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Melee, at least at the start for sure, has bigger damage, thus feels easier than energy weapons useage.
It is not without flaws though. Equipment regularly deteriorates, and can cost a hefty sum to patch it up. Some god news on this front: seems there can be no durability-loss by punching containers (eggs and larva).

Ranged enemies on platforms are a pain.

Your stat is Strength. I suspect all res, HP, and endurance implants will be our friends.

Biodoms, maps and character levels (* means it has a waypoint-teleporter):
A biodome
*Base: 1
*Killer Mountain: 5
Tunnel of Fear: 7
B biodome
Path of Enthropy: 9
*River of Hope: 12
*Island of Fate: 14 (in the shop a 26-43 spear appeared)
C biodome
*Four River: 15 (To deal with the AT-ST Walker, lure it on the healing pod.)
*Industrial Hell: 17 (my advice here is to add AC to your character)
Labyrinth: 18
D biodome
*Strange Swamp: 20
*Pumping Station: 21
Corridors of Anguish: 22 (here is a mega-monster at the end, something Bloody Butcher. It has a ton of HP, and normaly you'd back away from it the whole level shooting ranged projectiles on it. This time obviously you can not do that, and I was too lazy experimenting if you can hit-back away, so I just stood my ground. I have full STR-build with exception of 5 skillpoint put into endurance for more HP, and there is a second-tier HP-implant on me. Because I knew this fight is coming I invested in a 36 AC battle armor (also has 10+ allres), and a slightly better spear. Took ca. 7 medikit to pass this - the exact same amount my energy weapon build once needed when stepping into one of the new maps as monsters were hoarding on me at arrival).
E biodome
*Broken Swamp: 23
*Foul Swamp: 25
The Queen's Nest: 26 (for this you have to defeat the Queen). To be effective here, you'll need 186 (or very close) HP. For this, I had to spend some stats on my Endurance. My stats at this point: 125/15/15(22)/30. Stats with item bonuses in parentheses. 186 HP along 48 Armor allows you to survive 2 hit of the Queen guaranteed, so you'll consume less stimpack. I've chewed 12 of these during the fight. Remember: you can buy these in the shops (which sells implants)
Also: took a look on what'd be the STR-requirement for endgame(?) / third tier equipment for this character (looks the same for Traditional Ranged), and that's 120-130 point in STR, so I'll start accumlating my point from now on until I can get one of those heavy armours with 20% allres. Looking forward for the 100% elemental immunities.
The One Way: 26 (note: while the only type of high tech items this character can use it the Teleport To Base, I suggest to carry at least 2 copies in case you forget to recharge your primal one at the shop, as you can only wield 2 charges ones).
F biosphere
*Field of Convicts: 27
*Bloodmoore: 28
Underground Mountain: 29
G biosphere
*Annihilation Terraces: 29 (tier 3 armor is definitely possible. A 49 AC, 20+ allres body armor - for some reason this bonus is frequent on this type - costs 25+$ and totaly worth it. The elmet is not much of an upgrade (15 AC instead of 12), but the shield is definitely bonus AC, and the onehanded swords don't much lag behind lances if you are interrested) NOTE: there is a place on this map where the game just loves to crash. Save frequently!
*Killer Sand: 30.
At this point, I made a couple hundreds shopreloads, so here is what I've found:
- armor, (AC 58 max found), helmet (20-25 max AC), shield can be found as tier 3 equipment
- all energy cannons are available. They can have pretty high requirements.
tier 3 "traditional weapons" which appeared, and their damage:
- onehanded sword: 30-40
- onehanded axe: 35-56
- club: 20-37
- spear: 30-72
- bow: 20-25
H biosphere
*Dry Fear: 30
*Heat of Hatred: 31
NOTE: enemy blasted up by mines do not count towards your exp
NOTE: 30 Agility moticably makes already fast weapons quicker (energy pistols are the most noticeable, here lances get more comfortable, I suspect they are a tiny bit slower than clubs), and you do have enough SP to spare, even if you'd invest everything else into STR. I've tried axes with my Agility-build, and they never get usable. No idea on twohanded swords.
Hidden Hospital: 32
BEWARE! once you picked up the quest item here, bring it straight to the questor, or the quest will be uncompleteable!
I biosphere
Underground Passage: 32
*Desert Horror: 33
*Sandy Nightmare: 33
Tip for the bantha: lure it on a nearby mine. There are 3 mines in the vicinity. It has to stand on top of it to be effective, so it is annoying and self-dangerous, but that thing is just hugh ofr melee, I wouldn't bother.
J biosphere
Death Spiral: 33
