Strategy and some patience creates characters that are much more powerful than if a simpler method was used.
Usually this is achieved by creating synergistic effects between various abilities, which can allow killer combos that make even the toughest enemies trivial to defeat. Sometimes, this is intended by the creators, but often, it is due to a combination they didn't consider, which then blows the game balance to pieces
. But knowing exactly what skills and equipment you need to do this can require a lot of trial and error, or going to a game site and copying their strategies wholesale.
In games where you get multiple characters with various abilities and classes, this will take the form of taking a select few characters and focusing on specific combos that only they can pull off. The end result can be that out of a large roster of characters, only one particular line-up is ever used, because it is possible to make their powers to work together in such a way that ever using anything else is sub-optimal. In games where the characters are more interchangeable or customizable, the small differences in innate abilities like Limit Breaks
may be what are seized upon, or it could be that any character can be brought to the point of being all-powerful just by using the right elite methods.
the tweaking gains an additional dimension. Due to the grind-based requirements for most of the good stuff, the best upgrades can be freakishly hard to get even if the player knows the exact items and stats needed. The 'strongest' combinations are often set in stone and only available through Bribing Your Way to Victory
or sinking huge amounts of time into a game.
Compare Lethal Joke Character
. Contrast Parabolic Power Curve
The Magikarp Power
is an Elite Tweak to an initially-weak character.
- Blue Mages in Final Fantasy games acquire a variety of unique and useful spells, but require you to seek out specific monsters (with little in-game hinting) and be hit by those spells.
- This trend is broken occasionally, resulting in truly powerful abilities. Quina, the Blue Mage in Final Fantasy IX, can learn abilities by eating monsters. If you play his/her sub-game enough and eat the right monsters, you can have an attack spell that always hits for 9999 damage, and another spell that resurrects and fully heal everyone — before the end of disk 2.
- Maximizing stat growth, however, requires late game gear like the Robe of Lords which is very hard to get. Some perfectionists players Elite Tweak by keeping the characters as close to level one as much as possible until they can Robes for at least four of their characters. Quina, ironically, is the worst example as s/he has an option between being a melee character (strength), a spell using character (magic), or balanced.note Some 100% Completion players have problems with that.
- Even at level 1 it's possible to have powerful characters. Way, way before you get Eiko in the party, you can power her up by letting Marcus go to town with the HP-absorbing Blood Sword during the Alexandria escape. Any stat bonuses he accrues from equipment will be transferred to Eiko when you get her, and she also enjoys an increase in ability-enabling Magic Stones. Freya's Dragon Crest powers up according to how many dragon-type enemies are killed, and you can kill one dragon-type in an encounter and then run away from the other to avoid gaining XP.
- Final Fantasy VII doesn't have Blue Mages, but the same concept can be used by any character by equipping the "Enemy Skill" Materia, then letting the character be hit by whatever spell or ability you want the Materia to "learn". Play the game enough to get three mastered "Enemy Skill" Materia, and all characters in your party can cast these abilities. If you know where to look for monsters with abilities to copy, you can acquire skills that are much more powerful than the magic you should have for that stage of the game.
- Gau from Final Fantasy VI gains new Rages by Leaping at monster parties in the Veldt. The game tells you this, but some of the better rages are quite obscure. Like the Stray Cat. How would you know that a little tabby gives Gau an ability that lets him hit for 4x his usual damage?
- The resident gaming system also applies. You can grind levels early on but without associated espers you'll only gain HP and MP and that's it. If you grind too much before you can get espers that offer good extra stat bonuses per level up, you'll be too weak to deal with anything later, or at least make catching up harder.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSP, the Onion Knight doesn't gain job levels like any other class - instead, it gains a job level for every two other jobs a character has mastered. At job level 8, the class becomes very powerful - but characters still can't gain EXP. The only way to enjoy the stat bonuses of gaining a level as an Onion Knight is by the use of a skill that is only present on a friendly monster unit that you can't find in the wild, and only when using another character with a passive ability that enables hidden skills on nearby monster units. Oh, and then the monster unit is killed permanently.
- Certainly Final Fantasy VIII. Kill lots of enemies to level up, but don't pay attention to your junctions, and you'll be destroyed. Farm enemies for magic and items while keeping your level low and you'll be unstoppable by disc one. Also, some G Fs offer stat bonuses per level up, so if you want to level up, it's best to hold on until you unlock those.
