crate's C-Mode Guide for Newbs

NDW

03:US/Fodra:02-11
crate said:
C-mode terms and abbreviations:

Sab = saber
Br = brand
Bu = buster
Pal = pallasch

hg = handgun
ag = autogun
lg = lockgun
rg = railgun

mm = monomate
dm = dimate
mf = monofluid
$ = scape doll

dt = damage trap
ct = confuse trap
ft = freeze trap

garm = general/arm

hpm = hp material

#/#/# or ### or #.#.# = monomates/dimates/scapes (quick way of letting people know how much healing you have left). Note the third number is NOT trimates--you cannot find trimates in challenge mode.

#c# = c-mode stages. First number is the episode, second is which stage. Other similar forms are also used.

When calling out %s on weapons, in e1 you can just say two numbers (such as 3040) which will be the area% and the hit% respectively. In e2, I generally say something like 3565 dh, where the numbers are the %s and then letters which areas (so that's 35% dark and 65% hit). Usually used in conjunction with saying which weapon you're talking about. (Note: you usually DO NOT have to call out stuff, just dropping it for your teammates is fine).

#s = slots, when talking about armor.

If I forgot any let me know, I can add them to the list.

Now that that's done with, I present:

A Challenge Mode Guide for Newbies
by crate

Inb4 better people ripping this guide to pieces. :ninja:

This is a guide aimed at helping players complete c-mode stages. Much of the information in here is focused on safety at the expense of time. Since the hardest part of getting an s-rank is completing the stages in the first place, I think knowing how to survive is much more important.

Also, before I start, this is a guide based on what works for ME personally. You may find other things that work for you better than what I post here that works for me. I encourage experimentation. That said, this guide should give you a nice starting point, and since c-mode can be daunting I think that's a good thing.

General tips for all classes (in no particular order):

0. If you want to play challenge mode, just go do it. Make a game. In my experience people will probably join. If they're good, they most likely don't care if you're not! If they're new, they probably don't care if you're bad too!

1. Don't get hit at all if you can avoid it. How long it takes to finish a stage doesn't matter unless you're TAing (which is beyond the scope of this guide, especially since I don't have much experience with TAing anyway). Trust me on this: you WILL get your srank when you finish all 9 or 5 stages if you're playing with decent people. The difficulty comes in finishing them in the first place.

2. Know about damage cancel. This doesn't matter on grunt enemies too much, but against bosses with multiple targets (like the dragons or Falz) try to attack different parts if you can to kill faster. Also don't damage-cancel by doing weak attacks on high-DFP, low-EVP enemies like Belras.

3. It helps to know the maps, or at least listen to someone who does. PSO-World has maps for all of e1 and for e2c1-c3. For e2c4 there are maps somewhere on the internet (see 2c4 section, I link to some there), and for e2c5 PSOW's text suffices since it's Tower.

(note: while it is certainly helpful to know where to go at all times, it is also quite possible to pass without an experienced player telling the team where to go. Do not be afraid of c-moding with other new players! It's fun, I promise!)

3a. If you are a new player, listen to whoever is directing the team. Even if they say something that doesn't necessarily make sense do your best to follow their orders.

3b. Don't touch a switch unless either you know what it does or someone tells you to. Usually it won't hurt if you press one that you run across, but sometimes.... Ask someone if you see a switch and you're not sure. It's better to lose a few seconds typing than to lose a mate or a scape by pressing the wrong switch.

4. Drop items at the door to the next room if you don't need them. This makes it so you don't have people running around trying to find that brand you just found or something. You can call out particularly good weapon %s or armor with slots, but you don't have to call out everything.

4a. If you see items at the door, look through them. If it's something you might need, pick it up. If it turns out you don't need it you can drop at the next door. If you have a weapon of a certain type with great %s, though, you can just skip looking at others of that type and let your teammates have it.

4b. Who should use which usable items? (these are just general guidelines and do not apply in all stages)
Power, Defense, Luck mats: HUcast > HUmar > HUcaseal > HUnewearl > RAs
Evade Mats: HUcaseal > HUmar/HUnewearl > HUcast > FOs > RAs
HP Mats: Whoever has least max HP. Usually the FO or RAmar/RAmarl.
TP, Mind Mats: FOnewearl > FOnewm > FOmar > FOmarl > others
Grinders: the HU with the best weapon

4c. Who should get item boxes?
Usually if there's a RA in the team that player should be on box duty. Otherwise, if the FO does not have Resta 3+ or there are two or more FOs, a FO should. If the FO has Resta 3+ and there is no RA in the team the HU with the lowest ATP/worst weapon should get boxes.

5. Confuse traps > freeze traps on groups of grunts. They last longer and the enemies do some of your work for you. Freeze traps are better saved for dangerous enemies.

6. Instant trap shooting: if you drop a trap and as soon as possible do a normal attack with a handgun (or mechgun) equipped, you will shoot the trap before it even goes up (traps bounce up and down) the first time. I play with the keyboard and just hit the hotkey for my traps (1, 2, or 3) then immediately hit the left arrow (my normal attack). I don't think I personally can do this if I have to use both my action palettes since I'm not fast enough, but I'm not saying it's impossible either. This is VERY useful for freeze traps, though less useful for confuse traps.

7. If you don't have to kill it, ignore it. Killing unnecessary enemies tends to cost you mates (and time) without any real reward.

