Seeing an alarming lack of decent guides for this game, so here's my take on what a new player should know.
Bikes and Riders
The statistics given for the various bikes are:
- Max Speed
- Nitro Boost
I've unlocked a half dozen bikes, and none of them, statwise seem better than the Hundo CBD. Having said that, All we have to judge the statistics by are simple meter gauges, so I don't really know in concrete terms what the stats actually are, or whether there are differences between the bikes that are undefined.
One thing I can say for sure is that the Snowblower 5000 corners like a pregnant whale, and it's Steering stat is about half of what the Hundo CBD has, so a high Steering stat is objectively important. Conversely, Acceleration's importance is subjective, as a little Nitro in your tank renders the Acceleration stat somewhat moot.
Thus, I am forced to recommend the red Hundo CBD for having high Acceleration and Steering, and only marginal differences in Max Speed and Nitro Boost compared to most of the other bikes.
I've included only riders you can unlock in the single-player campaign without owning Killing Floor 2 (The Killing Floor 2 riders are for masochists only).
Dutch has a helmet, which I suppose is good later on when you run into Phantoms with swords, but is otherwise unremarkable.
The Punk has no helmet, but he does have a pipe wrench, which seems to do more damage than the lead pipe or the shovel, and you unlock him early on. He also has reduced health in exchange for 50% crit charge, which I take to mean that he pumps up the crit meter 50% slower, but again, these stats are poorly defined.
Gordon exchanges half health for a load of extra cash and XP, if you don't mind looking like a reject from the X-Men.
Extra Health, extra crit charge, lower nitro (again, whatever that means), and no helmet.
Slightly increased nitro, and doesn't use guns. I respect his preference by not using him.
Once I unlocked the Punk, I used him almost exclusively for the heavy weapon. He can pulverize grunt helmeted bikers and cops in one hit, and he never needs more than two hits to kill anything else. The health deficit isn't particularly noticeable, but he does seem to build up crit slower than Dutch. Once I unlocked the Moto Rider, I used him a fair bit as well, as the long-reach shovel type weapons have a lot to recommend.
Your mileage may vary with Mr. Gekko, but I've found that if you can stand looking like a ponce, once you get decently skilled at playing the game he may bring you significantly more XP per run, but the cash bonus doesn't seem to add up enough to allow you to buy enough perks to avoid getting one-shot in the third area, especially if you get your health further reduced by failing missions. The Nitro-to-Health and reduced crash damage skills are recommended for Gekkoing, as is not driving on the left side of the road.
I don't have any hard data that indicates whether wearing a helmet is particularly advantageous. Physical armor is alluded to elsewhere in the game and presumably the riders have different armor values, but as the game doesn't give us this information, your guess is as good as mine.
Here are some tips and tricks, in no particular order:
- Normally, when you approach a biker/bikers from the rear, when you draw even with them, you all start going the same speed even though you were clearly going faster than them. Conversely, if you are abreast of some bikers and hit the nitro boost, once you cross an undefined threshold of distance away from them, they likely won't be able to catch up with you.
- Don't drive on the left-hand side of the road unless you're on a straightaway and can see what's coming at you. Getting wiped out by oncoming traffic can ruin your chances of winning a race, as well as cause that vein to start throbbing in your forehead.
- The emergency brake is a magic button that not only decreases your forward momentum, but also redirects it. This game loves to throw sharp curves at you out of nowhere, but the emergency brake seems to slow you down and spin your bike's trajectory in whatever direction you're holding, so clever use of it can save you from driving off the road.
- Paradoxically, you can also use the emergency brake to give you supernatural control while nitro boosting.
- It's very easy to crash if you hit something head-on, but very hard to crash if you slam into something from the side. If you miss a sharp turn and get hurled into the barrier, just hit nitro and you'll scrape along the rail at high speed and come out, suprisingly, with all of your skin.
- Once you get jump boosters from the rooftop track, you can use this to great effect to hop over obstacles in your path. This is especially useful in the LSD levels. Just take care not to use it on turns, or you'll fly right off the track.
- If you do find yourself off the road, a quick nitro boost is usually sufficient to get you back on track without losing too much ground. For this reason, it's a good idea to always keep a bit of nitro in reserve for such situations.