- Advancing normally though Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X will make your characters powerful enough to finish the game if you unlock at least some Celestial Weapons. However, if you want to beat high-end Bonus Bosses, such as Penance, you'll have to retrace through Sphere Grid while filling blanks with spheres that create stat bonus nodes that fall from specific monster in Monster Arena each with different unlock conditions. Then, after you beat Penultimate Arena Boss, Ultima Buster, you'll unlock Clear Spheres, which allow you to clear stat nodes in Sphere Grid (removing also corresponding stat bonus), needed to eliminate nodes that don't offer maximum possible stat boost, and replace them with new ones (which always create a node with maximum stat boost), which you then activate again with each character separately. That allows you to almost maximize stats of your characters and maximize out, with a bit of Min-Maxing, their real efficiency. Same goes for armor, which doesn't have ultimate version like weapons and through customization, if you know what monster to bribe for necessary items, you'll be able to get far better stuff than anything that is readily available within the game, treasure or drop.
- Many Tactical RPGs feature characters that can be grown to truly terrifying strength through delayed promotion — for example, Bleu from Shining Force and quite a few characters in the Fire Emblem series.
- Those characters from Fire Emblem are commonly referred as 'The Est', a character with obnoxiously high stat development, but joins late game at a very low level relative to the game's progress curve. Est is well-known for not only being the first character with these characteristics, but also because this is true of her in all five games she appears in (including the two remakes of the original game). Ests are loved by elite tweakers for the fact that they are one of the few characters in the games that can reasonably Cap (or nearly Cap) most of their stats without the need of Stat-Up items before reaching the max level promoted.
- Fire Emblem Gaiden and Sacred Stones, both regarded as being black sheeps by many of the series' fans, are loved by elite tweakers because of the ability to elite tweak any unit with enough patience due to being able to reenter specific levels, allowing players to level grind freely; something extremely situational, difficult, and risky(And often pointless) to do in any other Fire Emblem title. Sacred Stones also allows you to buy as many Stat-Up items as you can with the money you'll be getting from the levels or the drops.
- Fire Emblem Awakening not only keeps the freely traversable world map of Sacred Stones and Gaiden, but it also reintroduces the Skill system of a few other past titles, wherein characters can learn abilities by reaching certain levels in a given class. It also features a special item, the Second Seal, which allows a unit to revert to level 1 in a different class. As skills are set to characters, leveling one over and over in different jobs can give them access to some powerful combinations. The Avatar and DLC/SpotPass units stand out in this regard by being able to switch to any class not specific to either a certain character or the opposite gender, giving them massive potential in the hands of someone not averse to mucho Level Grinding.
- In the Mobile Game Fire Emblem Heroes, the Skill inheritance system was introduced where a player could use one unit to give the another unit up to 3 of their skills, at the cost of the inherited skills costing 1.5x the SP the skill would normal cost.
- Fallout 3 can be cracked and broken like an egg with careful stat and equipment choices. Start a character with 9 INT and then go immediately to Rivet City to pick up the INT Bobblehead from Dr. Li's office. You now have maxed INT and are at level 2. INT directly affects how many skill points you get per level, at a rate of 2xInt, plus there is a Perk that increases this amount. In the space of four or five levels - an incredibly short time, as the first handfuls of levels are really easy to get - you can have Sneak and Small Guns maxed at 100, by which point you can also have picked up Lincoln's Repeater and a Dart Gun and if you have the DLC, the Chinese Stealth Suit. Congratulations, you are now a God of Death and you haven't even started the story quests. As you progress, you can pick up several perks that increase VATS accuracy, and VATS headshot accuracy. By this point, there is no longer any kind of difficulty curve and we have not reached the max level of 20. At level 20, there is a perk called Grim Reaper's Sprint. This perk refunds all of your AP, which is used in VATS, if you got any kills while in VATS. Adding all of this up, you now can effectively eradicate all life on the planet in one uninterrupted VATS chain of head-popping magnum rounds.
- Smart players also go to Tenpenny Tower immediately after Rivet City to pick up that Dart Gun schematic, and have been collecting parts for it in preparation. The Dart Gun instantly cripples both legs of any organic target on hit. There is no living creature in the game immune to this. In addition to being permanently slowed, Yao Guai and Deathclaws with crippled limbs cannot lunge. This means that while they retain their lethalness at point-blank range, they are laughably helpless beyond it.
