Pyre is setting itself up as the hottest thing in strategic action RPGs, and it's easy to see why. You're going to throw yourself in to a completely original fantasy 3-on-3 basketball-inspired game mode that serves as the premiere offering for Pyre, the latest game from the studio behind Bastion and Transistor.
You control three out of eight playable Exiles, with the goal to grab an orb and shoot it or run it into the opposing team's goal, so to speak, without getting eliminated in the process. Each Exile can choose four from a set of eight unlockable abilities, called Masteries, and one slot for any of 46 items Talismans that provide a positive effect and can be leveled up to increase that effect.
So already, you're in for a complicated game of chess, trying to counter-pick your opponents and coordinate Masteries and Talismans to create the best overall strategy for each available Exile, and, as we already went over, some of them won't be available for very long.
Tips to Know
Upgrading Talismans is immensely important, and you'll likely only be able to fully upgrade 3-5 of them throughout the course of the campaign. Just before each Rite, you'll be presented with the opportunity to purchase items from the Slugmarket. Almost every time, he will have an item called Stardust that will let you upgrade Talismans either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 levels at a time. Even if you don't have the right Talisman for your favorite Exile just yet, you should still buy these every chance you get and just stock up on them.
Once you have the right Talisman, continually upgrade it until it is level 20 (the max level for each). Don't worry if you bought a Stardust for 2 levels and your Talisman only needs one, Pyre will automatically split the Stardust for you, so nothing will go to waste. After that Talisman is the max level, move on to the next one. In light of this, every Talisman effect referenced in this article will be from the maxed-out version. Below is a link to every Talisman so you can refer to it if you're confused about its ability.
On Masteries, it's important to note that each Exile can only learn four Masteries, so it's really easy to mis-level an Exile and prevent you from unlocking the top-tier ability. Just make sure you choose the Tier-2 Mastery in the same tree as your desired Tier-3 Mastery. Now, without further ado, the Exiles. We have provided three options for viable Talismans on each Exile, and bolded the one we think is the best.
Best Masteries: Martial Training, Shared Tenacity, Shoulder Smash and Burning Resolve
Best Talismans: Flame Leech, Living Flame or Righteous Flame
Hedwyn's Masteries are a little disjointed, and none of them have game-changing synergy. That said, this build is really the best you can hope for. The combination of Martial Training and Shared Tenacity will give him 50% more Stamina and the ability to regenerate it twice as fast (the latter of which also applies to his allies). This, combined with the Shoulder Smash make him a fast, but deadly ally who can eliminate difficult enemies with ease and score right afterwards, which is why you should take Burning Resolve has the top-tier Mastery to get a little bonus for when he does score.
As for Talismans, you can go with Flame Leech, which provides the same effect as Burning Resolve, doubling its effectiveness. You can also go with Righteous flame to turn that percentage into a flat bonus in case you want to shoot the Orb in. That said, it's probably best to grab Living Flame. Living Flame gives you bonus damage whenever your Pyre has more health than the opposing Pyre, which synergizes perfectly with Burning Resolve, which increases your Pyre's health every time Hedwyn scores. This will continually increase the gap between you and your opponent.
Best Masteries: Long Stride, Relentless Vigor, Enduring Flame and Greater Banishment
Best Talismans: Ashen Coal, Moon Crest or Sunken Shadow
As we went over in our guide to Liberation Rites, Jodarial is worth keeping around for Enduring Flame alone, giving your Pyre a bonus 35 health right from the get-go. This pretty much means you have to invest in the two other Masteries in that tree, but luckily for you, they're both great. Relentless Vigor combines perfectly with Long Stride, allowing Jodariel to dash twice and replenish her Stamina completely if she eliminates anyone in the process. Given her penchant for elimination, Greater Banishment, which makes enemies she banishes take 30% longer to respawn, is a no-brainer.
As for Talismans, there's really two ways you can play this. If you want to treat Jodariel like a solid defensive Exile, I'd go ahead and put Ashen Coal on her. This will give your Pyre an additional 30 health at max level, which does stack with Enduring Flame, meaning you can start each match with 165 Pyre health. That said, you could also play her more offensively and go with Sunken Shadow, this adds a flat 2 seconds to every enemies respawn time if Jodariel banishes them, which, again, stacks with Greater Banishment.
