Get started in ‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ with our beginner’s guide

South Park: The Fractured But Whole changes up a few things from its predecessor. While the basic structure from South Park: The Stick of Truth returns, the battle system received an overhaul, and leveling up your character works in a whole new way.

While The Fractured But Whole does a pretty good job of teaching you all the new rules as you play, there are still some key elements that are easy to overlook, which may lead you to miss out on opportunities to strengthen your character. Here are a few key strategies to help you power up early in South Park: The Fractured But Whole so you can beat up supervillains with the best of heroes.

Team composition is key

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review

The biggest difference between South Park: The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole is a switch to a “tactics-style” battle system. This time, each fight takes place on a grid, and you can move your characters around the battlefield to get them in position to attack enemies, or out of the way to avoid incoming damage. Every move and action comes with a diagram of how it affects the grid. Some moves go in a straight line in front of your character, some allow them to jump or trade places with enemies, and so on.

So in any given fight, you want to have lots of options for positioning characters. If you bring three “brutalist” heroes, all of whom need to stay right on top of the enemies they fight, you’re going to throw them in each other’s way a lot, costing you turns and attacks. Similarly, some characters have healing abilities, others can debuff enemies, and so on. So in addition to balancing your party’s skills, as you would do with a role-playing game, it’s important to make sure you’re also bringing teammates with complementary moves, which will give you the ability to work together and hit as many different targets as possible every turn.

You can change everything, including your moves, at the start of a fight

It takes a while to unlock your full range of smartphone apps in The Fractured But Whole, but once you do, you have a lot of means of controlling and customizing your team. The “Allies” app in your smartphone menu lets you switch characters in and out of your party, for instance, and once you have more than one character class, you can use the “Powers” app to change the New Kid’s four fighting abilities. It isn’t especially obvious, but you can access all your apps at the beginning of any fight and customize your loadout before each battle.

When you’re about to start a fight, you see an image that shows who is on your team and who you are about to battle, with a prompt that says “make changes” so you can customize your team. If you hit the associated button, you’re taken to the Allies app, but you can also hit your controller’s “cancel” button to get back to the rest of your phone. From there, you can use the Powers app to change the New Kid’s abilities before the fight, or even pop over to the “Crafting” app and make sure you have all the items you need. Take the opportunity to make sure you have the abilities and teammates you want before every fight, and use what you learn from battles to customize your Artifacts to better fight your different team compositions and ability sets.

Costumes can help you level up

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review

The Fractured But Whole is full of things for you to do around town that help you earn “titles” for your character. These include things like taking a certain number of selfies with people around town or beating a certain number of a specific type of enemy. Titles don’t really do much, but you do earn experience when you complete those milestones, which drives up your levels and helps you get stronger.

To that end, you should go out of your way to collect the extra costumes scattered throughout in the game. The superhero costumes you find around South Park are purely cosmetic — they don’t help your stats or abilities at all. You can avoid changing costumes for the whole game if you want. However, buying and crafting costumes can help you level up fast because every new outfit drives up all the titles related to them. They earn you experience as you increase your crafting level. Plus, titles beget titles, and you can expect to find more opportunities to earn experience if you go after every costume.

Increasing your power is all about Artifacts

South Park: The Fractured But Whole has a strange leveling system. You earn experience points the normal way, winning fights and finishing quests that allow your character to level up, but that system doesn’t increase your stats or make you stronger like in many RPGs. Instead, leveling up unlocks “artifact slots” for your characters, giving them the ability to equip artifacts — gear that enhances your powers and gives you special benefits.

Each Artifact has a base statistic called “Might,” which increases your character’s overall strength — how much damage you do in battle, how much damage you can sustain, and so on. Artifacts also confer more specific benefits, such as increasing your health, boosting certain types of damage, or even providing a team-wide stat boost.

There are tons of different Artifacts throughout the game, and you unlock many different slots that take specific types. In general, you want to equip artifacts with the highest might score to increase your overall power. When you use investigation mode — L2 on PlayStation 4 — you see enemies’ might stats, allowing you to quickly size up your enemies. However, while your overall might is important, you should also consider whether your loadout will boost the right sub-stats for your character class and moves, and change things accordingly. Using the right Artifacts will greatly increase your chances of winning any fight.