Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Lady Katarina Skills

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Lady Katarina Skills
  • Percentages are off. If you take off all her gear, you can see the percentages listed aren't exactly what you get.
  • Eventually Van Helsing will probably tank or be forced to tank for Katarina. You can cheaply respec Katarina, so focus on buffing Van Helsing first, then on Katarina's damage output.
    • Best buff is to keep Katarina active and healing Van Helsing with Withering Kiss.
    • Maximize her attack speed with Wraith Frenzy (+20%) since that increases any per-Hit healing effects as well as the healing and mana restoration from Withering Kiss and Touch of Oblivion.
    • Maximize Van Helsing's attack speed with Spectral Boon (+11.5%) so that his per-Hit effects are also maximized.
    • Then maximize Katarina's staying power by increasing her Health with Spectral Resilience, as she starts with a lot of health even if you put no points into BODY.
    • Finally, optimize her damage output with Power of Vengeance.
  • Defense skills have diminishing returns so they are a comparatively poor investment.
Stroke of Terror Katarina's attacks have a 4% - 20% chance of freezing opponents for 2 seconds.
  • The one time this really shines is against small mobs of really tough foes. Doesn't seem to work on bosses (it might just briefly slow them down instead of outright paralyzing them).
Spectral Boon Increases Van Helsing's attack speed by 2% - 11.5%.
  • Be careful of raising Van Helsing's attack speed too high. Odd things start to happen around Attack Speed 2.00. See our discussion under General Tips.
Empowering Presence Increases Van Helsing's Physical damage by 3% - 12.5%.

Withering Kiss Katarina's attacks heal Van Helsing for 0.7% - 2.75% of his maximum HP with each strike.

Touch of Oblivion Katarina's attacks rejuvenate Van Helsing for 1.4% - 5.5% of his maximum Mana with each strike.
  • If you take this, you can really help Van Helsing focus on other things with Essences instead of Mana per Hit or Mana Regeneration, which are only on Weapons and Accessories, which compete against HP per Hit or HP Regeneration.
  • It is pricey, so take only one level unless you have skill points to burn.
  • An alternative is to use Diamond Essences and rely on enemy attacks to recover Mana.
Incorporeal Defense Increases Van Helsing's Defense by 4% - 20%.
  • Defense has diminishing returns, so even 20% in the mid to late game won't amount to much.
Spirit Guardian Transfers 10% - 35% of all damage received by Van Helsing to Katarina.
  • This is quite an interesting power as Katarina typically has a lot more health than a Van Helsing build, when neither of them have put any points in BODY. And Aura of Counterbalance provides a fast way of healing her, even at just 1 level. Even if you want to reserve your Aura choices for something else, it can still work if you are willing to use potions on Katarina.
  • The main issue with this power is that you can't turn it off. Even if Van Helsing could normally recover from the incoming damage on his own, a percentage still gets channelled to Katarina, and she has less gear and abilities to continuously heal herself. And if you don't let Van Helsing get into that much trouble, then this power is wasted skill points. Overall, seems like lose-lose to invest here.
Arcane Awakening Increases Van Helsing's Spellpower by 3% - 12.5%.

Otherworldly Senses Increases Magic Item Find chance by 5% - 26.5%.
  • Useless. Most items you get will be sold anyway and money is generally plentiful unless you focus on wasting it by continuously buying things you will toss in a level or two. Even at +500% Magic Find, the chance of seeing an epic item is rare.
Gift of Resistance Adds 3% - 15% to all of Van Helsing's Resistances.
  • Resistance has diminishing returns, so even 15% in the mid to late game won't amount to much more than a couple more percentage points of resistance by mid to late game.
Wraith Frenzy Adds 4% - 20% to Lady Katarina's Attack Rate.

Power of Vengeance Lady Katarina's Damage is increased by 25% - 105%.
  • Considering you can triple her firepower with Mirror Image, this is a huge boost.
  • Theoretically great, but Van Helsing will be taking care of most mobs with his area effect attacks since the mobs will get big in a hurry. Just worry about keeping Van Helsing alive instead.
Armor of Defiance Lady Katarina gains +20 - +85 and +20% - +63% to her Resistances.

Curse Blast With each attack, there is a 4% - 15% chance that an area effect spell is cast centered on the target, giving 25% Vulnerability within 5 meters for 3 seconds.

Ethereal Evasion 20%-80% at level 10 to avoid attacks that would cause her to lose at least half her health.
  • This is presumably on top of her normal deflect and dodge.
  • The main problem with this power is that it kicks in when two hits would kill Katarina. So if she is in that kind of trouble, even 80% might not last long when faced with the large mobs and lots of attacks coming her way. Other than this, compared to the skills that add to diminishing-returns defenses, this is still better, however, since a dodge stops an infinite amount of damage.
Spectral Resilience Lady Katarina receives a 20% - 104% boost to her Hit Points.
  • Even without putting any points in BODY, Katarina has a lot of Health. It is probably safe to leave this alone unless you have a build where Katarina is tanking. Even so, it is generally better to just switch her out to Ghost Mist temporarily while she heals. Hopefully you have HP Regeneration items on her to help with that.
Wail of Vengeance Upon Death, Lady Katarina will release a huge explosion for damage equal to x5 - x35 BODY.
  • Since you are better off keeping Katarina alive, don't bother spending points here. Besides, it's hard to have her detonate to order, meaning it could be completely wasted. You could send her into suicide melee, but you'd still have to deal with the stragglers after, and without her help.
Chillwave With each attack, there is a 4% - 15% chance that an area effect spell is cast centered on the target, slowing every enemy within 5 meters down by 50% for 3 seconds.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hints, Cheats, and Walkthroughs

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing:
Hints, Cheats, and Walkthroughs
(for PC, Heroic Difficulty)


General Tips

  1. Gorgon Pass
  2. Markovna
  3. Croakwood
  4. Gallows Bog
  5. Orichalcum Mine and Hauling Station
  6. Dreadworks and Secret Lair
  7. Borgova - Rookery, Sewage Plant, Industrial Port, Lost Ink
  8. Old Town to finale
Hunter Skills
Lady Katarina Skills (including Blue Blood)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Perks

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Perks
Perks that are unlocked by base attribute benchmarks remain unlocked even if you respec the attribute distribution and the attribute goes down.
Defense, Deflect, Dodge, and Resistance work on percentages that are non-linear compared to the attribute score, and (except for Resistance) are scaled by the enemy level. Therefore a 10% increase to the score might translate to only 1%-2% of effect as the game progresses.
The best perks are therefore difficult-to-get bonuses such as Cooldown reduction; flat percentile bonuses such as bonuses to Attack Speed or Critical Chance; and useful bonuses such as HP and Mana Regeneration.

Best Perks
Artful Dodger +10% Dodge, +5% Attack Speed
  • Unlocked by DEX 25, WILL 25.
Enchanted Body +20% HP Regeneration, +20% Mana Regeneration
  • Unlocked by BODY 25, WILL 25.
Focused -10% Cooldown, +20% Mana Regeneration
  • Unlocked by WILL 110.
Gunslinger +7% Attack speed
  • Unlocked by DEX 110.
Perfect Aim +5% Critical Hit Chance
  • Unlocked by LUCK 110.
Survivor +5% HP, +20% HP Regeneration
  • Unlocked by BODY 110.
Uncanny Fighter +1 Mana per hit, -20% Mana Cost
  • Unlocked by BODY 25, DEX 25
Other Perks

Agile +5 Dexterity, +5% Dodge DEX 40
  • Unlocked by DEX 40.
Alchemist -10% Essence Cost for created components, +5% Gold find chance
  • Unlocked by doing a lot of Essence combining and upgrading.
  • A cost reduction also has a level requirement reduction.
  • New components picked up do not have the reduced cost.
  • One character can perform the Essence creation and leave the reduced-cost Essences in the shared storage for another character to use.
  • The minimum reduction is 1 point for every 10 points in the final Essence cost or part thereof.
  • The maximum Essence capacity of any item is 50, so with the Alchemist Perk, you can theoretically put in 50/0.9 or 56 Essence points. For items with no basic Essence Capacity, the limit is 20 (two Capacitative Essences) or 23 with Alchemist. But in reality, it will be limited by how Essences upgrade (their base costs of 5/7/10/15) and the level requirement of the upgraded Essence. Overall, not a very significant improvement.
Berserker +10% damage while at max Rage

