So, I finally got a chance to level up a new character through Cuba to see if the original leveling guide could be optimized. The results are actually pretty brief:
A minimum level of 35 is needed to go to Cuba, but you need to be in the upper 50s to have access to all the jobs. So, what I did was master the first four tiers then head to Cuba. Following the leveling guide, I was able to master tiers Street Thug - Soldier in about a day, and then Enforcer within an hour of finishing up Soldier. At this point, I head to Cuba.
Doing Jobs in Cuba
Cuba is a bit different then New York - nearly all the jobs provide the same energy:exp ratio.. and it happens to be pretty good.. around 1.6-1.7 xp per energy with a good wheelman and mastermind. I was able to just do the jobs in order and level up off of each energy bar. I mastered off El Soldado pretty quickly, but was too low of a level at that point to have access all the jobs in the El Capitan, so I went back to New York. Hitman was pretty easy to do, all the jobs pay pretty well, no deviation needed from the original leveling guide.
Once finishing off Hitman, I was able to blow through the rest of the tiers in Cuba just following the same strategy outlined in the original leveling guide - put all points in energy, have a good wheelman and mastermind, be someone elses top mafia mastermind and wheelman (if fearless). If all these things are covered, you can easily level up over and over again through Cuba without even trying. Although mastering Street Thug, Associate, and Soldier can take a day in their own right, I was able to master ALL of Cuba, in addition to Enforcer and Hitman in a day quite easily. I believe I ended just under level 200 by the time I finished off Cuba.
Not Quite Perfect...
The only problem with mastering Cuba in 2 days was that I was around level 185-190 and had not touched Capo, Consigliere, Underboss, and Boss. Why is this such a problem? Well, every time you level up, the exp:energy ratio increases. That is, every level, the total exp needed to reach the next level increases by 12 or so, but you can only get an extra 5 energy per level. Things like collections, job mastery stat points, achievements, and godfather points allow this ratio to decrease. However, these points eventually dry up and you will need more and more experience to hit the next level.
Additionally, an even bigger problem is that the experience points to energy ratio for the Capo tree is not very good. It took a lot longer to finish off the New York tier because I leveled up so much in Cuba.
The real question here is whether or not it is faster to level up according to the guide or to incorporate Cuba sooner rather than later. Here are the pros and cons of heading to Cuba early:
Pros of heading to Cuba early:
- Can finish off Cuba in a day
- All the good loot is in Cuba (TNT, Hu-9 Helicopters, etc..)
- Can slowly master the New York content and diversify stat points into attack/defense if you want to make a good fighting character
Cons of heading to Cuba early:
- Mastering New York can take a lot of time
- Can always head back to Cuba and level through it pretty quickly. It took me about 3 days to get through Cuba after hitting Master Boss - first 2 days for Soldado, the last day I was able to get through the rest of the tiers.
So, it depends. If you want to make a good fighter, I would probably do Cuba after leveling the first five tiers. That way, you can work on collecting the new loot items, which are the best for attacking and defending while leveling up. If you want to level up as fast as possible, I would follow the original guide, perhaps doing the first tier in Cuba after finishing off Capo, then finishing off New York before doing any more Cuba.