This is my opinion only. But I would strongly recommend trying these builds out! And if any of you have other builds ideas I would love to see them in the comments! Every character build will also include their (passive) and character specific upgrades which are dropped by elites. These will be sorted from best to worst (1 being best 3 being worst)
Disclaimer!: Elemental damage is BY FAR the best source of damage, so literally every character could end up working if you lean into elemental damage. But that wouldn’t be fun now would it. Also Mini clip is again BY FAR the best upgrade, so if you combine it with elemental damage you’ll be fine.
Shana: (Can reroll upgrades once per level) This is an excellent passive which gives her great versatility and prevents you from being stuck picking a bad upgrade. (most of the time at least lol)
- Quick Learner: ( Increase experience gain by 40% ) This is the upgrade you want to see every game after the first elite. Additional Xp means more upgrades!
- Specialize: (Triple the effect of the next Upgrade you take) This upgrade is very dependent on the next upgrade you end up getting which is why i usually want to see it at the second elite once I have access to better upgrades to triple.
- Shana’s halo: (Adds 3 upgrade to you pool once you collect all 3 grants: 50% fire rate, 50% reload rate, 75% Vision range) I would ONLY take this upgrade if it is the first one that drops. The bonuses the halo grants are pretty good, but the fact that it add 3 useless upgrades to your pool kind of negates it. If you happen to find it at the first elite and are playing a build that requires reload rate is the only context where I would take it.
Shana is extremely versatile, gaining more XP and being able to re roll upgrades means she can build into pretty much anything. Shana’s halo is slightly better with small clip sizes as its most relevant stat bonus is it’s reload speed. For this reason I recommend playing her with the Shotgun. For her damage source you can go for any of them (elemental/summon/bullet-damage) but elemental is the best source of damage currently available so i would recommend that.
Because she is so versatile I would recommend playing with the runes that I recommended unlocking first as they also are very versatile. This should let you go into any build and adapt. (otherwise if you have an idea of the build you want to play before starting the game, simply look at the builds of other characters and she should be able to accomplish something very similar, even mimicking Diamond if you take the max Hp boost with your triple upgrade).
Diamond: (Starts with 7 Max Hp) This makes her the only character able to profitably use “half-hp” or “upon taking damage effects” which are excellent when paired with her.
- Berserk: (Increase Fire Rate and Reload Rate by +10% permanently every time you get hit) Fire rate and reload rate work on both elemental and bullet-damage builds which makes this one her best upgrade. It additionally triggers off of damage which is something that you can control. Making it less random than bulk up.
- Bulk up: (Increase Bullet Damage and Bullet Size by +15% permanently every time you heal) This one is slightly worst than Berserk, because it only works with bullet damage builds, however as you will see I strongly recommend bullet damage on Diamond to make use of various runes and upgrades.
- Strong will: (When Diamond’s HP is at or below half of Max HP, increase Piercing +2 and Knockback +25%) This one is fine and isn’t time sensitive as it doesn’t build up over the course of the game. Making finding it last preferable.
Diamond’s optimal build revolves around health regeneration and Max Hp increases to make the most of her abilities. You will want to keep yourself at half Hp at all times, controlling your health through healing and taking damage intentionally (This will also help you build up Berserk and Bulk up quickly). Having a high max Hp means that even at half Hp you should still have more than all other characters. I would also recommend building towards bullet damage to make the most of her Bulk up upgrade. The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional,
Upgrade to avoid) I would recommend are:
- Sword Runes: power (for bullet damage), Aftershock, Glass cannon (Mandatory as it trigger’s half-hp effects at the start of the game), Cadence
- Shield runes: Tenacity (50% hp fire rate), Momentum, healing (allows you to control when you heal), Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Power) I would recommend only picking up the tome of power on Diamond. It synergizes perfectly with her build and the -1 hp is a small cost. Otherwise if you really want to pick up a tome the tome of speed is fine and may give you a little survivability. The tome of elasticity is also fine, but don’t reduce your max Hp too much, you already need death bullets.
