Fencing tree (red color)
- Try to develop skills Muscle Memory and Strength Training at the beginning of the game. They increase damage dealt by fast and strong attacks and, after developing them to level 5, the gain will be 25%. You can make an exception for one of them if you plan to specialize your character in using light armor (fast attacks) or heavy armor (strong attacks) only.
- Arrow deflection is a very useful skill that you will appreciate when fighting enemies that have ranged weapons (like bandits). At first you can only unlock first level of this skill which will allow you to deflect arrows by parrying attacks. Later in the game you should buy two next levels that will give you the chance to push the arrows back and make archers and crossbowmen receive double damage.
- Whirl is a perfect skill linked to fast attacks. It is effective only when facing large enemy groups. It deals constant damage to them for as long as you have stamina and adrenaline. If you use fast attacks, then you should have this skill set as active.
- Rend is one of the best skills related to strong attacks. By using it you can deal very large damage and ignore any additional defense of the enemy. Before activating this attacks you should use as much stamina points as possible and gather as much adrenaline as possible, it will double the damage.
- Crippling shot is a skill that can be unlocked later in the game but you shouldn't forget about it then. It allows you to block monsters special skills for five seconds (or longer if you develop this skill) when you perform a critical hit with the crossbow. It's a great help when fighting beasts that can poison or paralyze Geralt. To make this skill work effectively you must increase the chance of performing critical hits with crossbow. Morever, you must remember about using the crossbow when fighting.
Sign tree (blue color)
- Melt armor is one of the more interesting skills available since the beginning of the game. It works with Igni sign and, as the name suggests, allows you to weaken enemy armor by up to 75% on highest level. But at first you don't have to develop it to maximum - with one or two points invested you will feel the difference as well.
- Exploding shield is a skill related to Quen sign. It makes the protective shield push away enemies from Geralt when it is discharged. It's a very helpful feature that reduces the risk of receiving serious damage when you don't notice that the shield is turning off. You should upgrade this skill so that enemies won't be only pushed away but weakened as well.
- Delusion is a skill that can be used in combat to make it harder for enemies to reach Geralt. However, the main purpose of Delusion is to unlock some unique dialogue option related to Axii sign during conversations with NPCs. Special dialogue options are rewarded with experience and frequently allow you to complete a quest in different way or receive additional reward. At first one level of this skill will be enough, only after you reach Novigrad and Skellige islands you should buy two more.
- Aard sweep is one of the skills that change the way a witcher sign works. In this case, Aard sign can be used for throwing away all enemies surrounding Geralt, not only the ones in front of him. The sign becomes slightly weaker but still it is a very interesting skill. Having this ability is useful when fighting group of enemies and when you're in small rooms where it is easy to get yourself surrounded.
- Another interesting skill that changes the way a sign works is Magic Trap related to Yrden sign. It weakens and slows down all the enemies that are in its reach (which is larger with each bought level). Since Geralt frequently fights groups of enemies and wraiths that are susceptible to Yrden, you will have many occasions to use this skill.
Alchemy tree (green color)
- Poisoned blades is a very helpful skill if you regularly use oils that increase your weapons efficiency. This skill adds chance for poisoning enemies with a weapon that has an oil on it. By default it's only 3% chance, so if you want to feel actual difference you must buy upgrades for this skill.
- Frenzy is a skill that adds a useful effect. Whenever an enemy is planning to perform a counterattack, the time will slow down. This will give you more time to react. Important - Frenzy will work only if Geralt is poisoned with elixirs (toxicity level above 0) so you must remember to drink them regularly.
- Synergy forces you to spend at least 20 points in Alchemy tree in order to be able to unlock it. But it's worth the effort as it increases the effectiveness of mutagens placed in active slots. If you add the proper color combination to the mix (for example, green mutagen + 3 green skills linked to it) you can secure some very good profits (maximum boost to mutagen effectiveness is 50% after unlocking the fifth level of Synergy).
Ability tree (yellow color)
- One of the first abilities bought by you should be Sun and Stars that greatly increases health regeneration (only during the day and when Geralt isn't fighting anyone) and stamina (only by night and during combat). It will allow you to save some food and potions.
- Survival Instinct is a good ability, you should buy it early only if you play on one of higher difficulty levels. Additional 500 health points will be VERY helpful in keeping Geralt alive.
- Focus is a perfect option for someone who prefers aggressive combat, which means quick gathering of adrenaline points. Thanks to this skill the adrenaline you gather increases the strength of attacks performed and all of the witcher signs.
At the beginning of the game you should develop the Muscle Memory and Strength Training skills. If you want to increase your combat skills even more, then quickly unlock Melt armor as well. Don't forget about defensive skills, especially Exploding shield and Sun and Stars (the latter requires only one skill point). Additionally, you should spend at least one point on Delusion as quickly as possible, thanks to that you won't miss any opportunity to pick a special dialogue option (you can place this skill on active slot only when you want to talk with someone when you intend to use Axii sign to affect his mind).
Later in the game you should pick skills related to your game style. For example, if you intend to play with a quick character that uses light armors then buy Whirl and Focus skills, if you prefer slow and very powerful attacks then invest in Rend. No matter your game style, try to obtain Arrow deflection sooner or later (if possible, at maximum level), Aard sweep, Poisoned blades or Frenzy.
Remember to avoid unlocking too many new skills at once. If you don't have enough active skill slots, you won't use some of them (or will be forced to toggle between them on a regular basis depending on what you need at the moment).