Synthetik – Basic Mechanics Guide

Guide to Basic Mechanics

A Sudden Introduction

After loading into a couple games, these were the first few things that I noticed:

  • Bullets are slow, you can dodge most of the non-shotgun attacks without need for cover given a little space. Enemies do not seem to track movement, so simply strafing in a single direction is enough to significantly mitigate damage against non-shotgun types.
  • Moving greatly decreases accuracy.
  • Reloading is unfamiliar, but not too hard. Depending on the weapon ammo is very limited.
  • Health regeneration is very important. You may wish to plan this out extensively in your starting loadout.
  • The game doesn’t give out lots of ammo at all. Moreover, though I didn’t notice this until later, different weapons even of the same type gain more ammo than others, with many purple weapons having especially severe problems with this.
  • For the most part, you can take it slow. There is no obvious time limit or scaling difficulty based on time (unlike, say, Risk of Rain), and the game doesn’t inundate you with adds if you stay in one place. While there is ultimately scaling difficulty in the form of Terror, it doesn’t scale especially with time unless you go for a snack during a longer level or something.

The basic idea then is to keep moving as much as possible when not behind cover (dash, dash dash!), but to stand still briefly when shooting at range. For the most part, you can arrange for yourself to face only a few enemies at a time, possibly only one or two. If you have headhunters coming after you and you don’t have space to retreat, you’ll need to be more aggressive. In that case try to bunch your enemies up so they can’t all shoot at you, but so that you can shoot at them conveniently. Many classes have crowd control that they can employ in such situations as well. Other than that (and in the case of one of the possibilities for the first boss that requires you to run and gun) proceed deliberately and methodically, looking ahead by putting your cursor far ahead of your character so as to gain as much information about what you’re walking into as possible, and you’ll stand a better chance of both survival and gaining loot.

There are a few controls that are easy to forget or even possibly outright miss:

  • TAB: Brings up the minimap. The minimap is great at showing you when you’ve been and where you haven’t, which is important for getting all the chests and bolts.
  • CTRL: Swaps active ammo types if and only if the magazine is ejected and you have another ammo type.
  • L: Drop your current weapon. Generally you’d not do this and only use ‘F’ to swap weapons.

Additionally the left and right arrow keys can swap between options at shrines where there are options (and also at teleporters that offer a choice, though at least I managed to figure that one out). This is pretty important, and I missed it for my entire first 10 hours of play. Yes, you can upgrade items other than the one bound to RMB.

Right mouse drag and drop on your useable items can rearrange them, or recycle them, or drop them on the ground. The latter is strange and unintuitive, but useful in a somewhat obvious situation that you may run into later ;).

One last quick note before the meat of the guide: I’m not actually very good at this game, so it is a “newbie guide” in more ways than one.

Gameplay Mechanics


When one wants to reload, one must first ‘E’ject a clip. Only once the clip is ejected is it possible to ‘R’eload. Ejecting a full clip wastes no ammo, but ejecting a partial clip (even if it is only missing one round) will lose all of the remaining ammo in that clip. Ammo management is a very substantial game mechanic. It is possible to make reloading more automatic in the difficulty settings, but because this method of reloading is so core to the game, that is not recommended. Moreover, when you get used to it, this default manner of reloading can be done much faster.

On top of this, there is a third, optional keypress that can further increase the speed of reloading. Rather than wait for the reloading bar to fully complete, one can perform an “Active Reload” with proper timing.

When you begin a reload, there is a circular progress bar both on your cursor, and a straight one by your character. Pressing the ‘R’eload key during the blue part of this progress bar will perform an Active Reload, immediately completing the reloading process and providing a small bonus to damage and firerate, as well as a reduction in heat produced for the next clip.

With the Haste difficulty modifier enabled, there is also a light blue section of the progress bar which is always near the end of the Active Reload window and completing the reload in that section will perform “Perfect Active Reload”, substantially increasing the Active Reload bonus for the next clip. Getting a late Active Reload that is not a Perfect Active Reload is quite difficult, so it is safer to aim quite late when going for perfect.

If the Haste difficulty modifier is not enabled, the Active Reload window will be the same size and at the same timing every time you reload a clip for a particular weapon. Some weapons are much more generous with Active Reloads than others.

By default, SPACE is also bound to both the Eject and Reload actions. This makes it easy to reload while moving and aiming. You can, of course, change this binding in the options menu.


