The Witcher 3 – The Best Build

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Coming up with the best build was a challenging process. Who can really say what the best build is? Since we all have different definitions of what is “best”.

It also seems like regardless of where you invest your points, you’ll be over-powering as you level and grow stronger. So I had to start from the beginning and rethink my approach to the game and why I played it and enjoyed it so much.

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The challenge of the combat was the biggest factor (Death March). The adrenaline rush of difficult enemies was by far the best part, second to the mastery of the basic mechanics and the problem solving & strategy required to take on the more difficult enemies. In addition to searching and making the best gear possible.

Geralt is a hunter who prays on predators..

 

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High investment in the Sign branch had to be taken off the list. It took away the challenge out of the game and was limited by the mechanics, since you can only use one Sign at a time. Furthermore, Signs are difficult to control and shift while deep in combat, doing more harm than good at times.

Combat was in, because it’s the foundational tool of the Witcher and is needed regardless of which Tree you choose to specialise in. Plus there is less room for error, in comparison to Signs.

In real life Martial Arts, efficiency in the use of energy (endurance) is a crucial element to a good fighter/warrior. So Geralt needed to maximise on every strike and minimise his exertions in order to meet this demand. So the Combat & Alchemy Build was the perfect way to achieve this.

Not only did he need to hit hard, but he also needed the Damage Over Time benefits of the Combat & Alchemy Tree. To make him into the most efficient and effortless fighter, who could strike fast, hard and critically (+DoTs). While increasing his survival and ease in defense through the Sign Tree.






Combat Alchemy Hybrid Build

So we begin with the Combat tree; as it is the foundation, giving you the most advantage and survivability based on your early strengths & resources. Knowing when and how to sidestep, roll, parry and hit are the fundamental elements of the combat system and you’ll need to be getting better at it as you level.

Fast Attack As Primary Attack

Your primary attack will be your fast attack and therefore, the initial investments will go into this path. The reason behind it will become more evident as we progress, but the fast attacks speed allows you to land multiple hits while giving you the highest chance for critical if you’ve invested and geared correctly. Not to mention that they are also less likely to be dodged and allow you a higher probability to to apply your DoTs.

 

Make sure to get all the Places of Power, since you need every skill point you can get your hands on for a hybrid build. And read the Easy Leveling Guide to help you with your leveling and pacing.

 

Skill Order and Distribution

This has been a common question and something that needs to be addressed. If you manage to get the 6 Places of Power in White Orchard in addition to at least two levels before exiting the area. You have yourself 8 skill points. My process would be: Cat School Techniques from the general tree, followed by 3/3 Delusion & 3/3 Exploding Shield from the Sign Tree. The damage from CST and the fast cast Axii and defensive Quen explosion is enough to give me the added advantage early in the game, assuming I am geared correctly. You might be different though and that is why I have recommended the other skills in addition to these three.

Once that is completed all additional skill points gained will be put into the Combat Tree. Until you have maxed out all the major ones and have reached the final Tier of the Tree. Beginning with Muscle Memory, Precision Blow and utility skills such as Resolve and Undying. Whirl/Rend will also be a potential choice, I prefer Rend only as it allows me to have a greater level of control in combat. You could go for both.

Once these fundamentals have unlocked and more importantly you have gained greater confidence in the basics of combat. You then begin to distribute the remaining points, into Alchemy and the Sign Tree. Besides Poisoned Blades, Alchemy doesn’t truly reveal its power until Tier 3. That’s why it is the last tree of investment. Before going deep into the Alchemy Tree, it is recommended that you put a few more skill points into Sign Tree, simply due to the increased passive stamina regeneration that it offers.

 

General Skills


Cat School Techniques

(1/1) One point grants 125% increase in critical hit damage and 25% fast attack damage. Probably the best investment you’ll make all game.

Survival Instinct

Increases player hp by 500 early on, allowing the player to take a few more hits and that’s important in Death March. However, optional in the other difficulties and you can even do without it in DM if you’re feeling confident.

Focus

(1/1) Focus gives you about a 15-20% increase into DPS which is great, since it only takes one skill point. Though in the earlier levels has very little impact and you’ll find other skills more beneficial. Besides, it requires full adrenaline to perform and you haven’t yet built on your adrenaline increasing skills such as Resolve.

Adrenaline Burst

This can also be useful, since 1 point increases your adrenaline gain. While allowing Signs to now give you adrenaline too, diversifying your gains.

 

Best Build - Sign Tree Screenshot

Sign Skills


Exploding Shield

(3/3) Quen shield pushes opponents back when it breaks. Good tactical skill to have in combat based builds.

Delusion

(3/3) For its dialogue benefits and instant cast Axii. After Quen, this will likely be your most used skill.