8. Important: Don't get stressed! PSO is a game, games are meant to be fun. Have fun while playing cmode! If you die, you die--everyone does sometimes. I can't speak for everyone, but having someone else who is legitimately trying who dies during a stage doesn't bother me, even if we fail.

Weapons and specials

A couple quick words about each weapon type and special. With all melee weapons you're safest attacking from the side or behind--to do that, it's useful to run up to an enemy, dodge its attack, then run around it while it's in the cooldown.

Saber: the most common melee weapon, so learn to use them. Male animation has xxH combos safe from the front on most grunts, female animation does not. All characters have safe xH combos from the front. High damage and high accuracy make these good all-around weapons.

Dagger: Unsafe on xxH for all characters, safe on xH for all characters. Personally I think HUcasts do the best with daggers since they deal more damage, so they have a better chance to one-combo-kill, which is the real benefit of using daggers. HUcaseals don't get as much out of daggers because of their lower base ATP and their animation is still unsafe. Sabers are probably useful in more situations.

Sword: Unsafe on xxH unless you hit with the edge of the third attack's range. Safe on xH. Females have less forward movement in their animation, which I think is bad (I end up dodging attacks with my sword animation quite a bit). Against groups of enemies--particularly frozen ones--swords will deal the most total damage of any weapon, but since they are unsafe and inaccurate they're not often the best choice.

Partisan: A more-accurate, safer, less-damaging sword. Mostly useful in Mines to knock down groups of Gilchics. Safe on xxH for all characters. I don't like the low damage though.

Slicer: Only appear in late stages and not very useful except for trap-shooting and having a ranged attack for Olga 1.

Handgun: The basic ranged weapon. Easy to use, safe, etc. Not much to say.

Rifle: Pretty much the same as a handgun that can only be equipped by Rangers.

Mechgun: Give these to HUcasts, especially if they have hit%. Potentially the best single-target damage you can get, and safe to boot. Rare though.

Shot: Useless.

FO weapons: Useless. Females might as well equip a wand-type if you find one. Males should go barehanded or (in a couple stages) use a saber-type.

Weapon specials

What they do is pretty obvious (check PSOW if you're not sure). Dim-series in particular is often good. Ranged Draw-series weapons are nice to save a few mates. In some stages/against some enemies Heat-series weapons might deal more damage with their special than their regular attack.

Spirit specials for HUnewearls/HUmars are extremely useful should you find a good weapon with them. Devil's is unfairly good in 2c5 (droid reduction does not apply in Normal difficulty). Both of these specials are very rare.

Other specials are useless in most circumstances.

HUnters, read this!

Your role is to kill stuff, especially the grunt enemies in the rooms. Don't be too liberal in your mate usage, but don't be too stingy either: you're expected to take some hits and it's always better to use a mate than lose a scape. Of course, you should still focus on taking as little damage as possible.

HUcast:
The best ATP in the game, the best trap growth in the game, and gets the male saber animation to boot. The best TA HU in general, but sometimes their low ATA means that other HUs (especially HUcaseals) are easier for new players.

HUmar:
Second-best ATP, second-best-HU ATA, and male saber animation makes this basically an easier-to-use but less-rewarding HUcast in my opinion in episode 1 (in Ep2, the lack of traps really hurts HUmars though). Early in both episodes you can even get some spells if they drop, and those spells aren't worthless even if they're not as good as a saber usually. Much less useful in the later stages where he usually won't be able to use any techs that drop, and not having traps really hurts in 2c4 and 2c5.

HUcaseal:
The best c-mode Ranger (no, that is NOT a typo). Low ATP compared to the male HUs, plus the inferior female saber animation, but much better ATA. They lend themselves well to gun use and are probably the easiest HU to use in cmode IMO. Also be on the lookout for good daggers.

Also, I hear that very short HUcaseals cannot instant trap shoot (see above). Keep that in mind—you might want to have a growth spurt before playing c-mode. ;)

HUnewearl:
The worst HU in cmode. Low ATP and ATA plus the female saber, without the HUcaseal's dagger animation even. Her only real redeeming factor is her MST, but that only helps if you have no FO. Still, it's entirely possible to play a good c-mode HUnewearl if you know how. Not a class I'd recommend to new players at all. Since I don't have much experience with HUneys myself and because this guide is primarily aimed at newer players, I won't cover HUneys in the rest of the guide.

Since HUcasts and HUcaseals are the most common HUs, the majority of this guide will assume that all HUs are one of those two classes.

FOrces in challenge mode

In early stages of each episode, you're around to kill the stuff HUs have trouble killing quickly. In ep1, this means stuff like Nano Dragons, Guil Sharks, sometimes Sinows as well. In ep2, because of more level-ups and generally better tech damage, you can chip in against nearly every enemy. In the later stages, FOs are vital because they start with Resta. They are also challenging to play well, because you have to use your TP wisely and be very good at avoiding damage, since many enemies in c-mode can one-hit-kill FOs.

Know your enemy tech weaknesses. I won't be listing all of these since it's just too tedious to do so. Run into normal and test for yourself if you want.... But don't waste TP by launching the wrong attacks at the enemy.

Be very careful. HUs have the luxury of high DFP and HP so they can take a couple hits before having to use a mate and even more before dying. FOs typically have to use a mate after one or at most two hits, and many times FOs run across enemies that can just one-shot them.

