The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt changed open-world RPGs in a way that made Skyrim seem quaint by comparison. The game brought the world of The Witcher to life in ways its predecessors could never have hoped to do, delivering on emotional, interesting storylines with equally interesting characters. The gameplay isn’t often lauded as a powerhouse, though, so why are people still talking about character builds half a decade after its release?
In short, the gameplay’s greatest strengths are largely absent from playthroughs that don’t force you to learn each mechanic and its significance. Unless you exhaustively seek out every knob and button (godspeed, pilgrim), you’ll more than likely end up with a serviceable character build that will carry you through the main quests without much thought. But when you venture into more challenging difficulty levels (it took Death March! for me to finally care about alchemy), the point of engaging with each mechanic becomes suddenly and painfully clear.
If you’re looking for a bit more guidance in building your Geralt, look no further! This article talks about the best Witcher 3 build options and aims to take the guesswork out of the game’s RPG elements as you perfect your play style.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Best Build Guide Basic Tips
Before we get into any specific build, let’s go over some general gameplay tips that will help any build survive in the wild. Some of these tips will cover general advice (like using the Quen sign more often). Others will point you toward specific upgrades that will determine your build’s viability (like crafting the Grandmaster Griffin Gear for Sign builds).
Keep in mind that these tips will help you in different ways. Specific armor bonuses are better for some builds than others, for example, but armor bonuses as a whole are worth investing in. Consider your preferred playstyle as you progress through the campaign and your skill trees, but these tips should give you a leg up regardless of what your final build looks like.
I’ll just come out and say it — alchemy is your friend. And this is coming from someone who severely neglected anything to do with alchemy back when the game came out. Like I said above, I wasn’t forced to learn its significance until the higher difficulty levels.
Oils, potions, and decoctions provide huge benefits to any combat situation, and they’re well worth the time spent collecting ingredients. It never hurts to stop and pick a flower while you’re running cross country, and herbalists are there to aid you when you need a more specific ingredient. Thankfully, the tedium of constantly gathering ingredients drops off sharply when you upgrade your potions to their maximum.
The Witcher 3 best alchemy build will take your gameplay to an entirely new level, which is why we’ve included a prominent alchemy section in each our recommended setups.
Another of your good friends is humble Quen. I literally could not count the number of times that this little sign was the difference between life and death. Even if you put no points in it or any other sign, get in the habit of using it. So many more attacks and strategies open up when one blow won’t interrupt or even kill you, and it’s a great alternative to sinking points into highly situational skills like Arrow Deflection. As much fun as it is to play Jedi, Quen is by far the more sensible option.
Speaking of sensible, it pays to be sensibly dressed. Or armored, as the case may be. Consequently, it behooves you to seek out witcher gear and upgrade it to the fullest extent. In general, this means that you should keep an eye out for the Scavenger Hunt quests that net you their diagrams and make good use of the dismantling process to get a cheaper supply of crafting materials. This strategy becomes even more prevalent in the two expansions, as you’ll have to make some wise financial decisions when investing in your armor.
The Runewright in the Hearts of Stone expansion offers special weapon enhancements that replace runes and glyphs with runewords and glyphwords (respectively), provided you’ve got the coin to spare. I’ll be honest — at this stage of the game, it’s not worth it. While the Runewright’s items provide interesting bonuses, they’re rarely transformative and generally pale in comparison to the benefits of the best armor in the game.
It’s better to save your money and use it to have the Grandmaster Smith in Beauclair (in Blood and Wine) craft grandmaster witcher gear. This won’t just help you create The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine best build, but you also get unique set bonuses that aren’t present in lower armor tiers. These bonuses range from handy to absolutely pivotal (like the Griffin set bonuses if you’re pursuing a Sign build), and witcher armor tends to be a better investment than the Runewright’s trade overall.
With these tips in mind, let’s explore a few of the best Witcher 3 builds in detail! Note that the following builds are geared more toward New Game than New Game+, so consider any relevant changes if you’re opting for a more challenging playthrough.
