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    Character Development Guide by Harleyquin2008

    Version: 1.2 | Updated: 12/29/12 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
    Character development FAQ
    Version 1.2
    Author: Harleyquin
    Table of Contents
    1. Introduction
    2. Character development basics
    3. Character playstyles
    4. Ability overview
    5. Ability investment order
    6. Acknowledgement and Credits
    7. Contact information
    8. Talent point resetting and mutagens
    9. Version history
    10. Legal Notice
    1. Introduction
    Welcome to my character development guide for the Witcher 2: Assassins of
    Kings. The purpose of this FAQ is to give newcomers to the game an outline
    on how to develop Geralt of Rivia as efficiently as possible to provide a
    smoother gameplay experience regardless of difficulty level. If you've read
    my previous guide on the Talent Tree for the 1st game, this guide will use
    more or less the same format. This guide is written according to the latest
    patch 2.1 for the Witcher 2 as a lot of the abilities have been changed
    compared to the initial retail version released in May 2011. Like my previous
    guide I will endeavour not to give too many spoilers during ability
    descriptions, enemies and game features which are common knowledge will be
    mentioned freely regardless.
    The game isn't that hard to beat if the Easy difficulty is selected, however
    players who like a bit more of a challenge on their 1st playthrough may
    find the going tough without proper character planning beforehand. The
    Witcher series isn't like the Elder Scrolls series where one misstep during
    character advancement can doom a character build, but it is easy to make
    mistakes and give players unnecessary grief in making the game harder than
    it has to be. Readers still interested can continue, I make no guarantees
    that the following information below will work for everyone, but I trust
    it will help as a useful reference for those new to the game.
    2. Character development basics
    Before starting on the guide proper, here's a few simple but important
    points to remember for thinking about a character concept:
    2a) There are 51 different abilities that Geralt can invest talent points in,
    each ability has two levels for investment. Hence players have 102 different
    choices for talent point investment.
    2b) Geralt earns a talent point upon each level up, the maximum level he can
    attain in this game is level 35. This means the maximum number of talent
    points any player can earn in one playthrough is 34 (Nothing available at
    level 1). If players are patient enough to develop Geralt to level 35, that's
    exactly 1 out of every 3 abilities Geralt can choose from the available list.
    2c) Provided prerequisite abilities have a single point invested beforehand,
    there are no restrictions on where talent points can be invested.
    2d) All 4 development trees use an either/or relationship to determine whether
    or not a more advanced ability can be invested in upon level-up. This will
    help players who prefer to pass on unnecessary abilities to focus on their
    key targets.
    2e) All players MUST invest at least 6 talent points into the Training tree
    before the other trees are unlocked. Players therefore need to choose 6
    out of 12 options in the Training tree before investing the remaining 28
    talent points in their chosen tree(s).
    3. Character playstyles
    Now that the above points have been dealt with, players will want to plan
    a character concept for Geralt. Compared to the 1st game, there are a lot
    more permutations available for players who like to enjoy the role-playing
    aspect of character building. A quick overview of the 4 trees, their abilities
    and the manual's description gives the following builds:
    3a) Mastery of one tree (Swordsmanship/Magic/Alchemy) with little or no
    investment in the other two trees.
    A straightforward approach to playing the game, choose one tree and invest
    15-20 talent points as required. The remaining points can be invested in
    useful abilities in the non-important trees allowing the player to reach
    the advanced adrenaline-based skill as soon as possible.
    Putting all available eggs in one basket is not the wisest choice, especially
    on harder difficulty levels where a more balanced approach may be better.
    Blade experts will have a slightly easier time of it than their magic and
    alchemy counterparts for various reasons.
    3b) Expertise in two trees with talents invested sparingly in the 3rd.
    This approach is more adaptable than the one-trick pony described above, 
    some battles are much easier with more tools at the player's disposal.
    It'll take longer to reach the adrenaline skill for either selected tree than
    the master above. Versatility comes at the price of killing power and speed
    say in comparison to a player who's completely dedicated to the sword.
    3c) Jack of all trades, relies on equipment, skill and mutagens to round
    out weaknesses.
    This is a doable build for players completely new to the series and who'd
    like a better idea of how the various abilities work. It'll still sail
    through easy difficulty and help earn Steam achievements for players who
    are so inclined. This approach can earn the adrenaline skills for all 3 trees
    and use them simultaenously in combat under the right circumstances.
    This approach is tough to survive with on Hard difficulty and above, the
    Jack of all Trades is always the Master of None so killing speed and
    survivability will rely more on player preparation and reflexes than
    on the abilities themselves. This approach only sees its true potential
    at levels 33-35 which may require a lot of grinding and patience.
    4. Ability overview
    The abilities will be divided into their respective trees, I'll use small
    letters to denote different ability trees and roman numerals to denote the
    abilities themselves. I grade each ability on a scale from 0 to 5, 0
    recommends players skip the ability entirely while 5 recommends players
    get the ability either sooner or later. Of course my ratings are
    subjective and based on personal experience so mileage will vary depending
    on player skill and paths chosen. Note that the in-game description of
    abilities does not necessarily match what is seen in practice, I have
    used the Wikia ability descriptions for the abilities below and there will
    be some discrepancy with what is written in the Talent Tree.
    4a) Training tree
    No matter what build players choose, 6 points must be invested into this
    path before the other 3 trees are unlocked. It's not all bad though since
    some very useful skills are located in this tree and the passive support
    skills are helpful no matter what build is played. Players completely new
    to the game can invest one point in each of the different abilities available
    before moving on, more experienced players may wish to tinker a little.
    4ai) Vigour Regeneration
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1 effects: +25% vigour regeneration outside of combat
    Level 2 effects: +25% vigour regeneration in combat
    Many players will invest at least one talent here, this will speed
    up waiting times when running away from opponents to regenerate vigour (A
    common occurrence in normal difficulty and up). Those who want more of
    a challenge or are used to drinking Lapwing and Tawny Owl potions before
    major fights have leeway to skip this talent. One visual clue to identify
    if Geralt is in a non-combat situation despite nearby enemies is to see
    whether he adopts a loose stance with his sword drawn.
    Players investing heavily in the Sign path may be tempted to invest an
    additional talent here since their slaying power depends heavily on the
    number of vigour points available and their replenishment rate. On the other
    hand potions like Tawny Owl and Maribor Forest are available which can achieve
    the same purpose without expending a precious talent point.
    Level 1: 3/5
    Level 2: 0/5 (2/5 for Sign-only players).
    4aii) Hardiness
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1 effects: Vitality +10
    Level 2 effects: Vitality +50
    1st-time players can choose to invest a point here and move on, other players
    with more playing time under their belt will choose to skip this in favour
    of developing one of the Training Tree abilities to Level 2. 10 Vitality is
    only sufficient for keeping Geralt standing for 1-2 attacks longer in the
    Prologue and makes barely any difference past Chapter 1. The only players
    who might be tempted to invest a point or two here will be those skilled
    enough to play and finish Insane difficulty and who want every last point
    of Vitality possible.
    Level 1: 0/5 (3/5 for Insane Difficulty players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1.5/5 for Insane Difficulty players)
    4aiii) Dagger Throwing
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1 effects: Unlocks the ability to throw daggers
    Level 2 effects: Damage dealt by daggers +20
    Most players will want one point invested here, dagger throwing is one of
    the few range attacks available to the fledgling Witcher and it's
    convenient for whittling down opponents from range when using a bomb would
    be a waste or if critical effects can be inflicted with the right daggers.
    The only players who might conveivably give this a miss will be Sign-only
    players since they'll have invested enough points (and possibly mutagens) to
    upgrade Sign range for Aard and Igni to engage in battle at a reasonable
    distance, the upside giving these players the option to forego daggers
    completely and save on carrying weight for keeping daggers in
    inventory and earning a few orens on the side by selling every single
    dagger-related item, crafting diagram and component they chance across.
    Regardless of player preference, all players must choose either this ability,
    Vigour Regeneration or Hardiness to unlock the more advanced Training Tree
    abilities so it is highly recommended players make a decision early.
