A Guide to Building Geralt’s Skill Trees in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

If you’ve been confused by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s skill tree system, you aren’t alone. It’s unconventional and features a ton of options, many of which merely increase one of your stats by a percentage. Choosing where to place your ability points is no easy task.

I’ve put together a guide that lists all skills available in the game along with a rating and my thoughts. On page two you can read about the General skills and view three very different recommended builds.

Combat Skills

Fast Attack

Muscle Memory

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Explanation: Fast Attack is your main means of dealing damage throughout the game. Placing points in this is highly efficient in increasing your damage throughput. This skill is recommended as a baseline for all builds.

Precise Blows

  •  Rating: 5/5
  • Explanation: This skill significantly increases your burst damage allowing you to finish foes more quickly. It makes you much more powerful against all but the most damage resistant of enemies where Strong Attack is a better choice.

Whirl

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill is fun to use and great for taking out closely grouped enemies. However, you’re better off with standard attacks when facing spread out foes or in one-versus-one combat.

Crippling Strikes

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Sustained damage is particularly good against high health enemies. This skill will allow you to apply unmitigated damage over time against any foe. The bleed isn’t significant in damage, but is powerful in cases where you poke enemies and let them bleed out.

Strong Attack

Strength Training

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Strong Attack isn’t as commonly used as Fast Attack, but is an important means of dishing damage to high armor enemies. This skill will improve its capabilities.

Crushing Blows

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill will allow you to deal higher burst damage when using Strong Attack. It is highly recommended to aid you in defeating the more heavily armored enemies and bosses throughout the game.

Rend

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill significantly increases your damage output for the next attack. It is fun to use for wiping out a foe from existence, and aids in reducing battle duration against high health enemies.

Sunder Armor

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill provides a flat amount of resistance penetration. It effectively allows you to deal more consistent damage against enemies.

Defense

Arrow Deflection

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: Arrows are a pain to deal with throughout the game. This skill will allow you to approach archers without worry and deflect their arrows

Fleet Footed

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: This skill is far too situational and becomes useless once you master the art of dodging.

Counterattack

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: If you find yourself relying on parry a lot, this skill is well worth it as it will increase your counterattack damage by a significant amount. Otherwise, ignore it.

Deadly Precision

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: With only two ranks available, this skill is able to provide a 2% instant kill bonus. That’s one in every 50 strikes. Increased damage is far more dependable. Although, you may enjoy this skill if you would like to break the repetition of combat with the occasional one-hit kill.

Marksmanship

Lightning Reflexes

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: Aiming your bow shots isn’t something you should be doing often. This skill isn’t very useful.

Cold Blood

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: This skill would be good if the crossbow was potent. Unfortunately, its damage throughput is far less than both Signs and melee damage. Spend your points elsewhere unless you’re trying out a crossbow build for fun.

Anatomical Knowledge

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill greatly increases the damage output of your crossbow, and is worth consideration if you find yourself using it often.

Crippling Shot

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill allows you to fire your crossbow at dangerous enemies to potentially weaken their arsenal. It’s decent, but not recommended.

Battle Trance

Resolve

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: As you master the art of dodging this skill becomes useless. Avoid it.

Undying

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill isn’t very useful, but gives you a second chance on dying blows. If you die often, it may be worth consideration.

Razor Focus

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: This skill greatly increases your ability to gain Adrenaline Points and begin dealing increased damage.

Flood of Anger

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill is fun to use as it allows you to perform a high potency Sign attack with your Adrenaline Points. Unfortunately, it consumes the points effectively reducing your melee combat potency in the process. It’s only worth it if you’ve invested in skills that greatly increase your Adrenaline Point production.

Signs

Aard

Far-Reaching Aard

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Aard’s default range is fine. This skill is only recommended if you find yourself using Aard often and want to be able to hit more enemies with it.

Aard Sweep

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill makes Aard an AoE rather than a cone attack. The knockdown is lessened, but you’ll be able to hit enemies all around you with it. It’s very effective in situations where you’re surrounded.

Aard Intensity

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Aard isn’t potent in terms of damage. It’s best use is for knockdown, which isn’t improved with these points.

Shock Wave

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Aard is capable of dealing mild damage when upgraded with this skill, but you’re better off improving Igni if you’re looking to deal Sign damage.