- Guns: A high base damage gun is recommended. So Revolver, Crossbow, Grenade launcher and Magic bow. (The grenade launcher is preferable as you can directly control when you take damage, on the other hand the bow benefits twice from bullet damage increases, making it very strong with bulk up)
- Upgrades: (Pyro mage, Double shot, Power shot, Quick hands, Vitality/Rapid fire, Frost mage, Haste/light weaponry,
Holy shield) This is a strange character as it is the only one that actively wants to go into two of the worst upgrade tree’s in the game. These are the Vitality and Pyro mage tree’s. I would prioritize getting soothing warmth perk from the Pyro tree ASAP. Since the build allows it you probably want to go for the Death rounds (not on grenade launcher), Gun mastery, Mini clip and Stand your ground Synergies. This only requires that you put a few points in the Rapid fire tree. This Detour is extremely important for the magic bow so you can unlock Death rounds. The frost mage tree is overall excellent and even better if you get Miniclip. You only want haste if you are for some reason not getting Mini clip or have nothing better to take. Light weaponry is only good with the grenade launcher. You want to avoid taking Holy shield at all costs as it prevents you from taking direct damage to health.
Scarlett: (Every 3 shot throw a wave of fire that burns) This Passive is completely useless other than the fact that it allows you to skip putting points into the Pyro tree. The problem is that the Pyro tree unlocks the very strong Overload synergy so you end up taking it anyways.
- Pyromaniac: (Scarlett gain +10% Fire Rate every time she inflicts Burn. This buff resets on reload) This is her best upgrade by far as it is the only one that isn’t directly buffing burn. It only works with large clip guns, which means you will want to use larger clip sizes.
- Pyro affinity: (Bullet Damage -25%, Burn Damage +67%) Burn isn’t great but a 67% damage increase is nothing to scoff at.
- Lasting flame: (Burn lasts twice as long) As if anything lived that long without you reapplying burn.
Scarlett in my opinion is by far the worst character in the game. Her passive as discussed above is made completely irrelevant by the Pyro tree. And her personal upgrades are all subpar. Being very burn centric I of course recommend an elemental damage build for her. Doing an elemental build also helps her as elements are the best source of damage in the game which compensates for how lackluster she is. I would slightly recommend using a large clip gun to make use of the Pyromaniac upgrade, but the miniclip synergy is good enough that you shouldn’t bother with that too much. The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend are:
- Sword runes: Alacrity, Elemental barrage, Glass cannon, Ethereal (to combo with Pyromaniac)
- Shield runes: Vigilance, Elemental shield, Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Elements, Tome of rage) Obviously Scarlett likes fire damage so the tome of the elements is great on her. I would also take tome of rage every time as she has no use for bullet damage.
- Guns: A large clip gun is recommended. Which means the Dual SMGs or Batgun. I do not recommend using the flame Cannon however as it, just like her passive, is only useful to skip the pyro tree which she wants to go into for the elemental damage anyways. Otherwise you can completely ignore her Pyromaniac upgrade and just use a good gun instead like the Shotgun, Grenade launcher or Revolver.
- Upgrades: (Haste, Frost mage, Electro mage, Double shot, , Pyro mage, Quick hands/Rapid fire, Dragon egg) Trying to obtain large clip sizes also means you will be spending a lot of time shooting, making Run and gun mandatory. Being an elemental build Frost and Electro mage are required with Pyro being far behind as usual, but don’t neglect unlocking the Overload synergy which drastically improves your damage output. Quick hands and rapid fire grant access to clip size increasing upgrades: Armed and ready and Light bullets respectively. If the dragon egg is available sometime before the 15:00 minute mark I would recommend grabbing it and the Trained dragon upgrade to help with your overall damage.
Hina: (Right click to dash and summon a static clone that deals your bullet damage in an area around it) This passive is quite practical as it allows you to skip the haste upgrade tree. You can dodge out of most problems with one click and the summon left behind isn’t half bad.
- Hidden blade: (Hina is now Invincible during her dash. Hina’s dash deals damage equal to 3x her Bullet Damage to enemies in the way) This is incredibly strong. The dash is already an excellent tool of evasion, but being able to dash through walls of enemies that block your way is even better. The added damage is also a nice touch.
- Enhanced shadow: (Summon Damage +25%, Shadow Clone attacks 3 times faster) Summons can be played on hina, and most of the time you will want to play with the daggers/scythe at the very least, so this is a nice bonus.
- Maneuver: (Hina automatically reloads her gun after using her dash) I see basically no use to this. Except I guess to compensate for the Tome of summoning’s -50% reload speed? meh..
