The Most Broken Build in Shadowrun Hong Kong

Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun series is one of my favorite indie series. I’ve played through Dragonfall and Hong Kong both a number of times. I want to say… probably about five times each.

First, right of the bat, Shadowrun Hong Kong is an incredible game. It’s like XCOM, but cyberpunk fantasy. Highly recommend it. Actually, Dragonfall has a better story, but Hong Kong has better overall game mechanics, so it’s hard to go back and play Dragonfall after.

I wanted to talk about how to become the buffest, most broken, easymode runner (they’re called runners because… shadowrun, get it?) in all of Hong Kong.

The way the leveling system works in Shadowrun is that you get ‘karma’ points from doing missions, and you spend them in specific skill trees like “ranged combat” or “willpower” in order to flexibly build your character.

As I mentioned, I’ve been through this game multiple times. I played as a chi master, a mage, a rifle specialist, etc, etc. On my second playthrough I stumbled across the most gamebreaking way to build a character, and I wanted to share it with you.

First, like with every character, you’ve got to put a few points into Charisma and Spirit Summoning to unlock “etiquettes” that give special dialog options and a spirit totem that gives a passive benefit. Take the totem that gives passive damage and accuracy increase. If I remember right, it’s called cobra. Etiquettes wise, it’s best to take Security and Gang. You get the most mileage out of those. Academic is good too.

Alright, so here’s the trick. You want to max out the rigger lines, cyberware, ranged combat (or strength), and if you have points left, rifle. Here’s why this is broken as hell: in this game, you get 2 moves per round, or 3 after a certain point in the story. “Riggers” get drones, and each are essentially their own (decently powerful) character.

By the time you max out the line, you can have two drones. It takes away one of your moves to control each drone, so with both active, you only get one move per round. But each drone gets three moves. So you’ve given up 2 moves for 6 more, meaning everything else in combat moves 3 times, and your character moves 7. Add to that the cyberware you can load your character up with and support spells from your party and you can get your main character two more moves per round.

There’s a leg cyberware that gives you another action, and Gobbet, your friendly support party member, can cast haste, which gives another. That’s 9 moves per round. 3 rounds per round. Your main character, while not controlling the drones, can either use the monofilament whip, cyberware melee weapons (if you went strength), or if you were really smart with your point allocation and your cyberware picks, rifles, the best weapon in the game.

Like I said, I played through the game multiple times. Chi master was alright, has a move called Chi Onslaught that hits 3 times. Straight rifle build is pretty devastating. Mage was pretty fun. But objectively, this rigger build is the most ridiculous, strongest possible thing you can do in the game.

Just be sure to be economical with your money, because it’s scarce in Hong Kong. Buy just enough equipment at the start to get by, be weaker than you’d like for a while until the top of the line stuff appears in shops, and then blow your cash on that. You have to do that with every character, so that’s just general good advice for the game.

Best of luck and have fun.

Ryan is a writer from Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter here, and be sure to buy his new book, Gods of the American Wild.