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Gameplay tips and build advice for getting through Iron mutant on very hard. Not a literal turn by turn guide for encounters but will set you up with the tools needed for a smooth run.
What is the goal in your encounters?
On very hard you do not regenerate HP between encounters and your cooldowns do not reset.
Therefor your goal in every encounter is to take the least amount of damage while ensuring you have the cooldowns needed for harder encounters.
Stealth is not really an “option”. If you do not have the resources to stealth most of an encounter than you will have a very hard time. The strongest “standard” enemy is the Hunter and if you are unable to clear most of them as they patrol then you are in trouble, they have very high chance to hit and can take 80% of your hp even with good armour.
Cover is very important whenever you are opening a fight that cant be stealthed, high cover offers a 75% accuracy penalty while medium cover offers only 25%. In many cases enemies that are at med-long range will just go into overwatch because they have 0% chance to hit you. This is basically an extra turn for taking down the big targets.
Aoe damage is situational and generally worse. You want to focus on your potential single target dps while playing, weapons like molotovs are almost worse than doing nothing in some cases.
Who do i put in my team?
Dux / Bormin / Selma is the ideal composition.
Farrow has higher crit but less options than dux and her two target shot is just a worse version of twitch shot.
Magnus is cool and i like his VO (i replaced dux with him in my standard Very Hard run.) But he is not as good of a choice, chain lightning is laughably bad as it has low damage and is AOE which is almost always worse than single target, especially when its only effect is damage. Mind control is a good ability but there is no way to make it 100% against anything but a melee unit that does 4 damage to enemies and sadly it has no utility in stealth. Selma can 100% of the time CC anything in an aoe, with proper positioning stationary ranged enemies cant shoot you and also cant run to cover.
What mutations should i focus on?
– Moth wings
– Crit from Hidden
– Crit from Highground
– Disable Robot
– Hog Rush
– Twitch Shot
– Extra Range
– Aoe Root
– Twitch Shot
– Crit from Highground
Twitch shot is the best dps ability in the game, it can be used as an option for stealth kills, is great for taking down tougher targets.
High ground crit makes any fight with proper setup much easier, as well as necesary to remove RNG from stealth kills on later maps.
CC is very strong and gives you more options, Hog rush can be used for stealth kills and to take down most bosses before they can take any actions.
Moth wings is great for guarenteeing that you can land a shot and dux being able to swap between crit while hidden and crit from highground between encounters makes him very versatile.
How do I upgrade my team?
Stealth is extremely important, in order to stealth encounters you have to able to deal with roaming enemies during your ambush round.
Enemy HP will outscale your DPS if you dont do the first 5 or so maps properly, you can of course recover from this but the possiblity of losing goes up drastically for every enemy you have to fight at the same time.
Dont upgrade “loud” weapons
All of your weapon parts should go into your silent weapons until they are maxed out, you also want to avoid upgrading any loud weapon which base damage is below 9 as they will be replaced quickly and you dont want to be unable to upgrade your endgame weapons. I will go into detail on loot later.
Fallen Angel should be done before high road
This map has less powerful roamers than you can take down with only 2 stealth weapons easily but also has the largest group of enemies that cant be “stealthed” in the game. After clearing the roamers you want to get everyone behind a tree for high cover, then throw grenades and use selmas AOE root on them.
Completing this map gives you access to the third stealth weapon in the game. At this point make sure to salvage the “stinger” weapons to have enough scrap for all stealth weapons to be level 2.
Proper character progression
Get Bormins “Hog Rush” ability as soon as possible, you want to avoid any of the abilities in the “stat” tree.
Get Selmas Leg upgrade and AOE root ability, taunt is bad because it doesnt really work and its function is counter to how you should be tackling encounters.
Dux wants to have his Crit shot and Wings as soon as possible, you can guarentee a hit and/or a crit when needed.
Give dux the crossbow with the 50% chance to burn mod installed, give your stealth pistols the “disable robots” mod first and eventaully have it on all 3.
Slap the top hat for extra crit from highground on Dux for now.
Doing all of this before highroad will allow you to stealth enemies with 16HP with minimum reliance on RNG.
5+5+5 from stealth weapons base with dux shooting first from hidden is a 75% shot, with a chance to crit for +2 damage and a chance to burn for +1 damage.
You can activate Moth wings to guarentee the shot lands and raise his crit more and can use his auto crit if needed.
Always use bormin last if you are not guarenteed to stealth the target, this way he can hog rush them as the last action.
This sets you on the path to an extremely smooth early game and avoids the problem of enemies spiking in difficulty if you dont manage your resources properly.
Loot and Resource Management
What do I buy?
Med kits are very expensive but you can also find quite a few. The trouble managing them comes from poor combat tactics and pressure to avoid death.
Allies who are downed but not out will get up after combat at 1 hp provided they do not bleed out. Medkits used out of combat will heal to full hp. Thats much better than 4. Anytime someone is bleeding out examine the situation and see if it is reasonable to complete it without them. If you find yourself running out of medkits you are not taking proper positioning and/or planning in combat.
Grenades are situational, the “fallen angel” map and one or two other encounters in the game benefit from having access to frags, usually as a team effort to ambush with 3 of them. They can be used to destroy cover, do damage outside of LOS and drop enemies through floors. Dont buy these unless you find yourself in a situation where they seem like the best option for an encounter and you dont have any.
