That Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's main protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, has a well established set of characteristics doesn't mean you can't customise his Skills to suit your particular play style.
However, as with a lot of Witcher 3's systems, the Skill tree is intricate and deep, and it's easy to get lost in working out all the potential customisations that'd benefit your chosen play style. So as part of our continuing guide series to Wild Hunt, we break down the essentials of the game's Skill tree system, outlining what you need to know, how it works and most importantly what customised skills you can build for yourself.
Skill System Overview
As with so many other RPGs, Geralt earns experience points by killing enemies and completing quests, gradually levelling up. The Witcher 3 allows for a maximum of 70 levels (although you'll be playing a long time to get there) and hitting each level unlocks a skill point that you can spend on upgrading your character.
Tip: You can also earn extra skill points through Places of Power. There are 16 in all, around the game world (several are in the initial area, White Orchard).
The skill tree for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is divided into four categories: Combat (red), Signs (blue), Alchemy (green) and General (neutral). Within each category you can find numerous specialised options in different branches, such as increasing the damage for both fast and heavier attacks in the Combat tab.
The colour of each category is important, as when an unlocked Skill is placed on the Skill grid (to the right side of the Skill menu page) and attached to a Mutagen of the same colour, the Mutagen's buffs are enhanced.
Tip: Just unlocking a skill doesn't mean its active. They're only activated when linked into the Skill columns.
During your adventure you will come across several types of Mutagens. These are very important for the type of character you want to create. Mutagens are distinguished by colours (red, blue and green, like Skills) and their effects are reinforced by each corresponding Skill.
For example, if you put a green Mutagen in one Skill column, it will activate the corresponding effect (better health in this case). For each green skill in that same column, the effect of the Mutagen will be enhanced, so it is very important to maximise Mutagens and skill positioning.
Tip: Do you regret how you've distributed your skill points? There is a solution in the form of a potion that allows you to reset all points and reallocate them. You can find a merchant that sells it in Novigrad, but it will cost you 1,000 coins.
There are many different configurations of skills you can choose from, and below we will show you some examples of the different archetypes you can create and use to define your version of Geralt.
Warriors in classic RPGs are usually tough and strong, which means they can withstand a heavy blow and deal an even stronger one. The emphasis of this class build is in the heavy attacks, which Geralt can use to crush his opponents. This also means building a proper defence, so it is necessary to invest in heavy armour (which also reinforces the heavy attack skills).
To fuel your damage dealing, you must use the synergy that exists between Stamina and Adrenaline, using various Skills such as Adrenaline Burst and Focus. This means that with three points of Adrenaline, you will increase your damage by 30%, and that's on top of all the improvements that'd be applied to a heavy attack. In short, you will become an unstoppable bulldozer.
- Adrenaline Burst (general)
- Focus (general)
- Bear School Techniques (general)
- Strength Training (combat)
- Razor Focus (combat)
The weapons and armour from the Bear School (Witcher Gerd) are an excellent choice for this build, so grab them up as soon as possible.
Assassins or Rogues are typically stealthy, agile and skillful characters, with thorough knowledge of several types of chemicals. In the world of the Witcher 3 there is little room for stealth, but you can make something great with the other characteristics of the classic assassin build. It is a style of play that will wear the enemy down, while allowing you to avoid taking damage. Unlocking the skills are not enough however; you must also master timing and attack patterns for when to dodge or roll out of danger, as you will be equipped with light armour.
The light attack will be the basis of your class, reinforced by an absolute mastery of the secrets of alchemy. At your disposal you will have many powerful potions and oils thanks to the skills you will invest in. With many options in his inventory, the assassin is an extremely effective and versatile build.
- Muscle Memory (combat)
- Cat School Techniques (general)
- Poisoned Blades (alchemy)
- Delayed Recovery (alchemy)
- Killing Spree (alchemy)
The weapons and armour from the Cat School (Witcher Kiyan) are an excellent choice for this build, so look them up when possible.
Geralt is not a typical mage or wizard, since he must always use his own swords for basic attacks - but you can strengthen his Signs (magic) effectiveness in order to apply devastating effects on enemies. Thanks to the regenerative effects the medium armour can have on the stamina necessary to practice magic, it is also a vital component of this build.
There are five schools of magic available and it is up to player to choose what their favourites are, but Quen (shield) and Igni (fire) are among the most popular choices. Whatever type of spells you end up choosing, it is essential to take advantage of the bonuses available in the general category to maximise results.
- Griffin School Techniques (general)
- Adrenaline Burst (general)
- Rage Management (general)
- Distribute points on your favourite spells.
The weapons and armour from the Griffin School (Witcher George) are an excellent choice for this archetype, so check them out.
Although it goes against the Witcher tradition, Geralt has access to a crossbow in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Initially it deals little damage, and it can be tempting to leave the crossbow behind, but doing so is a mistake. By improving some crucial skills, you will not only greatly increase the damage of the crossbow itself, but you can benefit from rapid adrenaline point regeneration.
Attacking from a distance, you will build adrenaline points that can be used to increase your damage by 30% when maxed out. When the enemy finally gets in close range, they will already be in a vulnerable state, and you can easily dispose of them. Light armour, due to the extra damage it grants to critical hits, is the most obvious choice for this build. And don't forget that you can buy and craft several versions of more powerful bolts.
- Cat School Techniques (general)
- Steady Shot (general)
- Focus (general)
- Cold Blood (combat)
- Anatomical Knowledge (combat)
The weapons and armour from the Cat School (Witcher Kiyan) are an excellent choice for this build.
One of the most powerful tools Witchers have at their disposal are bombs. Through alchemy they can create bombs with numerous effects that can make the difference during a difficult fight. With some strategically selected skills, you can wreak havoc among the enemy ranks with a few bombs. In this case, there is no particular type of gear that is essential to the effectiveness of this build.
Those skill points won't be of much use if you don't have bombs on you, so, whenever you see a merchant or herbalist, check out their inventory to find new bombs to craft. There are two specific types you should look for - bombs that cause destruction and bombs that neutralise or stun enemies. Grapeshot and Northern Wind are examples of these two types of bombs.
- Steady Aim (alchemy)
- Pyrotechnics (alchemy)
- Efficiency (alchemy)
- Cluster Bombs (alchemy)
Some recommended bombs: Grapeshot, Dancing Star, Dragon's Dream, Devil's Puffball, Northern Wind.