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Zealot Meta (Stealth)

Zealot Meta (Stealth)
Build for Darktide

by Razgriz
Anti-Special
Anti-Elite
Anti-Boss
Frontliner
Ranged
Melee
Support
Allrounder

Weapons

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Catachan Mk III Combat Blade
Transcendant
Catachan Mk III Combat Blade
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+10-25% Damage (Unyielding Enemies)
+2-5% Melee Critical Hit Chance
Mercy Killer

Mercy Killer

+52.5-60% Weak Spot Damage (Enemies with Bleed Stacks).

Uncanny Strike

Uncanny Strike

+12-24% Rending on Enemy Weak Spot Hit for 3.5s. Stacks 5 times.

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Ius Mk III Shredder Autopistol
Transcendant
Ius Mk III Shredder Autopistol
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+10-25% Damage (Maniacs)
+10-25% Damage (Flak Armoured Enemies)
Blaze Away

Blaze Away

+8% Power for every 10% of magazine spent during continuous fire. Stacks 5 times.

Inspiring Barrage

Inspiring Barrage

+4% Toughness for every 10% of magazine spent during continuous fire. Stacks 5 times.

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Curios

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Blessed Bullet
Transcendant
Blessed Bullet
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+17-21% Max Health

+17-21% Max Health

+2-5% Toughness
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Gunners)
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Snipers)
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Blessed Bullet
Transcendant
Blessed Bullet
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+17-21% Max Health

+17-21% Max Health

+2-5% Toughness
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Gunners)
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Snipers)
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Blessed Bullet
Transcendant
Blessed Bullet
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+17-21% Max Health

+17-21% Max Health

+6-12% Stamina Regeneration
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Gunners)
+5-20% Damage Resistance (Snipers)
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Talents

Description

No Stealth Build:

https://darktide.gameslantern.com/builds/9a4fa304-0b88-4cf8-827a-d0435327a8c3/zealot-meta-no-stealth

 

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Notes

 

  1. One Med Stimm should live permanently in your inventory at all times.
     
  2. Second Wind is one of the most valuable talents in the game, providing constant free Toughness, especially when being shot at. It is so good, I think it should always be chosen over Blood Redemption even on melee-focused builds. I feel that knife-stealth Zealot is already fast enough as is, and Swift Certainty is unneccesary. The "sprint dodge without stamina" aspect of the talent doesn't do much for this build considering how easy it is to regain Toughness or disengage when being shot at. (Or just chain slides when you are low on stamina to sprint dodge indefinitely) If you just cant live without sanic speed, try dropping Inebriate's Poise instead.
     
  3. I have reached the conclusion that +Max Health on all 3 curios is the right pick for stealth Zealot. With so many talents providing Toughness replenishment, many of which are on-demand, combined with a de-aggro button available every ~24 seconds, the only time you won't be at or near max Toughness is when it would be zero'd regardless.
     
  4. ctrl+F "Plasma Gun" if you want the uncensored meta.

 

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Overview

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In the current state of the game, there is one ability in a class of its own, and it is (unsurprisingly) exclusive to Zealot.

That ability is Shroudfield. As it stands now, with the right setup, Shroudfield can make you truly unkillable.

Breaking aggro for 6 seconds every 10-20 seconds on an already very resilient and mobile class is simply broken.

With insane burst damage potential against priority targets, and unmatched defensive abilities and clutch potential, the simple truth of the matter is that no other build in the game can compete with this setup.

 

Thus I have decided to write two separate build guides concerning Darktide's highest meta potential. One that embraces Shroudfield (this guide), and one that ignores it. This guide will focus on creating the absolute strongest possible build available to any class or archetype.

I firmly believe this is the epitome of meta in the current state of the game. There is simply no room for debate.

 

This setup is utterly busted and even an average player with only a few hundred hours should be able to carry any game they join with this loadout. With just a core understanding of the basic flow of combat, recognition of enemy AI patterns, and reasonably good reflexes - you will have all you need to beat even the hardest Maelstrom missions.

 

But let's propose a hypothetical, what if an expert player with thousands of hours slaying rats and purging heretics decides to bring this build into a mission - assuming such a mythical figure exists - what happens then? Well, I will tell you what happens. Anyone who ends up in a lobby with that player will see a Victory screen in due time unless the game's servers decide to evict them from the match.

 

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Key Features and Talents

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Key Talents:    Shroudfield | Blades of Faith | Inexorable Judgement | Loner Aura

 

This build is highly fine-tuned for the Combat Blade and Shroudfield, leaving little room for deviation. Several talents should be considered mandatory picks; all right-side talents leading into Blades of Faith, Anoint in Blood, Purge the Unclean, Thy Wrath Be Swift, Until Death, Duelist, Master-Crafted Shroudfield, Invigorating Revelation, Retributor's Stance, and Inebriate's Poise.

 

Each of these talents beautifully compliments the hyperactive playstyle of this Zealot build, providing the necessary breathing room and finesse you need to rush into battle, inflict devastating burst damage, and then reposition before enemies can harm you. Momentum incentivizes you to be highly mobile at all times, and Retributor's Stance is akin to having a mobility-fueled Toughness button that can be triggered with a single bullet. When your defenses are broken, Shroudfield doubles as a defensive ability, allowing you to safely disengage, reposition, and - thanks to Retributor's Stance and Invigorating Revelation - reclaim almost all of your Toughness before enemies can threaten you again.

 

In a worst-case scenario, with no Toughness and everything on cooldown, Thy Wrath Be Swift and Until Death (mandatory talents for all Zealots, no exceptions) provide a last-ditch safety net against being overwhelmed and stunlocked to death.