- A certain Perk gained at a relatively low level doubles the amount of Skill Points gained from reading books. It is thus highly advisable to hold off on reading any books until this Perk is gained.
- Likewise, it is highly inadvisable to take any Perk that directly increases Skill Points, unless the Perk also includes a valuable additional affect, such as Cyborg, which increases several Skills, but also adds Damage Resistance.
- It's also inadvisable to put any points into Big Guns whatsoever, since there is a Big Guns skill book that is carried by a particular Raider boss. Most enemies respawn a few in-game days after being killed. You can see where this is going.
- The Broken Steel DLC introduces a whole new level of tweaking with the Almost Perfect perk, which can only be taken at the new max level of 30, but raises all SPECIAL stats to 9. Start with INT 4 and any other stats you like, take Comprehension when it's available and read all the skill books (there are 25 per skill, so you don't need to have high INT), take Almost Perfect at 30 and then get the stat increasing bobbleheads. Now you have 10 in all stats and 100 in all skills and are essentially God.
- Fallout and Fallout 2 allow you to pick a special Character Trait at creation time. One such trait is "Fast Shot", which lets you trade the ability to make aimed shots for a 1 point reduction on the number of APs it takes to fire a gun. Given that you really need to use aimed shots to get criticals (which are awesomely effective) there seems little incentive... but then at level 12 you can get extra APs and then at level 15 you can get Fast Shot which gives a further 1AP reduction in firing time. Suddenly dangerous weapons like the Alien Blaster or Gauss Pistol become super-accurate super-efficient machineguns, popping up to 6 guys a turn. And then you get the Sniper perk at level 24 to make almost every one of your shots a critical anyway. Incredibly devastating.
- In Dragon Quest IX, each character can advance each of the jobs separately. However, although spell lists are unique, the stat bonuses and skills stack across jobs. So, with enough grinding, you can build a not-so-squishy Wizard, or a Paladin with the agility of a master thief, or a Gladiator who can wear powerful shields (normally, a Gladiator cannot).
- Disgaea (as well as pretty much any game from Nippon Ichi) is a wet dream for the elite tweaker, as you can level up individual items and generally push your characters to the point their statistics look like phone numbers.
- A specific example in the game would be the Love Freak, Flonne. Leveling up normally, you either end up with a mage with very few spells, or a character with incredibly slow weapon mastery. Using the Master/Apprentice system properly, however, she can become a Disc-One Nuke.
- Phantom Brave gets special mention, because dang it, you can obliterate people with a level 20 starfish. A STARFISH. Along with other great items.
- Understanding the reincarnation system is vital to tweaking Disgaea characters. Beginners may find it unintuitive; you go all the way back to level 1, but with slightly better starting stats. However, all your future advancement is based on these stats; having them start higher will mean they eventually end up way higher. It is also the way to bring back generic classes as a higher version, with better aptitudes, which also will boost the speed at which stats increase. Originally doing this enough times meant generics could actually end up stronger than story characters, but later games had all of a story character's aptitudes increase by a flat 5% for each reincarnation. This worked up to five times, and meant that the earlier you started reincarnating your characters, the better.
- Grandia II allows spending coins to purchase equipable abilities from books that can then be equipped on a chosen player. One of these abilities is Taunt, which at max level (which isn't too hard to reach if you focus on it) will force every enemy to attack the equipped player. By itself this would be useful but not game breaking, until one remembers that the Defend Command in this game is far more powerful then most, cutting damage to a fraction of what it was. Equipping a character with Taunt and having them defend every round will cut damage your party takes drastically. Take the time to equip buy & equip some more defensive ability on the taunting character and very soon your party will be taking nothing more then Scratch Damage even from bosses. Furthermore it isn't even hard to set up this tweak, if one forgoes upgrading offensive abilities for a short time(which you don't need when nothing can hurt you) it doesn't take long to max out Taunt after getting the ability, and it's possible to already have one defensive ability already raised to a moderate level by the time Taunt becomes available, it's trivially easy to make an invincible part by the first half of the game without any power leveling required.