Hina is in a similar space as Shana, her upgrades and passive are more survivability centric so any build should work on her. However i do think Hina has an optimal build and it is bullet-damage, specifically with the grenade launcher. The reason for this is that her minions deal damage equal to her bullet damage and her ability to dash helps avoiding hitting yourself with your grenades in the early game. To stop you from killing yourself, the build focuses on transforming the grenade launcher into a “grenade sniper”. This is achieved by increasing bullet speed and piercing so that the grenades explode as far away as possible from you. The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend are:
- Sword runes: Power, Close combat, Glass cannon, Cadence
- Shield runes: Vigilance (helps with close combat), Seismic ward (Compensates for the lack of Courage early game), Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Rage, Tome of Power, Tome of Summoning) Tome of rage is the best possible tome as you don’t need much help in the damage department when playing with the grenade launcher. Second is The tome of power as it adds piercing, but make sure you have enough bullet speed and piercing before picking it or you might kill yourself. Tome of summoning is mediocre, but if you happen to have a lot of other summons its worth picking up.
- Guns: Grenade launcher is best, but other high gun damage gun’s can work (Revolver, Crossbow, Magic bow). I would say the second best is the magic bow as your dash allows you to reposition before reloading.
- Upgrades: (Take aim, Double shot, Quick hands, Power shot, Frost mage, Light weaponry, Glare/Magnetism, Dragon egg/Rapid fire) Take aim is the best upgrade tree for the grenade launcher as it adds piercing and bullet speed. Double shot and Quick hands allow you to unlock Mini clip which, as usual, is excellent. Power shot increases your damage and also adds piercing, just make sure you don’t take splinter or you will die. Frost mage works perfectly with Mini clip and is just one of the best tree’s overall. Light weaponry is the least prioritized tree because your base damage is so high it isn’t actually necessary and it is pretty annoying early in the game when your dagger kills a monster at the other end of the map and you have to walk to go grab the Xp. By the end of the game though you should have picked it up. Glare/Magnetism can be used to increase your vision range which helps with close combat and can help any summon you picked up along the way. Lastly the dragon egg and Rapid fire trees are specifically for non-grenade launcher builds, when you need to increase your base gun damage through aged dragon or death bullets.
Spark: (Bullets have 50% chance of striking the target with lightning) This is BY FAR the strongest passive in the game, Spark basically gets to ignore the written bullet damage of a gun and add 5 damage on top of it. It of course also synergizes ridiculously well with Electro mastery, which makes it do 17 damage.
- Electro affinity: (Bullet Damage -25%, Lightning Damage +50%) This is the overall best upgrade she has. It increases exactly what you want to do as Spark.
- Charged up: (Every 3rd Lightning strike deals double damage, and generates 1 ammo) This one is better than Electro affinity on large clip size gun’s as you should be able to shoot forever at some point.
- Electrical fire: (Lightning strikes also inflict Burn for 3 damage per second) As usual burn is completely useless.
Spark is THE strongest character in the game, making winning trivial on pretty much any build. Bullet-damage, summon, elemental, it doesn’t matter. Now, obviously, there is an optimal way to play her. That would be bullet-damage… Just kidding its clearly elemental damage. I will basically use Spark as a core example of what an elemental damage build should look like and this can be transferred to literally any character and be viable. It just happens to be optimal on Spark because she is that strong. I will divide it into two builds 1. The large clip build and 2. The Mini clip build. The Mini clip build is actually the better one, but large clip is still extremely strong and is also very fun to play.
1) The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional,
Upgrade to avoid)) I would recommend for the large clip build are:
- Sword runes: Alacrity, Elemental barrage, Glass Cannon, Ethereal
- Shield runes: Courage (to survive early), Elemental shield, Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Rage, Tome of elements, Tome of Elasticity) Tome of rage is actually better than Tome of Elements specifically on Sparks to trigger her passive more often. On any other character Tome of Elements edges it out. Tome of elasticity is fine as elemental builds don’t mind the bullet damage reduction and it is the only max Hp reduction they can get.
- Guns: The SMG’s are of course the kings of Ammo capacity which makes them perfect for this build. Otherwise the Batgun and Flame Cannon also work.
- Upgrades: (Frost mage, Electro mage, Double shot, Haste, Pyro mage, Rapid fire.
Quick hands) Frost mage is the best source of damage in the game because it deals % health damage and it gives incredible survivability. Electro mage is the secondary source of elemental damage and it works even better on Spark. Haste unlocks Run and gun which is mandatory on any large clip build. Pyro mage is mostly here to unlock Firestarter and the Overload Synergy. Rapid fire unlocks Siege and the Stand your ground synergy. You should avoid the Quick hands upgrade tree as there will be a point when you will be reloading very rarely, even more so if you took tome of rage.
2) The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend for the Mini clip build are:
- Sword runes: Alacrity, Aftershock, Glass Cannon, Cadence
- Shield runes: Courage, Elemental shield, Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of elements, Tome of Elasticity) Tome of elements is perfect since you don’t really need the fire rate of Tome of rage with Mini clip. Tome of Elasticity is a generally fine pick for elemental builds.