- If you go WAY offroad, or find yourself on the side of a hill, or are a bit offroad but have no nitro, you can always hit Escape and click 'Put me on the track'. You'll lose a bit of health, but you won't be nearly as far behind.
Let's first examine the various moves in our arsenal.
You have three melee attacks at your disposal: Quick, Strong, and Crit.
The quick attack is made by pressing the button, and it seems a stronger, slower attack can be made by holding the button down. Once your crit meter is full, the strong attack becomes a Crit attack. Keep track of your crit meter, it builds up faster than you realize, and can be helpful in taking down heavy bikers and 'bonus' bikers (with cash/xp/health/etc. icons above their heads), who seem tougher than their regular counterparts.
There seem to be three types of blunt weapons:
- Light Melee/Lead Pipe: Normal range, normal damage, fast swing speed
- Long Melee/Shovel Long range, normal damage, normal swing speed
- Heavy Melee/Pipe Wrench: Normal range, high damage, slow swing speed
There is only one type of sword, which seems to start out as a machete.
I've encountered a total of four types of firearms in this game, but there may well be more.
- Pistols: Single shot, low damage weapons, good for picking off the rabble, but don't try to take down any heavies with this.
- Submachine Guns: Super effective against armored bikers and shields, as well as vehicles and gang leaders. Just don't spray and pray, because the ammo is super limited.
- Shotguns: Single shot, high-damage weapons that are suprisingly accurate at range. They seem less effective against armored bikers and shields.
- Assault Rifle: A better, slower-firing alternative to the SMG, but they don't drop often, especially in the first two zones.
The trick with guns is to pull them out when you have bikers up ahead, but be sure to draw your melee weapons when you see enemies coming up from behind. You can swivel around and blast someone right beside you, but I don't recommend it, as you're liable to miss a corner or end up as roadkill.
I've encountered two types of explosive weapons in the game thus far.
- Timed C4: Placing one of these attaches a bomb with a three second timer. Great for vehicles and heavies. My favorite use of these is to put one or two in a large pack of bikers and nitro boost away. I wouldn't recommend using these if your nitro tank is empty.
- Pipe Bomb: Upon use, you light the 3 second fuse. A second press of the attack button drops the bomb on the road behind you. Situationally useful, but mostly kind of pointless. Occasionally in a survival round, I'll light one and keep it in my hand to kamikaze a large pack of enemies.
Might be cool, but I've never needed to use it. Apparently if you shoot a biker with this, you don't yank them backwards off of their bike in a glorious display of road burn, but just get a brief speed boost or something. Neat concept, but poorly implemented.
You'll learn to hate these things. A taser attack is not nearly as telegraphed as other melee weapons, and thus can be hard to see coming, and whoever it hits is unable to steer, brake, or accelerate for a few seconds. I can't really see a practical application for this in my arsenal, though I haven't had much chance to use it.
Weapon Strengths and Weaknesses
So here's the mechanics of the two types of weapons:
- Blunt weapons are effective against helmeted bikers and heavy bikers.
- Swords will decapitate unhelmeted bikers for double XP and are effective against shields.
To me, this is a pointless complication. The number of things you have to devote your attention to in this game is already very high. Weaving in and out of traffic and around corners at high speeds while people are trying to kill you is an activity that, for me at least, affords little room for discernment when it comes to whether the shovel-wielding maniac I'm trying to murder has a hat on.
It comes down to this: If I'm swinging at a guy with no helmet, he's going to die whether I am holding a lead pipe or a claymore, and the time it takes for my brain to devote attention to swapping weapons is time I don't have to avoid getting hit myself. It's like trying to play rock, paper, scissors when your hair is on fire.
Conclusion: If you can pull this off reliably, go for it, but you may find that it's not worth the trouble. Blunt weapons are effective 100% of the time unless the enemy has a shield, and if he has a shield, he might have a taser, so just hit the brakes and shoot the bastard.
Hit the block button when a psycho lunatic is about to hit you with a melee weapon, and you'll block the attack, opening them up for a counterattack. I tend to try to outmaneuver opponents instead of blocking attacks, but it can be effective if you've just steered into the path of a swing.