    There's little to no point investing a 2nd point in dagger throwing. Talent
    points are limited enough as it is so expending a hard-earned point into
    a skill which uses finite quantities of weapons that are not guaranteed to
    bring victory against all foes regardless of damage bonus. The Witcher's main
    weapons are the two swords behind his back, leave the knife-throwing antics
    at the circus.
    Level 1: 5/5 (3/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5
    4aiv) Parrying
    Prerequisites: Vigour Regeneration OR Hardiness OR Dagger Throwing
    Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to parry attacks from all directions
    Level 2 effects: Parrying reduces damage inflicted by 50%
    This ability has been downgraded compared to its initial retail incarnation,
    but it's still required no matter what build the player pursues. There will
    always be occasions when Geralt gets surrounded and has to fight his way
    out to achieve a better tactical position (Jumping over enemies along
    with pirouettes to regain position are now replaced by the less helpful
    roll in this game). If timing is good and spare Vigour points remain
    available, it is possible to stagger all enemies who surround Geralt with
    a good parry in order to earn an opportunity to move out of the encirclement.
    Take note that parrying is not always a viable option in battles, certain
    monster fights rely more on the ability to dodge and keeping a safe
    distance. Even the most hardcore Sign-heavy player will want to take
    this eventually since it's the prerequisite to the two mutagen-friendly
    abilities in the Training Tree.
    Arguing a case for two points in this ability is weaker now since the
    damage reduction from a successful parry is only 50%. The tougher the
    difficulty level chosen however, the more valuable the 50% damage reduction
    becomes especially with the damage values enemies are assigned. Players
    intending to pick Riposte in the swordsmanship tree will find the 2nd
    point here more or less mandatory.
    Level 1: 5/5
    Level 2: 4/5 (5/5 for Sword-heavy players or anyone going for Riposte)
    4av) Arrow Redirection
    Prerequisites: Parrying
    Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to repel arrows when blocking
    Level 2 effects: Unlocks ability to deflect arrows back to the shooter
    The manual isn't very clear on this, but this ability when unlocked only
    seems to work if Geralt is facing the direction of the shooter, is in parry
    stance and has a non-empty Vigour bar. The ability is no longer automatic and
    chance-based like it was in Witcher 1. This ability is of course situational
    since all opponents which this ability applies to are vulnerable to Steel and
    vary to some extent depending on what battles Geralt chooses to fight. The
    biggest reason for choosing this ability however is its ability to accept
    mutagens for upgrades.
    One Steam achievement and a character attribute are tied to Level 2 of this
    ability. 1st-time players might want to give this a pick just to see how
    it works, once the achievement has been earned it is purely a matter of
    gameplay preference as to whether Level 2 (and its associated attributed
    when earned) are worth keeping. Level 1 is sufficient to unlock the mutagen
    upgrade, Level 2 provides a foolproof way to kill archers and arbalists
    at range.
    Level 1: 5/5
    Level 2: 2/5 (Depending on path, playstyle and personal preference)
    4avi) Fortitude
    Prerequisites: Parrying
    Level 1 effects: Vigour regeneration in combat +10%
    Level 2 effects: +1 Vigour
    This is another must-have ability regardless of playstyle. Vigour regenerates
    much more slowly during combat compared to non-combat situations so cutting
    down waiting times as soon as possible might be the difference between
    winning the fight or getting killed. In addition to the level's effect, this
    is the 2nd of the two abilities accepting mutagens in the Training Tree.
    Going for Level 2 in this ability is perfectly viable, the 2 starting points
    in Vigour tend to be used up very quickly at the start of the game so
    having an additional point opens up more approaches to combat situations.
    Equipment increasing vigour points and vigour regeneration is also limited
    in the early stages of the game so investing a talent point here is not
    "wasted". Unlike the more specialised Arrow Redirection and Parrying, an
    extra vigour point is more versatile in application so going up to
    Level 2 using one of the 6 mandatory talent points is a solid choice.
    Sign-heavy players who decided to skip on Dagger Throwing are strongly
    advised to invest that talent point here.
    Level 1: 5/5
    Level 2: 5/5
    4b) Swordsmanship Tree
    Decisions on where to invest talent points earned in the 3 main Trees are
    less clear-cut compared to the Training tree, so I'll do my best to analyse
    pros and cons of each ability and give as balanced a rating as possible.
    More points invested here means Geralt is capable of cutting down foes
    faster and withstanding more attacks in turn. The game itself advises
    players to invest heavily in this Tree since on easy difficulty this is
    all that's required to finish the storyline. A closer look however reveals
    some abilities which are also of use to other playstyles.
    4bi) Position
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1 effects: Damage incurred from backstabs 150%
    Level 2 effects: Damage incurred from backstabs 100%
    Backstab damage hurts, more so on Hard difficulty and above. Investing in
    this ability mitigates the pain to some extent. Skilled players can try
    to avoid getting surrounded as much as possible, however there will always
    be situations where Geralt must face multiple foes at once and having this
    passive ability in place helps improve the odds of surviving.
    Whether or not Level 2 is worth the investment comes down to playstyle.
    If Geralt's best source of damage is from swords then getting stuck in
    against multiple opponents is the price that must be paid to get the job
    done much faster. Players heavily reliant on Combat Acumen will need Level
    2 to stay alive long enough for Whirl to do its job. At Dark/Insane
    difficulty level, it is almost always worth it to get the two points
    invested here as soon as possible, even with the full Blasphemer set
    a Necker Warrior backstab double-swing will slay Geralt if the
    150/200% modifier is applied even if Geralt's level is as high as
    Level 1: 3/5
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Dark/Insane difficulty, 3/5 for Sword-heavy
    4bii) Riposte
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1 effects: Unlocks ability to counterattack foes while parrying
    Level 2 effects: Riposte instant kill chance +10%
    An upgrade of sorts to the parry skill, with this ability active Geralt
    can counterattack an opponent immediately after the incoming blow is
    parried provided distance and timing are good. Players facing an opponent
    whose attacks can be parried should keep parry stance up and wait for the
    visual cue that will show on the opponent's body. Timing the attack whilst
    holding the parry stance will result in Geralt parrying the opponent and
    immediately initiating an attack animation on the staggering foe. A
    successfuly riposte requires available vigour points otherwise there will
    be no visual cue. As mentioned in the parrying entry above, this is not
    always available depending on the type of opponent faced. If an attack
    is coming and no visual cue is available despite all the prerequisites
    for a parry being met, then the opponent faced is not vulnerable to
    riposte and the attacks must be dodged or preempted. There's a Steam
    achievement tied to this ability so getting it during a 1st-time
    playthrough is required in order to unlock the achievement for those
    interested. The riposte can miss if the opponent is too far away, hence
    this is best used when the opponent is backed into a corner and cannot
    stagger away from the reach of the counter-attack. Execute enough ripostes
    successfully and Geralt will gain the character attribute that grants
    a chance to automatically riposte enemy blows while in parry position which
    can be handy for minimising number of quick reactions required. As
    mentioned above in the parrying entry, dovetailing one point here and
    two points in that skill are almost essential, particularly so at higher
    difficulty levels.
    Level 2 might be worthwhile depending on availability of spare talent
    points and how far down the Swordsmanship Tree the player is willing to
    invest in. It's more likely players will run out of talent points to
    spend before this becomes a feasible option.
    Level 1: 3/5 (4/5 for 1st time players bought from Steam and sword-heavy
    Level 2: 0/5 (1.5/5 for sword-heavy players with a riposte fetish)
    4biii) Feet Work
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Dodge distance +100%
    Level 2: Dodge distance +200%
    All builds need to master the art of rolling sooner rather than later.
    The utility of rolling is readily apparent when it helps
    escape from encirclement or closes the distance with a foe just out of
    sword reach. Whether or not the skill is worth investing in depends on
    how happy players are with the initial distance covered with a basic roll.
    Character builds relying heavily on good positioning to keep enemies
    clustered together will see the most benefit, regardless most
    boss fights are made easier with the extra distance. At Insane/Dark
    difficulty levels, investing one point in this talent can mean the
    difference between a backstab connecting or missing Geralt.  