Every so often your weapon will jam. When this happens, you appear to combine clips for free rather than lose ammo. Each jam will require approximately five or six presses of the reload key to clear and you’ll have a full clip again. Because this can happen in the middle of a clip it requires some awareness to clear efficiently. Failure to do so in a timely manner can result in some…awkward situations. The image on the left should require two more keypresses to clear.


To score a headshot you will need to hit the head of a humanoid target (as one might expect). As with most shooters it helps to aim slightly above the head if you are not yourself above the target. Headshots deal 200% damage (slightly more than a critical hit). Especially in the early game, headshots can greatly increase your damage, compensating for otherwise lackluster firepower or deleting enemies in one or two shots.

You do not need to be aiming at the target’s head to get a headshot, any shot that connects with that part of the model will work. For this reason, if you are facing humanoid enemies and have the option of engaging from above or below, choose above, since you’ll likely deal more damage that way. In earlier updates shields used to prevent headshots or perhaps even gain bonuses against armor, but that hasn’t been true since about U24 from what I gather.


Terror determines the amount of enemies, increases enemy reaction speed, I think increases the likelihood of special events, and increases the health of bosses (confirmed in 24.2 patch notes). Terror can change (either up or down, depending on I know-not-what) when picking up items including the random module that you can choose to receive in the loadout screen (!), there are terror-causing chests, and choosing a High Alert teleporter choice will also increase terror. I believe terror increases when you take an exceptionally long time in a level or sit still for a while, but that is rare. The first time one opens the character screen, Terror will appear to increase, but I don’t know what affects that. Terror may also be very deliberately increased by a few obvious methods (madness button, etc). The precise mechanics of terror are not well documented by myself or the community at large.

High Alert teleporters tend to have more chests to search, but the increase to terror is permanent. Choosing a Low Alert teleporter decreases terror permanently (the only thing I know that does this), and I’ve seen terror decreases as large as 15. You can view your current terror in the character screen by using the ‘c’ key.

Incoming Headhunters are not necessarily caused by a Terror or Alert increase, nor does the alert increase message always coincide with a Terror increase. After seeing how few things increase terror after tracking that carefully for a run, as well as the possibility (but not certainty) that Terror is a percentage increase to the things it affects (as in, 120 terror could mean +20% boss health), I highly recommend choosing only Low Alert teleporters if you want to live as long as possible.

Headhunters and other hit squads

Headhunters and other hit squads (Railgun squad’s etc) will notify you when they spawn. Headhunters will always come looking for you, but the others may pick an area to loiter around instead. These units tend to be slightly more difficult than regular elites (Headhunters vary a bit more and may essentially be like regular elites).

A hit squad of some sort will nearly always be spawned as the result of an Alert increase warning, so High Security zones tend to have them. Such squads can also be spawned as a seemingly random event. Headhunters can also be spawned as the result of a quest.

When Chrono Troopers give a similar message are never spawned this way and instead are indicating that they were summoned by alarm bots.

Anti-shield Mines and other environmental hazards

I want to give some special attention to what has until recently been a terminator of my existence, the anti-shield mine (as one can tell, although I can do research, I an decidedly poor at this game).

Here you can see directly to the left of my cursor a mine that not only stuns, but completely removes shields. If followed up by an enemy attack, this can be very deadly, and it was only after being affected multiple times that I realized what was going on, and how incredibly nasty those little buggers are. The wiki says they ‘appear’ near snipers, but I’m beginning to suspect they can appear or be set again after the original ones are triggered. Beware that they don’t appear next to you when fighting snipers.

Barbed wire and ground spikes are not dangerous by themselves, but they can make a dangerous encounter more dangerous (handling or avoiding those dangers is essentially the key challenge of one of the possible first boss fights). All such hazards can be safely dashed over. Some hazards can be triggered by enemies, and sometimes enemies can be damaged by triggered hazards even if the player was the one who triggered them (especially anti-shield mines).

Core Parts and Bolts

Each level contains exactly one Bolt and one Core Part. They can be hidden behind map objects, but cannot be hidden in wooden crates. Core Parts are not to be confused with Module Cores, or any other sort of cores.

Picking up four Core Parts grants a particular item: the Heart Core. This item increases your maximum health for every enemy you kill 12 seconds after use, and fully heals the user. But it can only be used once.