- It's possible to defeat any boss in the second half of the game without using any ability beyond regular attacks, no healing or offensive spells at all, by shuffling around weak health regeneration rings to party members as they get hurt, since the incoming damage is just that low.
- Peco, the Blue Mage-type character in Breath of Fire III joins your party really late; most players ignore him, as he is particularly weak, even compared to other characters of the same level. However after a certain level barrier is broken, he starts getting stronger — fast. Aside from being able to learn ludicrously powerful plant-based monster abilities (he is, after all, a monster himself), his base stats jump to even greater levels than the main character.
- Add to that his absurd HP score, 50% chance of counterattack and the attack formation's counterattack boost and 75% attack boost, and you have a true monster
- Also bear in mind that he starts at level 1, which is another reason many ignore him, but means that he can get boosts to stats from masters for every levelup.
- Some of the characters in Planescape: Torment can be mildly or even heavily "upgraded" by putting them through specific conversation chains, parts of which will only be available after certain (optional) events have occurred, or after the main character has achieved certain stat levels.
- The best example of this is Dak'kon, who, when acquired, can give you lessons in his personal philosophy. If your intelligence and wisdom stats are high enough, however, you can give him lessons in his philosophy and remove his doubts in it, resulting in a significant stat boost for him.
- An extension of the above is the Missile of Patience, a first level spell that's so useless you definitely won't waste time memorizing... Then, after a certain experience level, the Missile of Patience suddenly becomes an awesome weapon of mass destruction. Of course, by that time most other first level spells don't really cut it, and most players miss it altogether.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, playing normally the player character would become a Jedi around level 8 after leveling in Taros, the first world. By holding these off and being very careful and dependent on your companions, one can instead become a Jedi at level 3, and able to earn more Jedi levels and their stronger bonuses before hitting the level cap of 20.
- The assassin-droid HK47 can be upgraded if you've got high enough Mechanical skill - providing him with various bonuses, and easily making him the strongest Droid character in the game.
- Similarly in the sequel it's generally worth not leveling up your non-Jedi non-droid non-wookie followers since all but one of them can become Jedi and not leveling them up means that they get more Jedi levels (which are generally better than their initial class).
- The sequel also offers one other Elite Tweak, the Consular route for a male Exile. While the game is somewhat infamous for the player characters becoming stupidly powerful, a male consular is absolutely ridiculous when paired up with the Handmaiden for a few rounds. She teaches you 'Battle Precognition' which allows the Exile to use his Wisdom Modifier, the highest stat anyway on a proper consular, to his Armor Class. And that's just the beginning...
- Then there's the ability to mix and match the base and prestige classes in any of six combinations based on starting class and alignment. If the player starts as a Jedi Consular, they'll have more force powers and force points than they'll know what to do with, plus a set of feats that will guarantee that their powers will almost never be resisted. If they choose the Jedi Weaponmaster Prestige Class at level fifteen, they'll get a set of feats to increase melee damage, another set that decreases all damage, while keeping all the bonuses they had as a Consular. They can even have respectable skill usage if their starting Intelligence was fourteen or higher. It is a true best of both worlds if the player can get past the early game slump.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic Shadow (or Assassin) tanks are often underestimated because they rely heavily on shields and wear light armor, which is counterintuitive for a tank spec. However, the combination of stealth, stuns, speed, and a DPS that's almost as good as a full-blown DPS (which factors into how they hold aggro) means that a Shadow-Assassin Tank that's properly tweaked the equipment and figured out the mechanics is an excellent choice for exploration, dailies, flashpoints, or a boss with a fast enrage timer.
- Fina in Skies of Arcadia doesn't get weapon upgrades from stores or chests; you have to search for hidden items and accumulate a great deal of them before her Empathic Weapon, Cupil, levels up. And even then, it still sucks before you get every single one, at which time it becomes the Infinity +1 Sword.
- Pokémon can learn otherwise-inaccessible moves through breeding, resulting in multiple "chain breedings" in order to get a mon that knows a certain move.
- And if the player wants to put the effort into it, they can breed for good IVs. This involves several generations of breeding, and will probably require some inbreeding. And frequent references to a guide.
- Generation VII alleviates this with Hyper Training. In exchange for bottlecaps, you can cap out a Pokemon's stats as if it had max IVs. Bottlecaps are rare, however, it's definitely less time consuming and involves less Guide Dang It!. However, it only changes stats, not inherent IVs, so you still have to breed specific I Vs for Hidden Power and you're out of luck if you want a Trick Room team (which favors a low Speed stat rather than a high one).
