Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

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Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 5th, 2015, 8:44 am

Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

ALL SUGGESTIONS AND CORRECTIONS ARE WELCOME. THE GOAL OF THIS THREAD IS TO BECOME "SEMI-OFFICIAL" AND USEFUL TO ALL NEWCOMERS

Hi! I wanted to sum up some of my findings for new players... or rather for new players that want to have more fun with the game, wish for more control and understanding, and have visited forums for that.

This message board already has a TON of very insightful, deep and thorough threads, with tables, character builds, calculations, discussions... I got most of my info from these fine people. But now I think a simple short article with tips for beginners would be useful too. Not everyone loves to do math or comb through forums piecing everything together. This guide has some math in it, but only the minimum possible amount (like 2+6+4 = 12).

What to do: have fun or be a grindy power-gamer?

Don't fret. You CAN make four rangers that are good in a fight AND cover almost all the skills, revealing all of the game's secrets and experiences for you. And you don't have to cripple your suspension of disbelief, strictly follow "perfect" character builds, play a certain way, artificially stretch the game or grind anything. You can make a "power-party" and play any way you like on any difficulty (of course, this guide implies that you generally like to explore and sidequest — after all, this is a guide to see everything).

Many people have limited time to play. I hope this guide will help them to think things through in advance, have less frustration with the game, and discover everything as it comes, not leave things untried "for the next playthrough", or put up with awkward characters to keep from restarting the game.

I'll try to be brief. Basically, it all comes down to efficient Attributes distribution.

What you need to know about Attributes (that isn't in the manual)

You might notice that every Attribute gives you small bonuses. Thing is, these bonuses matter much less than your primary specs: Combat Initiative and Action Points. So for now, don't pay attention to Coordination (COO) promising to make you a better shooter or Strength (STR) — to turn you into Conan the Barbarian. They won't.

How smart should your Rangers be?
Intelligence (INT) 4, 8 and 10 gives you give you 3, 4 and 5 skill points per level. Simply put, this means 3, 4 and 5 maxed out skills. Plan accordingly. Like "OK, this guy's a shooter, a demo man and a leader" - 3 skills; "This gal is shotgunner, lock and safe picker" - 3 skills. Repeat for each Ranger. Every one of them will be able to "dabble" in extra skills later. Try to go with 4 INT for everyone, maybe give ONE person 8 or 10. Believe me, it's enough.

What the hell is "Awareness"?
Awareness (AW) can be important, but it's not a priority in and of itself. All it does is raise your Combat Initiative (see below why it's good); but otherwise, it's just sitting there and hogging points. It's good to channel some extra, leftover points there — even if it lowers COO.

Why do you need Coordination? (And why you don't.)
Every 4 points in STR, Speed (SPD) and INT summed up give you 1 AP — an action point to move and shoot. This is tricky: it means you need to add these three up and divide: e.g. 2 + 6 + 4 = 12/4 = +3 AP. But wait... every 2 points in COO also give you +1 AP! Hold your horses: even though it seems that COO is a great deal, it's not really true.

It's much better to pick the needed attributes (INT, or SPD, or SPD+STR) and arrange them to fit character's "image" — that is, speedy, mighty, or smart. Then simply round the COO up to next even number (for a minimum of 2 — it's 1 extra AP for just 1 point).

I want to make a Casanova or a Gambler
The advice that many don't like (including me): dump Luck and Charisma — except for a single Charismatic Ranger.

Believe me, I'm all for role-playing. But these attributes really do not manifest in-game and in the plot! They don't change anything apart from little things in combat. This includes activities like persuading people and even gambling. I've struggled with myself to get rid of them (a party of luckless jerks?), but it's a good move, because it lets you create capable, fleshed-out, characterful Rangers.

NOTE: You still can add both Luck and Charisma if you like the idea of it. It's just a balancing act: every point you sink in them makes a Ranger a little less interesting in-game, and the return is just an idea that's only in your head. Also, there're party-wide Charisma checks for some companions - just look it up on this forum. I got the hardest one with 1-2-6-1 Charisma stats on my main Rangers, with the help of companions and collar trinkets only.

= = =
Now what you do is try to flesh out your imagined Ranger, while keeping an eye on a single number: your Combat Initiative. If it is high (around 15), and the number of Action Points isn't awful (shoot for 8 or more), you're set for any difficulty.
= = =

So why is Combat Initiative (CI) so good?