The Best Witcher 3 Build Guide: Sign Build
Sign builds are less common at higher difficulty levels where combat may leave you relying on your sword more than your magic. Still, making effective use of your signs can be a welcome change of pace. For those looking to sweep through the early stages and master their signs, here’s The Witcher 3 best early build for you.
Strength Training: Given the number of abilities that inflict status effects, stagger, or otherwise render your enemies temporarily defenseless, Heavy Attacks are an excellent choice for a Sign build. When you lean into this attack style, Strength Training (along with a few other abilities) essentially become auto-picks.
Crushing Blows: This is another auto-pick. Crushing Blows adds extra sword damage to a build that’s undeniably lacking in that area, giving you the boost you need to capitalize on your Sign effects.
- Sustained Glyphs: Sustained Glyph provides an important buff for one of your core signs while simultaneously lending more crowd control options. More specifically, it improves your Magic Trap charges and allows for two normal Yrden circles to be active at once.
- Magic Trap: Remember that crowd control I mentioned? Magic Trap gives you the ability to continually inflict passive damage and stagger effects on enemies. The combat benefits of this ability can’t be understated, especially when taking group fights into account.
- Yrden Intensity: Like the rest of the Intensity slots in this build, Yrden Intensity is practically a no-brainer, given that it objectively improves a core sign. Additionally, a more powerful Yrden is a useful tool against particular enemies (wraiths and giant centipedes are the first to come to mind).
- Exploding Shield: This buff can be a decent damage supplement. It can also mitigate potential slips by pushing back enemies and even potentially knocking them down, lessening the chance that you’ll be cornered and subsequently butchered.
- Active Shield: Without Refreshment (a healing staple for Alchemy builds), Sign users need to find other sources of healing. Swallow and White Raffard’s Decoction are all well and good, but it’s better to treat them as panic buttons than reliable workhorses. Thus, Active Shield takes the stage. Combining a defensive maneuver with some healing could prove an essential skill at certain junctures.
- Quen Intensity: Making it so that Quen doesn’t break after a single hit can be very powerful, particularly when taking into account fights against swarms of enemies who attack quickly but with low damage.
- Quen Discharge: This is just another source of damage, but it’s another punishment for enemies who manage to land a blow.
- Igni Intensity: This will be one of your big damage dealers, especially when combined with the double sign casting available with the Grandmaster Griffin Armor set. At that point, enemies will simply melt in front of you.
- Pyromaniac: One of the most potent things Igni can do as a sign is leave your enemies flailing about, burning alive and vulnerable to a meaty swing. Upping the chances of inflicting the Burning by investing in Pyromaniac is an accordingly sensible move.
- Delusion: This is something of a filler slot, and something you could swap out based on personal preference. However, in addition to its slight combat benefits, Delusion also opens up dialogue options, which is why I prefer to keep it around.
- Puppet: It always helps to have a friend in combat, whether they’re willing or not. However, it is worth noting that some players may experience a bug where slotting both Delusion and Puppet causes the latter to stop working.
Griffin School Techniques: If you plan on using the Grandmaster Griffin set with this build (and you certainly should), then this skill provides you with an offer too tempting to pass up. Boost sign intensity and stamina regeneration? Who else could this possibly be for?
Conductors of Magic: Increasing sign damage proportional to your swords’ stats is huge for a casting build. This mutation is an important building block for making a machine that will disintegrate anyone who stumbles into Geralt’s path.
The Best Witcher 3 Build Guide: Tank Build
As The Witcher 3 best tank build, this setup is focused more on survivability and improving your chances of tanking damage.
- Strength Training: Just like the best sign build Witcher 3, this build relies on heavy attacks for most of its damage. With that in mind, Strength Training and Crushing Blows are the way to go.
- Crushing Blows: Increasing critical chance is rarely a bad idea, and you should take any opportunity to emphasize your heavy attacks.
