Soul Hackers 2 is out now, and you might be wondering how you’ll save the world equipped with nothing more than a COMP, a handful of demons, a few friends back from the dead, and the unlimited power of a sentient supercomputer. Fear not, because we’re here with our very quick Soul Hackers 2 starter guide, highlighting a few quick reminders, tricks and tips to make your first hours as a Devil Summoner a little bit smoother. Read on to get started in its stylish cyberpunk world.
This one’s a standard bit of gameplay advice, but an eternally relevant one. Soul Hackers 2 allows saving almost anywhere, but it’s relatively lax on maintaining its auto-save slot. Use the manual save regularly to make sure you don’t lose any progress, particularly before or after a pitched dungeon run.
Fix Your Camera!
One advantage new buyers of Soul Hackers 2 will have over the review- and guide-writing crowd is a day one patch Atlus issued just before release. The patch addresses, among other things, the slightly wonky default camera perspective in dungeons. By default it was locked a little too low and a little bit too close to Ringo’s knees, making it disorienting to maneuver through the dungeon corridors. It even set off motion sickness for some reviewers. The patch adds a “Camera Distance” setting to the configuration menu. Use it and zoom the camera out a bit to increase your comfort in dungeons, if you find yourself affected by the default view.
Max Your Stacks
Stacking is Soul Hackers 2‘s main new combat mechanic, and how the game rewards targeting enemy weaknesses. Every time you hit a weakness, a point gets added to your Stack counter in the upper right of the screen. At the end of your turn Ringo triggers the Sabbath, a powerful attack that damages the entire spread of enemies.
When fighting regular mob enemies, hitting one or two stacks and letting Ringo clear the field is a great way to efficiently clear weak enemies. Against bosses it’s a powerful dose of extra damage, though it won’t usually end the fight outright. Later on you can unlock abilities and Commander Skills that add additional effects to the Sabbath, expanding the benefits you gain from getting the Stack counter up high.
Master Your Commander (Skills)
Ringo is the core of the party in Soul Hackers 2. Though thankfully you won’t lose a fight if she goes down, her Commander Skills and Sabbath are a key part of the game’s combat system. Commander Skills are earned a little way into the game, just after your first brush with the Soul Matrix dungeons. Accessible in battle by pressing a shoulder button (R1 on the PS4), they’re basically skills you can use for no cost, after a certain amount of turns have passed in any given battle. They’re invaluable in expanding your tactical options. In fact, one skill stands above all in the Soul Hackers 2 early game: Conversion.
You want to get Conversion as soon as possible (it’s an upgrade to your COMP purchased at the COMP Smith), because before you get it, you won’t be able to change anyone’s equipped demon in mid-battle. That means you’ll suffer extra damage in fights on the off chance your party isn’t equipped with a demon that can target an enemy’s weaknesses. So before you do much else on the side, run the main story until you unlock your first expansion of options at the COMP Smith, and grab Conversion as soon as you’re able to.
Other Commander Skills will be useful, like artificially adding to the Stack counter, or triggering special effects. But Conversion’s definitely the first with an unbeatable “must-have” quality.
Don’t Sleep On Recon
Upon entering any dungeon you’ll see a small cutscene play of Ringo sending out her demons to do some scouting. This is “Demon Recon”, and it’s not quite what it sounds like. Rather than, say, mapping out the dungeon for you, the demons place themselves at points on the map and act a bit like treasure chests. Talk to them whenever you can, as they confer many benefits. They’ll restore your health and MP, give you items, and even recruit new demons to your roster. In fact, until you unlock fusion, your Demon Recon will be your main initial source of new demons.
She Who Strikes First, Shuffles Around and Attacks From Behind
When tramping through a dungeon, enemies can appear in close proximity. Pressing a button (Square on the PS4) will cause Ringo to attack, knocking the enemy down and letting you go in for the kill. You can even get the first hit in with “Ally Ambush” and do a bit of damage before the first turn.