Igni

Melt Armor

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: If you’re planning to go with a Sign-based build, this skill is necessary for reducing the armor of high resistance enemies so that you can deal adequate damage in melee. In a way, it substitutes the Combat Skill tree’s Strong Attack skills.

Firestream

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Explanation: This skill makes Igni far more potent allowing you to blast enemies who come near you. It’s also arguably the most enjoyable Sign Mode to use in the game.

Igni Intensity

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Igni is great for dealing damage, and this skill improves its potency. It’s recommended.

Pyromaniac

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: The damage over time effect of Burning is a great counter to high health and resistance enemies. Along with Igni Intensity, this skill makes Igni a highly effective Sign.

Yrden

Sustained Glyphs

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Yrden is the least effective of all the Signs. You may find this useful for combating the fast-moving enemies in the game, though.

Magic Trap

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: If you find yourself using Yrden often, this sign is necessary. This allows the Sign to deal damage and slow projectiles such as arrows.

Yrden Intensity

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: Yrden’s potency is underwhelming, and this skill does little to improve that.

Supercharged Glyphs

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: If you went with Magic Trap and would like to further increase Yrden’s damage output, this is your answer.

Quen

Exploding Shield

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Quen is a great sign for increasing your survivability. The knockback creates space that allows you to decide to retreat for a moment or deal unmitigated damage to the foes affected.

Active Shield

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Explanation: This skill is a must for anyone who wants to have high sustainability in combat. While active, the shield will heal you when hit, and gives you time to re-position. It works well for builds of all styles.

Quen Intensity

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Quen is fine by default. Only invest in this if you plan to get the next skill, Quen Discharge.

Quen Discharge

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: With this skill you can walk around with Active Shield healing up while enemies take moderate reflect damage. It’s a safe way to deal damage to dangerous enemies, although the reflected damage isn’t all that significant.

Axii

Delusion

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill is worth investing in if only to create additional dialog options during many interactions throughout the game. You’ll receive experience and have some fun along the way. Its combat-oriented effects are only mildly useful.

Puppet

  • Rating: 0/5
  • Explanation: This sign currently doesn’t work if Delusion is equipped (read more here), and isn’t all that effective anyway as it requires you to take yourself out of combat to mind control an enemy.

Axii Intensity

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: This skill isn’t useful. Skip it.

Domination

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: This skill might seem useful for crowd control, but Aard is much more effective for the same role.

Alchemy

Brewing

Heightened Tolerance

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill is mildly useful if you use a lot of potions, which you should if you’re going with an Alchemy build.

Refreshment

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill allows every potion you drink mid-combat to heal you, significantly increasing your survivability. This is an essential skill on higher difficulties.

Delayed Recovery

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: It is very difficult to maintain toxicity. However, if you are willing to invest yourself into maintaining it, this skill is great for increasing potion duration.

Side Effects

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: Potions are already incredibly useful, and this skill will virtually double their value when triggered.

Oil Preparation

Poisoned Blades

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Oils are very useful throughout the game, and this skill further improves their effectiveness with a damage over time effect.

Protective Coating

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: If you’re very deliberate about your oil usage, this skill will help you defeat challenging foes throughout the game. If you find yourself forgetting to use oils, skip it.

Fixative

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This skill is one of convenience. It doesn’t improve your effectiveness in combat, but saves you from having to farm for materials as often.

Hunter Instincts

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: Obtaining maximum Adrenaline Points isn’t that difficult, and this skill will significantly increase your damage output when you arrive at three Adrenaline.

Bomb Creation

Steady Aim

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: You shouldn’t need to slow time when aiming bombs if you’re good about your positioning. Skip this.

Pyrotechnics

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Some of the non-damage dealing bombs are already remarkably effective. This skill allows them to deal damage as well, making them the best bombs to employ during combat.

Efficiency

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: The greatest weakness of bombs is their low quantity of uses. This skill helps greatly in that regard.

Cluster Bombs

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: Bombs are particularly great for dealing with groups of enemies. This skill improves their AoE potential.

Mutation

Acquired Tolerance

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: A higher toxicity capacity is helpful if you use a lot of potions.

Tissue Transmutation

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This is a decent skill for those who enjoy Alchemy.

Synergy

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: Mutagen bonuses are substantial, especially in late-game. This skill increases their potency.

Adaption

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: This is a decent skill for those who enjoy Alchemy. Pair with Tissue Transmutation for the best effect.