Manage your TP well. This requires knowledge of the stages and how much TP you typically have at your disposal. In Ep1, you will usually run out of TP/fluids by the end of the stage if you go launching offensive techs at everything. In Ep2, since you level up much more, you tend to have enough TP to be able to attack through the whole stage. In either case, don't waste TP by attacking constantly: pick out your targets wisely and you'll be ok.

Elaborating on the above: pick your targets wisely. That Evil Shark coming at you takes two casts of Foie to kill, but a HU can kill it in a single combo, and those two Foie casts mean fewer casts of Barta for the Nano Dragons around. Attacking Chaos Bringers is actually counterproductive since you deal low damage and cause it to drain your TP by hitting it! Attacking grunts is not always a bad strategy, but for new FOs I would recommend doing so sparingly—save your TP for the stuff that you are supposed to kill, not for the stuff that HUs are supposed to kill.

FOnewearl:
Probably the overall best challenge mode FO. They get a 30% boost to Simple techs--the best techs in cmode for the most part--plus the most MST in the game, meaning they'll do the most damage by a good deal in most situations in cmode. In addition, you get doubled Resta range, which can be a godsend when you have Resta 3 since Resta really eats up TP fast. Even when Normal techs are useful FOneys still come out decently well because they can cast them more often than FOnewms or FOmars can due to their higher TP, though the extra damage the male FOs get can be better.

On the other hand, you have by far the worst survivability of any FO. This makes them probably worse for a team just trying to pass certain stages (such as e1c9 and e2c4) than other FOs.

FOnewm:
FOnewms get a boost to Ra- and Gi- techs, so in the stages where those techs are useful (1c4, 1c6, 2c2, 2c4, possibly others) this is a plus. They also have the second-highest MST and can take advantage of the male barehanded casting speed rather nicely, so they stack up reasonably well against FOnewearls on the whole. Their slightly higher DFP and HP can also help in certain stages, since needing one less HP mat to survive a certain attack can mean a lot when you don't find that HP mat.

FOmar:
FOmars are a pretty bad class for cmode. They lose out on a good bit of tech damage because of their lowest-of-the-FOs MST and lack of simple tech boosts compared to FOneys, their only important tech boost is their Normal tech boost which the FOnewm also gets and the newman has more MST anyway, and their S/D range boost means relatively little in cmode. The main advantage of a FOmar is in the couple stages where they can use decent melee weapons, but then their fragility requires very careful meleeing. Probably the least useful c-mode FO class on the whole.

FOmarl:
While their low MST and no offensive tech boosts to speak of limit their damage capacity and TP beside other FOs, FOmarls have one huge advantage in some stages: they have much better survivability than other FOs. In e1c9, they can survive Divine Punishment from the start of the stage (or at least can do so by Falz, even with no HP mats), and even with no HP mats can survive Olga's energy wave in e2c4. They also get doubled Resta range like FOneys do, so in stages where FOs start with Resta a FOmarl is usually a good choice for passing, though she'll never match a FOney for TA potential.

I'll generally focus on the Newman forces for the remainder of the guide. FOmarls can play slightly less carefully but deal less damage as well, and I find them boring to use in c-mode, hence I don't have that much experience with them. FOmars are a poor choice in general and certainly a poor choice for new players.

Playing a RAnger properly

Rangers are usually not very useful in challenge mode. They have low damage, ATA means little on normal difficulty past allowing you to equip guns, and played poorly RAs can mess up HUs and annoy them or worse. Played properly, they can be helpful for passing certain stages—especially 1c5 and 1c6—but they're not usually very good.

Do NOT focus on killing stuff—that is NOT your job. Rangers should generally attack enemies that other players are not targeting, so you don't mess up that HU by staggering his target at the wrong time (for instance). You can keep those Gilchics from shooting lasers, or those Canadines safely on the ground, or those grunts on the other side of the room on the other side of the room.

If there are traps in a room then you should definitely shoot them so they don't hurt the HUs or FOs (especially the FOs). Clearing a room of traps should generally be done ASAP.

Use your traps! You have a gun, so learn to trap-shoot in all manners (both instant trap shooting and dropping one then shooting it from a distance). If a HU asks you to shoot his/her traps, do so. If the HU asks you to stop doing so, however, then stop—I can't speak for others, but often in ep2 I drop my traps ahead of time because I know that when they go off they'll hit the enemies I want to hit.

RAcast:
Easily the best c-mode RA (at least, among characters who are actually a RA) most of the time. You have the best ATP of the rangers, as well as the best trap growth. Lower ATA than the other RAs only matters if it means you can't equip a certain gun, which is not often a problem (only in 1c9, IIRC, where RAcasts cannot use Railguns without slot units, though I could be mistaken). In some stages you can pick up a saber-type and take advantage of your male saber animation as well.

RAcaseal:
The other droid RA is the second-best c-mode RA. At c-mode levels she has the second-best ATP of the rangers, and she also has traps. In some stages where her extra ATA means she can use a better gun (like in 1c9) she is better than RAcasts, but lower ATP and worse trap growth usually makes her worse. Again you can sometimes equip a saber-type for more damage, but you'll have to live with the female animation if you do.

RAmarl:
Generally a useless class in c-mode. Low HP, low ATP, and your ATA is pretty useless, plus no traps and you cannot see traps. Your MST is not high enough to be useful either.

RAmar:
The single worst c-mode class in the game. You have less HP than any other classes except FOnewearls and FOmars (equal with FOnewm most of the time, and lower than RAmarl!), and less ATP than any non-FO class (including RAmarls!). You also have no traps, and your MST is pathetic. Highest ATA in the game means little, though if you happen to find a weapon with an amazing special you should abuse it.

