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Hardcore Guide by whythecynic
Version: 1.02 | Updated: 07/05/14
Dust: An Elysian Tail, Hardcore Guide NOT spoiler-friendly === Table Of Contents === 0-0-0 Introduction 1-0-0 Overview 1-1-0 General tips 1-1-1 Controls 1-1-2 Movement 1-1-3 Combat 1-1-4 Equipment 2-0-0 Area guides 2-1-1 The Glade 2-1-2 Fighting giants 2-2-1 Abadis 2-2-2 Fighting slimes 2-2-3 Fighting Fuse 2-3-1 Cirromon 2-3-2 Bubble sprouts 2-3-3 Fighting squirt bugs / florns 2-3-4 Fighting stonecutters 2-3-5 Fighting trolks 2-3-6 Fighting Tethys 2-4-1 Sorrowing Meadow 2-4-2 Fighting demons 2-4-3 Fighting necromancers 2-4-4 Fighting KHAAAAAAAAAINE 2-5-1 Blackmoor Mountains 2-5-2 Fighting frites 2-5-3 Fighting kushes 2-5-4 Fighting the three frites 2-5-5 Fighting soldiers 2-6-1 Everdawn 2-6-2 Fighting assassins 2-6-3 Fighting large battles 2-6-4 Fighting post-Wedding Rings 3-1-0 Fighting Gaius 3-1-1 Gaius phase 1 3-1-2 Gaius phase 2 3-1-3 Gaius phase 3 3-1-4 Gaius phase 4 4-0-4 Cheating 5-0-0 Afterword === 0-0-0 Introduction === v 1.0.1 Added information about the Gaius fight. v 1.0.2 Minor grammar fixes. Disclaimer: this FAQ is extremely spoileriffic. Do not read it if you want to experience the story firsthand. Note: I play Dust on the Xbox 360, but this FAQ applies to other platforms as well. I'll go into more detail in the Controls section. After hours of unimaginable swearing, I made it past Cirromon on Hardcore. It would be hours more before I got past the Blackmoor Mountains. At the moment of writing, I've completed every achievement for Dust: An Elysian Tail. This guide is written to help you, the reader, get through Dust on Hardcore as well. I'll share some of the things I've learned and some tactics I've found that work, as well as an overall strategy. I assume you've at least attempted the game on a lower difficulty, are familiar with the basics, and want something more of a challenge. You'll need a firm grasp of Dust's mobility to make proper use of this guide, although that can be beaten (literally) into Dust in the first hour of your run on Hardcore. Now, Hardcore difficulty itself. There are several things about Hardcore, apart from increased enemy damage, that make it particularly difficult: 1: Invulnerability is 0.5 seconds 2: Bubble sprouts 3: Landing on spikes is a guaranteed death 4: Most enemies kill you instantly, until you get your final equipment 5: Bubble sprouts As you can see, bubble sprouts make up 40% of the challenge of Hardcore. The enemies you can kill are not that much different- they move and dodge more, but your mobility more than makes up for that, and by playing carefully you will triumph every time, unless there are bubble sprouts on the battlefield. On Hardcore, your objective is twofold. 1: Acquire 2 wedding rings, to make the grinding in the next step easier. 2: Acquire money and blueprints for equipment and resurrection gems. 3: Level up as high as you're comfortable. 4: Defeat General Gaius. 5: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Most of this guide will be oriented towards getting you to Wedding Rings with as little hassle as possible. You then must decide how much you want to grind (if at all), to prepare for the final battle. The battle itself is not actually very difficult, but you'll want to be at a high level with the best equipment, and at least 5 resurrection gems. If you're going for achievements, you'll want to complete every other achievement on Normal or even Easy, then go up to Tough for the last achievement, or even just start on Tough. Hardcore is entirely optional, and going on Hardcore is not for the weak of will, but if you want to test your skill and luck, then that's the difficulty for you. I would advise against hardcore 117% runs, simply because of the amount of annoyance backtracking entails. If you want to do one, though, I suggest waiting until you get every single movement ability (that means getting a quarter of the way through Everdawn) before backtracking. That ensures that you'll only need to revisit each location once. Make sure you revisit Cirromon before Blackmoor Mountains, to get the Red Orb for Tim, as well as the Rainbow Resonance Gem to get The Kid. Otherwise, a 117% run is not any different from a regular Hardcore run, just more trying on one's patience. === 1-0-0 Overview === In this section, I'm going to give general tips for gameplay on Hardcore. I'll cover everything from movement to combat to inventory management. If you're a seasoned veteran and you just want help about specific sections and enemies, feel free to skip ahead. === 1-1-0 General tips === Note that travelling to and from the world map DOES NOT save your game. Make sure your game is saved before attempting anything risky, especially after a hard boss fight. Geehan's farm is the perfect place to do a quick save, the save point being right outside the entrance. The closest shop is in Aurora village, by the right entrance. Dilligently maintain a manual save as well. I've never had any problems, but my heart skipped a beat when I got knocked into a save point with 0 health and no resurrection gems, and the "Saving..." text came up... If you're close to a save point after a cutscene plays (or some other time- consuming persistent event, such as grabbing treasure), head back and save. It'll save you a lot of annoyance when you load your last save. Keep at least one or two teleport stones on you at all times. They are surprisingly sanity-preserving. Save your money to buy materials for high-end equipment, and resurrection gems for difficult segments. Don't spend money buying materials for low-end equipment when you can farm it instead. It's alright to use a resurrection gem or three in particularly annoying segments (Cirromon and Blackmoor come to mind)- just don't use them up on fights against enemies. It's good training to restart a fight you can't beat convincingly. Still, you have to balance skill against frustration. Ultimately the call is up to you, but I find that developing skill early in the game helps a ton later on. Save points restore your energy to full regardless of difficulty. Also, loading your game respawns all enemies in the room. Don't be shy using healing items, especially if you're far from a save point. Every now and then we get cheap-shotted or blind-sided, and we need to recover from that. You get more and better food as you go along, especially once you get drop rate boosting rings. In that same vein, use your stat-boosting food whenever you feel you need it, or when you know something dangerous is coming up. You can always buy or farm more later. Also remember that eating food restores some of your energy. Perfect for when you need to make