In this session we’ll find out about status effects, commonly referred to as buffs and debuffs, how those effects work to a freelancer’s advantage, and how to acquire them from the game maps.
The ways in which a freelancer can grant different status effects via skills are too many to list here, so we’ll just remind the reader to carefully check the actions freelancers can take during a turn to learn what’s possible.
The most common status effects appear in a listing on every freelancer’s abilities tab in the user interface. Hovering over the little question mark to the right of the freelancer’s abilities will present the listing. During a match, if your freelancer is affected by any status effect, the specific icon for each will appear beneath a freelancer’s overhead health bar as well as above the main health bar in the lower left corner of your screen. Moving your mouse cursor over the icon will pop-up a description of the status effect, including the effect’s duration.
Status effects which benefit your freelancer fall under this category. Quite simply, buffs provide your freelancer with enhanced damage, energy gain, movement, or stealth. Buffs can be acquired from an action your freelancer takes, granted by another freelancer, or picked up while moving around the map.
“Cannot be seen by enemies.”
Your freelancer becomes invisible to enemy freelancers for the duration. In the case of the Fade catalyst, invisibility lasts until the next resolution phase. Some freelancers have skills that allow them to remain invisible for multiple turns and move freely about the map undetected.
“Increases movement by 50 percent.”
This buff allows your freelancer to move farther during the movement phase. If your freelancer has haste and has activated a skill or attack action, they’ll be able to travel two additional squares during movement with this buff. If sprinting, as discussed in part one of this series, the freelancer can move twelve squares during the turn.
6 squares with attack or other ability use.
12 squares when sprinting, activating a free action by itself, or an ability with full movement.
Haste can be acquired from freelancer abilities and power orbs.
“Increases damage by 25 percent.”
Might helps your freelancer get big damage numbers. If your freelancer’s skill does 20 damage, with Might the skill now does 25 damage. The Weak debuff, described below, will cancel might. Since some freelancer skills can apply Might and/or Weak during the Prep or Dash phases, if your damage numbers don’t match what you saw when setting up your attack double check which status effects are active on your freelancer as the Resolution phase plays out.
Might can be acquired from freelancer abilities and power orbs.
“Increases energy generation from abilities by 50%”
Energized gets you to your ultimate ability quickly. This energy boost only applies to energy gains from your freelancer’s abilities, and not the standard five energy per turn default. A well timed Energized skill that triggers off multiple sources can yield a great deal of energy.
Energized can be acquired from freelancer abilities and power orbs.
“Immune to knockbacks and movement reduction.”
The Unstoppable buff negates any movement impairing debuffs that your freelancer may receive during a turn. Use of Unstoppable can come in incredibly handy when trying to escape during the movement phase, or to keep from being knocked or pulled into a trap set by an enemy. With Unstoppable, your freelancer cannot be slowed, rooted, knocked or pulled.
Freelancers with the Unstoppable effect will have a swirling grey cloud around them.
Negative status effects fall into the debuff category. Naturally, your freelancer should avoid these whenever possible, but if you’re unable to get out of the way, this should give you a general understanding of the effects you’ll suffer for their duration. Unlike buffs, some of which can be acquired from abilities and power orbs, negative status effects only come from being the unhappy recipient of an enemy freelancer’s abilities enacted upon your freelancer. This can be in the form of a direct action against your freelancer, or a trap set on the map that you happen to stumble upon.
Unlike buffs, negative status effects will not only place their red icon next to your freelancer’s health bars, many also have an additional graphical effect associated with them.
“Can be seen by enemies.”
The terrible eye in the sky that floats over your freelancer’s head. If you have received the Revealed debuff, your freelancer cannot hide in fog or war, brush squares, or gain invisibility through the use of skills or catalysts. This debuff is the bane of many freelancer’s existences.
A freelancer will have a glowing red eye above their head for the duration of the effect.
“Can only use primary ability.”
The Scrambled debuff can render a freelancer useless when most needed. When receiving this debuff, all of your freelancer’s abilities will be disabled for the duration, with the exception of your freelancer’s primary attack skill. Your freelancer can still activate catalysts while scrambled, however, so try not to burn those catalysts too early in a match or you may find yourself unable to activate abilities that can save you.
