Meta Report: Gradient of Souls

I've decided to start naming these articles after the update I post them in, because it's not like I write more than one per update lmao

Hello and welcome back, it’s always nice to see you. Well, not really. You’re just reading words on your screen. But you know what I mean. Anyways, this update brings two new characters in the form of glow-ups for both Cherno and Enya. Both of them have immediately made their mark, even if Enya doesn’t quite bring skill damage operatives into the limelight like she might initially seem to.

Also in this issue: is that new limited logistics farming Operation worth it? And, I complain about Snowbreak boss design. Hear me out on this.

Chern-ing The Waters

Is Cherno - Enigma good?

Yes, very. You should pull for her. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

More seriously, she’s Seasun’s third attempt at a skill damage DPS operative, and one that sticks the landing where her predecessors stumble. Her standard skill provides strong mobbing power, and also doubles as a burst tool to snap beefier foes out of existence. Oh, that reminds me. Ahem.


The in-game skill description evidently doesn’t make that very clear, from how many people I’ve seen not knowing that you can do that. It really ties the kit together, providing a big payoff for applying her Enmity stacks to enemies as it does extra damage for every stack that an enemy has. Furthermore, detonating the orbs will completely reset your standard skill’s cooldown while also refunding S-Energy per orb detonated, making this a fully sustainable gameplay loop as well. This means Cherno isn’t just able to output huge amounts of damage, but she’s able to do it again and again, at least until whatever is on the receiving end of all that finally kicks the bucket. Overall, she gets my personal seal of approval. Even developed accounts will find uses for her in tackling Neural Sim weeks with modifiers that are less than friendly to ballistic damage operatives, and holding E to explodonate anything that gets too close to you or your orbs has yet to stop being fun.

As mentioned before, Cherno isn’t the first dedicated skill damage DPS in the game. Haru - Absconditus and Fritia - Hush both tried, but lacked the versatility that would allow them to reach the power level that Cherno does. Funnily enough, the two actually suffer from opposite problems: Fritia might as well be a gun on legs and not much else when she doesn’t have access to her ultimate ability which makes her less than ideal for general content, and Haru is only good for dog walking duty (Fiend) outside of her role as an E-mash trash mobber. It's worth noting that Cherno avoids the fates of her predecessors by still being quite reliant on using her gun to augment her skill damage, as it lets her accelerate her Enmity stacking. So in the end, it all still comes back to “use more gun.”

But that being said, maybe Seasun has cracked the code on how to make truly good skill damage DPS operatives. Cherno is the first skill damage operative to properly challenge the existing dominance of gun damage DPS units, being highly competitive in many Neural Sim bosses like Ni-Mech and Teumessian while still being useful in general content as well. If future releases can keep up the quality, it’ll mean a more diverse range of viable playstyles and more ways to deal with whatever challenges get thrown at us in the future. Or maybe this was just a fluke and every other skill damage DPS after this will suck. You never know.

Weapons and Logistics

I really feel bad talking about the shop gun intended for Cherno, because as event weapons go, Halo of Hope is actually one of the better ones. Up to 40% extra damage taken is nothing to scoff at, and it’ll be perfectly usable. That being said: if you can afford to go for Cherno’s gacha weapon, Uninvited Adieu, it’s absolutely worth it. For the cost of losing 10% of that damage amplifier, you get an 18% Chaos damage buff which can be trivially increased again to double that. This isn’t even mentioning the other ace up its sleeve, its absolutely ridiculous 80 ammo magazine size. More time spent being able to shoot is always good, but it’s especially useful for Cherno as it allows her to stack Enmity faster for quicker pops. All in all, it’s easily a 30-40% improvement over the shop weapon, which already isn’t half bad. Tier 2 almost doubles all the numbers on it, and I don’t think I have to go over how potent that would be.

Logistics are pretty straightforward: Dziady Squad is easily the best squad to kit her out with, and it’s not even close. I would certainly hope so too, as its niche nature doesn’t make it too useful with anyone else. Attack and Alignment Index is the way to go, as Cherno doesn’t really benefit from anything else. You could make a case that having extra U-Energy for quicker ultimate ability casts could come in handy, but most content doesn’t really need that level of overkill, and you still have Tess - The Magician for situations that do.

