Author Topic: Which skills are near essential?  (Read 4880 times)


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Which skills are near essential?
« on: March 23, 2022, 11:55:27 am »
Hey, I'm a new player and I've been trying to figure out a "build template" for future playthroughs. It seems to me that certain skill levels are pretty much used for all characters, and I'd like to get some feedback to see if I'm right to use these.

Every build:
Hacking effective 135 and Lockpicking effective 130 seem to be no-brainers and have a place on literally every build.
Mercantile effective 105 for special merchandise.
Electronics effective 120 and up assuming every build wants shields.
Mechanics effective 120 and up also looks like it's useful for practically any build, with the exception of PSI builds with leather armor.
Tailoring effective 120 and up assuming every build wants to craft any armor.
Biology effective 50 since apparently Focus Stim is incredible.

Most builds:
Chemistry effective 112 for MK V Grenades,
Throwing effective 80 should allow you to not kill yourself with aforementioned grenades.
Pickpocketing effective 50 for free ammo/hypos/oddities

Are there any skills here that I shouldn't be putting points into in pretty much every build, and why not?


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Re: Which skills are near essential?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2022, 12:13:19 pm »
Missed the obvious one. Stealth. I usually get stealth 80 on every build. Even tin cans can strip sometimes.
Second obvious one is your attack skill. Always max.
Pickpocketing is a waste of points in my opinion.
Lockpicking is weaker than hacking and i usually go 50 just for the vents (fuck switching to crowbar everytime)
Throwing 70 is a must for every build pretty much.

Crafting skill are really build dependant.


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Re: Which skills are near essential?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2022, 10:59:57 pm »
Subterfuge skills can be skipped if you're knowledgeable about the game. Lockpicking is just a worse Pickpocketing since it doesn't offer anything unique, all it has going for it is some assorted loot and a few oddities most of which are attainable elsewhere; you only take it to 50 effective in 3-5 Strength builds because you have no easy way to open vents otherwise (crowbars are superior to unlocking not just because it's instantaneous but because only one vent in the entire game makes noise that attracts hostile NPCs, and you can just stealth that one away with pure equipment bonuses instead of opening). Pickpocketing has exclusive oddities behind it that you can't obtain otherwise unless you're willing to assassinate/kill/cheese certain factions and NPCs, and also has certain bonuses like the Institute library card (obtainable through Hacking or Persuasion as well) or preventing the Professor's kidnapping in the Aegis questline. PP also gives you straight money, drugs, ammo, and other early benefits; and while it falls off later in the game due to money becoming plentiful, it's still the best QoL skill to take, even with as low as around 50 effective. Personally I prefer it in the 100s or more end game if I can afford it. Hacking has some decent stuff behind it, like a couple free SSDs in Expedition, programming the Naga Protector, etc. Stealth is powerful and the best utility skill in the game, but it also has the highest bonuses from items, so how high you take it depends on which enemy you want to stealth by and how you're going to approach it. Traps is obviously the worst and you should never take it outside of crossbow builds, and even then only enough for the feats.

You were right on with Mercantile. Mechanics is good on most builds, Tailoring is pretty much mandatory, Biology 100 effective is nice for super health hypos or 115 for regen mixtures but it can go lower. I would dare say some builds can skip Electronics, but it's on a case by case basis, so it's best to think it through first. Chemistry is defeated by Mercantile giving you one or two merchants selling MkIV grenades, and plasma grenades being superior all around. I only ever get 15 base chemistry on non-chemgun/pure throwing builds to be able to craft gas grenades and low tier molotovs with the Biology synergy/Under Pie bringing it to over 20 effective.

Throwing is quite good, but if you're not playing a weak build it's not the end of the world to not have it.

Persuasion is good for lore and earlier Oculus, but otherwise, most of its meaningful checks can be completely skipped by doing certain quests/actions beforehand. I'd only take it on high Will builds (pure psi) that can just dump 20 to 40 skill points and get a really high effective score. With Intimidation you either leave it at 0 and use items to boost the value and pass some checks, or max it when you have Yell/Brutality.

Temporal Manipulation is just a "win more" psi school. Builds are obviously stronger with it but I don't think it's wrong to not have it.

Offensive, defensive, and other psi skills are build dependant. If I have free skill points while planning a build, first I look to Throwing and see if it will really help me get through the hardest parts or just become a bonus, then to Pickpocketing, then to extra stealth if I haven't maxed it but have some from the start, and lastly to Hacking. TM depends on the build and whether I want to have psi or not, which is yes most of the time.

Of course, always think through the effective score with the build in mind and how many skill points you have available. Tincans and most ranged weapons will want around or over 160 effective Mechanics in the end game counting all the boosts, while melee weapons can settle somewhere in the 130s. Maybe you don't want super health hypos or bullheads, so you can get just enough for Focus Stims or Aegis. Maybe you want plasma grenades but the build is alright with not having the best possible energy shield.


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Re: Which skills are near essential?
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2022, 12:21:25 am »
I had a whole list of recommendations, cribbed from various guides, but it's almost certainly outdated now.