Bulls Eye +10% Ranged Damage, +10% Spellpower
  • Unlocked by DEX 50, WILL 50.
Bully +5 Body, +5% Selling Price
  • Unlocked by BODY 40.
Collector Your hero receives an additional inventory page
  • Only relevant if you are in a map you cannot exit until the map is clear, such as the night defense of Markovna.
  • Completely irrelevant if you can play Scenario Mode, since you can exit Story Mode to to the main menu, enter Scenario Mode and access stores and shared storage there, then go back to the main menu and resume the Story.
Destructive +50% Critical Damage
  • Unlocked by LUCK 40.
Drinker +20% Efficiency for Potions, +50 Poison resistance
  • Unlocked by drinking a lot of potions (?)
Elementalist +5% to Lightning, Fire and Ice Damage, +10% Elemental Resistance
  • Unlocked by using different elemental attacks? Also by wielding Excalibur and fulfilling the damage-dealt requirement..
Furious +20 Rage
  • Unlocked by using power-ups ?
Ghost Whisperer -33% Respawn cooldown for Lady Katarina, +30% HP Regeneration for Lady Katarina.
  • A very good Perk if you rely on Lady Katarina to tank, because Lady Katarina has a lot of health and a strong basic HP Regeneration to begin with.
  • In the mid-game Katarina can have a lot more health than Van Helsing if you choose not to invest too much in Van Helsing's BODY score. Nevertheless, Van Helsing has access to more gear and abilities, and is better used to tank for her.
  • If you can manage her in combat well, don't waste a Perk here.
Icicle +15% to Ice Damage
  • Unlocked by having Icicle Shot and Ice Blast ?
Iron Man Bonus to resistances as your HP goes down
  • Unlocked by having the Berserker Perk.
Magical Hunter +10% Melee Damage, +10% Spellpower
  • Unlocked by BODY 50, WILL 50.
Marksman +40% Damage against enemies at least 15 meters away
  • Unlocked by Occult Hunter Mastery level 3 and DEX 50 ?
Master 5 Skill Points
  • Unlocked by having the maximum level in 3 skills in 2 skill tabs ?
Mentor 3 Skill Points
  • Unlocked by 3 powerups in 2 skills in 1 tree ?
Natural Healer +2 Levels for the Arcane Healing spell, +10% Efficiency for Potions
  • Generally not necessary, and not very useful because of the long cooldown of Arcane Healing.
Precise The first attack against every enemy has +10% Critical Chance

Resistive +20% Elemental, Physical and Poison Resistance
  • Unlocked by WILL 40.
Salamandra +15% to Fire Damage
  • Unlocked by having Embracing Flames 5 and Flaming Sphere 5 ?
Scavenger +10% Magic Item Find Chance, +50 Poison Resistance
  • Unlocked by opening chests and searching bodies.
Second Chance When you die, you merely become incorporeal for 4 seconds
  • Very interesting Perk to ward against sudden-death situations. If you are playing Hardcore, this is almost essential to get.
Slayer +10% Damage
  • BODY 50, DEX 50.
Stormblood +15% to Electric Damage
  • Unlocked by having Lightning 7, Lightning Strike 7.
Teacher 3 Skill Points
  • Unlocked by learning many skills?
Veteran Hunter 2 Skill Points, 3 Ability Points, Counts 1 level higher for wielding items
  • Unlocked at level 15.
Scholarly Ghost Lady Katarina receives 6 Skill Points
  • Unlocked the first time Lady Katarina wears Rare (yellow) items in all equipment slots.
Wight Lady Katarina receives 10 Ability Points and 2 Skill Points
  • Unlocked at level 10.
Wraith +10% Damage for Lady Katarina, +10% HP for Lady Katarina
  • Unlocked at level 5.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Auras

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Skills - Auras
We aimed to play the game without using potions, and we did not also farm for gold to maximize Essences on every inventory item.

Rampage Increases your Critical Damage multiplier by 45% - 183% as long as you have max Rage.
  • The bonuses are large, but you first have to score a critical hit, which can be tricky unless you have focussed on collecting gear that increases the likelihood of a critical hit. Also, it requires that you NOT use Rage, which can be quite limiting.
  • Red Fog The bonus is now applied from 90% of maximum Rage.
  • Furious Rampage At maximum Rage you gain +1% Critical Hit Chance.
Aura of Counterbalance Heals Lady Katarina by 1% to 10% of her maximum Health for every point of Rage you spend.
  • Deathly Resilience When Katarina dies, there is a 10% chance that she rematerializes immediately.
    • In almost all cases, you should not allow her to die. Even with the Ghost Whisperer Perk, her cooldown from "dying" is very long. Instead, switch her to Ghost Form when she is at low health, and let her recover.
  • Transcendent Rage Each Rage you spend increases Katarina's damage by 1% for 5 seconds.
    • Since rage use can be 10+ points for a single power-up, this can be a significant boost. However, the short duration combined with the need to bring Aura of Counterbalance up to level 10 makes it a rather poor investments. There are better ways to get her more damage output.
Hidden Reserves Every point of Rage you spend heals you by 0.5% - 2.3% of your maximum Health.
  • Since you can almost immediately pull Katarina out of trouble by switching her to Ghost Form, use this Aura instead of Aura of Counterbalance to make the most of your Rage.
  • Power-ups can start to cost in excess of 20 Rage, so every percentile here is pretty decent. Also, you do not need a target for power-ups, so you can flee and blindly activate any power-up to get emergency healing. Power-ups that give you healing (such as Soul Cleave) are very strong because you get several sources of healing all in one go.
  • If you aim to play without healing potions and no deaths, then get this and Hunter's Rejuvenation. But if you can manage your Health and recover it with other sources such as strong HP recovery from attacking, damage dealt, and passive Regeneration, then you could dump this and take another aura, or develop your combat skills to get another Mastery bonus.
  • Inner Fire When activating powerups, there is a 5% chance that you regain spent Rage points immediately.
  • Rage Conversion You gain 1 Mana for each Rage point you spend.
    • You can probably get strong enough Mana Regeneration to do better than this in a couple of seconds, compared to having to spend a Skill Point and spend Rage to get Mana.
Clear Shot Bonus Damage of 5% - 18.2% if there are no enemies near you.
  • The basic radius is 10 meters, which can be impossible to keep clear when there are frequently fast-moving melee mobs. Often maps combine both brawlers and shooters, so Clear Shot can be a useless skill. In the cases where you are facing only shooters who are keeping their distance, retreat first to swap in this skill.
  • Combined with 2 points per level for a mere +5% at level 1, this is generally a poor Aura to invest in, especially when you can throw points into your combat skill trees and work toward levelling bonuses there.
  • Quick Aim The bonus is applied if no enemies are within 8 meters.
Treasure Hunter Increases your chance of finding Gold by 20% - 119%.
  • Presumably this increases the amount of gold you get instead of the chance of finding gold, since the chance of getting items would be better than just getting gold.
  • Since you can grind certain areas repeatedly for loot, this is a poor Aura investment.
  • Liquid Treasure Chance to find potions is increased by 15%.
    • Just buy potions with gold you got from grinding.
  • Relic Hunter Also increases Magic Find chance by 10%.
    • 10% Magic Find won't help you significantly in getting epics. Just focus on Essences instead.
Power for Blood Regain 2 - 9.2 Mana per hit (not per target hit).
  • Although this looks like a great Aura to help with Ray of Destruction mana costs, it does not apparently restore Mana at the same frequency at which the Ray damages the target.
  • This can be tempting to get when Mana costs of attack skills start to get unmanageable, and is an interesting option compared to Hidden Reserves. An alternate tactic is to fall back on one of the basic no-Mana attack skills (Strike or Shoot) instead, and during that time just let your Mana recover normally.
  • Using the Diamond Essence (% damage taken converted to Mana) is also a fairly good option if you can get it up to about 20% absorption.
  • Enchanted Soul The cooldown for mana potions is reduced by 10%.
Quick Response Lowers the Cooldown of your Tricks by 8% - 25%.
  • Immediate Recovery Each time a Trick is activated there is a 5% chance that the cooldown will be reset immediately.
Thrilling Heroics Increases damage when surrounded by enemies by 5% - 18.2%.
  • Although you get mobbed frequently, at 2 Skill Points per level for a low damage bonus this is can be a poor Aura to have compared to what else you could get for 2 Skill Points per level, and what auras you can have active.
  • Daring Heroics Enemies now count within 4 meters.
Hunter's Rejuvenation Regain 3 - 14.9 HP per hit (not per target hit).
  • Highly recommended to maximize this and keep it up all the time. This helps you stand and deliver with any build.
  • Enchanted Blood The cooldown for health potions is reduced by 10%.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Tricks

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Skills - Tricks
We aimed to play the game without using potions, and we did not also farm for gold to maximize Essences on every inventory item.

Tricks are good because they need neither Rage (which can be depleted if there are no easy minion kills when you are face a boss) nor Mana (some creatures can inflict a continous Mana drain). You can have several, but in practice you are limited to how good you are with manipulating your quickslots.

