The content below is a general consensus and is not guaranteed to be accurate moving forward as content patches can (and have) drastically changed the way the game is played and performed.
Survivors I am going to begin with survivors, as they often are the most "complicated." I can certainly understand this perspective, though I will try to simplify it for you with a couple of explanations and a priority list.
Keeping it simple, Survivors are stat-sticks (meaning they provide stats, nothing more.) They are categorized in two groups – Leads Survivors, and Survivors. Each Lead Survivor has a Personality and Job Type. Each standard Survivor has a Personality Type and a Set Bonus. Survivors boost your (Home Base) Power Level, that's the number at the top left of your screen (when outside of a mission.) Your Power Level determines how effective you are in combat.
Survivor Priority * Job/Personality Match * Rarity * Set Bonus
Allow me to explain one exception to this… If you are in an area with your main quest where you are sufficient, it is acceptable to give up SOME Power Level (1-2 Levels) for Trap Durability Set Bonuses. The only set bonus you should strive for is Trap Durability.
Math – You can skip this if you don't care about knowing why what I just said is the case Set Bonuses increase your stats by a flat percentage, take for example a complete set of 3 survivors that grant 5% Ranged Damage Bonus. That is added to the stats provided by your survivors/Skill Trees/Research Trees. This means as you progress through the game, these sets become more and more irrelevant.
Take for example, the average player in Higher Canny Valley should have at least 1,000 Offense. Offense gives 1% more Ranged AND Melee damage per point, meaning this particular player deals 1,000% more damage with Melee AND Ranged weapons. If you have a set of 3 survivors that boost Ranged Damage, this does NOT increase to 1,050% (1,000*1.05) but rather will increase to 1,005%.
To further put things into perspective, the Research and Skill trees offer nodes that increase your Stats, such as an Offense Node. The Offense Nodes grant 5% Offense, meaning that is 5% bonus damage to Ranged and Melee, where-as the set of 3 survivors only benefits one of the two, resulting in a set of survivors focused on a particular stat being HALF as effective as a single point spent in Research and Skill nodes, of which there are more than enough.
The Exception Trap Durability is the only set bonus provided by survivors that is an exception to this rule. Trap Durability is only obtained through various perks (Primary Hero and Support Slot Bonuses) as well as being a stat found on Trap Schematics. Meaning as your game progresses the other set bonuses become less relevant, but this stat maintains it's benefits.
There are 8 different groups of Survivors, each group can have 7 Survivors. The Trap Durability set bonus requires 2 Survivors to match the set, and each group can have up to 3 sets. Meaning, each group can provide 15% more Trap Durability (assuming you have 3 sets of 2 Trap Durability Survivors) for a grand total of 120% (15*8) more Trap Durability – Meaning your traps will be able to trigger over TWICE as often, increasing their effective life (assuming they aren't destroyed by then.)
Keep in mind however, in a Pick-Up Group (the game matches you with random players) more often than not, your traps will be killed by Exploding Mobs, or the match will expire before they do anyway. This means while Trap Durability survivors are the most beneficial, matching Personality and Rarity still take priority – Your traps lasting longer means nothing if your Power Level suffers and they don't deal sufficient damage.
Hero The degree of importance for each hero comes down to what you want from the game, each hero has specific bonuses, and each subclass within offers diversity among it's own group. There are however top-tier and low-tier heroes. There are 3 things to keep in mind when picking a Hero, they are:
- Available Bonuses
Role Each Hero (Ninja/Constructor/Soldier/Outlander) provides a different Role, and while most are not fulfilled the way top end players would like, they have the potential to harmonize very well.
Ninja – Your go-to Close Quarters Combat Hero, they are agile and can wipe out smaller husks very quickly and easily. While the Ninja in theory would be a melee assassin, as you progress through the game, Ninjas become more and more reliant on their skills to clear out the smaller husks, in end-game Melee is a death sentence.
Constructor – The builder, they have inherently cheaper building costs, and provide benefits to keep your structures alive longer. There are some melee subclasses within the Constructor class, though they are not viable end-game for the same reasons as Ninjas (too much damage taken, without dealing enough.)
Soldier – The primary ranged DPS class, Soldiers are the go-to class and are potentially top-tier. The Soldiers focus on dealing damage with guns, but do have perks that allow for support benefits (War Cry) or AoE (Shockwave and Grenade.)
Outlander – The gatherer, some subclasses allow for DPS potential to be put out, but this is limited, and is further limited as you progress. For example, in Twine Peaks (End-Game) only one Outlander is combat – viable, this is due to the Outlander abilities having a very short Life-Span (Shock Tower) or dealing Physical Damage (TEDDY.)
Top Tier Setups Soldier * Primary – Urban Assault Headhunter – Strongest Single-Target DPS hero in the game due to 50% bonus Rate of Fire after a headshot. * Secondary – Berserker/Wukong/Master Grenadier Ramirez – Grants bonus Assault Rifle damage (up to 24%) * Tactical – Plasma Specialist Izza/Miss Bunny Penny – Causes Grenades to deal 8% additional damage every .5 second for 3 seconds, meaning 48% (8*6) more grenade damage.
