Browsing Twitter this morning, I saw the following tweet from David Goldfarb, Game Director over at Overkill software.
Beta players: favorite skills? Least used skills? /reply me
— David Goldfarb (@locust9) August 6, 2013
It got me thinking about the new skill tree system in Payday 2. I talked a lot about it in my preview and even linked a site to help you play around with various builds. So, partly in response to David and partly to help out those that are new to the concept of agonising over a skill tree (thank you World of Warcraft for that one) I thought I’d take you through the particular build I’ve chosen to go with. I’ll be taking you through the skills I did pick, the skills I didn’t pick and why.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, I haven’t crunched the numbers and – given the level cap on the beta – I haven’t fully tested it, but hopefully the rationale I’ve used will help you get to grips with the game. Or make me look clueless. One or the other.
As I said in my preview, it’s up to you where you put your points, but I’d highly advise you try and pick up the core skill for each tree. Yes, you may really want to be a Ghost with that fancy little jammer gizmo, but I can tell you right now missions like Watchdogs will render you completely useless. In light of this, it’s worth having the other skills so you can bring an extra ammo or medic bag along. Sure it may not have any supporting skills to it, but it’s better than nothing! Of course the reverse is true for a more stealthy approach, where extra jammers will trump extra medic bags. After all, you don’t need to heal if you’re not getting shot.
That aside, I had a particular play style in mind for my character. I wanted to focus on the technician tree as I really enjoy the challenge of trying to control the map and limiting how the enemy moves around it. In order to do this successfully I’d need to be able to move around quickly and stay alive long enough to duck away out of danger, so that was the focus of my skill point distribution.
The “Snap-to-Zoom” increase allows me a far quicker reaction time, enabling me to start firing faster and more accurately at any enemies that enter my line of sight. It’s good for camping out and covering multiple entrances, but even better when you’re dashing about to and from downed teammates or broken drills.
The increased zoom level is also a fantastic choice as I intend to make each shot count -it’s the enforcer’s job to spray and pray.
Nerves of Steel
Taking less damage when interacting with objects relieves some of the pressure and gives me more chance of being able to return to combat if our team is under fire – I won’t be so readily told to stop what I’m doing and return fire. Shh, let me do my job! It also means that if an enemy gets the drop on me while I’m alone and fixing a drill I won’t take as much damage from the initial shot before I’m able to turn round and react.
Having steel sight when downed is great because you can’t reload your gun if this happens. As such you want to make every bullet count, which means headshots, and they’re a lot easier if you can aim!
Unlocking the Sharpshooter
I primarily plan to use assault rifles, but I’m not going to rule out their single shot cousins as they can actually be quite powerful. If this bonus applies to pistols as well then even better.
The stability bonus to all rifles offered by the ace upgrade is a big plus. As I said before, it’s about making each shot count. The tier bonus here is a plus for the same reason.
Being able to fix the drill faster is a no-brainer, as you want to be in and out as quickly as possible in Payday 2. I’m not so worried about trip mine bonus here though as I’m focusing Sentry Gun with this build.
I don’t like anything that says “small chance” as I never seem so see that small change. So why take it? Well in all honesty I only put points here so I could move further up the tree – although deploying the sentry guy faster is nice in a pinch. Fingers crossed on that small chance I guess.
This was the bread and butter of my build, so to speak. In my opinion the Sentry Gun provides a far more versatile defence mechanism over the trip mines, not only in its capability to deal with large groups of enemies but also because it can be deployed in the thick of combat. Whilst there are more mines on offer, allowing you to cover a larger section of the map, it is possible for them to be tripped by a lone enemy or even a civilian, drastically lessening their effectiveness.
It’s also worth picking up the bonus health for the Sentry Gun here as with more health the gun has a greater chance of getting off all its rounds before the police take it down, simple really.
A faster drill means we’re not hanging around for as long. In reducing the time the drill is in use, you also reduce the window in which the police have to disrupt its operation further stalling your escape.
Sentry Targeting Package
Given I’m focusing on the Sentry Gun it makes sense to take all the abilities that will improve its performance. Improved accuracy and more rounds per minute not only mean that it will it hit targets better – thus making it a more effective killing machine – but it’ll also churn through larger groups of enemies much faster; denying them the ability to get past it, move out if its line of sight or take it down.
