Although your main group of runners make a powerful fighting force all by themselves, they aren’t the only faces you can rely on in the Shadowrun Trilogy. Shadowrun Hong Kong features two unlockable runners – Racter and Gaichu – to add to your squad, with just as many upgrade options as your main party.
We’ll walk you through the best upgrade options to take when building out these runners with our Shadowrun Hong Kong companion Guide.
Shadowrun Hong Kong: Racter
Your friendly neighborhood mad scientist! Rather than being a member of your team right away, Racter starts out as the slightly off-putting guy occupying your boat’s engine room. While his fixed grin and ability to unsettle never fades away, Racter becomes a capable and valued teammate over time.
Neither of Racter’s upgrade paths focus much on the man himself, rather they determine the direction in which his combat drone Koschei develops.
The first path, Predator, focuses primarily on Koschei’s weapon systems, having him work as a mobile artillery platform. Whereas the Mangler path unleashes Racter’s id through Koschei, allowing the drone to get up close and deal some nasty damage.
- Racter’s first Predator upgrade is Increased Accuracy, providing a flat boost of 5% to Koschei’s overall accuracy.
- Mangler grants Move Speed at this tier, increasing Koschei’s movement by 1.
A single extra square of movement is barely noticeable. Chances are you’ll swiftly forget that you ever installed this upgrade. A flat 5% accuracy increase might seem similarly negligible, but it makes a significantly larger impact on Koschei’s effectiveness.
Best Pick: Increased Accuracy
- Racter upgrades Koschei with a Shotgun Mount on the Predator path at this tier.
- Racter upgrades Rotary Saw when choosing Mangler.
Both are deadly, effective close-range tools. The Rotary Saw does huge damage on a critical, and crits are much more likely to happen with this weapon than with Koschei’s other armaments. And its 2-turn cooldown is very short but does mean that you have to put some thought into when to use the Saw.
The Shotgun Mount deals increased damage and has no cooldown, but is less accurate than Koschei’s starting weaponry. Thankfully, if you took Increased Accuracy at tier 1, the Shotgun Mount becomes a reliable alternate fire mode, just slightly beating out the Rotary Saw’s impressive damage output in terms of overall usefulness.
Best Pick: Shotgun Mount
Tier 3 directly improves how Racter can boost Koschei’s performance, rather than focusing on the drone itself.
- The Predator path grants Racter an upgrade to his Overclock ability at tier 3, granting Koschei +2 AP and +2 Movement for a single turn.
- Choosing Mangler reduces the cooldown of Racter’s Repair to 3 turns, rather than the initial 5.
While the shorter cooldown on Repair increases Koschei’s survivability, it’s thoroughly lacking in comparison to the improved Overclock. Regularly being able to grant an additional 2 AP to Koschei completely swings the action economy in your team’s favor, turning Koschei into one of Shadowrun: Hong Kong’s most effective tools of destruction.
Best Pick: Augment Ability: Overclock
This tier offers small boosts to different aspects of Koschei’s damage output.
- Koschei’s Firearm Systems are improved through Predator, allowing all of the drone’s ranged attacks to pierce 2 armor.
- Mangler modifiers Koschei’s Melee Systems, allowing his melee attacks to cause enemies to take 2 additional damage each turn for the next 2 turns.
While the Melee Systems boost is a nice improvement to Koschei’s offensive capabilities, the damage being spread out over subsequent turns is less than ideal. The immediate impact of Koschei’s ranged weapons piercing armor is a more substantial upgrade.
Best Pick: Firearm Systems
Koschei’s final upgrades are among the most useful in the game, cementing Koschei’s status as the deadliest drone in Hong Kong.
- Choosing Predator unlocks the Ares Heavy Laser, a devastating new tool that is highly accurate and deals both HP and AP damage.
- Mangler unlocks Rip and Tear, a brutal melee attack that strips a whopping 4 armor from enemies on a successful hit.
This upgrade tier mostly comes down to personal preference, as both options are incredibly potent. Rip and Tear allows you to gain an edge against some of Shadowrun: Hong Kong’s trickiest opponents. But the Ares Heavy Laser is such an incredible, consistently reliable combat tool that it slightly wins out here.
