Tips on how to spend IP (improvement points)

If you’re new to this game, then chances are spending IP (improvement points) is a little bit overwhelming and confusing.

Eventually you will be able to max all the skills your profession needs, but between the levels of 1 - 130 points are quite precious, so you want to spend them wisely. Here are my suggestions for levels 1 - 130.

Skills to max out every level:

All base abilities (intel, sense, agility, psychic ect)

Body Dev. Increases your max health so quite important.

Your weapon skill. If you’re unsure of what weapon skill your profession uses, check the colour the the skill. Dark blue means your profession should not be using that skill. Colours closer to green or greenish suggest that they are something your profession should use.

The closer the colour is to green the less IP it costs. For example for a Doctor most weapon skills are dark blue, however Pistol and Martial Arts are not, so this suggests that this is what a Doctor should use. Most professions have buffs that will increase 1 or 2 weapon skills, this is also an indication of what weapon skill you should use. For example Doctors can use Pistol Mastery which adds 40 points to Pistol

Some skills require more points even if they are the same colour (At lvl 1 for a Doctor, Shotgun requires 12 points to improve, however Assault Rifle requires 20, even though they are both dark blue)

If you’re a pet class, healer or nano technician, make this your last priority and make nano skills your first priority. I would suggest only increasing your weapon skill if you have spare IP that you’re willing to use.

Runspeed. Always nice to move faster in the game as this literally saves you real life time.

Treatment. Keep around 50% maxed and then increase as needed.

Skill to increase temporarily:

Nano pool. Increase this until you have have enough nano to comfortably cast your nanos (spells/buffs). If you’re a Nano Technician or a healer, you should increase this a little bit more, but don’t increase it more than you have to.

Computer Literacy. Temporarily stop increasing once you reach 180 because at this point you can equip Dark Memories and travel to most places in the grid and then you can use implants to increase this further when equipping new NCUs and belts. Increase as required later on.

First Aid. This is especially important for professions that don’t have nanos to heal themselves (Nano technician, Bureaucrat, Engineer, Soldier, Agent)

Nano skills. Increase only the nano skills your profession requires. If you’re a Nano Technician or a pet profession, you will want to keep your nano skills maxed or at least close to maxed as this is your primary source of damage. Traders and healers will also want these skills quite high.

Weapon special attack. (Fling Shot, Fast Attack, Burst, Full Auto ect) Increase when required for new weapons.

Nano init. This is mainly for healers and Nano Technicians. If you increase this to around 200 it will make a decent difference on how fast you cast nanos. You can increase it further if you wish.

Multi Ranged/Multi Melee. Increase only when required for new weapons and be sure to use implants and equipment to increase this skill first, and then IP afterwards.

At this point you will have free points, my suggestion would be to some points (not all) in First Aid so that you’re able to use first aid kits in battle to help keep you alive. After this I would suggest putting some points into your nano skills, then Computer Literacy. I recommend not spending all of your IP, it’s always good to have spare just in case. Of course you can spend your free points anywhere you wish.

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When would you recommend putting points i to your evades as opposed to relying on AC? I’ve been spoilt by playing obviously specified classes (MA, Fixer and Enf), and am a little torm with my new Agent.

I recommend keeping dodge/evade close at about 75% to avoid getting crit chained by mobs. Few mobs you run in to at that level check duck.

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I’ve updated a bit of my post as it was outdated.

I would suggest increasing evades at 130 - 150 as you get title capped at 130 and have lots of spare IP.

If froob you can ignore duck explosion for a pretty long time because very few RK mission and outdoor mobs use shotguns and grenade launchers. A few mobs in temple of three winds use shotguns and once in a great while you may encounter traders in RK human missions. SL mobs tend to be more diverse as far as checking evade and ac holes.

I agree with the 75% of max figure posted above.

I never put any ponts in first aid before I’m around level 100 no matter what I’m playing. Before that, if you heal up between fights you are fine (unless you make a pvp carracter, then first aid is a must have). Also I aways max computer literacy so I can sell my stuff for more money in terminals (I don’t like transfering money all the time). Other than that it’s a good guide

I would say that you would want to keep treatment MAXED at all times, just in case you want to upgrade your implants at any given time. It is likely going to be maxed or near-maxed by end game, similar to abilities. First aid is incredibly useful and should be prioritized early. There is a reason you used to see people leveling in medsuits around subway and totw: Stims are OP. Now the newcomers armor offers some first aid.