Not necessarily a vital skill but I took it to support a Ghost build in the team. Nobody wants to mess up a heist from the word go, and if we ever come across an entry point that needs drilling, I can now do so quickly and quietly. It also acts as a time saving device as I can get it on a safe before the alarm is raised without any fear of it being heard, thus buying us more time before the bullets start to fly and shortening the overall length of the heist.
Sentry Combat Upgrade
Again, this skill provides obvious upgrades to my primary equipment. More bullets in the chamber make the improved fire speed and accuracy more appealing and the shield serves to keep it functioning for longer.
Sentry Tower Defence
Two sentry guns! Do I even need to write anything here? Cover multiple doorways or two “get out of jail free cards” for when it hits the fan. The damage increase is also another no brainer.
The increased armour provided by this perk is a nod to the survivability boost I want for this build. Just because I’ve taken skills to make me more effective when downed, that doesn’t mean I want to use them all that often.
Having stamina regeneration start sooner and take less time is a big plus when you’re focused on an agile character that can zip around the map quickly. The way I see it the Technician should be placing drills, setting up defences and planking windows – in essence; it’s up to them to control enemy movement and manage the map.
Faster sprinting makes this even easier as it allows me to cover more distance. The increased possibility of dodging enemy fire also means that I have a greater chance of surviving a mad dash to a downed teammate or failing drill.
I was really aiming for Shinobi in this tree, and this seemed the best skill to take to get there. Being less suspicious couples well with the theory I put forward in Silent Drilling, and I may be wrong about how the Ace works, but if I’m fixing something near a team mate, especially the enforcer, anything I can do to get them shot and not me will help – savage and selfish? Perhaps, but also necessary. The tier bonus here that increases weapon swapping speed will be great for those “oh no!” moments.
More damage output never did anyone any harm, well except for the guy you’re shooting at, and the enforcer isn’t always going to be there to protect me!
This skill allows me to move faster and do so with my head ducked down behind cover. I see that being valuable when making the dash to save a downed team mate and it couples really nicely with the tier bonus of an increased dodge chance.
I plan on being able to zip around the map, an advantage of which is being able to get to downed team mates quicker, so why not pick up a damage bonus and a buff to their health while I’m at it – after all I don’t want to be running over to them all the time!
A universal agility buff in the form of a stamina boost for me and my crew, I don’t need to explain that one to you.
The recoil reduction to pistols is nice, although time has yet to tell if people will still be using them late game. I’m not sure if all the stamina buffs I’ve picked up stack, but if they do the tier bonus here definitely won’t hurt. Still, the main attraction was the recoil reduction to all weapons for my crew – after all I’d rather we were actually hitting whatever it is we were firing at.
Moving faster with bags can be a life saver, especially if you’re carrying heavier things like gold. The further throwing is also useful for moving bags about quickly. As you can see in my preview video it’s also a time saver; while downed I was able to chuck the cocaine into the boat, so that when I was up I could just run away rather than having another task to complete whilst under fire. The tier bonus of extra suppression is also handy for clearing a pathway or getting to a downed friend.
Being able to use my primary weapon while downed makes me far more effective, thus keeps me out of custody longer. The faster armour recovery is another welcome boost to survivability and with the tier bonus of more health Die Hard is no brainer.
I don’t know how often I’ll be surrounded by three enemies, and if the criteria requires that you are literally surrounded, but I had to spend a point to get Tough Guy and this was the best option as the extra damage boost would allow me to perhaps carve a quicker path out of there if I did get caught off guard.
Like I said before, I’m a sharpshooter and I intend to hit what I aim at. I also hate camera shake, it frustrates me. Less of that means I’ll be a lot happier and better able to cope under fire.
Technician – Rejected
Demolition Man / Combat Engineer / Blast Radius / Shaped Charge
As I don’t plan on taking the trip mines with me on a mission there’s really no point in spending points here that can be used elsewhere for other passive abilities of more benefit. As I said before, I feel that the majority of what the mine does, the sentry does better. Sure having lots of them is handy, but the draw backs in having to set them up in good places, predict where police will be and the punishment from killing civilians far outweigh the benefits. Using them to breach doors and safes is quick and easy, but the drill can do that, perhaps not as fast, but it’s a lot of points that could be used elsewhere for one small advantage. These aren’t bad skills; they’re just not for me.
Why would I want to make the game shorter? I’m not greedy or in a rush. Yes, having access to nicer guns sooner will increase your chances of success on harder missions, which in turn means more money, but I like the grind.
