Hands-On Preview: Class of Heroes 2 (Sony PSP)

By now, even if you’re not a Dungeon Crawl fan, you should be well versed in the sordid history of Class of Heroes 2 and it’s stateside existence. From the original game being a commercial and critical flop, to all the false starts, Monkeypaw Games has had to go through with the sequel, none of it matters now because the game finally makes it stateside tomorrow. I’ve been lucky enough to spend several days with the North American localization of the game, and unlike a normal hands-on preview where we give you a taste of what’s to come, I decided to use this space to help give you a leg up on an aspect of the game where you’ll spend at least two to three hours before even going out on your first adventure (and more than likely several hours more as the game goes on) – character creation. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of character creation in a dungeon crawl, as getting the right combination of class, race and bonus points decides whether you will survive the dungeons, or die so many times your playthrough of Demon’s Souls looks like you cakewalked through it. In the tabletop industry, we call this manipulating your starting characters’ chance of survival min/max’ing. In that form of roleplaying, it is often looked down upon as boorish, while in video games, it’s considered a sign that you truly know the game inside and out. So to help both long time dungeon crawl fans and newcomers to the genre, I’ve compiled some easy to follow guidelines to help you make some pretty powerful characters, both obvious and unlikely.

First up – BONUS POINTS. This is, without a doubt, the most important aspects of character creation. It’s also the easiest to make huge mistakes on. Every time you make a character, you are shown the number of bonus points you get to add to the character’s stats. A rookie mistake is to assume those points are static and to just go on with making your character. This ends up giving you, on average, only eight or nine bonus points – barely enough to make a character of even sub-par quality, limiting you to Novice classes most of the time. The truth is, bonus points are random and have a wide range, so if you don’t like the number of points you get, back out and start again. Do this over and over until you get the number of minimal bonus points you want. The catch is that this can take a while, and worse, you get so used to backing out that you back out on a character with a ton of bonus points, causing you to swear loudly and repeatedly. The key to making a good character in any dungeon crawl is patience as you spend time trying to get a good amount of bonus points. As a rule of thumb, I would say Twenty-five should be the minimum you try for, unless you’re vastly impatient, but I’ve gotten as high as forty-eight so far… which went into a dwarven male idol.

Second – the races. Each race in the game has their own starting stats regardless of gender. They key is to pump the race full of the bonus points to give you access to the class you want. The most you can put into any stats is ten bonus points, so keep that in mind. Some races have bonus innate abilities that may make them appeal to you, especially over those that don’t, but be careful as those that don’t have bonuses that often make up for it, like humans, which can be any classes, and dwarves, who get an insane amount of hit points. Here now is a quick list of races.

Human – nothing special, but nothing bad. A great gap filler.

Dwarf – another versatile race. Not good with magic, but if you can get 40 or so bonus points, make an Idol with one. This gives you a character whose is all around awesome. It can be a front line fighter with support magic and a crazy amount of hit points and magic points, plus at level twenty, you can do a switch so that the magic points are basically extra hit points. It’s hard to pull this off, but man, it’s worth it. Otherwise, warrior classes are great.

Elf – Give them a magic class. They will excel. Not too good at anything else.

Gnome – They are the best magic users in the game, but suck at everything else. If you get the stats to make one an idol, they can be helpful. Gnomes also gain the Floating (ground based traps don’t affect them) and Protection (immune to instant death attacks) skills, so they’re pretty superior to elves as casters. They have terrible hit points though, so don’t try to make a front line fighting class with one.

Khulaz – these are Halflings. High agility and luck, but not much else. Good rangers, but little else, and I’d take a Fairy over a Khulaz because of the Floating option.

Fairy – Similar to Khulaz, but they Float.

Felpur – these cat people make great samurai and monks, but tend to lower affinity so it’s hard to get a good team with one.

Bahuman – dragon people. Listen. The first thing you need to do is get a character with at least 25 bonus points, then make a Bahuman Warrior with a Strength and Vitality of 24. This gives you a nigh unstoppable meat shield for the entire early game. Seriously, I had 100 hit points by LEVEL 2 and the guy has yet to fall below 50% of his starting health. You also get some really nice warrior weapons right away, so for much of the game, a Bahuman warrior will be your primary source of damage, along with an Elven or Gnomish magic-user. They also gain the breath weapon so they can attack from back rows.

Diablos – the manual says they are best as a Sorcerer, but ignore that and go for Ninja. They will make an awesome one, and their stats are arranged such that it will be easier to get this class with one. They also have the breath weapon, so they can attack from the back row long before you have access to shuriken and other ninja accessible distance attacks. They are also decent with magic, and as Ninjas can cast some nice spells, which makes the combination of a Diablos Ninja all the more attractive.