I will be ignoring RAmarls and RAmars for the rest of this guide. They are usually inferior to the droid RAs and almost certainly so for passing stages.

Stage-specific tips

This section is a bit more in-depth than the above overview. Expect to find how I fight certain enemies and handle certain situations. I don't claim these to be the best tactics, but I do claim that they work for me ;)

1c1

Use lots of traps before your first level up, since it's only 50 EXP away. After that, use confuse + damage traps on groups of Boomas/Wolves. Save freeze traps for Hildebears.

To solo a Hildebear without freeze traps, dodge its swing, run to its right (clockwise around the bear) and do either an NH or NHH combo. Video example from Grifter here (edit: This video is gone. If anyone has an acceptable replacement you can let me know). Probably won't be necessary in 1c1 though—you probably will have enough freeze traps.

Rangers should shoot Rappies from a distance so they run away, since this is the fastest way to deal with them.

Forces should use techs pretty freely. Foie everything except Gigoboomas and Hildebears. Hope for Barta for the boss.

Dragon:
If you stay behind the dragon, it will not breathe fire at you. If it does not breathe fire, it will keep walking around rather than flying up. Thus staying behind the dragon makes the fight shorter and (by extension) easier.

NHH its legs as it walks around as a HU/RA. It will probably fall on you if you're a HU when it falls over, and a crit with OHKO any class, so be sure to keep your scape for this fight. If you lose your doll, it's safest to not attack its legs as it's walking, but if you're careful it's possible to have it not hit you when it falls.

When it's down, HUs and RAs should use a saber on the head and use HHH combos until it rises.

FOs should Barta the body for the whole fight. If that's not possible, use Zonde or Foie until you run out of TP. Once you're out of TP, just avoid getting hit for the rest of the fight.

For the dragon's burrowing attack, go to the walls of the arena and pull up your area map. Try to split up. Run perpendicular to the dragon's trajectory to dodge it if it comes after you.

Don't get discouraged if you fail 1c1 a couple times--it's actually one of the harder e1 stages.

1c2

Guil Sharks and to a lesser extent even Pal and Evil Sharks have high EVP, so be even more sure than usual to attack from the side or behind in this stage as a HU. If you get a hit% saber you should be okay from the front most of the time—just pay attention: if you still miss a lot, then obviously stop attacking from the front.

Rangers can use sabers here. Hunters can use handguns (HUcasts need to level up a bit first) and if you start running low on mates you should probably use a gun to stay safe. You might want to have HUcasts feed their mag for 1 level of DEX if you can spare the antis so they can use handguns sooner.

FOs should take care of Nano Dragons and then Guil Sharks, both with Barta. Don't bother wasting TP Foie'ing Evil Sharks, but if you get a line of Pal Sharks go ahead and Barta them. HUs and RAs should only attack grounded Nano Dragons, preferably with sabers rather than guns for the higher damage. I find repeated NH combos the most effective against Nanos: if you time the hits right you will stagger a Nano on both hits.

Fleshies should stay away from Lilies and let droids kill them. You have a limited number of antis, after all. Remember that you cannot be poisoned and paralyzed at the same time, so getting hit by either status effect will cure the other.

1c3

HUs start with a sword here. Because swords have low ATA and an unwieldy animation, until you find Brands for your HUs it's a good idea to gang up on targets. Use up lots of traps early on as well since you need them more before you find Brands than after.

Use damage traps on slimes to kill them. Alternatively, you can use freeze traps to freeze them once they rise up—if you can shoot the traps to trigger them at the right time. Use HH combos on non-frozen slimes so they don't split.

1c4

More swords here to begin for HUs. Save grinders you find in this stage for your best AB% sword for the boss fight.

Do not confuse Pan Arms since they do not split when confused. They also do not split if they are against a wall. I usually find that unless the Pan was generated touching a wall the best way to keep them away from the walls is to keep them parallel to the wall—they only move side-to-side, never forward or backward. If you run into a Pan that just won't split, you can try to lure it away from the wall or you can have the FO Foie it to death.

Dim is a great way to kill Pan Arms if you happen to find a weapon with it.

De Rol Le:
Keep your Brand with you along with your Sword, so you can kill mines quickly.

Use swords on his body for damage. If he shoots out five mines covering the raft kill one corner mine and stand there to stay safe. If he shoots out the triple mines surrounding a player just get that player away from everyone else (killing the mines is usually a futile effort and in my experience gets more people hurt).

FOs should use Gizonde or Gifoie if they can. Be sure to Shifta your HUs/RAs when DRL lands on the raft.

To dodge the laser, have everyone stand along the center line of the raft and dodge to the sides. Repeat this until he stops firing. If you do not coordinate as a team how you're going to dodge the laser most likely someone will get hit, and since the laser one-hit-kills FOs/RAs this is not a good thing.

1c5

The first stage where Rangers are actually decent. RAs should focus on making sure Gilchics do not shoot lasers, knocking Canadines down to the ground, and attacking Sinows.

The best way to deal with Sinows is to have multiple players attack them, ideally timing their combos so that the Sinow is stunned as often as possible. If you have to solo a Sinow, you can dodge its double-punch twice then do NN or NH combos repeatedly with a brand—or just keep shooting them with guns, which is simpler. Groups of Sinows call for freeze traps plus damage traps, or at least a confuse trap if you're out of FTs. You can also use confuse traps on groups of Gilchics.