Dont buy molotovs or smokes, only buy empas a last resort, they cost 80+ scrap and you find more than you should need as you progress.
Smokes are basically an “oh crap” button as they provide complete LOS blocking and put out fire, the less mistakes you make the worse these become.
Chem flairs are great, they dont alert enemies when you throw them and can be used to remove shot RNG from a stealth engagement or to guarentee your twitch shots on heavy targets. They are also cheap.
Dont buy any Equipment until endgame, a pipegun or another crossbow isnt going to help you at all and you want the scrap for when the store adds decent gear or emergency consumables.
I go with the extra bleedout time as my first purchase, 20% off isnt much and shouldnt be spending lots of scrap until later anyway. You want to get the upgrade for +1 to all weapon damage as soon as you can, dont buy more than one upgrade per tier and focus on grenade buffs, extended emps and 8 damage grenades are much better than the crit bonuses early on. Make sure to pick up artifacts as you progress, they are pretty hard to miss.
Not much is a big deal here, make sure to upgrade stealth all the way first, put crit chance and robot stun on stealth weapons. Range with how ever much crit damage you can get on loud weapons.
Dont upgrade low level loud weapons, you need the scrap for the stealth guns and you will find better weapons soon after doing that.
Dont upgrade the boomstick, you get a level 2 one when you recruit farrow for free.
Armour just distribute it evenly while prioritizing knockdown resistance. Extra armour is better than extra HP but you dont really have to make that choice anyway.
Weapon Choice is important, you want weapons with multiple ammo in them for bormin and selma because they have access to twitch shot, give the lower range weapons to bormin. Dux you want to give the single shot weapons as he is your “opener” and you wont get 3 endgame weapons with more than one shot in them.
How do I deal with robot increased Hp & Armour?
Robots can seem much more difficult to take down in a surprise round and they are quite dangerous if fought in large groups due to there insane mobility and cc options.
It should be noted that outside of 2 or 3 you can stealth EVERY robot in the game. However it can be difficult to remove the chance of failure entirely, i never experience that failure myself.
You want to put a mod on all of your stealth weapons that has a %chance to disable robots. As well as having Dux’s ability that disables a robot if it hits.
Without using cooldowns you will have 20/30/30 chance of disabling a robot in one turn, this can be made into 20/30/75 with the use of Dux’s ability to disable robots, and can of course be guarenteed to hit with either a chem flair or highground.
Bormin and Selma also have access to twitch shot which gives them another tool for upping the chance to get a disable.
Emp Grenades do not alert nearby enemies, only enemies that are hit by it. You can use these to guarentee or close to a stealth kill on 1-3 robots, or even some very strong endgame enemies.
Mid & Late Game
How do I keep pace with the ever stronger enemies?
Enemy Health keeps increasing as Enemy level increases. The best way to make sure you are still able to deal with roaming enemies in one ambush phase is to prepare for each fight with ways to mitigate RNG for dealing crits.
Fireing from High Ground and fireing from Hidden give you a bonus to hit chance in the case of High Ground but also to crit chance. Combined with weapon mods and talents for even more increased crit chance from high ground or from hidden, you can get guarenteed to hit and crit shots on most stealth engagements late game.
RNG is still present on encounters where you cannot get a highground advantage.
Use your Mutations and Equipment to remove the variance from your attacks.
Abilities like Moth Wings can give high ground bonuses for one shot per turn, usually meaning 100% chance to hit early on and lategame 100% crit as well.
The crit from hidden hat and crit from highground hat you can wear the entire game, swap them between Dux and Selma as the encounter calls and Bormin give the increased range hat as he gets stuck with the lower range weapons.
Chem Flairs are fantastic tools, you can use them to give +25% chance to hit on every target that gets the debuff and they DO NOT alert enemies, throw one during ambush phase and then just skip the other characters turns so you dont lose a shot. If you want to be cheeky you can also drop combat and put a different throwable weapon in the slot used by the chem flair as they last quite a long time.
Attack Order is important, if you have someone with a way to guarenteed a stealth kill with Hog Rush as an example, and the option of taking it down with a 75% chance shot, do the shot first, there still is no chance of failing the encounter but you will have saved a cooldown for later.
Open “Loud” Combat
There are invariably some fights than cannot be taken out with stealth, mostly this is any fight with a boss level enemy or a “tank”, increased hp and armour levels make stealth weapons deal minimal damage and “tank” enemies cannot be knocked down with Hog Rush.
Always ensure high ground as a top priority before engaging. Even the strongest enemies in the game go down quickly when you can pump 3 auto crits and 2 more 40% crit shots in the opening burst without a chance of missing.
If you cannot get highground then prioritize high cover and if possible set up so that at least one enemy does not have LOS, you can cast Selmas Aoe Root and then take another action so ensuring that the enemy cannot return fire after the first round is usually possible.
You will rarely take more than one shot in an encounter with proper setup.
I really enjoyed my time with Mutant Year Zero: RTE. It is a nice blend of tactical combat, stealth, exploration, and story.
I hope this guide helps someone else enjoy the game as much as I did.