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Get started in ‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ with our beginner’s guide

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review
Image used with permission by copyright holder
South Park: The Fractured But Whole changes up a few things from its predecessor. While the basic structure from South Park: The Stick of Truth returns, the battle system received an overhaul, and leveling up your character works in a whole new way.

While The Fractured But Whole does a pretty good job of teaching you all the new rules as you play, there are still some key elements that are easy to overlook, which may lead you to miss out on opportunities to strengthen your character. Here are a few key strategies to help you power up early in South Park: The Fractured But Whole so you can beat up supervillains with the best of heroes.

Team composition is key

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The biggest difference between South Park: The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole is a switch to a “tactics-style” battle system. This time, each fight takes place on a grid, and you can move your characters around the battlefield to get them in position to attack enemies, or out of the way to avoid incoming damage. Every move and action comes with a diagram of how it affects the grid. Some moves go in a straight line in front of your character, some allow them to jump or trade places with enemies, and so on.

So in any given fight, you want to have lots of options for positioning characters. If you bring three “brutalist” heroes, all of whom need to stay right on top of the enemies they fight, you’re going to throw them in each other’s way a lot, costing you turns and attacks. Similarly, some characters have healing abilities, others can debuff enemies, and so on. So in addition to balancing your party’s skills, as you would do with a role-playing game, it’s important to make sure you’re also bringing teammates with complementary moves, which will give you the ability to work together and hit as many different targets as possible every turn.

You can change everything, including your moves, at the start of a fight

It takes a while to unlock your full range of smartphone apps in The Fractured But Whole, but once you do, you have a lot of means of controlling and customizing your team. The “Allies” app in your smartphone menu lets you switch characters in and out of your party, for instance, and once you have more than one character class, you can use the “Powers” app to change the New Kid’s four fighting abilities. It isn’t especially obvious, but you can access all your apps at the beginning of any fight and customize your loadout before each battle.

When you’re about to start a fight, you see an image that shows who is on your team and who you are about to battle, with a prompt that says “make changes” so you can customize your team. If you hit the associated button, you’re taken to the Allies app, but you can also hit your controller’s “cancel” button to get back to the rest of your phone. From there, you can use the Powers app to change the New Kid’s abilities before the fight, or even pop over to the “Crafting” app and make sure you have all the items you need. Take the opportunity to make sure you have the abilities and teammates you want before every fight, and use what you learn from battles to customize your Artifacts to better fight your different team compositions and ability sets.

Costumes can help you level up

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Fractured But Whole is full of things for you to do around town that help you earn “titles” for your character. These include things like taking a certain number of selfies with people around town or beating a certain number of a specific type of enemy. Titles don’t really do much, but you do earn experience when you complete those milestones, which drives up your levels and helps you get stronger.

To that end, you should go out of your way to collect the extra costumes scattered throughout in the game. The superhero costumes you find around South Park are purely cosmetic — they don’t help your stats or abilities at all. You can avoid changing costumes for the whole game if you want. However, buying and crafting costumes can help you level up fast because every new outfit drives up all the titles related to them. They earn you experience as you increase your crafting level. Plus, titles beget titles, and you can expect to find more opportunities to earn experience if you go after every costume.

Increasing your power is all about Artifacts

South Park: The Fractured But Whole has a strange leveling system. You earn experience points the normal way, winning fights and finishing quests that allow your character to level up, but that system doesn’t increase your stats or make you stronger like in many RPGs. Instead, leveling up unlocks “artifact slots” for your characters, giving them the ability to equip artifacts — gear that enhances your powers and gives you special benefits.

Each Artifact has a base statistic called “Might,” which increases your character’s overall strength — how much damage you do in battle, how much damage you can sustain, and so on. Artifacts also confer more specific benefits, such as increasing your health, boosting certain types of damage, or even providing a team-wide stat boost.