Because it gives you an edge to win every time. You get to go BEFORE enemies in combat, and you go MORE OFTEN. That's the way Wasteland 2 combat system works. With CI = 15, most of the times your Ranger does 2 whole turns for every enemy turn! Nice, isn't it?

This means that SPD is almost always better than STR (and a little better than AWA). It simultaneously gives you movement speed, APs and Combat Initiative. So even for a mighty basher, don't max STR. It's better to give him both decent STR and SPD. This is because melee fighters (as well as SMG and Shotgun wielders) need to get there RIGHT NOW. If they spend 2 turns to arrive, the fight is mostly over by then, and they feel silly. Later, you can compare your efficient guys to some of the melee and short-ranged companions: most of these guys will reach the enemies panting and wounded... when the smoke has already cleared.

This also means holding back on Strength. Only one of your Rangers needs STR more than 6. Everyone else will do fine with 4, 3 or even 2 STR. There are backpacks in the game, and companions, and inventory management; moreover, all vendors buy stuff off of you at the same prices. Later in the game, you can drop a point there to haul heavier weapons&armor, and take the Hoarder perk.

So don't concentrate on separate attributes, or even maxing your APs at all costs. Get your Rangers to 14-15 CI, and they will be TWICE as good as 10 CI guys! Even a 10 INT scientist egghead, or a weak, slow skillmonkey, provided with 15 CI and an appropriate weapon, are formidable fighters.

Neat trick: when tinkering with Attributes, you can sometimes find yourself with an extra point. Consider putting it into Coordination to get an odd number. That's because when you reach Level 10, you get an Attribute point! Add it to COO, and you get another Action Point just like that. The same goes for Combat Initiative — you can plan ahead to add a single point into Awareness, and raise the CI from 14 to 15, for example; just in time for the quicker and more dangerous enemies that might get the jump on you otherwise.

But I still want to make a Charismatic Ranger!

...And you should. You really should! But this is a tricky one. Raising Charisma (6 will do) makes a Ranger slightly weaker in his Attributes (for example, I had to sacrifice 1 AP for such Ranger, so he became a little sluggish for a rifleman with 7 AP). So, naturally, there's temptation to make him "the skill man" and "the Diplomat". DON'T DO IT.

Thing is, Charisma is useful only for one thing: Leadership. It DOESN'T affect conversation skills, so DON'T give them to Charisma guy. Others can sweet-talk and intimidate; his job is to invigorate for battle, and he must be INSIDE the battle to do it, to cover everyone with his "Leadership Bubble".

This means, preferably, someone in the middle (not a sniper out back, not a melee deep in front). Raise his Leadership skill to 10 (8 with +2 trinket) and he will give the WHOLE PARTY a +20% chance to hit (plus save companions' asses from rebelling and running in the line of fire to get shot). And his extra XP points from Charisma will let you max his weapon skill earlier, because he doesn't get the Leadership bonus himself.

Lastly, NEVER give Leadership to anyone else. Even a single point in it destroys all bonuses from any other Leaders.

Now, what about skills? Are there dump ones?

You see, if you divide skills by four Rangers, they can pretty much cover it all (if each one specializes in one weapon). Just remember that you don't need to max everything. It's FUN to max your main weapon skill quickly. It's great fun to max your 2-3 assigned skills, or try and max conversation skills.

But you don't need Barter at all. You don't need to max Outdoorsman, Weaponsmithing or Mech Repair. You can find skill books, and use them LATER, to save greatly on Skill Points (that's because the better your Skill, the more expensive it is to upgrade). And trinkets are diverse and plentiful.

With 7 people in your squad and little planning, you can reach every single skill you want easily — if you don't start trying everything at once. More in-depth info on skills here: viewtopic.php?f=40&t=14492

CONCLUSION & CHEAT SHEET

Everyone can win. You can have a believable role-playing party, with a smart guy and a charismatic guy, with varying weapons and strong skills, all perfectly able in battle and very useful outside of it. You can play with these rangers only, and not even take companions. You can use diplomacy, open all the loot boxes and solve all mysteries.

