Many RPGs allow you to form a party of motley characters. Sometimes you make them yourself, sometimes they are preset. Tyranny follows the latter model, where you make the main character but then get to select up to 3 companions, of 6 total, to accompany you in your travels.
Companions fill 2 roles. First is the story aspect, where they add color, comments, and context to the events as they unfold. Maybe one is a hardline militant and another is a hippy. Each brings a unique flavor to the game – or at least they should. Iron Bull in DA3 is a good example. Companions in Tyranny do this job fairly well. I do wish they would interject more often, but each is rather firm in their beliefs. Verse loves chaos, while Sirin is distrustful of everyone. It does make it so that you want to interact with the party, and see where the story takes you. One tweak that I’ve yet to find is a way to expand on a character’s abilities aside from what you see at level 1. Barik, the game’s sole true-tank, doesn’t allow for armor upgrades. You’d think that would change over time, especially if he’s always in the party. Maybe I’m missing something.
The second role is the numbers role – stat machines. Most events are resolved through either combat or some magical dice roll on other stats. Given that you’re in a small (4 person) group, and most combat is against groups of enemies, you’re going to want a tank. Since damage spikes are normal, and you’re going to find some big monsters, you’re going to want a healer too. Now we get into the damage dealers, and this part gets complicated. Similar to MMOs, AE damage is everywhere, and that’s a rather massive disadvantage to melee classes. Stealth plays a very minor part of the game, as it only impacts the start of battle – there’s no way to get back into it. Positioning also doesn’t appear to have any effect, so no backstabbing here. Finally, casters are not bound by manage but by cooldowns. 4 spells or so is usually enough for a full rotation. All told, that means that you’re likely going to want ranged attackers.
So let’s review the companions, in the order I encountered them.
DPS role, either dual wield in melee or from range with a bow. She has a stance that improves her damage if she takes damage, but you should only ever have her in light armor. The ranged skill selection is rather poor as compared to melee, but it’s next to impossible to keep her alive once she gets into the fray. That said, there are some amazing bows in the game. Might, Finesse and Quickness are your friends. The solid part here is that you can set Verse on pure AI mode and not have to worry.
Of special note for Verse in Duelist mode. Three Whispers stance, Killing Spree, dual wielding, high speed and Volcanic Weapons makes for some rather interesting combat mechanics. Every hit will shoot out laser beams of elemental damage, and she will be hitting quite a few times per second. She’s essentially a lawn mower.
Pure tank, made to take the big hits. It takes a while for taunt to work on large groups properly, and he lacks defensive cooldowns, but he gets the job done. Giving him a couple spells to self-manage is good too. His combo attack with Verse is insane. Putting stats into Vitality, Might and Finesse are a solid bet. Unless you’re making your own tank, he is miles away the best option.
The source of the healing sigil (talk to him for a bit), he’s a solid mage option to either nuke or support your team. The only character with a res spell, and he can have the highest lore score of all characters (including the PC) – meaning the most devastating spells. His combo with the PC is a massive AE heal from the group, which is extremely valuable. Wits, Quickness and Finesse the stats you want to stack. He’s the only true healer in the game, and with tweaking can cast the best spells. Really hard to dismiss that value.
Casts water and gravelight spells, and is a serviceable mage overall. She’s quite good at crowd control and knockbacks, as well as draining enemies. I find that playing with her is more of a skill/talent affair as compared to customized spells – and in that regard, the AI is really the issue here. I like enemies to stay put on the tank, and that’s hard to do with Eb. She’s a mage, so Wits, Quickness and Finesse are the stats to take. A pure DPS mage, you need to invest in her Lore skill early to get enough skill upgrades to work in the late game.
The group chanter, which is a similar role found in Pillars of Eternity. This is a set-it and forget-it character, as it takes a while to build up enough power to cast spells. I dislike that you cannot build your own songs, and that the ability to sing 2 songs takes until Act 3 to really unlock. The songs are ok at the start but quickly get eclipsed once you upgrade other characters. She’s quite strong in AE fights, but when against a boss, she provides little value. The best benefit from her is a rather deep investment in her talent trees, which is unfortunate. Wits, Quickness and Finesse here as well. I like the character story-wise, but always feel hampered when she’s in the team.
A melee DPS/tank hybrid that is meant to deal big hits. Some of her best skills are from stealth, so you only get to use them once per battle (if pathing works). She has next to no armor and takes a massive beating if she does end up tanking, without some talent investment. She can’t wear armor, but can equip a 2handed weapon in 1 hand. Might, Finesse and Quickness are the best stats here. On paper, her best build is an unarmed melee attacker, as when she hits, it’s a massive amount of damage. In reality, she rarely hits and takes all the hits, dropping like a fly. There is so much potential here…She even has some late-game accessories that improve her damage further. There’s a pile of potential here.
I play mages in my games. Tyranny lets you build spells, and the power of them is limited by your Lore ability (which improves as you level). I can de/buff, heal, and damage – but not tank. The mage talents are solid enough, especially the last one. Leadership after that is pretty good too. Remember to train Lore between level ups. If you do this every time, then you’ll likely be around 150 Lore at the end game. Of particular note, Frost deals the most consistent damage, Lightning for the stuns, and finally Fire due to resists.
That said, a tank is also a solid option, as you have tons of customization options available to you. Barik does a more than serviceable job, but you can be essentially invincible by mid-game. Even swapping out the shield for more damage is a good option.
Melee DPS, that’s a weak point in this game. There’s too much AE and you’re made of paper. Unarmed deals a pile of damage but is bugged.
Ranged (bow) DPS has some solid options, but still feel highly limited when you compare them to mages.
For now, my Party consists of Barik, Lantry and myself. Verse is there as a passive DPS increase as she provides more value than Sirin, more area control than Eb, and none of the bugs of KiS. Once the unarmed attack bug is fixed though, KiS is going to rock it.
For melee dps, the problem I found with Pillars of Eternity is that–since there was no threat–monsters would always turn and attack the melee dps, even if there was a tank already engaged with the enemy. And then my melee dps would die quickly.
Does Tyranny have the same issue?
It does for the first few levels, until you invest in talents that increase the tank’s engagement capacity. Nearly all fights are vs 4-5 enemies, 2 of which are ranged. Having them all run amok is a nightmare… but by lvl 5-6, threat management starts working properly.
It’s more like dragon age in terms of tanking than D+D, BG or PoE.
On the flipside, without threat, every non-tank would die in under 10 seconds.