This guide is intended to help players overcome the aches and pains of hard difficulty. This guide will give you some helpful techniques I picked up during my playthroughs to deal with stuff like Soldier waves and Salaries, while leaving the actual base design to you.
This guide is being written as of patch 1.5.
Getting Started in Hard Mode
An important thing to note at the start of the game is that the game will ONLY throw investigators at you up until you complete all five initial missions (get technicians, valets, guards, scientists, and build an inner sanctum). This means no soldiers, super agents, saboteurs, etc.
Use and abuse this. This is your time to alt-tab out and do some chores or play another game while you research half the (useful) tech tree.
You can build freely without worrying about heat at all. As I said, you will only be subjected to investigators at this point, and while they will snap a bunch of scandalous pictures, no actual threats will show up. Just leave them be.
No one cares about this guy.
The very first thing you will want to do is get a criminal network in every single country. This will get your passive income flowing and you can ignore heat for now since only investigators will show up.
I usually go for scientists first so I can get research cranking. Get the other minion types as well, but hold off on building the inner sanctum for now. In the odd event your Genius needs to recover, build a small sanctum the size of the desk (not the full 64 tiles to complete the objective).
Your Inner Closet
Use this time to build up a good amount of generators (level 2 generators) and a vault. Skip pallets and just go for briefcase racks. They work well enough and you only really need about $2m capacity, so you won’t even need megasafes. You can take the time to layout your base as well. Also, watch your money levels now that you have new minion types. Feel free to run one or two money schemes if you need some extra cash here.
Once you get all minion types, work on upgrading every network to level 2, to boost your passive income even more! Once you have a base you like, all level 2 networks, and most of the tier 1 and 2 research done, bump your valet count up to about 30 and start doing heat reduction schemes in every single network. Then build your sanctum and continue the story.
The next step is picking a henchman. I highly recommend Jubei. Wind walk will really help respond to threats quickly.
I like to make little dorms for my henchmen, utilizing lockers into the design to avoid giant locker rooms.
Manage Heat and Make Money
Your money will primarily come from passive income. Doing money making schemes generates heat, which you do not want, so focus on getting networks in every country and boosting them to the highest level you can for where you are in the story. If you need some extra cash, do a money making scheme in one or two networks, but every other network should be running a heat reduction scheme constantly. You should have a network in every single country and you should prioritize leveling them up as much as you can.
This is my end game money stats.
Running heat reduction everywhere will keep your heat at or near 0 across the board, while the passive income still rolls in. The money from networks will be enough to handle salaries. Each time you complete a scheme, immediately take on the heat reduction one. Don’t even think, just do it!
Heat reduction schemes cost 3 social minions (valet/spin doctor/counter agent based on tier), so I usually have 30 of whatever type based on my network tier. When I move up to tier 3, for example, I drop my valets to 20 and boost spin doctors to 30. Make sure you have 6-8 training items for these classes to replace them quickly. The heat reduction scheme does not always show up, so you can either wait or run a quick scheme (buy fuel/any intel scheme) in hopes it will show up.
Make sure you have enough social minions to keep your heat down!
Keeping your heat down is key to ensuring the FoJ only sends their worst guys after you. Handling a wave of Poor and Average Soldiers is much easier than several waves of Excellent Soldiers. It also keeps income rolling on networks since they won’t lock down.
This is the most important thing: Make your money passively and keep your heat down! Every single network should be running heat reduction. Salaries should not be a problem. If they are, ensure you do not have too many specialists working for you. It is common to miss a payment occasionally (like if you just did a big research project or built a ton of generators), so do not fret if you cannot pay minions here and there.
Tough luck, buddy.
Also, Super Agents don’t care when you run heat reduction in their space, so make sure you do heat reduction to help counter the increased heat raising the SA is causing.
Passive income will far outproduce money making schemes without raising your heat (so long as you are running those heat reduction schemes, right?)
Dealing with Agents: Casino
I would say about 50% of your first floor should be casino. It should be big and take a LONG time to get through to your base. You do not need to fill it with doors or items or anything fancy, just make it long. I use two tile width corridors to save space and make for a longer maze. I have had mazes that take agents several minutes to get through. The idea here is you can vastly spread out the waves sent after you by requiring agents spend a ridiculous amount of time just trying to navigate your casino in the first place. You can also just build a gigantic casino with a lot of rooms, if you don’t like the ugly corridors. Just ensure the casino takes a lot of leg work to get through.
The world’s worst casino.
I usually skip Resolve draining items in the casino, since I want agents to stay a long time, not ditch out when their resolve drains. You can add some Skill draining things, since I think lower skill means their disguises take less spotting to remove. I also put a “distract” tag at the casino entrance. When agents finally make it to your base entrance, out of breath, a friendly minion will escort them ALL THE WAY back to the entrance and, if their resolve is high enough, the agent will haplessly trek back through the world’s worst casino just to get escorted back again. I have kept investigators on my island for a half an hour with this.
Agent disguises will prevent them from getting escorted out of your base. You can use a camera network here, but I usually just plop my genius right at the front entrance to my base. All disguises are instantly removed. Sometimes an agent gets ticked off and fights back, which is fine, just kill them then. The goal isn’t to keep agents on your island forever, just for a long long time.
This will help to alleviate the constant waves of soldiers rolling in on you. Also, when soldiers do show up, it will take them extra long to get to you, so back to back soldier waves become a bit less threatening.
Dealing with Soldiers: The Armory
The best thing to do is make the entrance to your base a large, wide open armory. I usually skip using a door as sometimes minions get caught behind the door and fight one at a time. It also blocks LOS on your firearm minions. I like to make this wide and open so minions can swarm intruders from all sides. Put about 4 guard tables in there and line the walls with a few advanced guard posts (these are nice because they don’t need to waste a few seconds getting up from the table). I usually put my genius here to spot through disguises (and move them when soldiers arrive), but you can also put a camera here if your security network is reliable.