If the team has no RA, then any FOs around should take care of flying Canadines. Sinows are vulnerable to Foie and should be attacked whenever safe simply because they are the main threat in 1c5. If you can, be sure to keep Gilchics from shooting lasers like RAs should.

1c6

The safest way to deal with Garanz is the following. First, when you see a Garanz, get everyone out of the room entirely to ensure there are no stray missiles flying about. Then, send in one HU—preferably a HUcast, since they have the most HP, have traps, and can see traps—to run a circle around the Garanz to have it kill itself. I usually run a wide circle encompassing all the enemies in the room since the Garanz will end up killing the other enemies that way and it's the safest.

If you cannot get everyone out of the room (you warped into the room or something) then freeze the Garanz and kill it ASAP.

Dubchics appear in this stage with no dubswitches. This means you have to kill them five times each. Because dubchics tend to desync a lot, it's best to have just one HU kill them all five times while no one else even tags the Dub. They only give a handful of EXP points anyway. :p

Vol Opt:
Do not attack the screens. Attack only the red pillars. With a team of four, you should be able to always kill the red pillar before Opt attacks. RAs can feel free to shoot down the central ... whatever it is in the first form.

For the second form, just attack away, preferably each player hitting a different part of Opt. When he uses the pillar-drop attack, be sure to get away from the targeted player so that player can dodge the attack without getting anyone hit. An easy boss period though.

1c7
The three easiest stages to pass in all of c-mode are the Ruins stages. FOs, you start with Resta 3 here and by this point you'll generally be dealing less damage than HUs and--unless you TP die several times--won't have enough TP to really be a great damager anyway. The best strategy for passing is to focus on keeping Shifta and your teammates' HP up.

Watch out for Belras--their arm cannon can one-hit-kill most FOs and probably RAmar/RAmarl as well. Staying close to them will keep them from shooting their arm cannon, and if you do that they're pretty harmless. Use HHH combos for damage and try to keep damage cancel to a minimum.

Delsabers can be taken care of with freeze traps or by making them attack, dodging the attack, and then meleeing them from behind. FOs can and should Barta Dels to keep them staggering and easier to kill.

Sorcerers are mostly harmless, since their Rafoie won't one-hit-kill anyone and they're easy to kill. FOs, be ready to Resta in case one does get to use Rafoie.

A pretty simple stage on the whole. You can "walk" between a set of rocks and the wall at one point for a shortcut if you wish. Check PSO-World's maps for where if you're interested.

1c8

More of the same from 1c7, mostly. Bringers are the only new enemy. Watch out for their TP drain/rifle shot, since it'll OHKO FOs and other weak characters if it hits. Best strategy is to have one HU stand in their "sweetspot"--where they attempt to hit you but can't--and have that HU use HHH combos to kill the Bringer. The TP drain is triggered after the Bringer takes a certain number of hits so refrain from attacking it with techs, Zalure (counts as a hit, I believe), normal attacks, or multi-hit weapons.

Freezing Bringers works fine as well.

Be sure to save spare weapons for the switches in the last area.

1c9

No new enemies here at all, so nothing really to add on that front. Save 8 spare shields and 8 spare weapons for a shortcut near the end if you can. Make sure everyone still has a shield equipped for Falz though, since without one Rafoie and Rabarta hurt. (Now that drops work, you may well have to skip this shortcut; it's not a big deal though it does lengthen the stage).

Give Power mats to HUmars, then HUcaseals, then HUneys, then lastly to HUcasts here. The other HUs need the extra ATP to use Pallasches while HUcasts do not.

HP mats should go to whoever needs them to get to 141+ HP. Obviously give them to the character closest to 141 HP first.

Falz:

This is just a battle of attrition ... or, alternatively, a cakewalk, depending on your party members' HP. If everyone has over 140 HP you should have no problems at all. Otherwise, you'll just need enough scapes left to take all his DP shots. Since you start with 12 dolls, Ruins enemies are pretty harmless, and only one player at most should have less than 140 HP, this really isn't difficult.

Keep Shifta and Zalure active, and try to target different parts of the first form--use Assaults or Railguns on the side heads if possible, while HUcasts use Pallasches on the center head. FOs can Zonde Falz's first form. Take out the Darvants only when you can't hit Falz himself--they're pretty much harmess.

In the second form, again keep S and Z running. Drop the assaults at this point, since they'd probably only damage-cancel hits and make the fight take longer. HHH combo his body, don't bother dodging his spells, and you'll win fast enough. If you really have to dodge his Divine Punishment for some reason, it's possible to do so by running away from where it's targeted (usually this means running away from Falz), but this is only rarely necessary.

Enjoy your S-rank. ;)

Episode 2

E2 maps, unlike e1 maps, have set spawns. They also tend to be more difficult stages. I recommend playing through e1 first as a new player, but if you want to try e2 go ahead.

Forces take note: you level up more often and deal more damage in e2 then in e1 for the most part. Take advantage of this by using attack techs more freely. Don't waste TP, but you have much more to work with than in e1.

2c1

Not too much special in this stage except knowing how to deal with Hildebears (see above). Run past all hallway enemies since you don't need to kill them, and watch for smashers. There are two set scape dolls in this stage. Look at stage maps for puzzles and an overview of area 4 where you have to split up.

Ideally, HP materials should go to HUcasts in this stage for the Barba fight, but if your FO isn't completely confident in his/her dodging ability it may be better to give them to the FO.