    Too much distance covered during a roll can be a double-edged sword if
    players are careless, hence getting this ability to Level 2 isn't really
    Level 1: 4/5 
    Level 2: 0/5
    4biv) Violence
    Prerequisites: Feet Work OR Whirl
    Level 1: Sword damage +5%
    Level 2: Sword damage +15%
    This ability is very straightforward, points invested help Geralt kill
    faster. The difference isn't very noticeable at first, more powerful
    weapons obtained further down the game make even a 5% increase strong
    enough to reduce number of hits required to eliminate cannon fodder. This
    is the fastest prerequisite to Whirl though so picking it as a
    prerequisite is a good choice for talent-pinching players.
    Further investment depends on how far players are willing to go down
    the Swordsmanship Tree. Depending on character concept, a +10% increase
    to sword damage in exchange for one talent may not be the best possible
    Level 1: 2/5 (3.5/5 for Sword-heavy players focusing on offence)
    Level 2: 0/5 (2.5/5 for Sword-heavy players with spare talents)
    4bv) Whirl
    Prerequisites: Violence OR Hardy
    Level 1: Attacks now affect multiple opponents per swing, secondary damage
    50% of intended target
    Level 2: All targets successfully hit by Whirl attacks take full damage
    This ability is a nod to the old Group Style used in Witcher 1. Once
    enabled group fights are faster to finish as Geralt's attacks affect all
    within range, although the attack animation does not change any enemy
    within sword range is affected. Don't count on this ability to keep Geralt
    completely safe from flanking damage, backstabs are lethal to Geralt
    if he cannot strike opponents to his rear.
    Investing in Level 2 again depends on how willing players are towards
    investment in the Swordsmanship Tree, in addition this playstyle depends
    on taking on many opponents at once in order for the ability to reach
    full value. Swordmasters are advised to invest up to Level 2 for this
    ability and Position to make group fights less painful, however those
    content with using the ability's disruptive capabilities will be
    quite happy with Level 1. Alchemist-heavy players reliant on the Mutant
    adrenaline skill will also find two points in Whirl surprisingly useful
    for extracting maximum value out of the adrenaline duration.
    Level 1: 1.5/5 (3.5/5 for offensive Sword-heavy players who like all-out
    Level 2: 0/5 (2/5 for offensive Sword-heavy players fond of killing
    many opponents quickly at once).
    4bvi) Guard
    Prerequisites: Riposte OR Tough Guy
    Level 1: Vigour required to block -25%
    Level 2: Vigour required to block -50%
    If Geralt fights opponents whose blows can be parried, this ability proves
    its worth in keeping damage minimised at reduced expense to vigour. Players
    who love the parry and riposte mechanic will appreciate this ability, 
    others who prefer to kill their opponents faster or who would rather
    avoid the attacks altogether can pass.
    No matter how parry-happy players are, investing an additional talent
    in this ability is a bit of a waste. Some equipment is available that
    reduces the vigour cost of parrying so Level 2 is somewhat redundant. In
    addition towards the end of the game players should have 3-4 Vigour
    points granting more leeway for vigour expenditure, the Tiara potion is
    also available from Chapter 1 which serves the same purpose.
    Level 1: 1/5 (3/5 for parry enthusiasts)
    Level 2: 0/5
    4bvii) Schemer
    Prerequisites: Feet Work OR Tough Guy
    Level 1: Vigour regeneration in combat +10%
    Level 2: Vigour regeneration in combat +40%
    The Level 1 effect is equivalent to Level 1 in Fortitude in the Training
    Tree, however both effects will work in tandem when calculating Geralt's
    final vigour regeneration in combat modifer. Sword and Sign exponents
    alike will derive benefits from faster vigour regeneration in combat.
    Surprisingly enough, the only players likely to pick Level 2 are those
    who are heavily invested in Signs. Swordmasters will probably be happy
    enough with Level 1 in both Fortitude and Schemer to concentrate on
    cutting down foes, magic users unable to outrun fast foes will want every
    last boost to vigour regeneration in combat to outlast their opponents.
    Combining this, Fortitude Level 1 and certain potions together can 
    raise the final regeneration modifier close to default levels achieved
    outside of combat which is a huge boon to Sign Masters.
    Level 1: 2.5/5 (3.5/5 for players equally dependent on Swords and Signs)
    Level 2: 0/5 (2/5 for Sign-heavy players investing in two Trees)
    4bviii) Tough Guy
    Prerequisites: Schemer OR Guard OR Hardy
    Level 1: Damage reduction 5%
    Level 2: Damage reduction 15%
    Investing in Level 1 may not seem like much, but combined with certain
    equipment and other talents with this property damage inflicted on Geralt
    becomes far more manageable. Players not focusing heavily on the
    Swordsmanship Tree will have to decide whether investing 3 talent points
    for a piddling degree of damage reduction is worthwhile unless they have
    other goals they intend to pursue.
    Level 2 is only worth pursuing for players investing heavily in the
    Swordsmanship Tree, and then only after Invincible Level 2 has been obtained.
    Other players likely won't have the talents to spare. Level 2 in 2.1 is
    heavily downgraded from the 40% at retail, note the difference and be
    careful with available talents after patching the game.
    Level 1: 3/5 (4/5 for Sword-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1.5/5 for Sword-heavy players)
    4bix) Hardy
    Prerequisites: Whirl OR Tough Guy
    Level 1: Vitality +25
    Level 2: Vitality +100
    I'm personally not in favour of using talent points to boost vitality since
    equipment and levelling-up should cover that aspect for Geralt. This ability
    is hence useful to help players decide just how far down they're willing
    to go for the Swordsmanship Tree since it's a requirement for the final
    adrenaline-based skill. Investing up to Whirl or Tough Guy prior to this
    should be more than enough for Sign and Alchemy-heavy players.
    If players need a talent point to boost Vitality by +75, they're either
    not planning their build properly or are paranoid about getting killed
    on Insane difficulty.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sword-heavy players and those looking towards earning
    the final adrenaline-based ability)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Insane difficulty players)
    4bx) Precision
    Prerequisites: Hardy
    Level 1: Critical effect: Bleeding +10% chance
    Level 2: Critical effect: Bleeding +20% chance, +5% sword damage
    Increasing chance to bleed opponents normally comes from equipment, potions
    and oils so this isn't very attractive just on Level 1. In addition to the
    fairly limited increase in bleeding, many opponents tend to be immune
    to bleeding anyway.
    Swordmasters looking to extract every last point of damage from their
    talents will be interested in Level 2, making an investment in Level 1
    more palatable.
    Level 1: 0/5 (1/5 for Sword-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1.5/5 for offensive Sword-heavy players)
    4bxi) Finesse
    Prerequisites: Hardy
    Level 1: Chance to inflict critical effects +5%
    Level 2: Chance to inflict critical effects +15%
    Critical effects refer to Bleeding, Incineration, Freezing, Poisoning and
    Stun. This excludes Instant Kill and does not have any impact at all on Sign
    critical effects (Igni incineration is independent of this ability for
    example). It's highly unlikely players will see any difference before and
    after this ability is affected unless available equipment and potions are
    used to raise the % chance to inflict to reasonable levels. Players need
    to use equipment with a base chance to inflict the specified critical effect
    in question before Geralt can take advantage (don't expect to Freeze enemies
    unless Geralt wields the appropriate weapons with the Freeze chance).
    Level 2 isn't very helpful unless the player has appropriate equipment
    to equip Geralt with. Those building around critical effects are well-advised
    to look for and use greater critical effect mutagens.
    Level 1: 0/5 (1.5/5 for Sword-heavy players with appropriate equipment)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Sword-heavy players with appropriate equipment)
    4bxii) Sudden Death
    Prerequisites: Hardy
    Level 1: Chance of instant kill +2%
    Level 2: Chance of instant kill +5%
    Instant kill is separate from the critical effects listed in Finesse and
    is a rare equipment attribute. The base chance on level 1 is so low that
    players will barely notice the difference before and after. Players can
    tell the ability has triggered when the screen mimics a "blood spatter"
    effect and the combat log records Geralt inflicting the target's equivalent
    maximum health value in damage which is not resisted at all by the Target's
    armour rating (armour rating of zero doesn't appear in the usual damage
    calculations). It won't activate during chapter boss fights (specifically
    those involving a visible life bar), but all other enemies should be
    fair game.