If both of these Talismans are taken by your other two Exiles for whatever reason, go ahead and go with Moon Crest. This will often negate Jodariel's long respawn time by allowing an instant respawn 60% of the time. I'll take those odds.
Best Masteries: Cloud Jump, Glory Dive, Lighting Run and Moon Sault
Best Talismans: Bright Wisp, Luminous Idol or Lunar Glass
The truth about these small, speedy guys is that they're never going to be all too great at banishing enemy Exiles. They're thing is that they can gab the Orb and run, nimbly avoiding trouble along the way. That's why you have to make it easier and more effective when choosing his Masteries. Cloud Jump and Moon Sault will allow Rukey to triple jump, covering an insane amount of ground in-air. He won't be invulnerable while doing this, as someone can jump up to knock him back, but it's still better than anyone else can do. Then a bonus 5 damage with Glory Dive is nothing to scoff at, and Lighting Run helps him get up to top speed almost instantly.
It should go without saying that Luminous Idol is the best option for him. He has all this speed to go grab the Orb, but that might use up all his Stamina. Luckily for him, Luminous Idol will fully replenish his Stamina when he picks up the Orb. This makes the formula rather simple: sprint to the Orb, regain all your Stamina, and use that Stamina to triple jump your way into the enemies' Pyre. At 20 damage a pop, that's going to be GG very quickly.
Best Masteries: Heightened Reflex, Snap cast, Sudden Grasp and Dark Vigor
Best Talismans: Bright Wisp, Lunar Glass or Shooting Star
Fae is one of the heroes I kept in my top two until the end of the game, constantly cycling out lesser Exiles in that third spot as the Liberation Rites demanded, and that is all because of Dark Vigor. The highest-tier Mastery in the right side of her Skill Tree gives Fae infinite stamina for as long as she possesses the Orb. That means, she can sprint around and jump forever. Heightened Reflex synergizes perfectly with this ability, all but eliminating the brief charge-up time before Fae jumps. With these two abilities alone, you can sprint toward the Orb, grab it, sprint to a good jumping position and leap into the enemy Pyre before they know what hit them.
If you want to spec Fae slightly differently, you can grab Quick Fling instead of Sudden Grasp and then use the Shooting Star Talisman (which makes thrown Orbs deadly) to turn Fae into an Orb-throwing killing machine, but, really that's not what she's all about. You'd be much better off picking Lunar Glass. That way, not only will she not run out of Stamina when she has the Orb, but she'll be deadly fast.
Best Masteries: Elusive Nature, Safe Return, Titan's Rage and Inner Glory
Best Talismans: Ha'Ub's Wing
When tier lists for Pyre come out, don't be surprised to see Ti'Zo at the top of it. Which is especially funny because it's really easy to spend most of the game ignoring him. His defensive capabilities early on are so-so as is his scoring potential, but this is like a Gyarados hidden inside a helpless Magikarp - just give him some time.
First off, his Masteries are easy to remember: don't get any ability on the right side of the skill Tree. Just get all four Masteries on the left. These have plenty of Synergy, increasing both his defensive, killing capabilities and his ability, and effectiveness while scoring. He'll be able to banish more enemies with his implode ability and return more quickly afterwards, and he'll be able to move more quickly and do more damage when he scores.
And I know I said I'd be giving you three options for Talismans, but you really shouldn't consider anything else besides Ha'Ub's Wing. This decreases the Stamina cost required for Ti'Zo to dash and fly by 100% at max level. Yes, you read that right: Ti'Zo has permanent infinite stamina when combined withthe Ha'Ub's Wing Talisman. This makes him nigh un-catchable and a real headache to defend. Not to mention that he'll be doing 25 damage a pop. Eesh. Just trust me, and thank me later.