Barba Ray:

Only attack his head, preferably with AB% daggers. All other damage is essentially wasted because his body armor has much more HP than his head armor. Hunters should attack with guns when he's far and, obviously, HHH combos with sabers/daggers when he's close. FOs should focus on keeping Shifta up and then can toss Foie at his head.

Don't bother trying to kill the Pig Rays. Just dodge them. The spikes from under the raft are telegraphed by a little circle of sparkly-things where they'll pop up. To dodge his laser, go to the center of the raft as close to Barba as possible and stand there--it'll miss you.

When he lands on the raft, if the shockwave does not deal enough damage to knock you down (mainly HUcasts) then stand where his head will land. Otherwise go to the rear of the raft to dodge the shockwave and run in once he lands.

A pretty easy fight on the whole.

2c2

Sabers and handguns will drop in Spaceship Alpha, so if you can try to get a gun for all your HUs and sabers for your non-HUs. In Beta, brands and autoguns will drop, so save your grinders for brands with nice %s.

Unlike in e1, Dubchics are accompanied by dubswitches, and Pan Arms have low DFP so it's fastest to kill them before they split. Confuse traps are good to keep Pans from splitting.

Use damage traps on wolves, mainly, or sometimes to knock down groups of 'chics. Freeze traps are good against various enemies, but particularly Delsabers, Garanz, and Sorcerers. Confuse traps work against 'chics and wolves or larger groups of Delsabers best.

Try to avoid hits as much as possible, since Gol Dragon is not a very friendly boss fight and you'll want your mates for it. Also save Resist/Units for equipping for that fight, should you find any.

Gol Dragon:

For the first part, he follows this pattern: breath -> warp -> fly up and land -> breath -> fly up and shoot fire/ice/lightning balls -> land -> repeat. Run in and melee him during the breath attacks. Shoot his legs with a handgun when he's about to land and when he's in the air. When he's shooting his elemental balls, split up and just run around. You can't guarantee being able to dodge them, but splitting up should reduce the total damage your team takes.

FOs can Zonde or Gizonde. The latter hits multiple times even though it only shows one damage number. Zonde deals more damage per TP used though (maybe not for FOnewm, but it does for FOnewearl), so if TP is an issue you might want to stick to Zonde at least for the first phase.

Once he roars, he switches to his second phase and things get much more hectic. He'll dive into the ground and create a phantom Gol to accompany him. This fake dragon has too much HP to be worth attacking, so you'll want to focus on the real one.

Immediately after the double dragons appear, stay in the center of the arena, and wait for them to warp. From there out, try to keep both dragons as close to the center as possible. This means you'll take hits from lots of attacks, but not their breath attack--and that is the most important attack to dodge anyway.

The first dragon to fly up in the air after they warp is the real one.

This half is more a battle of attrition (as with Falz) than anything else. Trying to dodge one dragon either tends to put you in danger from the other or to put you where you can't hurt them, so focus on dealing as much damage as you can rather than avoiding hits.

2c3

This is an extremely short stage if you follow the usual route. Exploring can be interesting, but doesn't offer enough benefits to offset the time spent and the mates used (though I think it is fun).

You very much want to have at least one Force for this stage. More FOs means a potentially faster clear time, but probably a more difficult boss fight to avoid failing, so I'd recommend having exactly one FO for teams trying merely to pass. The FO also has by far the most difficult job in this stage.

You can ignore every single enemy except for the minibosses and Gal Gryphon except those blocking your path. Don't waste time or mates killing things you can run past, especially in the first area.

In the second area, the FO should run out, dodge the first projectile from the Mericarol, then alternate attacking with Barta and dodging until the Meri dies. The other players should just get the boxes behind the starting location and wait for the FO to kill the Meri.

(Should you happen to get the extremely rare occurrence of a non-Mericarol Meri in its place, you can still follow this pattern for the green Meri. Foie deals more damage than Barta there. The blue Meri is best handled by freezing it and having all the HUs beat on it. This will only very rarely be an issue however. I've seen it happen exactly once, myself. Alternatively you could just fail the stage, quit, and restart).

In the third area (Mountain), you want to have the HUs get as many Busters as there are HUcasts by killing Gees--preferably on the top half of the mountain--as the FO kills the Gi Gue with Zonde. FOs, be careful here: the Gi Gue's counterattack bomb will one-hit-kill you, and their confuse balls deal 40 damage which is more than half of a FOney's HP. The best way to predict what the Gi Gue will do is to simply fight it more often to get a feel for how it acts. I can't really help out more than just telling you to be careful.

If it's been quite some time and you still do not have a Buster for every HUcast, you may wish to just move on anyway. Brands will do significantly less damage to Gal, but with Shifta/Zalure will still be okay for HUcasts.

Be sure to grab the set General/HP, Resta 3, and 4 slot frames in Mountain before leaving!

You'll then warp to Seaside. If the FO knows how to glitch Gibbles (see video here if you want, credit to Charlie for the vid) then let him/her do so. Otherwise, have the HUs run in and freeze the Gibbles while the FO uses Zalure/Shifta and then Barta.

I recommend checking the boxes in the nearby rooms, both for the set General/HP and for more chances at other decent items (Busters?). If you didn't get enough Busters in Mountain, you can look for a couple here as well, or you can just use Brands.

