Shadowrun Returns – Beginner Tips

Named for its reintroduction of a classic cyberpunk universe, Shadowrun Returns is a brilliant turn-based strategy RPG set in a grim world filled with ultra-futuristic technology alongside magic, elves, and dragons.

Shadowrun Returns (also known by the campaign name The Dead Man's Switch) has you creating a character who sets off to find out whoever killed your past partner in crime and exact revenge. There's quite a lot to wrap your head around when it comes to completing this goal – here are some tips to get you started.

Don't Feel Restricted By Race Caps

Something you might find during character creation is that some races, such as Orks and Trolls, have skill caps that bar them from accessing certain skills and items. For example, Trolls have an Intelligence cap of six, which makes accessing the best Drones and Decks an impossibility.

Don't feel like you can't make a Troll Decker, though – there are outfits in the game that improve a skill by one. By the time you have access to these outfits, you'll be ready to use them to go over your skill caps. While they won't show up on your Karma menu, they will work as intended – a Troll Decker with a Decking skill of six will be able to equip the Deck unlocked at seven using the right outfit!

Consider The Nephilim Network

Once you've encountered a shady man named Jon Bartlett in the Seamstress Union, you'll have access to another category of mercenaries – the Nephilim Network. These mercenaries were designed by Kickstarter backers and are usually less specialized than the regular mercenaries, giving them more varied options in a fight.

Some of them, like Alexander Falk and Alexey, make for great additions to a team thanks to their utility and support options, making them versatile combatants suitable for any run. Some of them can be pricey, but you might find them entirely worth it.

The Power Of Decking

Decking is an extremely useful skill to invest in. It will allow you to enter the Matrix to retrieve precious data that you can sell, and there are plenty of Decking skill checks scattered throughout the game that can make certain puzzles and areas a breeze to progress through.

You do not need to have a Deck equipped to pass a Decking skill check, but you will need one equipped during missions if you want to enter the Matrix.

Unlike the other campaigns in the Shadowrun Trilogy, you are not guaranteed to have access to a Decker at all times and hired mercenaries cannot contribute to skill checks. This makes it even more beneficial to put a few points into the skill.

In addition to the previous benefits, putting points into Decking allows you to use the Mark Target ability. This will give you a bonus to your accuracy when targeting the marked enemy, making pretty much every build more efficient.

If you decide to invest in Decking after character creation, you will not have a Datajack. You can get a Datajack installed quite cheaply as soon as you have access to Dr. Sara Castle's cyberware services in the Seamtress Union.

Useful Social Skills

Whenever you reach a multiple of two in your Charisma skill, you will gain a new etiquette that can be used in conversations to skip puzzles, unlock new dialogues, or obtain some better rewards than usual.

While Elves start with a Charisma score of two, they do not start with an etiquette. If you want as many etiquettes as possible, consider a different race.

Due to the nature of the game, some of these options will be more useful than others – and you can gain the most benefits with some smart choices.

  • Picking Security will let you bypass quite a few annoying checks that deal with police officers and security guards, giving you the lingo to charm your way into buildings and crime scenes.
  • Picking Shadowrunner has some pretty specific benefits, most noticeably letting you flaunt your expertise into gaining better quest rewards. You can also use it in many early-game conversations.
  • Picking Academic (especially early on!) will net you some pretty drastic rewards and let you bypass a rough Strength check. If you plan to take the Academic etiquette, take it first.

Sell Your Paydata

If you come across some sensitive information while out on a mission, you can bet that your next trip to the Seamstress Union will be profitable – as long as you remember that you have it.

Whenever you come back to the Union, talk to absolutely everyone. Someone will be willing to purchase your ill-gotten gains for a hefty sum of nuyen – sometimes for a higher amount than previously thought if you have access to the requisite etiquettes.

Don't Be Afraid To Shakedown

Shadowrun Returns is a rather linear game – no matter the choices you make, you'll end up at the same destination. There are no karma systems and the world expects you to take advantage of everything and everyone that you can – and it is beneficial to do so.

Don't hold back when given the choice to ask for a bigger reward or skim a little off the top. You won't be punished for it.

This tip is most profitable during a late-game side mission that involves the kidnapping of a scientist. It's possible to ask him to try and meet the offer but he'll be 4,000 nuyen short. There are no repercussions for kidnapping him and taking the 9,000 nuyen – apart from perhaps on your conscience.

Haste Is Invaluable

Action economy is one of the most important things to exploit if you want to master a turn-based strategy game. One of the best – and easiest – ways to do this is through the Haste spell.

Haste is a Conjuring spell used by Shamans, the support casters of the game. It'll increase your AP by a certain amount for a few turns, with the amount and number of turns being dictated by the spell's level.

This is an incredibly useful spell that lets you attack more, move farther, and use your most expensive skills with impunity. Haste 4 ups the AP gain to two, meaning that you can spend up to five AP in a single turn. That's an incredible boon, especially for a spell that can be cast multiple times in a battle.

You begin the game with two AP per round as standard. When you reach 120 Karma (this should be around the mission in the Mental Hospital) you'll upgrade automatically to three AP per turn.

Quickness Is Always Good

When deciding how to build your character and where to spend your Karma, it's quickly obvious that Body is one of the most important stats in the game thanks to it being tied to your health pool.

Quickness, though often overlooked, can be just as useful – if not more. While a gun-toting character will have plenty of Quickness by default, any character can benefit from the Dodge skill. If you're playing a spellcaster this is even more important, as the enemy AI is smart enough to know that you're a high-value target. Having lots of Quickness and Dodge can even negate the need for a huge health pool entirely.

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