Computer literacy is very important, but as mentioned you can sit on a 5 slot belt with NoDrop ncus for a long time as a new player with a total of 225 computer literacy. This will also allow access to most of the grid. Complit should still be raised until this point since ncu is very important. Buff durations are now 4 hours so if you have the ncu, leveling up can be a breeze with a few nice buffs. More ncu = more buffs. Find a fixer, they have the best buffs for leveling, and can boost your ncu as well.

Body development should be maxed on anyone leveling up, since health pool is often your best defense at early levels. Nano pool should be raised as needed, and only maxed for heavy nano-dependant classes such as NT, trader, doctor, and agent (for the %cost increases on false profession). Check to see how much nano you are really using in combat. for enforcers, add the cost of your rage, challenger, mongo, taunts and add 100, then stop there. For soldiers, take the current cost of your total mirror shield and double it. Any other class can comfortably rest around 75% without nano-issues.

Also, 90% of the mobs you will encounter in both SL and RK are melee and thus check evade-close, so it is totally reasonable to ignore the other evade stats on a non evade profession.

For nano skills, you should only raise nano skills to the exact level you need them for the nanos you use. There is no point in going overboard with nano skills, the exceptions are Matter Creation for Nanotechnician/Bureaucrat/Metaphys, and Psymod/Timespace for Trader since they rely on attack/defense check for their damage.

as a rule, you should only put IP into one initiative skill. if you highly value nano init., then you should leave ranged init. and melee init. alone. You don’t get a lot of value from extra points dumped into these, except in cases where you are using a slow weapon with few special attacks. all weapon attack/recharge speeds are capped at 1 second, regardless of initiatives. Nano initiative is special, because at a certain point you will be able to instant cast your abilities. Any points beyond these threshholds are wasted points.

As for weapon skills, you want to just want to max your attack rating, that is your main weapon skill, and have specials as high as they need to be to equip your weapon. The exception to this is Martial artist’s brawl special, which should be maxed. Later on you will have the IP needed to dump points into special attacks for lower cooldowns and better damage, but for much of the time early on, specials dont matter nearly as much as the other stuff listed above. your basic attacks will be most of your damage and boosting them high is the best route. Aimed shot can be fun to have high on agent so you can one-shot mobs every once in a while, But it’s still barely worth it until you have a targeting scope.

And yes, max run speed. It’s worth it.

During the first four title levels, it may not always be the best idea to max every ability. I recently leveled a froob engineer, and from level 1 to 160, I didn’t allocate a single point of IP into strength; Why would I? Body Dev., evades, pistol, MM, TS&MC, treatment, first aid, computer literacy, mechanical engineering - essential skills for an engineer, and none are dependent on strength. The same strength IP distribution was used with a froob doctor and (pistol) mp; most essential skills independent of strength.

Not saying to ignore some abilities completely, as they may still have a small dependence, just don’t max them. Take armor requirements into consideration, as well as implants. When you have plenty of IP to spare (usually around TL5 (level 150-190)), you can safely max everything that your profession needs.

Of course, you cannot go wrong with maxing every ability, but if you would like a bit of spare IP, check what your profession’s main skills are dependent on, and distribute your IP into abilities accordingly.

I always max intelligence, stamina, and agility, no matter the profession. Body development and treatment too.

To advice about always maxing treatment on every profession, i would make an exception on shade and max first aid instead treatment. HP+Nano kits require xx Treatment OR xx First Aid to use and locks treatment. That way you can save a nice amount of IP’s on shade just by skipping treat as shades cant use implants/symbiants anyway.

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I got away with not maxing treatment on all of my characters and was still able to equip fairly high implants. New players are unlikely to twink on super high implants.


This next bit is from the ebook froob engineer manual: the early days. Most of the info is mashed together from open source websites, AO community threads at the old forums and my personal experience playing froob and subscription account engineers.

Diversity in builds is what makes AO fun. Generally speaking, there really isn’t one single best path when spending IP. Newcomers should hoard IP if unsure what to do next. Better to wait and make an informed choice than mis-allocate needed IP at levels under level 75. Always chose non-exotic builds viz. melee weapons on a trader is a bad idea. (I have a piercing ITD Trader and it’s a bit tricky)

My preference is to introduce newcomers to light twinking at about level 30. They can do it with guidance … and a helpful credit donation of about 300k. Temp implanting and gear swapping is one of the most engaging things about AO. Why wait? Twinking is just a puzzle game wanting to be solved. If they wait until level 60 the tasks only seem more daunting. For instance, Introduce newbies to temporary implanting to wear higher QL treatment library and NCU/belt. That minor twink job introduces process . It’s the foundational basis for one half of entire game.

