There is a lot of information out there about how to play Fiona. However most of that information is for North American servers and there’s quite a lot that doesn’t apply to the European server. This guide is here to help the European players build their Fiona and while it is based on several NA guides, the info has been adapted for the Extreme Edition, which is the one running in Europe.
Let’s start with linking two very good guides from the North American servers and then I will explain a few things that differ.
Those guides are quite extensive, so I’ll write a few of the key points from all of those in this article, which you can then study more in depth by reading those three guides.
Hammer or Sword?
This is probably the most common question for rookie Fionas. Like all other classes in Vindictus Fiona has access to two weapons. She starts with sword and at level 24 she can start to use hammers after having done the relevant quests (see the Hammer Time! guide for info on the quest.) This is a really hard question to answer and the only feasible response one can give you is: try them both and use what fits your playstyle.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Hammers are slower than swords, meaning that you need to make sure you plan ahead because the longer recovery time of hammer moves will make it slower for you to put up your guard
- Hammer does more damage than swords
- Hammer normal attacks critical hit, swords don’t
- Hammer moves always have some AOE element to them, much wider than swords
- Swords are much faster, allowing you to put up Guard much quicker after a sword combo, so if you are caught by surprise chances are you can guard yourself while using a sword at the last moment but you won’t with hammer
- Due to the faster speed, sometimes you can hit more with a sword in between boss’ attacks, that means sometimes you can do more damage with a sword, but that tends to happen more when you are not familiar with a boss fight because if you can’t plan ahead you can’t maximise hammer damage
- Hammer is a harder weapon to solo with than sword
- Hammers cost more to make than swords, but you also can keep a hammer for more levels
- It’s easier to fight bosses with swords in some cases, although it depends on the fight, trash tends to be easier with hammers
The game of a Fiona is to know what combos she can sneak in between boss’ attacks and guards. It is much harder to perform a full combo as hammer Fiona if you don’t know the attack patterns of a boss. You could say, “Well if worse comes to worse, I’d just hit it twice with a normal attack.” That’s true, however if you did know how much time you had between attacks instead of using 2 normal attacks, you could have used a normal attack and a smash, and a smash is always more damage. Also with a hammer, due to that long recovery time after swings, you might not stop in time to guard up and you’ll get hit. So really it is up to you. If you prefer the flexibility that the sword gives in terms of positioning, comboing and a little gambling that it allows you to do, go sword. If you don’t mind suffering a bit when you don’t know boss fights and expect that you might die or be hit more, then play hammer. Once you know the fights, you’ll be just fine however and you will do more damage than sword. There are a lot of people who have played on North American servers who say that hammer Fiona is the only one who can do decent damage at higher levels.
It’s very easy to fall into an overdefensive stance as hammer Fiona, due to the fear of being hit. I do that a lot as well, and all I can say is don’t worry about it. Take your time to learn the fight, the overdefensiveness will go then. Sometimes I will just grab a sword and learn the fight if I find hammer is just too challenging on a boss fight. Then I go back to hammer and it works just fine. I do prefer hammer myself, but I can’t negate just how much more agile you feel with a sword and whenever I felt I couldn’t do something with a hammer, a sword helped me learn the fight and then I swapped back. Some people are just so good that they don’t even need to do that.
There’s another thing that you should know about XE. Heavy Stand and Guard have been melded into one skill so Heavy Stand is a passive skill which has the same animation of guard (not a different one like it had in NA) which will allow you to block boss smashes with the same button you use for Guard. That also means that you cannot use the Heavy Stand Cancel exploit that sword Fionas could use. Some people frown upon this but seriously, hammer couldn’t do it, and it’s not a feature, so there you have it. The only valid complaint is that it takes a bit less skill for a Fiona to block boss’ attacks. You don’t need to know whether you are blocking a normal or a smash attack, because you don’t need to choose between Heavy Stand and Guard. You just Guard everything. And while you no longer need to make the choice, that statement is only partially true. I do like to know anyway if I am blocking a smash or a normal attack, because I do like to plan whether I am going to counterattack or not, or dodge or heavy stand. So it might require less skill now to block attacks, but not so much. You still want to know what kind of attacks you are going to block, dodge or counterattack.
The guides I linked above explain skill progression really well. However there are a few things you should know. First of all XE misses some skills, which you can find below:
- Smash: Rose Thorns (sword)
- Smash: Petal Toss (sword)
- Long Hammer: Crushing Arc (the equivalent of Petal Toss)
- Long Hammer: Honeybee Sting
- Downward Counter
- All the transformation skills
Note that by missing skills it means that they are not in your skill window. You may have animations for them, but you can’t improve them through the use of AP points like those that are in the skill window.
The Core Skills
Fiona’s hallmark is her shield. Even though dodging can be a better choice, she’s the one who can take any hit and live to tell about it. As long as she has her shield. Sometimes however heavy smashes throw you so far back that if you just dodged them, you’d be back hitting the boss much faster than if you blocked them. However some smash attacks are really hard to just dodge or have wide range, or you need to draw attention to you while the others in the party deal damage. You don’t have any taunts and the best way to draw a boss’ attention is to hit it and be right in its face.
Guard: You can easily level this up to rank 9 so you can get 2 free combo hits when you Perfect Guard (i.e. guard just before a mob hits you, resulting in a green sparkle on your shield rather than a white sparkle.) This allows you to perform a Butterfly just by pressing left+right click, rather than pressing left click 3 times, or Amaranth Kick by pressing left click twice + 1 right click, rather than pressing left click 4 times. Note that you can’t perfect Guard Smashes as Heavy Stand is automatically activated then, so rank 9 guard won’t be useful against boss smash attacks.