 

Q: Why no Holy Revenant?

A: With this build, every single talent point counts. There is hardly any breathing room at all. Even though it would only require dropping 1 other talent, Holy Revenant is not the right pick for this build. The reason for this is because more often than not, when Until Death triggers, it probably means you are in a truly terrible situation and your team is also probably dead or dying. With Holy Revenant, your instinct tells you to hold your position and keep fighting to regain a small portion of your HP. This is usually the wrong play.

 

First of all, depending on what is happening, you may not even be able to recover any health at all. Sometimes you will find yourself in such a bad spot that you have no choice but to use the invulnerability to reposition in order to avoid instantly going down when Until Death expires. Even when this isn't the case, and you have regained 25% of your health, your situation is likely even worse than it was before. By staying where you are, unseen enemies have continued to advance and surround you, new specials have arrived or are on the way, you have no new boxes to open to look for resources, and you are no closer to a respawn zone or Medicae Station than you were before. And worst of all, now a single tiny mistake is all it takes to end your run.

 

When Until Death is triggered, it is a far better idea to simply start running away towards a teammate, Medicae Station, respawn zone, checkpoint, or anywhere that takes you away from huge groups of enemies. You have 6 seconds to escape with full invulnerability, then another 6 during which enemies will completely ignore you. With your insane movement speed, this is an incredible failsafe. You may not even need to activate Shroudfield as soon as Until Death expires, save it for the last moment before risking fatal damage.

 

Finding a way to full heal yourself or save your team is always the better option. If a teammate is alive and they aren't distracted, swallow your pride and down yourself, let them revive you to reset your health now before things get worse. Even if a boss spawns, you can outrun it. Ingrain this in your mind, and do not fall into the trap of making glorious last stands when the entire map is chasing you, as it often ends with a mission failure.

 

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Playstyle

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The core playstyle of this build is very typical of any Zealot. You do anything and everything, zipping all around the area of engagement to go wherever you are needed, rushing ahead to take out threats before they reach your team, flanking packs of shooters, and intercepting specials before they can become a problem. What's that? A sudden miscalculation or stroke of bad luck and now you are about to be a smear on the floor?!?!?!

 

Nah, don't worry about it, just press the F key.

 

Phew, run on back to your team now, nothing to worry about. Hang out with your buds for about 10 seconds and then off you go, right back to what you were doing, not a care in the world. Don't worry, your team can handle the pack of Crushers you just unleashed upon them with your "Aggro Somebody Else" button.

 

While you are off saving the Imperium in a random direction half a mile away, one of those Crushers just bonked your Veteran right on his head, down he goes and just as you are thinking to yourself Hmm, I wonder if they need my help? - KABOOM -pop goes the Psyker, a slight mishap on their part that surely nobody could have foreseen.

 

Well shoot. Now half your team is down, and the Ogryn is fighting for his life, desperately backpedaling against an army of Crushers while trying to find that frag bomb resupply he spotted earlier (sadly, the Veteran needed to restock his smoke grenades when nobody else was looking) So, what do you do in this most perilous scenario?

 

Oh, I know. Press the F key.

 

You dash across the room straight towards your team while channeling the inner spirit of Sonic the Hedgehog, probably taking out several guys with a red border around them on the way. No need to manage your Toughness or think about your positioning, enemies will conveniently forget you exist just as you are about to take any actual damage from your reckless charge. Oh, and don't worry, your entire Toughness bar will be back by doing absolutely nothing once your Naruto roleplay has concluded.

 

So, you make it back to your team in record time, thanks in part to the additional speed boost you are rewarded with by your supremely tactical use of the "Ignore All Consequences for My Actions" button.

 

With a juicy duration of six whole seconds of doing whatever the hell you want, Veteran is back up on his feet - for about half a second. Unfortunately, you revived him at the exact moment the Crusher guarding his body slammed his hammer down on his head again. Whoops! - you think to yourself, as you take a mental note to remember not to do that next time.

 

But hey, don't worry, everything's fine. Go stab some of those Crushers chasing the Ogryn. (ignore the Psyker, they will just explode again anyway) Ogryn isn't looking too good, but you have this really cool trick: Your Combat Blade's Uncanny Strike blessing applies to your throwing knives.

 

And do you know what that means? You run up to one of those crushy boys (or any enemy actually), then spam some light attacks on their heads until you see a nice little number 5 on the buff icon with the cracked armor plate. Then you line them up and spam those throwing knives right into their stupid faces. 2 Faithful Blades and maybe a quick heavy attack from your knife should do the trick for each one, and you can wipe out that entire squad all by yourself in 15 seconds. As long as your S key and Space Bar are working, you should be just fine.

 

And should something go wrong - maybe you find yourself pushed into a corner, about to be overrun...perhaps destined to be stuck in a net, manhandled by a VERY LARGE MUTANT, or become the plaything of a physics-defying quadruped.

 

Not to worry. F key.

 

Oh yeah by the way, that entire squad of 15 gunners and the platoon of Scabs hanging out with them on the other side of the room? The ones who are now ceaselessly firing upon the poor Ogryn who can do nothing but hide behind that garbage dumpster in fear? Well...just use your "Turn Off Enemy Area Denial" button to cross the distance - no need to worry while approaching - all the scary melee guys you don't want to fight right now will be going after the Ogryn instead by the time you uncloak, and don't feel bad, he can handle them just fine now that you're about to shut the laser show down.