Active shield

Creates an active shield which absorbs and restores vitality based on damage. This is the Sign schools training wheels and you don’t need it as you get better.

Melt Armour

Permanently weakens enemy Armor based on your Sign intensity. Maximising at 75% Sign Intensity. This can be a great utility skill to have in your toolkit. Plus Igni is your third most used Sign and often a great way to create space with larger enemies and fight your way through when crowded.

NOTE: Having three Signs skills slotted mcan potentially increase your Sign Intensity by 60% + at 8 skill points the Sign Tree offers you 5.5/s increase in Stamina Regeneration. Feel free to invest more into the Tree if you have spare points, due to the increases you gain in stamina regeneration. Which you will need for your Quen, Axii, Igni and Rend executions. However, keep in mind that after the second row of skills your return on investment will dramatically decrease.

 

Best Build - Combat Tree Screenshot

Combat Skills


Muscle Memory

(5/5) Increase the attack damage of fast attacks by 25%. So that’s 50% increase in fast attack damage (Cat School Techniques) +5% Adrenaline gain.

Strength Training

(5/5) The Strong attack equivalent to Muscle Memory, increase Strong attack damage by 25% +5% adrenaline gain. Great to invest in if you have spare points to distribute later on as you would have become better at using your strong attacks.

Resolve

(5/5) At max level no adrenaline is lost when hit, 100% reduction. Good investment as you’ll need all the adrenaline you can get.

Precision Blow

(5/5) Increases the critical hit chance of fast attacks by 10% and critical hit damage by 75%.

Crushing Blow

(5/5) Increases the critical hit chance of strong attacks by 10% and critical hit damage by 75%.

Undying

Saves the players life when vitality reaches 0, by using current adrenaline points to restore a certain percentage of their vitality. Basically the DM training wheels, feel free to reinvest the point if you feel confident and need a greater level of challenge.

Fleet Footed

Allows the player to negate 100% (maxed out) of the potential damage when dodging. This and Undying makes Death March far less punishing. Again reinvest if feeling confident.

Rend

(5/5) A single target attack that ignores enemy armour and increased critical hit chance by 50%. You could always invest in both if you have spare points. Whirl, it’s alternative is too easy and takes away the challenge. Plus landing a well timed Rend strike is far more satisfying and adds to the complexity of the combat.

Crippling Strike

(5/5) Applies a bleed (damage over time effect) that reduces enemy vitality by 125 points per second for five seconds on fast attacks. Your third most important DoT. Optional as it loses its impact at higher levels.

Deadly Precision

(2/2) At full adrenaline the player has a 6% chance of instantly killing their enemy. As OP as it’s going to get and why you need those adrenaline points.

Razor Focus

Instantly gives you 1 point of adrenaline and increase the adrenaline gain of your sword strikes by 25% (when maxed). Cool to have but you’ll be fine without it.

Crippling Shot

Disables the enemies special ability for 25 seconds when a critical hit is made, using the crossbow. Requires investment in skills like Anatomical Knowledge for maximum utility. Always good to have a secondary ranged weapon at your disposal.

NOTE: Skills suchs as Deadly Precision, Razor Focus and Crippling Shot are rather luxuries and you’ll be fine without them. Feel free invest those skills into the other Trees.

 

Best Build - Alchemy Tree Screenshot

Alchemy Skills


Poisoned Blades

(5/5) Oil applied to the blades gives a 15% chance of poisoning the target on each hit. The chance is greater the higher the level of oil used. Your other DoT. Best to save a slot until you have higher level oils.

Acquired Tolerance

(3/3) Increases maximum Toxicity by 1 for every level 1, 2 and 3 alchemy formula that the player knows. You’ll need more than 5 points to advance to the next level of the tree and this skills is great to have if you find yourself reaching the limits of your toxicity too often.

Frenzy

If potion toxicity is above 0, time automatically slows when an enemy is about to perform a counter attack. A good alternative to Acquired Tolerance if find yourself needing extra help with counter-attacks. Found this to be very useful.

Protective Coating

(5/5) Adds 25% increase in protection against monster types based on your applied oils. More of a skill you invest in because you have to, but can be very useful.

Refreshment

(5/5) Makes your non-vitality potions and decoctions provide you with vitality. Again more of a skill you invest in because you have to, but can be very useful and saves you from using your Swallow.

Synergy

(5/5) Increases the mutagen placement bonus by 50%. This is the most vital skill in the alchemy tree and a no brainer, the boost in stats is unprecedented.

Fixative

(3/3) Blade oils do not wear off. And your oiled blades have a 15% chance of poisoning and provide you 25% in protection from monster types, it’s pretty handy and the second most important DoT.

Hunter Instinct

(5/5) At maximum adrenaline, critical hit damage against enemies based on oil application is increased by 100%. Over powering as it gets.