Best Masteries: Valiant Return, Avenging Aid, Heroic Stand and Seized Chance
Best Talismans: Ores's Scale, Prayer Beads or Vengeful Vow
Sir Gilman is the ultimate hero, both in his personality and in his abilities. You should spec him in this exact way to maximize the effect that gives you benefits upon being banished. Valiant Return makes Sir Gilman instantly respawn if he and all his allies are Banished. Avenging Aid will return one ally when Sir Gilman banishes an enemy (think dodgeball), and Heroic Stand is his bread and butter - if Sir Gilman is the last of his team alive, he has infinite stamina. The seized chance to add 10 damage if he gets a kill is just gravy.
But what really makes him an ultimate pest is his ability to never be banished. In Pyre, a hero who scores by plunging into the opposing Pyre is banished for a round. But, if you use a max-level Prayer Beads talisman, you have a 100% chance of returning after doing so, avoiding banishment. Your enemy just won't be able to get rid of this guy, and that's good news for you.
Alternatively, although this won't make him quite as ever-present, you could use Vengeful Vow to turn Sir Gilman into what is essentially a suicide bomber. He's fast and can have infinite stamina, so you can run him directly into a group of enemies to die, and max-level Vengeful Vow will make him explode in a 500 radius. This may also proc one of his other abilities that either respawns him or respawn an ally, which will now leave them wide open for a score. Your call.
Best Masteries: Swift Flight, Winged Fury, Fell Swoop and Natural Superiority
Best Talismans: Nihiland Leech, Sunken Shadow, or Triesta's Plume
This build for Pamitha turns her into an exploding wrecking ball, and all that implies. Naturally, Pamitha's Aura-cast shoots her forward, not only banishing those with whom she comes into contact, but also making Pamitha invincible to enemy Auras during that time. Swift flight is then obvious, to help her get around, and Natural Superiority is a nice bonus.
But the real meat is the combination of Winged Fury and Fell Swoop. With these two, she now increases her killing capacity by adding a second Aura burst that happens right after her initial Aura cast, but she also gets a speed bonus for 5 seconds after banishment.
It only makes sense then to give Pamitha the Talisman we denied Jordarial: Sunken Shadow. This is an Exile who can banish three enemies all at once, and a max-level Sunken Shadow adds a flat 2 seconds on to the respawn time of everyone the bearer Banishes. Defenses beware.
Best Masteries: Final Kindling, Steadfast Hope, Guardian Sapling and Miracle Kindling
Best Talismans: Ashen Coal, Lu's Bough and Righteous Flame
Volfred is really the ultimate defense character. He's an Exile very clearly built to bolster his own Pyre and defend it in kind. His Guardian Sapling will do much of the work, spawning a stationary sapling at the friendly Pyre if Volfred is Banished. But then, his Miracle Kindling Mastery will give your Pyre a bonus 40 health just after it takes lethal damage. (Think of it like a last chance).
Honestly, with Talismans, the world is your oyster for Volfred. You can bolster his defensive capabilities with something like Ashen Coal (discussed above) or Righteous Flame to bolster Pyre health even further, or you could give Volfred a bit more utility and mobility by giving him Lu's Bough to double is blink distance. As long as you're not going heavy offense, there's no wrong answer.
Best Masteries: Hex of Defeat, Hex of Victory, Sudden Blast and Stubborn Flame
Best Talismans: Milithe's Tail or Rite Lite
Bertrude is both an offensive and defensive character, with great capabilities in both areas. She is big and slow, so she can take up space and block incoming attacks, but she also has a wicked fast sprint and a surprisingly long leap that can make her clear great distances with the Orb.
Get both Hex of Defeat and Hex of Victory, and she'll deal an additional 5 damage whether your team is ahead or behind. Then, Sudden Blast will give her better offensive capabilities as far as banishing enemies goes. Finally, Stubborn Flame makes it so, if your team is behind, the opposing team deals -10 damage, making it an impossibly arduous task to defeat you.
With Talismans, you can really go one of two ways. You can get Milithe's Tail, which makes her Aura Blast pierce through obstacles, thus increasing her Banishing potential. Or, you can really piss off your opponent (A.I. or otherwise) by grabbing Rite Lite. You know how Bertrude gives you -10 damage if you're ahead? Well, with Rite Lite, it will also give her team a bonus 20 health when you finally get their Pyre down to 0. Good luck with that.