A freelancer will have a glitch effect dancing around their head for the duration of the scrambled effect.
“Removes all movement.”
When a freelancer becomes rooted, they can no longer move during the movement phase, remaining in the same location at the start of the next turn. Rooted will have no effect if the target freelancer has the Unstoppable buff.
A freelancer will have a bright yellow circle at their feet when rooted. The movement line shows where your freelancer would have moved had they not been rooted.
“Reduces movement by 50 percent.”
Slow, like rooted, affects your freelancer during the movement phase. In the case of Slow, however, movement is reduced instead of halted outright. When slowed your movement is reduced by half, and will have no effect on a freelancer with the Unstoppable buff. A slowed freelancer can still gain the benefits of Haste, but Haste will not cancel Slow.
Slow can be confusing, as instances will occur where your freelancer will still move the desired number of squares, even after being slowed. One way to think of Slow is that it affects what your freelancer can do during the move phase, not necessarily what your freelancer is doing. For example, if you choose not to attack with your freelancer, thus allowing a full eight square movement, but you only decide to move four squares because you want to pick up an orb, even if slowed your freelancer will still move those four squares. Their allowed movement is halved, but not affected since they only moved half the allowed distance anyway.
A freelancer will have a purple circle at their feet when slowed. If the freelancer’s movement is to be reduced, the movement line will show the distance the freelancer will move as a white line and the remaining distance they would have moved as a red line.
“Decreases damage by 25 percent.”
The direct opposite of Might, Weak will reduce your freelancer’s damage output for its duration. As with Might, simple math works out; a skill that does 20 damage will be reduced to 15 damage. Weak negates any Might buff applied to your freelancer for its duration, returning their damage to normal.
With the addition of new game modes, new status effects will also come into play. These unique effects don’t typically appear in the normal death-match game mode used for standard PVP and Ranked matches. You will only find them in custom games, or when a new game mode is active for certain periods of time.
Carrier (Game mode specific)
The Carrier status effect was introduced with the launch of the Extraction game mode. If a freelancer carries the briefcase, they have the Carrier status effect applied. With this effect, the freelancer can not choose to sprint during a turn. A freelancer with the Carrier effect can still receive the Haste buff, though, allowing them the benefits of extra movement while holding the briefcase. With the Carrier effect, a freelancer can dash, but will drop the case upon doing so, at which point they’ll gain the Butterfingers debuff. Carrier also automatically applies the Revealed debuff so long as your freelancer has possession of the briefcase.
Butterfingers (Game mode specific)
“Cannot pick up the briefcase.”
Butterfingers, also introduced with the Extraction game mode, is a debuff that limits a freelancer from picking up the briefcase once it has been dropped. This debuff can be received via different means; either the case has taken enough damage that the freelancer is forced to drop it, or the freelancer has attempted to use a dash skill or catalyst and was forced to drop the case. Once the Butterfingers debuff is applied, a freelancer cannot pick up the case again for two turns.
Every game map will contain colored orbs that offer benefits to freelancers that are able to pick them up. Miniaturized versions of these orbs can also appear on the map when certain freelancers activate specific skills, if those skills are modded in such a way as to generate these mini-orbs, or when an enemy freelancer dies.
Regular power orbs appear on map squares where an orb generator resides. These generators have four colored lights that illuminate each turn. When all four lights are lit, the orb will appear. If the orb is picked up, the four lights will go dark and will not begin to generate another power up again for 4 turns.
Generators and power orbs are always revealed. You can see the generator’s lights and the existence of a power orb even if it is in your fog of war. This can come in handy if you’re planning to move toward an orb that will appear in a couple turns, or to tell if an enemy freelancer, that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see, is in the area of a specific orb generator. If the orb disappears, someone has taken it!
The buffs provided by power orbs do not take effect until the start of the next turn. If your freelancer has a dash that also performs an attack and you line up the consumption of a Might orb in conjunction with the dash, your freelancer will grab the orb while dashing over it but won’t gain Might until the next turn.
Might orbs are generated at sites with red generator lights. Consuming the large, red orb will grant a freelancer the Might buff for two turns.
Generator sites with blue lights will create large, blue orbs that grant the Haste buff for two turns.