Any agents that enter this room will be escorted back if they are tagged for distraction, or will be mowed down instantly if they resist. Win win! Make sure the hall leading into this room is not a straight corridor. Give it a bend before agents enter the room. This prevents soldiers from using a long corridor to just slaughter approaching minions.
Notice the entrance curves before entering in order to prevent soldiers from engaging at long range.
I like to put my inner sanctum near this entrance as well, so my Henchmen can camp out ready for action. Jubei is a good pick because he can wind walk on top of the back row soldiers firing their guns, forcing them to enter melee combat.
You can initially get pistols, but once you get machine guns, ONLY have machine gun racks and battle staffs. The way muscle AI works, they will grab a pistol as a guard and never ever drop it, so only having machine guns ensures Mercs will grab those, while Martial Artists can use the staffs. Ignore clubs and all stun weapons. You should be shooting to kill most of the time. Try to keep anything heat generating out of immediate site, for the investigators that end up in this room before being escorted away.
Finally, combat will make a lot of body bags, so get 6-8 furnaces to help dispose of bodies effectively. I place these in a room just off my armory, since that is where the corpses usually are.
If you feel confidant, you can capture soldiers and, based on their rank, brainwash them to become hitmen and martial artists early on. It is handy to have a few well before you can get them normally.
Jubei: Excellent first pick. Wind walk can respond quickly to threats. He can also warp on top of soldiers, forcing them to engage in melee combat. I usually do this when soldiers attack as usually 2 or 3 hang in the back firing guns. He can also solo super agents with his Flow ability.
Fugu: The ultimate henchman. Her blowfish can be used on agents in the casino without reprisal. Same with food poisoning. You can use her to slowly sap soldier health as they make their way through your casino. She can kill entire waves of soldiers solo by just poisoning them over and over. You can also use food poisoning to pause the last guy in the group and when everyone else rounds the corner, attack and kill him.
Dr. Ming: Her gas cloud is really good at killing enemies. I like to use her in conjunction with Fugu’s blowfish. I have Fugu stop the agent group in the blowfish cloud, then move in Ming and use gas contagion, which rapidly depletes health. Use this pair on Super Agents. Often you can kill them while still in the casino. This is especially useful for Mr. “Only takes 5 damage per hit” John Steele.
You can fill out your roster with anyone else you want, but those are the three I recommend getting.
Once you find how to handle them, Super Agents are obnoxious, but non-threatening. When they enter the base, I use Jubei to warp over and kill Bola/Blue Saint, or Fugu and/or Ming to poison anyone else. Even if they make it to the lair, your entrance guards will most likely make quick work of them. Just send your henchmen out. Symmetry is easy to handle with Fugu’s abilities as well. Agent X is pretty laughable in any mode, so after a little bit of “Where’s Waldo”, either use Jubei to wind walk over to him or just tag him and get a henchman over to destroy his disguise.
The best way to deal with super agents before you have a helpful group of Henchmen is just avoid them on the map. They will not move while you are viewing the map and they will only move to another space with no scheme running, so either wait them out or just lure them and kill them during a slow moment.
Super Agents do not care if you run heat reduction schemes in their areas, so go ahead and do that. Also, a super agent cannot enter an area with an active scheme. A bonus to this is if you defeat someone like Agent X and have a scheme running in every PATRIOT area, Agent X cannot respawn until atleast one area resolves.
Seriously. You do not want traps killing agents, otherwise soldiers will show up. Traps don’t work on soldiers usually, since you cannot easily drain their skill. You don’t want to drain an agent’s resolve, otherwise they leave faster and that means more soldier waves sooner (the game will send soldier waves every so often just because).
Traps really won’t help you. They drain power and it is more stuff for your overworked technicians to have to repair.
The only trap I use is I place a giant magnet in my entrance armory to pull the first soldier that walks through the door, separating him from the group and making him easy prey.
Also, traps can only be built in corridors, where soldiers will become hostile if they see a henchman, muscle, or worker in there. More trouble than they are worth.
(Also, even at 0 skill, agents can still disable every trap for some reason, so they are unreliable)
-Make sure you upgrade the stat boosting stuff, like Super Serum. This immediately boosts all minion type’s stats by 50. This effectively doubles the staying power of muscle minions.
-Always upgrade networks as soon as you can. You can even capture and brainwash some agents to get more advanced minions to upgrade networks before you even have that minion type unlocked!
-Soldiers will not start fights in the casino against henchmen. Use Fugu or Ming to follow groups of enemies and slowly draining their health with abilities.
-Don’t forget fire extinguishers.
-Don’t use your super weapon except for quests. Everyone already knew that one. Also, just do the yellow “buy fuel” quests. No sense in wasting minions.
-I like to have about 8 of every training item to ensure fast minion replacement. This might be overkill, but money is no issue.
-Build how you want. Space usually is not an issue.
-Upgrade all generators to level 3 generators eventually. Less stuff for technicians to repair.
-Watch your cash. If you are constantly at full, feel free to hire more specialists, since you can afford the salaries.
-Try to keep stat recovering items centralized, especially so guards don’t need to travel far.
-Put the infirmary near the entrance armory, so guards can heal up quick.
-I don’t really think the top tier research is particularly useful. The minion stat boost items and henchman and genius upgrades are good, but you do not need to be in a rush for any of it. I never noticed my science minions hurting for smarts or my muscles having morale problems.
That is about all I got. Thanks for reading and I hope it helps!
This guy wasn’t too happy to find out he wasn’t getting paid this week.
Keep in mind this is just how I play. It is by no means the only way to play.
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