderer can hope to find some kindred spirits to share the road ahead. You on the other hand can recruit these NPCs to be your Companions. They will carry your burdens, maim your enemies and even sample your cooking under conscientious protest.

Some Companion basics:

1) Anything your Companions can do, you can do better.

Why? Most of them lack the required secondary skills or Attributes to unlock most of the Abilities in their Skill Trees. How did that happen? Well.....

2) Companions tend to be specialized. Like insects.

Most Companions have a Primary Combat Skill, a Secondary Combat Skill and an Applied Skill that they are really good at. All their other skills tend to be rubbish. The idea is for you to fill a niche that your player avatar does not fill. And to bring extra guns to the fight.

3) All Companions come with Unique Equipment that is unequippable.

The good news is that the gear they start with is pretty good for their level. It also usually has special properties like dealing a damage type not common to the Weapon Class they use. These weapons are upgradable and should receive some degree of priority for your favoured companions.

4) Getting rid of the goldfish poop gang.

Your Companions have the survival instinct of an emo, depressed lemming. They will walk over mines, into anomalies and even run away when you sprint up to heal them. To solve this, look at your Companion portraits at the top left hand corner of your screen. Notice that there is this link between each portrait that looks like a jewelry chain? Click on it to "unlock" it and that Companion will not follow after you until you click on it again to restore the link. Companions can also be unlinked from each other so that each moves independently. For example if you are setting them up in tactical positions prior to combat.

5) Companions can use Skills

They can be ordered to interact with any object in the world that requires a skill check. So long as it is not in dialogue so your PC has to do all the talking and skill checks. Remember to slot in their Activated Skills gained from their Applied Skills into their belt slots. Initially these are empty and can be assigned Active Applied Skills or Belt Items by either left clicking on an empty slot or right clicking to change an already assigned slot.

Companions Part Two: Recruitable Companions

Companions

Cheerful Jack

Primary Combat Skill: Melee Weapons

Secondary Combat Skill: Contraptions

Applied Skill: Tech

Unique Weapon: Mister Hammer (A hammer with a nice bonus to Initiative)

How to Recruit: Go to Magellan Station's Administrative Floor. There is a bar there. Speak with the patrons and one of them will offer you a quest. Go to the Abandoned Film Set and find a way past the minefield. Cheerful Jack is there and you will be attacked by waves of hyenas. Help him fight them off and kill enough of them to get a Reputation boost with Jack. He will then proceed to the bar at Magellan Station where you can recruit him.

Comments: As an actor, Jack has great Charisma but that is wasted on an NPC. His hammer is pretty decent and he can lob grenades at the enemy at range. Once he levels enough to use a jetpack or teleporter you can pretend that you are playing Warhammer 40K.

Crump

Primary Combat Skill: Hand to Hand

Secondary Combat Skill: Light Weapons

Applied Skill: Criminal and Survival at low levels

Unique Weapon: Vajra (Brass Knuckles with bonus Resistances)

How to Recruit: He is found at the diner in Junktown Slums where he is being confronted by some Black Wing members. Support Crump and they will leave to the empty lot next to the diner, near the walls, to fight it out. Join Crump in defeating the Black Wings and say that you both love violence and that it should be visited only on the deserving (BUTT-KICKING FOR GOODNESS!). Crump can be recruited at this point. Always taking his side and being ready to fight alongside Crump during his recruitment quest will win you some Reputation with him.

Comments: I will always have a soft spot for people like Minsc. Crump starts with pretty good Hand to Hand skill and his Vajra helps keep him alive. Giving him a shotgun can prove useful. He can plink away at the enemy from range and the Tier One Activated Skill for shotguns has a knockback effect for when his surroundings are getting a little too crowded. The Tier Two skill ladles out Fatigue damage liberally which can synergize well with his Hand to Hand skills that do the same.

Fox

Primary Combat Skill: Melee

Secondary Combat Skill: Psionics

Applied Skill: Criminal and Survival at very low levels

Unique Weapon: Fang Shiv (Shiv that does biochemical damage)

How to Recruit: Talk to the owner of the diner in Junktown Slums (same place as Crump) and ask if there is anything to do around here. She will tell you about the arena below her bar. Go there after dark and you will be allowed to compete in the Arena. Fight in a few matches until you face Fox herself. After defeating her, she will be at the fighter's room on the other side of the arena from where you come in, near where the Med-27 machine is. She can be recruited after a brief conversation.

Comments: I have always found Fox one of the stronger Companions. Her ability to zap an enemy into mauling range with Psychic Powers plays well with her strengths. Her Unique Weapon also bypasses a lot of those enemies with high Mechanical Resistance.

Katarzyna Belitskaya

Primary Combat Skill: High-Tech Weapons

Secondary Combat Skill: None

Applied Skill: Medicine and Science

Unique Weapon: My Ex's Heart Cryolaser (Funny name, seems to fire for 1 less AP than the same model of Cryolaser allowing it to fire a cascade of shots)

How to Recruit: She is at the door of the Junktown Slums. She will beg you to take her to Magellan Station. Pass the tests to gain citizenship and she will thank you before leaving the party. She can be found in the Laboratory and Medical Level, in the Laboratory half of the level. She is either walking around with her Cryolaser out or working at a desk next to the guy with whom you trade Research Points (Cronus and Forefather) for items. She will initially say that she is settling in. After about 24 hours she will be hiding her face and will join you again if you ask her. At that point she is a permanent member of the party. Offer to guide her to Magellan for free to gain more Reputation with her.

Comments: Being specialized in High-Tech Weapons and Science makes Katarzyna the prototypical White Wing. They feed into each other well since a good chunk of Science provides bonuses to damage types commonly found in High-Tech Weapons. She makes a decent supplement to ranged firepower by bringing exotic Damage Types that the rest of the party might lack. That she is also the best medic among the NPCs makes her invaluable when the player character lacks any such abilities.