Arcane Healing Heals all player characters within its range for 200% - 680% Spellpower.
  • A single level with no upgrades and no perks is good enough for the early game. By mid-game, this is moderately useful even if you don't level it and don't increase your Spellpower as you might still get 10%-20% healing out of it.
  • Once you get more continuous/frequent healing from Skills, Auras, and gear, save it for emergencies because of its long cooldown. Or dump it altogether and go with Ethereal Embodiment.
  • Succor Base cooldown (30 seconds) is reduced by 5 seconds. Cooldown effects modify this amount, so if you have -10% cooldown and Succor, Arcane Healing cooldown is still 22.5 seconds.
  • Spirit Healing The spell also recharges 10% of your maximum Mana.
Ghostly Mirage Summons two illusionary copies of Lady Katarina. These copies will fight just like her, even dealing damage but they will disappear if reduced to 0 HP or if the duration is over. They will take Lady Katarina's current fighting form. Base HP 35 % - 95%, Duration 20 - 34 seconds, Cooldown 60 - 42 seconds.
  • You can activate Ghostly Mirage and then order Lady Katarina to switch to Ghost Form. The illusions will stay in their fighting forms.
  • Try to wait until Katarina is in a good position before activating. If she is pinned by enemy fire or enemy attacks, the illusions won't last long. If she is too far, they waste time flying.
  • Notice that at maximum level, and especially if you have a -10% Cooldown (e.g., from a Perk), the Duration is almost as long as the cooldown.
  • Great to use on a Ranged Katarina with focus on damage and with Van Helsing tanking so that she can keep up uninterrupted fire.
  • Just 1 level of this Trick is good enough for most of the game as Van Helsing should be able to handle most enemies alone. Keep this around for insurance against large mobs.
  • The mirages appear to be immune to Harmful Sigils.
  • Persistent Mirage Duration is increased by 10 seconds.
    • This can exceed the Cooldown period, effectively giving you three Katarinas.
Last Stand You and all your allies within a 10m range gain a 2% - 6.9% bonus to Damage and Critical Hit chance.
  • Mana Fortress You and your allies also gain a 30% increase to your maximum mana. Your allies lose this bonus if they go out of range.
Sphere of Timelessness Freezes time for 8 to 20 seconds. Attacking, moving or casting spells causes this bubble to shrink, other actions like shuffling items in your inventory are completely free. When the bubble shrinks away completely, the world returns to normal.
  • This also freezes continuous effects on Van Helsing, such as HP Regeneration.
  • Timeless Rush Moving during the spell only costs half as much time than before.
Ghastly Shape You partially fade into the Ink and burst forward a short distance with blinding speed for 1 - 10 seconds. Any enemies you pass through take 4 - 16 damage from the shock.
  • You get one level of this for free after defeating the Drill Worm. Until that time, you cannot have any levels in this Trick.
  • You will probably rarely use this Trick, especially as the cooldown is 30 seconds. However, it has specific applications that can be useful and make it worthwhile to keep:
    • It allows Van Helsing to pass through enemies. There is collision checking in the game, so if you are surrounded, you cannot normally just run out. Combined with the speed increase, this is an interesting emergency-extraction Trick.
      • You CANNOT, however, go through barriers, including temporary barriers erected by enemies (such as a bone hand that comes up from the ground).
    • You can quickly close the distance to some dangerous enemies that are better engaged up close, such as Batrachiantaur and their big grenade launchers.
    • When you are slowed by an effect, this can give you the burst of speed necessary to get to a safe distance.
  • If you have 2 points to spare, 1 level of Ethereal Embodiment is probably better overall.
  • Fade Acclimatization Cooldown is reduced by 5 seconds.
  • Chilling Touch Enemies hit are slowed by 50% for 2 seconds.
Mystic Shield Increases your Defense by 40% Spellpower, and causes 7% to 70% of the Damage done to you to be taken from your Mana.
  • Even if your Mana is zero, you still get Damage Reduction while this Trick is active.
  • This could potentially be tricky to use if you are heavily reliant on Mana for attacks as it can continually bankrupt you of Mana.
    • You can pair it with the Diamond Essence (5% damage is converted to Mana per 10 Essence capacity), but it appears that the net damage taken is converted, instead of the raw damage. Experiments with 80% Mana Conversion and 70% Damage Reduction from Mystic Shield showed net Mana loss.
  • We recommend you NOT use this Trick unless you really want to ruin your game with too much risk reduction.
  • The Shoot ability of Mana Leech can make an interesting combination here.
  • The Cooldown can be equal to or less than the Duration. This is actually NOT useless because you CAN have TWO instances of this Trick active, for up to 140% Damage Reduction.
  • Mystic Armor You gain +10% to your resistances for the duration.
  • Concentration Duration is increased by 15 seconds.
Ethereal Embodiment Turns you Ethereal for a short time, making you invincible but also unable to attack. When you become corporeal again, enemies around you take 25% - 53% Spellpower damage from the shock.
  • This is an interesting power that can help in Borgova when there can be sudden-death situations if your health is less than 500 on Heroic difficulty. You can try to activate it as soon as Van Helsing starts getting dragged into danger by the many enemies that can pull. A single level of this, instead of Ghastly Shape, is highly recommended as a fallback for Arcane Healing.
  • When active...
    • Enemies act as if Van Helsing is not there and can start to wander off.
    • Van Helsing runs very fast.
    • Van Helsing can move through enemies and barriers created by enemies (e.g., spiky walls) that would normally require attacks or time expiration to collapse. Does not appear to work with bone hands that some Champions can use.
  • Chill Shock The fadeback shock slows enemies by 50% for 2 seconds.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Passive Skills

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Skills - Passive Skills
We aimed to play the game without using potions, and we did not also farm for gold to maximize Essences on every inventory item. Because skill levels in actively used Sword and Gun skills generally increased Mana requirements a lot, we focussed more on Passives and Auras.

Parry Expertise A bonus of 10% - 45% to the Parry bonus of the currently equipped sword.
  • Parry applies only while using swords and against melee. It is a chance to completely avoid damage from an attack, and is separate from Dodge (which does the same).
  • For maximum defense with low emphasis on collecting Resistances, this skill should be maximized if you intend to slug it out in melee. If you are kiting (especially if you have strong HP Regeneration) or mostly using Guns, this isn't as important.
  • Evasion Increases Defense by 10%.
    • +10% to the Defense score translates to just a couple of percentage points of actual Defense increase. Hover your mouse over the Defense attribute to see what the percentage is.
  • Parry Mastery Parry of the equipped weapon is increased by another 5%.
Fury Every time you slay an enemy, you enter into a state called Fury. In this state, each enemy you kill will give a 1% - 8% bonus to your Weapon Damage for 3 seconds. This effect stacks a maximum of 3 times. Any more kills will only make it last longer. Going 3 seconds without killing anything will snap you out of your Fury.
  • It generally takes more than 3 seconds to kill anything in the mid to late game, so this skill is really only good for really weak enemies you don't need help with. Also, if you end up having to strategically retreat, you'll more than likely lose the bonus.
  • Fervor Fury lasts 1 more second.
Body Building Increases max Hit Points by 10% - 32%.
  • All builds can benefit from this, but defer it for the late game when you have nothing better to spend skill points on.
  • Physical Conditioning Doubles your HP Regeneration while your HP is under 25%.
Rage Increases your max Rage value by 5 - 22.
  • When Van Helsing levels up, his Rage capacity automatically increases anyway. Still, it's a cheap passive that is a good choice for increasing Occult Hunter skill levels quickly toward the first tier that gets you a movement bonus.
  • Channeled Rage All power-ups cost 1 less Rage point. A 1-point discount is actually very little compared to your ability to accumulate Rage from killing throngs of weak creatures; as well as the actual Rage cost of power-ups.
  • Unleashed Rage Each kill generates 1 more Rage point.
Elemental Damage A bonus of 5% - 28% to all Elemental Damage you cause.
  • Strangely, the effect of this is TINY, even for gun skills that apparently change all damage to elemental (e.g., Icicle Shot).
    • If you are delaying switching over from Physical Damage to Elemental Damage types, then you could skip over this and maximize Full Resistance first.
  • You will likely want to have at least 1 level in order to access the Full Resistance passive skill.
  • Elemental Expertise All skills using elemental damage cost 10% less Mana.
Full Resistance Provides a +15 - +49 bonus, and a 10% - 26% bonus, to all Resistances.
  • Resistance to Slow Slowing and immobilization effects last 20% less time on your character.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Spells

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Skills - Spells
We aimed to play the game without using potions, and we did not also farm for gold to maximize Essences on every inventory item. So, Spells (which are generally Mana intensive) were avoided and generally used only left at level 1 and cast for their power-ups. Trying to get decent damage out of spells would also have required focusing on SpellPower, whereas with combat, increased damage came automatically with higher level gear drops.

Spells, whether learned from the Mystic Warrior or Occult Hunter skill trees, are NOT tied to whether Van Helsing is presently using a sword or a gun. For example, he can be attacking with a sword and without switching to his gun, he can cast Ray of Destruction.

