The Shadowrun Trilogy is packed with intriguing characters and potential playstyles from minute one. With so many options to choose from, making the right choice can be initially overwhelming. But don’t worry. We’ll run you through all the classes available in Shadowrun Returns, helping you figure out which you’d like to inhabit on your journey through this unforgettable cyberpunk adventure!
Shadowrun Trilogy: Shadowrun Returns Classes
There’s a wide variety of available classes here, each one focusing on a different aspect of lawless life on the streets of Seattle. Do you want your runner to be a dead-eye marksman? A robotics genius with drones at their beck and call? An agent of chaos, hurling flame and taking names? It all comes down to what you really want your runner to be, what role you want them to embody. Some classes will make your runner an all-rounder, and others will lend you a more specialized skill set.
The quintessential Cyberpunk role. A modern warrior with a code of honor, balanced out by a hunger for cash and acclaim. Street Samurai are among the hardiest – and hardest-hitting – classes Shadowrun Returns has to offer. If you’re rolling up a Street Samurai, chances are you couldn’t care less about all that hand-waving and incanting the Mages get up to, nor the over-reliance on Cyberspace that comes with Decking. For a Street Samurai, the only tech you need to be concerned with is the kind that grants you maximum firepower.
Guns, grenades, knives and blades are the order of the day here. Street Samurai excel at both close-up and ranged combat, thanks to decent starting scores in both Quickness and Strength. You start out with both a high Body attribute and the Dodge skill, meaning that you soak up damage better than just about any other class out there. Continue to invest in these areas, and your Street Samurai will be an unflinching force of destruction.
The Decker is a more specialized class than most in the Shadowrun Trilogy. As expert hackers, Deckers are capable of wiring their consciousness directly into the cyberspace matrix and wreaking havoc on the systems inside. This grants you all kinds of advantages, from temporarily gaining control of nearby machinery, through to opening vaults and downloading key information. The Decker is key to the whole cyberpunk aesthetic, and can be a go-to for those looking for a less direct and more cerebral class to play. The Matrix is a whole new playground for your character to inhabit, one that sets your Decker apart from other runners in terms of their playstyle.
That being said, the Decker’s capabilities are somewhat lacking outside of cyberspace, it’s worth investing in some physical or ranged skills to balance out your toolkit. Even just putting a few points into weaponry can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed in those instances where you can’t hack your way to victory. At the very least, the decker starts out with some points allocated to body and close combat, so those are an option to pursue in order to increase your survivability.
If you ever watched Robot Wars and thought ‘Man, I wish that could be my job’ then you’re far from alone. If you ever watched Robot Wars and thought ‘This competition would be vastly improved if the robots were helping out in actual firefights’ then the Rigger is the class for you!
Riggers are mechanical specialists, controlling powerful combat drones and letting them go to town on their fleshier foes. Like the Shaman, Riggers are less about doing the dirty work themselves. In a game that is light on permanent companions, the Rigger’s drones are instrumental in turning the tide against a wave of opponents. And they aren’t all about overwhelming firepower. Support drones can be used to gain cover, access otherwise unreachable foes, and generally shape the battlefield in your favor. Add in a few weapon skills so the Rigger themselves doesn’t get left in the dust, and you’ll be rising to the top of the scrapheap in no time.
Shamans are charismatic casters in the world of Shadowrun Trilogy. Their totemic connection to spirits grants them power to channel and wield. As spirit-summoners, Shamans occupy a pet control gameplay niche. They focus less on doing damage themselves, and more on empowering allies to get the job done for them.
That is not to say that Shamans only rely on the power of their spirits to be effective however. They also start out with points in ranged combat, and their Body and Quickness is nothing to sneeze at. While Shamans will be most effective when summoning and buffing allies, it’s possible to build them to be more than capable of handling the job themselves.
The lack of a fleshed-out party system in Shadowrun Returns leads to support characters like the Shaman getting the short end of the stick. Dragonfall and Hong Kong both feature permanent party members that will get more use out of your buffing capabilities. As such, Shaman comes less recommended in Returns than in the trilogy’s later entries.
The Mage is the Shadowrun Trilogy’s resident Spellslinger. While the Shaman taps into the spirits of nature that still lurk within Seattle’s concrete jungle, the mage is a much more direct spellcaster.
There is a wide range of spells available to you when playing the mage, from heals and buffs to your armor and accuracy with firearms, through to conjuring lightning and flame, and stunning your foes where they stand. Mages solve problems. With enough planning, you’ll have something in your spell book for every occasion. And since Karma points for leveling are plentiful in Shadowrun Returns, you can spice up your spellcasting by switching in some ranged weaponry from time to time if you so desire.
Really, the only thing holding the Mage back is its inherent fragility. Thankfully, you can mitigate that by throwing more Karma points into Body. Though you may start with a deficiency in the health department, it doesn’t take too much work to build that up. Though you may remain a glass cannon at your core, even glass can take a beating under enough armor!
In the Sixth World, magic and technology interweave in an uneasy alliance. Gunfire rattles out in the neon-soaked night. Spells heal and harm in equal measure. Living as a runner means living a life always one step, one breath away from violence. So why rely on outside weapons, when you could hone your body into one instead? The Physical Adept is the Shadowrun Trilogy’s Monk equivalent, a hardened warrior that will beat you down with fists alone, and soak up bullets as if their skin were layered with Kevlar.
Physical Adepts eschew outward displays of magic, drawing their power from within. Utilizing Chi energy lets your Physical Adept pull off superhuman feats, standing toe-to-toe with any other runner out there. If you want to play as a point of calm in the center of a raging storm, then the Physical Adept is the class for you. Their Body, Willpower and Strength all start off well, and only climb higher with further investment. Continuing to put points into Dodge couldn’t hurt either. This class sets itself apart from many of the other options afforded to you in the Shadowrun Trilogy. If your favorite part of the Matrix was always ‘I know Kung Fu’, then this class is calling out to you.
Shadowrun Trilogy: Shadowrun Returns – Karma
Before we leave you to get stuck into your new gig as a runner, it’s worth briefly touching on Shadowrun Returns’ leveling system. In most other games, Karma will likely make you think of morality choices; Paragon and Renegade, Good and Evil points that paint a picture of how the world sees your character. Not in Shadowrun. Grey morality is the norm, even the most idealistic Runner is likely to get dragged into some shady activity sooner or later. Here, Karma is the name of Shadowrun Returns’ XP.
When you choose your class in Shadowrun Returns, you’re given a small handful of Karma to distribute as you wish among your available skills. If it’s your first time playing, it’s almost certainly worth choosing one of the available classes and putting the remaining Karma where you wish. But, if you’re a returning runner – or otherwise value complete control over your character build – Shadowrun Returns gives you the option of ignoring classes altogether and building your character from scratch. If you take this option, you’re given 34 karma points – with 3 bonus points if your chosen race is Human – and are left to place them where you wish. If you like certain aspects of a class, but would prefer to mix and match it with other traits, then this could well be the option for you.
More Shadowrun Trilogy Content
Here at WePC, we want you to make the most out of your time with the Shadowrun Trilogy. With our upcoming guides, we’re here to help you dive into the Sixth World, to survive and thrive as you run those city streets with chrome and chaos in your palm and a scream in your heart. Welcome to Shadowrun, Chummer! Let’s make your stay a pleasant one.