    Level 2 here faces the same problem as Finesse Level 2, the base chance
    is still too low to make a noticeable difference unless Geralt has
    equipment that increases the base chance considerably. Players interested
    in extracting maximum mileage out of Instant Kill are advised to invest
    Talent Points deep into the Alchemy Tree to get Berserker Lv2.
    Level 1: 0/5 (1.5/5 for Sword-heavy players with appropriate equipment)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Sword-heavy players with appropriate equipment)
    4bxiii) Invincible
    Prerequisites: Precison OR Finesse OR Sudden Death
    Level 1: Vitality +50, damage reduction +5%
    Level 2: Vitality +150, damage reduction +15%
    Swordmasters who've met the prerequisites will want this ability activated
    as soon as possible, the ability itself isn't special since it only gives
    a vitality boost and a bonus to damage reduction, however it's the
    prerequisite for the adrenaline-based skill and accepts mutagens.
    Swordmasters focused on a single tree will probably be the only players
    interested in investing in Level 2, as mentioned before getting this
    first before Tough Guy Level 2 is advised. 
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sword-heavy players and generalists aiming for 
    Combat Acumen)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3/5 for Sword-heavy players with spare talents left over)
    4bxiv) Combat Acumen
    Prerequisites: Invincible
    Level 1: Group finisher enabled once adrenaline bar is full.
    Level 2: Damage +10%, damage reduction +10%
    This is the most powerful ability in the Swordsmanship tree, requiring a
    minimum of 8 talents invested in prerequisites before it is unlocked.
    The animation is impressive but it only works if the targets in range
    have low enough health for the ability to kill them outright. This ties
    in well with a style of play that focuses on slaying opponents as quickly
    as possible, a risky strategy in hard difficulty and up where opponents
    are much tougher and inflict lots of damage even in earlier stages
    of the game. As mentioned above, getting Position and Whirl to Level 2
    helps Group finishers get kills before Geralt is overwhelmed. Certain
    enemies are immune to the group finisher, however the ability to increase
    adrenaline through sword blows through this ability might help trigger
    other adrenaline abilities like Heliotrope etc. if Geralt has advanced
    far enough to pick up more than one adrenaline ability.
    Having made it this far, Level 2 is worthwhile if there are talent points
    to spare. There is a discrepancy between the Wikia description and the
    in-game description, but even a +10% damage boost starts to matter when
    other modifiers are counted.  
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sword-heavy players and generalists)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3.5/5 for Sword-heavy players with leftover talents)
    4bxv) Whirlwind
    Prerequisites: Combat Acumen
    Level 1: Adrenaline generated by sword blows +10%, all resistances +10%,
    chance to inflict critical effects +10%
    Level 2: Adrenaline generated by sword blows +30%, all resistances +20%,
    chance to inflict critical effects +20%
    All adrenaline-based abilities have one support ability which enhances
    their effectiveness. The Swordsmanship offering raises resistances to
    critical effects and increases chances of inflicting them in turn in
    addition to boosting adrenaline accumulation through sword strikes. Players
    who have acquired Combat Acumen will want this since it offers an ability
    slot that supports mutagens, the ability's benefits notwithstanding.
    Level 2 in this ability faces the same dilemma as Combat Acumen Level 2,
    spare points left over after a core build is complete are well spent here.
    If forced to choose between Level 2 here and Level 2 in Combat Acumen I'd
    pick Combat Acumen first since it's a perk that isn't dependent on chance.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sword-heavy players and generalists)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3/5 for Sword-heavy players with leftover talents)   
    4c) Magic Tree
    Geralt starts with the 5 basic Witcher signs from the outset, so investment
    in this Tree is only required if players feel they need to increase the
    efficacy of sign effects and sign damage or desire to unlock the 6th
    Heliotrope Sign. Appropriate investment in this tree allows players to adopt
    a hit-and-run approach to combat with the advantages of keeping mobile and
    taking less damage from encircling opponents. Note however that some monsters
    are unaffected by Witcher signs so a sword is still required to finish the
    4ci) Enhanced Aard Sign
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Unlocks Aard Sign level 2, sign range +2m
    Level 2: Unlocks Aard Sign level 3, sign affects entire areas, sign range
    The Aard sign isn't as powerful as it used to be compared to Witcher 1, it
    is still useful for keeping fights on your terms and to open an escape
    route when encircled. The added range from Level 1 is probably the main
    benefit since stun and knockdown effects do not trigger very often even
    after upgrading. Those wanting to invest in Quen should put a point here
    since this is argubly more useful than Axii as a prerequisite.
    Sign masters want Level 2 as soon as possible since this is one of the
    main crowd control tools available to the magic specialist. 
    Level 1: 4/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players or as a prerequisite)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    4cii) Enhanced Axii Sign
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Unlocks Axii Sign level 2, hexed opponent gets +20% Vitality,
    +20 damage inflicted on targets
    Level 2: Unlocks Axii Sign level 3, hexed opponent gets +50% Vitality,
    +50 damage inflicted on targets
    The Sign's execution has changed somewhat from Witcher 1, in exchange for
    a longer default range Geralt has to maintain the spell for longer before
    the target is successfully hexed. Play the 2.1 tutorial and experiment
    with the Sign to get a handle on its range and quirks. Hexed opponents are
    useful distractions allowing time to escape or try another course of
    action, however not all foes will succumb and Geralt is basically open
    to attacks if the Sign fails to convert its target.
    Really dedicated Sign Masters with talent points to burn can invest in
    Level 2.
    Level 1: 2/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    4ciii) Destructive Magic
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Sign damage +5
    Level 2: Sign damage +10, Vigour +1
    The main signs which inflict direct damage on foes without upgrades are
    the Igni and Yrden signs, the level 1 increase is too insignificant
    to matter for most players. Sign masters who live and die by the
    efficacy of their Signs will invest in this ability anyway.
    Considering most players won't touch Level 1, Level 2 is hard to recommend
    even though it includes +1 vigour. Sign Masters will appreciate both
    of the benefits from Level 2.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3.5/5 for players needing extra vigour while spending the
    least amount of talents possible, 5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    4civ) Enhanced Quen Sign
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Aard Sign OR Destructive Magic OR Enhanced Axii Sign
    Level 1: Enables Level 2 Quen Sign, Quen deflects 20% enemy damage back on
    opponents, Sign duration +20s
    Level 2: Enables Level 3 Quen Sign, Quen deflects 50% enemy damage back on
    opponents, Sign duration +60s
    This Sign is now noticeably weaker compared to its retail incarnation,
    however it's more useful than the Witcher 1 version. For most players
    this will be the most popular Sign throughout the game. As of the latest
    patch the nerf to this sign is so severe that players should get used to
    dodging and running a lot rather than relying on the Sign to keep Geralt
    alive, the 50s duration is piddling so the only real benefit is the
    damage reflection.   
    Quen Level 3 despite its 90s duration is really only useful as a shield
    until midway through Chapter 1. It still dissipates in one hit from just
    about every enemy stronger than a nekker. In its current incarnation,
    I advise players either go for two points here or skip the 3 points
    required to get this far for other talents. 
    Level 1: 2/5 (0-1/5 for Swordsmanship and Alchemy tree specialists)
    Level 2: 2/5 (0-1/5 for Swordsmanship and Alchemy tree specialists)
    4cv) Magical Vigour
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Quen Sign
    Level 1: Vigour +1
    Level 2: Vigour +2
    The main source of extra vigour for Sign players, other playstyles can
    may or may not invest an additional point here after picking up
    Enhanced Quen. Unless players are really squeezing talent points into a
    dedicated tree, it's probably a better choice to invest 4 points into the
    Sign tree up to Magical Vigour Level 1 instead of 2 points into
    Destructive Magic. Some equipment late in the equipment is also capable
    of increasing Vigour, consider playstyle and character build very
    carefully before committing points here.
    Level 2 is more or less the exclusive domain of Sign-heavy players with
    the talent points to spare. Although more Vigour is always better, some
    players might find that there comes a point where additional vigour
    points aren't really necessary as fights are finished without depleting
    vigour points to zero midway through.