 

Now you'll have plenty of time before other enemies return to get right behind the shooters. Unload on the Scabs with your pew pew pistol that refunds you any Toughness those dorks managed to plink off of you as you gunned them down. With the overtuned trash gone, pull out that knife and go to town on the gunners. Literally just spam light attacks on their heads while dodging randomly, and watch as they disintegrate, unable to retaliate in any way. (Thanks to Uncanny Strike and bleed build-up, light attacks spammed on weak spots will eliminate groups of Flak enemies faster than single-target heavy attacks)

 

One of them getting snarky with you? Opening fire on you from behind while you're busy corralling his friends? Big mistake. Spin around real quick and throw a knife at his face, putting him out of his misery in a literal second, then get back to business. Those throwing knives of yours can one-shot everything except Mutants, Maulers, and Ogryns when scoring a headshot, keep that in mind. Learn to aim above a target's head, not directly at it.

 

So things are all cleaned up. Vet and Psyker are dead, but you saved the Ogryn, the respawn zone isn't far now. Things look like they are gonna be okay...but suddenly...you hear a crash and ominous music begins - at least it would begin if you hadn't turned off music months ago, you did do that right?

 

A Chaos Spawn is barreling towards you and your nearly-dead Ogryn pal, behind him is the exact combination of specials and elites that you don't want to come after you while fighting said Chaos Spawn.

 

What do you do?

 

Do you know?

 

Can you guess?

 

Is it...

 

The...

 

F...

 

<heavy's voice> NO!!!!

At least not yet.

 

See, with that combat knife of yours, you are actually REALLY GOOD at boss DPS. Every heavy attack you land on a Monstrosity's weak point is going to take a very respectable chunk out of its health bar. To make things easier, you have insane mobility with the knife out, it's not hard at all for you to get your weak spot hits in and reliably dodge incoming attacks from both the monster and all the other enemies trying to get in your way.

 

Now, you probably know that landing a hit from stealth is a guaranteed crit and has increased finesse and backstab damage. Very true. So should you always be using this the second it comes off cooldown? Ideally, yes, but realistically, it depends. It is wise to save your stealth camo for when you actually need it to avoid taking damage, or to escape from a very bad situation. Remember that at any moment during a boss fight, something you really don't want to spawn CAN spawn and WILL ruin everything you are trying to do in the blink of an eye.

 

Whenever you do use Shroudfield, for whatever purpose you use it for, always do your best to get the sneak attack on the boss before the cloak ends so as not to waste the big damage opportunity. There won't be a truly meaningful difference in damage between a headshot and a backstab, so just go for whatever is easier.

 

Anyway...as nice as all that sounds, this is a Chaos Spawn we are talking about, and as I previously mentioned, everything in existence is currently right next to you and trying to double quadruple murder you at the same time.

Ogryn did his best, but he's long gone. If only he had the "I Can Only Be Killed By Exploding Barrels" button...shame.

 

Well, you are all on your own now, the Spawn still has half of it's health, and an entire room of taggable enemies is chasing you alongside it. This is it, surely there is no hope...you can already picture it in your mind, the big red letters at the top of your screen; YOU HAVE FAILED THE EMPEROR.

 

But wait...

 

What if...

 

Could it be...

 

ˢᵘʳᵉˡʸ ⁱᵗˢ ⁿᵒᵗ...ᵗʰᵃᵗ ᵒⁿᵉ ᵏᵉʸ...

 

...

 

Do I even need to say it? You know what to do by now. Poof, you are gone, and hightailing it out of there at maximum velocity while all the jokesters you left behind stand around like idiots. And they will keep standing there like idiots for the entire duration of your cloak. By the time they pick up your scent again and start moving, you are in a completely different zone. You got some new guys to deal with now sure, but what do you care? Just juke them, they can't possibly catch you either. Enemies in your way may have slowed you down a bit, and... - uh oh! the horde is catching up! oh noooo!!!!~

 

nvm cloak is off cooldown again

 

Frankly, I can probably end my narration here. Nothing more really needs to be said. With the bare minimum amount of critical thinking, and general knowledge of enemy attack patterns and pathing, you will always be able to save yourself and reposition before enemies overtake you. And sooner or later, no matter how many times you have to try again, you WILL get a teammate up. Eventually one of those teammates you get up WILL do something helpful. And sooner or later, the rest of your team will be up too. And then you all proceed together to obliterate the army of bad dudes who have been on your tail for the past 5 minutes.

 

You cannot lose to anything short of truly extraordinary circumstances, or your own mistakes.

ₐₗₛₒ ₈ₐᵣᵣₑₗₛ

 

On several occasions, I have been in max-difficulty missions (Auric Maelstrom I-II-V-E-G) where there was absolutely no hope of ever reviving my team from a respawn zone without going down from the enemies that would catch up. Try to imagine just how many enemies we are talking about here, to describe a scenario where even with the stealth button, delaying movement for even just a few seconds would likely result in going down.

 

These are the unbelievable, indescribable, certainly unwinnable situations that with this build - you actually can still win...if you have the skill. Those missions I mentioned were won through extremely desperate maneuvers such as soloing entire events or objectives without teammates, or sprinting to the end of missions while the entire map chased me, with non-stop split-second decision-making determining whether or not I survived.

 

Not only can it be done, but it can also be done reliably. I would say that with this absolutely busted build I succeed in these impossible situations more often than I fail. But it is rare for these situations to happen in the first place, thanks in no small part to this build making you a highly mobile force of destruction that cannot be downed. Your ability to instantly pick up downed teammates with zero risk of failure or self-endangerment also goes a long way towards overall mission success. You basically have a side gig as Mercy from Overwatch.