Kicking is possibly the most fun thing you can do in this game. You can kick enemy bikers off of bridges, into oncoming traffic, and off the road into stationary obstacles. The red armored enemies with the red icon above their heads auto-block melee attacks, so often kicking one into a telephone pole is the best way to eliminate them.
The force of the kick seems to be directly proportional to your lateral velocity, so steering into enemies before you kick them seems to have a greater effect. Just be careful you don't miss, or you're liable to fly off the track...or off a bridge.
Another interesting side note on kicking has to do with the physics of kicking a biker into another biker. Newton's third law does not seem to be in effect, as the kicked biker does not stop moving in the direction of the kick, and thus you can sometimes kick three or four bikers off a bridge if you have enough lateral velocity.
If you grab an enemy, you get him by the collar and hold his bike right next to yours. By doing so, you can steer him into a wide variety of solid objects, earning bonus cash and xp. Alternatively you can do a melee attack to smash their head down onto the handlebars of their bike, doing about as much damage as a melee swing, or kick them away from you.
Keep in mind I don't think you can block while you're grabbing, and if you aren't maneuvering them into a telephone pole or something, you may as well have just hit them with a melee weapon, though it's cool how they flip over frontways and faceplant on the asphalt when you kill with this maneuver. I'm not sure if grabbing a biker mid-swing stops the swing or not, but I will find out.
Not always the practical thing to do, but it's fun to change it up at times.
Here are some moves and strategies I've used to great effect in Road Redemption:
In a one-on-one scenario, don't wind up your swing when you're right next to the gibbering psychopath, start your swing at a healthy distance, then slam your bike into him as your weapon comes down. Steer back away from the maniac, rinse, repeat. The AI of the bikers usually don't swing when you aren't in reach so this manuever avoids the dilemma that occurs when both of you swing at about the same time and it's unclear who's going to get creamed.
A continuation of the Wind-Up, use this when you're between two bikers. Kick or steer into one of them to separate them, wind up a swing, steer into the other one just in time to whack him, wind up again, then steer back. If you have good timing, you can take down a whole pack of bikers doing this, and emerge without a scratch. Hard to do it on turns though, so save this for the straightaways.
Thin the Herd
If you find yourself in an untenable situation, such as being surrounded by vicious lunatics who want to kill you, hit the brakes and pull your gun. Surprisingly, the AI isn't great at adapting to this strategy, and will normally keep going at the same speed, at which time you can take a few out at your leisure. Just keep an eye on your rearview...
When you're about to head into the final track in each area (the first two for sure), save a full clip of SMG ammo for the gang leader, or wait till you get some off some poor dead sucker before you catch up to the boss. Pick off the leader's cronies, then empty a mag into them and you're pretty much home free. Do not under any circumstances try to melee a gang leader. They're wicked fast, much faster than you, and it takes forever to whittle them down that way.
After every mission, you'll have a chance to spend your hard-earned money on some upgrades. Perks obtained in this manner only last until you beat the game or you die, at which point you have to start over.
- Medal of Valor: 15% increased XP gain. XP is what we're here for, and more of it, however small the increase, is priceless.
- Medical Toolkit: 20% more health gained from kiling enemies. I try to accumulate at least three of these in a run. It's surprising how fast you can turn bullets into health.
- Weapon Upgrades (Blunt Weapons/Sword/Pistols/Automatic Weapons/Shotguns). Presumably this is a damage increase, but it is as yet unknown exactly what that entails, or whether other statistics such as speed and range are also improved. There are cosmetic differences between at least the three levels of melee weapons, and I've heard that fully upgraded swords can damage helmeted enemies, but cannot confirm. Having said that, weapon upgrades are inherently good things, so pick these up as and when you can.
Situationally Useful Perks
These perks are decent options if no good perks are available.
- Mushrooms: Revive with full health when you die. If you can afford this, buy it, but don't save up for one, because it doesn't show up often.
- Ammo Belt: 15% increased ammo capacity. I get this fairly often if none of the good perks are available, because SMG.
- Adrenaline: 15% increased crit damage. Crits don't one-shot everything, but a couple of these in your pocket will ensure that they do. I don't normally buy these because keeping track of a tiny meter in the corner of the screen is something I'm constitutionally incapable of, but your mileage may vary.