- Guns: The shotgun is optimal as it starts with a very small ammo pack and good area damage (simply note that the Take aim should be added as the top priority in this case). The crossbow also starts with only one bullet making it a perfect fit, the only problem is you will be clicking A LOT. Otherwise pretty much every other gun works except the SMG. The grenade launcher and Magic bow benefit from bullet damage more than elemental damage but should work just fine.
- Upgrades: (Double shot, Quick hands, Frost mage, Electro mage, Pyro mage) As you can see this build requires very few unlocked upgrades, which is why it is the best build in the game. You are opening the Double shot and Quick hands trees first to give yourself the best chance of finding Fan fire and Fresh clip. These two upgrades will get you the Mini clip synergy. Once you have Mini clip you can start opening as many upgrade trees as you want but until then try to focus on closing as many trees as possible to get the best chance of finding Mini clip. The three elemental damage help you do damage. Other than that you can take pretty much anything else, however I would recommend not opening too many trees before getting Ice shards from the Frost mage tree and the Overload synergy which combines Electro mastery and Fire starter.
Lilith: (On kill, summon a spirit that deals 8 damage) Summon builds aren’t the best, but getting a splinter/shatter equivalent as a passive that scales with summon damage is excellent.
- Undead army: (Summon Damage +35%, Summon Attack Speed +35%) Summon Attack speed is the most important stat you can get for a summon build.
- Necromancer: (Summon Damage +20%, Lilith summons an additional Spirit when enemies are killed) The summon damage is minor but getting a second spirit is quite good.
- Necrophile: (Gain +35% Move Speed for 1 second when an enemy is killed) Summoners are already the most mobile builds in the game as they don’t rely on shooting. This upgrade would be excellent on any other character. Here its just fine. (Also can we please change the name…)
Lilith is a decent character, the only problem is that summons themselves aren’t the best source of damage. But if you want to play a summoner build Lilith is the character for you. The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend for the build are:
- Sword runes: Power, Close combat (works with summons), Glass canon (Gun glyph if you aren’t playing the grenade launcher), Just avoid dedication as your passive summons minions.
- Shield runes: Vigilance (combo’s with close combat), Seismic ward (to compensate for the lack of courage), Blessing, Growth.
- Tomes: (Tome of Summoning, Tome of Elements, Tome of speed) Tome of summoning is obviously perfect. Tome of elements may increase the damage of the dragon and the lightning bug (i’m not sure though). The tome of speed is just if there is nothing else. You spend most of your time running around so it’s not bad.
- Guns: The grenade launcher is by far the best weapon for summoners as it helps you survive the early game through its high area damage that doesn’t require you to put points into any upgrades. Additionally it works perfectly with the daggers/scythe. Otherwise the Batgun is fine but it lends itself better to a bullet-damage / summon damage hybrid build. The other two high base damage guns are also fine (Revolver & Crossbow).
- Upgrades: (Dragon egg, Ghost friend, Light weapons, Holy shield, Pyro mage, Vitality, Haste, Electro mage) Dragon egg is first simply because you want it as early as possible so that you can get the greatest benefit from aged and trained dragon. Ghost friend is actually the best summon because it unlocks a total of 65% summon attack speed. Light weapons work really well with the grenade launcher and are otherwise just OK. You should try to open as few upgrade trees as possible while strengthening your minions to try and find the Summon mastery synergy ASAP for another 35% summon attack speed. Once you have all of that any survivability is welcome. Holy shield being the best. Followed by Pyro because of your dragons burns enemies constantly which will heal you through Soothing warmth, just make sure to avoid picking Fire starter. Lastly comes Vitality for some base Hp increase. You may prefer taking haste over or in addition to any of these, whatever floats your boat. Lastly when you feel comfortable with your survivability you can go into the Electro mage for the electro bug, again you should avoid taking Energized.
Abby: (Right click to empty your ammo in random directions) This is an odd ability, its main utility is that it allows you to move while shooting.
- Make it rain: (Double how fast Abby fires during her special skill) Emptying large clips fast is what Abby is all about.
- Bullet storm: (Spread +40, Fire Rate -31%, Projectiles +2) This upgrade helps your gun “aim” since the more projectiles you have the less likely you are to miss.
- Whirlwind: (Increase Move Speed and Reload Rate by 35% for 2 seconds after reloading) Abby doesn’t really lack in movement, reload speed is fine.