 

Anyway, I wonder how many people will actually read all of that? lol

 

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Weapons

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Melee:      Catachan Mk III Combat Blade | Uncanny Strike and Riposte/Mercy Killer | +Crit Chance, +Unyielding

 

Ranged:      Ius Mk III Shredder Autopistol | Blaze Away and Inspiring Barrage | +Maniacs, +Flak or +Unyielding

   

  or if you want to basically just cheat and trivialize the entire game - the true indisputable meta:

 

Melee:      Catachan Mk III Combat Blade | Flesh Tearer and Mercy Killer | +Crit Chance, +Unyielding

 

Ranged:      Zarona Mk IIa Quickdraw Stub Revolver | Hand-Cannon and Surgical | +Crit Chance, +Unyielding

 

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Why the Combat Blade?

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There are many obvious reasons that the Combat Blade is indisputably the best melee weapon choice for this build and playstyle. It does everything you want it to do. Unmatched mobility, high single-target/boss damage, fantastic armor penetration, crit/bleed talent synergy, and Uncanny Strike applying to Blades of Faith, which is HUGE.

 

The knife's special stagger attack can chain straight into a heavy attack with no windup, abuse this to maximize your heavy attack speed or quickly build bleed stacks to combo into a Mercy Killer weak spot hit. You will be the fastest character in the game, but your horde clear won't be amazing. Getting trapped in a corner surrounded by enemies can be a death sentence if your cloak is on cooldown, so be aware of your positioning at all times.

 

Perks:

+Flak, +Maniacs, and +Unarmored will not change any breakpoints, nor meaningfully contribute to horde clear.
Your best perks are always +Crit Chance and +Unyielding for Monstrosity DPS.

 

Blessings:

Mercy Killer and Riposte are interchangeably your best blessings to pair with Uncanny Strike.

Riposte is basically a permanent 20% melee crit chance increase at all times.

Mercy Killer provides huge damage boosts for your bleed build, but it doesn't always have a consistent uptime.

 

Essentially, it's a choice between a higher crit chance or getting random damage boosts on a semi-frequent basis.

Mercy Killer easily becomes the better pick if your teammates are applying bleed too.

 

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Some Info on Mercy Killer

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The true damage increase Mercy Killer provides is wildly inconsistent depending on other buffs and modifiers. From my own testing on a perfect 380 roll, the Tier IV range results in anywhere from a 38% to 58% increase to total damage on a weak spot hit against a bleeding enemy. The full 58% can be observed with Sustained Assault and Uncanny Strike at the full 5 stacks. Buffs from teammates may push damage scaling even higher, but I'm not going to test that. This entire range of potential damage rapidly scales down the worse your weapon's stats are.

 

Obviously, that is a huge increase in damage, even on the low end. The catch is that the enemy needs bleed stacks, and your only way of applying that by yourself is Scourge. (2 stacks per crit) If you have to pace your hits to dodge incoming attacks, bleed will often expire before you can benefit from the blessing. You of course must also specifically hit the weak point within the time frame, on certain enemies this is not always realistic.

 

Mercy Killer also will not change most breakpoints. The damage increase does not apply to the attack that inflicted the bleed condition, meaning it still takes at least 2 attacks to kill most enemies.


There are some notable exceptions, assuming bleed is applied on the first attack, no buffs active:

 

2-shot     (from 3)

  • Gunners
  • Ragers
  • Bulwark

 

3-shot     (2 on crit, from 5)

  • Reaper
  • Mauler

 

4-shot     (3 on crit, from 6)

  • Crusher

Really, the best thing Mercy Killer is doing for you is increasing your face tanking DPS against bosses.

Randomly nuking elites every now and then is just a bonus.

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Q: Bleed Blessings?
A: Enemies that melt to bleed spam are not the enemies you should be worrying about. The Combat Blade should be optimized to crit and kill armor/unyielding as efficiently as possible, everything else doesn't really matter because it will die regardless - with or without bleed. You should always allocate one blessing slot to give you rending, meaning you can't combo Lacerate or Flesh Tearer with Mercy Killer. (Unless you are using the Zarona, in which case, Flesh Tearer + Mercy Killer is the ideal combo)

 

Q: Ruthless Backstab?
A: A good blessing, but not ideal for you. Most often you will be face to face with enemies, either because you ran up to them, or they are chasing you as you backpedal away and stab them. Uncanny Strike has no angle limitations and is best in slot for throwing knives. 

 

Q: What about Hordes?
A: Hordes are a weak area for you, getting rid of them will take time. Spam light attacks on heads while side dodging down the length of the horde. If you get a critical on a horizontal swipe, move down the line, some of the enemies you hit but didn't kill will probably die from bleed over the next few seconds. If you really need to get rid of a Horde FAST - and you can spare the ammo - blast them with your gun.

 

Q: How does the new Mk VI Combat Blade compare to the original?

A: The chained heavy attacks are inferior to the Mk III for single-target damage. Vanguard-Vanguard-Strikedown instead of just chained Strikedowns. It is also much harder to land your weakspot hits with the horizontal swipe pattern of the heavy attacks. I guess its better for hordes if you care about that for some reason?

 

Q: how do sanic heghog??!??

A: Begin sprinting with stamina, then hold heavy attack through the entire charge up animation while continuing to move forward. Wait for the attack portion of the animation to complete, then begin another charged heavy. Repeat this pattern. You can continue to boost without stamina, but its easy to lose it. If you lose the boost, stop in place for a moment to get a tiny bit of stamina, then begin the sequence again.

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The remainder of this text will be information that is mostly shared with my Zealot Meta (No Stealth) guide.

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Why the Autopistol?