Gathering a full set of six Bolts on the other hand grant a random item, usually a rarer one.


To recycle an item, drag an item using the right mouse button to the recycling symbol to the right of your item slots. You will see that you have a limited number of item slots and cannot pick up an item unless you have a free slot for it.

Recycling an item gives credits based on rarity and variant. I cannot find any good resource for quantifying this, but recycling a regular item could net you 200-300 credits. This is the main purpose of recycling.

However, there is a ‘secret’ portion to recycling (not a spoiler though, it’s obvious when hovering over the recycling item in the research menu), and that is that some items continue to function (at least in part) after they have been recycled. To find more information about that instead purchase the ability to see that data from the research shop and explore this for yourself! I will write a common minor one here though: Lighting Boots retain their speed bonus when recycled. There is also exactly one item that is mildly annoying to recycle, which I also mention here because it is possible to not know what’s going on when it happens: the ‘Seth-up’ Suitcase Sentry, which consumes some of your credits for an Unidentified Potion.

Luck, Scavenging, and Currency stats

These stats don’t seem to me to be as important as the game seems to want me to believe. Each of these works like a percentage.

  • Luck increases your critical chance, one point, one percent. It also has a slight effect on many sorts of chance-based factors. Most importantly this includes finding high-tier weapons and items in chests, and getting procs (like the stun from Soft Point ammo). Luck is the body-stat that increases damage.
  • Currency increases the credits you gain, one point, one percent. In my opinion, this is the least valuable of the three.
  • Scavenging is the weirdest one, seeming to work like luck but for drops (not weapon chests, just drops), and like currency but just for credit drops. The most important part of it is increased ammo drops. It also affects the type of the chests you find, but likely not what is inside them. Like the other two, it scales like a percentage.

You can view your current stats using the ‘c’ key.


If you find yourself in a place that you cannot move from, press ESC, go to options, and search the menu for the unstuck option. Click it, and hope it sets you free! If not, try again. It should work eventually, and so you won’t lose a run solely to having dodged outside the map or something. Whether you’ll be in a real pickle thereafter is another matter…

Curses, Shrines, and Chests

The main thing to add to that is new to U26: the Alchemy Shop. Alchemy shops contain cheaper-than-normal items from a very limited list of weird, synergy-focused items. They function like a regular shop, just look different.

Weapon Stats (Gameplay Mechanics)

There is one universal rule about weapon stats: the tooltips contain all the useful information.

Pressing ‘x’ opens the weapon stats sidebar. Doing this causes an indicator to appear next to your heat bear showing you if you have only one ammo type for your weapon (if you have multiple, that will already be visible). Above the weapons name would be shown the variant of the weapon (this one is a starting weapon and did not have a variant). Below the stat bars is the weapon attachments, and below that the weapon’s special characteristics. Hover over all of those indicators to get an idea of what is going on.

Weapon Info Stat Bars

With that, it is time to get to the hard bit. The stat bars I find, for the most part, rather unhelpful, but it’s useful to talk about it nonetheless.

Unless you understand ammunition, the weapon damage modifier and the accompanying bar doesn’t really mean much. Actually, even if you understand ammunition, it is more than a bit arcane. The number on the right is a much better number to go by. That is the amount of damage that weapon is known to do on average from shots that you fire — so it includes a lot, possibly even your innate crit chance. Following that number and ignoring the length of the bar is the way to keep your sanity. If you really want to explore weapon damage modifier however, as a reference the wiki gives the following damage numbers for the common default ammo types:

  • Laser Cell: 311
  • Buckshot: 109×8
  • FMJ Basic and other basic pistol/SMG ammo: 253
  • 5.57mm Kaida SC: 226 (Assault Rifle ammo)
  • 8.8mm Kurz: 270 (Assault Rifle ammo)
  • 12.7mm Accelerator SC: 450 (Anti Material Rifle ammo)

The heat modifier likewise is hard to understand, and I can’t help you much there. It affects heat gain, clearly. Heat will damage you if it reaches 100%, but even with the Scorched difficulty modifier, that can take some work to pull off. On the bright side, hovering over the bar will tell you exactly how much heat you’ll gain per shot. It has seemingly little relation to how full the modifier bar is, but that will give you an understandable number at least.

Firerate is in Bullets Per Minute, and is actually well-presented.