Celestian – High Spirit, but mediocre everything else, making them a hard sell even with the high affinity and floating ability. Sorcerers and Novices are the best starting class, but they can become a Summoner (hidden prestige class) really easily, so keep that in mind for the long term.

With these races in mind, a good balanced team is important. My starting team was the following:
Male Bahuman Warrior
Male Human Monk
Male Dwarven Idol
Female Diablos Ninja
Male Elven Sorcerer
Female Fairy Ranger

This gives you a wide range of classes and races to experiment with and a full team of three front line attackers and three back row characters that can always attack as well. There are three spell casters on the team (Sorcerer, Ninja, Idol), four with high hit points (Warrior, Idol, Monk, Ninja), two that can heal (Sorcerer, Idol), two that can search for traps (Ninja, Ranger), two with breath weapons (Warrior, Ninja) and this combination also gives you an 80-100+% affinity rate for all teammates.

What is Affinity? Affinity determines whether or not your characters will get stats boosts as they level up. It’s a complex algorithm based on the races and alignments of the members of your team. Certain races do better together than others, and it’s also not always a two way street. For example, a Fairy will get a bigger affinity boost from having a human on the team than a human will get from having a Fairy on the team. It’s a bit maddening to figure out the options for a truly high Affinity. In my starter team example, the Ninja Diablos will start off with an affinity of around 67% because of her race and evil alignment, but you can easily change her alignment to good by not attacking friendly enemies and you’ll see it skyrocket. Honestly, the only stat drop I’ve seen was my Bahuman Warrior lose a point of intelligence. Boo freaking hoo.

Finally, let’s talk about classes. There are nineteen in the game, but only nine will be available at the start of the game, and since that’s what we’re covering, those are the ones we will look at.

Novice – these guys are the default class, but are worth having around, similar to the Squire or Chemist classes in Final Fantasy Tactics. They learn a little bit of everything. As such, a Celestian or a Human makes a good choice for this class, but really anyone works. If you change classes down the road, you get to keep all your skills and spells from the previous class, so a Novice is a good way to get a smattering of everything.

Warrior – as stated earlier, this is your meat shield and primary damage dealer for much of the game. Get a Bahuman with 24 STR and 24 VTL and let him do all the work for you.

Monk – good hit points and does decent damage barehanded. Because everything is so insanely expensive in this game, a Monk is a great choice for your secondary attacker. After all, you don’t need to buy him any weapons.

Sorcerer – tied with Warrior as someone you NEED on your team. These learn healing and attack magic. Once you have Fireball and Iceblast, you should be killing entire rows of enemies with this guy.

Ranger – great back row attacker and a solid trap disarmer. The problem is, bows are expensive, and it will be about ten hours into the game before you can readily afford a bow or find the parts to make one.

Puppeteer- Eh. It’s an okay support magic class. Idol, Ninja and even Sorcerer learn better spells and are better all around characters. You don’t really need one. Probably the least interesting of the classes, along with Novice.

Samurai – Like a Warrior but with restricted armor and weapons. Samurai make up for it by learning the Dual Wield skill a little earlier than Warrior, and they have some direct attack magic. Felpurs and Dwarves make great ones. A Warrior is better in the early game, as you only need to stats and can make them out, while a Samurai needs a lot of points in all six categories so they end up mediocre at everything in the early game. It’s really your call.

Ninja – A nice little bit of everything. Unfortunately, they must be evil, which means you probably don’t want a Samurai on your team if you have one, as they have to be good. Ninjas are fast, can used ranged and close up weapons, can disarm traps, cast support magic spells and gain instant death attacks. They are awesome.

Idol – an all around character that is great if you have the points to make one. Above average at everything, they also gain the most Magic Points and cast spells that buff your entire team. I chose to make a dwarf one, not only because they have the best character art, but you get the dwarf strength and hit point bonuses. This makes a Dwarf Idol good at anything. Use them in the front row as a solid attacker with a lot of health or in the back as a buff caster. Both work wonderfully.

So there you go. 2,000 words or so on some great ways to get the most out of your characters at the early stages of Class of Heroes 2. I’m sure in playing, you’ll find class/race combos that really suit your own style of gameplay. Before long you’ll have a team you really love using, and you’ll be taking down eight headed lizards or finding flasks for the vice principal in no time. Check back tomorrow for our full in-depth review of the game.