You just need to:
  1. (Optional) Spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of what kind of thing did this person do to get stuck with Rangers training unit, choosing a custom portrait and a favorite food / method of killing people. It doesn't let you proceed if you don't provide a name anyway. Could as well invent everything else! =)
  2. Tweak Attributes so everyone has decent CI (13-15), INT of 4 or more, and other attributes to taste;
  3. Make one charismatic guy who is NOT a skillmonkey and NOT "the smart one", and give him Leadership (think of him as a battle leader, a Sergeant type);
  4. Think through the skills or write them out on paper, divide them by rangers — 3 for each, with 1 weapon specialization (don't dilute them, focus on one weapon); high INT "genius" can take 5. This way, you don't even need a wimpy "skillmonkey";
  5. Go back to attributes and tweak Rangers a little to their chosen weapon and skills. For example, a melee could use a SPD boost and half-decent AP; SMG guy would like SPD too; Sniper doesn't need SPD or STR at all, but would love extra CI and APs from other Attributes.
  6. Choose a Quirk and then go back again: did it change the picture? Example: Brittle Bones gives your sniper 2 bonus AP. Now you can free up a whopping 4 Attribute points and make him a Genius or a CI monster, while still getting 1 bonus AP! Another example: Twitchy gives you a movement speed boost. Maybe you can sacrifice some speed to raise CI, or add strength? Or even make the bruiser a genius with 8 INT?
HERE'S A MNEMONIC: STR, SPD and INT define your character the most. COO tweaks Action Points. AW tweaks Combat Initiative.

It seems like a lot of work just to get started. But you'll be glad you did. The game will not be hard or frustrating for you, and you will be able to do anything. Just stick to chosen skills, focus your guys, and there will be nothing that can stop you from having fun and exploring the world, even on the highest difficulty levels!

= = =

PS: Of course, most people "would like to know more". Like, you know, in Starship Troopers. That was a parody of propaganda. So maybe you don't want to know more? Anyway, you can learn the very useful info on how the weapons progress in Director's Cut viewtopic.php?f=40&t=14051 (useful to know how many APs each Ranger really needs). And also what your potential companions are viewtopic.php?f=40&t=8733 (both full of spoilers, and useful to know who you can dump your unwanted skills onto, or, on the contrary, what insanely cool people you're gonna meet and fall in love with).
Last edited by AyeBraine on November 5th, 2015, 4:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by frabron » November 5th, 2015, 10:07 am

Very will done, thanks for the Write-up

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Harpagornis » November 5th, 2015, 10:17 am

A good starting point for all players that are new to the Wasteland 2 universe!

Read it, learn it. And kick your enemies ass. :D

Well done! ;)

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by pnellesen » November 5th, 2015, 5:44 pm

Very nice.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Jimmious » November 6th, 2015, 5:09 am

Good stuff but obviously aimed for min/maxers. My guide for creating parties is : do them however you feel they should be and face the consequences.
After all WL2 is not really hard so there's no real reason to "game it" so much. Not that I have a problem with the people that do that though
Float away, little butterfly. Just flutter away. I got a gig in Vegas. And the wastelands ain't no place for kids.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by macksting » November 6th, 2015, 8:51 am

Jimmious wrote:Good stuff but obviously aimed for min/maxers. My guide for creating parties is : do them however you feel they should be and face the consequences.
After all WL2 is not really hard so there's no real reason to "game it" so much. Not that I have a problem with the people that do that though
For my part, I like to know what's optimal, then deviate accordingly.
This deviation can become extreme, but I find it's more fun if it's all quite deliberate.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by SnakePot » November 6th, 2015, 10:17 am

Actually giving high INT and CHA to one ranger is really beneficial. High CHA = more experience = more levels. With high INT you get more SPs from those levels and use them to raise more skills that give you more exp and even more levels. Great synergy.
Take Demolitions but NOT Perception! Perception gives no experience.
Choose a weapon with low AP sweet spot (7 or 8), raise AWA and use Pair of Engagement Rings. Rings penalty can be countered with Tinkerer perk. You'll be decent enough in combat.
"In other words, just 'cause there is potential to play munchkin mode doesn't mean that you have to. ;) And we always think a game is more fun when there are a few things that are more or less powerful [...]" - sear

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Drool » November 6th, 2015, 12:33 pm

