Meta Report: February 9, 2024

The February 2024 Snowbreak meta update, covering the latest Snowbreak gameplay news.

Hey folks, it’s been a while. I unfortunately wasn’t able to push out a meta report last month due to a variety of circumstances, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. Perilous Snowpath gave us Tess, who provides a much-needed power bump to Hush while also furthering Yao’s dominance over the meta. Meanwhile, Ballad of Chaos brings back a familiar face. Katya made quite the first impression on release, and further buffs certainly didn’t hurt. She makes a strong case to break into the DPS power podium as a Frost analogue to Ethereal Cloud.

Also, Absconditus is back on rerun, which makes it a good time to check in on her position in the meta and whether she’s worth picking up for the adjutant on a budget looking for a worthwhile investment. Spoiler alert - not really.

Tess-ting the Waters

Tess is a relatively unique type of support operative, given that her main focus is shovelling as much U-Energy into your team as possible. She does provide a damage boost with her support skill, but that really feels more like a token inclusion than anything else. The result is that she’s really good at her role, but it’s one that’s relatively niche in usefulness. Most DPS operatives don’t get major power spikes from their ultimate abilities and would see larger benefits from more traditional support options. However, there are two major exceptions. Outside of her initial burst, Yao has always wanted to get access to her ultimate ability as fast as possible to utilise the massive damage boost it provides. Meanwhile, Hush finds it difficult to even be considered a full operative in many scenarios with how backloaded her damage is. Tess turns out to be the answer to both of these issues, accelerating Yao towards what usually is a lethal power spike and allowing Hush to build up sufficient U-Energy in a more reasonable timeframe.

However, the short duration and long cooldowns of Tess’ abilities do mean that this is a double-edged sword - not being able to get the job done while her abilities are in effect means you’re left with a brick in your party that won’t be useful again for quite a while. Because of this, she really ends up being a Neural Simulation special, where the short-lived nature of her usefulness isn’t a major concern. With that being said, insufficiently developed accounts may still struggle to take advantage of her unique abilities if they lack the damage to quickly end fights. Thus, newer players who missed out on her initial appearance need not despair, as her niche usefulness and relatively demanding prerequisites ultimately (haha) make her a luxury pull for advanced players chasing Neural Sim time saves.

Katya Got Your Tongue?

As the first operative to use a brand new type of weapon, Katya has a lot of expectations resting on her. Fortunately, she mostly lives up to them. Well, she got there eventually. If her initial performance wasn’t enough to impress you (which it should have, since she was already quite good to begin with), it’s nothing that several rounds of buffs can’t fix. What we’re left with in the end is a strong DPS operative with incredibly high uptime and built-in versatility thanks to the dual-mode nature of crossbows. Her moves might look flashy, but at the end of the day she’s just an operative who shoots really fast and really hard (not having to reload also helps). As a result, there really isn’t a lot to say about any interesting quirks she might have, as playing her really is quite straightforward. If it weren’t for the fact that you’re incentivized to dodge every now and then, I’d almost call it boring. There’s no denying her effectiveness however, as she wedges her way into a podium spot alongside Winter Solstice and Ethereal Cloud as the top DPS operatives (with poor Coronet once again getting the short end of the stick).

Obtuse Absconditus

So now that she’s on a rerun, a question many of you may have is if Haru is worth pulling.

The short answer is no. Don’t bother.

The long answer is that Haru still has the same problems that she always did, very quickly losing value as enemy HP numbers go up, which results in her continuing to struggle to be relevant against most Neural Sim bosses. She has a niche against the Fiends, but pouring resources into a character that’s only really good for mobbing (which any good DPS should be able to do) and two Neural Sim bosses isn’t exactly what I’d call a good investment. Meanwhile, more traditional gun damage operatives have continued to get stronger with the addition of Shadow Ka and Amarna Squad.

Sharing a brief banner overlap with Katya, the latest DPS offering, certainly doesn’t help her case either, as she’s a much better-rounded and almost universally stronger alternative. If you really like Haru as a character I guess she’s not entirely useless, but unless something drastically changes about the game, there really isn’t much reason to go for her.

Hjartagard and the Eli-phant in the Room

After the smash hit that was Amarna Squad, some were hopeful that Seasun had pivoted away from making specialised logistics sets in favour of more generic offerings. Well those hopes were promptly squashed as Seasun not only reverted back to niche logistics sets, but seemingly doubled down.

Hjartagard Squad is by no means a bad logistics set, bringing a sizable damage boost to the table. However, it requires the equipped operative to use their ultimate to activate. Being a supportive logistics set, the only real viable option is Tess, who the set released with. Meanwhile, Eli Squad brings an interesting alternative to challenge the reigning king of gun damage, Amano-Iwato. But as if being locked to Frost operatives wasn’t restrictive enough, having active anti-synergy with critical hits means that the only operative other than Katya who would consider using it, Wild Hunt, can’t really use it either.

It’s disappointing to see new logistics sets be so restrictive in their usability, but it seems that this is how it’s going to be, as Seasun appears to have no interest in actively shaking up the logistics meta.

Cubic Insanity

If you’ve been following my social media, you’ll know that I’m not particularly fond of the way that Njall is designed. Being effectively invulnerable for all but a brief time window that occurs once a minute doesn’t exactly make for very interactive gameplay. You can easily find windows to fire back between its attacks, but with as much damage reduction as it has during those periods, why even bother?

Of course, there is one way of getting around it. Shadow Ka’s support skill spawns a dummy that transfers damage dealt to it, but in doing so also happens to ignore any damage reduction effects that the enemy might have. It makes dealing with the cube much less of a hassle, and will be a staple for future Neural Simulation runs when Njall inevitably gets added to it. Of course, Seasun could always give it actual weak spots, but I’d hedge my bets and start making plans to pick up Shadow Ka on her rerun in the next update if I didn’t have her already. Of course, even if Njall gets changed, it’s not like Shadow Ka isn’t a great support anyways.

Parts Party

This isn’t really a meta “update” but more of a PSA. For those who didn’t know, shotguns are the best weapon class in the game for parts breaking. For this reason, bringing a shotgun operative to content where breaking parts is necessary like the Ni-Mechs and Hardened Joseph is generally advised. Any shotgun operative will work, but either Fenny brings some extra value with Lionheart providing gap-closing mobility to save time getting to the enemy and Coronet being able to use her support skill to increase her rate of fire. Just please, bring a proper parts breaker when needed, unless you absolutely know what you’re doing. Your sanity (and Neural Simulation times) will thank you.

Tier List Updates

You can find the full tier list here.

Tess - The Magician rated at T0.5

Tess cements her role as the premier U-Energy support in the game, but it’s one of limited usefulness. However, her strong synergy with Winter Solstice and Hush lets her pull a Tier 0.5 placement out of her hat.

Katya - Blue Bolt rated at T0

With two fire modes (one great, one good enough), endless ammo, and strong numbers to boot, Katya easily slides her way to the top, and looks good doing it too.

Fritia - Hush (High Investment) raised from T1 to T0.5

With Tess providing Hush all the U-Energy she could ever want, she can finally make her death laser fantasies into reality and produce shockingly high Neural Simulation scores. However, her general usability is still not great. This is really the highest that Hush can ever be rated unless changes are made to her non-Ultimate abilities or she suddenly starts instantly vaporising bosses.