Exuberant, Excelling Exuvia

After the relative disappointment that was Eatchel last update, we get Enya’s new Exuvia form, an SSR support that not only fully justifies a premium price tag, but also… is completely free?

…I think it’s for the best if I stop comparing the two.

Enya finally gives “skill damage” DPS operatives a true support and frees us from having to cope with Chenxing - The Observer. Look, Chenxing’s great and all, but this is like getting a proper chef’s knife after cutting tomatoes with a spoon your entire life. Don’t ask. However, I say “skill damage” in quotes because Enya really is more suited for hybrid operatives rather than those that purely rely on skill casts.

This is my one bad joke I'm allowed per article.

Because of how her support skill works, you still have to be regularly shooting to build up resources for Enya to provide her off-field DPS and by extension, her buffs as well. This means that she won’t work well with the likes of Haru - Absconditus and Fritia - Hush as both want to avoid shooting whenever possible. No gun, no fun.

So then, who does Enya work well with? Chenxing - Ethereal Cloud synergizes perfectly with Enya as the chain damage from her standard skill triggers on-hit. Similarly, Lyfe - Wild Hunt’s playstyle that involves shooting enemies to maintain her standard skill resource is a natural fit as well, giving her a much-needed boost in power. Even Katya - Blue Bolt can have her Deiwos passive trigger Enya’s support skill. And of course, Cherno - Enigma’s constant DoT procs fit the bill as you’d expect. Disappointingly, sources of aptitude like that provided by Fritia - Little Sunshine’s support skill don’t seem to count despite working with every other skill damage interaction, and this does limit Enya’s general usability quite a bit.

Enya’s support skill also provides interruption resistance, which is actually very useful considering how many things stagger or knock you back these days. It practically trivialises Hela, as it means that all you have to do is put in a token amount of effort to not get hit by literally everything while you otherwise free-fire until it dies. Recasting this ability will reposition it, and can also be used as essentially a 0-frame animation cancel while additionally activating any effects that proc on support skill cast. Abuse this information as you wish.

So overall, Enya’s not quite as universal as the likes of Acacia - Kaguya, and has a few more barriers to entry than even Mauxir - Shadow Ka. Despite this, she’s a very strong support for those who can take advantage of her. And because she’s free, you don’t even have to decide whether you want to pull for her.

Weapons and Logistics

I’m surprised that I’m saying this for the second time, but Enya’s shop gun, Tribute of Rose, is also quite good. Maybe Seasun really did learn something from the stinker of a shop gun that they gave Eatchel. Despite looking like a slightly repainted Wild Wasp Stinger, it instead provides up to a 28% skill damage boost for the entire squad when you fulfil its activation conditions. In contrast, the premium gacha weapon Abyssal Light only provides a 9% increase. Supplementing this otherwise anaemic buff is up to a 24% skill damage amplifier debuff applied to enemies, along with a surprisingly large 48% support skill damage boost for Enya. It shakes up to… not that big of an advantage. It’s actually only around 10-15% more damage from your DPS in practice. However,  it does provide a pretty big steroid to Enya’s support damage, which you’ll notice when using her with DPS operatives that can trigger her support skill more often. I personally find it a tough sell, especially with more valuable pickups like Cherno and Tess’ weapons being available this update, but it’s not as useless as it initially seems. It unfortunately doesn’t go well with her nurse outfit, though.

For logistics, Enya actually has a surprising amount of flexibility. While Areca Squad obviously works with her, Twilight Squad is surprisingly more effective when supporting Electric DPS operatives like Chenxing - Ethereal Cloud. This doesn’t work with operatives of other elements, for obvious reasons. As well, her support skill’s constant damage instances make Amarna Squad viable too if you don’t already have an Amarna support in your party. Long live the king.

Alignment Index is an easy slot-in for logistics stats, since that’s directly more skill damage. For your other stat, it actually ends up being attack. Enya has more than enough uptime on her skill (20s duration on a 5s cooldown!) for skill haste to be necessary, and doesn’t suffer from any S-Energy issues as a result. So of the other mostly junk stats that you could get, attack ends up being the most useful for boosting her support skill damage. So yeah, that free logistics set you got does in fact have the right stats, and if you don’t want to bother farming for better stat rolls, I wouldn’t blame you.