SnakePot wrote:Take Demolitions but NOT Perception! Perception gives no experience.
If you want to find and disarm mines with your foot.
Alwa nasci korliri das.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by SnakePot » November 6th, 2015, 10:00 pm

Drool wrote:
SnakePot wrote:Take Demolitions but NOT Perception! Perception gives no experience.
If you want to find and disarm mines with your foot.
Or make your rangers, you know, cooperate. Like, one of them spots the mines, other one disarms them.
"In other words, just 'cause there is potential to play munchkin mode doesn't mean that you have to. ;) And we always think a game is more fun when there are a few things that are more or less powerful [...]" - sear

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Zombra » November 6th, 2015, 10:24 pm

Nice guide AyeBraine! Hope it will help a lot of beginners.

And I see what you mean SnakePot - Perception is indeed more efficient on a low-Charisma Ranger.
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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 6th, 2015, 11:13 pm

Jimmious wrote:Good stuff but obviously aimed for min/maxers. My guide for creating parties is : do them however you feel they should be and face the consequences.
I disagree. The guide itself stated plainly that this is for people who want to avoid frustration and discover everything in ONE playthrough (after all, they DID visit forums to find out how to optimize). This means a set of robust builds that are not prescribed, but WILL work for combat. As you noticed, I didn't tell people what Perks or Quirks to get, what skill combos to pick to, say, switch trinkets more easily; I didn't instruct which weapon is "better" and which companions (if any) to go for.

I've played the Release twice and didn't want to do DC twice back-to-back. So I did the research and did one complete playthrough. And BTW I did give perception to other guy than my demo man (it was in-character). And gave Ascetic to person who'd benefit the most from trinkets (she's a nun). For role-playing and fun. In fact, it was fun - these two guys worked together to clear minefields.

This guide just reflects the fact that I really didn't quite get how CLASSIC and its combat worked in vanilla. Now I read up and got it. And this way you can feel the feedback of changes to Attributes more than if you just role-play with sliders and, for example, set 6 INT for "slightly smarter"...

I agree in that the game is not overly difficult. I just like understanding systems in RPGs. Here, they are very obscure and clunky. Hence, this guide. And I will have to admit, after "optimizing" the game ultimately became ridiculously easy towards the end. But that's because I wanted to find every location, quest and thingie that is there.
Last edited by AyeBraine on November 6th, 2015, 11:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 6th, 2015, 11:22 pm

SnakePot wrote:Actually giving high INT and CHA to one ranger is really beneficial. High CHA = more experience = more levels. With high INT you get more SPs from those levels and use them to raise more skills that give you more exp and even more levels. Great synergy.
Take Demolitions but NOT Perception! Perception gives no experience.
I don't know. To get 6 CHA and 8-10 INT you cripple a guy so much he's a... I don't know, a walking smile and a brain? Those extra levels you talk about sure are nice, but even at 30th level it was just 2 levels difference, 3 at most - and this guy was a demo man disarming whole minefields.

It actually gave me great relief to separate CHA from INT. I always like social skills and smarts (and luck), but combining them in a single character is pure murder. Besides, if you "farm" skills for him to get EXP, who is he exactly? Yeah, a skillmonkey =) A strange, unpopular creature that exists to open locks, disarm traps, and look lost in a fight. No character, just a half-blind, anemic swiss army knife.

Besides, you need to max Leadership, which gets in the way of skillmonkeying this character. And if they flatline this slow and squishy nincompoop (you can't tuck him/her away, you need the "bubble"), you lose the bonus and companions go rogue.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by SnakePot » November 7th, 2015, 8:34 am

My skillmonkey at lvl 33 has 14 CI and 8 AP (with Rings), pretty close to the goal:
= = =
Now what you do is try to flesh out your imagined Ranger, while keeping an eye on a single number: your Combat Initiative. If it is high (around 15), and the number of Action Points isn't awful (shoot for 8 or more), you're set for any difficulty.
= = =
She also has 8 CHA, not 6 and she is 4 level ahead of 3 CHA guys. Yeah, the difference is not big, i think non combat XP rewards are not good enough in WL2.