Many spells ignore vertical height, whereas gunfire does not.
  • What it means is you can be on a platform high above (e.g., Dreadworks, before taking the elevators down) and shoot a Ray of Destruction at enemies below. Or, if you activate Embracing Flames and enemies would be in radius if you were at the same vertical height, they will take damage.
  • Opportunities to cheese with this exploit are not that common, but extremely powerful. It is more probable that you can take advantage of his to pull enemies from behind cover.
Embracing Flames Creates a ring of fire around the caster that lasts for 5 seconds, and burns enemies within 3 meters for 6% - 15.5% Spellpower in fire damage. Mana 25 -53. Cooldown 10 seconds.
  • Shielding Flames Absorbs 10%-30% of incoming damage (all types) for the duration.
    • Even 10% represents a lot of Resistance you would otherwise need to have the same reduction in damage, as Resistance has diminishing returns as enemy levels get higher.
    • Combine this with the Hidden Reserves aura for damage, defense, and healing all with a single spell use, good whether you are in melee and standing your ground, or kiting a large group of shooters and need emergency healing and protection as you flee.
  • White Flame +30% Damage.
  • Violet Flames Duration increased by 3 seconds.
  • Blazing Aura Burn radius increased by 1 meter.
Earthquake A violent shockwave rips through the earth in front of the caster, damaging everyone in its (4 meter wide, 15 meter long) wake for 150% - 204% melee weapon damage. Mana 130 - 143. Mana Cooldown fixed at 0.5 seconds.
  • The Mana cost is enormous, so the 0.5 second cooldown isn't that useful. Plus, after you have launched it, you may not have enough Mana left to use anything else.
  • Best used against the initial rush of a mob, if you can angle it right to catch most of them.
  • Still not as good as Lightning, which isn't as wide, but which has strong power-ups and is cheaper.
  • Brutal Stomp The shockwave is 1.5 meters wider.
  • Intense Shockwave +30% Damage.
  • Scorching Fumes Burns targets for an additional 10% of the caster's Spellpower.
  • Earthbound Soul Mana Cost decreased by 15%.
Ice Blast Generates a blast of ice around the hunter, dealing 20% - 54% Spellpower in ice damage to everyone within 3 meters. Mana 40-60. Cooldown 3.5 seconds.
  • Cold Wrath Increases blast radius by 1 meter.
  • Liquid Frost Targets will be frozen for 2 seconds. (Nemeses will only be slowed to half their movement and attack speed.)
    • Melee builds should have this, as the level 3 power-up lasts 6 seconds and the radius is very good. It can replace Embracing Flames, but it can be helpful to have both to activate Hidden Reserves healing as well as to give help and respite when swarmed.
  • Frostbite +50% Damage.
  • Larger Blast Blast radius increased by 1 meter.
Lightning A 2 meter wide, 15 meter long bolt of lightning will shoot from the hunter towards the cursor, shocking everyone in its path for 10% to 40% Spellpower in lightninig damage. Mana 50 - 195. Cooldown 5 - 2.85 seconds.
  • Forked Lightning The first victim struck releases 1 smaller bolts, which strike the nearest targets, causing the same amount of damage.
  • Thunderstruck Targets are paralyzed for 2 seconds.
    • Because of the area that can be affected by this spell, this is actually a very good spell for crowd control. At powerup level 3, this is 6 seconds of paralysis -- The enemy will not have recovered before the spell cooldown expires.
    • Recommended for all builds. Leave Lightning at level 1 to keep the Mana Cost low.
    • Great for supporting Katarina in melee and stopping initial mob rushes to follow up with area effect attacks.
  • Heartbleed The targets have a 10% chance of dying outright. (Doesn't work on Nemeses.)
    • As with Lethal Jolt, this can be a very powerful power-up, but ThunderStruck tends to be the safer choice since Heartbleed has an all-or-nothing effect while Thunderstruck has the additional benefit of giving you the option of fleeing instead of staying to engage.
  • Surge of Power Increases the length of the bolt to 25 meters.
  • Feedback Charge Cooldown is reduced by 1 second.
    • Just qualifying for this requires level 5 Lightning, and the corresponding huge jump in Mana cost. Might not be worth it unless you are willing to drink Mana potions a lot.
Flaming Sphere Hurls a ball of fire towards a target, burning the area within a 4 meter radius for 20% to 60% Spellpower in fire damage, and knocking foes off their feet if damage exceeds 25% of their current Health. Mana 100 - 235. Cooldown 10 - 9 seconds.
  • The Mana cost is pretty high and the cooldown pretty long. Knocking foes off their feet requires that they have fairly low HP, so you are probably better off just trying to kill them,.
  • Napalm Catalyst Targets burn for 10 seconds, for 10% of the original damage per second.
  • Sulfur Catalyst +50% Damage.
  • Nitroglycerin Catalyst Blast area is increased by 1 meter.
  • Mental Conditioning Cooldown is reduced by 4 seconds.
Ray of Destruction The Ray of Destruction runs from the caster towards the mouse cursor while you keep the mouse button pressed, stopping at the first solid obstacle it hits. Foes hit by the ray will suffer 69% to 105% Spellpower in Arcane (?) damage every second until they get out of the ray or die. Mana 19 - 28 "per second".
  • There is a short Cooldown, which might be equal to your Global Cooldown (which you can see if you look at Detailed Info).
  • Mana usage per second is closer to 10x the amount indicated. The damage indicated in the Skills window is also generally not a reliable value. The ratio of Damage per Second to Mana per Second is generally pretty good considering how many targets you can hit, but you will have to decide if it is worth it to occasionally be running empty of Mana.
  • The Ray passes through all targets, so this is great against the sizeable mobs in Borgova as well as to get at a particular target in the rear ranks. You could pair it with the basic Shoot skill with the Mana Leech upgrade if your Mana Regeneration is low, to help recover Mana even faster.
  • Deathburst Targets killed by the ray explode, causing damage equal to 50% of their maximum HP to anyone within 2 meters.
    • Theoretically a great power-up, but wasted if you don't manage to kill anything.
  • Draining Ray Each enemy hit by the attack heals you by 1% of your maximum HP during the first 3 seconds.
  • Ray of Devastation +30% Damage during the first 3 seconds.
  • Improved Focus Mana cost per second is reduced by 5.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Gun