Deviation is the starting maximum possible fire angle (in degrees) away from the aiming reticule.

Recoil is how fast deviation increases during sustained fire, but I don’t know the units here. Recoil control affects how fast one recovers from recoil. The proper stats are available if you hover over the relevant bar, but the values displayed for Recoil/Control so far don’t make any real sense to me.

R+E Time is easier, it is the Reload+Eject time, simple and straightforward. Hovering over shows the breakdown between the two.

Mag Size and Max Ammo are self explanatory. However, what is less obvious is that Mag Size directly scales ammo gain from ammo-printer type attachments. Mag size is also somewhat correlated to ammo gain from pickups. Hovering over Max Ammo will helpfully inform you of the most important ammo-collecting stat: how much ammo you gain from ammo pickups.

Mastery…doesn’t actually do anything. It’s how much you’ve used a weapon. Actually if you play with Jamming (which is kinda a core game mechanic IMO), it’s more like how much you’ve jammed a weapon.

Weapon Variants

Weapons can sometimes appear with different stats as variant versions. Variants from boss rooms are apparently Alpha variants that gain less ammo and deal more damage, which is a pretty mixed bag.

Kaida-Elite, Modular, Printing, and Taiga Hunter (even after the buff) are variants that can be reasonably bad depending. Every other variant is usually some flavor of good. A few variants will show up in the weapon name like the highly-desirable Siege and Divine modifiers.

The modifier that needs the most care is the Cursed modifier. Cursed weapons deal damage to the wielder occasionally. For some weapons that isn’t so bad. For others it makes them completely unusable. Test to see if you can handle the self-damage before attempting to employ these in combat. If you have no means of health regeneration somehow, cursed weapons are completely unusable to you. Cursed chests will always supply you with a cursed weapon of some sort. Cursed weapons have greatly reduced ammo gain (-33%), but even greater improved damage. A cursed variant of an already ammo-starved weapon may also simply not be worthwhile (though some classes have abilities that can remedy the ammo issue just fine).

Armor (Gameplay Mechanics)


Armor reduces incoming damage by a percentage value equal to the armor value to a max of 75%, barring any armor penetration. The cap appears to be applied before armor penetration, so armor penetration of 75 should completely nullify all armor. Some level of armor penetration is ubiquitous. Just about everything except shotguns has at least 10 armor penetration. The exotic damage types of plasma and ion completely and utterly ignore armor. I am not sure about Psyonic weapons.

What I’ve managed to read about armor and explosives would suggest armor is very useful against explosions, though I’m not entirely sure I believe that, but if that is the case explosions tend to to do enough damage for that not to matter too much.

Armor Penetrating Ammo

This next bit waxes a little theoretical, if you are uninterested in that you can skip to the “Armored Enemies” section without missing much. Some of the more salient bits will be repeated anyways.

The highest laser armor penetration is 15 AP a quality held by most laser weapons. However the ‘Sprayer’ Lithium Cell used by the Raptor Laser SG and the Battle Hymn has only 5 AP (using wiki information, which may be outdated in the current patch). Shotgun armor penetration may be a bit confusing on the wiki. The only regular shotgun ammo that has any armor penetration at all is the Triple Slug with 10 AP made available by the KSG 2000. However, most shotguns can use power bolts, from the Pressurized Impaler, which have 15 AP and are probably superior to non-Triple-Slug shotgun ammo.

The only ammunitions (other than, as mentioned plasma and ion) with an armor penetration of 60 and above are the ballistic anti-material ammunition as follows:

  • 12.7mm Accelerator Venom (60 AP, Acid)
  • 12.7mm Accelerator Sabot (60 AP, this AP variant strangely has the same armor penetration as the acid type above)
  • 12.7mm YL Anti Material (75 AP, Yoko-Lagann only)
  • All Nemesis prototype restricted ammo (90/100 AP)
  • The Liandry Rail Gun restricted ammo (100 AP)

The following ammunitions have armor penetration 30 and above:

  • 5.57mm Armor Piercing (40 AP, a surprisingly high AP that can even be used by 5.57mm assault rifles)
  • 12.7mm Accelerator SC (30 AP, the default for anti-material rifles)
  • 8.8mm Kurz (30 AP note: this is the default for 8.8mm assault rifles)
  • 8.8mm Armor Piercing (40 AP)
  • 8.8mm Acid Rounds (35 AP)
  • 8.8mm Cataclysmic Hollow Point (35 AP)
  • Shock Arrow Soft Point (30 AP, slightly better than the default Tungsten arrow)
  • 4.73mm Caseless FMJ (35 AP)
  • 4.73mm Unstable Core (35 AP)

