Shadowrun Trilogy: Best Rigger Builds

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  • Primary Stats
  • Combat Drones Vs. Support Drones
  • Hybrid Options
  • Cyberware

In a world as technologically advanced as Shadowrun's, you'd better believe there are more than a few benefits to being tech-savvy. Those with a supreme knowledge of the marvels of technology may become what are known as Riggers, experts in drone maintenance and terrors of the battlefield.

Drones are exactly what they sound like, mechanical allies that you can deploy on the battlefield to take down your foes with surprising efficacy. With a range of Drones to choose from and the Rigger themselves to worry about, you'll want to put some thought into how you build your character and what items you purchase.

Primary Stats

It may sound redundant, but while it's not the main stat that Riggers use, every character in Shadowrun needs to have some Karma invested into the Body stat. Every point increases your HP and unless you buy some Body-increasing armor, this is the only way to directly increase your survivability. Riggers will often be low on AP thanks to how Drones work in these games, so making sure they have enough HP for those tricky situations where they're caught short is a good idea.

The stat you'll want to pay the most attention to, however, is Intelligence. This is the stat that the Drone Control skill comes under, and you'll want plenty of both if you want to be a capable Rigger. In addition to Drone Control, you'll also want to invest Karma into Drone Combat, as this provides crucial bonuses to your primary weapon – the humble Drone.

  • Drone Control will allow you to equip higher-level Drones. These are expensive, but it's always worth upgrading when you have the opportunity and the nuyen. At level four, you'll unlock the ability to equip and deploy two Drones at once. If you're set on being a Rigger, this is something you should be doing.
  • Drone Combat provides a bunch of great bonuses to your Drones, regardless of their class. Getting to level six for that sweet bonus to AP per round will drastically increase your damage output.

You'll notice that between Body, Intelligence, Drone Control, and Drone Combat, there really won't be many Karma points left to spend elsewhere – especially if you're really dedicated to using Drones as much as you possibly can. This shouldn't matter much, since you'll be relying on the Drones for the most part, but putting a few spare points into Quickness, Ranged Weapons, and picking an emergency backup gun of your choice is a good idea. The Pistol would be a good fit for this archetype, as its accuracy-boosting skills will help offset your lower-than-average Quickness.

Consider putting some points into Biotech and making your character a combat medic, using what little AP they have to support allies. You could even go a step further and grab a point in Decking to gain access to the Mark Target ability, which works for your Drones, too.

Combat Drones Vs. Support Drones

There are two varieties of Drone in the game – combat, and support – and they're described as such in the game itself. A Rigger is always going to want to have a Combat Drone equipped – they're their primary source of damage, after all.

Once you unlock the ability to equip two Drones at once, then you can consider adding a Support Drone to the mix. You don't necessarily have to deploy them both at the same time, but having more options – especially a flexible one that replenishes its items automatically between missions – is very useful.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider doubling up on Combat Drones. This will greatly boost your damage output! You can't purchase two identical Drones but having more firepower is still a great option if your other characters have support covered.

Doubling up on Combat Drones is more viable in the Hong Kong campaign thanks to the existence of two different Combat Drones per rank. It's very expensive, but it will work.

How To Deploy A Drone In Combat

There are three settings that a Drone can use in combat – Follow, Hold, and Control Mode.

Follow and Hold are exactly what they sound like and can be toggled at will during your turn. A Drone set to Follow you will trail behind you at all times, and you can use Hold to root it in position until you need it again.

You can use Hold to keep your Drone away from you without actually deploying it. This will discourage enemies from using grenades, as they are more likely to use them when you have two or more units bunched up together.

The Control Mode button is above the Follow and Hold toggles. Deploying a Drone will cost one AP and will drain your AP gain by one per round.

Once deployed, Drones will act like any other character in combat. They get their own AP and they have their own weapons, skills, and items (in the case of Support Drones). As long as they still have AP, they can be undeployed at any time by hitting the left bumper, at which point they'll automatically get back into Follow mode.

Hybrid Options

If you want to build a character that focuses on using Drones but doesn't want to be totally relegated to that, there are some options.

The obvious first port of call is Decking. You'll already have the necessary ranks in Intelligence and Decking is an incredible utility skill, both for gaining access to the Matrix and for passing myriad skill checks. Decking shows up everywhere, so it's a very useful skill to have even a few ranks in – four will get you the majority of things you need.

Doubling up on the Intelligence skills is most useful in Dead Man's Switch, where Decking is very prevalent in skill checks and you don't always have guaranteed access to a Decker when you encounter optional Matrix terminals.

Despite Drones being incredibly powerful and useful, having a backup source of damage is a good idea. We recommend that you choose a ranged weapon over a melee weapon, as deploying Drones will reduce your AP gains and melee combat involves a lot of running around.

If you decide to go all-in on your character being a support while your Drones do the heavy lifting, it may be worth considering an investment in the Charisma stat. Not only will this net you some useful Etiquettes – which are great for lining your pockets with the cash you need for your expensive tech – but you could try out some Conjuring. Shaman spells are support-oriented, and being able to bestow Haste on yourself will go some way toward solving your AP problems.


Riggers should feel free to augment their bodies with cyberware as much as they can – unless they opt to build a Rigger/Shaman hybrid, in which case you should be wary of your Essence.

Of particular note would be upgrades to their Datajack and anything that increases their HP or provides them with Armor.

One piece of notable cyberware is the version of the Encephalon NEXT found in Shadowrun: Hong Kong. This provides a level of Decking, meaning you don't have to spend a Karma point to unlock Mark Target.

Note that the Encephalon NEXT in Shadowrun: Dragonfall does not do the same thing.

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