The Explore menu is where most of the gameplay of Project Neural Cloud is found. It contains the story and the stages that yield Doll upgrade materials.
For information about battles, see PNC Combat.
- Main Story stages
- Resources stages
- Current amount of Keys owned
- #Vulnerability Check (daily raid)
- Strategic Overview (global attribute bonuses)
- Shortcut to recommended stage to play next
- 1 Keys
- 2 Doll Team
- 3 Main Story
- 4 Fragment Search
- 5 Resource Collection
- 6 Algorithm Collection
- 7 Vulnerability Check
- 8 Enigma Black Hole
- 9 Exception Protocol
- 10 Strategic Overview
All activities in the Explore menu (except #Vulnerability Check and #Enigma Black Hole) require Keys to access and obtain rewards. Keys are recovered at a rate of 12 per hour. Max number of keys starts at 120 and increases by 10 every three Cognition Level (Player rank).
The player must compose their team before starting the stage and cannot change it while playing. There can be a maximum of five Dolls in the main team and three backup Dolls (each backup slot is unlocked throughout the story). Backup Dolls can be swapped with the main team before each combat. Up to 8 team compositions can be saved and the team comps of other players who completed the stage can be displayed and copied (provided the players have access to the same Dolls). The total starting Team Power and Backup Power is calculated and compared to the recommended power for this stage (Team Power increases during the stage with accumulated Functions).
- Droplist of saved team comps. Tap the pen icon to rename the team. The arrows at the edges of the screen can also be used to change team.
- Tap to see and use the teams other players used to clear this stage.
- Amount of EXP and Keys currently owned.
- Shortcuts to level up and Breakthrough a Doll
- Doll info: class, level, Breakthrough status, rarity and Power.
- Tactical Skills, can be changed later during battle preparation.
- Tap to see the list of Function Cards available in this stage.
- Doll class deemed to be favored in this stage.
- Tap to access your Doll list and the Support Unit screen. Drag units from the list to add it to your team.
- Recommended Team Power in red against current Team Power.
Progressing main story chapters unlocks new functions in the game and yields various rewards on first completion, including Neural Fragments for main story Dolls.
Each chapter is divided into Standard, Dark Realm and Endless Exploration modes.
- Chapter 0: Oasis Defense
- Chapter 1: Artificial Intelligence Sector - Rossum
- Chapter 2: Military Sector - Cyclopes
- Chapter 3: Environment and Energy Sector - Helios (there is a difficulty peak at the end of this chapter)
- Chapter 4: Computer Sector - Enigma
- Chapter 5: Art Sector - Pierides (unlocked after first week)
- Chapter 6: Ecology Sector - Copley (permanent version of Divine Heresy Hard Mode)
Standard and Dark Realm
Standard mode stages include story stages and combat stages. Dark Realm stages is unlocked after an certain combat stage is cleared in Standard and tells a side story from the sector, with more difficult combat stages. Besting combat stages is necessary to unlock the next stages, but story stages can be easily skipped or reread later.
There are seven types of combat stages:
- Tactical Tutorial: Typical easy-clear tutorial stuff.
- Regular Battle: Standard exploration mechanics.
- Battle of Endurance: No exploration mechanics aside from Functions and Protocols, only a series of battles.
- Boss Fight: Like Regular Battle stages but with the story boss at the Output Terminal of each layer.
- Limited Deployment: Like Regular Battle stages but you can't bring your own Dolls.
- Function Library: Like Regular Battle but with much more Function Nodes.
- Portal: Like Regular Battle but with the ""Beware of Summons" Protocol active from the start and a Modesty enemy in each battle.
- Combat stage of type Boss Fight (with Challenge marks)
- Story stage
- Tap so the game doesn't load the last team you used to clear this stage the next time you play it
- Recommended Team Power to clear this stage
- Tap this tab to see available Function Cards in this stage
- #Challenge Mode tick box, only available on some combat stages (will open a prompt explaining the rules and options to activate sub-challenges)
- Tapping the Ready button will show the team composition screen and not spend a Key yet.
The first rogue-like element of the game, the player is faced with multiple paths through several node types to the boss:
- Conflict Zone (Elementary, Intermediate or Advanced): Combat nodes. Compare power to the Team Power to gauge the difficulty. The Drop type indicates which Doll class will benefit from the looted Functions after the fight.