Heavy Stand: You should rank this up to Rank A. This allows you to block smash attacks without suffering any damage. Before that rank, you still receive damage depending on your Heavy Stand rank. So try to get this to Rank A as soon as you can, then leave it there.
Campfire: Other classes might not find this skill as useful, but this is of the outmost importance for Fiona. It’s cheap too, so get it to Rank A as soon as possible. The armour regeneration buff is really, really good for Fiona’s shield. Together with the other shield skills I mention in this guide, it allows you to Guard/Heavy Stand a lot and Counterattack a lot. All of those skills damage your shield and Campfire really helps with keeping it in one piece. Other classes won’t skill it to Rank A. You gotta do it.
Shield Mastery: Why not skill up Guard and Heavy Stand to max straight away? Because of Shield Mastery. Once you attain Guard rank 9 and Heavy Stand rank A, you don’t gain any additional effects to those skills beside shield damage mitigation. Spending points on both those skills is more expensive than just spending points in Shield Mastery once you reached the aforementioned ranks in the other two skills. Shield Mastery also affects the damage your shield takes when performing Counterattack. So it’s good for 3 things. While I’d say that Heavy Stand rank A is possibly your top priority, once you are set with that and Guard you should definitely invest points in this as soon as possible. Don’t sacrifice everything else for this, but this is fairly high up in your priority list.
See the Fiona Skills Guide to know how to skill up the rest of your abilities.
A note on Battle Respiration: the above guide says it’s one of your highest priority skills because stamina is a problem for Fiona. If you don’t have stamina, you can’t block, you can’t hit, you can’t do anything. While it is a valid point, stamina consumption in the XE version isn’t as bad as it is in the NA version according to reports from people who played on both servers. At least not for the first 44 levels which is where the EU version caps at the moment. At level 41 with Battle Respiration C, my Fiona has not had any worries about stamina at all. You do want to put points in Battle Respiration and rank A is nice to have, but don’t fret yourself over it. Do rank it up however if you feel you are stamina starved. Stamina mastery isn’t worth spending AP over. You’ll see that pretty much all the guides I linked will say that. I didn’t even buy rank F. I am not missing it. Later on I’ll take it when I don’t have anything better to spend points on.
Defense Mastery, Health Mastery and Agility Mastery are things you can avoid skilling. As a tank-type character, your first instinct is to skill these up. However Fiona’s blocks can deflect 100% of the damage directed to her, and if she’s not blocking or dodging enough she’s probably dead anyway, so she can potentially tank naked as long as she has a shield (and her shield skills are ranked as I explained.) You better off investing AP elsewhere, such as Counterattack and Smash Mastery.
Standing Endurance: This is a trash skill until you reach Rank 9, at which point it allows you to roll back on your feet as soon as you get knocked down. It becomes really good then. You don’t really want to look at this skill before level 30ish. While Rank 9 is good, you want to have your shield skills in order before you think of this. And remember that if you got knocked down you failed to block. It can happen, nobody’s perfect. But it’s another reason why your shield skills have the precedence.
Strength Mastery: Your first thought is probably, “Strength = Passive damage boost = Best damage stat.” For Fiona this is not the case. It’s a trick stat like Defense and Agility Mastery. Only skill it up to unlock Weight Mastery. Then this stat will be low priority. Normal attacks have been buffed in the XE edition, so they might actually be a bigger portion of Fiona’s damage, but whether that portion is big enough to justify Strength Mastery it’s early to tell and the game hasn’t been out enough in its extreme version (not in Europe that is) for us to know.
Smash Mastery and Counterattack: Smash Mastery is one of your best stats/skills for dealing damage. You’ll try to balance its leveling with Counterattack, which is the bread and butter skill for Fiona. These two are your higher priority as far as offensive skills go.
Hammer and Sword Skills
If you followed the Fiona Skill Guide I already linked, you’ll notice that you’ll reach level 40 and you still haven’t spent so many points in the Sword or Hammer skills. You might have dropped some points here and there, you might have ranked up some, but you hardly reached even rank A with any of those skills. Some people will prioritize the weapon specific skills, but really if you pushed Smash Mastery and Counterattack and of course your core skills (Guard, Heavy Stander, etc.) you’ll see that you can play with both weapons. It’s up to you if you want to specialise earlier. This game is very much dependent on player skill than on character specs and stats, and I can tell you from personal experience that you can beat bosses without being specced in any particular weapon. I have almost no points in Sword Fiona, yet I soloed The Unveiling Truth on hard mode with a sword, simply because I didn’t know what to expect and I needed to have the ability to do emergency guards which hammer doesn’t really allow. When I go there again, I will use hammer as that’s what I am specialised in, although I am not deep into that either.
A note on skills with multiple smashes: Butterfly Swing can perform as many smashes as you have stamina. The Hammer Time! guide says that the subsequent smashes after the first will only deal 1/3 of the damage.
Remember that the European version as it stands now is only on Boat 4 (i.e. the 4th “expansion” of Vindictus.) We don’t have access to some of the harder content where being specialised is more important. You will want to specialise in either weapon if you haven’t already however. It’s just not the priority over the core skills.
I am going to quote what the Fiona Skill Guide says:
[information]Priority 1: Acquire ranks in prerequisite skills early enough to unlock subsequent skills as early as they become useful for gameplay.
Priority 2: Invest in the skills that are useful to the bread-and-butter gameplay for your specific character and playstyle.
Priority 3: Invest in the weapon-specific attack combos.[/information]
I once again invite you to have a look at the guides I linked to have an in-depth understanding of how Fiona works with both weapons and I hope this article has helped shed some light on how the class works on the current version used on Vindictus’ European servers.