I'm thinking about where to spend my skillpoints. 129 seems pretty fine for STR, the rest could go into Agility. the difference would be to go for the slower weapons.
Frozen Mountain: 35
Snowy Desperation: 36
Here will be a bunch of big bantha. Some you can lure on a mine (even if it "only" takes away half its HP is immense help), and for the 3rd you can just stand on the healing platform and finish it ott. For the 2nd lacking this pre-knowledge I think detonated a mine (with that 2 mines are before the 3rd bantha), so it was pure hit - back away - hit - back away. Still did cost a medipack, but whatever. Btw, you ARE faster than them, so there's no stamina-problem.
Tip for the local miniboss: go to the fenced area through the middle mine at its gate. This'll let you manouvre, and lure the boss to one of the remaining mines. It did NOT instakoed for me, but left it with minimal HP. Still hitts like a mule, so bring stimpacks.
Oh: as the shop during the endgame will stop selling low quality equipment (tier 1 weapons/armours, low charged high tech gadgets), BUY AN ENERGY SHIELD with 1/1 charges right now if you did not do earlier! This will be out strategy against the final boss!
K biosphere
Destorying Freeze
Claping Mountain:
This is maybe my favourite area. Definitely memorable for the last part being running through a minefield which destroys everything for you. The quest here is also laughable: destroy the stuff before the aliens destroy the stuff! If mines are blowing up, the ship is over! Lol.
Ribs: 37
There are 2 major threats to your health here: turrets, and some drone from the terminator-franchise.
L biosphere
*Order of Steel:
Deadly Pyramid: 37
The good news is, found a super allres implant in the shop, so now I have 2 slots with this char to equip super energy implants. The game fortunately since this, or maybe the previous biodome throws money at you, and 100K money means 100 times refilling the energy bar.
Narrow?/Twilight?: 39
Oh, the reward here is a 2handed sword, easily goes into the 180+ STR req, but it was too slow for me.
M biosphere
Devilish Dungeon: 39
You'll either love or hate this part, as you can only move forward.
Disaster Place: 40
Infernal Bridges: 40
If you don't want the exp, just go straight ahead on the central bridge, the three console to be destroyed are near the end of the other side. Note that you get no exp for any enemy that walks into the electric barriers, just like the Base's Gate.
N biosphere
Concrete Crack: 40
The map is so big, you will be happy when you realise, you are railroaded. Otherwise those terminator-drones are so hard to hit, I actualy brought in a twohanded axe just to deal with them - at least they land a hit. Otherwise too slow though, so it's a switch-weapon for me. Too bad there'sno respec, I'd rise my Agility to 60 to see how it goes.
Radar Forest:41
Found a 35+ martial arts implant in the shop and tried it out. It solves most of the issues with the spear. Keeping the axe for the moment though.
Bottleneck: 41
The good news is, near the red keycard, and at a corner of the boss' room there are "optional" mines you can use to eliminate the local boss.
On the sidenote, the reward here is negligable: another implant. Though I can't compaint, it was this time a 31% allres, which I though is impossible. This makes my allres helmet rollable.
O biosphere
Steel Tunnels: 41
Mothership Module: 42
Remember - the gigas are always practicaly sitting on mines. Save before every room, run in, eliminated the big guy (if one is there), reload if something goes haywire. Oh, and don't forget your healing equipment at home, just in case.
Against Baron Harkonen mines are immensly useful, though the ones in the middle of the platform cafing the yellow door are useless against him, you can't lure it there, him being ranged and whatever. In the rooms on the left though are plenty of mines you can preserve, I needed 3 to get rid of the nuisance.
Execution Center: 43
We'll do this the quick way, as you might not even go for clvl 43.
First run in on the 2nd row, go in the room, grab the Red Card KEy, run out.
Run in the 3rd row, grab the Yellow Keycard, run out.
The tricky part now is to find a spot with manageable amount of enemies to make your base heading the foor on the 4th row where the Big Bad Boss resides. Watch out, the door is guarded by 2 giant, and there is no mine on this level. 4 stimapck and my spear solved one separated.

As I intensly try to blow up enemies with mines with this one, to know if mines are a factor, we'll just have to compare the final exp here with the energy weapon version.
Post edited June 24, 2022 by twillight
a) enter the Base, check the shop, leave via teleporter, return
b) save before talking to the shopkeeper. Check what he has for sale. Reload if it's not what you want.