    Level 1: 4/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    4cvi) Venting
    Prerequisities: Enhanced Quen Sign OR Enhanced Igni Sign
    Level 1: Quen transfers reflected damage to two opponents
    Level 2: Quen transfers reflected damage to three opponents
    A slight modification to Quen allowing it to help kill mobs surrounding
    Geralt. It should not be relied on to kill opponents, rather it should
    be seen as a tool to soften up surrounding enemies allowing Geralt to finish
    them off with more efficient tools. This works well with a Sword-heavy
    playstyle that gets stuck in against mobs. Note that as of the latest
    patch, enemies slain by reflected damage do not provide Geralt with
    XP which is particularly annoying after slaying particular tough foes
    like the Endrega Queen or Draugir. Another problem with investing
    points in this skill is the abovementioned nerfs to the Quen Sign,
    players will likely need to recast Quen every few seconds due to its
    propensity to disappear after a single hit from most enemies. 
    It's difficult to recommend Level 2, even to Sign-masters since the
    character build most suited for Level 2 likely won't have the talents
    to invest here.
    Level 1: 1/5 (2/5 for Sword-heavy players investing in both Swordsmanship
    and Magic Trees)
    Level 2: 0/5
    4cvii) Magic Intensification
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Quen Sign OR Fatal Attraction
    Level 1: Sign intensity +1
    Level 2: Sign intensity +2, Damage Reduction 5%
    According to the ingame tutorial description, increasing Sign intensity
    multiplies the base damage of a Sign by a specific factor e.g. Sign
    intensity of 2 doubles the damage of Aard, Igni and Yrden. It might
    increase the chances of inflicting critical effects but players are better
    off using mutagens, the Wolf potion and specific equipment if they're
    relying on incineration/stun. The Stammelford's Philter potion stacks
    with this ability, be wary of the potion's significant side effects.
    Sign masters will invest up to Level 2 for this ability, the +5 damage
    reduction is a nice bonus. All other builds will likely balk at the
    sheer number of talent points invested just to get +5% damage reduction.
    Level 1: 1/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy players)
    4cviii) Fatal Attraction
    Prerequisites: Magic Intensification OR Magical Vigour
    Level 1: Axii Sign can bewitch two opponents at once
    Level 2: Axii Sign can bewitch three opponents at once
    Players fond of using the Axii sign for crowd control will want this,
    increasing the number of temporary "allies" during a fight helps
    even out the odds. It's possible to invest in this ability without
    raising Axii to Level 2 since it's not a direct prerequisite.
    Hardcore Axii-loving Sign Masters apply here, all other builds can move
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy Axii lovers)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3.5/5 for Sign-heavy Axii lovers)
    4cix) Enhanced Igni Sign
    Prerequisites: Venting OR Magical Vigour
    Level 1: Enables Level 2 Igni Sign, Igni has chance to incinerate target,
    Sign range +3m
    Level 2: Enables Level 3 Igni Sign, Igni now has an area effect, Sign range
    By this point usually Sign-heavy players will be looking at this ability.
    It comes late but the main damage dealing tools for Sign masters start
    coming into play. Sign masters should try and obtain the attribute that
    increases base incineration chance if they want incineration to trigger
    more often. Generalists going for the adrenaline skill will prefer this
    as a prerequisite. 
    Level 3 Igni combined with Level 3 Aard is good for gathering mobs
    together for a mass barbecue, assuming the foes involved don't have
    immunity or resistance to stun and incineration.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4cx) Enhanced Yrden Sign
    Prerequisites: Fatal Attraction OR Enhanced Igni Sign
    Level 1: Enables Level 2 Yrden Sign, two Yrden traps can be laid at once
    Level 2: Enables Level 3 Yrden Sign, three Yrden traps can be laid at once
    The other main killing tool for Sign masters with crowd control capability.
    Yrden once upgraded becomes more damaging and ensnares foes for longer
    allowing more free sword strikes or Igni castings. This is the 1st of
    3 mutagen-friendly abilities in the Magic Tree so get it as soon as the
    prerequisites are met.
    Level 2 in this ability increases the Sign strength, so it might still be
    worth investing in even though single foes don't require more than a
    single Yrden at a time. Crowd control does become much easier with
    annoying pursuers held in place for backstabs, combine two points here
    with two points in Glyph enhancement below for VERY effective crowd
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4cxi) Glyph enhancement
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign
    Level 1: Yrden traps link once cast, foes making contact are stunned the
    same way as contact with the regular trap.
    Level 2: Yrden barrier deals 5 damage per second to foes which attempt
    to pass
    Another enhancement to the Yrden Sign, this increases the value of
    Yrden investment by making the traps work like an impassable barrier to
    most foes. Clever Yrden placement can keep multiple foes immobilised and
    at Geralt's mercy. Generalists needing one point to get to the next
    unlocked skill might find this more useful than Energy Flow for the
    limited crowd control ability on offer. 
    Going up to Level 2 for this ability helps kill immobilised foes a little
    faster, but it's not really worth the investment unless the single-tree
    Sign specialist has absolutely no idea where to invest spare talents. For
    best results, get Enhanced Yrden to Lvl 2 and lay down a triangle formation.
    Level 1: 0/5 (3/5 for Sign-heavy users, 4/5 for generalists)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4cxii) Energy Flow
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign
    Level 1: Signs chance of critical effects +5%
    Level 2: Signs chance of critical effects +25%
    An all-round improvement to the Sign Master's arsenal, the increased
    chance to trigger critical effects speeds up killing speed and facilitates
    crowd control. Players need to combine the +5% at Level 1 with potion
    and mutagen bonuses to see a noticeable difference.
    +25% at Level 2 is a significant boost, with the right equipment the total
    % to inflict critical effects using Signs should see appreciable results.
    Level 1: 0/5 (4/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (4/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4cxiii) Magical Life Force
    Prerequisites: Enhanced Yrden Sign
    Level 1: Vitality +50
    Level 2: All resistances +5
    A purely defensive option, however considering the lack of Vitality boosts
    Sign experts receive compared to their Swordsmanship counterparts, this
    might be worth considering for players on Insane difficulty.
    There are more important choices than wasting a talent on a measly +5 to
    Level 1: 0/5 (2/5 for Sign-heavy users playing Insane difficulty)
    Level 2: 0/5
    4cxiv) Sense of Magic
    Prerequisites: Glyph Enhancement OR Energy Flow OR Magical Life Force
    Level 1: Enables Heliotrope Sign, activate when Adrenaline bar hits
    Level 2: All resistances +5%, Adrenaline generation through Signs +50%
    The most powerful ability on offer for the Magic Tree.
    Once the sign is activated, Geralt achieves the Witcher equivalent of
    "Bullet Time" and can outflank, outrun and prepare traps and signs
    during the window of opportunity. It's harder to accumulate adrenaline
    casting Signs, however investment in the appropriate abilities and
    upgrades can increase the adrenaline generation modifier higher than
    its counterparts in Swordsmanship and Alchemy. A further advantage to
    pursuing this path is one less prerequisite talent required to reach
    this ability compared to the other two counterparts. The Sign only lasts
    20 seconds (25 if Mage's trousers are equipped) so don't dawdle and
    finish off troublesome foes while the effect is active. Note that
    there is a significant lag when throwing bombs and daggers while the
    Sign is active. Note that Quen only contributes to adrenaline generation
    if enemies successfully land attacks while it remains active. This
    combines better with Mutant, precious time may be lost if the Combat
    Acumen cut scene triggers together with this. Another thing to note
    is that the slowdown effect is limited to the semi-visible sphere
    of effect around Geralt while the Sign is active, enemies outside
    the "globe" will act as normal (such as arbalists aiming at Geralt).
    Sign Masters should invest in Level 2 purely to secure the huge boost to
    Adrenaline generation through Signs.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users and generalists)
    Level 2: 0/5 (3/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4vxv) Control over the Power
    Prerequisites: Sense of Magic
    Level 1: All resistances +20%, Sign Damage +3, Adrenaline generated through
    Signs +10%
    Level 2: All resistances +50%, Sign Damage +10, Adrenaline generated through
    Signs +75%
    This is the corresponding support ability for Sense of Magic and should be
    secured as soon as Sense of Magic is obtained. In addition to the nice
    defensive boost provided at Level 1, this is also the 3rd mutagen-friendly
    ability in the Magic Tree.