Ammunition not in these lists tends to do 15 AP or 10 AP with only a few exceptions. The default ammo for most SMGs and pistols is 10 AP and the default for 5.57mm assault rifles is 15. That should give you an idea of what is normal for armor penetration in the game. Enemies, however, tend to have a lot of armor penetration compared to the player. Expect endgame enemies with projectile weapons to have at least 30-40 AP.

Armored Enemies

Enemies with ‘tank’ in the name or that have tank tracks as well as enemies that wield shields will have armor (the very first unit that you see with a riot shield has 45 armor). Additionally Stinger Gliders, Devastors, and Room Clearing Units all have some armor. Hyper Troopers have, shall we say, no shortage of armor. Many bosses have substantial armor. This is an important consideration in weapon type as well as taking the ‘Deflect’ difficulty modifier. Shotguns may do fine against your average shield-weilder due to sheer damage, but will suffer against bosses.

With the Deflect difficulty modifier, you will still experience damage resistance from armor on most enemies that have it unless you are using an anti-material rifle with special ammunition (Stinger Gliders and Devastators have less, so that may not be the case for those two), whereas without it you will mostly cease to notice armor when using an 8.8mm assault rifle. That said, even if you stick to more normal weapons, it is still just a +15% increase in the effective hitpoints of certain enemies (even if it does include bosses).

Ammunition (Gameplay Mechanics)

Generally each weapon starts with a basic type. 8.8mm Kurz (30 AP, 270 base damage per shot) and 5.57mm Kaida SC (15 AP, 226 base damage per shot) are the standards for assault rifles. FMJ Basic (10 AP, 253 base damage per shot) is the standard for SMGs and pistols, and buckshot (0 AP, 109×8 per shot) is the standard for Shotguns. Outside of the red weapons, the projectile weapons that do not conform to the standard largely are pretty bad (Brent Anti-Air being a major exception). Weapons that use 8.8mm ammo tend to be especially well regarded at the moment.

Alternate ammo types can be found in rare ammo chests, given by class features, or acquired by simply picking up the right weapon. For regular projectile weapons those ammo types generally come in Hollow Point (bleed), Soft Point (stun/slow), Acid, and Armor Piercing.

  • Hollow Point does additional 5 additional armor penetration and has a 25% chance to inflict a pretty decent bleed effect for no sacrifice in damage.
  • Soft Point has no substantial damage reduction for 5.57mm assault rifles, but a ~10% damage reduction for SMGs and pistols. It has a 25% chance to inflict a stun on hit, which is handy. 8.8mm assault rifles do not get Soft Point.
  • Acid ammo can inflict a DoT every 5th shot at the cost of that shot doing 35% less damage. The 5.57mm version has a 50% chance to do so, the 8.8 version always does so and also has an additional 5 armor penetration. The wiki says that Acid does a very weak DoT, but as of U26, Acid ammo should deal a DoT similar in magnitude to Hollow Point.
  • AP ammo has wildly differing increases in armor penetration depending on ammo size. The SMG/Pistol ammo has 25 AP compared to the default 10. The 5.57mm ammo has 40 AP compared to the default 15. And the 8.8mm AP ammo has an underwhelming 40 AP compared to the default 30. AP ammo also has bit of extra critical chance (I believe it was buffed to 10%, reading the U26 patch notes).

The analysis here appears to be that 5.57mm/SMG AP is the best, followed by any Hollow Point. After that AP is next most valuable. Whether you prefer Acid or Soft Point depends on how much you value the stun.