- The same generation also alleviated entire breeding process by the fact you can get a Pokemon that has up to 4 perfect IVs by chaining SOS-calls. This means you can get just two Dittos with their common IVs covering all stats then breeding each a particular species until it passes all of those to next generation, then breeding the two resulting mons together, speeding up entire process. Getting good nature is still Luck-Based Mission though.
- Some Pokemon, like Magikarp and Shroomish, learn very good moves if you don't evolve them immediately. Particularly, Magikarp gains Flail, one of the potentially strongest Normal attacks for Gyarados, 10 levels after it would initially evolve. Shroomish gains access to Spore, a 100% accuracy Sleep move, at level 45.
- Pokemon also have invisible "Effort Values", very small stat boosts given by each species when defeated. Normally a Pokemon's EVs will be all over the place because it knocks out lots of different species as you battle trainers with it. With some planning (rather, "grinding the same species of Pokemon in the wild for a few hours"), these boosts can add up to produce about the same effects as good breeding.
- Generation VI introduced a feature called the "Super Trainer" which allows for quicker and more convenient EV training by way of playing minigames and training bags, and even provides a graphical representation of your Pokemon's EVs and a way to reset them. This means you can have a fully EV-trained Level 5 Starter at the beginning of the game.
- Generation's VII Poke Pelago allows you to train Pokemon for EXPs or EVs while you're away. Using beans and maximized island it takes about 20 hours to maximize EVs for one stat and 18 Pokemon can be trained at once, meaning if you can hold on using particular mon (usually a freshly breeded Lv1 Pokemon) you can have them fully trained with no effort whatsoever.
- Most Pokémon also have access to a "hidden" ability, one which is much rarer to find on that Pokémon than their standard abilities. Finding one with these rare abilities requires anything from chaining multiple wild Pokémon, to participating in events, and performing tasks possible only in past generations, and frequently requires finding someone online who's willing to trade. They also have a lower chance of being passed on to bred Pokémon, and if you have a male you'll also need a Ditto. The payoff? These abilities frequently outclass their standard counterparts by a country mile, or at least open up brand new ways to play and strategize; in extreme cases they're a Pokémon's only useful ability in online play. Example
- And then you can combine all of the methods above, resulting in a Pokemon with about 40% better stats than normal which also knows incredibly rare moves. It also comes in handy for those that participate in Tournament Play, which allows Pokemon in lower-level tournaments to use moves normally not available to them.
- Something similar to Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action can be done in most of the Shin Megami Tensei games—careful fusions of demons/personas can give the new ones very useful abilities they can't otherwise get. Due to the series' trademark Fusion Dance technology and Nintendo Hard action, you need to master it in order to avoid crippling beatdowns, protect your demons while negating their weaknesses, and overcome enemies by exploiting theirs.
- Note that this is very important in game-play. Let's just say if that the player does not do this, he's in for a rough ride.
- In the Game Gear game Crystal Warriors, Healers have very weak melee stats through level 8; get one to level 9 (the max) and suddenly he gains massive amounts of attack, defense, and hit points, becoming the most powerful melee unit in the game.
- In the MMORPG Anarchy Online, Elite Tweak type characters are built due to the skill system employed in the game and the capability of any given character to use items and implants to boost those skills even further than before. The end result are characters that have impressive, frightening power levels and levels before they're supposed to actually have access to it. (many weapons, armor and nanos have no level locks to equip and use.)
- Armored Core. Here's a breakdown on what to be elite tweaked: each titular Armored Core needs at least body, head, arms, legs, and generators. Most usually, it needs boosters, FCS and radiators (depending on the game). Equippable weapons include arm weapons (or weapon arms), back weapons, and/or spare weapons/extensions+insides. The weapons themselves range from puny handguns to grenade launchers, to anything in between, including, but not limited to: Attack Drones, arcing howitzers, missile launchers, lots of missile launchers, superlarge caliber gatlings, more gatlings, tactical nukes, mezzer weapons (lock-on disruptor, radar jammer, missile decoys), etc, etc, etc. The list goes on.
- In the later games, also add the ability to tweak individual parts to have more power, less weight, more ammo, etc.
