This game was a complete mystery to me when I first purchased it. I spent a long time just reading reviews about the pros and cons when I finally decided that this game would be well worth my hard earned money despite the many flaws it suffers from. First thing I did was read the manual which left me with more questions then I had before I knew what was revealed to me. There is a lot of confusion circulating around the net about numerous questions the manual seems to leave out in the Xbox 360 version. This is why I spent hours just reading forums before I decided I was ready to play the game and enjoy it. In this blog entry, I will try to uncover most of the question you may have or information you may not have even known about in order to give you more playing time as opposed to reading time.
Creating your character FAQ
What character should I pick?
Shadow Warriors and Seraphim are both considered newb-friendly characters, and both are good at melee combat. If you like ranged combat, a Dryad is a good pick; if you're more of a caster, then give a High Elf a try. Inquisitors and Temple Guardians are a little more difficult to play (they're both essentially melee/caster hybrids), and I wouldn't recommend either to a new player.
I picked my character. Now what?
Each character has three "trees" of five Combat Arts each, with Combat Arts being the "spells" or "special attacks" of that character. I recommend focusing on one combart art tree, with an optional second tree depending on the character. Everything revolves around Combat Arts, which directly determine how you will play your character. Additional information on all the Combat Arts can be found here:
Here is a rough description of the trees:
Death Warrior: The "tank" tree; contains skills for doing a lot of damage and absorbing a lot of damage. Good for beginners.
Malevolent Champion: Another melee tree, though slightly more strategic than Death Warrior. Also good for beginners.
Astral Lord: The summoner tree. A good secondary CA tree as well. I do not recommend that a new player make this his primary tree.
Exalted Warrior: Weapon based attacks. Used by both melee and ranged seraphims. A good pick for a beginner.
Celestial Magic: Spell attacks, used by caster seraphim. Not recommended for a beginner.
Revered Technology: An assortment of buffs and debuffing CAs. A good secondary CA tree, especially for ranged seraphim.
Capricious Hunter: Mainly focused on missile attacks. Good for beginners.
Cabalistic Voodoo: Mostly debuff CAs. A decent secondary tree.
Nature Weaver: Mostly buff CA. The primary tree for caster Dryads, and a good secondary tree for anyone else.
Arrant Pyromancer: The main tree for a fire (caster) elf.
Mystic Stormite: the main tree for an ice (caster) elf. Broadly speaking, ice elves have better defense at the expense of less offense.
Delphic Arcania: Mostly utility CAs. A recommended secondary tree. This is also the main tree for a melee elf, but I do not recommend that playstyle to a beginnger.
Gruesome Inquisition: Weapon-based damage. Focuses on offense at the expense of defense.
Astute Supremacy: The caster tree.
Nefarious Netherworld: Mostly debuffs. A good secondary tree for any Inquisitor.
Devout Guardian: Weapon-based damage. A good mix of offense and defense.
Lost Fusion: Mostly ranged elemental attacks. Not recommended for a new player.
Source Warden: Area of effect elemental attacks/debuffs.
OK, I guess I know which Combat Art tree(s) I want to use. Where should I put my attribute points?
In general, you should put all of your attribute points into your damage-affecting attribute. That means Strength for melee characters, Dexterity for ranged characters, and Intelligence for casters. Some players stick their first 50 points into Stamina to help with their Combat Arts timers.
Combat Art timers?
There is no "mana" in this game. Instead, each Combat Art has an associated "timer" that goes off whenever you use the Combat Art. Until the timer regenerates, you cannot use that Combat Art again. Also, you cannot use any of the Combat Art in the same "tree" either. While you might think you would want to diversify your Combat Art trees as a result, in practice that's not a very good idea. See the discussion below on "mod points."
Anyway, most of the balancing in this game focuses on managing your Combat Art timers. At low levels, you won't be able to "cast" very often, but a well-build high-level character will regenerate the timer before the combart art animation finishes. So you'll eventually be able to spam your Combat Arts, meaning that there's no need to diversify Combat Art trees on timer grounds.
I guess we'll get back to that later. Now what skills do I pick?
You get new skills at levels 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 18, 25, 35, 50 and 65.
There are four pages of skills. Don't pick exclusively from the first page.
You should pick "Aspect Focus" and "Aspect Lore" for whichever Combat Art tree you're focusing on (e.g., an elf focusing on Arrant Pyromancer combart arts would take Aspect Focus and Aspect Lore). For Death Warrior, Malevolent Champion, Exalted Warrior, Capricious Hunter, Gruesome Inquisition, and Devout Guardian, the corresponding "Aspect Lore" skill is Tactics Lore. Note that Tactics Lore thus affects two Shadow Warrior Combat Art trees and zero High Elf Combat Art trees.
