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 10-12. Level 1: 3/5 Level 2: 0/5 (5/5 for Dark/Insane difficulty, 3/5 for Sword-heavy players) 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 players) 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 required. 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 choice. 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 brawls) 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 job. 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 +6m 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 on. 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 +6m 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 control. 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 resistances. 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 maximum. 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 poisoned 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 players) 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: snookercue84[ampersand]hotmail[dot]com 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 This guide may not be reproduced under any circumstances except for 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 copyright. 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 www.gamefaqs.com is the only website authorised to display this FAQ.