- This trope is essentially the point of the series, perhaps even more-so than fighting mecha.
- The same goes for other mecha battles such as Chrome Hounds and Phantom Crash.
- The Quest for Glory games were built upon this. The games allowed one to carry over ones save (across 5 games no less!), keeping not just stats but abilities and spells too including the hidden (in the first few games that it appeared in) class, the Paladin. However, there were few other restrictions to what skills and such a player could gain or achieve; most notably, only a wizard could get a wizard's staff. Thus, by starting at the first adventure and playing all the way through to the last, a player could be a paladin with a magical sword and additional abilities... who was an elite member of the Thieves Guild, a powerful archmage, and a exceptionally powerful fighter. Being a guy in plate mail sneaking around doing acrobatics while stabbing the archvillain and chucking fireballs seems more suitable to anime than a game based off medieval Europe and Africa.
- City of Heroes was always a rather casual-oriented MMORPG where an optimum build isn't very important, and booting a player from a team for having anything other than a really bad build (I.E. nothing but travel powers) is considered a real dick move. However, there's still plenty of fun to be had for number crunchers with patience, especially with the Invention system- save up some money and you can literally push the limits of your offensive and defensive powers, allowing you to take on even the strongest enemies solo.
- The Gadgeteer class in Wizardry 8 is a case of this. On the surface, they seem to just be rogues with guns and are weaker in combat, and start with a homebuilt gun that they occasionally tweak as they level up. The trick is finding gadget parts, which are usually far in between, and putting them together to assemble powerful weapons of destruction while that omnigun becomes one of the most potent ranged weapons in the game when its owner reaches a high enough level. If the player knows what she's doing, a Gadgeteer can become one of the most powerful characters in the party.
- In the world of hyper-realistic racing simulators, tuning your car is everything. All allow you to do things like adjust almost every parameter of your suspension, mess around with your gear ratios, and the really hardcore ones let you even do the things such change the size of your radiator or add tape to your grill to control aerodynamics.. Even the amount of fuel you have is important, as less will mean you have a lighter car and will be faster and handle better. But, if you have more fuel, you can go longer before pitting and pass cars who have to pit more often....and that's just one factor.
- Do not, do not, DO NOT miss the upgrade accessories for any character in the Super Nintendo RPG Sailor Moon: Another Story. Particularly Sailor Mercury, who's pathetically weak even with the upgrades and absolutely useless without them. And you play as her solo for an entire chapter.
- Due to its utter lack of traditional experience levels and subsequent reliance on random drops and treasure chests, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is all about elite tweaking. And the methods for tweaking your elites can be determined by very frustrating random variables.
- The first Paper Mario initially promises a LOT of potential tweaking by sinking all your experience level-ups into Badge Points. Badges can give you really great and varied bonuses, letting you set up stats and abilities for each new situation. Alas, the BP cap maxes out just before it gets interesting. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door delivers much better, raising the level cap from 27 to 99 and raising the BP cap with it. In both games, one NPC can tweak Mario's stats for additional BP at the cost of his max HP and FP, and then the player compensates the handicap with badges that raise stats and that activate other boosts when Mario's HP is low (5 or under, regardless of level) and the "Danger!" warning flashes. Cue the dawning of the disgustingly powerful setup aptly known as Danger Mario.
- Shin Megami Tensei:
- Persona 3: With a bit of effort, Lilim can be fused with all four basic elemental spells, making her pretty much the only Persona you'll need to fight with until level 20 or so. Having no elemental weaknesses and a reasonably high magic stat is the icing on the cake.
- Helel from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 can be this as it is possible to fuse him in such a way that he can cast multi-target elemental spells for no mana, or be completely immune to all types of damage (except Almighty as its unblockable). The methods for doing this however can politely be described as "time consuming and prone to randomness" and impolitely described as "completely insane".
- Devil Survivor and several games after it feature the ability to completely control which skills your demons inherit, making it entirely possible to assemble the perfect demon that either wrecks face with a supercharged attack backed by Boosts/Pleromas, or has immunities to everything barring Almighty and things with Pierce attributes.