    Level 2 is worth the investment, but it's likely only Sign specialists
    with spare talent points can secure the ability upgrade. Single-tree
    specialists will likely make this talent the 1st choice on the upgrade list.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users and generalists)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Sign-heavy users)
    4d) Alchemy Tree
    The Alchemy Tree differs from the Swordsmanship and Magic Trees in the
    number of mutagen-friendly abilities it supports and the level of
    talent point investment required to see maximum benefit. A few abilities
    in this Tree take an all-or-nothing approach since a single point invested
    doesn't reap the maximum benefits available unlike in Swordsmanship and
    Magic where they can be used as stepping stones to more advanced abilities.
    Players concentrating on this tree will have to work harder looking for
    ingredients and make friends with the Alchemy function in order to see
    maximum benefit.
    4di) Alchemist
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Bomb damage +30%, Trap damage +20%
    Level 2: Bomb damage +100%, Trap damage +100%
    There is a larger variety of bombs compared to Witcher 1, but they work
    differently in this game and are less potent than the previous game. The
    upside is that they can be created using alchemy provided Geralt has the
    appropriate formulae in his pack. In the early stages of the game, Samum
    bombs will prove invaluable in keeping crowds at bay, Grapeshot bombs are
    lethal combined with this ability even up to Chapter 2. Traps
    are not everyone's cup of tea and the expense involved in collecting
    crafting diagrams, gathering the necessary components (which are rarer
    and available in smaller quantities compared to plants) and employing
    crafstmen to make the required item is considerable. Proper preparation
    can see traps used to their full potential but many players may simply
    be content with collecting snares and deploying them sparingly. Players
    intent on focusing on Swords and Signs only can ignore the Alchemy Tree
    entirely, most other builds will want this ability as a prerequisite and
    for its boost to bombs and traps. I suspect investing in the
    Alchemist ability improves the special effect base chance of certain
    traps like Conflagration and Talgar Winter, if it does then that's another
    reason to consider taking this ability up.
    Alchemy experts can invest in Level 2, but this is more a gameplay
    preference since skilful use of bombs and traps is an acquired art. The
    description in-game differs from the Wikia webpage, but either way
    70% extra damage at the very minimum with Alchemist level 2 is a sizeable
    damage boost. Players reliant on bombs as Geralt's main source of 
    ranged damage will want two points invested here for bombs to remain
    viable past mid-Chapter 2 and beyond.
    Level 1: 4/5 (0/5 for players ignoring the Alchemy Tree)
    Level 2: 0/5 (Pick according to preference and available talent points)
    4dii) Synthesis
    Prerequisites: None
    Level 1: Vitality +20
    Level 2: Vitality +80
    I've put forward my case arguing against picking talents that increase
    Vitality further up, there's little point picking this talent even
    as a prerequisite since the ability it unlocks immediately can be obtained
    through a more round-about route. Insane Difficulty players might be
    interested, everyone else has higher priority targets to pursue.
    Level 1: 0/5 (1/5 for Insane Difficulty players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for Insane Difficulty players)
    4diii) Side Effect
    Prerequisites: Alchemist OR Harvester
    Level 1: Chance of generating mutagens through Alchemy +2%
    Level 2: Chance of generating mutagens through Alchemy +10%
    This is an interesting ability, mutagens for use in character development
    really depend on the character build in question as some builds have more
    ability slots that support mutation compared to others. Mutagens are still
    useful as alchemical components and as a small source of Orens, especially
    since using a mutagen for character advancement is an irreversible process
    meaning players will only want to keep Greater mutagens for personal use.
    As of 2.1, mutagen drop rates are less common and the distribution is
    skewed heavily towards lesser mutagens so players picking this ability will
    either invest one point and then generate lots of easy-to-create alchemical
    products in hopes of receiving a mutagen or as a prerequisite for more
    advanced abilities. If the chance triggers, anything from 5-10 mutagens
    of random types can be created and placed in the inventory.
    Investing an extra point here increases the base chance fivefold and
    cuts down on the time and energy required to gather reagants
    for alchemy spamming. Alchemy specialists might be tempted to invest in
    Level 2 early (Chapter 1 and not after) to reap the benefits faster. On the
    other hand, players willing to invest time and effort grinding monster
    spawns might find it more effective to repeatedly kill monsters for their
    mutagen drop chance. On Insane/Dark difficult levels, grinding monsters
    for standard/greater/madness mutagens is akin to playing the lottery
    with the odds stacked heavily against the player, the 10% chance of
    mutagens from side effect might actually give better odds than most
    monsters ever will.
    Players thinking of gambling for madness mutagens via alchemy can use
    a Chapter 3 quest to reassign talent points once the necessary
    mutagens have been found and invested, read Section 8 of this guide
    for more details. 
    Level 1: 4/5 (0/5 for players ignoring Alchemy, other players can get
    this as a prerequisite)
    Level 2: 0/5 (2/5 for Alchemy-heavy players)
    4div) Specialization: Potions
    Prerequisites: Synthesis OR Harvester
    Level 1: Potion duration +10%
    Level 2: Potion duration +40%
    Potions don't last very long in this game compared to Witcher 1, if Geralt
    is forced to fight protracted battles it is very likely potions drunk
    beforehand will wear off before the opponent has fallen. This talent
    is an all-or-nothing choice since it's not really required as a
    prerequisite to more advanced talents if Synthesis is skipped. I recommend
    players either skip this entirely or invest up to Level 2 for the
    14-minute duration. Alchemy experts who are relying on the adrenaline-based
    skill at the end of this tree will want Level 2 full stop.
    Level 1 + Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy experts)  
    4dv) Harvester
    Prerequisites: Side Effect OR Specialization: Potions
    Level 1: +50% alchemical ingredients harvested
    Level 2: +100% alchemical ingredients harvested
    Investing points here reduces the number of foraging trips Geralt has
    to make to gather alchemy ingredients. Installing version 1.2
    gave Geralt the Herbalist's gloves which have the innate ability of
    doubling the number of components harvested each time so this ability
    is less useful than its retail incarnation. Depending on how far players
    are willing to go down the Alchemy Tree, this ability still serves
    as an important prerequisite.
    Players who are really hard up for components can invest to Level 2, but
    bear in mind the number of talents available for assigning to
    miscellaneous ability upgrades. Players might well find that selective
    creation of potions, oils and bombs and a dedication to foraging makes
    Level 2 a disposable choice.
    Level 1: 0-3/5 (0/5 if skipping Alchemy, 3/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (1/5 for players with a voracious need for components)
    4dvi) Catalysis
    Prerequisites: Harvester
    Level 1: Positive effects of potions +25-50%, negative effects of potions
    -30% (Actual % varies depending on actual potion involved)
    Level 2: Positive effects of potions +50-100%, negative effects of potions
    -80% (Actual % varies depending on actual potion involved)
    This is similar to Specialization: Potions. Players either ignore it
    entirely and make do with the default effects or they invest up to
    Level 2 as soon as it is available. This ability is a dead-end on the
    Alchemy Tree so there is little point only investing one talent point here.
    Alchemy experts will want Level 2 as soon as possible, negative effects
    of most potions at Level 2 are minimised to such an extent that combining
    potions results in an overall boost to statistics in almost all cases
    compared to none without catalysis. Note however that the strict
    enforcement on toxicity limits with the latest patch applies, some
    very powerful combinations applicable in previous patches are no longer
    possible so some investigation will be required to see which
    combinations give the best result.
    Level 1 + Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy experts)
    4dvii) Specialization: Oils
    Prerequisites: Harvester
    Level 1: Oil duration +10%
    Level 2: Oil duration +40%
    Unlike Specialization: Potions, this ability is the gateway to the
    most advanced Alchemy Tree abilities so picking it up as a prerequisite
    is necessary if players want the abilities at the end. Unlike Potions,
    Oils have a shorter duration and are more limited in their application.
    Most oils need 4 ingredients to create but these should not be too hard
    to obtain for dedicated foragers so extending duration isn't as
    crucial as potions with their related toxicity effect.