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Take a look at your keystone ability in this build. Look at what it does to ranged weapons. Start running for a few seconds, whack an enemy, then fire your Shredder. If it is not immediately obvious, with these new talents, the Autopistol's fire rate is massively increased, and there are buffs to base damage being applied on top of that. It is still nearly as strong as it was pre-class overhaul when used with this Zealot build. And it still has all of the amazing mobility that is fundamental to the playstyle we are trying to adhere to. Maniacs, Specialists, and shooter squads still melt just as before. There is however a noticeable decrease in DPS against armored targets, mainly Gunners and Maulers; when encountering large groups of them, you may want to utilize Uncanny Strike knifing instead.

 

Perks:

+Flak, +Maniacs

or

+Maniacs, +Unyielding (this is what I use, I tend not to shoot at Flak)

 

Blessings:

Blaze Away and Inspiring Barrage

or

Blaze Away and Pinning Fire

 

Q: Why are you still recommending Blaze Away and Pinning Fire after the nerfs?

A: Because with the absurd ranged weapon fire rate that this build enables, the Autopistol gains far more value out of these blessings than other weapons because it can reach max stacks so quickly. Its fire rate is so outrageous that Blaze Away can be considered an always-active power increase. Pinning Fire has been heavily nerfed (justifiably); however, it is still the best pick for a 2nd damage-focused blessing for the exact same reason. The fire rate and considerable DPS you already have from Blaze Away (coupled with the Shredder's still VERY good base damage) means mag dumps into groups of enemies reach max stacks of Pinning Fire almost immediately as well. The faster a single enemy dies, the faster you can switch or penetrate to a new target, meaning the value of Pinning Fire only increases the higher you can pump up your ranged DPS, which is self-fulfilled by having the blessing in the first place.

 

Q: Between Pinning Fire and Inspiring Barrage, which one is the better pick?

A: Pinning Fire is still a good power boost, but the breathing room Inspiring Barrage provides while out in the open is unmatched by any other blessing in the game. It effectively removes non-elite shooters as a threat and can save your life in situations that would normally be guaranteed death. The blessing is in fact so impactful, it should be considered the primary reason for ever choosing the Autopistol over the still extremely OP Zarona Revolver.

 

Q: What about Powderburn? I heard this is really good now that it gives a damage bonus.

A: There is a fundamental problem with Powderburn. The 20% damage bonus is only going towards enemies that can actually be suppressed. The highest priority targets in Darktide are either resistant or outright immune to suppression. We are talking about Pox Hounds, Mutants, Ragers, Poxbursters, Crushers, etc. Even if you aren't staggering these enemies, often you have stacks of Pinning Fire already active providing a power boost anyway. Powderburn just cannot compete. The bonus to suppression against shooter hordes is pointless, you delete them so fast it doesn't even matter, and often you want to charge into them to fight in melee anyway. The recoil bonus doesn't really add anything either when your talents are already improving it. Besides, we all know shooters just randomly ignore suppression anyway, so forget this blessing exists.

 

Q: What about Raking Fire?

A: Raking Fire is a good blessing. It's about the same DPS increase as Blaze Away when shooting from behind, and this scenario happens more often than you might think. (Dodged a mutant/hound, Nurgle Beast weakspot, flanking shooters, firing at enemies who are aggro'd on your teammates, etc) If you can't get your ideal combo with Blaze Away, keep this blessing as a temporary substitute.

 

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So about the Zarona Revolver...

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With Surgical and Hand-Cannon on a crit-boosting build, it's the strongest ranged weapon in the game, surpassing even the Plasma Gun when taking into consideration its mobility and the fact that it can be equipped by a much stronger class (Zealot). It vastly outperforms any other ranged weapon you could possibly take, and the Combat Blade becomes redundant except for Monstrosity DPS.

 

If you have good aim, and take every shot you can take with this weapon, you are basically griefing the match with how effective you are. I've had sub-30 minute Maelstrom games with the Zarona where my kill count on taggable enemies exceeded 300, outperforming my entire team combined by a factor of over 200%.

 

This weapon kills things so fast that it literally INCREASES the number of specials that spawn over the course of a match due to you killing them the instant they appear, ensuring there is never a single moment where enough of them are alive at once to cause the director to pass on an opportunity to spawn more.

 

The Autopistol remains my primary suggestion mostly for Inspiring Barrage, but also because I believe a massive nerf to the Zarona is on the way, probably happening at the same time Fatshark decides to fix the Boltgun.

 

Q: Agripinaa Revolver?

A: The speed loader is nice, but everything else is a significant downgrade. The cleave nerf is especially awful. On the upside, your teammates will probably like you much more if you use it instead of the Zarona.

 

Q: Do I still want Uncanny Strike if I'm using the Zarona?

A: Nope. The Combat Blade is now only used for speed boosting and boss damage. Take Mercy Killer + Flesh Tearer.


Btw here's a secret:
Remember how Blades of Faith inherit the Combat Blade's Uncanny Strike blessing?

It actually inherits any blessings of your currently equipped weapon. Try aiming your revolver, wait for Surgical to reach max stacks at 10 (100% crit chance), then throw a knife at a Mauler or Crusher's head from ADS right after you dodge an attack...watch what happens.

 

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Dealing with Monstrosities Solo

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Your strategy against a monster while alone is to first decide if you can kill it in a reasonable amount of time, before more enemies start to appear and overwhelm you, or before you run out of ammo. Sometimes your best course of action is to GTFO and make a mad dash to your teammates for a rescue. You are fast, you are evasive, you have a button that undoes any mistake you make with a cooldown of 24 seconds or less. Think about where you are on the map, and where you can go that might give you an advantage. Remember that moving forward means more ambient enemies on the map will aggro you, take this into consideration when deciding to reposition.