Weapon progression:
- do not use Axes, they are slow and twohanded. Maybe an Agility-based melee character is possible, but I will not try that.
- swords are good onhanded weapons, as well as clubs. The advantage is the shield, but
- lances give insane DMG, so I switched on that as soon as I could. I'm not yet familiar with melee weapons that much, so I keep a shield in stash just to be sure.
- twohanded swords are slow.

Monster archetypes:
- zerg: low HP (1 hit with melee 1-2 hit for energy weapon): usualy comes, or tries to come in a mob, low dmg, fast movement (though there are exceptions).
- normal melee: these don't deserve special treatment
- normal ranged: their ability to harm you is not drastic, but if you can, still try to mitigate the damage pulling them off one-by-one, hiding behind corners - or attack when the mob is close to each other, so you can reach them all at once
- big ranged: there's not much a melee can do here. Definitely separate it, and if applicable wait behind a corner to come to you. Note: for ranged builds, there are some later models which has lower range, so you can hit - run back a few steps, shoot again. Second note: for ranged builds: turrets can ALWAYS be hit from out of their range! Warning for melee against turrets: pay double attention to mines.
Mines: they are annoying, steal your exp, and doesn't count to the enemy maximum. When you hear the beep - RUN! Note to ranged characters: while 95% of the time you can blast them with a shot, the game sometimes cheats against you, and still can be finishged by shrapnels. Nothing to be done against this, unless you activate the mines by ghetting close every time.
- slow animation monster: these hit hard, and usualy have hugh amount of HP. Fortunately they are slow to attack, so you can hit, back away, hit, back away...
- bosses: they are damage-sponges alwaya, and become "regular monster" in the next biodome. The earlier ones are melee, the later ones can shoot! Ranged characters can play pattern-recognition bullett-hell, melee simply has to go there and hit 'em! The medikit be with you.

tier 3 "traditional weapons" which appeared, and their damage:
onehanded melee
- onehanded sword: 30-40
- onehanded axe: 35-56
- club: 20-37
twohanded melee
- spear: 30-72
- twohanded sword: 59-76
- twohanded axe: 59-96
ranged weapons:
- slingshot: 8-10
- bow: 20-25
- crossbow: 40-58
- sawblade: 38-64

It is sad we don't know the math behind the stats, neither have we respec to try things out. The stat-swapping implants only help if you totaly specialize in one stat.

Made a bit of testing, here are the results:
- energy shield does last forever if unharmed, so it is a sustainable solution
- different weapon-types offer different "martial arts" value. I suspect this is a hit-chance-percentage, but I'm not sure if it is that relevant, or even if at all. Either way, lances have half the value than a two-handed axe (I compared tier 3 equipemnts).
- stats effect weapon type damage differently too. Onehande3d swords gain +1 dmg on the character sheet twice as frequently as lance/twohanded axe, and twohanded axe gain +1 damage after +1 statpoint spent comared to lance.

I think from melee the following builds are possible:
- lance: the weapon is fast from the start, but rising Agility to 30 would help further. 45 for Science to apply energy shield (this last is true for all build)
- onehanded sword + shield. Pretty much the same build as the lance, but with more AC and just a bit less dmg. Given that in the M biodome the quest reward is a shield, this is a considerable lategame switch even.
- axe-wielder: specifical twohanded axes, as those provide a further jump in damage. Unfortunately the thing is slow, but gives considerable to-hit chance? The problem is, even if you leave Endurance at base, and rise Science to 45 for Energy Shield, I thiink at least 90 point should go into Agility to upp the speed, but that doesn't leave even 129 for STR, what is a very conservative estimate for a semi-good quality twohanded axe.

At the last level I had to dispose 3 trolls (those ginat aliens), and given I had 3 weapon types to test...
Spear worked fine.
(Twohanded) Axe would work better with more speed. Being slow it got interrupted left-and-right though.
Interrestingly, fo no appearent reason, as the stats were kinda the same, onehanded sword + shield did almost nothing!

FINAL UPDATE: well, the Energy Shield was entirely useless. Didn't even survive 1 hit, so what's the use. And I had 2*85 energy implants on me for buffer.
Otherwise, I'll have to say, things went down smoothly on Normal diff. Had to port to Base twice for repair though.

FINAL FINAL UPDATE: so I've remember and cleaned the entire level, stats and equipment in attachment. As you can see, the exp is almost identical, the difference is caused by 1 monster that with the energy build walked into an energy barrier in the M or N biodome, who cares. This means mines definitely give you the exp.
003.jpg (309 Kb)
Post edited June 25, 2022 by twillight