    Level 1: 0/5 (3/5 as a prerequisite)
    Level 2: 0/5
    4dviii) Transmutation 
    Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils
    Level 1: Oil intensity +25-50%
    Level 2: Oil intensity +50-100%
    This is an ability heavily dependent on personal preference, oils in this
    game are few in number and the effect of application are far weaker than they
    were in Witcher 1. For most players utilising alchemy, oils are but one
    tool to be used in conjunction with others before combat. Adding to the
    ability's limited application, this ability is not a compulsory
    prerequisite to the last Alchemy abilities because of Taster. 
    Level 1: 0/5 (1/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (Apply depending on preference and spare talent points)
    4dix) Taster
    Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils
    Level 1: Geralt can now drink 4 potions in total
    Level 2: Damage +10% while poisoned, Damage reduction +10% while
    Choosing between this and Transmutation as the prerequisite for the
    advanced Alchemy Tree abilities shouldn't be too hard a choice. Geralt
    no longer dies if toxicity level exceeds a certain ceiling unlike the 1st
    game, instead he is limited to a maximum of 3 potions without Taster.
    Geralt is still limited to the toxicity limit of potions, if the bar turns
    orange when selecting available potions then players need to rechoose
    until the bar remains green. Having the option to drink 4 potions does make
    Geralt much more dangerous in combat. Combined with the advanced abilities at
    the end of this tree, this is one ability that has more utility than simply
    being a footstep to bigger and better things.
    Alchemy-heavy users will invest a point here sooner or later since it
    suits their playstyle. If an investment is made here, do it after Level 2
    Amplification has been earned. The original description in the manual
    mentioned this ability and many others of its type activates when
    Geralt is intoxicated, in 2.1 the description is what you see above.
    Regardless, the meaning behind both terms is the same; if Geralt drinks
    enough potions to raise his toxicity level high enough past the red line
    on the toxicity bar, the effects from Taster Level 2 etc. will start to apply.
    One visual cue that confirms Geralt is really high on potions is the
    swirling green waves that flit across the screen periodically whilst the
    potions remain in effect.
    Once potion effects have worn off, toxicity drops back straight away
    which is slightly different from how it used to work in Witcher 1. This
    should not be a problem except for very long fights. Best results for this
    and similar "poisoning" benefits when combined with Specialization: Potions
    Level 2.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    4dx) Impregnation
    Prerequisites: Specialization: Oils
    Level 1: Mutagen effects +33%-250% depending on mutagen type
    Level 2: Mutagen effects +80%-500% depending on mutagen type
    This is another all-or-nothing attribute dependent on character build and
    personal preference. This obviously ties in with Side Effect and depends
    on how patient and lucky players are at obtaining the Greater Mutagens
    which will inevitably be used for enhancement. Players going for a 
    Generalist build need this skill at Level 2 to give their character more
    of a fighting chance as the storyline progresses. Mutagen effect do vary,
    sometimes it's a mere 1-2 increase in the attribute score while some
    boosts like Vitality are doubled with Impregnation Level 2. Alchemy-heavy
    players will also want this up to Level 2 to take advantage of the 5
    mutagen-friendly abilities they will pick up along the way to completing
    the Tree. This ability on its own is a dead-end, so I recommend players
    either ignore it or go up to Level 2 as soon as possible.
    Power-gamers who like the increased effectiveness of mutagens but
    who don't like "wasting" two talent points in this skill have one
    legal recourse available, read Section 8 of this guide for more details.
    Level 1 + Level 2: 3/5 (5/5 for Generalist and Alchemy-heavy builds)
    4dxi) Metathesis 
    Prerequisites: Transmutation OR Taster
    Level 1: +5% damage inflicted while poisoned
    Level 2: +25% damage inflicted while poisoned
    The 1st of the advanced Alchemy abilities, all abilities including this one
    onwards supports mutagen enhancement. It's alright on its own as a
    prerequisite to the final adrenaline-based skill, players just have to make
    the extra effort to drink enough potions to raise toxicity high enough to get
    the effect to trigger.
    Alchemy experts will probably have the points to invest here once they
    have reached the end of the tree. +25% damage is not something to sniff at.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    4dxii) Condensation
    Prerequisites: Metathesis
    Level 1: Vigour regeneration while poisoned +15%
    Level 2: Vigour regeneration while poisoned +40%
    Choose between this or Berserker to activate the final adrenaline-based
    skill, pick both if you have the talent points to spare since they
    support mutagen enhancement. This is the only advanced Alchemy Tree
    ability that helps Sign-Alchemy dual Tree players, the other abilities
    lend themselves better to the Sword. The ability does not specify whether
    or not the regeneration is limited to non-combat situations so that's another
    plus knowing it's always in play so long as toxicity levels stay high.
    Going to Level 2 is questionable depending on how the Alchemy-heavy player
    kills opponents. Players reliant on Signs and Ripostes might go to Level
    2, others will give this a miss.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Alchemy-heavy users reliant on Signs and Ripostes)
    4dxiii) Berserker
    Prerequisites: Metathesis
    Level 1: Chance of Instant Kill while poisoned +1%
    Level 2: Chance of Instant Kill while poisoned +3%
    Instant Kill is great when it triggers, but bear in mind players need to
    invest in the appropriate abilities, use the right equipment and perhaps
    make the appropriate plot decisions to increase the Instant Kill chance to
    double figures. For generalists looking to earn the skill it unlocks, a
    decision between this and Condensation should take into account existing
    points invested and equipment choices. Berserker does support mutagens,
    so the measly 1% increase may well be compensated if something like
    a madness mutagen with Impregnation level 2 active is invested. 
    If Alchemy-heavy players are investing a point here, it might be worthwhile
    going dual-tree with Swordsmanship and picking up the corresponding
    Sudden Death perk there to raise the trigger chance as much as possible.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for Instant Kill Dual-Tree players, 1.5/5 for Alchemy-heavy
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Instant Kill Dual-Tree players)
    4dxiv) Mutant
    Prerequisites: Condensation OR Berserker
    Level 1: Enables Berserk mode, activate when adrenaline bar hits maximum
    Level 2: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +25%
    The adrenaline-based skill in this Alchemy Tree grants automatic
    adrenaline generation similar to Vigour regeneration. No hard numbers are
    available for Berserk mode, players can try a build that uses it and see for
    themselves how much of a difference it makes. Activating the Heliotrope
    Sign with Berserk Mode is a battle-winning combination most of the time, some
    time is lost if the Combat Acumen finisher move is activated simultaneously.
    As far as I can tell, this is the slowest adrenaline generator for Geralt
    of the 3 applicable skills on average.
    Level 2 simply provides a boost to the adrenaline generation modifier,
    disappointing compared to its Swordsmanship and Magic counterparts.
    Alchemy-heavy players who live and die by Berserk mode frequency towards
    the end of the game will want to pick this up.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for generalists and Alchemy-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (4/5 for Alchemy-heavy players)
    4dv) Amplification
    Prerequisites: Mutant
    Level 1: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +15%, Damage inflicted when
    poisoned +5%, Damage reduction while poisoned +5%
    Level 2: Adrenaline generated while poisoned +50%, Damage inflicted when
    poisoned +15%, Damage reduction while poisoned +15%
    If players have obtained Mutant then this is immediately up for grabs once
    the next character level is attained. Grab and enjoy the benefits of
    faster adrenaline accumulation and damage-related boosts in addition to
    the mutagen enhancement option.
    If generalists have one spare talent point remaining after getting all 
    of their core abilities and don't know where to spend that last point,
    this is one of the strongest candidates for consideration. Alchemy-heavy
    players will do likewise. Get this before Taster level 2 (or both)
    depending on number of Talent points available.
    Level 1: 0/5 (5/5 for generalists and Alchemy-heavy players)
    Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for generalists and Alchemy-heavy players) 
    5. Ability investment order
    Now that the abilities have been analysed, here are my considerations
    when planning a character from Prologue to Epilogue. I'll list a few
    decision choices faced by Generalists if they're looking to grab the
    best aspects of each Tree tailored to their playing Style. 