 

A Plague Ogryn and Nurgle Beast are annoying, they cause area denial and place pressure on you, but you are WAY faster than they are, and you will usually be able to prioritize more immediate threats if you are smart about how you position yourself and how you traverse the map. One of your best strategies is to lead enemies towards a location where there is a ledge you can vault over. Lure them close then jump and run like hell. They have to path all the way back around the way they came, giving you precious time to deal with other enemies, look for resources, or make a mad dash towards the respawn zone to save your team.

 

Regarding the Chaos Spawn:

The Chaos Spawn is a far more perilous enemy to fight as the last player standing. The deadliest aspect of the Spawn is not the Spawn itself, but rather the immense pressure it places on you that allows other enemies to have their way with you. It is extremely fast, and often right in your face. Disablers completely ignore it's collision. Mutants, dogs, and trapper nets will magically appear in front of you through the Spawn with very little warning, and often there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

 

Additionally, its grab attack is hard to dodge, less so with the mobility from the Combat Knife, but it can still be unreliable. Getting grabbed of course means you gain corruption, the Spawn heals, and enemies that were chasing you now have fully caught up to you when it releases you. A Chaos Spawn's grab will be your #1 cause of death while fighting monsters solo.

 

Choosing to Run instead of Fighting a Monstrosity:

Depending on how many other enemies are actively targeting you while you fight a monster, and your current health/ammo situation, it might be a better idea to try to rescue your teammates rather than facing a healthy monster alone. Remember that even if the map is clear now, at any moment the game could send 10 specials at you, and the right combination of them and a bit of bad luck will easily end your run. If you decide to run, use everything you can to gain speed and simultaneously slow your pursuers down. Explode barrels, side dodge off ledges, utilize vertical drops to make enemies turn around, use your ninja skills to gain a burst of speed while everything behind you stops chasing. Make sure your highest mobility weapon is equipped while on the run.

 

Sometimes you will reach a rescue zone and it will simply be impossible to get someone up before the monster and its buddies catch you. If the monster knocks you out of the revive animation, the entire rescue is a bust unless you can immediately go into stealth. If you stand there and keep trying while enemies are on you, you will fail, and you will die. But there's no need to worry, often you can just continue to loop around and try again when your ability is off cooldown or run like crazy and try to book it to the next respawn zone instead, assuming there isn't some kind of event in the way stopping you from proceeding. Your teammates will be moved there when you have gone too far to save them in the last zone.

 

If you can reach a checkpoint door or elevator, and make it inside before an enemy also enters, you can hit the button immediately and you have just bought yourself a ton of time. It takes a good while for enemies to make their way back to you after you cross a checkpoint zone, including monsters. The precious time this buys you can give you a TON of breathing room to zoom towards the next respawn zone and get your team up with little pressure. Just be ready to fight an entire map's worth of enemies with your team within the next few seconds. For any other class or build, this is a supreme Hail Mary maneuver, but for you, it's a walk in the park.

 

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Alternate Weapons

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Cadia Mk XIIIg Assault Chainsword | Shred and Bloodletter | +Flak, +Crit Chance or +Maniacs

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The XIIIg Chainsword variant is a superb all-purpose weapon. It has fantastic attack speed, mobility, and horde deletion capabilities, while also being very effective against both Elites and Monstrosities. Shred and Bloodletter are the only blessings you want. Bloodletter throws 14 bleed stacks on any enemy you tag with the rev attack, you don't even need to complete the animation. These bleed stacks allow you to pseudo one-shot the enemies that cannot be killed with a rev attack alone. A great example of this is with Mutants, as one charges you, prepare a rev, dodge when it is in range, then complete the rev attack. It won't be enough to kill it at first, but the bleed stacks will finish it off, meaning you can immediately divert your attention to something else as if it was already dead.

 

With some fancy footwork, you can also deal very respectable damage to Monstrosities with the rev attack. Pay attention to the attack timings of the monster. You need to learn to initiate your rev attack at the correct moment that will allow you to complete it with enough time to still dodge away from an incoming attack. These windows are quite narrow and will take some practice before you learn them. Always aim for the weak points.

 

For non-stealth Zealots using Inexorable Judgement or Blazing Peity, this weapon would be my primary recommendation, but for this build the Combat Knife is the better pick due to its unmatched mobility and the unique interaction between Uncanny Strike and Blades of Faith.

 

Turtolsky Mk IX Heavy Sword | Headtaker and Rampage | +Maniacs, +Flak

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The Heavy Sword is my favorite weapon in the game, and a great pick for any Zealot loadout. They have good movesets (especially the IX), a useful armor penetrating special attack, acceptable mobility, and can be wildly powerful with the right blessings and perks. 

 

If you want to use a Heavy Sword or Devil's Claw, you will still do fine, but be aware that your ability to quickly eliminate Monstrosities and Carapace will be significantly reduced.

 

Catachan Mk IV "Devil's Claw" Sword | Rampage and Shred | +Flak, +Maniacs or +Crit Chance

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The Catachan Mk IV Sword is essentially the younger sibling of the Turtolsky Mk IX Heavy Sword. Its moveset is nearly identical, with the exception of a strikedown attack mixed into the light attack chain. If you weren't already aware, all of the Catachan swords received massive buffs in the class overhaul patch. They have gone from basically worthless to "Heavy Sword but also crits and parry". The Mk IV stands out as the best among them thanks to its attack patterns. The reason you would want to use this weapon over the Heavy Sword comes down to two things - Shred and Mobility. Its single-target damage, especially with a crit, is almost as strong as the Heavy Sword. It has better mobility, and incredible crowd-control. When buffs are at max, it has insanely good horde clear efficiency.