This is a great skill – in theory. Again there are those words I hate, “small chance”, and while there is some bittersweet revenge to be had electrocuting the Taser, I’ve yet to be electrocuted in any of the beta’s 6 missions, and I’m hoping my team will be near enough to help out when it does happen. I’d have to be alone, caught off guard by a specific type of enemy and then fight the electrocution effects in order to interact with him to return the favour – It all adds up to lots of conditions and a small chance. Still, famous last words.
I actually wanted to take this skill – more rounds means less reloading and more shooting. Still it’s 12 points that I used to get all of the bonuses from the Enforcer tree – that’s losing 2 perks and gaining 10!
Ghost – Rejected
Same as Improved Crafting, I’m in no rush.
I don’t plan on flinging myself off of anything, and while the reduced custody time is nice, it’s a lot of points for a small bonus overall. I also don’t plan on getting caught and even if I do I expect a good team will have hostages in place if things do go wrong, so I won’t be sitting there for the entire custody time anyway.
Interaction speeds are already pretty fast so I can’t see a huge advantage here. Sure this could be handy when ferrying bags around, but Chameleon just has the better buffs for this tier.
If you have points to spare this can be a nice support to Silent Drilling, especially if you’re moving about with a Ghost build as you can help them clean up and thus reduce your chances of tripping the alarm. It’s also good if you get caught off guard early on. Still, it’s only useful during a small part of the level, as even on a perfect run you’re not going to kill lots of people and you won’t need it if you’ve managed to supress and tie up everyone instead of taking the Sam Fisher approach. Once again, it’s not a bad skill; it’s just one I couldn’t see myself using much.
The same thought that went into not Acing Cleaner went into this. Whilst it does support Silent Drilling, id preferably be moving around with a Ghost who could clear the path. I couldn’t argue with you if you took this, in fact if you’re part of a group that is going to prioritise stealth then these two are pretty much must haves.
With my sharpshooter focus I don’t intend to spend much time in melee combat. If someone does manage to get the drop on me I’ll be running away or shooting not taking a swing.
I don’t see myself using SMGs, that’s not to say that I won’t, but the style of the weapon class and this bonus to reload speed and reduced recoil doesn’t fit with a sharpshooter style I had in mind.
Mastermind – Rejected
Not a bad choice for a stealth focused team, but I’ve got better things to get on with that tying everyone up! That and if one person on your team has this you’ll have 16 cable ties, that’s more than enough.
After you’ve completed the missions once a number of the assets become pointless. I also don’t always intend on buying extra doctor or ammo bags, at least during the early game. It’s not a bad skill to have when you start to move onto harder difficulties, but it also depends on if you’re going to be hosting a lot of games, as only the host can purchase assets it’s pointless if you never going to do it.
The special assets would be handy, but I expect this is a core pick for a Mastermind build as it ties into their basic function within the group, so there’s no point in me taking it.
Same as Improved Crafting, I’m in no rush.
This is handy if the Mastermind isn’t about when a pager goes off, but to be fair they should be, it’s their job to handle stuff like this!
The damage increase could be tempting, but at this point I was running out of points and Enforcer had more to offer me. This skill is also dependent on enemies being marked, and I’d rather shoot that shout.
As I said before, I’m not sure how much we’ll be using pistols later on. They’re really only used when your primary empties and if you’re in a position where you’ve used all your ammo bags and you can’t scavenge from dead policemen, it’s probably time you left anyway rather than relying on your pistol.
Once again, I’m not planning stepping on the Masterminds toes here. Its important I do my job well first before I start doing anything else.
Enforcer – Rejected
This would be a viable choice over Underdog, but I opted against it as suppression isn’t my primary job and I’m also getting some suppression ability from tier bonuses anyway.
Unless forced I’m not taking an ammo bag, so any buffs to it are useless to me.
I’d have loved to ace this, but I just didn’t have the points to spare and I couldn’t find another ability to sacrifice to do so. The very particular requirements for it too kick in also made it hard to justify acing.
As I said in regard to Martial Arts, I’m not going to spend much time in melee combat.
I never liked using shotguns and I’m opting for assault rifles, at least at the moment. I was also lacking in points by this time and Tough Guy seemed more appealing, so I chose to skip this one.
Actually not a bad skill, but I’ve not seen many flash bangs so far and you’ve always got the possibility of being able to shield your eyes by looking elsewhere if one comes your way. That and I really hate camera shake!
Tough Guy (Aced)
If you can get this, again it’s great for keeping you out of custody; sadly the basic version of this skill took my last point.
I hope that helped!