Overview of Freelancer Flavor

“What should I play?”
“Why is Khita considered a hybrid firepower / support?”
“I play X in this other game, what should I play in Atlas?”
“Why does Helio taste like strawberries?”

You may find yourself asking these or other questions.  Luckily, I’m here to answer them.  This mini-article tells you a little about each lancer and their playstyle.  Skillcap and ease for beginners are my personal opinion.  Don’t be discouraged if it’s not easy for beginners (5/5 being the easiest) — just expect that it may be challenging at first.  “Recommended” means do I think this character is worth learning.  Most of ’em get a yes!  I only say “no” if I think the character is either too hard for beginners or too…nuanced or unique…such that learning it doesn’t translate well to learning other characters or vice versa.

A quick summary:
I like long range!  Gremo, Nix, Lockwood.
I want a companion to help me deal damage!  Grey, Oz.
I want a classic solid support!  Aurora, Finn, Orion.
I want a mobile support!  Su-Ren, Khita.
I like paladins!  Meridian.
I want to tether my buddy and pocket heal him!  Quark.
I want to deal tons of damage!  Zuki, Nev, Blackburn.
I want to deal tons of damage as a melee!  Tol-Ren, Rask, Titus.
I want to be able to go in but still keep myself alive!  Phaedra, Asana, Meridian.
I want an assassin!  Kaigin.
I want a pull or hook, like Pudge or Blitzcrank!  Rampart.
I want something suitable for beginners!  Lockwood, Garrison, Dr. Finn, Celeste, Zuki, Phaedra, Aurora, Meridian.

Asana

Frontline.  This chick is a bad-ass swordswoman who hits stuff all around her.  Love being in the thick of the fight?  This girl’s for you.  She also has a root for CC, and has impressive survivability if played well, as she has a tactical dash and a dash on her ultimate as well, plus a free action defensive ability.  Asana has high skillcap — using her dashes and retribution correctly is not easy, and her attack is limited in range.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended?  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  2.5/5

Aurora

Support.  Do you like abilities that do multiple things at once?  Having ways to heal your team in small doses more than in huge bursts?  This is your girl.  Every single ability is multi-function.  Her primary damages and heals.  So does her cloud (which by the way lasts multiple turns and can be used as a trap for people to run or be knocked into).  Her main heal also knocks back enemies.  Her paralazer shields and buffs allies and weakens enemies.  Her ult damages and heals.  Very beginner-friendly.

Skillcap:  Medium-High
Recommended?  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  5/5

Blackburn

Firepower.  Supposedly the easiest lancer in the game, but he can definitely be a newbie trap because playing him well is difficult.  Why?  His dash is relatively short-range, and to use it properly you want to be attacking with it as well.  As that’s really your only defensive tool, this means that it’s pretty easy for enemy teams to track you down and kill you.  But Blackburn does have a fun kit.  His stim and grenade are very fun, as are his dash and ult.  He can hit around cover and heal himself if you take the right builds.  Only his primary is a bit underwhelming.  If you want a solid all-around firepower, this is a good choice.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3.5/5

Brynn

Frontline.  Were you ever out in the open and you just really wanted a shield to stand behind?  Brynn brings her own.  Tall, sassy and funny (and did I mention she has an amazing butt?), Brynn has a lot of hard CC, fairly good range for a frontline with her lance, and self-defense with her shield.  She can play a bit more out in the open because of her ability to make her own cover.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Celeste

Firepower.  See that power-up over there?  I bet you wish you could pick it up, but you just can’t move over there without really inconveniencing yourself.  Well, Celeste can grab it with her primary, which launches grapplers.  That alone gives her a fun and powerful tool, but she also has smoke bombs that can block enemy line of sight.  The rest of her kit is just well-rounded firepower stuff.  Hard to go wrong with this girl.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  4/5

Dr. Finn

Support.  Finn has a high-utility AoE-style kit.  His primary is a cone of variable width, and his main heal is also a cone of variable width.  The key is to hit as many targets as you can with those without sacrificing its power.  Finn also has eels, which are fun to have jump around annoying enemies and providing vision, and a bubble which provides significant on-demand shielding.  His ultimate is an offensive one, providing hard CC — but little defensive utility.  This means that you have to be smart with his heal and bubble (and positioning!) or risk getting mowed down by the enemy team.  His playstyle is fairly straightforward, though, so he’s a good choice to learn on.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  5/5