Trial of the Grasses

Frenzy

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This is a dependable skill that allows you to avoid damage more easily during counter-attacks.

Endure Pain

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: This skill will make you tougher to kill when using potions.

Fast Metabolism

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: If you get this skill, do not under any circumstances get Brewing’s Delayed Recovery. This skill is all about reducing toxicity quickly so that you can consume another potion, making you dependent upon regular potion use.

Killing Spree

  • Rating: 3/5
  • Explanation: When combating groups of enemies this skill is remarkably effective for increasing your damage output each time an enemy is slain. However, many of the toughest encounters are one-versus-one where this skill doesn’t come into play.
 

General

Sun and Stars

  • Rating: 1/5 on lower difficulties, 2/5 on higher difficulties
  • Explanation: On the higher difficulties you will not be able to use Meditation to increase your health, so this skill is useful for avoiding dependence on food to regenerate. Since this skill doesn’t aid you in combat, it’s a skill of convenience.

Survival Instinct

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: More health offers you a buffer to avoid death. 500 Vitality is roughly 15% of a health bar at level 1. This skill does lose its effectiveness as you level and Vitality increases, which makes it a sub-par choice.

Armor Techniques

  • Rating: 5/5
  • Explanation: Early on you will want to commit to an armor type to wear throughout the game. Once you decide, place a point in the associated skill. For example, if you plan to use medium armor, place your point in Griffin School Techniques. Medium armor is best for Sign-based builds, while either light of heavy armor work well for Combat builds.

Steady Shot

  • Rating: 1/5
  • Explanation: Crossbows don’t do much damage, and this skill only helps slightly. Make sure to place points into Marksmanship (Combat tree) if you commit to Steady Shot.

Rage Management

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: Signs are remarkably effective, but are limited by your cast refresh. This skill will allow you to use signs more often at the expense of Adrenaline Points. If you’re aiming for a Sign build, grab this and avoid Focus.

Adrenaline Burst

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This allows you to increase Adrenaline Points noticeably faster. Pair this with Focus to operate with higher damage more often, or Rage Management to be able to use Signs more often.

Focus

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Explanation: This skill will scale your damage as your Adrenaline Points increase. It is recommended if you’re going with a Combat build. Be sure to pair it with Adrenaline Burst for maximum effectiveness.

Metabolism Control

  • Rating: 2/5
  • Explanation: Grab this if you’re going for an Alchemy build. Otherwise, it isn’t worth investing in.

Suggested Builds

The Fighter

Description: This build is all about making you a competent melee fighter. It is recommended for those who would rather swing a sword around all day than use magic.

  • Muscle Memory (5 points)
  • Strong Attack or Arrow Deflection (3 points)
  • Precise Blows (5 points)
  • Crushing Blows (5 points)
  • Delusion (3 points) *Signs tree*
  • Strong Attack (2 points)
  • Rend (5 points)
  • Cat School Techniques or Bear School Techniques (1 point) *General tree*
  • Adrenaline Burst (1 point) *General tree*
  • Focus (1 point) *General tree*
  • Counterattack and/or Razor Focus (5 points)
  • Sunder Armor (5 points)
  • Crippling Strikes (5 points)

The Mage

Description: This build focuses on Sign usage. It has the most amount of variety of all three builds and is the most recommended for anyone looking for an exciting combat experience as long as they don’t dislike using magic.

  • Melt Armor (5 points)
  • Muscle Memory (5 points) *Combat Skills tree*
  • Delusion (1 point)
  • Active Shield (5 points)
  • Firestream (5 points)
  • Delusion (2 points)
  • Igni Intensity (5 points)
  • Aard Sweep (3 points)
  • Griffin School Techniques (1 point) *General tree*
  • Rage Management (1 point) *General tree*
  • Adrenaline Burst (1 point) *General tree*
  • Exploding Shield (2 points)
  • Pyromaniac (5 points)
  • Quen Discharge (5 points)

The Alchemist

Description: This build makes use of potions, oils, and bombs. It is recommended for advanced players who are playing on a higher difficulty. After the completion of the below abilities it is advised that you proceed down either the Combat Skills or Signs tree.

  • Poisoned Blades (3 points)
  • Frenzy (3 points)
  • Muscle Memory (5 points) *Combat Skills tree*
  • Heightened Tolerance (2 points)
  • Refreshment (5 points)
  • Endure Pain (5 points)
  • Metabolism Control (1 point) *General tree*

 


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