a critical dodge! Remember that you can heal yourself while browsing your inventory, a la Skyrim! This lets you fully heal yourself immediately after you take damage, instead of having to mash Heal while dodging enemy attacks. This might save you a resurrection gem or two during a boss fight or a poison-filled segment. Save your keys for the first few parts of the game- you don't get anything in chests that you wouldn't get by killing enemies, and your keys are much more valuable used to free friends for the HP boost. === 1-1-1 Controls === In this guide, I'm going to use generic button names so as not to confuse people on different platforms. I'll refer to the Attack button as [Atk], the Dust Storm button as [Dst], the Jump button as [Jmp], and the dodge buttons as [Ddg]. Combos will be represented, for example, as [Atk]-[Atk]-[Atk]. === 1-1-2 Movement === Dust's mobility is his greatest strength, so use it to its fullest potential. Knowing how to make full use of Dust's abilities is key to beating the game. You can halt your downward vertical movement and extend your time in midair by pressing [Atk]-[Atk]-[Atk]-([Dst]) quickly. After a short cooldown, you can do it again. This will actually allow you to gain a little height at the peak of the first jump, or glide for a very large distance (if you do it quickly enough), enough to make some jumps that should only be able to be done with double jumps. More importantly, this gives you a little leeway during jumping puzzles and air combat, letting you take a quick breather in midair. Just be careful if you use the fourth attack, it changes to a grab-and-slam if an enemy is nearby. You can get around quickly by doing [Jmp]-[Atk]-[Atk]-[Atk]-[Dst]-[Ddg]. Once you get double jump, you can repeat it in midair for a greater horizontal boost. Essentially you jump up into the air and use the air slash combo to gain some extra height, then dodge in the direction you're moving at the peak of the jump, so you don't have to pause to recover on the ground. Be careful on Hardcore, though- your energy regenerates incredibly slowly. Air slashes and aerial dust storm track enemies very well, sometimes too well. You'll find yourself launched into space quite often, especially with aerial dust storm. You can use that to quickly get out of trouble, and then slash- glide your way to safety, or at least a better position. Dodging gives you invulnerability for a very, very short while, which you can use to avoid attacks. You can also dodge into vines, dodge away from environmental hazards, and dodge to give you that little boost to clear a chasm- there are many uses for it. Dust Storm actually pulls enemy drops towards you, except blueprints. Use this to save time running about the room picking up stray items. === 1-1-3 Combat === Combat should be centred around avoiding damage. Dodge, keep enemies from flanking you, and use regular attacks to deal lots of damage quickly. Try not to use Fidget when enemies are very close to you, as her projectiles tend to clutter the screen, making it difficult to see enemy attacks and react to them. The exception is using aerial projectile storms when you want to get out of the thick of it. Ground combat will be your bread and butter before you get the Fidget-boosting rings. It's the most predictable and therefore the safest, and it does immense damage. Eventually, though, you'll have to move to air combat in the later stages of the game. When fighting generic enemies, it's usually best (with a notable exception) to keep them all on one side, and stay on the ground and use normal 4-hit combos to kill them all. Don't use the [Atk]-[Atk]-[Dst]-[Dst] combo, it leaves you exposed with its long windup. If any one gets behind you, dodge away. Your normal attack will always interrupt their attacks and usually will interrupt their attempts to jump behind you. Use aerial projectile storms if you need to interrupt or avoid something quickly. The exception is when you're in the mountains. There, the generic enemies jump around a lot, and tend to get behind you. This means that it's almost impossible to control their approach. It's much easier to throw up a lightning storm cover, keep launching and air dropping them until they're all dead, and then zapping any stragglers to death. Make sure to dodge away from pouncing wolves, or if you're feeling daring, attack and throw them. Once you get lightning, use a lightning storm to stun all enemies in range, then wail on them with melee attacks. This will be the standard strategy in the later parts of the game. It is very inadvisable to attempt most things without the cover of a lightning storm. I'm going to refer to three attacks very often- the launch, the air slash, and the air drop. The launch is performed on the ground with [Atk]-[Dst]. It launches Dust and the enemies it hits into the air, making it a good set-up for the air drop. Unfortunately it leaves you standing still and vulnerable to the rear when you're performing it, so its use will be limited to the earlier parts of the game. Before you get Fidget's more powerful projectiles, it's still a good way to get enemies into the air. The air slash is performed with [Atk] in midair, and you can chain three together. It's very useful for dealing large amounts of damage to flying enemies, but you'll use it most often for its ability to keep you in the air, as a leadup to the air drop, and as another way to launch yourself into the air. It is the best way to deal with certain enemies, though. The air drop, performed with [Dst] after 3 air slashes, is a spectacularly useful attack. It does increased damage and splash damage where it hits, making it a good crowd control device. It hits most bosses, doing terrible damage to them, even on Hardcore. Just to sweeten the deal, it's the quickest way to restore energy- an air drop on a single enemy restores ~40% energy on Hardcore. Using the air drop actually lets you grab enemies standing on the ground, as long as you are near their height when you press [Dst]. I'll call it the pick- up throw, and it has a surprising amount of utility. It lets you pick up an enemy on the ground with incredible priority and speed, does a lot of damage to your target, and does slight splash damage on the ground when you land. Additionally, it is initiated from the air, so most opponents will not start to attack you when you get close to them. Finally, when you land, you bounce up a little, letting you repeatedly pick-up drop enemies. After a successful parry, you can press [Atk]-[Atk] to do a quick 2-hit attack. This attack does bonus damage, since your opponent is stunned. However, most enemies on Hardcore will not be killed in 2 hits, forcing you to start another