- Output Terminal: Final Conflict Zone of the layer. When clearing the Output Terminal of the final layer, the option to challenge a second and more difficult Output Terminal will be offered for better loot, at no cost if it is failed.
- Function Library: Will give a choice among three Functions at random.
- Recovery Area: A chance to heal 30% of the health of all Dolls or 80% health of the most damaged Doll, or to upgrade a Function Card for free, or to change it into a Trading Area (cannot be reverted).
- Trading Area: Buy and Sell Functions and buy Protocols with Cache Coins. Higher level Function Cards are worth more, and Protocols are quite expensive. Available Functions and Protocols can be refreshed once for free, then costing Cache Coins and becoming more expensive for subsequent Refresh.
- Anomaly Area: Very random, can give a Function for nothing, get a chance to get some Functions or heal, or even be a secret Conflict Zone. Usually needs to spend Cache Coins or a portion of the Doll's HP or Max HP.
- Deep Diagnosis Areas are special nodes appearing during boss stages to remove buffs from the boss.
Usually it is only possible to navigate to the nodes on the right of the current node following the links displayed, but some nodes enable to freely move between nodes in the same columns.
The number of maps that must be cleared to complete the stage is indicated by the number of layers. All layers finish in an Output Terminal boss fight node. Dolls are always healed at the end of a layer. Retreating from a stage or expending all 10 continues after losing battle will
- Current layer in the stage and menu with options to retreat (abandon stage), return to main menu (pause stage to continue later) and settings
- Function Row: Tap a Function to see its details, slide to see more Functions if the bar is too full.
- Function Cards Deck Size, you will have to discard a Function if it goes over the limit, but it can be upgraded by spending 100 Cache Coins in shops or in some Anomaly Areas. Protocols will show up at the bottom if any is active, hover on the icon to display their effect.
- Tap to see the list of Functions available in this stage.
- Current Cache Coins amount, needed to buy Functions and Protocols at shops, buy more Function space or start events in Anomaly Areas. Gained during battle or by selling Functions. (If you meet Ranko in an Anomaly Area and take her deal, her icon will also appear there, showing your Cache Coins investment)
- Active Function Chains, tap the arrow to see details
- Planned Mode: Unlocked after Stage 2-13. When turned on, the computer will come up with an "Action Plan" and automatically choose which nodes to go to and conduct battle. A specific node can be selected to influence the path. At Cognition Level (player level) 5, this mode can be activated on stages that have not been completed yet.
- Team Power, compounding the power of all Dolls plus Function Cards bonuses.
- Doll Team and their HPs, tap to see their attributes and skills
- Backup Team, same as above
- Tap to see the loot you will be able to exchange for Keys at the end of the stage.
- Enemy Level: Increases one pip for every node traveled. Buffs the HP, ATK and Hashrate of enemies up to level 10.
Challenge Missions will become available after clearing certain stages for the first time. Support Dolls are disabled in Challenge Mode and Doll stats are capped. Clearing a Challenge will award Keys.
The default Challenge Mission caps the rarity, level, Breakthrough and Skill level of ally Dolls and may disable Algorithms, Intimacy and #Specialty Training bonuses, as well as boost enemy attributes. Two supplementary Challenge Missions can be enabled, such as more buffs to enemies, debuffs on Dolls or restrictions on Dolls types or numbers in the team.
Starting with Stage 2-10, Cache Coins can be exchanged for Overclocks on the Exploration screen and before battle:
- Increase HP of all Dolls deployed by 5% for 10 CC
- Restore HP of ally unit with lowest HP by 80% for 30 CC
- Double the amount of Cache Coins obtained from clearing the next 3 Conflict Zones for 20 CC
- Obtain a random Function Card for 40 CC (Unlocked by clearing Stage 2-15)
This mode is unlocked after clearing all stages in a chapter. There are 40 stages with three layers to clear of increasing difficulty. Clearing the harder stages will automatically clear the easier ones, so not all 40 stages need to be played. First clear for any stage will yield Strategic Blueprints, which are used to unlock #Procedural Efficiency Nodes, which are global bonuses in all stages.