 

This is a great weapon for a crit-fishing Zealot build, but its armor penetration and Unyielding damage are lacking compared to other options. Even with constant crits, Maulers and Crushers will take time to down, as well as Monstrosities. The parry is EXCELLENT now (spam it against Ragers) but losing the armor penetrating special of the Heavy Sword hurts a bit.

 

Rashad Mk II Combat Axe | Brutal Momentum and Shred | +Maniacs, +Flak or +Unyielding

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The Combat Axe is still a great weapon for Zealot, as it is with all classes - even after the change to Brutal Momentum. The weapon performs well with this build, but because of Uncanny Strike, it is basically outclassed by the Combat Knife in everything except horde clear. An alternative to the Heavy Sword for better Carapace and Unyielding DPS.

 

Crucis Mk II Thunder Hammer | Thrust and Headtaker/Slaughterer | +Unyielding, +Weak Spot or +Crit Damage

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The Thunder Hammer doesn't need a write up regarding its purpose. In regular melee combat it is no longer a total joke, but it is still bad. You can at least defend yourself now instead of being forced to retreat against large groups of enemies. Take the Thunder Hammer if you want to obliterate bosses and don't mind sacrificing your proficiency in regular melee combat.

 

Agripinaa Mk VIII Braced Autogun | Deathspitter and Fire Frenzy | +Maniacs, +Flak or +Unyielding

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The Agripinaa Mk VIII Braced Autogun is probably the best "gun" weapon in the game, with great DPS against all the targets that matter - including Monstrosities. This weapon will obliterate elites and specials even without a damage or fire rate boost. It is a strong competitor to the Autopistol and a well-rolled one should actually outperform it in damage. Its only disadvantage is really just the low mobility and lack of access to Inspiring Barrage (and as far as disadvantages go, that particular one is massive) Take this bad boy if you aint worried bout that blue bar.

 

Kantrael Mk IX Combat Shotgun | No Respite and Full Bore | +Maniacs, +Flak or +Unyielding

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Out of the three shotgun variants in the game, the Kantrael is the only one I would recommend using. Its damage is just ever so slightly high enough to reach one-shot breakpoints on many important targets, and its special ammo serves a unique purpose that is actually useful to you. No Respite and Full Bore are always-active damage/power increases that you do not need to think about or maintain. Deathspitter and Fire Frenzy expire too quickly to make proper use of, so avoid them. Scattershot is okay, but you really want base damage increase, not crit chance. The incendiary rounds are great for softening up large groups of approaching enemies before they get to you. They make Bulwarks a non-issue and also allow you to actively damage Monstrosities even when you are out of melee or shotshell range. For Knife Zealots, incendiary rounds can also help speed up horde-clear in a pinch.

 

Q: What's wrong with the other Shotguns?

A: The Agripinaa variant is far too lacking in damage to make any reasonable use of. Its special ammo is a mostly redundant ability considering ADS spread on the Kantrael is tight enough to take out enemies from across the map anyway. With ADS, Kantrael also has the option to fire highly accurate incendiary rounds at distant targets, this works equally as well and is very ammo efficient. Taking the Agri shotty is just nuking your DPS for no reason.

 

The Lawbreaker may seem like a good middle-ground, but the lower damage means many one-shots become two-shots, time to kill goes up - and ammo efficiency goes down, nullifying the only advantage it has over the Kantrael. The special scatter ammo is a waste of your time, you can use it to stagger groups of enemies or spread bleed stacks with Flechette, but even this is usually just inferior to fighting normally.

 

If you are intent on using the other shotgun variants, you should be aiming for headshots as often as possible.

Consistently hitting weak points with their extra tight ADS spread will go a long way towards your overall DPS.

 

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Additional Considerations:

Remember that the idea behind this build is speed, repositioning, and close range burst damage. You are not sitting on the back lines shooting at targets like a Veteran, you are up close and personal at all times, thus autoguns are preferable over lasguns or headhunters. The shotguns and revolver are powerful and fun to use, they perform well but the ammo count and reload times may hinder your ability to respond quickly to incoming threats while under heavy pressure as the last player standing.

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Q: You said no lasguns but what about the Kantrael MG XII?

A: Do not ever pick this weapon as a Zealot while playing difficult Maelstrom missions. Yes, it is powerful while you are safely at range and picking off targets, but because of its slow fire rate, reliance on ADS, and inverse damage falloff - it absolutely will not save you when your teammates are dead and the entire map's worth of enemies are in your face and trying to kill you. This weapon is a trap, it works great when everything is going well, but performs poorly when things start going wrong.

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Q: Why no mention of the Boltgun?

A: Sadly, I think it is safe to say that the Boltgun is completely outclassed by other ranged weapons thanks to the considerable changes introduced to the game post-class overhaul. Previously, the Boltgun was a unique tool that could get you out of terrible situations via magdumping. It was one of the only ways to aggressively take down Crushers and Monstrosities, it fixed problems that couldn't be solved by other weapons or abilities.

 

But at this point, with so many new options for crowd control, and all the power creeping done on other weapons (and melee in general), the Boltgun has been left in the dust. It is too slow to pull out, too slow to reload, inaccurate, eats ammo like crazy, and worst of all, it no longer serves a unique purpose to justify putting up with all of these problems.

 

It is EXTREMELY important to be able to pull your ranged weapon out in the blink of an eye to stagger or kill something about to ruin everything you are doing, like a dog about to pounce or a trapper firing while you are blocked and can't dodge. This is what matters. Boltgun cannot do this, and what it CAN do is no longer impressive.

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Q: What about the Flamer?