combo. Instead, you can delay your attack until Dust recovers, and do a standard 4-hit combo. This will guarantee a kill quicker than doing two separate combos. It's worth spending some time getting used to a particular enemy, especially if you're near a save point. This will save you a lot of pain later in the level, and will train your skills for dealing with the less forgiving ones. A quick way to activate Fidget's projectiles is to use Down + [Dst], but it brings you straight down into the thick of it, has a bit of a recovery time, and doesn't do splash damage to your back, leaving you vulnerable. I prefer to use aerial dust storm, but you might find some use from it. === 1-1-4 Equipment === By the middle of Cirromon, you should have at least 1 Master Ring of Vigilance. Look for another, farming a little if necessary. They're the 3x item drop rings. You'll want two of them before you go to Sorrowing Meadow keep them on until you get Wedding Rings. The bonuses you get from equipment far overpower those you get from leveling up, and you'll need the huge XP boost given by the Wedding Rings if you want to power-level anyway. You'll need them to get rare materials to catalogue, as well as rare blueprints to upgrade your loadout. The build I used was max attack, max fidget, then health, and then defence. On Hardcore you get killed so easily it's not really worth putting points into health and defense- the best defense is mobility and a lightning storm cover. When you're stronger, farm lost souls in the Sorrowing Meadow. They are used in all of the top-tier recipes, and you will need perhaps 80 of them (depending on how many Wedding Rings you want to craft). You should have two 3x item drop rings by then, so every necromancer will drop a lost soul. You'll gain maybe 20 over the course of getting through the Sorrowing Meadow. There's a good farming spot where a necromancer spawns to the right of a save point, outside the mansion where you get your iron grip. There's another wonderful spot, although you need a little more confidence. Enter Sorrowing Meadow from the right entrance. Now go left one screen. You should be at a T-junction room. At the left edge of the room should be a necromancer. Just kill it, move left to the next room, then move back to make it respawn. If you need more energy, there are zombies just below it to the right. The quickest way to restore energy is, as noted, the air drop- if you end up killing the zombies too quickly, just throw the air slashes into thin air. You can rack up XP and money VERY quickly this way- with 2 wedding rings, you get 2250 EXP and 500 gold (not including the value of drops!) every 8 seconds. It's still faster to plow through Everdawn with two Wedding Rings. === 2-0-0 Area guides === In this section, I'll present general tips on getting through particular locations. Where an encounter might give you trouble, I'll put it in this section. I'll also include tactics for fighting enemies found in that area. === 2-1-1 The Glade === Welcome to Hardcore! Take your time to get used to the difficulty. Practice controlling your position relative to your enemies, and making use of your dodge and aerial dust storm. These are skills that you'll need for the rest of the game. It's alright to die to the first group of enemies repeatedly- it's quite a shock going to Hardcore from Normal. === 2-1-2 Fighting giants === 1: Clear out the area 2: Wait for it to attack, then parry 3: Kill It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of getting used to. They have 2 main attacks- a hand smash, and a stomp. The hand smash has a long wind-up, and is telegraphed pretty well, so don't parry too early. On the other hand, their stomp attack's hit frames start very early, so start parrying correspondingly quickly. The stomp can hit you the moment its foot starts moving downwards, so parry the moment you see it raise its foot. If you miss the parry, you're probably starting it too late. Thankfully, the arm smash has a long enough wind up that if you misjudge the attack as a stomp, you can still parry the smash. If there are lesser enemies around, kill those first. You need all your attention on the giant, especially since all of the enemies you are facing can kill you in one hit. Even on Hardcore, parry-stunning them will let you kill them in a few hits. Instead of mashing [Atk] after the parry, delay your attack a little and do a 4-hit combo to kill it quicker. === 2-2-1 Abadis === It's very annoying trying to get through slime alley, but it's doable (and in fact easier) without parrying. Just stay in the air, and when you are about to pass a slime under you, dodge to the right. It's almost impossible to tell when they're going to air spike you, so don't risk it, and dodge past every single one of them. They can and will hit you if you do not use the burst of speed that dodging gives you. The rest of the level is not too difficult, until you get to the boss. Take the time to go to Archer's Pass and look up Haley, you'll need her services for the rest of the game. === 2-2-2 Fighting slimes === 1: Approach it from the ground. 2: Do not attack the slime, wait for it to initiate an attack. 3: Parry the slime's attack, then counterattack it. Alternatively, attack it exactly once, then dodge away to reassess things. The problem is that it's almost impossible to tell whether the slime is shuddering from your attack or whether it's preparing to attack you. Its attack will instakill you if you're going through the area for the first time, so don't risk it. Also, they can be launched, but don't stay in the air too long, and their air spike will instakill you anyway. It's best to approach them cautiously from the ground. If you need to get past them, dodge past instead of jumping over. === 2-2-3 Fighting Fuse=== 1: Stay in the air to avoid fireballs. 2: Pick-up drop Fuse whenever possible. 