Abby is my favourite character. I love the chaos she creates on the screen and although you have to work around her passive, the fact that she can ignore the haste tree is really nice. She can work with pretty much any damage source as long as you have enough projectiles and/or clip size to balance the fact she can’t aim. The best gun on Abby is the Batgun because the bats don’t require you to aim. Otherwise the SMG works because of its extremely large clip size.
I would say there are two optimal builds for Abby. The Large clip summon/bullet-damage hybrid and the classic large clip elemental damage build. Total transparency here the elemental damage build is miles better than the hybrid build but that’s just no fun.
1) The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend for the hybrid build are:
- Sword runes: Power, Close combat, Glass cannon, Cadence
- Shield runes: Vigilance (combo’s with close combat), Seismic ward (to compensate for the lack of Courage), Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Summoning, Tome of Power) Tome of summoning actually increases your bullet damage by 50% and helps any summons you definitely picked up along the way. Tome of power just increases your bullet damage but that’s still pretty good.
- Guns: The Batgun is optimal on this build since its damage scales off of both gun and summon damage.
- Upgrades: (Dragon egg, Power shot, Rapid fire, Light weaponry, Quick hands, Vitality, Double shot/Ghost friend, Frost mage) Dragon egg as early as possible specifically to get aged dragon as early as possible, which makes dragon bond add to our base bullet damage. Power shot and rapid fire are taken next to unlock Death rounds ASAP for the same reason as the dragon (base bullet damage). Next priority is light weaponry because it is based on your weapon damage and increases it. Quick hands for the extra ammo granted by Armed and ready and the fact that it unlocks the Gun mastery synergy (which also gives extra ammo). Vitality may be necessary as both death bullets and tome of power reduce your max hp and elites deal 2 damage at darkness 15 which means you would get one shot. Double shot and ghost friend are just other ways to increase your damage output. Frost mage is just the best upgrade tree in the game and greatly increases any builds survivability so why not.
2) For the elemental build you can simply copy Sparks large clip build using the Batgun instead of the SMG’s and ignore the Haste upgrade tree.
Yuki: (Every 6th shot sends a butterfly that freezes enemies around it or damages already frozen enemies) This is fairly strong as it increases your survivability early game and your damage as soon as you get the Frost mage upgrade. Additionally because the butterfly deal bullet damage it pushed you towards a elemental/bullet damage build, which is quite unique.
- Pair up: (Send out an additional butterfly) Double the damage, double the freeze, double the fun!
- Brittle: (Frozen enemies take 30% extra damage) When playing a bullet damage build this is quite a sizeable damage increase.
- Butterfly dance: (Double how often your butterfly freezes or damages enemies) This may actually be the best one, but because we don’t know how often the butterflies attack it’s hard to say. Either way when playing Yuki you will be happy every time you get any of her upgrades.
Yuki is a very interesting addition to the game as she is the first character to scale both off of bullet and elemental damage. This means that playing her with a high base damage gun is quite important as opposed to all other elemental builds. Elemental damage being so strong you could of course ignore her synergies and go for a regular shotgun Mini clip build. I would argue that her optimal build is actually the elemental/bullet damage hybrid.
1) If you want to play a regular elemental build you can go check Spark’s shotgun Mini clip for what is probably just the best build on any other character.
2) The runes, tomes (in order of priority), guns and upgrades (in order of priority, Conditional) I would recommend for the hybrid build are:
- Sword runes: Power, Any, Glass cannon, Cadence
- Shield runes: Courage, Elemental shield, Blessing, Growth
- Tomes: (Tome of Power, Tome of Elements) Both tomes are pretty equivalent. Tome of power balances out the negatives of tome of elements making them optimal together. Tome of elements increases freeze duration which allows your butterflies to deal more damage.
- Guns: Any high base damage gun works: Revolver, Crossbow, Grenade launcher. Even the bow would be fine. I personally play it with the revolver, but again whatever floats your boat.
- Upgrades: (Frost mage, Power shot, Electro mage, Quick hands, Double shot/Rapid fire, Pyro mage) Frost mage is obviously excellent as it allows your butterflies to immediately start dishing out damage. The power shot tree gives you piercing and a bunch of damage, while also unlocking splinter which combos extremely well with shatter to destroy large packs of monsters. Next is quick hands as it unlocks good synergies. If you feel like going into a Mini clip build pick Double shot next. If you are tired of Mini clip builds go into rapid fire to unlock Gun mastery. Either way you can end up with both if you want. Pyro mage is last to add a bit more elemental damage and the Overload synergy as usual.