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MxO - The Interlock Guide
Matrix Online Guides - Strategies - Tips

Interlock can be really hard to understand if it's not explained to you - the manual really doesn't even try to begin to explain it. Even as a high level hacker (or maybe particularly because of this level), I needed a good operative explain the basics. I hope this guide helps you understand interlock as much as writing it with a friend helped me.

1. The Tactical Console

The tactical console - the thing that appears in I/L so you can choose a blue, red, green, or yellow option, or what I like to think of as the hacker punch out (the escape key), is the most basic thing to understand. While it's explained in the manual, and even in the tutorial it's still something of a mystery to me. I mean, what do all those buttons do, and do some have advantages over others?

The Tactics

Blue is for speed

Red is for power

Green is for grab

So my first question was, which tactic should I choose to maximize my chances to hit? The surprising answer is that without buffs of any kind (e.g. power tactics +3) or advanced MA skills (e.g. aikido master) there is no difference between the first 3 tactics in terms of chance to hit, which means all other things being equal, you should always choose speed tactics for the following reason:

It does the most damage most quickly, confusing because you might think that power (red) would do this, but we have always found blue works best when we've tested it.

If you're an operative and a specialist in one of the martial arts disciplines, this rule changes since the M.A. disciplines tend to be associated with one of the tactics, or rely on a specify tactic to apply a special move As a general rule:

Kung Fu uses speed

Karate uses damage

Aikido uses grab


The yellow hand is block. This is a defensive move, which enables you to regain 10 inner strength when you use it, whether or not you win the round. Now if you are a operative beginner like me you might think this is a useful ability since Ops use a lot of IS in special moves and typically don't have IS regen or maxing advantages of other trees.

However, in the long term it's probably not going to help you. If you lose the round you'll gain the IS but take damage, putting you at a disadvantage. If you win the round you'll regain the IS but you won't counterattack, prolonging the fight which will make you vulnerable to other players or NPC's around you attacking outside of interlock. While in interlock, surrounded by enemies, speed and damage are your allies and block simply increases your chances of death.

The only time you'll ever want to use block is one on one, when not surrounded by additional attackers, and even then the small amount of IS gain is of questionable worth.


Escape is the tactic that enables you to escape from Interlock. It always works, irrespective of your tree, provided you have the I/S to use it with one exception:

The enraged state disables your ability to escape. If you're enraged, you'll need to wait until the timer runs down before you run.

Overall, while escape may be useful for hackers who might choose to exit I/L and then, for example, stun, for operatives it's next to useless since you probably won't have evade combat loaded and you'll forced back into I/L in a matter of seconds. The only time you'll want to escape is if you're in a very difficult fight and have no chance of winning, or are surrounded by other characters that are attacking you and will kill you before you can kill your current opponent.

2. Taking advantage of Combat Tactics (CT)

The most important factor to consider in Interlock is your combat tactics, which are more important than your melee or ranged damage. This concept is similar to the hacker vs. hacker problem of viral transmission/deflection over viral damage/resistance with the exception that it's possible for hackers to hit each other in the same round. With I/L there is a winner and loser in each round, so it becomes even more important for you to win as many rounds as you can.

In all forms of battle in MXO, you should focus on maximizing your ability to hit your opponent before you worry about how much damage you'll do, since a lot of damage never applied will always lose to tiny damage always applied.

The key to Interlock is whether you can win those dice rolls in each round, and to have a chance of that, you have to understand the formula the game applies:

The Basic Interlock Formula

The most basic formula, assuming no buffs or special moves is as follows:

Dice Roll = CT + Random Number (0-100)

Meaning if your base Combat Tactics are 100 more than your opponent's, you'll always win the fight. If they're 99 or less there is a chance, however small, that you'll lose. The closer your MCT and your opponent's MCT are, the greater the chance of a 50:50 outcome, which is where the skill comes in - applying special moves, or other tactics to ensure that you win the fight. We're not too sure what happens in any round if you tie with your opponent - our guess is that the game tosses the architect's coin to figure out who wins - but you tell us.

Formula Improvements with Buffs

With any buffs, simply stack with the formula and increase your chances of success. For example, if you're using a gun with +5 ranged combat tactics, your roll would be:

Dice Roll = RCT(5) + CT + (0-100)

Or if you're wearing gloves with +6 melee combat tactics, your roll is

Dice Roll = MCT(6) + CT + (0-100)

Using Buffs

Ultimately, all of your buffs will stack to give you a better chance of winning a round. If I'm wearing a +10 Melee Combat Tactics Shirt, using Tactics Booster 4 (+20 CT), then my opponent bruising roll would be:

Dice roll = CT + 10 CT + 20CT + (0-100)

Bear in mind, however, that as for all other buffs in the game, your combat tactics are capped, meaning that after a certain point additional buffs will no longer add to your total.