3: Use aerial dust storm to disperse its green projectiles. Fuse has several attacks- a green seeking orb attack, throwing fireballs horizontally, and summoning fire pillars. He has no melee attacks, so you don't have to worry about parrying; on the other hand, there is no way to block his attacks. The green seeking orbs are easily avoided and can be dispersed with dust storms, while the fire pillars have a long enough wind-up that you can easily air drop Fuse. Its most dangerous attack are the fireballs, as there is little to no warning that they will come. Consequently, it's best to stay above Fuse, and attack from behind. It's enough to just keep launching Fuse into the air and hitting it with the air drop. Using the pick-up drop tactic works incredibly well- essentially you can hover above the ground to avoid fireballs, and then "pick up" Fuse whenever you're close enough and slam it into the ground. Don't try for a ground dust storm, you will probably get killed by fireballs. Aerial dust storm will work, but be careful you don't fly into a fire pillar. Fuse has no pushback when you hit it, so just stay close and keep up the pressure, and you should beat it easily. === 2-3-1 Cirromon === Before you head into Cirromon, consider doing Cirelian Trial 2 to get the Wet Suit, which will help you a lot at this point. Don't worry about getting a high score, focus on reaching the end (even if you don't get any points!) to complete the challenge. Make sure you have at least 1 teleport stone, preferably 2-3, before you enter Cirromon! It will save you a world of pain. Make sure the first thing you do when you get to the village is to go up one room and exit by the top exit, so you can easily return to the village if and when you teleport out. Don't forget to save your game after that, too. Finally, once you hit the village, make sure you have 4 keys at all times. Don't forget to pick up Haley's communicator while you're in Cirromon. You should have two Master Rings of Vigilance by the end of Cirromon, or at least two item drop rings. If not, go back and grind them out. You'll need them in Sorrowing Meadow. === 2-3-2 Bubble sprouts === Bubble sprouts are so annoying that they deserve a section of their own. The order and speed at which they fire is entirely random. They have a 0.25 second delay, so don't bother trying to react- dodge away towards safety. If you're unlucky, though, there won't be a safe landing spot around, and you'll die. Expect to restart these segments a lot, unless you're willing to splurge on additional resurrection gems. There are 3 segments where you will need to move through bubble sprouts, but you should be able to skip one of them. Make sure you have a teleport stone before you enter Cirromon! The first segment heading in towards the underground village, you can't skip. The second segment heading down to the slide skill, you can't skip either. The third part is headed up from the slide skill back towards the village. This part you can skip. Once you rescue the friend in this area, head to the save point and teleport out. Don't bother trying to climb up out of the bubble sprouts. Hopefully you discovered the village-side exit, and you can head back in immediately. There's one segment where you fight 2 trolks under bubble sprouts. That part is very fun. Focus on one, parry and kill it, then take the other out as fast as you can. Dodge as soon as you see a bubble sprout blink above you, instead of going for the kill. Avoiding damage is much more important on Hardcore. To kill trolks faster after a parry stun, don't immediately hit [Atk]-[Atk]. Let Dust recover a little, then start a normal combo. You post-parry stun attack is only a to-hit combo with a recovery, but if you wait to start a regular combo, you can do up to 4 hits. === 2-3-3 Fighting squirt bugs / florns === 1: Spam Fidget's fire pillars. Don't try to aerial dust storm into them- they fire their projectiles quickly enough that you might dust storm into poison or electricity. Stay away, where you can see and dodge them, and use fire pillars. You could try aerial dust storm on florns if you must, but dodge away at the first sign of trouble. Thankfully their electric balls arc downward, which makes them quite unlikely to actually hit you if you stand at a distance. === 2-3-4 Fighting stonecutters === 1: Ground combo, up to 4 hits. 2: Dodge away immediately after. They're those spider-locusts that spray poison at you. They have 2 attacks- for the first one, they rear up and stab the ground with their forelimbs a few times. For the second one, they bring their abdomen forward and spray poison in front of them. You can only properly block the leg-slamming attack, and the timing is a little later than you might expect, so be careful if you want to parry them. It's probably better to dodge away instead of attempting to parry. They have enough health that aerial projectile storms are not very effective. === 2-3-5 Fighting trolks === 1: Wait for it to attack, then parry. 2: Finish it off. Fighting trolks is much the same as fighting giants. They have two attacks- a slow overhead bash, and a quick forward jab. You'll have to learn the timings of these attacks. Just remember that the jab is a lot quicker than the bash, so parry accordingly. It's still easier to parry than the giant stomp though. === 2-3-6 Fighting Tethys === 1: Use the air drop almost exclusively, dodging away if necessary. 2: Once you land the throw, move away to avoid her sword swing. 3: If you see her start to swing her sword, don't bother parrying, dodge instead- she doesn't get parry stunned. Tethys has exactly 2 attacks, both of which are telegraphed very clearly. The first one is a localized electric explosion. It should never hit you as long as you keep moving, and if you value your life you will keep moving. Her second attack is a huge sword swing that is, thankfully, telegraphed very well, and which you can parry. The sword swing hits in a huge arc under her. The trick is to move far enough away from her so that she starts her ranged attack. Then jump and air grab her immediately, so that you aren't caught off- guard by a sword swing. If she starts to swing her sword while you jump towards her, just dodge away and try again, or parry if you are feeling lucky, punk. The reason this works is that she always follows through on her attacks, so you have some time to get in close after she starts a ranged attack. More importantly, her ranged attack hits a specific area, not a line, so as long as you move, you will avoid it. She is vulnerable to air drops, which interrupt whatever attack she's currently doing. You don't want to rely on the air slash, because it might not interrupt her attack. If needed, throw some slashes into thin air to make sure that when you get to her, you can use the air drop immediately. Your goal is to hit her with the air drop, interrupting her attacks and doing damage to her at the same time, which ensures your safety. You might need a little practice avoiding spikes and dodging unexpected sword swings, but overall Tethys is actually easier than Fuse, or even the two giants at the end of the Glades. === 2-4-1 Sorrowing Meadow === This is where you can start to acquire powerful equipment. Enemies are still strong enough to kill you in one hit, so caution is key. Thankfully most enemies here are relatively slow and ungainly. The main issue is their sheer number, and you will need to know how to deal the most damage possible in a short time to get past them. Usually the four-hit ground combo works wonders, but always