In addition to generally improving your Combat Arts, Aspect Lore/Focus also give modification points which you can use to improve the Combat Arts. Mod points are a really big deal: try to gather them for your chosen Combat Art tree as soon as you can. Tactics Lore give mod points for both Death Warrior and Malevolent Champion.
Additional information here:
If you're using a weapon, you should pick the corresponding weapon skill, e.g. "Ranged Weapons" for ranged characters, "Sword Weapons" if you like swords, etc. Note that "Dual Wield" does not stack with a weapons skill-- if you are dual wielding swords (for instance), you Sword Weapons skill will not have any direct effect.
If you're a caster, you should take Ancient Magic (if it's available) and Combat Discipline.
You should take Armor Lore and Constitution, which are the "gold star" defensive skills.
If you picked a secondary Combat Art tree, you should take the corresponding Aspect Focus skill for that as well.
If you plan on using two combart art buffs, you should take Concentration. There is no other way to have (say) Grim Resilience and Reflective Emanation up at the same time.
After that, you have some flexibility. Toughness and Combat Reflexes are good picks for melee characters, Shield Lore is decent if you're a sword-and-boarder (or a caster elf), and Combat Discipline is good even for non-casters.
You may also want to take some Utility skills: they will not directly increase your damage output, but can be very useful for looting purposes. Especially since you can share equipment among all your characters through your Hero Chest. Specifically consider taking Bargaining (better shops) and/or Enhanced Perception (better drops).
Uhhh... this is a little overwhelming. Can you suggest some builds?
Sure. Here are some newb-friendly builds:
2: Tactics Lore
5: Weapon Skill (e.g., Sword Weapons or Dual Wield)
8: Armor Lore
12: Death Warrior Focus
18: Malevolent Champion Focus
35: Combat Reflexes
2: Tactics Lore
3: Exalted Warrior Focus
5: Dual Wield
8: Armor Lore
18: Combat Reflexes
25: Revered Technology Focus
2: Tactics Lore
3: Ranged Weapons
5: Capricious Hunter Focus
8: Combat Reflexes
12: Armor Lore
25: Nature Weaver Focus
2: Arrant Pyromancer Lore
5: Arrant Pyromancer Focus
8: Delphic Arcania Focus
12: Armor Lore
25: Ancient Magic
35: Combat Discipline
(To make an ice elf, just use Mystic Stormite Lore/Focus instead of Arrant Pyromancer Lore/Focus)
2: Tactics Lore
3: Dual Wield
5: Gruesome Inquisition Focus
8: Armor Lore
18: Nefarious Netherworld Focus
25: Combat Reflexes
2: Tactics Lore
3: Sword Weapons (or Hafted Weapons)
5: Devout Guardian Focus
8: Armor Lore
18: Warding Energy Lore
25: Combat Reflexes
Thanks, that's easier to follow. What should I pick for my optional skills?
Whatever you want. If you want to use another CA tree, you can take the corresponding Focus and/or Lore skills. Toughness is good for defense; Combat Discipline is good for offense. Bargaining and Enhanced Perception are also nice choices.
Unlike most other games, your Bargaining skill will affect the quality of the items a merchant makes available to you. In particular, Bargaining is the only way to get merchants to sell +all skills and +all CA jewelry, which are very, very useful for socketing your gear. In fact, almost all experienced players have one (generally only one) character with Bargaining in their stable. This character is colloqually referred to as "the Shopper."
What about Enhanced Perception?
This serves two purposes. First, it significantly improves your chances of finding good drops, even without the Mastery Bonus. Second, it allows you to use better +experience gear. Getting to level 200 takes a long time in this game, and XP gear helps.
Blacksmith also looks good.
Sadly, it only looks good. Blacksmith is bugged on the console versions: it doesn't do anything.
What did you mean by "Mastery Bonus"?
Most skills give an additional effect when you put 75 "hard" points into them (i.e., actual skill points, not "soft" skill points from gear). The additional effect ranges from trivial to game-changing. See the wiki for more information.
How should I distribute my skill points?
Two main considerations. First, put enough points into your Aspect skills to get the mod points you need. You get an additional mod point when your combined Aspect Lore and Focus skill levels are equal to 3, 5, 9, 14, 22, 31, 42, 55, 70, 87, 106, 126, 149, 173, and 199. Naturally, only "hard" skill points can yield mod points.
Second, concentrate your skill points so that you keeping two or three skill "at level," meaning that the skill level as your character level. By doing this, you can Master up to three skills when you hit level 75.