Elle

Firepower.  Elle is one of those characters that can do AoE damage every.  single.  turn.  But once you go in with her, it’s hard to get back out.  She has several rolls that let her dodge damage and simultaneously shoot, but unless you roll exactly the right way you may still get hit (they’re one-square) and it leaves you still in the fight.  Elle can reposition by reloading her gun with Overcharge, dealing bonus damage on future attacks.  So — you have to find the right positioning and cadence with her.  Elle mains love her, but many struggle to learn her.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  1/5

Garrison

Frontline.  Garrison is known as the “one-man army” because his kit does a little of everything.  He has a punch, he has a hand cannon if you wanted a ranged attack, he has missiles that he can prep a turn in advance, he has a jump, and he has an ultimate that can hit anywhere on the map and also provide healing.  Cool stuff.  Overall, Garry can be a bit tricky because he lacks defensive utility (he’s more of a damage-dealing frontline) but he’s lots of fun and easy to use.

Skillcap:  Medium
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  5/5

Gremolitions

Firepower.  Do you love artillery?  Bombing people from long distance or behind walls?  Do you hate being able to hit enemies that are right next to you?  Then this guy…these guys…are for you.  Also, they’re hilarious.  Gremo also has nice hard CC and a very powerful ultimate, but very clear weaknesses too:  they literally cannot hit people next to them.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Grey

Firepower.  Grey is a tracker, and has strong vision-based abilities.  Her primary and third ability reveal enemies.  Her kit also revolves around her Hawk Drone, Rio.  Positioning Rio properly can let him deal damage for free each turn.  Her escape ability, a dash, requires her to dash to Rio, so you have to be smart about where you place him.  Overall, she’s a decent choice for beginners, but can be very easy to kill so be careful!

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Helio

Support.  Helio is really a bit of everything — he’s kind of tanky, does high damage, and has some support capabilities.  But he’s a bit short-range, and he has NO ACTUAL HEALS.  That’s right, all of his support is through shielding, so you have to be good at figuring out when your team is going to take damage.  That said, he has an amazingly fun and combo-oriented toolkit, so the sky’s the limit if you like him.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  1/5

Isadora

Frontline.  Isadora has a massive shield that she starts with, but low hit points.  She has a ranged attack, which is unusual for a frontline, and has some serious burst on her combo.  I don’t think she’s easy, but she isn’t impossibly difficult either.  However, she’s so unique that I wouldn’t recommend starting out with her unless you think a ranged shielded tank is perfect for you.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Juno

Firepower.  Juno is a firepower with twin cannons and some hard-hitting abilities.  She doesn’t have a dash, but rather has a self-shield to protect herself.  Her “Lockdown” ability is very powerful if used correctly.  If you like being a defensive firepower that forces enemies to come into you, Juno is quite good.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Kaigin

Firepower.  Kaigin is an assassin — lots of mobility, invisibility, and bonus damage if he hits the same target multiple turns in a row.  But he doesn’t have much in the way of hit points or defense, and using him properly requires a lot of skill at managing cooldowns and anticipating enemies.  Kaigin was my first main, and is one of my 2 mains at present.  Obviously I recommend him, but know what you’re getting yourself into.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Maybe
Easy For Beginners:  2/5

Khita

Support.  Khita is a cool ranger-type.  She is a “hybrid” between firepower and support, able to do decent damage (better than most supports) but also provide support to teammates with her shield and heal.  Her curved arrows can shoot around cover, and she’s great at dealing with clusters of allies and enemies with her AoE shield / weaken.  The key to Khita is using Take Aim! well — this ability lets her entire team heal off the targeted enemy for 2 turns, so you have to choose someone that you think you’ll be able to hit (and who won’t dash away, say).  She also has some slows and roots in her kit, so she’s good at kiting.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  2.5/5

Lockwood

Firepower.  Lockwood is the classic tutorial firepower.  He has a well-rounded kit with dashes and traps, and his primary bounces off walls, a unique and extremely powerful mechanic.  Highly recommended as an early firepower to learn.

Skillcap:  Medium-High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  5/5

Magnus

Frontline.  Magnus is a big dinosaur who mostly hits hard and has CC.  But you have to prep his dash in advance, and his ranged options are limited.  If you love crowd control, bullying and thinking a turn ahead, Magnus is a good choice.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Meridian

Support.  Meridian is kind of like a paladin — he can stand in the front lines and dish it out, but also has a big heal and shields for his team.  His abilities are very straightforward but have AoE effects, so he’s a nice pick if you don’t mind not having much range.