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Hunter Skills - Gun Skills
See our post on Sword Skills for basic notes about combat skills.
  • The basic build is Explosive Shot and Shoot in the early game, and Poisoned Shot and Shoot when you reach Borgova and level 14.
    • Icicle Shot could replace Shoot but Mana requirements, especially once you start increasing levels for Poisoned Shot and Icicle Shot, tend to result in Mana shortages if you start levelling up both skills and don't pay attention to Mana recovery items.
    • With some HP Regeneration and by prioritizing HP-per-hit items, this is a fairly easy build to play on Heroic. The hump appears around the end of Croakwood. You might want to proceed to Gallows Bog to get money, gear, and a level before coming back to finish the Ink Well and the Scarecrow.
    • If you are having a hard time balancing Mana and Health, opt for Health -- as long as Van Helsing is kept alive, you can win with attrition.
  • Explosive Shot and Poisoned Shot are both very useful at melee distances against a lot of enemies, because they tend to fan out in order to be able to hit Van Helsing, and the explosive radius means Van Helsing can hit enemies all around him if the shot connects with a very close target. In this way, it is better than Cleave, which has a limited arc of effect and therefore requires occasional repositioning. Watch it in action in the Rookery against the huge swarms of rats.
  • An interesting idea is Poisoned Shot paired with Explosive Shot, which uses the cheaper (in Mana cost) Explosive Shot to exploit the vulnerability inflicted on multiple targets by Poisoned Shot.
Mastery Bonuses
10 levels: Quickness +5% Bonus Speed, -10% Cooldown
20 levels: Arcane +5% Arcane Damage, -10% Cooldown
30 levels: Vigor +5 Dex, +5 Willpower
40 levels: Brutality +3% Critical Chance
50 levels: Leech +3% Life Steal
  • The bonuses are all very good and generally hard to get elsewhere. Even just for this reason alone, investing in the Occult Hunter skill tree is generally the stronger choice than the Mystic Warrior skill tree.
  • Bonus movement speed is a very rare magic item attribute generally only found on epic gear.
  • In the very late game you can reach 50 levels if you do not take Perks that give skill points, IF you complete the sidequests, some of which give skill points. This is possible by level 29 or so, assuming you give up a lot of other powers. Lightning may have to be dropped because using it to get Mastery levels may increase its Mana cost to unfeasible amounts. Poisoned Shot can be dropped in favour of Explosive Shot just to get cheaper levels. +3% Critical Chance and +3% Life Steal is really very good and may in the long run be worth it if you can handle Van Helsing without a lot of skills.
    Shoot Ranged weapon base damage is 100% - 175%.
    • If you have at least one Power Up, you can use Hidden Reserves to heal with Rage even when you have no Mana left, because this skill costs no Mana. (Remember that you also do not need a target to activate a Power Up).
    • A high-level Shoot, especially with Quickdraw, can be a viable alternative to Icicle Shot for taking care of single targets. You don't get the mass-slowing effect, however.
    • Explosive Round This shot will explode on impact, causing 50% of its Damage to everyone within 1.5 meters of the target.
    • Tar Shot The target will be slowed down by 75% for 2 seconds.
    • Dum-Dum Round +50% Damage.
    • Mana Leech Each shot with Shoot regenerates 10 Mana.
    • Quickdraw Attack speed with Shoot increased by 10%.
      • The attack speed bonus might not be reflected in the "Detailed Info" summary, but it does work.
    Explosive Shot Explosive shot dealing 70% - 100% ranged weapon damage to all targets within 1.5 meters of the target. Mana 10 - 24.
    • This area is really quite small. Unless targets are massed together (such as when they can melee you), the area may not be wide enough to affect more than one target.
    • Against destructible non-opponents (e.g., crates), you must hold down SHIFT to fire in place in order to get an explosion at the target location.
    • It is still good as an early game skill pick for kiting and supporting Katarina if she is tanking.
    • A good substitute for Cleave since you can kite and still hit multiple targets.
    • Shrapnel The explosion is 1 meter larger.
    • High Explosive The explosion becomes more ferocious, causing 50% more damage.
    • Hex Round The explosion steals mana from the target, equal to 20% of the damage dealt.
    • Phosphorus-Tipped Rounds Adds 15% Fire damage.
    Icicle Shot Ice damage equal to 125% - 197% ranged weapon damage, and target is slowed to 50% for 3 seconds. Mana 16 - 30.
    • Touch of the North Slowed targets suffer 25% of the initial damage per second while the slow effect lasts. (Does not stack).
      • This lasts a flat 3 seconds. The duration is not extended by extending the slow effect by repeatedly shooting the target. Basically it inflicts +75% to +225% damage on one target.
    • Kiss of the Vila Targets will be frozen for 2 seconds. (Nemeses will only be slowed to half their movement and attack speed.)
      • This differs from Paralysis in that some Champions, Elites, and bosses appear outright immune to Paralysis effects.
    • Wrath of the Vila Adds a radius of 1 meter to all effects (including those from other Powerups.
    • Rupturing Shot The shot goes through the target hitting any other enemies along its path. The first target is injured, the others only slow down.
      • This is somewhat superior to Thunderstruck because it requires no Rage. However, Thunderstruck paralyzes for 2-6 seconds and has a wider radius, which may be better overall--IF you have Rage.
    Scattershot Fires a burst of 8 shots at once in a 50° arc. Each bullet hits for 85% - 119% of ranged weapon damage. Mana 100 - 120.
    • At level 1/5, it inflicts 85% damage per pellet. Theoretically 680% damage to one target is possible if fired at extremely close range so that all shots hit the same target. The mana cost of 100 can make this a rare occasion, however, though by the time you qualify for this skill at level 14, two shots before depleting your Mana reserves is probably doable.
    • This power is best at very close range where multiple shots can hit the same target. However, at such ranges, you might as well use Bash and Crushing Blow to inflict enormous damage on the toughest targets.
    • Steel Pellets The shots have a 30% chance of flying right through the enemy and potentially damaging another target.
    • Wide Barrel 4 more shots are fired, and the firing arc is widened by 10°.
    • Level 3 fires 12 more pellets, for a total of 20, or 17x damage if all of the pellets hit the same target.
    • Potent Gunpowder +30% Damage.
    • Killing Shot Increases the critical chance by 5% per shot (NOT per pellet).
    Poisoned Shot Poison Damage equal to 50% ranged weapon damage in a 3 meter radius area. Targets also suffer Poison damage over time and become more 10% - 29% more vulnerable to further attacks for 10 seconds. Mana 25 - 42.
    • Because the damage over time does not stack, this is good for kiting as you can let the targets lose health from poison while you are running away, possibly running around cover to prevent them from shooting at you.
    • Against destructible non-opponents (e.g., crates), you must hold down SHIFT to fire in place in order to get an explosion at the target location.
    • Viper's Bite Increases the per second Poison Damage to 50% of Ranged Weapon Damage (does not stack).
    • Scorpion's Sting The vulnerability lasts 5 seconds longer.
    • Gorgon's Breath The area of effect is increased by 1 meters.
    • Potent Venom Increases the base damage of the shot from 50% to 75% of Ranged Damage.

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Hunter Skills - Sword

    This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

    Hunter Skills - Sword Skills
    We aimed to play the game without using potions, and we did not also farm for gold to maximize Essences on every inventory item in the early game. Obviously it would make things even easier with increased HP Regeneration and fat Dodge bonuses.

    Mana costs go up quickly, and sustained use of skills -- especially tier 3 skills -- becomes tricky without Mana Potions. Since we aimed to play without potions, we generally avoided the pricier tier 3 skills.
    For our Heroic-difficulty Hunter playthrough, we kept our attack skill levels to a minimum and instead focussed on the few power-ups we regularly used, and on passive skills and auras that would be useful throughout the game and whether in close-combat or shooting at range. This helped to keep Mana consumption low.
    We also focussed on combat rather than spell use, so developing SpellPower was given no priority and Spells were used for their power-ups rather than for raw damage.

    Investing points in either the Mystic Warrior or Occult Hunter skill trees will accumulate levels. Every 10 levels gives you a Mastery Bonus. However, only actual skill levels count toward this total: Skill points spent on acquiring power-up options do not. And the number of skill points per level does not matter -- 1 level in a third-tier skill costs 3 skill points, but only counts as 1 level in Mystic Warrior or Occult Hunter.

    We tried to pick only power-ups that we used often. The total number of active power-ups on any one skill is 3 points: This can be all 3 points on one power-up, or spread over the power-ups you have. Therefore, if you choose more than one power-up, you will never see the full benefit of all your skill points spent on power-ups. Instead, we recommend saving your points and choose your power-ups based on how you use the skill.

    Even if you like kiting, many enemies have the "Extra Fast" trait, which means they can close to melee distances very quickly. Although there are area-effect Gun skills, one additional benefit of switching to a sword is that it activates the Deflection defense, which is apparently another layer of chance-to-avoid-all-damage defense on top of Defense and Dodging.

    In an early playthrough we focussed on this skill tree initially as there were a lot of melee enemies, and melee affords crowd control without having to keep kiting, which slows down the game. In Borgova, however, enemy use of high-damage mines and bombs often made straight melee a sudden-death proposition, and kiting was invariably required. And with an increasing number of shooters, investment in the passive skill to improve in-melee-only Deflection became a waste of skill points.
    We re-started our Hunter and focussing on Guns proved easier, without significantly more kiting. It had the additional benefit of not having to chase down shooters.

