Below are include a number of tips about leveling. No, not about how to level, that was all that grinding information provided earlier. This part of the guide will tell you-in brief-how to generally go about applying Geralt’s talents.
Prologue (Levels 0-2)
You should start out by picking talents that make Geralt more powerful all around before specializing. Namely, pick from his attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Intelligence) before picking from his Signs, Steel Sword, and Silver Sword skills. For example, a +10% parry bonus in Strength is going to affect ALL of Geralts attacks, not just those with Steel Swords or while using the Strong Style.
Within the attribute trees, stick to talents that are the most universally useful. You dont need fist fighting talents at the beginning (if ever), and powering up after being reduced to a low percent of your Vitality isn’t as good as taking talents that work all the time (and thus prevent your Vitality from being lowered in the first place!) And most of all, don’t forget Herbalism. You really should have it by the time you leave Kaer Morhen.
Chapter 1 (Levels 3-11)
At Chapter 1, you only have access to the Steel Sword, so you might as well just ignore the Silver Sword. Again, general bonuses are better than specific ones. Inducing bleeding isn’t as important as simply doing more damage, and increasing the level of the style is the best buy you can make in these trees, as leveling up a style increases the base damage that the +damage % talents affect.
Focus on all the styles fairly equally (get them all up to level 2) and then focus on Group Steel. After all, groups of enemies are usually more dangerous than any single enemy-you’re much more likely to get killed by a group of Barghests, Drowners, or Salamandra Assassins because you neglected the Group Style than you are likely to get killed by a singular strong foe for neglecting Strong Steel or Fast Steel… at least in Chapter 1.
As for Signs, you only start out with Aard. Never to fret, it’s possibly the best sign in the game. Igni is good as well, and you get it in Chapter 1. Again, level up the base level of the sign, and ignore the talents like Student and Apprentice. Get Stun, Gust and later Disarm. Now you should be able to simply use Aard on most opponents and stun them or knock them down, after which you can move in for the coup’de’grace.
Being able to defeat enemies like this allows you to wait a bit on Strong Steel and Fast Steel (although you still want to at least get the level and damage +% talents.) Once you hit Chapter 2 you’re going to quickly want to focus on bringing your Silver Sword up to snuff, as it’ll do more damage unleveled than your Steel Sword will leveled to monsters.
Chapter 2 (Levels 12-20)
By the time you’re grinding Graviers and Ghouls after gaining access to Vizima in Chapter 2, you’ll be moving on to the Silver Talents. Once they become available, you should aim to turn my Geralt into a melee monster following the same general rules above-level up attributes first… or in this case, Strength and Dexterity. Then focus on Strong Silver, since it’s what we’ll be using to kill the groups of necrophages that we’re grinding for experience. They’re fairly dangerous, and it’s likely you’ll end up fighting two or three Graviers at a time, so survivability is everything.
After that, grab some of the best Silver Talents in the Strength tree, like Vigor, Aggression, and Stone Skin, Feint and Agility in the Dexterity tree, and Mortal Blow III in Strong Silver. After that, the major melee skills have been obtained, proceed to level up Stamina, Intelligence, the sword styles, and the Signs, as normal. Note that obtaining Ingredient Extraction in a timely manner will make this entire grinding process that much more profitable. It’s very easy to grind Graviers until you’re level 15… even levels of 20+ aren’t impossible, although it’s rather excessive.
Chapter 3 (Level 21-40)
Chapter 3 introduces Gold Talents the way Chapter 2 introduced Silver Talents, and the progression is much the same. Finish up attributes, spend your first Gold Talents to generally make Geralt stronger-then specialize to your hearts’ content. Compared to the potency of your Attribute talent trees, it’s almost not worth it to spend any Gold Talents on Signs and Sword Styles. Honestly, how can you pass up Strength (Level 5), with Damage +20%, Parry +10%, Vitality +150, Resistance to Bleeding +20% and Knockdown Resistance +20%? Or how about Intelligence (Level 5) and Intensity, from which you’ll gain a combined +60% Sign Intensity for all your Signs? Pile on the Gold Talents on your Attribute Trees the same way you did with Silver Talents earlier, and specialize after you diversify.
By this time Silver Talents will become somewhat more mundane, and Bronze Talents really only exist to allow you to level up your new Signs. It’s pretty simple to get to level 40 in Chapter 3 if you wish (although it’s excessive)-Cockatrices give such good experience that even the cumulative five-point drop per level and the arithmathic increase in required experience per level will only slow you down a bit-rather than halt you entirely. In fact, if you’re on a time budget and willing to invest more in potions (and not adverse to a few reloads, if something goes wrong), you can skip the grinding in
Chapters 1 & 2, tough it out through the harder fights, and just grind in Chapter 3. You’ll need to respect the Cockatrices a little more, but it’ll go absurdly quickly. In any event, you should still try to hit level 35, at least. Not because the levels will be required to muscle your way through the game, but simply because this is a great opportunity to level up, and those Gold Talents are worth more than a dozen potions.
Chapter 4 and Beyond… (Level 41+)
You’ll soon stop getting Bronze talents entirely, but by the time you no longer obtain anymore, you’ve long since purchased everything decent. My advice for the bottom-of-the-barrel abilities? Focus on the Igni and Aard signs, as they are by far the best. Ignore sign upgrades like “Student”, “Apprentice”, etc, as they are rarely worth the talents. Also, ignore all upgrades that activate only when your Vitality is low. The Vitality thresholds are too low to be useful, and ideally we’ll be trying to avoid getting hurt.