be ready to run away if you get surrounded. Feel free to use your keys as you like here. If you don't plan to backtrack until you get the air boost (or not at all), you'll have enough keys to open all the chests you'll encounter. Dealing with zombies is like dealing with other generic enemies- line them up on one side, and hack them to bits. If you need to get away, use an aerial lightning storm. You shouldn't need to stun them with a projectile storm beforehand, and maneuvering so that they are all on one side of you is more important than having lightning cover. Against flesh fly nests, you can use the air slash / air drop against them. The drop will not trigger, but you will perform a fourth slash. If you get lucky, some of your air slash hits will hit the bugs that emerge from a destroyed nest, making your life a little easier. The Wicked augment and Spectral Suit are very good equipment, so build them as soon as you can. You might also want to get 2 rings of patience just to help your passive regen. There's a very irritating segment in the top left mansion: on your way out, you'll fight one necromancer in the upper room, then another in the lower room. In that room where you killed the second necromancer (the lower room) is a demon who can and will repeatedly kill you. Because of the camera, you usually won't see it until too late, when it's spinning at you just when you're falling down. What you need to do is, before dropping down, use Fidget's fire pillars and kill it from high up. That will let you avoid having to restart the whole segment. At the end of Sorrowing Meadow, if you still don't have a Ring of Vigilance, or a Spectral Vest, consider doing the Cirelian Trials in Sorrowing Meadow or The Glade, respectively. You might also want to do the one in Cirromon for a Warrior's Pendant, if you don't plan to farm for a Battle Master's Pendant. === 2-4-2 Fighting demons === 1: Use a single lightning storm to knock them into the air 2: Air drop while they are still midair 3: Land on the ground, do the ground launch while they are still on the ground 4: Repeat air drops and launches as needed Do NOT attempt to lead with a parry, dodge, or combo! They can kill you instantly, their attacks hit extremely quickly with little telegraphing, and parrying them knocks you back as though you were hit. It's best to interrupt their attacks and knock them into the air, chaining them to death from there. Their greatest asset is their speed, and they will often blindside you. Be ready with a lightning storm in every map where demons are present. If something unexpected happens, dodge away, and restart with a fresh lightning storm. Make sure that the storm knocks them into the air before attacking in earnest. If the storm doesn't knock them very high up, you should just wait on the ground for them to land, then launch them and start from there. They do not parry while recovering, nor do they have any pushback. === 2-4-3 Fighting necromancers === 1: Fire off an aerial lightning storm. 2: Move left and right quickly, forcing the necromancer to continually teleport and interrupting its summoning. The necromancer will teleport every time it would receive any amount of physical damage, which your aerial dust storm is perfect for providing. Otherwise it is very hard to interrupt with damage, and if you don't force it to teleport, it will raise zombies very quickly. This back-and-forth method ensures a minimum number of zombies spawned while you tackle the necromancer. === 2-4-4 Fighting Kane === 1: Jump and throw three (or fewer) air slashes. 2: Dodge away immediately (in either direction). 3: If you happen to attack while on the ground, just dodge away. Do not ever start a fourth attack. 4: Jump towards Kane and repeat. Kane has three types of attack- silencing Fidget, summoning zombies, and melee attacks. In an inversion of what we did with Tethys, the goal is to bait Kane into constantly using his melee attacks, ensuring that he never silences Fidget or summons zombies to complicate the fight. This is surprisingly easy, although you have to keep up constant pressure and be as close to him as possible. His melee range isn't large enough that he will hit you if you dodge through him, so feel free to switch sides every now and then. If you do it right, he won't summon a single zombie the entire fight. If he summons zombies anyway, it's your call. If he's almost dead, keep up the pressure, perhaps with an aerial lightning storm. Be careful, though- his melee attacks are very powerful and quick. Never throw more than three attacks at once, and dodge away even if he seems like he's not doing anything. === 2-5-1 Blackmoor mountains === The Blackmoor mountains feel and play like filler in between the mid-game of the Sorrowing Meadow, and the end-game crunch of Everdawn. You get an introduction to the wolf archetype of enemy, which leaps into the air and pounces at you. This will be the main source of pain while you're airborne, even in Everdawn, so get used to either interrupting jumping wolves, or dodging away. You also get an introduction to the kush, which is for now the most dangerous enemy you will face. It is immune to the parry stun, but the only way you will get close to one is by parrying its attack. Otherwise, Fidget's attacks do very little damage. You need to practice, practice, practice your evasion and reflexes for this enemy. Frites are unique and annoying in that their attacks hit instantly and kill instantly. Thankfully you will not face too many of them. They drop hollow shards, which are used in several endgame equipment pieces, so be sure to pick up some of them to catalogue. They're not too expensive, so don't worry about farming them. Eventually you'll find a save point, and immediately to the left of that save point there's a kush. This is a good place to get a kush pelt and tough metal. They're expensive, and you'll eventually need quite a lot of them, but you should be making enough money by the end of the game to not mind buying them. The avalanche zone is much easier than the icicles, which themselves are much easier to deal with than bubble sprouts. To deal with the icicles, dodge away the moment you hear the warning sound. Most of the time you'll be on a safe surface, so dodge away. In the first room after the first save point entering avalanche zone, you can get the key without having to restart the climb. Just slide into the alcove, jump for the key, do your hover ([Atk]-[Atk]-[Atk]-[Dst]) twice, double jump, and hover twice again. You should land just a little after the platform reforms, so slide back outside quickly. Two screens after the second Avalanche Zone save point, you'll find a large, two-room spike-and-platform