    If you insist on a melee build, you may want to consider the following:
    • A strong melee build can be done with Cleave, with the Soul Cleave upgrade. Being caught in melee and needing crowd control happens a lot, so this is a great skill to know how to use.
      • Soul Cleave gets you 5%-15% per enemy hit by your arc, so this can easily translate to 45% healing, on top of maybe 10%+ from the Hidden Reserves Aura -- one well-aimed Cleave can restore Van Helsing to full health.
    • 1 level of Embracing Flames with the Shielding Flames upgrade can be helpful if you find yourself taking risks with soaking damage.
      • Damage is irrelevant here so don't worry about raising your Spellpower. You are getting these to activate healing from Rage use through the Hidden Reserves aura, as well as a period of 10%-30% damage resistance from all attacks -- it works almost like the Arcane Healing trick.
    • 1 level of Ice Blast with the Liquid Frost upgrade.
      • Again, damage is irrelevant. You are just buying yourself time if you get swarmed suddenly.
    Mastery Bonuses
    10 levels: Health +50 HP
    20 levels: Resistance +10% to all resistances
    30 levels: Hardiness +5 Body, +5 Willpower
    40 levels: Regeneration +5 HP regeneration
    50 levels: Defense +10% defense
    • The way Defense and Resistance (and Dodge and Deflect) work is non-linear and dependent on the enemy level. The higher the enemy level, the less the final percentage. A 10% bonus to the stat might translate to only one or two percentage points. Hover your mouse over the attribute to see the current percentage, or use the Detailed Info button to call up stats.
    • Given this, none of the bonuses are really worthwhile except for the 30- and 40- level Mastery Bonuses, but even then they can be duplicated with Essences, and will come at a significant investment of Skill Points for relatively low utility.
    Strike Melee weapon damage 100% - 176%.
    • If you have at least one Power Up, you can use Hidden Reserves to heal with Rage even when you have no Mana left, because this skill costs no Mana. (Remember that you also do not need a target to activate a Power Up).
    • Precise Strike Attack ignores 33% of enemy Physical Resistance and does +20% melee Damage.
      • The enemy's Physical Resistance would have to be enormous for this to be useful. If you hover your mouse over Van Helsing's physical resistance statistic, a tooltip appears and you can see how much damage reduction you get compared to how much Physical Resistance you have. It's not much, so even +50 Physical Resistance from the unique Dragon Scale trophy translates to a few percentage points -- it isn't that great unless you have also focussed on accumulating Resistance from other gear.
    • Stunning Strike Stuns the enemy for 1 second.
      • Stun expires when the enemy is hit, so this is good for running away AND if Katarina is not going to attack the enemy you just stunned.
    • Heavy Strike +50% melee Damage.
    • Furious Strikes Each kill with Strike yields 1 extra Rage point.
    • Lifesteal Each hit with Strike heals you for 10 HP.
      • Depending on your level and HP total, this can be around 2% of your health restored per hit. Plus, since Strike requires no Mana, so you could switch over to Strike while letting your Mana replenish. The main problem with Lifesteal is it will cost 10 Skill Points to attain, which you may find are more usefully spent elsewhere -- unless you regularly rely on Strike, which is unlikely since large mobs are very common in the game and you will probably use crowd control area-effect skills instead. Without mass-damage skills, even 10 HP per hit can't keep up with the incoming damage to make it a better investment.
    Lightning Strike Hits a single energy for 50% melee weapon damage, and generates lightning bolts that damage the target and 3 additional enemies nearby for 8% - 30% Spellpower in lightning damage. Mana 15 - 40.
    • The range of the lightning generated is quite long and the targets struck seem random, so against a large mob, you can't get concentrated damage against the same targets to kill them quickly with repeated Lightning Strikes. Smaller mobs are fine as the 3 lightning strokes will typically hit the same targets since there aren't many candidates to choose from. Damage is very weak in any case without a strong focus on Spellpower, so with Lightning Strike, you are really looking at the special effects from power-ups.
    • Voltaic Web 2 more targets are struck by the lightning bolts.
    • Shocking Strike The targets are paralyzed for 2 seconds.
      • At level 3, this power-up paralyzes for 6 seconds, which can make it quite useful against a small number of targets if you then switch to a stronger attack while they are paralyzed.
      • You can also use this to Rage-Heal with Hidden Reserves as well as give yourself a bit of breathing room in massed melee combat, although mobs will start to get very big quickly in the game.
      • You could mix this with Voltaic Web to hit more targets, although for a lesser duration. Focusing on Lethal Jolt may be the better option.
    • Lethal Jolt The targets have a 10% chance of dying outright. (Doesn't work on Nemeses).
      • At level 3, this power-up has a 30% chance of killing targets outright -- this translates to a 75.99% chance that at least 1 creature will die per swing (assuming a total of 4 targets hit by lightning), so long as you have the Rage to keep it up. Only a ~1% chance that all 4 targets die.
      • Auto-Powerup can be useful here to try to keep killing and automatically using the Rage from kills to fire off more Lethal Jolts, but manually using Rage is still better because you really want to use the power-up only when you can afford it at level 3.
      • Since this is a flat chance of a kill, it is good into the late game. If you are confident about it, you can ignore a lot of weapon enchantments such as Attack Speed, Critical Hit Chance, and all damage bonuses.
      • It is unclear whether Champions and Minions are affected (or at a reduced chance) since they are not recorded on Van Helsing's statistics under Nemeses killed.
    • Wider Arc One additional target hit by lightning bolt.
    • Thunder Strike Base melee is increased from 50% damage to 100% damage.
    Bash Melee weapon damage 125% - 220%, and target gains 10% vulnerability for 1 second.
    • Deep Wounds Struck enemy bleeds 20% of Bash Damage every 2s, for 10 seconds.
      • Basically 100% damage, but spread out over 10 seconds. Probably does not stack. You might as well just hit them twice.
    • Crushing Blow Bonus damage equal to 10% of target's current hit ponts.
      • At level 3, this power-up will shave off 30% of the target's current health. Works really nicely on bosses and mini-bosses, but generally not as important as you might think. Only a boss with annoyingly enormous health and strong resistances (such as the Drill Worm in the Hauling Station) will make this skill invaluable for alleviating the boredom of winning by attrition.
    • Life Steal Drains health equal to 10% of your max Hit Points.
      • Fast healing, but not faster than Soul Cleave.
      • The problem with this power-up is that with Bash, the most useful power-up is Crushing Blow. The power-up configuration does not allow you to choose different combinations for a single power, so if you were relying on level 3 Crushing Blow and in the thick of combat wanted to switch to level 3 Life Steal, you would be taking hits while fooling around with the interface (or you could use the Sphere of Timelessness trick, which is an expensive alternative just to switch power-up configurations).
      • If you have a weapon that heals a percentage of damage you inflict, then Crushing Blow can get you hundreds of Health back in a single blow against a strong opponent.
    • Cold Rage Bash power-ups cost 3 less Rage.
    Cleave A wide, 120 degree swing, causing 70% - 102% melee weapon damage to every enemy in front of you up to 3 meters away. While using Cleave, you incur a 50% Defense penalty. Mana 12 - 28.
    • If you will be using Cleave a lot, focus on defenses other than Defense, such as Dodge and Deflect.
    • Soul Cleave Each enemy hit by the attack heals you by 5% of your maximum HP.
      • Highly recommended for all Hunter builds to have this, for no other reason than to score quick, massive, healing. At level 3, this power-up will heal 15% per enemy hit. Typically you can hit maybe 3 targets. A single stroke can therefore restore 15%-45% health plus additional healing from the Hidden Reserves aura. This can keep you in the fight or quickly get you out of trouble instead of chancing a retreat.
    • Mighty Swing Enemies struck have a 30% chance of being stunned for 1 second.
    • Crushing Sweep +50% Damage.
    • Long Reach +1 meter range.
    Flowing Combo Makes 3 consecutive attacks in quick succession against enemies in front of you, for 60% - 94% melee weapon damage. If there is only one opponent, all 3 strikes land on him.
    • This is three attacks in one stroke. Against multiple targets, this is inferior to Cleave. Against a single target, you might as well use Bash.
    • Dazing Strikes Targets are stunned for 1 second.
    • Deep Cuts Targets bleed for 10 seconds, losing 20% of the received damage every 2 seconds.
      • Does not stack.
      • Basically 100% damage over 10 seconds, ticking every 2 seconds.
    • Devastating Blows +50% Damage.
    • Extended Combo Adds a fourth attack.

    Monday, December 23, 2013

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 7 - Borgova (to Secret Lair Defense mission)

    This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

    Part 7 - Borgova
    (Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
    We previously discussed the Dreadworks where Van Helsing initially arrives in Borgova. This post discusses the rest of Borgova, until the defense of the Secret Lair.
    By the time you finish the defense of the Secret Lair, you should pick up a weapon with Heal +3% of Damage done or better. Mobs get increasingly both big and tough, and your area effect attacks will help you keep your health up with this type of enchantment. If possible, get one of these for each weapon.
    Because Katarina does not have damaging area effect attacks, she will does not benefit from this as much as a weapon that returns a flat amount of HP per hit.