In CCA itself, the boss warp is ahead of where you appear. Behind are some rooms with warps, the latter two of which lead to rooms with a Gibbles and a Gi Gue, each containing a set Autogun, a General/Power, and an armor you probably can't equip. If you have HUcaseals or HUmars in the team, grab one or both of these Autoguns (and the Gen/Power since it's right there), then head to the boss.

Gal Gryphon:

This fight will likely take up about half of the total time you spend in 2c3. Make sure you give the General/HPs to whichever character is the most squishy, to try to prevent Gal Gryphon's charge attack from one-shotting you. I recommend giving the General/Power units to someone using a gun most of the time.

A note in advance to the Force: You should watch your TP in this fight. Being able to cast Resta/Shifta/Zalure (and possibly Jellen) is better than dealing a little bit of extra damage with Barta. It is likely that you won't be able to whore Barta the whole fight without running out of TP, so switch out of attack mode if your TP is getting low.

HUs (or RAs) with a gun should focus on shooting Gal's head, or his wings if necessary. HUcasts will be using a Buster and attacking Gal's legs most of the time.

When Gal is flying around, the simplest thing to do is to just follow him. When he's about to begin his swoop, the FO should hit him with Barta a couple times (infinite vertical range) and then Zalure him as he begins to swoop. (You can Jellen in place of one cast of Barta, if you wish).

When he finishes the swoop, he'll either go all the way across the arena, in which case you just follow him and get ready to attack when he lands (FO cast Shifta!) or he'll go halfway across and land, in which case just sit tight and get ready to dodge if he does any attack other than lightning. In either case, read below to see how to deal with his attacks.

He has three main attacks from the ground. The most dangerous is his stomp/shockwave, which is a one-hit-kill unless you're a HU at the edge of its damage radius, which is about as far as Gal's wingspan. The way to dodge this is to learn how much time you have to attack, then run away so that if he chooses to use this attack you'll be safe.

His second attack is his charge. If the whole party stays clustered together, this attack is reasonably predictable since he'll just try to run at where all of you are standing. The usual way to dodge this is to run into the circle of his path, unless you're too far away, in which case you run away from that circle. Experience will tell you which way to go. If you're split up, this attack is much less predictable and harder to dodge. He'll use this attack a little bit faster than his shockwave attack.

The third, and simplest to deal with, attack is him shooting lightning straight forward. This is a great opportunity to attack Gal. Don't stand directly in front of him and the lightning won't hurt you. HUcasts can, if they know how, attack Gal's head during this attack (video example). When he's done shooting lightning, he'll then use either the shockwave or the charge, so be ready to dodge them immediately.

This boss fight is hard until you get used to how it works. I find it a lot of fun though, both as a FO and as a HU.

2c4

If there's one stage in e2 c-mode where learning the spawns helps, this is it. It's quite doable without knowing the spawns beforehand, but it'll be a fair bit slower.

Note that the players start split up. 1p (the red gem) has the most difficult route and spends the most time soloing (and should, preferably, be a HUcast). To shorten this a bit you can use the Sinow drop trick (video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nym2mzkAQc ) to join up with the 2-4p route sooner. You can do the same in the first room by getting hit by the squids, but neither the first nor second rooms are that difficult for a droid HU, so the Sinow drop is usually preferred.

The 2p route is the best for the FO. A HUcaseal is generally the best for the 4p route.

There are some other tricks to know about the stage, and, unfortunately, the best way to learn these is to just play the stage. PSOW has no maps for 2c4, but you can find some here if you wish.

FOs, note that Sinow criticals will kill you outright, at least until near the end of the stage. Delbiter charges deal 180 damage and will likely OHKO you as well. Recobombs deal 90 damage, so make sure to always stay above 90 HP in a room with Recons. Keep your party healed and Shifta'd, and then chip in damage and Zalure as you see fit. TP is NOT a problem in 2c4 unless you really waste it.

Deldepths should be attacked with HHN combos with a hitless Buster (I often keep a hitless Buster around even if I have a nice Buster with hit) unless frozen. When frozen, use NNH combos if you don't have hit, or whatever you can hit with if you do. Sinows should always be frozen if you have traps to do so. Freeze Delbiters as well when you have to either fight them or run past them. Confuse squids, ignore Morfos. Damage traps are good against everything in Seabed except Sinow Zeles, so use them liberally along with your other traps.

If you find mechguns, give them to a HUcast. Other HUcasts should grab Slicers if they find any and keep one for the boss. HUcaseals can use Assaults, and one HUcaseal should mag feed for as much DEX as possible by the end of the stage in hopes of being able to use a Railgun. Obviously every HU should upgrade to Pallasches once you find them.

You can ignore most Recoboxes too, so do that.

Past that advice, it's mostly just knowing the stage, which I can't help you with here too much. One thing that does help--in the last area before Olga, there are hallways divided by laser fences. One side of each hall has an invisible warp, which takes you to a room with enemies. Pulling up the menu (f12 or home by default) will let you walk past these invisible warps safely.

There are some set HP materials in the stage. Your goal is approximately 180 HP or more for each character, to survive both Delbiter charges and Olga's sword wave.

Olga Flow:

Ah, my favorite part of challenge mode. Olga 1 isn't that much fun, but you have to deal with him to get to the fun part. ;)

Guns rule here, obviously, since he's only rarely close enough to the stage to be melee'd. FOs--when he comes close, Zal him! It's the only time Zal has enough range, and you want as much damage output as possible here. HUs should use their best Pallasch when he's close, for more damage.