Ironically, Endless Exploration mode does have an end, since each one has 40 stages.
When the stage ends (either by completing it or retreating), the player gets to choose pieces of loot to keep. Each looted item costs Keys to get. Choosing to keep everything gives a 10% rebate on Key cost.
Allows to drop Neural Fragments for all owned Dolls, but can only be attempted 10 times per day and between 3 and 6 times per Doll (when Intimacy is over 3). Each attempt has a chance to drop two Fragments instead of one. Also drops random gift items to boost Intimacy.
Each Doll has six stages which become unlocked at higher Intimacy levels with the Doll.
These stages have a x2 Drop rotation: on certain days of the week, the first two clears of the stage will double the amount of materials dropped:
- Monday: DGC Collection and Potential Training - Guard
- Tuesday: Skill Array Domain and Potential Training - Sniper
- Wednesday: EXP Collection and Potential Training - Warrior
- Thursday: DGC Collection and Potential Training - Specialist
- Friday: Skill Array Domain and Potential Training - Medic
- Saturday: EXP Collection
- Sunday: DGC Collection, EXP Collection and Skill Array Domain
Failing a stage in Resource Collection will reimburse the Keys spent to enter the stage.
- DGC Collection: Cause damage to the DGC Receptacle for Diggcoins. Eight difficulties unlocked progressivey through the story.
- EXP Collection: Bully Baalia for Combat EXP. Eight difficulties unlocked progressivey through the story.
- Skill Array Domain: Unlocked with Stage 4-4
- Potential Training: Five different stages for each Doll class, where you battle standard enemies to drop Breakthrough Widgets. Eight difficulties unlocked progressively through the story, higher difficulties drop higher tiered Widgets up to Pioneering Widgets (not Superior Widgets).
Unlocked with Stage 3-4. Drops Algorithms and Algorithm Boosters to be used in the Algorithm Slots of Dolls. At first only the Standard Collection stage in Collection Area 1 is available, Intermediate is unlocked with Stage 3-12 and Advanced with Stage 4-11.
Intermediate and Advanced Collection drops rotate according to a schedule. From Monday through Friday, drops for each day are restricted to certain Algorithm sets. For Saturday and Sunday, drops can be from any Algorithm set. For Algorithm sets and specific drop days, see Algorithm Set.
Unlocked at Stage ?-?. Only one can be entered per day, stages have a completion time limit, Tactical Skills, Ultimate Skill Gauge and Dolls health does not carry between stages and four sets of Functions that can be used a limited amount of times each. Drops Glitter Chips, to be redeemed at the Special Supplies section of the Store. Doesn't spend Keys to attempt, and a failed stage can be continued with a new Doll team.
Comes in four tiers unlocked by progressing through the story:
- Tier 1 - Fissure Peripheries: Includes 5 stages with a final combat against boss Love. Drops 100 to 130 Glitter Chips.
- Tier 2 - Void Turbulence (Unlocks at Stage 3-5): Includes 6 stages with a final combat against Faith. Drops 130 to 170 Glitter Chips.
- Tier 3 - Error Abyss (Unlocks at Stage 4-5): Includes 7 stages with a final combat against Raven. Drops 170 to 220 Glitter Chips.
- Tier 4 - Distorted Ruins (Unlocks at Stage 5-15): Drops 220 to 270 Glitter Chips.
Enigma Black Hole
After clearing Stage 4-15, Neumann is looking for a way to awaken ENIAC. To stabilize its Neural Cloud, the Data Black Hole must be reopened, but the Enigma Sector no longer has the resources to explore it, and so Neumann requests the help of the Oasis to gather survey data. In Exchange, he will grant the Oasis operands and access to the Enigma Database, data from the past and extrapolations of the future. (This means that every stage map is copied from past or coming chapters and events.)
The Enigma Black Hole appears under the Enigma Sector on the map. It can be challenged without spending Keys. During a Wide-Area Search, the Dolls enter progressively more difficult stages as they plunge into the space-time curvature. There are 150 stages at launch, each stage must be completed under a specific time. Aside from first-clear rewards, certain stages unlock new lore entries under the Horizon Record (or Perception's Record) category.
Exception Protocol appears to the right of Vulnerability Check. It is a challenge mode refreshed every two weeks, dropping Ether Tokens.