- Codeine/Hydrocodone/Oxycodone/Morphine: Restores 20/30/50/70 health. If you end a level with less than 25 health, you may want to consider shelling out for these overpriced meds, but a few Health Toolkits should make these obsolete.
These perks are redundant or just not useful.
- Bottle/Cylinder/Tank of Nitro: Recovers 50%/75%/100% of your nitro tank. Nitro is super easy to come by, and while you do start some races way behind, there's no tellling when more nitro would be beneficial.
- Upgrade Nitro Tank: 15% increased nitro capacity. Nitro is super easy to come by.
- Improve Nitro Injectors: 20% more nitro gained from killing enemies. Nitro. Is. Super. Easy. To. Come. By.
- Lucky Rabbit's Foot: 10% increased cash gained from killing enemies. A a conservative estimate of my average take per level is $1700, and only about 40% of that is from killing, so we're really only talking about a $150-200 bonus per perk taken. Useless.
Super Crap Perks
These perks are just bad game design. Avoid at all costs.
- Steroids: 5% increased damage. Hah, good one! Oh, you're serious. Kiss 5% of my ♥♥♥ You would need three or four of these to make any real difference, and you'd lose out on the good perks. Skip!
- Angel Dust: Increases maximum health by 15. A rider with 100% health has 225 max health. Adding 15 health is about a 7% increase. Failing a level reduces your health pool by 25%. I think the devs left a percent sign out of this perk.
Double-edged Sword Perks
These perks combine advantage with disadvantage. Use at your own risk.
- Midas Vest: 50% increased cash and XP gained from killing enemies, but -40% armor. Without knowing what base armor values the different riders have, we have no basis for comparison to tell if losing 40% of it would be crippling or negligible. I would leave this one alone until you git gud.
- Razor Blade: 125% increased attack damage, and attacks are unblockable, but drain your health. I haven't tried this one yet, as I don't like having to constantly swap weapons, but I've heard the health drain isn't terrible as long as you have a couple of Medical Toolkits.
- This Time's the Charm: Decreases max health by 60% in exchange for three extra lives. Just take care that you don't get three nasty, short, and brutal lives.
Skill Tree Guide
As you begin working your way through the skill tree, the variety of skills can be daunting. I'm here to help.
The truth is that Road Redemption's skill tree seems poorly thought-out. Most of the skill bonuses seem farily insignficant, 5% here and 8% there, while others are game-changing, but you work with what you have.
Your first goal should be to put 1 rank in Attack Damage and Cash Find to unlock the lower-middle section of the skill tree, after which you can max XP Gain.
There are no progress locks on skill advancement, so the best way to proceed from here is to put 1 rank into every other skill in the first three sections of the tree, to open up the 4 awesome skills.
Prioritize these as you're unlocking the skill tree.
- Double Items in the Store. Go ahead and put two ranks in this skill ASAP, more options when buying Perks is awesome.
- Upgrade Melee Weapon/Sword. Um, swords are melee weapons, but I'm not here to argue semantics. Pick these up next.
- Start with a Pistol. Super handy to take care of the red auto-blocker enemies that show up before guns are an option. Grab it.
- All Guns are Upgraded to Tier 2. Who named these skills? 'Upgrade All Guns' would have sufficed. This is 4 skills in one, a no-brainer.
- Start with Jump Jets. I keep forgetting I have these when I get them, but they are situationally very useful. Worth a rank.
Save these for last.
- Gain the option to start at level 3/6/9. If you are grinding XP, which you surely are when these skills become unlockable, please understand that there is no logical reason not to start every campaign at level 1. XP gains don't go up appreciably as you progress through the game, so skipping the first few easy levels is tantamount to sacrificing 300-500 XP per run.
- Mr. Money/Nitro/Health Drops. I can only assume that these skills refer to the 'special' bikers with icons above their heads, and while I don't have any hard data on how much these guys drop when you kill them, I can't imagine a 4-8% increase per skill rank is XP wisely invested.
- Unlocks a New Bike. As I said in the section on Bikes, I have a half-dozen of these, and none of them seem superior to the 'Normal' red bike on stats alone. I have not extensively playtested many of them, though, so I could be wrong.
The rest of the skills are of middling value or require multiple skill ranks to be effective, so just unlock them all, then go back and rank up the ones you like.