Still, guess it can't hurt to post. The magic of message forums lies in how a million other people always come running up to scream "NUH UH YOUR WRONG AND I'M RIGHT BECAUSE REASONS," and sometimes they actually have good reasons.

Anyhow, basic advice is to go to the Underrail build tool and do the following:

• Set level to 25, or 30 if you have DLC (remember to enable option: Expedition DLC).

• Reduce all abilities to 3.

• Plan out core feats for your build - adjust abilities and skills to meet their requirements.

• Allocate any remaining attribute points you have to spare. AGI can help in a lot of areas, STR in a few rarer instances but many equipment requirements. PER is kind of a waste by endgame for finding secrets, only boost it if you're going full Guns or Crossbows. WIL 7 is a minimum requirement for many psionic skill checks, assuming you don't max it for a psi build. DEX and INT can save you a lot of skill points in subterfuge and crafting respectively. CON has no real use beyond meeting feat requirements.

• Max your primary offensive skill (gun / crossbow / melee / throwing / psi).

• Decide how much Throwing skill you really need. 80 effective is the threshold where you can throw a grenade 3m with maximum 90% accuracy, just far enough to be out of the blast radius. You can get away with zero, if you're willing to abuse the F9 key horribly and only sling one flashbang per fight. Of course, if you have your heart set on slinging blades, max it as your main combat skill.

• Decide how much you want to hack and/or lockpick. General advice is 10 + (5 × LVL), and most builds with some DEX for initiative or Mechanics / Electronics for crafting will be able to get good results from relatively few points here. 0/0 is a challenge for masochists, especially on Dominating-Oddity.  Other thresholds include:
  - 130 Hacking to pass the hardest hacking test in the story. Note you can't use Haxxors etc. to boost this, because it's a dialogue option.
  - 50 lockpicking to open all vents. Alternatively, 8 STR and a crowbar, though you won't be able to close them again.
  - 130 lockpicking to pick all locks.

• Decide how much Stealth you need. Max if you're REALLY paranoid about getting seen, but remember you can get a decent amount from gear early on. 30 is probably the lowest you should stop at, and that's gravely risking getting autodetected anywhere past Depot A. 130 will let you avoid instant detection by anything that lacks True Sight, but don't forget your armor penalty! Divide that 130 by 100% minus the expected armor penalty of your endgame gear; with a 20% armor penalty you'll need 130/0.8 = 163 effective stealth to successfully stalk the Death Stalkers.

• Decide how much crafting you need. Far and away the hardest to plan in advance, as Stygian Software loves rebalancing these numbers in every new patch. Best advice is to dive into the wiki, look for whatever you plan to craft, and get the minimum effective skill for doing it. For a lot of crafts, though, quality matters, so be sure to factor in the skills needed to craft with Q140 (minimum) materials to ensure you can build your endgame gear. And always plan for 105 effective Mercantile, so you can actually access the high quality stuff.

• Allocate remaining skill points at your choosing, aiming for various thresholds.
  - Pickpocketing: 32 to steal All-In, 38 to skip the kidnapping quest in Expedition, 91 to pickpocket some lore from Morde, and 122 to steal the Strange Medallion from Ethan.
  - Traps: Beartraps require 0, and the Jackknife and Trapper's Belt are enough to set frag mines. Beyond that, 95 lets you deploy any trap, 165 lets you disarm any trap, and 185 lets you disarm and recover any trap.
  - Persuasion: 45 to get SGS to help the Black Eels in the Junkyard War, 50 to rig the Gauntlet, 60 to solve the Rathound King quest peacefully, and 110 to pass the hardest check in the game (that can be passed).
  - Intimidation: 75 to pass the hardest passable check in the base game, 100 to pass the hardest check in Expedition.
  - Temporal Manipulation: 35 BASE (not effective) to use Limited Temporal Increment, 70 for Psycho-Temporal Contraction, and 85 for Stasis.
  - Metathermics: 0 if you just want to snipe with Cryokinesis, 35 (BASE not effective) for Cryostasis, 40 for Cryokinetic Orb. Anything beyond that and you might as well go all-in and max it.
  - Psychokinesis: 0 if you just want to work in an extra potential stun with Telekinetic Punch, 25 (BASE not effective) for Force Field, 30 for Electrokinesis, 40 for Disruptive Field, and 45 for Electrokinetic Imprint.

EDIT: Not sure how much longer I'll get to keep modifying this, so I guess I'd better start another section.

Anyhow, stuff I left out:

• When adjusting your abilities to meet core feats, be sure to max whichever ability you intend to pair with your primary DPS weapon. STR for sledgehammers or fists, DEX for knives or throwing, PER for guns or crossbows, and WIL for psi.

• If Ambush is one of your feats, you will want to max Stealth for the extra DPS.

• Yes, CON is useless except for meeting feat requirements. Given the feats it unlocks, though, it would be OP otherwise. Thick Skull is the only feat that actually makes hit points matter in Underrail, and you need 10 CON for that.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2022, 03:49:16 pm by Tatterdemalian »