cavern. That cavern is quite annoying to get through, made worse by the presence of frites that you have to kill before your platform moves away. I suggest not going for any treasure until you get to the save point on the other side. There's a Warrior's Pendant blueprint in the room before the save point, which you might want to consider taking if you're not going to farm for a more offensive pendant. Immediately after that, the windy valley is a lot of trouble because of reduced visibility, impaired mobility, and bad camera decisions. Oftentimes you'll get killed from above because the camera is focused on what's below you. To remedy that, launch a lightning bolt every now and then as you climb, to catch enemies jumping to you. Take your time, and kill every enemy you come across. Play carefully, and you should get through just fine. You'll find several pieces of equipment here, such as a frozen blade and mountain gear, but you'll get much better equipment soon, so feel free to ignore the blueprints you pick up in Blackmoor. === 2-5-2 Fighting frites === 1: Air drop if you can. 2: Fidget's lightning to interrupt, if you're too far away. 3: Air triple slash to interrupt without commiting to a throw. They have no attack that needs to be dodged or blocked, so your priority is to interrupt them so they cannot damage you. The air drop is perfect for this. If they're with other enemies, Fidget's lightning without dust storm is also effective, but slightly less reliable, especially if you didn't put stat points into Fidget. Do not use aerial dust storm- it has a tendency to throw you high up in the air or otherwise far away, which combined with the ice lady's instahit and instakill attack against Dust, means that it's a matter of luck if you survive it. Stick to simple attacks, keep it close and in sight, and make interrupting it a priority over everything else. === 2-5-3 Fighting kushes === 1: Parry / dodge their attack 2: Two ground slashes 3: Wait for it to start attacking again You usually have time for 3, even 4 slashes, but occasionally you only have time for 2. To play it safe, just stick to 2 slashes, and wait for the parry or dodge. Do not dodge towards them, only away from them- they will turn towards you mid-swing and catch you with their attack. If you absolutely must move towards their back, double jump over them. They do not have much reach into the air and do not jump. Use every height advantage you can get against them, and you'll eventually wear them down. Parrying them doesn't stun them, so that's not as useful a tactic as with other large enemies. Note that they can and will fall down ledges to come after you. === 2-5-4 Fighting the three frites === 1: Stay close to all three of them. 2: Use the triple air slash and Fidget's lightning (no dust storm). 3: Focus on interrupting by dealing melee damage. The ceiling is so low that it tends to interrupt your dust storm, which usually lets one get off an attack. Your priority is to interrupt them as much as possible, and to do that you will need to stay close, and not use attacks that move you far away. That means no air drop and no aerial dust storm. Frites have no attacks that you need to dodge or parry, and you regular attack (if you have the Wicked augment or better) should interrupt all their attacks. === 2-5-5 Fighting soldiers === 1: Launch them with aerial lightning storm 2: Air slash and air drop 3: Avoid attacking them while they are on the ground Don't go for normal attacks, chances are they'll be blocked and you'll get launched into !!fun!!. Instead, knock them into the air with aerial lightning storm, then throw them to your heart's content. Note that they can parry your attempts to grab them while they're on the ground, which means no pick-up throws. Stick to launching them into the air again using aerial lightning storms. Be patient, and stay in the air. They won't give you much trouble if you're airborne. === 2-6-1 Everdawn === This is it, the beginning of the end-game. You can get high-level blueprints from any creature, so make sure you get the plans to the best equipment. I run with Mithrarin's Robe, Mithrarin's Augment, Battle Master's Pendant, and two Wedding Rings for moving through the level. Right before General Gauis, I switch to 2 Foul Rings of Devastation. If you want, you can farm the first assassins you meet. It's perfect, with the assassins spread out through the map, and a save point to the right. At the left edge of the room, you can move left to farm the imps on the lower level. The assassins tend to drop Mithrarin's Augments. If you're spectacularly lucky, you'll get a Wedding Ring blueprint or two, a Battle Master's Pendant, and a Mithrarin's Robe blueprint. Prioritize getting the Wedding Ring- you will find things moving a lot faster, from leveling to finding equipment to collecting money. Once you feel strong enough, move on to the next save point to find the first large battlefield encounter. You get a kush here, which means saving money on kush pelts. Be warned, large battlefields are a completely different experience from the rest of the game, and you'll be restarting a lot until you get the hang of it. Take the time to practice fighting as part of a chaotic melee. Hopefully you'll get a Wedding Ring, or even two, which will make the rest of the game much easier. Not only do Wedding Rings give you more drops- they also boost your stats and give you considerable regen, making you much more survivable and powerful in battle. The idea is to get 2 Wedding Rings before you have to slog through screen after screen of large battles with no save points. Those scenes are unforgiving, with a small mistake often requiring a reload. Be careful, let your friends take the brunt of the battle, and support them from afar. If you don't have any Wedding Rings, you'll have to decide if you want to go ahead anyway, or farm for one or two. If you decide to farm for Wedding Rings, it is going to be highly dependent on luck, and is what I call the Long Grind. The Long Grind objectives: Wedding Ring x2 Mithrarin Robe Mithrarin's Augment Battlemaster Pendant Foul Ring of Devastation x2 Resurrection gem x5 You'll want to acquire enough resources to let you buy or build all of the above. That will make the fight with Gaius significantly easier. 