- Star Wars: Galaxies originally had a very dynamic levelling system that was absolutely ripe for abuse. Due to the nature of the game each player had a limited number of job points, but they can spread them out across as many jobs as they wanted. Theoretically, better skills require more points, but skills that might not be particularly valuable in a particular job (and thus, require less points to activate) could be absolutely devastating when combined with other skills in other job trees. Because the system had so many loopholes for abuse and because the game had a heavy PVP focus it was deemed basically "broken" and the entire gaming system was remade to a more traditional structure. However, by the time they made the change most of the dedicated players were only playing because they enjoyed the massively tweakable game engine... the game was killed by the developers not much later.
- In addition, the game featured an entirely player-based resource and crafting economy to make all but the most mundane of equipment. Unfortunately, the developers never bothered to check what would happen if players were dedicated enough to grab the best resources possible (which was not actually all that difficult to do) and used them to craft weapons, armour, and - most game-breakingly - buffs. Cue players that regenerated hundreds of health points every second and could wear entire suits of armour that reduced nearly all incoming damage by 85%. Content that was originally designed to be tackled by groups of 10-20 players could be comfortably soloed by mid-tier characters. Future content had to be balanced to accommodate this power-creep, basically making it completely unplayable by anyone who WASN'T using top-tier weapons/armour/buffs.
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 has two kinds of customization options.
- First is special equipment added to a mobile suit. Most suits can mount up to five upgrades that can be switched out later at any time. While most upgrades affect weapon damage, defenses or mobility, some combinations are inherently better than others. Nu Gundam and Wing Zero in particular become scarily powerful when equipped with Sniper, allowing them to lay out over a dozen mooks in a single attack on Hard difficulty once their ranged attack stat is maxed out, regardless of pilot skill. Then there are upgrades like Armor Gain that restores health while hacking away at mooks, Biocomputer that allows you to spam SP attacks by multiplying the gauge's recharge amount while inflicting damage, Pressure Hit that makes every single attack partially bypass guarding and inflict damage anyway...
- Second are the pilot skills, learned by piloting certain mobile suits and lucking out with the Random Number God (or just doing missions over and over again in the same suit until the RNG throws up its hands in frustration). Some, like Parry, are nigh-useless. Some, like Leadership (buffs all allies) and Moonrace (gives a temporary buff per every 50 kills) are highly situational. But some are completely game-changing: DG Cells (take more damage at the cost of Regenerating Health, the hardest missions are nigh-impossible without it), Serene Mind (SP gauge continually regenerates instead of only at low health, allowing you to spam your strongest attack) and Overdrive (swaps SP attack with Combo SP attack; Hyakushiki and Turn A greatly benefit from it) in particular.
- The Sentinel class in Mass Effect is often considered a Master of None, due to having the lowest weapon skills of any class and lacking the advanced tech/biotic powers. But once you get the Achievements for killing a number of enemies with the non-pistol weapons, you can take one of those weapon types as a bonus talent. With the extra firepower, a Sentinel Shepard can spam a multitude of debuffing and disabling powers whilst gunning down vulnerable and helpless mooks, protected with a talent-boosted shield and the Barrier power.
- Standard issue in Dota2. Every hero has certain synergies with items, varying from the extreme to simply being particularly good with them. Combining these items with particular heroes and then with eachother is far more powerful than building in a straightforwards manner towards a single "Goal" (Contrast League of Legends, where it literally is just about building one number up for the vast majority of characters, with "gimmicks" generally being extra scaling based on one number such as armor or speed). For example, Ember Spirit has an ability that attacks all enemies in a large area for increased damage. The common build is a Battlefury, which grants him a Herd-Hitting Attack.....on all of those attacks, letting him to massive cumulative damage to grouped up enemies. Further boost this by teaming him up with Magnus, who grants an even stronger Herd-Hitting Attack to his allies with one of his abilities, and has another to group them up and stun them. Do the math.
- Diablo III end-game consists largely of figuring out the proper combination of skills, armor sets, legendary bonuses, Paragon points, and cube buffs. Where the maximum time for clearing a Greater Rift and receiving the award is 15 minutes, a properly equipped and skilled player can clear them on the highest difficulty in under two minutes.
- Monster Hunter encourages homogeneous armor sets by having armor parts' skill points sum up such that they form a set of active skills if all armor pieces of the same design are used together. However, some players take to building custom sets that can achieve skill combinations that are not possble with conventional armor-building, resulting in some extremely powerful sets, fashion sense be damned. Many players who build custom sets use tools such as Athena's Armor Set Search to look up the necessary armor pieces for their sets.