Best Pick: Ares Heavy Laser.
Shadowrun Hong Kong: Gaichu
The former Red Samurai is a ronin now, dealing with his new life as a shadowrunning ghoul. You’ve gained a powerful ally skilled in close combat, with strength and regenerative capabilities that set him apart even from the metahumans and transhumans that populate your team.
Gaichu’s first upgrade path is Red Samurai, focusing on defensive stances, damaging multiple enemies in a single sword stroke, and modifying his skill set with limited ranged capabilities.
Ghoul is the other path that Gaichu can progress down. This path grants Gaichu numerous new skills that can apply buffs to himself when dealing damage, as well as ranged techniques that deal damage over time.
- Gaichu’s first Red Samurai ability is Active Defense, which boosts Gaichu’s armor by 2 and his dodge rating by 1, with a 5-turn cooldown.
- Ghoul grants Rip, which is a claw-based melee attack, dealing 2 extra damage, with further damage applied for the next 2 turns.
Rip is a fairly useful option early on, but Gaichu unlocks plenty of offensive maneuvers as you continue to upgrade him. Active Defense is useful all the way through Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Gaichu is the most heavily melee-focused character on your team, and increasing his defense allows him to survive that much longer.
Best Pick: Active Defense
The second set of upgrades for Gaichu offers a choice between 2 potent ranged abilities, giving Gaichu additional options when struggling to close the gap with foes. Both skills have a 2-turn cooldown.
- Shuriken deals a single chunk of damage and costs 1AP.
- Spit deals damage split over 3 turns, ignores armor, and costs 0AP.
Shuriken is a decent ranged option that deals good damage, and its strength scaling allows it to improve as Gaichu grows more powerful. Spit takes 3 turns to deal as much damage as Shuriken initially does in 1, but the bulk of Spit’s damage is still dealt on the first turn. Completely ignoring armor means that Spit continues to be useful into the endgame.
Best Pick: Spit
- Gaichu’s third Red Samurai ability is Coup De Grace, a move that instantly kills a single stunned target, with a 3-turn cooldown.
- Bite is a new melee attack that boosts Gaichu’s strength by 1 for 2 turns, heals him for 8HP, and deals AP damage on a 2-turn cooldown.
If you’ve built your team to deal heavy AP damage, then Coup De Grace is an amazing ability that can instantly take enemies out of the fight. But Bite is useful no matter what your team composition, healing and buffing Gaichu, reducing enemy AP, and dealing damage all at once. Both options are excellent, but Bite slightly wins out.
Best Pick: Bite
- Red Samurai at tier 4 grants Metal Cover Bonus, an improvement to Gaichu’s Metal Stance that adds a Light Cover Bonus.
- Ghoul’s tier 4 ability is Disease, which radiates a cloud around Gaichu that persists for 3 turns, deals heavy damage, and reduces enemy AP.
Passive light cover is useful to have but adds less variety to Gaichu’s toolkit than Disease. Gaichu’s defensive capabilities have already been improved if you took Active Defense at tier 2, and Disease is far too useful an ability to pass up.
Best Pick: Disease
Gaichu’s final set of abilities trend toward offense for Red Samurai, and a rare defensive skill for the Ghoul path.
- Red Samurai’s Whirlwind is a new attack for Gaichu that hits all adjacent enemies, dealing 2 additional damage per hit.
- Regenerate is the Ghoul ability, and when activated heals Gaichu for 6hp per turn, over 3 turns total.
Whirlwind is incredibly useful when Gaichu is rushed by multiple foes, allowing him to serve as a walking AOE. The only issue is that Disease is roughly on par in terms of damage, and offers debuffing properties too. Taking both feels superfluous.
Regenerate has a cooldown of 2, meaning there’s very little reason not to have it active constantly. Coupled with the regenerative properties of Bite – which can stack with Regenerate – Gaichu becomes a very difficult foe to take down.
That does it for our Shadowrun Hong Kong companion build guide! While you’re here, be sure to check out our guide to building Shadowrun Hong Kong’s Main Party.