With that out of the way, lets get down to actually using the ammo. To switch ammo types you need to eject your clip (ejecting completely full or completely empty clips does not waste any ammo), and then press CTRL. But to do that you actually need an optional ammo type. When there is an optional ammo type available there will be a pair (or trio, etc) of little bullet symbols to the right of your weapon’s heat bar:

You can also see the bullet symbol even if there is no optional ammo type available by pressing ‘x’ to show weapon details. The alternate ammo that I can equip here is an incindiary shotgun ammo. That ammo is actually pretty bad because the DoT it applies doesn’t really synergize with the shotgun way of thinking very well. Actually, that’s true of all of the regular shotgun ammo as a whole with the exception of the Triple Slug made available by picking up the KSG 2000. Of the Pressurized Impaler ammo, the Power Bolt ammo seems better than the alternative unless I’m misreading. For the majority of shotguns that can use both Power Bolts and Triple Slugs, the latter does more damage on paper, but the former has enemy penetration and may be easier to handle in practice.

List of weapons that give ammo

  • Spectre – Soft Point (Stun/Slow)
  • Tactical Observer – Soft Point (Stun/Slow)
  • R2000 ‘Sour’ DMR – Acid
  • RPK-12 Tundra – Acid
  • Damnation – Hollow Point (Bleed)
  • AMD 65 – Hollow Point (Bleed)
  • AEK Special Elite – Armor Piercing
  • Sturmgewehr 44 – Armor Piercing
  • R5000 ‘Sudden’ DMR – Armor Piercing
  • Chaos Launcher – Unstable Core (High Crit – Limited to Chaos Launcher and Twin Mill)
  • Pressurized Impaler – Power Bolt/Accelerated Coil X1
  • KSG 2000 – Triple Slug
  • ‘Eraser’ DMR – Lithium Cell (Burn)
  • Human Model 9800K – Cold Fusion Charge (Slow/Pierce)

Weapons give that ammo type for all weapon types that can use it. So the AMD 65 gives Hollow Point for your pistol too. Moreover, you retain full use of that ammo type for the rest of the game, even after dropping the weapon.

Supply Hack Mechanics and Considerations

The wiki article is pretty succinct about the basics of this. Using occurrence up tokens you increase the liklihood of finding a weapon or item. Using occurrence down tokens you decrease the liklihood. You have four of each type of token to spend for weapons, and another set of four of each for items. Occurrence tokens cannot be used on red items or weapons, and there are a fair few items of the other rarities that also cannot receive occurrence tokens.

The wiki disagrees with the in-game tooltips concerning what power tokens do for weapons, however. The tooltip says that power tokens increase the ammo gain of a weapon whereas the wiki at the moment says that power tokens also increase weapon damage by 5%. I’m suspicious of that claim and suspect that is old info. The ammo gain is very significant 20%!, so it is well worth your time to place the power tokens well. For items, the wiki says that power tokens increase the item’s power by 20%, which is about one level worth of upgrade from an item upgrade shrine.

What the wiki does not mention (but the tooltip in the research menu does) is that one of a shop’s saleables will always be selected from one of your occurrence increase tokens. This means if you want a particular weapon, or one of a couple weapons, it may be worth only occurrence increasing one (or two) weapons so as to ensure the very maximum availability for that weapon. Because the player can hold more items than weapons, I recommend using at least three of the item occurrence up tokens. Shops are not rarity locked, meaning that it is unwise to use occurrence increase on light blue items and weapons unless you really want that as your endgame weapon (tactical observer, for instance). Weapons and items of higher rarity will cost more in a shop, so you may have to save up. I do not believe the old exploit of using a power token on a red weapon/item works anymore.

Being able to avoid weapons/items you don’t like, and also get more of weapons/items you like is so powerful, I recommend that this be one of your first research purchases.

Weapon Token Recommendations

Weapons to consider making more common for almost every class include:

  • Bren Anti-Air (crazy good auto weapon).
  • Super 90 / T 8-00-Gauge / KSG 2000 (a lot of which of the three you prefer may be down to taste).
  • Tuned 14 EBR (Arena DLC) / R5000 DMR (gives AP ammo) / AS-VAL (this one has more significant ammo issues than most purple weapons).
  • Kaida Medic ACR-X (helps with health problems) / AMD 65 (a little lifesteal and also gives Hollow Point ammo).
  • Tactical Observer (is a growth weapon and gives Soft Point ammo) / AEK Special Elite (very solid auto rifle, gives AP ammo).
  • Heavy Flak Cannon (wonderful explosive weapon) / HIG-S (more damage, similar effect, less ammo, and now it is an Ion weapon which was previously unavailable in non-red rarity).
  • RPK-12 Tundra (Excellent LMG with passive scavenging to boot and gives Acid ammo, but not among the very top-of-the-list weapons, just the LMG category).
  • UMP-10 Tornado (excellent for an SMG, but has ammo issues because of SMG things).