A note on spies (Weakness Analysis)

Spies benefit from a special skill called weakness analysis, letting you use a tool called a "weakness analyzer". This essentially gives a huge bonus to your combat tactics against the target that you've analyzed over a period of a few minutes. It?s designed to enable the spy to use sneaky and very dangerous spy attacks, often applied when invisible?.get that detection ability to see them coming in PVP.

Head Butt

That first awakened ability you get of the game can be useful almost through the end, since it applies a nice -10CT to your opponent if you can first get the speed/dazed ability applied. Nice - good one not to forget as you progress.

Using Guns

Raising overall CT score

Depending on your discipline, it may be advantageous for you to use a gun if your baseline ranged damage is higher than your melee damage. Should you fight with a gun in interlock, the game will calculate your damage using ranged damage. Also, guns frequently carry buffs which raise your ranged combat tactics (often + 5RCT), so you may both increase your overall damage and chance to hit - great double.

By using such a gun, you will not upset your other formula since the game calculates the total of all combat tactics in a fight, not melee tactics if you're using fists and ranged tactics if you're using a gun. Using a gun to apply extra damage, which also has +5 Ranged Combat tactics, will actually improve your overall tactics for interlock.

Additionally, guns can convey some special advantages, assuming the right buffs and abilities are loaded.

Low Level Gun Boosts

At low levels as an operative, you can have a rifle loaded for the first hit in order to use the body shot special, which lowers the melee and ranged damage resistance of the target and can only be used in I/L. Afterwards, if the gun has no other advantages, or you clothing doesn't give you buffs for using guns, you can continue the fight either with your gun or barehanded depending on where you get advantages from your skill tree (gunman or ma) or overall damage.

Shotguns won't help you with damage but convey a +5 ranged tactics for all players, which may improve your overall chance to hit.

Pistols for operatives apply a hindering shot, which slows your target and will do nothing for you in I/L since he?s going nowhere anytime soon. For all players they add the same +5 CT as shotguns

Submachine guns won't help you unless you want to take nice screenshots using them ;-)

Mid Level Gun Boosts

For mid level operatives, guns may still apply some advantages for you if you're a gunman with the old body shot trick we've already explained.

If you're a martial artist, you'll less likely to succeed with this skill, and the timer will eventually reduce to mere 10 seconds ? not much use at all since you'll take half of that to change your combat style, and may well fail the next roll with the obvious disadvantages. As the fight progresses, you'll want to use your MA skills which are incompatible with any buffs you might get from say shotgun, so it's probably time to give up that addiction to body shot and get with the fists.

For mid level hackers, guns may still provide advantages to you if you wish to raise your CT in combat by equipping them and then using viruses to attack. However, this will only help against other hackers where your attacks are being deflected outside of I/L and physical attack is your only other option. As a hacker, there will be few scenarios where you want to take on an operative in interlock, if any. Should you find yourself without combat evade, the escape button will be a friend.

High Level Gun Boosts

At high levels as a MA, you won't care for guns at all since you'll be losing time and options to use other special moves while you equip and unequip.

As a gunman, it will of course be the only thing you want to use.

As a high level hacker, guns with CT boosts may help you with your viral roles in I/L. However, by then you'll almost certainly have better options as long as you understand bonuses and caps will rarely meet another NPC hacker that you can't launch viruses against.

3. Applying Damage

Once you've maxed your combat tactics, then you can start to worry about applying damage with any spare clothing or buff points you may have. This clothing is rare, however, and it will probably be only a very small proportion of your overall damage. It's almost certainly better to find something else to put in the clothing or item slot.

Using Abilities

Almost certainly, the most damage you apply will come from your abilities. If you apply the standard operative route:

Awakened + Combat Insight + Martial Arts Expertise + Martial arts proficiency and you've upgraded all the abilities, you will probably already be at your damage cap, or possibly a little above.

As a non operative, you just have to hope for what you get from awakened or buffs, or if you have enough memory, maybe loading combat insight.

Tactics, MA Specials & Resistance

Once at your standard melee cap, the only way you can apply additional damage (other than attributes, which are not subject to cap, but will only add a few points even at high levels), is by using special MA tree damages, vulnerability detection, or reducing damage resistance.

MA Damage

Each of the martial arts trees have special skills many of which you can use in I/L to apply additional damage if you win the round To take best advantage of these abilities, you'll want buffed clothes in the ability of your choice to further increase the damage of the attack, or its chances.

Vulnerability Detection

This awakened tree and the upgrades (detect weakness etc.) help you to detect the vulnerability of your opponent in a specific type of tactics, particularly if you have good perception.

Detect vulnerabilities, if you install it, is permanently activated but only works by chance during I/L, so you won't see it every round. When it works, you'll notice a small thumbnail of one of the 3 tactics, with x1, or even x2 written on it. This appears just under the upper left corner of your screen (just below and to the right of the hud you are targeting) and in the color of the tactic.