Killing Spree

(5/5) If potion toxicity is above 0, each opponent killed increases the chance for a critical hit by 50%. This in combination with Hunters Instinct make you a demigod.

NOTE: You should experience a 190% increase in Potion Duration Time with 38 points invest into the Alchemy tree. Delayed Recovery is not recommended here because it takes the fun out of the game, requires too much micro-management and makes Geralt look disturbing.






The Best Armour

The best armour is the Cat Feline School Gear. It’s the best armour in the game considering it improves stamina regeneration, adrenaline point generation and provides an immense increase in attack power. Yes, you’ll take more damage if you get hit. But you shouldn’t be getting hit in the first place? Mastering the basics of dodge, roll and parry + Quen application means the strengths out way its one single weakness. For the early levels the Temerian armour is your go to armour. It’s expensive so learn to make the money.

 

The Best Weapons

Many would say that the Bear (Ursane) weapons are the best in the game. But for this build I disagree. You’re already getting a huge boost in attack power and critical hit damage using this build and so your best move is actually to use the original Cat Feline School Swords as they give you an increase in chance in poisoning your enemy. Essentially your main DoT. Giving you a total of three.

Early game you can have the same level of benefits from your Viper School weapon set. Which give you a 15% and 10% chance to poison on hit. Between these two weapon sets, use whatever you can get your hands on. I recommned the Griffin sets to maintain the 25% experience gain bonus.

 

The Best Runes, Glyphs & Runewrights

In terms of weapon runes, the best ones are immobilizers which include the Stribog runestone (% Chance to stagger), Triglav runestone (% Chance to stun) & Zoria runestone (% Chance to freeze). And when it comes to armor glyphs, there are three that stand out. The Glyph of Igni & Quen + the Glyph of Mending. Though it seems somewhat of a personally preference.

Runewrights are another consideration. The only one that applied to this build was the Severance weapon enchantment. Though there are a few other interesting ones such as Invigoration and Levity. But really it doesn’t quite fit in if you are going for maximum potential. Also if you’re considering using Severance, put it on a secondary sword. Given the cost and loss of slots, even though I initially invest the gold I choose to stick to my normal weapon runes.

 

The Best Potions, Decoctions & Bombs

Don’t need to make it more complicated than it really is. You’ve got two potions that you use for heals and a handful of utility potions and decoctions to help in combat and exploration, in addition to your oils that should be the highest level possible.

The Best Potions, Decoctions & Bombs

Potions:


Killer Whale: Doubles breath underwater and makes it easier to see.

Drowner Pheromones: Drowners will not attack the you. Great for underwater exploration & looting.

Thunderbolt: Increases attack power.

Tawny Owl: Increases stamina regeneration.

Swallow: Your main over the time heal.

White Raffard’s Decoction: Your other instant healing potion.

Blizzard: Slows down time after Geralt kills anything. Fun potion to experience, and extremely useful when overwhelmed or cornered.

 

Decoctions:


Fiend: Increases weight limit, for the greedy and the lazy.

Griffin: Taking damage raises damage resistance to that type. This plus Protective Coating can be very useful against harder/high level enemies

Katakan: Increases critical hit chance.

Troll: Regenerates vitality during and outside of combat.

 

Bombs:


Grapeshot: Inflicts shrapnel damage to foes within its explosion radius. (350 Physical damage, +350 Silver damage & +5 Fire damage)

Dancing Star: Produces a fiery explosion that can cause nearby opponents to start burning. (4s Effect duration & +100 Fire damage)

Devils Puffball: Releases a cloud of poison when detonated. (10s Effect duration & +100 Posion damage)

Northern Wind: Freezes foes. (4s Effect duration)

Dragons Dream: Releases a cloud of gas that explodes when ignited. (15s Effect duration & +300 Fire damage)

 
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Gameplay

General Combat Build Tactics

  • Combat Cycle: Sidestep/Dodge/Parry then Fast Attack (rely on freeze, paralyse and stun effects) and finish (or begin) with Heavy Attacks (Rend)
  • Your explosive shield will create the needed space when you get hit
  • Create space through defensive tactics and be an opportunistic striker who attacks from behind and sides with the more difficult enemies
  • When fighting large groups focus on one, until DoTs are applied and move onto the next if you need to. The DoT damage is high enough in addition to your normal attacks that they quickly fall
  • Advanced – The Dancing Serpent: circle around your foes using sidestep, combine with quick attacks from sides and behind. Very few will withstand your sting. Best used in one on one situations, against heavy enemies.






To Conclude

It’s important to keep in mind that being good at the game isn’t just about your build. How effective you are as a Witcher is equally distributed between how well you understand your fundamentals and how well you’re geared. In addition, to your actual build (which changes based on needs & circumstances).

Now, go have fun!


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