I’d also give the SCR Laser Socom (growth weapon), the Sturmghewehr (DLC-only, grants AP ammo, massive ammo supply and pickup) and MAG47 Heavy MG (massive ammo supply and pickup) as honorable mentions, but they are not preferred by people actually good at the game. Most of the listed weapons are dark blue rarity, with a good smattering of purple alternatives. However the Tactical Observer is light blue.

Many of the purple weapons have annoyingly low ammo pickup and pools (though the aforementioned purple heavy machine guns go the opposite route), so it is somewhat useful not to go all-purple unless you’ve planned ahead. Naturally Supply Hacking only lets you boost the drop rate of four weapons and four items, and due to shop randomness you may wish to limit that further to two or three, so choose wisely.

Difficulty Modifiers

One of the first things that may be useful to do in the game is to adjust the difficulty downward somewhat. The default difficulty has a few unnecessary complications. Here’s my run through of the difficulty modifiers. I am, however, not very good at the game. So I’ll be relying on the same sources I used for the prior recommendations.

Base difficulty

10% more enemies forces, 10% faster enemy reactions, 25% more incoming damage on floor 1 (that is, the levels before the first boss fight), 15% more incoming damage on floor 2, 5% more incoming damage on floors 3+. Grants better loot.

This is worth 30% difficulty for a reason. In a game where most of your character loadout decisions are designed to reduce incoming damage this is the last thing you need when starting out. Especially considering you don’t have enough modules to avoid the terror increase that a random module will give you. 10% faster more enemy reactions also makes playing certain classes a tad harder. To make matters worse, no one knows what “Grants better loot” even means. If it means rarity, the section on weapon Supply Hacking should hopefully convince you that it is completely unnecessary.

Manual Ejection

The active reload mechanic. Ejecting and reloading is much slower with this turned off.

Core mechanic, and the bonus for keeping it on is substantial enough that eventually it makes the game easier.


Weapons have a realistic chance to jam and require unjamming. Unjamming grants high weapon mastery.

Since weapon mastery doesn’t do anything, the first thought is that this is unncessary. Jamming doesn’t usually kill you, but it can result in some awkward moments. However, jamming is a really fun and kinda core mechanic, so I leave it on, YMMV. Occasional jamming is rare but will still occur even with this difficulty modifier turned off.


Taking health damage briefly decreases accuracy and movement speed. Move slightly faster.

As the google doc strategy guide says, the movement speed increase is substantial, but the downside is killer. Though it may not look it at first, this is likely the nastiest +10% difficulty modifier.


Weapons cool down 20% slower and overheating causes double damage. Weapons fire slightly faster.

If you aren’t playing heavy gunner, when are you overheating in single player? I am not sure at all how much of a fire rate increase is granted, mind, but with a downside this small, it has to be worth it. Moreover there are several modules and attachments that gain bonuses based on heat. Unless you intend to make plenty of use of the SS58 Plasma Charger that automatically overheats on reload, this modifier makes the game easier, so turn it on.


All projectiles fly faster. Active Reloads are randomized. Active Reloading gains a smaller Perfect portion of the bar which grants increased damage, rate of fire, and jamming immunity to the next magazine.

Lots to unpack here. Firstly projectiles are about 50% faster, which isn’t crazy because of how slow projectiles in this game are by default. The tracking ability of enemy weapons isn’t improved to compensate. This makes dodging missiles much, much, much easier. Tracking weapons are not uncommon in boss fights, so some boss fights are also made easier by this. However, walking through small arms fire is much harder, which makes the average combat quite substantially more deadly, especially if you end up having to face more than five enemies at once (which you should try as much as possible to avoid, but sometimes it happens). This is quite reasonably a dangerous modifier for this reason alone.

On the other side of the modifier, the perfect reload bonus is quite nice indeed, certainly in excess of 5%. Moreover, many weapons can usually be reloaded faster with the randomized active reload than they can by default. On the other hand, muscle memory can’t be used to reload, which makes using the T-8-00-Gauge a pain in the ass and can really kill player’s rhythm on their usual weapons. Unless you’re making use of a lot of shotguns and RPGs however, this part of the modifier seems very desirable to me.


Armored enemies gain 15 additional armor. Gain +4% dodge chance.

