Last updated on January 19th, 2020
Fanatic Build Guide
Fanatics use the speed and raw power of the Barbarian, in addition to some of the best defenses in the game brought to the table by the Paladin class. Paladins also provide a heavy-hitting ability in Flames of Devotion, which might just be the single most deadly attack in the game that only costs 1 Zeal. You can play this Build as a melee, and in fact it probably works best as a melee character, however in this Guide we’re going to be using purely Ranged Weapons (Pistols).
Once combat begins the Fanatic will buff with Frenzy to increase its Action Speed and Damage. We then open fire on the nearest target with Flames of Devotion, unloading 2 rounds into our target. This should generally kill it, but if not we repeat this process once more. Fanatics gain a further increase in Action Speed once they’ve killed any enemy, so they will be attacking even faster once the first one goes down. The strategy is simple, keep firing with Flames, and keep your Action Speed up with Frenzy. If you want to dual-wield Pistols, this is one of the most effective Builds you can make. Note that in Turn-Based you won’t attack faster, you’ll just go sooner in the next round.
For Barbarian I chose the Berserker Subclass. Though the Hit to Crit only works with melee attacks, which is why I said it probably works better with a melee build, you still gain the Penetration and Armor from it. Pistols have low Penetration, and Flames of Devotion doesn’t provide any, so this is a great way to pick some up. Additionally, since you won’t be in melee you won’t hit friendlies with Carnage while Confused, making very little downside to using this Subclass. Note that the video version of the Build suggests No Subclass, which also works fine, but I had forgotten to take these things into account.
Paladin-wise, I chose Bleak Walkers for the increased damage with Flames of Devotion. We want to hit as hard as we can with every shot, hopefully taking down each target with one Flames of Devotion, which will then refund the Zeal cost 25% of the time, so it takes much longer to run out of resources. No other Paladin Subclass provides anything we need for a ranged Paladin except Kind Wayfarers, which will heal around you when you get a hit. Depending on how your party is setup this may or may not be a better choice, particularly if you aren’t a fan of the Bleak Walker alignment.
Fanatic Weapons and Armor
As mentioned above, for this Build we will be using dual Pistols. Some people have been asking for me to make a dual Pistols Build, and this is the best way I can think of to make one. Pistols normally fire both rounds at the beginning of combat, and then the character will proceed to load one and fire it, and then reload the other, firing it. This process is repeated the entire fight, making the opening salvo the only way to fire two consecutive shots without reloading. However, if you use a Full Attack ability you will fire both guns, and Flames of Devotion is indeed a Full Attack. This means every time you fire you’ll be able to fire both guns, and it will take longer to run out of Zeal if you kill a target with each burst because you refund Zeal 25% of the time you down a target.
Flames of Devotion is the hardest hitting single target attack in the game (behind Soul Annihilation), and the fact it will allow you to fire both guns over and over are the two major reasons we use it. You can use other Full Attacks to gain the firing of both guns, but none hit like Flames, and Paladins can regain its cost when they down a target, making Zeal a virtually infinite resource. If you want to be a ranged damage dealer, that is not a caster, Flames of Devotion is your best bet. Additionally, you can use Barbaric Smash to deal increased Damage and Penetration, refunding the cost if the target is killed. Alternating between Flames of Devotion, and Barbaric Smash can really “shell out” Damage in a hurry.
Armor-wise you want to wear Armor that has no Recovery Time penalty so that you can Reload as fast as possible between attacks. Paladins bring tons of defense to the table, so you should have plenty of other ways of getting Armor such as: Inspired Defenses and Stoic Steel. In short, you won’t have a problem staying alive with this Build. If you’re playing Turn-Based you can use Heavy or Medium Armor if you wish, since having less Recovery Time is not that big of a deal.
In this section we’re going to cover the “must have” Fanatic Abilities for this Build. You are free to pick and choose which you want outside of these because everyone’s style of play is different and there is no perfect way. However, these ones will be needed for this Build to work effectively.
Frenzy – This ability increases your Action Speed and increases your Damage, via Might. You’ll buff with this at the beginning of combat and reapply as necessary.
Blooded – This ability will increase your damage far more early in the game than it will later, however it is still useful. Taking this one near the beginning.
Barbaric Blow – A great way to finish off Low Health targets if Flames of Devotion didn’t do the trick early on. Use this sparingly, since it costs 2 Rage.
Thick Skinned – This passive gives you a bit extra Armor vs. a few damage types that you’ll face regularly. Since we’ll be wearing the lightest Armor we can, this will help a lot.
Two Weapon Style – This passive further reduces your Recovery Time when using 2 one-handed weapons, which we will be using. Get it as soon as you can, however, don’t take it if you’re playing Turn-Based.
Barbaric Smash – This ability will allow you to refund the cost of it if you kill the target. Use on Low Health enemies for best results, if they survived your Flames of Devotion.
Unflinching – This ability gives you resistance to 3 different Attribute Afflictions while over 75% Health. Get it and enjoy the defense.
Uncanny Luck – Not the greatest ability in the world but more Crit chance is always good, so we take it.