So this means you should keep one or both of your main Aspect skills at level, along with one or two other skills with good Mastery bonuses. Skills with great mastery bonuses are Constitution (in-combat regeneration), Ancient Magic (pierce elemental resistances), and most Weapon skills (chance of double-hit).
How should I distribute my mod points?
I generally prioritize the buff, then my main damage Combart Art.
How many runes should I eat?
A complicated question. You should always eat one rune for each CA in any of your trees, just to activate it. After that, it's more of a judgment call based on how often you use the Combat Arts, how you use it, what other Combat Arts you use, etc. I generally rely on socketed runes, +Aspect, and +Combat Art gear to keep my timers low.
General Information FAQ
How do I access the inventory?
Pressing R1 or RB will allow you to access the inventory along with other things. Just hold down RB (Xbox version), R1 (PS3 version), use your left stick to point at the direction of the menu you want to look at and hold it until the menu appears.
How do I equip other potions for quick access?
Highlight a potion you want to make a short cut for,press Y (Xbox version), Triangle (PS3 version) followed by the directional button on your D-Pad that you want to assign it to. Note: you can only link 3 different potions at a time.
How do I equip a shield or dual wield weapons?
Highlight your shield/weapon, press Y (Xbox version), Triangle (PS3 version) and press the button you want to assign it to. Then highlight the other weapon/shield you want, press Y (Xbox version), Triangle (PS3 version) and press the same button as before so it's in the same slot.
How do I know if an enemy stronger then me?
When you target an enemy, you will see a colored circle, that is if you have that option on. The colors determine the difficulty you will have with said enemy.
Gray Circle: Much weaker opponent, 1 hit kills, little to no XP awarded for defeating this enemy.
Green Circle: Low level opponent, usually 1 hit kills, little XP will be awarded for defeating this enemy.
Yellow Circle: Equal level opponent, 2-3 hit kills, Normal XP awarded for defeating this enemy.
Red Circles: Much Greater level opponent, may take a few more hits to take down, you get more XP from killing higher level opponents.
Note: Circles with a triangle in the center represent Elite opponents, who can potentially be 1.5 levels higher then regular opponents.
I chose the wrong Skill/Mod, can I undo this change?
No, once you have spent your points you cannot undo the change so choose wisely.
What are these circular icons on the map?
These are your quest directions. They tell you where you need to go in the quest.
Gold Circles: Story Quests
Blue Circles: Class Quests
White Circles: Side Quests
What is this long bar filled with different colors on weapons and armor?
This is just an easier way to look at the percentage of Physical/Ice/Fire/Magic/Poisonm damage and resistance the item has.
Light Blue: Ice
What about these books I found? what do they do?
When you use a book, information is added to your book list in the Quest Log. They don't give you any perks or enhance character in any way.
What is with these stars on all the items?
The stars represent the quality of the item.
No stars: Normal Item
1 star: Magic Item
2 stars: Rare Item
3 stars: Unique/Set Item
4 stars: Legendary Item
What are these different colored squares on certain Weapons and Armor?
These are sockets where you can place certain items to give the item magic properties or boost the items stats.
Bronze Slot: These slots allow you to socket runes.
Silver Slot: The Silver slots allow you to socket runes and rings.
Gold Slot: Gold slots allow you to socket runes, rings, and amulets.
I found an item that increases a skill that I don't have. Do I still get the skill bonus?
No, you must already have a skill to benefit from it. If you don't have the skill, the bonus will be displayed in red.
Choosing your campaign:
Choosing Light or Shadow is an important decision based on how you plan on playing the game. Some characters are restricted to a certain campaign and you cannot join friends of opposite campaigns. Although, you may join Freeworld servers with the exception that you will not be able to group with opposite factions.
Choosing your deity:
It does not really matter which God you choose. It is argued that divine powers are often overlooked and seldom used. There is a skill you can specialize in called Divine Devotion which can unlock some additional attributes, increase the power and reduce the regeneration time of using it. However, there are far better skills to specialize in.
Dying has a downfall but you won't lose items, experience or levels. However, you will lose a huge bonus boost to your attributes which accumulates by staying alive. The Survival Bonus slowly increases to 100% benefit which will drop to 0% if you die, but will slowly raise again (albeit it would be harder or impossible to reach 100% in the end). You can read more on survival bonus on the Sacred 2 Wiki:Survival Bonus page and the formula is theorized on Ascaron's forum.
Pausing the game:
You cannot pause the game. Be careful leaving your character un-attended, you may die without realizing it.