There are two big changes in Very Hard difficulty that make combat a challenge. First, enemies hit harder. Second, herbs fill your medicine pouch at a reduced rate, meaning you’ll need to gather more herbs. So it’s in your best interest to not get hit. At all.
Like in similar games, the crucial thing to do is to survive the early levels until you get some skills in and build up your character.
Let’s get the first skills to get sorted out first.
- Get Silent Strike, Concentration and Lure Call.
Hide in tall grass, use Lure Call to get your enemies to approach you, then hit them with Silent Strike to kill them. The damage from Silent Strike is enough to one-shot Watchers, Scrappers and other small-bodied targets. Use this to gather resources and gain XP.
- Get Gatherer.
- Get Concentration+, Double Shot then Knockdown.
- Add fire mods to your Hunter’s Bow.
Double Shot and fire mods will allow you to deal with Sawtooths, which are among the toughest threats you’ll face during the early game. Use hit-and-run tactics by setting them on fire then hiding. And speaking of hiding, remember that breaking line of sight is better than running. Some enemies can leap and hit you from behind so find a boulder, hill or wall to hide in before you attack.
Knockdown makes your R2 attack more reliable when it comes to knocking your targets down. When targets are set on fire, they go through a burning animation during the initial stages of the debuff. You can use this time to do a quick knockdown if you’re close enough.
If you need to get close to a target, remember that rolling is silent. Rolling while crouched allows you to cover a lot of ground while remaining stealthy.
Hit the blaze canisters on Grazers to detonate them. It’s best when you can hit the canisters on 2-3 different Grazers. You can get a big explosion that will take out multiple targets, earning you XP and loot.
With that in mind, you can use the first hunting ground as an early farming spot. Start a trial, kills the Grazers, then reset the trial. The reset will respawn the Grazers. Note that resetting hunting ground trials will always respawn their respective targets.
In terms of skills, take skills that power up your ranged attacks first, then your collecting/foraging. Aside from Knockdown, leave the melee skills for last. The idea is to stay out of harm’s way.
When you’re about a third of the way into the game you’ll gain access to weapons that can apply Corruption. Corruption is a godsend on Very Hard. Corrupted targets will attack nearby machines, leveling out the playing field. The status also works on human targets.
Corrupted targets will also attack you, so exercise caution.
Next up, I’ll cover weapon specifics.