I did notice that Ally Ambush is a bit fiddly, though, and doesn’t always trigger just from touching a downed enemy. Whether it’s actually randomized effect or if it relies on positioning, I’m not completely sure, but I’ve been able to get an Ally Ambush to trigger more consistently by touching a downed enemy from the side or behind to open the fight. Take the time to do a little shuffling before the opening move to improve your chances.
Be A Dear for Gear
Soul Hackers 2 can be a challenge even at normal difficulty, as enemies can hit hard, and in the early game, you don’t have a lot of demons to fill in the gaps with skills. To maximize your chances in combat, visit the accessory shop in Shinsando and the COMP Smith to upgrade your accessories and COMPs, respectively. Accessories are a relatively minor boost, but even a 1-3 point gain in stats or defense can significantly increase your durability or damage output.
COMP upgrades are critical, because COMP attacks cost no MP, making them efficient for dealing with weak enemies. Plus, you can unlock special passive skills that do things like reduce the cost of entire categories of spell when used. COMP upgrades also increase the elemental affinities of your Summoners. These affinities can determine what Mistiques they can equip, as well as how well their effects scale. For example, at first, Saizo might not be able to equip Mistiques that augment his Fire damage, but upgrades to his COMP can make that possible.
It’s the Friends We Soul Hacked Along The Way
Your bonds with your team are determined by your “Soul Level”. It’s basically a score for each party member that is boosted by choosing certain dialog options and hanging out with them at Bar Heidrun. The Soul Level is critical, as you need to raise it to access the deeper levels of each party member’s Soul Matrix dungeon. Thankfully, it’s easy to tell what choices a character will favor: It’s indicated on the upper right of the screen whenever you have to make a dialog choice that will have a Soul Level effect. In general, it’s better to raise your party’s Soul Levels evenly, so you can progressively unlock their dungeons in sync.
Besides Soul Levels, you can also improve your dungeoneering prospects with a good group meal. Early in the game you’ll unlock meals, items you can spend at the safehouse to get everyone some grub. Meals will bestow consistent buffs that last for the duration of the next dungeon run, improving things like your defense, stats, and even critical rating. Party members also have their own preferences, which can increase the effect of certain foods’ buffs. You can buy meals from shops on the map, and party members will sometimes give them to you in-game.
Be Ginko’s Guest: Take That Request
You’ll unlock a place called Club Cretaceous early in the game. The club and its proprietor Madam Ginko are the hub for Soul Hackers 2‘s Request system. Requests are basically minor sidequests, tasking you with doing things like destroying certain numbers of demons, finding items in dungeons, or even fighting optional battles. Doing so nets you useful rewards, like items, money, accessories, and even unlocks of equipment in the stores. Do every one you can in the spaces between your main story missions.
The Soul Matrix dungeons also have their own request system, too: Aion Directives. Aion Directives are issued by Flamma at the Axis (your hub area for tackling the Soul Matrix). They have a similar reward structure, but your ability to complete them is gated by your overall Soul Matrix progress, so you’ll tackle these in step with the main story and your bond-building.
Get Abusin’ That Fusion
The old standby system of demon fusion returns in Soul Hackers 2 via the Goumaden, a circus-like zone that’s accessible after your first Soul Matrix dungeon expedition. There, fusion works similarly to how it does in other Shin Megami Tensei-related games. You can fuse two demons to get a different demon of a higher level, and carry over a selection of skills from both fused demons. Demon fusion is the key to improving your combat power in the game, and you should try to fuse every demon you can. That said, take care to register any demons you level up to the Compendium before using them as fusion fodder.
Why? Because a leveled demon with more skills is better fodder than a freshly recruited one. Leveling a demon and learning all its skills can also reward a “Mistique”, a special piece of equipment with powerful passive effects. Registered demons can be re-summoned from the Compendium for a monetary fee, saving you a lot of time and helping find the ideal lineup. Special fusions of three or more demons to get a specific, powerful being also return. You can unlock special fusions through story progress as well as completing certain requests and Aion Directives.
Soul Hackers 2 is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Check out Siliconera’s review.