Make-Up Tesst

Tess - The Magician is back on rerun, and she’s had her fortunes go up since her release. The release of Cherno - Enigma gives her another strong pairing and she’s found use for breaking parts on bosses like Ni-Mech and Joeseph - Hardened. But her core issues still remain, and if you’re not interested in Neural Sim or don’t like playing any of Cherno, Yao - Winter Solstice, or Fritia - Hush, she remains an easy skip. If you do have or plan on getting her, also getting her gacha weapon if you can afford it is recommended, as the freebie gun in the shop provides nothing in the way of offensive buffs. Grab a set of Hjartagard Squad logistics (U-Energy and Alignment Index are what you want), and that’s about it, really.

Logistic Efficiency

So with this update, Seasun has added a way to obtain otherwise-limited event logistics through a permanent Operation. Now I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I also consider giving credit where it’s due as sufficient enough pleasantries to warrant talking smack if necessary. So is it worth it to sink your stamina into this new feature?

…Kind of.

How the permanent farm works is that each clear you (auto-)complete provides 10 limited logistics currency to be spent in a new shop that contains limited logistics sets, much like the shop for permanent sets. Each piece in the shop costs 50 of this currency. Additionally, you can select a logistics set to simultaneously gain progress towards with every farming run you do. After five clears, you can redeem that progress to get a random piece from the selected set. With each run costing 40 stamina, this rounds out to costing 200 stamina for two logistics pieces.

Compare this to the existing method of farming limited logistics pieces by purchasing them in the event shop. An Abyss clear of the event farming stage costs 30 stamina and rewards 15 event currency. With logistics pieces costing 50 currency in the event shop, this means 300 stamina will get you 3 logistics pieces.

So as it turns out, both methods have the same stamina-to-logistics ratio at 100 stamina per logistics piece obtained. However, both methods do have caveats.

The permanent logistics farm requires you to input the full 200 stamina before you get any logistics pieces at all, while 90 stamina is all that’s needed to buy one logistics piece from an event shop (with a bit of currency left over too). Furthermore, the “bonus” logistics piece you get from the permanent farm is a random piece from the set you select, while you have full control over which logistics piece you buy from an event shop. Since, y’know, that’s how shops work.

On the other hand, farming events only lets you buy the logistics sets that are offered in the shop. So unless you really need a limited logistics set that won’t be in an event shop anytime soon, it’s in your best interest to stick to farming events to get what you need. The permanent farm definitely could use a few extra goodies to sweeten the deal, like giving logistics XP every clear as a bonus reward. Hm, that’s not half bad actually. I should go complain to Seasun about that.


Pact of Antinomy exhibits a frustrating trend with Snowbreak boss design as of late, where bosses are designed with attacks and mechanics that are amazing when they’re used as a storytelling set piece, but absolutely awful for competitive play like in Brave Squad or Neural Sim.

This is nothing new, as bosses have become only more obnoxious since Perilous Snowpath. Joseph - Hardened is a very cool story boss fight, and isn’t even too bad in Neural Sim, but he was a major nuisance in Brave Squad due to the sheer amount of AoE spam he could put out. Seeing teammates constantly wipe was a common occurrence and there wasn’t much you could do about it either, as bringing a healer or other support was too much of a damage loss to be worth it. Joe specifically isn’t a problem in the story fight or in Sim because you can kill him before his damage becomes a problem, but it’s clear to see that he wasn’t designed with Brave Squad, a fixed three-minute encounter, in mind. The game simply wasn’t designed for players to be tanking that much damage for that long.

Njall was… not much better. It’s arguably the worst offender, as it’s as close to a straightforward damage check as the game has gotten. No major mechanics to interact with, or even regularly accessible weak spots, just “shoot harder.” While its near-permanent damage reduction made for a powerful representation of a nigh-immune enemy in the story, it also makes Mauxir - Shadow Ka mandatory for anyone looking to get a remotely competitive Neural Sim time. That’s not even mentioning how much it favours Katya as the DPS of choice to deal with it. Within a competitive context, it’s just a poorly designed boss through and through.

Lament of Yehrus was surprisingly pretty good if not a bit boring, so it gets a pass.