    For starters, where to place the 1st 6 mandatory talents is worth a look.
    Most will end up around level 6 or thereabouts when the prologue ends
    and the scene shifts to Chapter 1.
    1. Vigour regeneration/Dagger Throwing (Hardiness is out of the question,
    so it's 1 of 2 to unlock parrying. Pick the appropriate one depending
    on character concept).
    2. Parrying (By this point Geralt will be taking on small groups, this is
    where the ability shines).
    3. Arrow redirection (There's not much opportunity to practise with
    this ability early in the game, but Fortitude really doesn't matter
    if players aren't desperate for Fortitude level 2)
    4. Fortitude (Get it at the very least for its mutagen slot, the
    difference in-game is barely noticeable).
    5. Fortitude level 2 (3 Vigour points makes battles a lot easier compared
    to 2).
    6. Player's choice of Parrying Level 2, Arrow Redirection level 2, Vigour
    Regeneration, Dagger Throwing or Hardiness.
    Once the 6th talent point is invested in the Training Tree, the other
    3 Trees are unlocked and how the Player goes about developing the build
    is completely at their discretion.
    Players unsure of how many points to place in minor Trees might want to
    look below for some pointers:
    Swordsmanship: 0-6 (1st 3 no-prereq abilities + Guard/Schemer/Violence
    + Tough Guy/Whirl)
    Magic: 0-4 (Enhanced Aard, Enhanced Quen Lv 1/2, Magical Vigour)
    Alchemy: 5 (Alchemist, Side Effect, Harvester, Catalysis Lv2)
    Alchemy: 6 (Alchemist, Side Effect, Harvester, Specialization: Oils,
    Impregnation Lv2)
    Number of Mutagen-friendly abilities: 13
    Training Tree: Arrow Redirection, Fortitude
    Swordsmanship: Invincible, Combat Acumen, Whirlwind
    Magic: Enhanced Yrden Sign, Sense of Magic, Control over the Power
    Alchemy: Metathesis, Condensation, Berserker, Mutant, Amplification
    Single-Tree specialists only have 28 Talents to work out of a Tree of
    30 possibilities. Any build that invests more than 6 points in
    a single Tree (not Alchemy) might as well go all out and make it the major
    component of the build. Alchemy builds are more intensive in talent
    points because of their peculiar "all-or-nothing" abilities like Catalysis
    and Impregnation.
    Be prepared to grind to reach level 35, this is especially true
    for generalists looking to maximise the number of mutagen abilities
    at their disposal. Depending on story path chosen, grinding is less of an
    issue for level-up and more useful when viewed as a lottery for mutagens.
    Monster drops are also the single most profitable route for gaining Orens
    through sale of monster drops, the XP gain complements this up to a point.
    Single and Dual-Tree builds are more or less done by the mid to late 20s.
    Getting the Experienced character attribute helps to save time on grinding.
    Players should take note that monsters stop giving XP after being killed once
    Geralt has reached a specified character level, the level varies for the
    monsters in question. For best results, try and postpone finishing quests off
    until enough monsters have been slain to reach the character limit, quest XP is
    more valuable at higher levels. Grinding in Chapter 1 is easy, leave the
    Nekker tunnel entrances and Endrega cocoons alone and the associated enemy
    will respawn after a few in-game hours, the same principle applies
    somewhat for Chapter 2 but is more time-sensitive. It is still possible
    to grind monster XP in Chapter 3, however players should be aware
    that enemies are significantly stronger compared to Chapter 2 and
    remain so even after end-game equipment has been obtained.
    Position+Violence+Whirl vs Riposte+Guard+Tough Guy vs
    Feet Work+Schemer+Tough Guy
    Generalists trying to get Combat Acumen using the bare minimum in Talents
    will have to make this decision. Combat Acumen actually triggers more
    effectively if the offensive Position+Violence+Whirl set is picked, however
    Riposte+Guard+Tough Guy and Feet Work+Schemer+Tough Guy are better for
    defensive purposes and more suited to characters with a more general set
    of tools. The Feet Work set is better if the generalist character has
    a strong set of Signs, the Riposte set combined with Parrying Level 2
    and Fortitude Level 2 is useful in some situations and not great for
    others. Players who aren't investing heavily in the Swordsmanship Tree
    will likely invest 3-5 points at most here, my recommendation would be
    the minimum of Position+Violence+Whirl and Riposte/Feet Work added
    according to preference.
    Precision vs Finesse vs Sudden Death
    Generalists normally pick one of the 3 as the prerequisite for Invincible.
    Precision has the biggest boost to a single critical effect, Finesse
    adds a small boost to all critical effects while Sudden Death adds a
    miniscule chance to Instant Kill. Since generalists don't have the Talent
    points to invest beyond Level 1, it's likely a choice between Finesse
    and Sudden Death. The level 1 Finesse modifier is nothing special but
    combined with equipment and potions it probably squeezes out Sudden Death
    for practical purposes.
    Glyph enhancement vs Energy Flow vs Magical Life Force
    One of these 3 to pick up Sense of Magic immediately afterwards. The harder
    the difficulty the more attractive Magical Life Force becomes, especially
    on Insane difficulty. On easier difficulties players choose between
    limited battlefield control with Glyph enhancement or a small chance to
    finish off individual opponents faster in battles. The latter's chances can
    be improved with equipment and potions so the decision isn't clear-cut.
    Condensation vs Berserker
    Generalists ideally would take both since they support mutagen enhancements,
    however earning greater mutagens/range mutagens/madness mutagens/concentration
    mutagens for enhancement is not guaranteed in 2.1 even with Side Effect
    Lv 2. Condensation is more versatile, Berserker works better if upgraded
    to Level 2 and combined with Sudden Death Level 2 and the right equipment,
    Sudden Death and Berserker on Level 1 alone will struggle to exceed
    5% base chance, both skills on Level 2 combined with the right equipment
    and the Executioner character attribute gives a 9-13% base chance which
    is far more useful.
    6. Acknowledgements and Credits
    The Witcher Wikia for almost all information on character abilities
    Game manual for reference.
    CDProjektRed for another great release, here's to the final instalment.
    Anyone who read this guide and found it useful.
    7. Contact information
    Readers with something helpful to contribute can do so using this address:
    Remove the words in brackets with the usual symbols for those willing
    to help.
    I'm missing hard data on Sign intensity and the effects of Berserk.
    Anyone with information on this would be most welcome to contribute.
    8. Talent point resetting and mutagens
    Veteran players will no doubt know of the quest involving the Vran
    guardian in Loc Muinne, it's available on both paths so long as players
    retain the necessary item obtained in Chapter 2. If players aren't
    desperate for the Dragon Scale and the Operator's Staff, then choosing
    the correct dialogue options for resetting talent point allocation
    is very useful for the following reasons:
    a) Points invested in Impregnation (1-2) and Side Effect Level 2 can
    be reclaimed for reassignment elsewhere.
    b) Mutagens already invested when the player had Impregnation level 2
    active will retain their enhanced effect (e.g. Greater Critical effects
    mutagen continues to increase critical effects chance by 6% rather than
    the initial 3%) provided the associated mutagen-friendly talent still
    has at least one point invested in it after talent reassignment. In
    short, players should not think about grabbing all 13 mutagen-friendly
    talents and investing high-level mutagens prior to talent reassignment
    to a single or dual-tree build and still expect to reap the benefits.
    If a talent isn't invested with at least one point, any mutagens it had
    previously assigned to it will not be active.
    9. Version history
    1.0: All character abilities written up, looking for reader contributions
    to round out some obscure aspects.
    1.1: Added additional notes on Feet Work, Whirl, Schemer, Finesse,
    Combat Acumen, Sense of Magic, Side Effect and Mutant. Edited Sudden Death for
    accuracy. Added additional notes pertaining to monster grinding.
    1.2: Revised some ratings and description according to personal experience
    from latest playthrough under EE. New section on the effect of talent
    point resetting and impact on already invested mutagens.
    10. Legal Notice
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    personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or 
    otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. 
    Use of this guide on any other web site not listed or as a part 
    of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of 
    All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned
    by their respective trademark and copyright holders.
    This FAQ is copyrighted by Feng Liangju 2012
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