It indicates that in a round or two, your adversary will have a weakness to this specific tactic. If you then quickly select this tactic and add to your queue, you will have a bonus to your MCT for that round and that specific tactic (your roll will be green instead of white) and will apply slightly better damage if you win the round. Loading the detect vulnerability line all the way up to punishing blows is a very good move if you are already capped in melee damage as the energized tree only buffs melee damage. The detect vulnerability buffs the weakness damage and adds a major boost to your damage.

Damage Resistance

Some special skills (such as body shot mentioned above) reduce the damage resistance of your opponent. Occasionally, you'll also achieve this simply by doing a tremendous amount of damage. Damage resistance always reduces the total damage you inflict on an opponent, so if you can reduce it you'll increase the overall damage you apply.

Putting it Altogether

If we've lost you by now, then this example will either help, or completely confuse you?good luck.

You're a level 17 Kung Fu martial artist, using speed attacks with a few buffed Kung Fu clothes:

Base Damage (for everyone) is about 30

Melee Damage will be around 170

Kung Fu Damage will be around 80 assuming a couple of buffed clothes

So your total damage applied is 30+170+80 = 280

Say your opponent has 17% damage resistance, then he'll take 232 damage in that round.

Now let's add in Weakness Damage that you get from apply vulnerability (100pts). Your total damage goes to 30+170+80 + 100 = 380

And a special attack, say Iron Guard (125pts)

Your total damage goes to 30+170+80 + 100 + 125 = 405 or 346 in total once you've applied his damage resistance.

Avoiding Damage

The best way to avoid damage, as we've explained already, is to raise those combat tactics and not be hit at all but on the off chance you are:

Damage Resistance Assuming you've upgraded your operative abilities you'll probably be at your cap for dam resistance, so additional clothes really won?t help you out. If you see an operative wearing dam re, they probably don't understand caps and you should duel them!

Level Variance Fighting different levels dramatically affects the damage resistance cap. An opponent at your level is always yellow, so if you're hit by them (or a higher level), they will hit you for normal damage minus your damage resistance. If, however, a lower level character (say blue or green) takes you on and manage to get a hit in, they'll hit you for normal damage minus 2 or 3 times your regular damage resistance, significantly reducing the power of the blow.

Bear in mind, however, that this works the other way around, so if you take on higher levels, expect your attacks to hurt less.

4. Using Combat States

There are a number combat states which all confer vulnerabilities on you or your opponent. Mostly these are used in combination with special martial artist or gunman skills and are aligned to the different trees that we discussed below. They do not generally help non-operatives unless we've indicated:

Dazed/Kung Fu

Speed attacks have a chance of applying the Dazed State. In and of itself, dazed does not affect your opponent, but your ability to use certain Kung Fu special moves is enabled.


Power attacks have a chance of applying Staggered. No other effects other than by assisting special Karate attacks.

Off Balance/Aikido

Grab attacks have a chance of applying Off Balance. Again, no other effects other than by assisting special Aikido attacks.


Some abilities or buffs help you to disarm your opponent, meaning they cannot use it for buff or damage - not much use unless your opponent is particularly dependent on the gun.


As we mentioned earlier, if you're enraged you won't be able to escape from interlock until the timer runs out.


This is actually a state inflicted by a very low viral attack, outside of interlock. It reduces your opponent's CT considerably - we'd estimate anything up to 50%. If , as a hacker, for some reason you need to I/L it's the only way to ensure your success against an operative, and it works throughout the whole game.

5. Final Words

Don't forget the Consumables

As an operative, you are using consumables of all sorts, making green code bits your friends and coders run from you. A little about them

Health pills

As an operative frequently in interlock, you should always carry some with you of the highest level you can use. They'll save the reconstruct key on many occasions when chances have gone against you in an even fight. Health pills won't help you against a huge difference in CT, but as Endrea so neatly put it, against a reasonable opponent throwing high rolls against a few averages from your health pills help you wait for the storm to go away.

As a hacker, you'll probably be running - you can carry health pills but you mostly won't care.

Tactics Boosters

Combat Tactics 1 - a neat little upgrade for operatives with +5 CT for a nice 10 minutes and easily codable. The higher level tactics boosters give greater CT upgrades to help you. However, they're for emergencies only since you'll rely on what you can find or code, and given they all need a red frag and reasonable coding skills, they'll never be in abundant supply for you.

For hackers, same again - hit the escape key. What on earth are you doing in interlock anyway?

Health Boosters

For operatives, health boosters can be fun too, but only a little and then before you get into combat, since you have to regen to get the extra health. Mostly, however, the avoid damage vs. reduce damage rule will apply, and there are few situations where they'll make a material difference to your game.

For hackers, health boosters may be useful if you're up against a tough opponent outside of interlock, but they'll rarely make much difference 0 maybe it'll take him one more viral attack to kill you, maybe not.

And just incase you didn't know....


There's a whole section on this website devoted to attributes, so we won't cover it again. It's important though, so don't forget it.