Maybe it's not the best way to build a Ranger but it's a viable alternative.
"In other words, just 'cause there is potential to play munchkin mode doesn't mean that you have to. ;) And we always think a game is more fun when there are a few things that are more or less powerful [...]" - sear

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 7th, 2015, 1:27 pm

SnakePot wrote:My skillmonkey at lvl 33 has 14 CI and 8 AP (with Rings), pretty close to the goal:
...Maybe it's not the best way to build a Ranger but it's a viable alternative.
Oh, I'd never try to say that anything is "best" or "optimal". This is just my experience with the game and its obscure mechanics. Your own way of enjoying the game is always the best way. It's just that I did 2 playthroughs without even realizing some of this stuff.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Revolucas » November 7th, 2015, 2:27 pm

The many different ways people claim are optimal is a testament on how well made the CLASSIC system is. There is a lot of variety you can play with assuming you keep your CI above 13.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 8th, 2015, 3:49 pm

Revolucas wrote:The many different ways people claim are optimal is a testament on how well made the CLASSIC system is. There is a lot of variety you can play with assuming you keep your CI above 13.
That's the point. I've done two playthroughs without ever minding the CI. These were prefectly normal per gameplay, which doesn't really hold up the notion that CLASSIC system is well implemented. Or rather mission design is rough and crude. It's only when I've learned about CI and turn assignment mechanics, I've began noticing the "depths", as it were. To be fair, learning about this made the game easy - which is also not really the sign of good implementation.

I'm not saying the mechanics are bad, but they're nothing to write home about, considering how many great, decently balanced tactical RPGs come out nowadays.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Blind Ryan » November 9th, 2015, 2:41 am

I'm just going to say this here. I min/max CLASSIC. I roleplay skills. I feel like I have to or I'll get killed before I get anywhere.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by Revolucas » November 9th, 2015, 3:31 pm

AyeBraine wrote:
Revolucas wrote:The many different ways people claim are optimal is a testament on how well made the CLASSIC system is. There is a lot of variety you can play with assuming you keep your CI above 13.
That's the point. I've done two playthroughs without ever minding the CI. These were prefectly normal per gameplay, which doesn't really hold up the notion that CLASSIC system is well implemented. Or rather mission design is rough and crude. It's only when I've learned about CI and turn assignment mechanics, I've began noticing the "depths", as it were. To be fair, learning about this made the game easy - which is also not really the sign of good implementation.

I'm not saying the mechanics are bad, but they're nothing to write home about, considering how many great, decently balanced tactical RPGs come out nowadays.
I'm not really referring to casual usage since those people don't really min-max and the game will be enjoyable any way they play it.I can't find one system that isn't flawed or can be abused. But usually there is only 1 or 2 ways to abuse those systems. At least with Classic you can have much more variety when min-maxing depending on which skills you plan to take.

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 10th, 2015, 12:34 pm

Revolucas wrote:At least with Classic you can have much more variety when min-maxing depending on which skills you plan to take.
I would agree with you that CLASSIC is quite flexible. But also I would say that it's a bit amorphous, and that's part of what makes it flexible. You don't really build characters as professionals in something. You just learn which arcane combinations of totally arbitrary numbers (if you take them at face value, like "awareness" or "speed") make a character more effective with a particular piece of gear.

That's not really a shining example, really. ...Although not a bad one either - the majority of games with mediocre and poor balance just don't provide for flexibility and synergy at all. So it's a win, no doubt.

A holy grail of balance - that some games reached and held onto - is balance that's tied to understandable mechanics, wholly explained by in-game words. For example, in Borderlands 2 family of games you always get what it says on the tin. And there's literally hundreds of "perks" and dozens of TYPES of augmenting gear there. Note that you can always get to the bottom of the mechanic (the fact that it's documented down to formulas is a testament to that), but you can live the whole 3-playthough NG+ levelling cycle without consulting the debugger or a calculator =)

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Re: Wasteland 2: Advanced character creation - Short & Easy Guide

Post by AyeBraine » November 10th, 2015, 12:43 pm

Blind Ryan wrote:I'm just going to say this here. I min/max CLASSIC. I roleplay skills. I feel like I have to or I'll get killed before I get anywhere.
Oh I definitely feel you. I'm talking from a "height" (imaginary and daft) of a returning player with a knack for reading guides =) But at the same time, my main interest is in narrative games AND tactical combat (XCOM-like). So, in so many words, I come for the characters and role-play (would never stick skills on a person out of character)... and stay for the optimization that tickles my calculating XCOM-pseudopods =)

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