15% damage reduction on a small subset of enemies? Doesn’t kill my survivability but instead enhances it? I’m not rushing to turn this on right away, but this sounds like a pretty easy +10% to difficulty. The nasty part here is that you will likely very much notice the extra 15% effective hitpoints on bosses, especially the later ones.

Hard Core 1

Taking damage can cause bleeding. Using substances can poison. Explosives cause shell shock. Active Reloads are less forgiving. Stat upgrades grant more stats.

Probably the easiest +15% there is. The downside is very class dependant, however. The commando classes initially rely on imbibing for out of combat healing, and this makes doing so hard to cope with. For classes that don’t do that, the main noticeable part is the bleeding effect, which makes taking what would have been small amounts of health damage much nastier. With that being what it is, and the stat upgrade increase being of only moderate value, so this is firmly one of the last things to take in order to reach 140% difficulty for the class challenges.


Enemies have a 10% chance to crit for 150% damage. +4% Increased crit chance

Sounds nastier than it is, apparently. However, one day some enemy with a sniper rifle or ion weapon will ruin your ruin your day solely because of this. For faster firing enemy weapons you can think of this as being a 15% reduction to your survivability, which you may or may not consider to be worse than the Base difficulty modifier.


Taking health damage reduces maximum health by 5%. Medical crates add back 50 lost health, and a boss kill adds back 75. +5% damage

If you’re good, you can end up very positive on maximum health after the first boss. For the rest of us plebians, this is the single nastiest modifier one could think of.

Lightning Start

More difficult floor 1 (first 4 levels). Headshots deal 15% more damage.

Once you reliably get through the second stage, this makes the game easier and becomes a no-brainer. Snipers want to turn this on pretty darn quickly.

Achieving 140%

There are basically two schools of thought regarding achieving the requirement for the class challenges with minimal modifiers:

  • Lightning Start + Manual Ejection + Jamming + Scorching + { (Deflect/Haste + Hardcore = 140%) / (Deflect + Haste + Flinch = 145%) }
  • Base + Lightning Start + Manual Ejection + Jamming + Scorching = 145%

The increase in both enemy count and damage taken from Base is just severe enough to consider taking the bleed effect from Hardcore. However, the other school of thought is that whatever increased loot quality from Base that exists ought to be important enough that the increased difficulty is more or less worth it.


You can change which pistol you start with in the loadout screen. This is pretty important, because the default pistol does an annoyingly pitiful amount of damage.

  • That and other useful tips I found in a very useful FAQ here. That link also has a promo code for one of the better pistols in the game (saves nothing more than a tiny bit of grinding).¬†Having a better pistol means being able and willing to use it even very late in the game, though it won’t outshine your better weapons.
  • The above doesn’t apply as much to the Riot Guard because the class passive uniquely permits dropping the starting pistol for advanced weaponry. For this and other reasons (health regen!) the Riot Guard is widely considered one of the beginner-friendly classes. I will say that I got further with my very first game of the Riot Guard than I had ever been, despite being level 10 in another class.
  • Prioritize survivability with the modules in your loadout. If you’re going to progress through the game, you need to live through it first. Generally I think the community has arrived at a consensus on which modules go best with which playstyle. It may be good to look through your class’ section in the google doc strategy guide or ask around if you’re looking for an edge.
  • There is a lot of old material talking about “Guardian Stacks”. However, only the Riot Guard cares about stacks in the current update. The Breacher does gain some stacks when dashing into enemies, but those are maintained extremely briefly and never really get far beyond 5. The Shield Burst and Stun Grenade do apply two stacks for the Breacher, but the effect is almost negligible due to the stack duration (tooltip says it would give five stacks, but that’s only for the Riot Guard). Similarly, while the Shielded module is still good, it is also much less necessary than it used to be because it was nerfed in U26, rendering that advice old material as well.
  • If you’re using the AS-VAL, you can switch it to the default Kurz ammo for armored bosses — doing so should be a ~10% damage increase against enemies with at least 30 armor).
  • Effects that active upon killing with a weapon take effect upon killing with the weapon currently equipped, there’s no need to actually score the finishing blow with the weapon.
  • A tip from the google doc strategy guide: if you find and item in a chest and a shop on the same floor you can obtain two of the same item, which is not normally possible. A lot of times this is very powerful.
Written by F50

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