Yellow lights on a generator site show where an energy orb will appear. These large, yellow power orbs will grant a freelancer the Energized buff for two turns.
Generator sites with green lights will create a large, green healing orb that will grant a freelancer a small amount of immediate health, and additional healing over two turns. The freelancer gains 10 health when the orb is picked up, and another 10 health each turn for the next two turns.
Some freelancers have skill mods that are capable of creating miniature power orbs for your team. For example, Oz can create miniature might orbs with a specially modded basic attack, or energy
orbs whenever his afterimage disappears as he moves around the map. These miniature Might and Energized power orbs only provide their benefits for one turn.
Another miniature orb commonly seen scattered around maps are small, green health orbs. These appear whenever a freelancer on the opposing team is defeated and grant 10 health immediately upon pick-up. Some freelancers also have skills that generate these small healing orbs, such as Garrison’s ultimate ability.
The last miniature orbs you’re likely to see are grey in color. These orbs belong to the opposing team and cannot be picked up by your freelancer.
Unlike the large power orbs that sit in generator sites, small orbs have a limited lifespan of only 3 turns, and will vanish from the map when they expire.
Cancelling and Stacking Effects
As mentioned in their descriptions above, some effects cancel one another. Unstopabble will cancel any of the movement impairing effects, while Weak and Might cancel each other. If your freelancer has Might, and Weak is applied, they’ll simply do default damage, since receiving the two effects negate one another. If the Might buff has a longer duration, save that ultimate skill for when Weak wears off for greater effect.
It is important to note that the buffs and debuffs applied from the various status effects do not stack. Applying Might to your freelancer multiple times, from various sources, will not increase the damage boon gained. This is also true for negative status effects. Your freelancer cannot become weaker from multiple applications of Weak or slower from multiple applications of Slow.
Effects duration can be changed, depending on the method of acquisition, but do not stack. If your freelancer picks up a miniature Might orb, then picks up a regular Might orb, the longer duration of the large orb takes effect and grants might for two turns instead of the one turn Might granted by the small orb. Grabbing the two orbs in a single turn will not stack their duration to three turns. Whichever method of effect application has the longest duration, whether from a freelancer’s skill or orb, the longer duration always takes precedence.
A few other control effects exist in the game that don’t have an associated icon, but can play an important role in your freelancer’s actions during a match. Several freelancers have skills that can knock another freelancer around the map. Other skills have the ability to pull or otherwise direct the movement of a targeted freelancer, and still others simply apply a timed damage effect that triggers on a subsequent turn.
Knockback and Pull
With Knockback and Pull, you can see the results while setting up the skill if your freelancer is the one performing the effect. If your freelancer is attempting to knock or pull another freelancer, you will see red lines appear indicating the direction and distance the effect will have on your target. This can be useful in setting up a combination to toss or drag an enemy into a trap. This directional indicator is only an estimation, since the target can dash away before the knock or pull, or activate a skill that grants them Unstoppable.
Successfully knocked and pulled targets lose their movement for the turn, and are instead relocated to the location the indicator lines depicted during the skill’s setup.
Multiple knockbacks applied to a single freelancer will recalculate the direction of the knock based on the two skills combined, which can yield calamitous outcomes. If you and one of your teammates both intend to knock an enemy freelancer, be sure to coordinate for better results.
Other freelancers have an ability to force an enemy freelancer to follow them. PUP’s skill, Walkies, is the most notable in this respect. When this skill successfully hits its target, the target must forgo their planned movement for the turn and take the shortest route to PUP’s location at the end of the turn. Like Knockback and Pull, this effect can be nullified with the Unstoppable buff. Follow can also be overridden by a simultaneous knockback.
Several freelancers have skills that apply a timed effect to enemy freelancers. Sometimes, during the course of the resolution phase, you may not see upon whom these effects are applied, but with quick and careful observation you can tell. Freelancers that have a timed effect upon them will have some graphical effect on their body Keep an eye out for these subtle effects so that you can take action to save a teammate in a time of need. Here are some examples.
Next up: Phases & Simultaneity
Atlas Reactor simulates simultaneous action through different phases; Prep, Dash, Blast, Move, and Resolution. Next session we’ll look at phases, the simulation of simultaneity, what skills take place during the various phases.