5 resurrection gems are probably enough, but it really depends on your skill level. Farming the battlefields is a good way to quickly earn experience, loot, and money. With 2 wedding rings, leveling up should be a breeze, as should be finding money and equipment. Get as much experience as you think you'll need, and then switch to 2 Foul Rings of Devastation for terrible, terrible power. Aren't you glad you put all those points into Fidget? Bulldoze your way through the rest of the level. You won't need anything else from the crates. Go back to earlier stages and rescue more friends if you think you'll need them. Once your defence goes over 600, things get noticeably easier. You'll survive two blows from a kush, which is pretty darn good going compared to what you were going through at the beginning of this run. Just before the final battle, take stock. Make sure you have tons of resurrection gems and healing items, a couple of spare teleportation stones, and are at full health. It's go time! === 2-6-2 Fighting assassins === 1: Maintain lightning storm cover (ground or aerial) 2: Launch them (if on the ground) 3: Air drop These guys are surprisingly straightforward. Lightning storm will identify and stun them, and from then on they're like any other enemy. If they're launched too high by lightning, just wait for them to hit the ground, and launch them up as usual. Unlike soldiers, they don't block your attacks, but they will dodge them. Unfortunately for them, nothing can dodge a lightning storm, so that's your key to success. Don't get complacent. Always keep up a lightning storm cover, just in case other assassins decide they want a piece of you too. They do quite a lot of damage early on and can prematurely end a farming trip, so it pays to be safe. === 2-6-3 Fighting large battles === 1: Air drop / aerial lightning storm to destroy all bombers 2: Aerial lightning storm close to the ground 3: Air drop anything you can reach in the air 4: Isolate kushes and take them out one-on-one Large battles are very hit-and-miss simply because of the large number of actors around. You're most likely to get hit because something was blocking your view of the battlefield. Also, soldiers tend to parry everything you throw at them, which further messes up your sense of position. Therefore, the air is the safest place for you, where most things won't even think of attacking, and it's where you can grab without fear of being parried. Once you encounter bombers, remember that you can air drop them (!) for massive damage. Make them your highest priority, then get rid of the soldiers and war dogs. After that, isolate the kushes and take them out one by one. Think of yourself as air superiority, taking out enemy air support being your priority, then assisting with close-air support. In the beginning, before you get Wedding Rings and other Fidget-boosting equipment, large battles will be a huge slog, with death appearing out of nowhere to claim your resurrection gems. Play especially conservatively, don't give in to the urge to drop to the ground and join the melee, and continually storm-lock the enemies. Your safety is the highest priority. Once you get Wedding Rings, or decide you've had enough and buy a pair of Foul Rings, things will go much faster. There really is no more efficient way to win large battles. Staying on the ground is both dangerous and quite ineffectual, as are melee attacks against standing opponents. === 2-6-4 Fighting post-Wedding Rings === 1: Aerial lightning storm 2: Never look back 3: Never gonna let you down Once you've decided you're leveled enough, switch to Foul Rings of Devastation for even more nauseating power. With Wedding Rings, you will do much more damage with Fidget, enough to wipe the field clean even on Hardcore, assuming you have Mithrarin's Augment, Battle Master's Pendant, and many stat points in Fidget. She becomes your most terrifying weapon in the ultra-late-game, except the final boss fight with Gaius. === 3-1-0 Fighting Gaius === The entire guide has been building up to this. All the preparation, all the grinding, has been to make your Gaius experience as hassle-free as possible. If you've played this part on Normal or even Tough, it's not going to be much different. You are going to take a lot more damage, but with the training of almost an entire game of Hardcore, you're very well prepared to take on Gaius. You'll be relying on the reflexes you've honed over the long hard hours with the bubble sprouts, the equipment you built with all the lost souls you farmed, and the resurrection gems you bought with your hard-earned money. Ultimately it's up to you to decide when you're ready to take on Gaius. The most powerful you can get is being at level 60 with the equipment mentioned earlier, along with all 12 friends, and as much food and resurrection gems as you need. You don't need to be that well kitted out before you face Gaius, but being at level 50 (so you can max out your stats in Attack and Fidget) is a good starting point. I hope you brought a teleport stone- there's no turning back once you initiate the fight, and the walk back to the teleporter, should you change your mind, is long and fraught with dangers. === 3-1-1 Gaius phase 1 === 1: Aerial lightning storm to kill soldiers. 2: Air slash Gaius cautiously. 3: Dodge away at the first sign of danger. Alternatively, 1: Force Gaius to stay in the air 2: Repeatedly air drop him In this phase, Gaius has three attacks, all melee. The most effective way to avoid an attack is to dodge behind him, since he does not turn to face you mid-attack. However, the most effective way to avoid damage is to prevent him from attacking in the first place. Gaius has a strange behaviour where, if you are in the air while he is on the ground, he will attempt to jump as well. He will jump as long as you are in the air, even if you are falling down. The best way to see this is to keep him hopping by doing a single jump, landing on the ground, then jumping again just before he lands. You can force him to make another jump, and he will do this the entire fight. Since he only initiates attacks while on the ground, this makes him effectively useless. This also means that forcing him to jump is your best option, as he will not attack, while you are free to air drop him. This is the only phase in which this works well, due to Gaius' ranged attacks and lackeys in later phases. His first attack is where he raises his sword behind him at an angle, then delivering a quick upwards slash. This attack has little range and is easily parried or dodged. Dodge towards his back, though, since his other two attacks hit in a large area to his front. His second attack has a near-identical wind-up, but he does a rising slash straight upwards, then strikes towards the ground at a 45-degree angle. Again, it is easily parried or dodged. He does not turn to face you mid-attack, so this is a good time to counterattack, while he is in the air. His third attack is where he draws his sword back parallel to the ground, then dashes forward. This attack is best avoided by dodging towards his back, as he charges forwards quite a distance. Jumping