Stages (“Cleanups”) in Exception Protocol include Basic Protocol, an easier and unranked version awarding less points, and Advanced Protocol, a harder version with a leaderboard and a base 1.5× points bonus. A set list of 15 Dolls is available, including Dolls the player might not have unlocked from the gacha. The stats of these Dolls are adjusted so team composition and proper combat management have a greater impact on the outcome, and Planned Mode is not available. In Basic Protocol, minimum level is 25 and maximum level is 35, minimum rarity is 2 stars and maximum rarity is 3 stars, and all skills are at level 1. In Advanced Protocol, minimum level is 35 and maximum level is 45, minimum rarity is 3 stars and maximum rarity is 4 stars, and skill level is capped at 5. Dolls the player does not own and owned Dolls who are below minimum stats are set to minimum stats, while owned Dolls over the maximum stats are set to maximum stats. Algorithms and Intimacy bonuses are ignored.
Before starting a Cleanup, extra protocols can be selected to add difficulty and gain a bonus percentage to the final amount of points. The player then goes through a 3-layers exploration stage as usual, but with a few changes:
- A Functions shop is available anytime.
- At every exploration step, a 10% interest is earned on the amount of Cache Coins currently owned, up to 25 bonus Cache Coins per step.
- Team composition can be changed at the new Support Doll Area events.
- The final bonus Output Terminal is replaced by a single boss that must be damaged as much as possible for bonus points.
Points are tallied when clearing or aborting the Cleanup:
- Percentage of the boss' HP bar drained in the bonus Output Terminal
- Number of Intermediate Conflict Zones cleared
- Number of Advanced Conflict Zones cleared
- Number of Output Terminals cleared (excluding bonus one)
- Amount of blue, purple and orange functions
- Stage completion bonus
- Completion time bonus
- Protocol Level bonus percentage
By clearing Exception Protocol multiple times and earning as much points as possible in one stage, players will earn Quartz Sand and Ether Tokens. Every two weeks, the Dolls list change, and the leaderboard and rewards are reset.
This screen is for unlocking and upgrading Procedural Efficiency and Specialty Training nodes. These nodes give general bonuses in battle and more are unlocked by completing story chapters.
Unlocked at Stage ?-?. These nodes are unlocked and upgraded with Diggcoins and the Strategic Blueprints earned in Endless Exploration.
- Rossum nodes
- Function Compatibilization: Increases max number of Function Cards during a stage (up to 4)
- Tactical Point Compatibilization: Increases Tactical Points storage limit (up to 4)
- Recharge Rate Boost: Increases Ultimate Skill recharge speed (up to 20%)
- Cyclopes nodes
- Function Value Offer: Reduces cost of increasing Function Card deck size (up to -20)
- Tactical Point Recovery: Increases Tactical Points recharge speed (up to 30%)
- Free Overclock: Grants free Overclocks (up to 2)
- Helios nodes
- Extra Support Reinforcements: Extra Support units uses (up to 2)
- Additional Cache Coins: Increases number of Cache Coins when starting a stage (up to 50)
- Overclock Compatibilization: Increases max number of Overclocks during a stage (up to 2)
- Enigma nodes
- Overclock Function: Replaces the "Get random Function Card" Overclock by "Select a Function Card"
- Tactical Damage Boost: Increases damage dealt by Tactical Skills (up to 10%)
- Precise Maintenance: Increases HP recovered by units in the Recovery Area (up to 10%)
- Pierides nodes
- Entropization Blocker: Reduces damage taken by Entropy Liquid effect tiles (up to -30%)
- Cooldown Speed Boost: Reduces the cooldown time of Tactical Skills by 1 second
- Recovery Rate Boost: Increases the amount of HP recovered by Dolls at the end of a battle (up to 25%)
- Copley nodes
- Terrain Buff - Sniping: Increases damage for Dolls starting a battle on Sniping effect tiles (up to 10%)
- Churning Waves: Waves terrain effect heals allies units by a percentage of their Max HP (up to 10%)
Unlocked at Stage 2-12. Use Sampling Parameters of each class to upgrade the nodes and confer general buffs to Dolls of specific classes. Formula Expansion Feedback nodes are reward nodes containing Quartz Sand and DGC.