Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a complicated game that presents you with dozens of important choices from the start. It’s pretty easy to talk yourself into a corner and miss important bits of information or miss an essential clue to a puzzle that gets you stuck. Our Swansong beginner tips will help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls and get the results you want.
Use willpower wisely
Your vampire is given a limited amount of willpower at the start of each scene, the blue diamonds used in conversations to influence people’s thinking, and for the most part that’s all you get. You can replenish through conversations and certain items, but usually only between three and five willpower points, sometimes more.
It can be tempting to use Focus and work your way through an exchange to get what you want or use your skills whenever you can. Usually, however, it is best to keep at least eight willpower points to use in a confrontation. These have more serious consequences for failure and can affect the ending and available targets.
A Note on Focus
Focus in general is a bit tricky. In theory, you can use it to increase your chances of success if a conversation option ends in a tie between you and the other speaker, as long as you have at least one point in that skill or trait. In practice, it rarely works that way, something Swansong even acknowledges.
Unless your opponent has a significantly lower skill level, they almost always increase their Also, concentrate, reduce your chances of success and waste your willpower if you lose. It’s best to use Focus if your level is one or two higher than theirs, and you start with at least a 30% chance of success. Even then, keep an eye on the forecast results to see how likely they are to respond in kind.
Just because you can use a skill doesn’t mean you should
You’ll often find that this doesn’t matter anyway, thanks to the way Swansong structures its dialogue choices. The presence of a skill option – a choice that requires, for example, rhetoric or persuasion – is not always the ‘right’ choice. Sometimes it even makes things worse. Pay attention to who you’re talking to and their relationship to your character before deciding whether to spend Willpower on a choice.
Check everything – then check again
Swansong rewards methodical sleuthing. Whether it’s a seemingly harmless cup, a photograph, or a blood-soaked item of clothing, even the smallest items often have a clue or can move the story forward. In some cases, it’s worth checking everything again after a new development, as a few items take on new importance once you gain more knowledge or change the scene in some way.
Not every item is vital. Some – files and notebooks in particular – are there just to add context to a situation. However, this knowledge can still come in handy and provide more insight into which dialogue choices can later yield the desired result.
Talk to everyone, several times. Swansong has no search marks or any indication that anyone might be important, so the only way to find out is if you’ve spoken to them to get their story and perspective on the situation at hand. Sometimes it’s just standard knowledge you get for your effort.
More often, though, you’ll find – and hopefully write down – a piece of information that clashes with someone else’s testimony and opens a new way forward. If you ever come across a character talking about someone else you’ve met, go back to that character and see if they have anything new to say.
Take notes – often
The problem is, Swansong doesn’t really keep up with this for you. The only way to look back on a curious tidbit you learned or an important passcode is to go all the way back across a stage to check the object again, and that’s just annoying.
A general rule is that if there is something specific in a description or on an item, such as a date or even a mention of a location, write it down. Take, for example, Galeb’s first full stage. Tucked away in any book on the floor in a hallway, among several other books, is a brief mention of a hidden emergency room. This location eventually becomes crucial to completing the main story objective, but it’s easy to forget amid all the other evidence you’re collecting.
We don’t need no education (Just kidding, you really do)
Regardless of which starting class your vampires end up in, you can divide your skill points as you see fit. Make sure that what to invest in education and deductions?, especially for Leysha. Each scene has a number of interactions or conversations, sometimes more, that require at least one point of training or deduction.
Without them, you’re forced to ignore certain dialogue options and miss out on important information, often information needed to complete side tasks. You can still finish a scene and gain a lot of experience, even if you have to play dumb and miss obvious connections in conversations. It’s just a lot less frustrating this way.
Control your hunger
Swansong loves to throw unexpected situations at you, especially if it involves using your vampire powers and increasing your hunger gauge. Some sequences actually have multiple choices in a row, where you can either use a power or treat a less savory outcome.
The problem is, if your hunger is too high, you lose control and immediately kill anyone nearby – not a good thing to do. try and keep your hunger under five as often as you can, especially if you go to a new area or start a new goal.
In a similar way, drain each victim only once. There’s almost always another safe room you can find to lure a new human into, and the increase in suspicion of killing a craft isn’t worth it.
Don’t worry about missed goals
No matter how carefully you plan, it is almost inevitable that you will miss something or make the wrong choice. And that’s okay. The scene results screen shows you everything you did right, including which paths you missed and which goals you failed. Use that when you replay to guide what you’re doing differently.
Failure of certain objectives will affect the story, but you’ll know what these are when they happen – for example, letting a fugitive escape or defying the prince’s orders. Others, like not getting information about every councilor in the first scene, just means you lose some knowledge and experience.
Always use consumables
This may seem obvious, but remember to use your consumables. Coins, images, and club cards restore willpower to Galeb, Leysha, and Emem, respectively. You can use them even if you haven’t already spent Willpower to go beyond the amount you start the scene with.
Others, such as lock picks and key cards, rely more on your stats. If you have at least one point in their corresponding skills, you can use them to increase your chances of success in the next related interaction – breaking locks, hacking computers and the like. It’s an easy way to make up for certain skills that you may have overlooked, and no consumable is carried over to the next scene.
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