up might get you hit with a rising slash if you misjudged his attack. Initially Gaius is a pushover. Use aerial lightning storm to take out his lackeys, then slowly chip away at his health. You won't be able to grab him easily during this phase, so be patient, and dodge his attacks or keep him in the air, as described earlier. He has an armor pushback effect that pushes you away (with no damage or stun) when you strike him, so if you want to try for the grab, throw the air slashes into thin air. He'll fall eventually. His attacks are all telegraphed blatantly, and he has no ranged attacks, so you can if you so choose kill him with Fidget. He has many invulnerability frames that trigger after a certain number of attacks, so the quickest way to kill him is with high-damage single attacks. The air drop is perfect for this, although it takes some skill and luck to land it without triggering his armor pushback, and without getting hit by his rising slash. Feel free to chomp down on the best food you brought along. Remember that food restores energy as well, and you can eat food from within the item menu itself (by pressing Y on the X360). Heal up to full health after every hit you take, especially if you didn't bring many resurrection gems. === 3-1-2 Gaius phase 2 === 1: Air drop him repeatedly. 2: Dodge his attacks. Gaius keeps his attacks from phase 1, but gains a dark bolt attack like Tethys', except that it will inflict status effects on you. Still laughably easy, Gaius mainly jumps around tossing bolts at you, occasionally swinging his sword at your friends who jump in to help. He will melee attack anything in range, and will attempt to close in to you if you are the only one left on the battlefield, but while he is occupied with your friends, he will prefer to attack you from a distance. Dodge everything he fires at you, then do air throws until he dies. Yep, he's more vulnerable to air slash and air throws in phase 2, since his armor pushback seems to take longer to trigger while he is casting ranged attacks. This fight is very similar to fighting Tethys all over again, with a little help from your friends. You will have to worry about bombers interrupting your attacks and doing a lot of damage, so focus on bombers whenever they arrive. Otherwise Gaius' attacks should never hit you unless you're careless. He should go down with minimal fuss, especially if you handled Gaius phase 1 and the Tethys fight well. But wait, there's more! === 3-1-3 Gaius phase 3 === 1: Stay in the air. 2: Launch soldiers with aerial lightning storm. 3: Air drop soldiers into Gaius. 4: Air drop Gaius if possible. 5: Damage Gaius with air slashes. Now we're talking. His attacks are faster and more vicious, and he constantly calls in lackeys. His armor pushback from part 1 is back as well, which makes things fun. They're not quite !!fun!! yet, though. His dash attack while on the ground does crippling damage, so stay airborne as much as you can. Between lightning storms and air throws on his lackeys, you should have the energy to stay airborne almost indefinitely. Fight very cautiously, unless you brought 20 resurrection gems, in which case have all the fun you want. Gaius keeps all his attacks from the previous phases, but since you are the only one on your side, he will focus on you. His lackeys are normal soldiers, which makes them more of an annoyance than a threat at this point, but they will distract you from Gaius, with fatal results. Aerial lightning storms will let you get rid of them quickly, as well as getting you out of danger. He will also sometimes attack while you are in the air. This, coupled with his ranged attacks and his lackeys, means that you shouldn't aim to keep him in the air. Note that Fidget's lightning (if you have a high Fidget stat) will interrupt his attacks, so fire a lightning bolt if you can't dodge from an attack. It will trigger his invulnerability, but at least it will save you from a hit or two. On Hardcore, the bomb doesn't do enough damage for it to be worthwhile. Concentrate on Gaius, dodging his attacks as necessary. Use aerial lightning storms to launch his lackeys, then air drop them onto him. It's a surprisingly effective strategy, since Gaius takes damage from the lightning storm as well. If you're lucky you can grab him with the air drop as well (as usual, you have to throw three slashes into thin air), but be careful of getting hit. You'll probably die a few times during this part; I died twice on my first run through. That's what all those resurrection gems you've stocked up are for though, right? Time to make good on the money you paid for them. === 3-1-4 Gaius phase 4 === Part 4 is quite a let-down, considering the mess of pain and explosions that was part 3. It's essentially part 2 again, except that a lot of the floor is lava. Be very careful where you air throw him, as a bad throw will send you into a very !!fun!! !!stunlock!! in lava, most likely costing you a life. Otherwise it's as easy as part 1, except his armor pushback doesn't trigger as often, due to his casting spells. Beware that Gaius will sometimes attack you while above him, making the jump exploit somewhat inconsistent. It's best to play it like phase 2, cautiously avoiding projectiles and aiming the air drop. You can still air drop him quite easily, but you must watch where you throw him towards. A bad slash will push you off course and you'll have to recover. If you do fall into the lava, mash jump and hope for the best. In the middle pool (with the vines) you'll be able to jump out after a couple of hits, elsewhere you'll have to wait until you die, where your resurrection gem will give you more invulnerability frames. From there you can double jump back to the platform. The biggest threat here is being knocked back by Gaius' ranged attacks, or dodging off a platform into lava. Evading his ranged attacks should be your priority. Eventually, between the lava and the rest of your resurrection gems, you'll take him down. Congratulations! You've done it! === 4-0-4 Cheat-like bug (X360) === This is here so you don't see it if you don't want to. When you sell 256 or more of an item, the item's count is reduced to 256. This means that you can keep selling that 256 of your item over and over again, giving you infinite money. This is, of course, easiest to do with ectoplasm, but for serious cash you may want to farm lost souls instead, as they sell for 250 each, giving you 64000 gold per pop (!). Note that you MUST sell all 256 items for this to work. If you sell any less, your item count will decrement properly. === 5-0-0 Afterword === Only gamefaqs.com is allowed to host this work. Where applicable, this work is copyright, all rights reserved.