There are tons of different Artifacts throughout the game, and you unlock many different slots that take specific types. In general, you want to equip artifacts with the highest might score to increase your overall power. When you use investigation mode — L2 on PlayStation 4 — you see enemies’ might stats, allowing you to quickly size up your enemies. However, while your overall might is important, you should also consider whether your loadout will boost the right sub-stats for your character class and moves, and change things accordingly. Using the right Artifacts will greatly increase your chances of winning any fight.

You can skip crafting, but you shouldn’t

‘South Park: The Fractured But Whole’ review
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are a couple of points during The Fractured But Whole where the story will force you to stop and craft some stuff, but, by and large, you never actually need to go out of your way to make new items and artifacts. You can simply buy everything you need from vendors all over the place, so it’s easy to keep stocked up and rarely touch the crafting system.

Just because you can avoid it, though, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re looting everything you come across in the game, you can leverage all the stuff you find to get to make new artifacts and costumes, which are handy. Even if you don’t need gear, using the crafting system will increase your crafting level, and earn you new titles on your character sheet.

Don’t sleep on side quests

As mentioned above, raising your level doesn’t increase your stats, but increases the number of artifacts you can carry. Those bonuses are pretty huge, so it’s worth it to increase your level quickly, especially in the early game. The Fractured But Whole even warns you against advancing the story if your Might level is too low, so you’re going to want to make an effort to get your levels up and equip more Artifacts.

The quickest way to do that is through side quests. You’ll find a variety of quests popping up all over South Park as you play, and they’re worth checking out as you work through the main story. Some seem pretty skippable — especially the more boring fetch quest variety — but they’re all generally pretty easy and won’t take very long. Take the time to do side quests, and you’ll level up quicker and have a better time working through the main story.

Save your summons

As you work through the game, you occasionally come across characters and side quests that will give you special consumable items. Those items let you summon characters to the battlefield for a big bonus. There are four in the game: Moses, who heals your team; Jimbo and Ned, who show up with guns and blast all the enemies in a given area; Classi, who hits people with her car; and Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s dad, who can be found on the roof of Kenny’s house later in the game.

You only get so many summon items. Some, like Moses’ macaroni pictures, can be crafted if you have the right materials, but it’s easy to run out in a pinch. You won’t usually need your summons, so it’s worth saving them for big battles when they’ll really turn the tide.

Get money from parking meters and garbage cans

Money is tough to come by for kids in South Park, but one reliable way to get small amounts is to punch parking meters, newspaper dispensers, and similar machines as you walk around town. Try punching stuff you think you would be able to interact with, as this might be one of your only means of bringing in cash, and you need it to buy certain mission items. Though you may be inundated with excessive amounts of crafting materials, it’s still worth it to loot everything you come across on the off-chance you find some pocket change or, better yet, an artifact.

Don’t be afraid to restart battles

The Fractured But Whole’s fights are rarely too difficult, but there are a few major moments where you may get stuck. Some key story missions feature fights where team composition is really important, but the game does not give you any hints on how to bring your A-game. While the instructions may not be great, The Fractured But Whole has really good checkpoints. Anytime you lose a major story battle, you start over at the start of it. If you’re in a fight where you just straight-up have the wrong kind of fighters or abilities equipped, the best way to deal with it is to just restart the checkpoint and pick the things and characters you need. It will save you the time you would otherwise waste fighting a battle under sub-optimal conditions, and it’s not really cheating, since The Fractured But Whole is designed to have you making these strategic considerations anyway.

Hit up the vendors

Another element of South Park that’s easy to overlook as you run from quest to quest are the many vendors scattered throughout the city. Just about everyone will sell you stuff, from Stan’s mom at Tom’s Rhinoplasty to Mr. Tweak at Tweak Bros. Coffee. Navigating all of the stores can be a bit confusing and a bit overwhelming early in the game, especially when you don’t have much money. As the game goes on, though, you should wander back to those vendors and see what they have. You particularly want to look out for artifacts, costumes, and related recipes for them. Even if they don’t improve your might stat, buying new artifacts and costumes will still advance some of your titles, earning experience and opening the door for you to use more gear.

Editors' Recommendations

Phil Hornshaw
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Phil Hornshaw is an author, freelance writer and journalist living in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of The Space Hero's…
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