Del is the only character actually required for an easy run since he’s the only way you’re going to have meaningful use of power. The perks on the characters are pricey and fairly weak you can probably justify the first rank for certain character like 10% Assault Rifle Damage for 1000 power isn’t such a bad deal depending on the difficulty level you’re playing, that is if you’re playing a low enough difficulty you’re not just using heavy weapons the entire time. Weapon Locker refresh can keep your team easily in heavy ammo so you don’t have to use the weaker handheld weapons.
The Forge is really only worthwhile if 1) everybody is contributing power to meaningful defenses 2) you have a Jack. 10k when your basic common weapon gives 20 power at 5 players is 100 energy per gun that means you’d have to be bringing back 100 weapons to simply recoop the cost without Jack’s boosted Energy Output from the Forge and even then it’s only worthwhile if Jack is actively bring back weapons to the forge since even with his boost it requires a decent amount of basic weapons to recoop your invested energy.
JD’s explosive Bleed works for the RL-4 Salvos increasing damage as well as for his Artillery strike making him fairly useful as an attacker for any team that has other roles filled.
Kait has shotgun bleed and extended energy pick-up range not really needed since usually you can manage to grab energy with the other characters just fine.
Fahz eats ammo and doesn’t really bring anything useful to the team overall, his X-Ray isn’t up enough to really call it a worthwhile bonus and you usually have a target out in the open to shoot anyway making it somewhat novelty anyway.
Marcus gets some defense, but no offense with the desireable heavy weapon Meta for the harder difficulties so just grab the defense boosts and you’re good to go, Lancer bonuses for early waves helps some too before you’re setup with heavy weapon rotation.
Ingenuity (Faster and cheaper repairs)
Efficient Sentry (Cheaper Ammo refill on Sentries)
Overclocked Locker (Faster Ammo refill on Lockers)
Efficient Fabrication (Cheaper Fortifications)
Custom Robotics (More Damage with DeeBee weapons including Tri-shot and Rl-4)
Custom Robotics is just a personal preference he has several other subs he can take like more health for fortifications or even recoil if you have issues aiming the Tri-shot though IMO it’s pretty easy at full recoil
Master Marksman (Easier Actives for Longshot when you need to deal big damage consistently to priority targets)
Modified Longshot (More Longshot Damage)
Steady Hand (Less camera shake just for ease of use of the precision weapons)
Ambush (More damage to unwounded targets so you can deal more damage to enemies coming to the front for your team to clean up more easily)
Embar Ammo Capacity (More capacity to the Embar)
I don’t recommend Longshot Handling since it’s on critical kills and the enemies higher up are tanky enough to survive headshots so you’re going to be reloading quite a bit regardless if you have it so you might as well take the blanket reload skill instead. More capacity on the Embar if you’re using your precision rifles instead of heavies means you get more shots to spam when you switch out your weapons on the locker which I find more useful for the Embar than damage since the aforementioned tankiness of enemies… If you’re planning on using heavy weapons which is pretty much the meta of harder difficulties ditch everything to improve X-ray since you won’t really be using your Precision weapons anyway.
Optimizer (More power from using Forge, makes Forge worthwhile if actively smelting weapons)
Healing Reach (Longer healing distance makes it easier to do fly by revives)
Zapper Upgrade (Increased Zapper Damage, improved damage helps deal with nuisance enemies in a pinch like Leeches or Juvies which can be a problem on higher difficulties with everything else)
Repair Speed (Faster repairs, if you need to do emergency repairs it’s nice to do them faster)
Explosive Hack (Decent for emergencies the AoE damage after using Hijack can keep you from getting killed if you’re exposed after you’re booted out of your Ultimate)
Don’t really need Heal Speed since people will get focused down so quickly anyway it doesn’t matter terribly much, lower difficulties it can turn somebody nigh invulnerable though.
Razorhail (Bleeding on Explosives, includes the RL-4 Salvo and just adds bonus damage for heavy hitting attacks)
Launcher Capacity (More Capacity for explosives, basically for the same reason Fahz would take Embar Capacity pulling a Boom shot off the weapon rack with for emergencies if you get flashed and drop your heavy weapons still gives you something to hit hard with.)
Officer’s Prerogative (More strikes from targets you mark, you can use your ultimate to hit a boss for a solid damage that is increased with Bleed, it’s slow to recharge so making it count is worth it since most of his other skills become moot if using heavy weapons anyway.)
Custom Boomshot (More Damage and Active Effects for Boomshot. Higher difficulties you’re more likely to use a Boomshot than you Lancer)
Daddy’s Boy (Damage Resistance when near Marcus,)
Damage Resistance is nice up to a point when that point is reached replace it with something else probably something like Spotter Support which spreads your ultimate to ally spots as well so you get more out of rare instances you do use your ultimate. On lower difficulties take your Lancer GL skills it works fine, but it is costly on ammo especially on an active where it turns into a laser beam of death, but again only for lower difficulties where you won’t be using heavy weapons or burst damage handhelds.
Laceration (Bleed on Shotguns hits, more damage always a plus)
Blood Resonance (More Shotgun Damage to Bleeding Enemies, more damage always a plus)
Custom Gnasher (More Gnasher Damage and Active Effects, more damage still a plus)
Shotgun Speed Loaders (Faster Shotgun Reload, less down time is more damage and less time vulnerable)
Overkill Ammo Capacity (More Overkill Capacity, more ammo more bleed more damage and it’s a mid range shotgun)
Like most other characters if you’re just heavy spanning you replace skills around your handheld weapons for utility skills like Long Reach even though it’s really not needed if the teammates that have nothing to do between rounds help you collect the energy.
Dug In (Damage Resistance in Cover, Damage Resistance provides a benefit while using heavy weapons from cover, might as well.)
Explosive Resistance (Explosive Resistance, benefit while using heavy weapons)
Friendlier Fire (Living Legend extended radius, Living Legends does work with Tri-shots and the like extending to teammates can give you a quick burst of damage when you really need it)
Band of Brothers (Stim generated by Living Legend, Stim helps you stay up while Living Legend is going to get the most out of it.)
Defensive Stim (Higher Stim Capacity, more stim more health for when you have stim to begin with)
Lancer skills for lower difficulties work just fine when you’re actually using a Lancer, but higher up you’re generally not so not worth really investing in. Last Ditch I’m kind of on the Fence about, it’s a good boost but you should either be primarily fine or downed if you get hit depending on difficulty so it makes it hard for me to call ‘good’.
Not going to do the Promo chars they have a more shallow pool anyway. Best Chars IMO would be Del, Jack and JD everybody else is just kind of there as far as I’m concerned though on low difficulties Marcus, JD, and Kait really show up and well Fahz he has a nice pair of sunglasses I guess so he has the moral victory I think.