- Many Trading Card Games run on this trope. Your deck's pretty lethal with a Lightning Bruiser monster as your win condition? A rarer monster has the same stats but a better combination of attributes.
- Magic: The Gathering: Tribal decks are a straightforward example. A 2/2 rat zombie for 2 mana can be ludicrously more useful than a 2/2 human zombie for 2 mana,
- Depending on the current metagame, swapping one type of removal or counterspell for another can turn a deck from "solid, but with glaring weaknesses" to "tournament winner".
- Most Dark Souls players will jump at the chance of upgrading a chaos-empowered flaming halberd. Chaos weapon scales with Soft Humanity without scaling with other stats, making all Chaos weapons viable at low level PvP. Veteran PvP players will upgrade a regular one, as (generally) it'll do a better job against damage resistances.
- Softcaps and Breakpoints. Diminishing Returns for Balance applies hard, so knowing that can help you get the most value for your souls. For example, your Endurance stat won't increase Stamina anymore once you push it past 40.
- In Bloodborne, the Blood Gem Workshop allows you to apply various Blood Gems that increase various stats of your weapons. Finding a fitting gem would greatly amplify the effectiveness of your weapon, be it a weapon with high physical damage, a Sidelite Weapon with mixed elemental damage types (applied by attaching gems with Flat Damage), a Bow Blade and a sidearm which continuously heal you, a Rapid Poison Chikage, or a serrated weapon with Fire damage that works very well against Beast-type enemies. There're also Cursed Gems, which are more effective than normal gems at the cost of various debilitations. Also, deliberately not levelling up your character past a certain level gap (or only reaching the minimal stat requirement of a single weapon) while focusing on upgrading a weapon into something with ridiculous stat would allow you to obliterate virtually everyone at low level PvP.
- League of Legends invokes this trope in the form of Runes and Masteries. These offer small (1-3%) situational boosts to your champion's stats, and you access more of them the more you play. They're usually small (3% speed out of combat, stuns are 5% shorter) but can give you a crucial edge in combat when combined.
- A key part of competitive Counter-Strike is being able to manage your team's cash. While a casual group will usually buy whatever suits their playstyle (or an an AWP, organised teams will share weapons and gear.
- Survival Sandbox games often feature this trope when it comes to resource gathering, or base building.
- Minecraft: Figuring out automated farms, then automated mob grinders. Drastically increased gathering efficiency on food and loot.
- Rust: Figuring out layered, raid-resistant base designs. Your buildings go from "raider magnet" to "possibly too much trouble to raid".
- Puzzle & Dragons has quite a few. Hypermaxing is the art of ultimate evolving and max leveling a monster with all of the first 3:
- Evolved monsters have awakenings, which include both self- (two-pronged attack, bind resists, type killers, etc.) and team-boosting (skill bind/poison/jammer/dark resists, enhanced row element damage, element damage resists, extended time, etc.) enhancements, some of which are crucial for late and post-game dungeons. The more recent latent awakenings, while less potent at what they do, can be assigned to any monsternote , as opposed to the preassigned allotments of the standard counterparts, and are the only source of skill delay resists. Many players will use at least one dark latent to survive Hera's Zero Gravity attack.
- Stat boosts, which are typically acquired by random drops. Monsters can each have up to +99 per statnote .
- Skill level-ups to reduce turn cooldown, though depending on the rarity of the fodder and number of levels needed to max out, this can add a massive layer of annoyance, to speak nothing of the RNG factor involved.
- With the advent of Skill Transfer (also known as Assist Monster), it has been possible to transfer any skill of any monsternote to another, where, for instance, the inheriter would be a better fit for typing purposes and/or stats, or an otherwise ideal team needs a bind clear skill without compromising one of its own. For starters, only monsters with a corresponding element would raise the inheriter's stat. The monster's level and stat boost also affect how many stat increases the inheriter would receive. Several monsters can be evolved into equipments via Assist Evolution, which allows a monster to inherit awakened skills from the equipments.
- The achievement badge system, which awards awakening-like options for awakenings, adds more tweak options, most notably bind immunity for leaders, cost requirement reduction, 50% skill-bind resist, and +1 second movement time.