Tough – Fanatics have some of the highest Health pools in the game, and Tough only makes it even higher. Take this when you can to make you even harder to kill.
Flames of Devotion – I think I’ve said plenty about this ability already, and you come with it anyway as a Bleak Walkers. Use it liberally.
Retribution – This passive increases the damage you do on your next attack after taking damage. Since you’ll most likely be getting hit on a regular bases, this can really help your DPS.
Zealous Aura – This will give you access to your Paladin Auras that buff you and your group. The Accuracy is good to get early on from Focus Aura, but later on you’ll upgrade it to Exalted Endurance for the extra healing.
Inspired Defenses – 1 extra additional Armor when damaged for a few seconds. When you get hit repeatedly this really shines, and you’ll have low Armor values, so this is great for boosting it.
Exalted Endurance – This will upgrade your Armor Aura to heal in an AoE around you. Because you’ll have decent Might for this Build you’ll get some extremely good healing from this one, which will allow you to keep on firing without worry of dying.
Scion of Flame – This passive will give you 1 extra Penetration when using Flames of Devotion, and you’ll need it because Pistols have rather weak Penetration.
Righteous Soul – This ability makes you immune to Disease and Poison effects, further improving your tankiness.
Virtuous Triumph – This passive gives you +1 Zeal when you down an enemy 25% of the time. This should give you a few extra Zeal to spend each combat, which is much needed.
Stoic Steel – This passive will give you more Armor for not moving for a good amount of time. Since you’ll be standing still often, this works really well. You can never get enough Armor, especially when you’re wearing the lightest possible.
In this section we’ll cover Attributes for the Fanatic, and explain a bit about each and why we need it or why it’s important. This Fanatic Build needs Might, Perception, Dexterity and Constitution. Intellect isn’t necessary, but don’t lower it below ten in order to keep Frenzy’s Duration as long as possible. You can dump Resolve to get extra points. If you’re playing Turn-Based, place no point into Dexterity, but instead focus on Perception and Might.
Might is important to any Build that uses Firearms because the Reload Time on them are generally pretty lengthy, so you want to kill your target in one burst if possible. Although Might no longer provides the same boost in damage that it did in Beta, an extra 20% or 30% damage could be just enough to down that target, so you refund your Zeal and move on to the next threat.
Perception is important because you want to at least Hit with every shot, and getting Crits is even better. Putting points here will help make this happen, but isn’t worth it unless you make a significant investment, in my opinion. You’ll want 16 or 17 points here.
Dexterity is necessary to reduce your Reload Time, so that you fire more shots in a shorter span of time. Most encounters have many enemies, and it isn’t enough to just kill 1 or 2 targets quickly, you have to maintain your DPS. You’ll want at least 15 points here.
You won’t need a lot of points into Constitution, but it would be foolish not to put a few. You will have one of the largest Health pools in the game with these two Classes, so boosting it a bit can give you time to heal up while you are fighting.
The Race you select for this Build won’t have that much impact on its actual performance so I would recommend just choosing whichever you like. Hearth Orlan gives a boost to Crits, but it’s not a huge amount. Nature Godlike will give you +1 Power Level when using Frenzy which helps with the healing of Exalted Endurance, and Frenzy Duration, but that’s about it.
Exalted Endurance is the best Aura for the Paladin hands down. Not only will it provide you and your party with Armor, but also vital healing. Because you will have high Might, by the time you reach max level you will be healing for about 7 HP every 3 seconds on everyone around you, which is significant. It might be tempting to take Exalted Focus, but you will be better served by the healing.
Early on in the game, when you have fewer Zeal and can’t refund them with Virtuous Triumph, it’s a good idea to begin combat by just firing your guns normally because they will still fire twice. After the first volley then begin to use Flames of Devotion. This will help conserve Zeal so that you have enough to last the entire encounter, and don’t forget to use Barbaric Blow.
A note here about Reload Time, and Recovery Time in general. Bonuses that reduce them are multiplicative, this means that the more of them you stack, the less beneficial they are. For this reason it isn’t recommended that you use the Weapon Modal of the Pistol, because you will not actually get -2.5 seconds from it by the time you add together all other Reload Time bonuses you have. You’ll actually get something like -0.8 seconds, which isn’t worth -15 Accuracy. Feel free to try it and you’ll see what I mean fairly quickly.
Lastly, be sure to find and equip items that increase your Accuracy and Penetration, as they will really help to boost your damage. Pistols have only 7 Penetration, and while isn’t the lowest it could be, it also isn’t that high either. You will need to pick some more up via gear, or you will have a tough time damaging highly Armored targets. Some great items are: Ring of Focused Flame which increases your Accuracy by +10 with Fire attacks (Flames of Devotion), Ring of the Marksman which increases Accuracy and Penetration with Ranged Weapon attacks, and Acina’s Tricorn which increases Ranged Accuracy and reduces Recovery Time.
Stay tuned for more Pillars of Eternity 2 Build Guides through out May, as we make some more specific Guides covering some of the most fun and interesting combinations we could find. If there is a specific combination you would like to see, please post in the comments and we will do our best to accommodate!