    • Look for a white rat that is not targetable. Chase it and swing your sword at it to make it drop a Rat Liver. Eating this plus the Chicken Egg from Markovna gets you the Well Fed Achievement.
    • Get the Mutant Bait from a crate near Arkady. Fish with it to get a Mutant Fish. If you or Katarina eat it, you get -10 HP. Drop it near the cat nearby the fishing line that Katarina mentions, to get a random Rare.
    • MouthBeasts can use grapple more than once. On this map, you can usually pull the faster moving rats away from them first.
    • Arkady sells a mask that gives +250 Poison Resistance. Great against the Spitters nearby.
    • The Puddle of Goo gives -20 Poison Resistance permanently.
    Lost Ink
    • You can get 3 bones here, which have the same function as those in Gallows Bog. You cannot return to this Ink location, so if you forget to give the bones to the statue here, you can still use the one in Gallows Bog.
    Sewage Plant
    • Don't fully ascend stairs you start at: A cutscene will start and after that forced cutscene, Van Helsing can get swarmed.
      • Instead, go up far enough to draw the attention of some foes and slowly pull them one small group at a time (e.g. with the Lightning spell) until the courtyard above the stairs is clear, then go up for the cutscene.
      • If Katarina is at the bottom of the stairs, her Ranged mode bolts might get obstructed and not hit any targets. Switch her to Ghost mode, which will make her pick up loot from the first killed target. She will then be further above the stairs (hopefully), whereupon you can switch her back to Ranged for support fire.
    • Clear the bridges of domovoi first. After that, proceed VERY cautiously because there are two big mobs that can easily end up being one huge mob.
      • It is useful to have strong HP Regeneration here because you can temporarily flee and recover your health before stopping to fight the mob or kite them. The Dreadknect are the main issue because they can shoot at you while you flee. Keep moving and they should not be able to hit you, or not that often.
    • You may want to clear the Lord of Domovoys and his Veteran Domovoi mob last because you need room to run and keep him off-screen.
      • Try to string the Veteran Domovoi along the bridges. You can then zap the lot of them with Lightning and paralyze them with the Thunderstruck power-up. This keeps them from scattering all over the place, making it hard to run to a clear spot. Once they are paralyzed, let them have it with some sort of (preferably area effect) ranged attack.
      • If the Lord of Domovoys is on-screen or near enough, he can hold Van Helsing in a bone cage and the domovoi bombs will blow him up. Ethereal Embodiment is a good way to get out of trouble. Before the Trick ends, any nearby bombs should have exploded. While the trick is active, enemies treat Van Helsing as if he weren't there, so domovoi won't plant any more bombs during that time.
      • If you run far enough, the Lord of Domovoys may stop chasing and in that way you can trim down the domovoi till none are left.
      • Ethereal Embodiment is also another way of possibly getting out of trouble.
      • You can track the location of the Lord of Domovoys by looking for his red dot on the map -- bosses are marked by red dots.
    • Help the beggar to the northwest for access to "The Hideout" ink location in the northwest corner. Between the beggar and the ink gate is a building with green light inside. Listen for a clue to get Essences in the southern part of the map.
    • Help the beggar to the north for an epic hat if you give the selfless (middle) answer.
    Abandoned Research Station
    • The Prototype Electric Generator Plans are in the same chambers as the red button to push. To the north there is a brown, bulb-like machine. There is a crate behind that machine.
    • The Ink Gate button has limited uses.
    The Hideout (Ink)
    • The toughest part here are the champion attacks. There are so many enemies that you really have to pay attention.
      • Listen for Baroness frost bombs and move away.
      • Be careful of the Baronnesses' stronger attacks which can wipe Van Helsing if several of them end up using their attacks at the same time. Otherwise, just kite the stronger groups until they are strung out or trimmed down to manageable numbers.
    Industrial Zone
    • Hookbeasts
      • Near the starting area are two Hookbeasts. They can ram and fling Van Helsing back. Until you clear the vodyanoi, do not get behind it, or Van Helsing can be flung into more monsters further away, drawing them into the fight.
      • Continuously hitting them stops them from charging, apparently. But their regular melee attack is still very powerful.
      • Rush and run around to side or behind, forcing it to turn before it can attack. Bash/Crushing Blow it quickly a few times to reduce health quickly.
    Secret Lair Defense
    • Use Grind-O-Pit at the chokepoints before the two rooms, and put Wolves near the rooms to slow enemies down so that the Grind-O-Pit has a chance to work and you can rush Van Helsing about. Put a couple in the back as backup against stragglers.
      • Grind-O-Pits CANNOT open if an ally is standing on them (but you can run over an open one). Use this to your advantage if you can tank, by standing on one until a lot of enemies are around you, then step off it and watch all the enemies, no matter how powerful, get swallowed up and instantly killed.
      • Put some wolves fairly close to the Grind-O-Pits. They don't have to survive--they just need to get the enemies to bunch up so they all get sucked into a pit when the wolf finally gets killed.
      • Put some wolves further back to engage stragglers that slip through so that you have time to get to them.
      • Enemies often turn to engage Van Helsing, so race for them if they are close to the lair.
      • There are to spawn points that are fairly close to each other. If you are down there, you can shoot both groups and that way try to draw them to Van Helsing instead of having them advance up separate corridors toward the lair. A couple of Grind-O-Pits nearby will help a lot.
      • Breda's entourage of wolves typically rush ahead, so lure them away from Breda and to Grind-O-Pits for an automatic kill.
    • Breda can throw bombs for almost 500 damage and use death rays for 80 damage per tick or about 400 per second. Use hit and run, and use wolves as distractions. Watch for his special-attack animations and try to keep your distance. If you have a lot of trouble with sudden-death damage from Breda, temporarily reassign stats to Body.
    Werewolf on the Run
    • This mission is available from the alchemist after defending the Secret Lair.
    • If you get the Notes before talking to Anton, he vanishes, which means you don't have a store to sell items until you exit the map.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Dead Island Convenience Mod

    GQ Dead Island v1.30 Convenience Mod
    Download: version 2013-Nov-28

    This mod edits various text files found in game .PAK files.
    Files are from unpacking .PAK files in C:\Program Files (x86)\Deep Silver\Dead Island\DI with 7-Zip. Many are plain text files that can be edited. Be sure to overwrite base versions in Data0.pak with updated versions from other PAKS and DLC PAKS.

    To disable logo and intro movies, for the shortcut to start the game, add the -nologos switch. E.g. "C:\Program Files (x86)\Deep Silver\Dead Island\DeadIslandGame.exe" -nologos

    • Data folder goes into C:\Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\Challenges.scr
      • Basic Challenges don't provide XP -- had a tendency to suddenly inflate level
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\Collectables.scr, Collectables_Patch.scr, Inventory_Special.scr
      • You only have to have 1 of each required item in inventory, and that item is not consumed during crafting. E.g., If you have the Molotov Cocktail blueprint, 1 Alcohol, and 1 Rag, you can make as many Molotov Cocktails as you can afford.
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\default.loot
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\Maps\..\*.loot
      • DefColorSet(ColorSet_Default) also controls items found in containers. Cannot really change it just to adjust weapon drops.
      • Drop probability all changed to 1.0
      • Better loot from locked chests, minimum Green to Orange (lock level 3).
      • StandardMedKits changed to medkits only, no energy drinks; enabled Large Healthpacks
      • Removed cash from Bags, Toolboxes, and Wardrobes
      • Removed medkits and ammo from Safes
      • Legendary guns restored whenever legendary melee weapons were available. The probability of finding one is still really low, so use the Dead Island Save Editor if you really want to see any uniques.
        • Item("Firearm_leg_DefenderOfTheMotherland", 1.0);
        • Item("Firearm_leg_CrowdPleaser", 1.0);
        • Item("Firearm_leg_Mccall9Mm", 1.0);
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\Skills\default_levels.xml, <char>_levels.xml
      • InventorySize 250 (from 12), and that property removed from individual profiles
      • Quickslots Count 8 (from 6), and that property removed from individual profiles
      • Breaking doors take only 1-2 attempts: BreakDoorEffectivens 1.0
      • Kill XP penalty 100% because it can quickly inflate level. You still get XP for effects on hits. To farm XP, do continuous quests.
      • Ammo Capacity x10. For Purna and Ryder, this change is made in their individual profiles.
      • Buying items is free. Upgrades and Repairs cost $1.
      • All characters get lockpicking level 3 and can therefore open all chests.
      • Add the following if you want Godmode (but you can still be killed by long falls and big explosions)
        • <prop n="MeleeDamageReductionPercent" v="100"/>
        • <prop n="BulletDamageResistance" v="1.0"/>
        • <prop n="AutoHealthRegen" v="600.0"/>
    • \Users\...\Documents\Dead Island\out\Data\Skills\<char>_skills.xml
      • Recommended that you change "Tree1" and "Tree3" to "Tree2". This puts all the skills into Tree2 so you do not have to linearly go down one tree.
      • Note that many skills add to a previous skill, so if you take Logan's Boomerang level 3 without Boomerang levels 1 or 2, you get 20% Boomerang chance only.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 6 - Dreadworks and Secret Lair

    This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

    Part 6 - Dreadworks and Secret Lair
    (Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
    Shortly after you enter the Dreadworks, Van Helsing will hit level 14, which opens up the third tier of skills. These generally cost a lot of Mana, so be careful about relying too much on them unless you want to drink Mana Potions like water. For our playthroughs, we aimed to use no potions and to this point have not used a single potion. Our build and play strategy continued to focus on recovering Health. In the worst case, we ran from combat, knowing that Van Helsing's health would be fully recovered in a few seconds via strong HP Regeneration. And instead of Armour and Resistance, we focussed on Dodge, which stops all incoming damage if successful; and can defend against bleeding and damaging area effects. Essences help when gear had Essence Capacity, but we hadn't yet bought Capacitative Essences to greatly expand the usage of Essences.