Note: Support bonuses can change on Urban Assault Headhunter (UAH) based on your plan of attack – UAH is the best Assault Rifle and Sniper DPS in the game, even with TEDD Jess. If you plan to play UAH as a Sniper, swap out the supports listed above for TEDD Jess (Bonus Sniper Critical Hit Damage.)
- Primary – Special Forces Banshee – More damage per bullet than UAH, but has lower over-all DPS (More Assault Rifle Damage, Lower Rate of Fire) and has a very strong War Cry, which boosts the damage and rate of fire for all nearby allies (and yourself.)
- Support – Berserker/Wukong/Master Grenadier Ramirez – More Assault Rifle Damage.
Tactical – Plasma Specialist Izza/Miss Bunny Penny – See UAH
Primary – Master Grenadier Ramirez – Strongest Grenades in the game.
(Grenade DPS) Support – Shuriken Master Sarah/Shuriken Master Llamurai – Adds up to 20% more ability damage.
(Ranged DPS) Support – Berserker/Wukong/Master Grenadier Ramirez – More Assault Rifle Damage.
Tactical – Plasma Specialist Izza/Miss Bunny Penny – See UAH
Ninja * Primary – Dragon Scorch/Sarah Hotep – Strongest Dragon Slash in the game – Kills smaller husks immediately. * Support – Shuriken Master Sarah/Shuriken Master Llamurai – Adds up to 20% more Ability Damage. * Tactical – Highest Level Constructor – None of the Tactical Bonuses really impact Dragon Ninjas more than increased Health and Shields, Constructors have more HP and Shields, slotting them in the Tactical Slot gives you a portion of their stats.
Outlander * Primary – Ranger Deadeye/BeetleJess – Strongest Pistol Class, and the only Outlander that can compete for DPS in Twine Peaks among competent players. To get the benefits of this subclass you MUST use a Pistol. * Support – Ranger Deadeye/BeetleJess – Up to 24% more Pistol Damage. * Tactical – Highest Constructor – See Ninjas.
Constructor * Primary – Mega BASE Kyle – Best defensive Builder, has the largest BASE and structure defense bonuses. * Support – Hotfixer Hazard – Provides 20% cheaper building cost. * Tactical – Power BASE Knox/Kyle/Penny – Causes all structures connected to the BASE to heal 5% of their health every 10 seconds.
- Primary – Heavy BASE Kyle – Requires constant movement of the BASE if the direction of attack changes, also requires maintaining floors on the ground to gain any benefit – Quite potent if played correctly.
- Support – Shuriken Master Sarah/Llamurai – Increases BASE explosion damage by up to 20%.
Tactical – Power BASE Knox/Kyle/Penny – Causes BASE connected structures to heal 5% every 10 seconds.
Primary – Machinist Harper – Strongest Trap Hero, makes Traps Last longer, deal more damage and reload faster.
Support – Machinist Harper – Adds up to 20% Trap Durability.
Tactical – Heavy BASE Kyle – Machinist Harper has a small BASE area, meaning she really only gets to boost the effectiveness of a single Trap Tunnel, the explosion will trigger in her BASE coverage area and adds some damage.
Note – The above combinations are for higher-end content, these are not required for Stonewood, Plankerton or Canny Valley – However, as you progress through Canny Valley it is highly recommended to run as one of these.
Schematics The Schematics are what you have access to making – Guns/Melee Weapons/Traps. Each Schematic can roll a differing Rarity and set of Perks, the number of Perks available are reliant on the Rarity of the schematic.
In general, for a top tier weapon you MUST have an elemental roll – This means it must deal Water, Nature or Fire damage (preferably with Affliction) – Not Energy.
You will also want some combination of Crit Chance, Crit Damage and flat Damage % increase.
Whitesushii goes into great depth on this here and is a very prominent and accurate source within this community.
Traps For the most part, increased Crit Chance, Crit Damage and Damage % are great. There are some outliers – Ceiling Gas Traps are very effective, but do not benefit from Crit Chance and Crit Damage as most others do, it is best to have flat Damage % and Reload Speed/Durability.
Furthermore, there is one trap that you should not have beyond Rare (Blue) and that is the Wooden Floor Spikes – Preferably with purely increased Durability perk rolls. This trap is used to slow husks down as they walk over it, yes it deals damage, but it is negligible. The reason for keeping the Rarity low is that it reduces the cost to craft this trap, particular with Duct Tape, which uses Fibrous Herbs and are required to fuel Ceiling Gas Traps.
I hope I didn't miss too much, or make this too vague, if clarification is required on anything, or any questions are asked in the comments I will edit this, but unfortunately the baby is awake and needs attention!
I hope this helps!
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