Skillcap:  Medium
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  5/5

Nev:3

Firepower.  Nev:3 throws discs that return to her each turn.  Accordingly, she requires a lot of smart positioning to maximize her damage.  If you love that concept, try her out, but I think she’s among the more difficult firepowers to master.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Maybe
Easy For Beginners:  2.5/5

Nix

Firepower.  Nix is a unique firepower.  He has among the best invisibility in the game, and long range.  His job is to snipe enemies without being seen.  But if he’s caught, he has almost no defenses, so learning the ins and outs of vision and invisibility is a must.  Fun character, but very high-risk high-reward.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  1/5

Orion

Support.  Ever wish you could sacrifice your own hit points to save that idiot teammate who stood out in the open?  Probably not.  But what if I told you it powered up your abilities?  Orion relies on taking damage to power up, particularly through his Fate Transfer ability which redirects damage from an ally to Orion.  He has excellent damage and healing as well — a very powerful character!  Fate Transfer and his overall playstyle do take a bit of getting used to, but don’t be afraid to try him out if it seems appealing.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  2.5/5

Oz

Firepower.  Oz is pretty advanced — I think he might be the hardest character in the game.  Every time he moves, he leaves an afterimage in his previous position.  The afterimage shoots too!  And he can switch with it.  So proper positioning is crucial to both maximize your damage and give you the ability to escape.  He’s a lot of fun and can deal high damage, but is easily punished and extremely hard to play at a high level.

Skillcap:  Very High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  0/5

Phaedra

Frontline.  Phaedra is big and tanky.  She can smash through walls and negate enemy damage to her if she’s clever.  A very solid all-around frontline that I think is a good choice for beginners.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  4/5

PuP

Firepower.  PuP is more of a frontline than a firepower, actually.  He’s a high-damage melee but he’s fairly tanky and can heal himself with his primary attack (chomp).  He also has a short-cooldown dash and the ability to make an enemy follow him.  Oh, and he has invisibility.  And a big AoE ult.  Wow, sounds like the complete package!  PuP is pretty great, but he has limited ranged options and can be predictable if not played well.  He can also be focused down easily if you’re not careful, since much of his defense is just healing from biting stuff.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  2/5

Quark

Support.  Quark is that character that just picks a buddy, tethers them, and heals them each turn while trying to stay safe.  I don’t much care for him, but if that’s your style, go for it.

Skillcap:  Low-Medium
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Rask

Frontline.  Rask is a big scary kitty cat with a lot of AoE and some CC.  One of the most iconic frontlines in the game, and fairly beginner-friendly.

Skillcap:  Medium
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3.5/5

Rufflebucket (Rampart)

Frontline.  Do you like spearing enemies and pulling them to you?  Do you like putting up a literal wall to block attacks and shield yourself and your team?  Can you handle not having a regularly available dash?  If the answer is yes to these questions, try out Rufflebucket.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Maybe
Easy For Beginners:  2.5/5

Su-Ren

Support.  Su-Ren is a very mobile monk-like support with her dashing.  But she really lacks ranged attacks, so she’s difficult to play.  You have to be very aware of both your own position and that of your teammates, and it’s very easy to be near-useless if she isn’t played well.  If she sounds like your style, go for it (one of my friends loved her immediately), but be warned that she isn’t easy.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  No
Easy For Beginners:  1/5

Titus

Frontline.  Titus is the classic barbarian.  He has an extremely long-range dash that he uses to engage (it’s very important that you hit enemies with the dash, otherwise the cooldown is longer!).  He has a shout to weaken nearby enemies.  He hits hard.  Because he’s so aggressive (more of a firepower-frontline hybrid), it can be easy to get punished with him, and his abilities do require a bit of game sense (given the importance to hit his dash, and understanding when to use his prep phase dagger).

Skillcap:  Medium
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  3/5

Tol-Ren

Firepower.  Tol-Ren is a cool samurai dude, a melee firepower with some dashes, a shield, and very hard-hitting attacks.  It’s always a bit of a challenge to play a melee firepower — staying on your target, not taking too much damage, etc. — but Tol-Ren is a decent place to start.  His kit is reasonably straightforward and teaches you some important game concepts.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  4/5

Vonn

Firepower.  The new kid on the block (the newest lancer as of this writing).  Vonn has a lot of cold-based attacks that slow enemies.  He also has a strong self-shield (similar to Juno, perhaps).  He does not have a dash.  Accordingly, you do need to be a bit smart about how you play him.  His kit is fairly straightforward if you take the right mods and make good use of his shield, but I have seen newbies somehow manage to struggle on him.

Skillcap:  Medium
Recommended:  Maybe
Easy For Beginners:  3.5/5

Zuki

Firepower.  Zuki loves to blow stuff up with her rockets.  She has a very powerful damage-dealing kit that rewards skillful play but is still decently versatile (she at least has a dash) and not too difficult to learn, either.

Skillcap:  High
Recommended:  Yes
Easy For Beginners:  4/5

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