Olga has one main attack to avoid, which is his sword wave. His sword is on his (and your) right, so stay to the left side when you're attacking him, or far enough to the right that it won't hit you. This probably won't one-hit-kill anyone unless you have multiple low-HP characters in the team, but it's still a lot of damage.

The other attack that's dangerous is when he goes above or below the stage and shoots his sword wave at you. You can't dodge this 100% of the time, but getting to the edge of the stage is the safest place to be. In addition, near the edge it deals far less damage than in the middle--it probably won't one-hit-kill anyone at the edge.

His other attacks aren't vital to dodge, since they don't deal that much damage, but it's not good to just take hits from them if you don't have to. After enough damage, he'll fall to the bottom and you'll follow.

Olga 2:

Now the real fun begins. This is the part of the fight that sends players unfamiliar with Olga to failure often. I'd recommend going into Normal RT with a high-leveled character to get to know Olga's pattern if you can, since he's an extremely predictable boss, but very dangerous if you mess up.

Do not bother with his mags unless you're using a gun and don't have a good shot at Olga himself.

Damaging him is just a simple matter of hacking away or shooting away whenever you're not dodging his attacks. Shooting is generally the best choice for new players, since it's safer. FOs, keep him Zalured and as many HUs Shifta'd as possible, and also Resta when you can--but stay alive first and foremost! Don't worry about trying to damage Olga, but you can toss in a couple techs if you have time.

His pattern is: Walk -> Sword Wave -> Divine Punishment -> Walk -> Sword Wave -> Divine Punishment -> Walk -> Sword Wave -> Jump to center -> repeat

The sword wave usually won't one-hit-kill anyone unless you're a FOnewearl unlucky with HP materials at close range (the damage seems somewhat random too, I'm not really sure). You can dodge it by hiding behind rocks, or by running behind where Olga launches it--it only covers about 180 degrees. Alternatively, if you're really far away it'll fade before reaching you, but that's not ideal. Fortunately, you can hide behind rocks for all but the very first time he uses it--which if you're attacking from range, you should do.

Dodging DP is just a matter of not being close enough to either Olga or his mags to get hit. If you know how, you can also make Olga step on you as he launches DP, which will knock you down and keep you invincible for long enough to survive (video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY0SRPVxmIk ).

FOs--if you have a HU using the right-foot-trick, run in after every time Olga uses DP to Resta. Right-footing does use a fair number of mates since you are, after all, purposely taking hits. Try to save as many as possible by keeping the HU healed when you can. (Alternatively, if you're ballsy, you can right-foot along with the HU and be right there to Resta. If you're good enough where that's worth doing though, you probably don't need this guide!)

Rocks will drop after every sword wave and every DP/jump. They hurt if they land on you. I don't think they ever drop at the very edge of the arena, and I'm almost positive they don't drop right next to another rock. Most of the time they'll miss you, but it's still best to not get hit, of course. They often one-shot FOs, and because of when they drop they can kill HUs who are right-footing as well.

When you see the Olga dying cutscene, take a few deep breaths and relax. It's smooth sailing from here. ;)

2c5

E2 c-mode closes with a fairly easy stage. It has the potential for lots of "cheap" (and lots of not-so-cheap) deaths, but you have 13 dolls available to you for a stage that's less than a half hour long. Just don't die more than once every three minutes as a team and you'll be okay.

Like 2c4, knowing the spawns here helps greatly, but because of the sheer number of times you can die it's not as vital IMO.

Note that most enemies give upward of 1000 EXP. This means you will level up a lot. This means you should use freeze traps on literally everything short of Recoboxes, and toss in damage traps against anything they're good against too. FOs, you should be attacking every moment when you're not healing or refreshing Shifta--not only do you have effectively infinite TP, you ALSO outdamage HUs here most of the time.

The enemies, listed from generally most dangerous to generally least dangerous: Ill Gills, Delbiters, Del Lilies, Meri-variants (all three are similar), Gibbles, Gigues, Recons. Generally best to kill them in that order (Gills only appear alone or with Recons, Delbiters never appear with other enemies). Gibbles are dangerous to FOs if the FO is careless and wanders too close, but otherwise they shouldn't kill anyone. The main thing to watch out for from Meris are their Megid cloud attacks--listen for them to start beeping, which signals the attack is coming.

Past that, it's really just knowing the enemies' tech weaknesses if you're a FO, or knowing their spawns so you can freeze them as a HU. Not really any tricks to how to attack stuff here.

Epsilon:

The final "boss" in e2 cmode is probably the easiest as well. Note that, unlike on Ultimate, Epsilon's shields will NOT open far enough for you to safely stand inside them, so NEVER run in and attack a purple or blue Epsilon unless you have a death wish. Meleeing a yellow Epsilon may not do much good either.

The simplest way to kill him is to have every HU with a good machine% pallasch (preferably HUcasts) and your FOs go to Epsilon's floor, while everyone else stays behind. Run around dodging his attacks until he opens up while he's red. Make sure the HUs are Shifta'd, have them run in and attack. A FO should run in and Zal Epsilon, then all the FOs should Barta Epsi from outside his shields (aim AT the shield, time your Barta so it will hit the core). Resta as necessary, don't be afraid to use mates as a HU. If Epsi dies, you're done, otherwise just dodge till he's red again.

Note that FOs can Barta through his shields when Epsilon is any color if they're careful not to get too close and die. ;)

When he dies, go grab your prize. Congrats on finishing e2 cmode!
 
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