As you may recall last time, our hero Iron Will had finally made it to the Desert Crisis' Powerhouse, and we had spent a fascinating several pages trying out all the different travel powers, subsequently complaining about them, and then fell asleep. Let's continue!
So, having at long last chosen an acceptable Travel Power, there were a mere four more categories of character enhancements to choose.
First up, Powers! These are the actual moves you get to use in the game. Up until now I've just had one besides the energy builder, but this is where you get to start adding variety to what your character does in combat. Or, depending on your concept, not. As ol' Iron Will's kinda just a guy made of metal, I'm probably going to be sticking with the fairly straightforward punching-in-different-ways powers, but there are quite a few more that I won't be taking myself.
The powers available this early in the game are pretty sparse. Since I've already got a power in the Might category, all the 2nd-tier powers are open for me in Might.
However, while I can take powers from other categories, my selection is pretty limited. For example, if I wanted to get into the Ice market, I have a grand total of one power to choose from.
So as of right now, most of my best options are in Might. Fortunately, you don't need to take the basic power in other categories to open up more tiers. While having a single Might power only unlocks 2nd tier powers in Might, having two Might powers will unlock not only the 3rd tier of Might powers, but the 2nd tier of every other category. You can even unlock all categories at basically the same rate by taking a power from a different category every time you get a new one if you want, although you'll never unlock the 10th-tier "final" power of a given category, which isn't usually all that powerful anyway. Point is, you can have a really eclectic character with a variety of powers, but you're going to sacrifice some effectiveness.
Me, I'm just gunna stick with Might for Will here, at least for now. This involves a few punching powers, the ability to tear up and throw chunks of the ground (pretty cool) and a number of chain-related abilities that I think used to be a part of the Supernatural power set. Interesting. I have the very strong temptation to take one of the chain powers simply because they start with the word Iron (LIKE ME OMG) but instead I wind up going with Defensive Combo, which is a pretty simple boxing-style punch that somehow doesn't sacrifice your defense rating, or something. I just like how it looks, meself.
... And that crate never hurt anybody ever again.
I'm also going to unlearn Beatdown (the only non-energy building power I've been using this whole time) and replace it with Roomsweeper, which hits everyone in an arc in front of the character. That way if I manage to get myself surrounded, I can buy a bit of time. Should be fairly handy, and since Beatdown and Defensive Combo do basically the same thing (both hit one opponent right in front of you) I shouldn't need both. Unlearning something costs money, but since Beatdown's the most recent power I acquired, I've only got to unlearn the one thing, so I've got plenty.
There's some strategy to picking powers if you're going for a specific build. Some play really well off certain superstats and it might make sense to grab an assortment from different categories to match your character's innate attributes, some may be utterly useless but necessary to get a certain power at later levels that will just fit your dude perfectly or something, etcetera. I'm sure there are more detailed guides on the internet somewhere, but me, I'm just taking whatever will make Iron Will harder to kill, not necessarily more likely to kill his opponents.
To this end, it's time to pick his first Characteristic Focus!
Again, there's some strategy to this that's completely beyond me, but I know that in general, it makes the most sense to pick the same Characteristic Focus as you did your Innate Characteristic at the beginning of the game. That came with two bonuses and this only comes with one, but there'll be another in a few levels, so it works out.
Now, for a Might based character, Strength obviously makes the most sense as a superstat. But, I've already got a Strength character, and being super effective in combat is kinda boring. For Will, who's made out of metal and thereby ridiculously hard to injure, I'm going Constitution, giving him a pile of extra hit points. Besides, I'll just pick up Strength later on when I get to choose another superstat, since you can't pick the same one twice anyway. Damn shame, that.
Okay, that done, we move on to Talents, which are basically the same thing.
Talents give your stats an extra little boost. They come in several varieties, from big ol' +8 boosts to one stat to the mid-sized +5 boosts to two (which are the ones I usually go with because it's, um, a better deal, or something) to little ones that provide boosts of +2 or +3 to five different stats. They differ from Characteristic Foci in a few ways. First, obviously, they can involve two or more stats at the same time. Secondly, they don't scale up with your level. The +14 I got to Constitution will be a +15 in a level or two, all the way to a +40-something at level forty. These will stay a +5, so they become more and more negligible as you level up. But, you also keep getting them every few levels, so by the time you hit max level you'll have half a dozen or more, instead of the two Characteristic Foci which you never get any more of. I don't remember the exact numbers right now, but if you focus on the same one or two stats for all of your talents, all of them together provide a comparable bonus to a Characteristic Focus.
For this one, I'm buffing Strength and Constitution yet again. I don't anticipate Iron Will suddenly wanting to make a career change to Wizard in the next few weeks, so I don't expect I'll live to regret the relatively narrow specialization. Hittin' things never really goes out of style.
Finally, there's Ranks and Advantages. These are what you can do with Powers you've already learned.
This screen actually gives you a pretty good look at how they work. You'll get points to spend two at a time, although if you gain a few levels without visiting the Powerhouse, you can bank four or six pretty easily. Then you can spend these on powers you already have to enhance them, either by buffing up their damage or duration via the straightforward "rank" system, or by giving them a special quality, called an "advantage". Usually buying ranks is the best way to go for straight damage, but the advantages generally carry a lot more strategic options.
Here's the catch: you can't just keep on spending all your advantage points on the same power or powers. They max out at five a piece. Usually, this means you can choose to either rank it up all the way or give it an advantage, not both. Personally, I'd prefer it if you could just pick a signature power you were likely to use more than any other and keep pouring points into it, but you can't. Eventually you'll wind up with way more points than any one or two powers can take, but not enough points to rank up every power you have, so you'll have to pick what you'll want to spend them on based on what you'll be most likely to use throughout the game.
In fact, it's sometimes a good idea to hold off on spending talent points at all until you've attained some higher-tiered powers. If you find two or three later on that you want to be your mainstays but don't have enough points left to buff them all up, it's pretty expensive to work your way all the way back down to lower level powers and free up the points. If you know the powers you're going to go for later on, might pay to save them up.
Me, I buff Defensive Combo, because I have no idea what I'm going to be doing later on, and we're done!
... Yeaaaah, not as interesting as the travel powers. Oh well.
UP Next: Mutants and stuff!