Sparrow

Primary Combat Skill: Light Weapon

Secondary Combat Skill: Psionics

Applied Skill: Medicine

Unique Weapon: Justice (Handgun that does Biochemical Damage)

How to Recruit: Go to the Picnic Neutral Zone. On one of the signs is a note signed "S". It begins a quest at a Caravan location. Go there and Sparrow will interrupt a negotiation between bandits and the caravan's guards. Support Sparrow's actions, kill the bandits and talk to Sparrow. He is now recruitable and if you do not recruit him here, he can be found in the Picnic Neutral Zone.

Comments: Yes, he is Zorro, borrowed just about all the syllables of the name. Very funny Development Team. Sparrow has some skill at Psionics and Light Weapons. Two Weapon Classes that are known for their low damage. That his Unique Weapon is a handgun also harms him somewhat. He is serviceable in a combat role but he less synergy than Fox and is less shooty than Katarzyna or Yoko. His Medicine skill is largely wasted as he lacks the Science for much of the Abilities. He can only use First Aid out of all the tier one Activated Skills for example.

Yoko

Primary Combat Skill: Heavy Weapons

Secondary Combat Skill: High Tech Weapons

Applied Skill: NONE

Unique Weapon: Shiroyama (Tactical Rifle that does energy damage)

How to Recruit: On the Laboratory and Medical Floor of Magellan Station (in fact the same room Katarzyna is in), there is a single scientist seated behind a door surrounded by equipment. Go in and talk to him which will start the quest to find his missing robot. She is in a bunker in the Eastern part of the map. Travel there and either chase off or kill the people trying to get to the robot. Coax Yoko out of her room to gain a Reputation bonus with her. She will then leave the bunker and return to Magellan. Go back there again where you will need to use Charm (so a minimum Charisma of 6 and 30 in Influence) to convince the scientist to let Yoko travel with you. At this point you will need either Conviction (Brains 6) or Intimidation (Muscle 6) to continue the questline. Alternatively, join up with the Emulator Project in Junktown Slums to bypass this requirement. After this conversation, speak with Yoko and she will join your party.

Comments: This is the 1970s and her Japanese creator is already trying to outdo Atom Boy. Yoko is a pure sniper build with a side order of High-Tech Weapons. She brings all but nothing else to the table. Just a sniper rifle that does energy damage. Which is pretty good to be honest. Her HP is basically half of that of a character of equal level making her quite fragile. Perhaps you should just listen to your inner w33b and put her in a Servoshell as if she were some anime character. Paint it gold and pretend you are in Saint Seiya or something. As a robot Yoko is immune to radiation poisoning and can wear irradiated equipment with relative impunity.

Gameplay Tips

1) Always mix and match your damage types

Right click on enemies to Examine them. This will bring up a list of their Resistances. Not only do Resistances differ among the various enemy types, they can also differ within the same group of enemies. Basically shooting a being that spends its life on fire with Heat damage won't do much. Heavily armoured enemies tend to laugh off conventional ammunition. Each party member can equip two weapons so try to ensure that they do not overlap in terms of damage type. For example a Heavy Weapons gunner might carry a machine gun with Mechanical Damage and a Grenade Launcher with Heat damage.

2) The Alt key is your friend

As it highlights all interactable objects. Note this is not all NPCs on the map, just mainly objects.

3) Fatigue is a limiting factor

A lot of skills and Psychic Powers causes fatigue build up. This can be remedied by sleeping or using stimulants. When you hit 60 ranks in Medicine, you can craft Energon quite cheaply at one Reagent and one Instant Coffee to instantly restore 300 fatigue.

4) Melee vs Ranged

Basically melee has the best damage potential but it puts the character at risk. Other members of the party should be using rapid fire weapons to clear any stragglers around the melee combatant. Psychic powers can prove useful as one of the first tier powers is a teleport ability allowing you to reposition at will. Fox is a good example of a decent melee build. Her weapon deals biochemical damage while she has the Psionic skill ranks to use a Psionic Glove as a back up weapon. Especially since there are nasties out there with damaging aura abilities.

5) When entering combat untether all your Companions

Positioning them advantageously before the shooting starts can make all the difference.

6) Psionic Damage is pretty weak, Psychic Powers are pretty rad.

Just sneak up to an enemy formation, wait for them to disperse a bit, teleport the one nearest to you in between all your characters. Murder the poor sod, rinse and repeat. Time consuming? Maybe. However it will certain save you a lot of the damage you might have received if you had decided to fight all of them at once. Enemies can and will call for reinforcements. However if they are too far away, none of their friends will hear them. Just as planned.

7) Money can be hard to come by in this game

So keep it and use it wisely. Don't spend it on luxury homes or whatnot. For some strange reason, although my player character is called "the Employee", we NEVER GET PAID for what we do. What the hell Development Team?

8) Fatigue Damage is pretty boss

There are a bunch of Abilities that let you deal Fatigue damage. Melee, Hand to Hand, Light Weapons, Psionic and High-Tech Weapons all have some options to deal this kind of damage. When a character's Fatigue bar fills up, they fall unconscious and are unable to defend themselves. There is also a tier four Psychic Power that lets you literally explode someone's brain if their Fatigue is above 750 if you are not that patient. These tactics are often useful for taking down very strong enemies, especially if you roll up and find that they are resistant to the damage types you are packing.

9) Remember to arrange your belt slots

The belt slots are the line of icons on the bottom right side of the screen. The PC has a lot of stuff randomly put into those slots, including every belt item encountered up to that point. Right click to reassign a belt slot and left click on an empty slot to fill it. You have four rows of them so it makes the game more user friendly to assign particular actions to particular rows.

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