    Mobs are bigger than before, and in some cases a lot bigger (such as Rat Thing mobs in the sewers of the Secret Lair). A single level of Embracing Flames and Ice Blast are good for all builds as the powerups either give you a high damage reduction (10% to 30%) or immobilize enemies (2-6 seconds), and we can still use them to activate healing via the Hidden Reserves aura.
    • Starting in the Dreadworks, there are elevators and upper/lower levels on the map. If the enemy is close enough but on a higher level, you can use Ice Blast or Embracing Flames. These area effect blasts ignore how high or low the target. If the enemy is in the radius on the (x,y) plane, they will be affected.
    After the Orichalcum Mine, you are hopefully good at kiting and keeping your distance, because (on Heroic Difficulty) there are a lot of sudden-death situations in the Dreadworks, especially if you try to melee. Bombs and mines start to appear a lot in the game, as do some rather tough mobs. Shooters start to scatter if you hit them with anything, so melee can be very frustrating. It is recommended that you respec to an Occult Hunter ranged build:
    • Switch Explosive Shot for Poisoned Shot.
    • Improving Icicle Shot or Poisoned Shot will also increase their Mana Cost, leading to possible Mana shortages. Blood for Mana in place of Hidden Reserves may be an option, but a potentially tricky one because you will then have to rely on Arcane Healing for emergency healing.
    • Rage-healing via the Hidden Reserves Aura is still viable since you can activate Power-Ups on Ranged attacks at range (and a level-3 Power-Up with Poisoned Shot can easily cost about 20 Rage for over 40% healing).
    • Ghastly Shape (the special trick to dash through enemies that you learnt after the Drill Worm) will come in handy until you can train yourself to kite more effectively away from enemies that can suddenly pull you in, but is not necessary.
    • The Ethereal Embodiment trick (a few seconds of invulnerability) is probably better than Ghastly Shape for situations where you are pulled into vast damage or just need to get out.
    Notes on Enemies
    • Dreadknecht Grenadiers:
      • These throw a lot of blinking, beeping mines that can be hard to shoot out. They aren't hard to deal with unless you have no room to move.
      • Back off and try to locate and kill the Grenadier first. The problem is sometimes you are too busy moving and shooting to pick out the correct one, and carefully target it amongst the other soldiers.
    • Strongmen (and MouthBeasts):
      • Basically Lesovik Shamblers with chains. They each get to use their chains just once, but once can be enough. Chains stun you briefly after you are drawn in, during which time various things can occur:
        • If there are several Strongmen, they might all use their slam attack at once and flatten Van Helsing before you can activate any healing against the overwhelming combined damage.
        • If there are Grenadier mines in between, just getting dragged past or near mines may set them off before the stun wears off.
      • Generally you can still keep the Strongmen on screen without being in range of their chains. If you do get drawn in, dash out immediately or hit everyone with Ice Blast with the immobilizing powerup.
    • Batrachiantaur (immobile grenade launchers)
      • Depending on your health total, they can one-shot you. If you are in melee, they do only about half damage.
      • Running sideways instead of directly away from their grenades seems to work better. They fire infrequently, so watch for the attack animation. They will track you before firing if you are moving, but the grenade once fired won't follow, so with some practice you can watch for them to fire and start running.
      • Since they require attention to handle, try to pull their supporting troops away and deal with them first.
      • If you are having trouble approaching, try dashing in with Ghastly Shape, but beware if you haven't already cleared the area of minions since you could end up pulling more enemies.
    At the very start of the Dreadworks, head south to activate the store, and also to give you room to back off from the mob to the north if you have to.

    Answering "Death" gets you an Essence that adds +5 damage for 15 Essence Capacity, which is a 1:3 damage ratio instead of 1:7 from other non-Epic essences. Also, the effect applies to wherever the Essence is imbued.
    In the mid to late game when you need a lot of points in defenses to make a tangible difference, use this Essence on Armour to boost damage. Combined with an area effect attack and a Heath Drain item (+x% damage to Health), it gives you a combination of damage output and additional healing that is generally better than a couple percentage points on Defense, Dodge, or Resistances.

    Main Square
    The Main Square is tight with enemies all around. If you are having trouble here, lead them to the south where there is an electric fence they cannot pass. Teleport back to base, then using the base exit, run back to the fence on the other side and shoot at them. Only the teleporting rat champions will be able to reach you.

    A cheesier way to thin out this area is to go to the other side of the electric fence (stair side). Go down the stairs and around to the left. You will be on a path below the Main Square. You cannot shoot the enemies above, but you can still hit them with spells because most spells ignore vertical distance. Once you have the attention of a clump of enemies, go back to the electric fence and safely shoot them because they can't reach you.

    Secret Lair
    The first defense of the secret lair has a clump of slug-like creatures to the south. Mouthbeasts are nearby and can pull Van Helsing in. Circle around and approach them from the direction of the Mouthbeasts instead.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 5 - Orichalcum Mine and Hauling Station

    This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

    Part 5 - Orichalcum Mine and Hauling Station
    (Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
    Starting with the Orichalcum Mine, combat shifts away from melee toward ranged because there are dangerous melee or close-range situations that can be suddenly lethal or difficult to escape. Watch for these and keep your distance when possible. Your basic level 1 shooting skill does not have to be enhanced with powerups or by choosing a higher-tier shooting skill, but obviously that can speed things up.
    • Shrieking Gargantula: These shoot arcing bolts that inflict a brief but stacking vulnerability.
      • They are not smart enough to keep their distance, but they are placed behind a lot of cannon fodder on the map.
      • If you have a lot of vulnerabilities on you, your health can suddenly drain very quickly. If you have strong HP Regeneration, it is probably best to just run for it and avoid combat for a while, until your Health recovers and possibly until the vulnerability statuses clear.
    • Mini-boss spiders
      • These can be hard to spot because they aren't always the biggest, and can blend in with the rest of the swarm. Especially dangerous if you are unaware of them and you have a large stack of vulnerability.
    • Webspinner Spiders: These shoot a beam of webbing that sticks to you and slows you down.
      • They are not dangerous on their own, but the map placement tends to have them with a LARGE swarm of other monsters, plus Shrieking spiders.
      • They typically get close enough to spin, then stand still, so you can just shoot back.
      • If you see them or are hit by a couple, start retreating before you pull too many other opponents. Shoot them instead of closing for melee because a horde of monsters is likely right behind them and if you don't clear them quickly enough you'll have a hard time getting clear if you need to retreat.
      • They are particularly dangerous when there are stalactite drops (caused by creatures with the Tremor special ability) because you might not clear the danger zone quickly enough, and a stalactite can be a one-hit-kill depending on your Health total.
    • Kikimores: These drider lookalikes can cause Tremors to drop stalactites.
      • Stalactite drops will hurt enemies as well, and generally kill anything it falls on, including Van Helsing.
      • There is generally a lot of time to run out of the danger zone, unless you are webbed and too slow, or swarmed and surrounded with no way to push out. For this reason, it is generally safer to retreat and draw them out until you are clear of the main swarm and in no danger of being stuck.
      • The Lightning spell generally has enough range that you can use the power-up to paralyze them, buying you time to kill them before they drop cause Tremors. Several Kikimores causing Tremors can be trouble, especially if you also pulled webbing spiders that slow your ability to get out.
    Once you are used to these hazards, the Orichalcum Mine is actually an easy area. There is just one boss on this map: the Arachnid Leviathan.
    • The cheesy way to kill it is to stand slightly behind the lamp to the south. Beyond a certain range, the Leviathan won't spit even though the poison bolt can follow you farther than this range. Your guns can shoot farther than that, so just shoot it to death. Periodically you will have to deal with the spiders erupting from the ground.
    • If you run a ring around the Leviathan, you will draw the larger spiders that descend from the ceiling. Clear them first, then if you like you can melee the boss. It will no longer spit but will make a slam attack that is easily evaded by running out of the radius before it hits.
    • It is recommended that you DO NOT kill the Arachnid Leviathan. There are spawn points for endless swarms of not-very-dangerous small spiders. These can be used to farm potions, or activate dormant powers on epic items. If you kill the Arachnid Leviathan, these spawn points will cease.
      • Remember that for power-up use to unlock epic item powers, you do not need a target for the power-up use, so you can accumulate Rage however you like first.
      • To trigger the Bloated Gargantula spawns, try shooting the Arachnid Leviathan a couple of times, then backing off out of range of its spit, but not too far.
    Hauling Station (and Drill Worm)
    Before you get to the Hauling Station, getting 1 level of Bash and the Crushing Blow power-up is advisable, even if only to get past this stage because the boss here is hard to cheese and will otherwise take forever. It can have over 7,000 Health and strong resistances: You will die of boredom if attrition from the spiders don't kill Van Helsing with frustration first.

    The objective is to hit the boss with level 3 Crushing Blow power-ups until you can finish it off. As soon as it dies, all spiders vanish. The huge swarms of spiders chasing you are the main problem. You need to kill some to get your Rage up, but get clear of the rest so you don't get killed by the stacks of vulnerability from the spitters.
    The Drill Worm periodically drills, sending out Tremors that in turn drop stalactites. This is actually helpful because the Worm drops several, always at Van Helsing's current location but with a short time delay before the stalactites actually drop. If you run Van Helsing into or past mobs of spiders, they get squashed, saving you the trouble of having to kill them, and releasing Van Helsing from any slowing webs as well. You just need Van Helsing to survive.
    • Look for web spiders first, then shooting spiders. Start running away when you have too many vulnerability stacks or once you have enough Rage and are ready to hit the Drill Worm. Try not to get surrounded because you will have to avoid stalactite drops.
    • Once the stalactites start dropping, head back to the boss. The spiders behind you will mostly be crushed by the stalactites, leaving you relatively free to land a few blows before repeating this process.
      • If you get there early enough while the worm is still drilling, you can get in hits without the risk of getting slammed by the worm.
    After the Hauling Station, you enter the next chapter of the game, which is the city of Borgova. You will not have access to the regular conveniences of storage, respec, and teleporting to previous places until you find the Secret Lair in Borgova (or unless you want to use Scenario Mode).