But then we get to Pact of Antinomy. Another boss with no easily accessible weak spot, it also spams invulnerability attacks at random, which means any competitive mode, whether it’s Brave Squad or Neural Sim, will require multiple attempts to obtain the best score possible. I actually had a Brave Squad run where Antinomy decided to use one of its special attacks at the end, so my teammates and I got to sit around and watch as it flew around for the last eleven seconds of the run while invulnerable, as if taunting us at how there was nothing we could do but just watch the timer tick down to zero. Again, this is something that I don’t mind at all in campaign boss battles. It adds to the atmosphere, and enhances the “cool factor” of the encounter. But in a competitive context, nobody cares about the atmosphere; they want to get the highest score possible. And when you can randomly lose eleven seconds or more to just plain bad luck, I think there’s something seriously wrong.

The older bosses in the game have their annoyances too, but those are generally much more manageable, or at least more consistent so you can play around them. But newer bosses have become less and less interactive, which isn’t good to say the least. This isn’t even a matter of “skill issue,” as there’s no way to “outplay” Njall’s damage reduction, nor is there anything you can do to prevent Antinomy from bricking a run with a random invuln short of killing it fast enough that it doesn’t have time to. Hopefully whatever they have planned in the future will avoid these pitfalls.

Meta Updates

Winners and Losers


Chenxing - Ethereal Cloud: Gains a new powerful support in Enya - Exuvia, helping her keep up with Katya, who has been beating her in most content.

Lyfe - Wild Hunt: Has almost perfect synergy with Enya, giving her a much-needed power boost. It’s still not enough to make her fully competitive with the top picks, but it goes a long way for her overall viability.

Katya - Blue Bolt: Can also benefit from Enya, but gets less mileage than Lyfe or Chenxing due to dealing less skill damage overall.

Tess - The Magician: Cherno - Engima gets a decent amount of use from her ult, which gives Tess a new DPS to support.

Marian - Queen of Pain: Did you know that her support skill applies Chaos shred? You do now. This makes her a surprisingly good support for Cherno.

Acacia - Redacted: Her support skill dealing Chaos damage means that Acacia might actually get to take off the Navigator Squad logistics set that’s been surgically attached to her in most players’ inventories for Twilight. Her Deiwos passive providing free U-Energy also lets Cherno ult earlier.


Fenny - Coronet: Yet another new DPS (Cherno) shows up and kicks her down a rung on the DPS ladder. She doesn’t benefit from Enya, either. Rough.

Chenxing - The Observer: Enya basically does everything she does but far better at the cost of not providing an easily-accessible heal, which doesn’t matter to most people.

Tier List Changes

You can find the full tier list here.

New “Tier 4” Added

Tier 1 is getting a little cramped, so I’ve decided to add an additional tier to separate the top and bottom performers within the tier. Everyone rated at Tier 2 and below will automatically be moved down a tier.

Cherno - Enigma rated at T0

With strong sustained DPS that’s flexible enough to pop mobs and bosses alike, Cherno is a strong meta pick that allows for a unique approach to combat.

Enya - Exuvia rated at T0.5

Enya unfortunately finds her usage a little too niche for a Tier 0 placement, but performs remarkably well within her areas of strength. I expect her to only become more valuable over time as future releases give her more use cases.

Fenny - Coronet Lowered from Tier 0 to Tier 0.5

Time has not been kind to Fenny, as Katya and now Cherno push her further and further away from the limelight. Her most glaring flaws like reload downtime and a lack of range still have not been meaningfully solved, especially with how in-demand her range bandaid known as Mauxir - Shadow Ka is among stronger DPS picks. While once a top three DPS, Fenny now struggles to stay in the top five. The last time I kicked Fenny out of Tier 0, she immediately got new support to put her back up. Will history repeat again? We’ll have to see.

Multiple Tier 1 Operatives Lowered to Tier 2

Yao - Quiet Quitter: Pure healing utility has only dropped in value as players progress and reduce their reliance on it.

Lyfe - Wednesday: Basically only used for Paralyze from her support skill, which is in itself a relatively niche use case.

Siris - The Goldfish: Defensive utility is of lesser importance as most players opt to kill enemies faster instead.

Cherno - Those Two: Despite being one of very few operatives who can provide a source of Slow, she’s arguably the worst among them, and doesn’t provide much else outside of that.

All Previous Tier 2/3 Operatives Shifted Down

Affected operatives: Nita - Hands, Fritia - Hush, Enya - Big Sis, Haru - The Ace.