5.0 Skills
This section covers the skills essential and highly useful to low level engineers. All skills are permanently increased by Improvement Points as well as something called “trickle down” from the Abilities page; this means a small increase in a particular skill based on the aggregate points in its Parent Ability. A skill can only be raised a limited amount before it’s Parent Ability needs to be increased as well. The most important skills for engineers are those that make our bots go, govern our implant use, increase and modify our weapon handling abilities and our utility skills, without which we’re not much use to anyone.

5.1. Essential skills

At every step the following are essential for new engineers:

  • Intelligence - trickles down to all nano skills, most trade skills and computer literacy. Max IP.

  • Agility - trickles to nano,pistol and evade skills among others. Max IP. See section 11.3.

  • Stamina - trickles to hit points and nano skills. Also implant wear requirements. Max IP.

  • Matter Creation - bot creation and other nano programs, chargers. Max IP.

  • Time and Space - bot creation and other nano programs. Max IP.

  • Matter Metamorphosis - assist combat array and shields. Max IP.

  • Computer Literacy - NCU, belts and grid travel. Max IP.

  • Treatment - Implant requirements, health kits. Max IP.

  • Body Development - Increases total hit point pool. Max IP.

  • Nano Pool - Increases total nano pool points. Max IP.

5.2. Important secondary skills

Skills new engineers should pay close attention to:

  • Pistol. Somewhat easy to raise using nano programs. IP this skill at 90%.

  • Fling Shot. Implant clusters and IP. Try to keep this skill at 75%-80%.

  • Multi-ranged - required to dual wield pistols. This skill eats IP. It’s also a needed and important skill. Knowing the skill required to wield the next secondary weapon one plans on using helps a lot. Look at wear requirements for SOL K Mini and spend IP accordingly. IP to 85% or more.

  • First Aid. Check root/snare free movement and hp/nano stim requirements and add IP accordingly. Save IP at low levels by wearing select omni-med suit pieces and implant left hand.

  • Close Combat Evades - checks dice-roll against melee and critical damage. Maintain it at about 85%, but do not max yet.

  • Dodge Ranged evades- mitigates ranged damage. Maintain it at about 65%, but do not max yet.

  • Duck Explosions. Leave this one alone. Few RK mobs use shotguns and grenade launchers. 0% IP.

  • Ranged Init. Maintain at 40%-50% max level.

Max Abilities Sense, Strength and Psychic through level 20. No need to max them after level 20. Consider each in maintenance mode and feed some IP to all three until level 50. Parent ability and child skill dependency (or synergy) require all of us to maintain Abilities to a certain extent. Understanding how this functions and how to adjust them to your specific play style and circumstance become clearer as you level up and gain practical experience.

5.3. Resetting skills

IP Reset points provide the only method for you to reset character skills and abilities. There are individual skill and complete character reset options. Every character has access to a fixed amount of IP Reset Points, and you’ll get more every time you reach a new title level (but not at level 205). Titles levels change at levels: 15, 50, 100, 150, 190 and 205. Each TL point grants a single skill reset. If you’re short in IP for a particular skill it is always better to level rather than to use reset points. Using a reset point returns all IP you have spent in that skill to the unused IP pool. To reset a single skill, or complete reset, one must remove all weapons, equipment, armor, social slot clothing and implants. The game was once revised on a regular basis - and one could not say with certainty when those choices would require a rethink. If you have used all your IP Reset Points you will need to visit the Item Store and purchase reset(s).

Bump cus this is super important

Bump cus of edits

Newcomers really need help after they leave Arete and up to title level four … if they don’t get bored/frustrated and quit before getting there. The game is wide open and pretty sandbox-like generally lacking linear modern quest hub through-lines.

I’m pretty much convinced that if they don’t get a general understanding of how all the moving parts mesh together that they quit just after they level out of ToTW and get their first series of beat-downs at Foreman’s in the Floater sewers. If they have yet to work on simple twinking like belts and ncu and temp implants? Then they’ve very much under appreciated how the game should be played.

More in a bit…