A: Believe it or not, this setup works pretty damn well with the Flamer; a weapon I would normally write off as a redundant liability. The secret synergy comes from the fact that both Shroudfield and Blades of Faith negate a large portion of the risk you are usually taking by bringing the Flamer. Your high mobility allows you to safely bait every enemy you can find to come after you and line themselves up for a prolonged bath in fire. This is usually a bad idea, but thanks to Shroudfield, there is no longer any risk involved. If you get into trouble, for any reason, you always have the ability to safely disengage and reposition.

 

The other obvious caveat of the Flamer is the inability to quickly respond to incoming specials and elite shooters. Without an actual firearm, you are at the mercy of enemies who spawn outside your immediate vicinity. This is especially dangerous with disablers, who you will be forced to respond to with a dodge and follow-up attack, as opposed to the much safer method of simply gunning them down before they even get to you.

 

This second dilemma is conveniently solved by the stealth build's other key ability, Blades of Faith. The throwing knives return your ability to neutralize priority targets from a distance before they can threaten you, an absolutely essential part of surviving the toughest encounters this game can throw at you. Trying to do this with just the Flamer is very risky. The limited range and mobility, as well as the long draw and reload times, can easily be your downfall. But with Blades of Faith as a substitute for your gun, you are once again able to properly handle every situation, including those that the Flamer would normally struggle with. Also note that without Fury of the Faithful, (aka Chastise the Wicked), you cannot attach armor penetration to your burn stacks. But no need to worry, because your Combat Blade and Blades of Faith with Uncanny Strike are fully capable of dealing with any armored goons who survive your flammenwerfing.

 

And on top of all of that, guess what? Now your horde clear problem is fixed.

 

So...is the Flamer actually a good pick for our meta build? The answer is of course, no..not really

Despite how well it performs with this build, it is still not really adding anything you couldn't already do better with the rest of your kit or an actual ranged weapon, and it still introduces unnecessary risks.

 

But it is not terrible at all, in fact, I would say it works just about as well as Zealot's other "good but not OP" weapons like the brautos and shotguns. Plus, its just really fun to be able to actually use this thing without the awful downsides that usually accompany it.

 

PSA:  The secondary fire stream will NOT immediately stagger Poxhounds, and the burn on them will not be enough to kill them if they jump on you, so be very careful when they approach.

 

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Regarding your Curios

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There is a lot of discussion about what the truly optimal setup is when selecting curio bonuses. Mostly the Toughness vs. Health debate. I will offer some insight into why I think Health is the better pick, contrary to the popular opinion of Toughness being statistically better. We are also going to ignore Wounds and Stamina. Never pick Wounds or Stamina unless you are playing a meme build.

 

Q: Why do you think +Max Health is better than +Max Toughness?

A: When people talk about the amount of value you derive from increased Toughness over the course of an entire match, if you do the math, it adds up to less Health theoretically lost in total, since the amount of Health damage you take is directly tied to the remaining percentage of Toughness you have. More Toughness = Better Defense = Less Health Lost. Data has been compiled to support this notion, and I am not disputing it.

 

But people who argue that this alone validates always choosing Toughness over Health are failing to consider several concepts that I think are much more important than simply looking at the basic math.

 

First of all, with the new class reworks, talents give loads of Toughness and Toughness Regeneration that previously were never part of the equation. If you combine this with curios stacking Toughness even higher, yes, you can reach absolutely ridiculous amounts of Toughness. Lets sweeten the deal up a bit by mentioning that Zealot has a nice on-demand Toughness button, and the Shredder can even be blessed to literally shoot Toughness. With all this Toughness, that can so easily be regenerated, you will never be taking any Health damage, so you don't need the Health in the first place, right? Wrong. This is an erroneous assumption because stacking Toughness actually indirectly has diminishing returns, and I will explain why.

 

When you begin to play this game at an advanced skill level, you start to develop patterns in your playstyle that are specifically designed to avoid scenarios where you risk running out of Toughness in the first place. You learn not to stand in front of Scabs, you learn to just run away from Poxbursters when a push seems risky, you begin to subconsciously make adjustments to your positioning and tactics on the fly to keep your character out of situations where your Toughness might be depleted. You become so proficient in melee combat that you end up generating far more Toughness through attacking than you could ever possibly lose to blows from trash mobs.

 

You reach a point where stacking Toughness no longer brings you any value, because eventually, the only time you will be out of Toughness is going to be from incidents that put your Health at risk no matter how much Toughness you have. The overwhelming majority of damage you will take as a highly skilled player is going to come from incidents that immediately zero your Toughness. A flamer that you were unaware of clipping you at the wrong time, a Poxburster jumping out of a door you are standing next to with absolutely no warning, being grabbed or disabled at the wrong moment in the wrong location, thrown or blasted into a horde of enemies (or worse, fire and a horde of enemies).

 

We are talking about scenarios that you realistically cannot fully prevent from happening no matter how skilled you are. There will always be some degree of randomness at play, and sometimes, the game decides it just doesn't like you. In these scenarios where something terrible happens to you, and your Toughness is instantly gone, this is where we see the value in having more Health.

 

Increased Health is a buffer against bad luck. Toughness often is not.

And bad luck is the ONLY thing that should ever be causing you significant damage during a match.

 

Q: So if Health is better, why do you choose +5% Toughness instead of +5% Health?

A: This one is simple math, curios offer more Health than Toughness on the primary stat, making Toughness more valuable than Health when it is offered at equal values in the sub stats. To be honest that statement probably is wrong in some way but it makes sense in my brain so that's what I do.

 

Q: But why not just stack Health entirely?

A: Toughness is still useful. I prefer a more balanced distribution, favoring Health. A single +Max Toughness curio is fine, but I do not recommend more than one. Honestly though with the boost to Toughness and Toughness Regeneration provided by the new talents, +Max Health on all 3 curios is probably better.

1 week ago