- Rend: This skill is one of the big damage dealers of this build. It may be tricky using various signs and bombs to stun enemies long enough to use it properly, but making good use of Quen and paying attention to enemy types and weaknesses will give you more openings.
- Muscle Memory: One orthodox thought when it comes to the best Witcher 3 builds is that it’s generally wiser to focus your skills than to diversify them. However, given that you need to sink a lot of points into unlocking Rend (and that this build tends to sacrifice damage for defense), it makes sense to optimize all of your sword strikes when you can, even the fast ones — particularly for those trying to create The Witcher 3 best sword build.
- Precise Blows: Investing in this skill follows the same logic as above. Since you’re going to be swapping between light and heavy attacks anyway, you can make it more rewarding by imbibing the Forktail Decoction, which rewards varied attack styles with extra damage and sign intensity (if you can work in a couple of casts).
- Exploding Shield: The only kind of shield Geralt of Rivia would be caught using is the Quen sign. While it’s not necessarily worth it to dig deeper into Signs, Quen is the friend of any tank, and the boon Exploding Shields adds to this defensive workhorse isn’t something to sneeze at.
- Delusion: This is kind of my pet skill. Its combat application is limited, but it’s just so damn fun to essentially use a Jedi mind trick mid-conversation and see what extra rewards you can squeeze out.
- Heightened Tolerance: Any emphasis on alchemy will obviously help this build, given that the green mutagens associated with it increase your maximum vitality.
- Refreshment: As mentioned previously, this is a healing staple for alchemy-heavy builds. Refreshment eliminates the question of whether it’s better to heal or buff, as it both patches up any wounds you’ve suffered and gives you the chance to buff your damage, signs, or whatever the situation calls for.
- Protective Coating: You’re playing a tank, and this skill has “protective” in its name. Seems pretty self-explanatory. This skill helps boost your survivability, provided you remember to use your oils.
- Acquired Tolerance: This is another skill that eliminates one of those pesky either/or questions often associated with alchemy. Without it, decoctions contain powerful effects but are offset by high toxicity, forcing you to choose between them and more traditional potions. Acquired Tolerance makes it so that you can use potent decoctions active in addition to your usual array of potions, opening up your options mid-combat considerably.
- Tissue Transmutation: This skill increases maximum vitality and makes decoctions even more useful. It’s also perfectly serviceable as a point sink toward Synergy.
- Synergy: This is an incredibly powerful ability and one that’s crucial for a tank build. Synergy will add considerably to the bonus provided by your green mutagens, thereby increasing your maximum vitality.
Bear School Techniques: A maximum health increase and a buff to strong attacks? Yes, please.
Second Life: Exactly as the name implies, this skill gives you another shot when you hit zero vitality, rather than just letting you die outright. It’s an exceedingly obvious benefit to almost any build, but it’s a must-have for the tanks among us.
The Best Witcher 3 Build Guide: Death March! Build
This is a more specialized build than the others — rather than being generally applicable to any and all difficulty levels, this build is designed specifically for the Death March! difficulty. Think you have what it takes? Here’s The Witcher 3 best Death March! build.
- Muscle Memory: In terms of pure damage, fast attacks are your friend on Death March!. If you wind up trying out the other two builds and find their damage output underwhelming, then this is probably the build for you. Combined with the skills below, Muscle Memory makes this The Witcher 3 best fast attack build on the list.
- Precise Blows: The major advantage to fast attacks is that they’re easier to land, leading to more damage in the same amount of time it’d take to dish out one heavy swing. Improving your critical chance increases your damage in the long run — more chances to hit means more chances to crit.
- Whirl: While it’s prone to leaving you spinning and dancing like a dork over a corpse you just made, Whirl definitely has its uses. During a certain fight against a certain incredibly tanky earth elemental, combining the Northern Wind bomb with an extended Whirl deals the most devastating damage by far. It makes battling an enormous, enchanted hulk of animated stone feel more like washing your hands, and that’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one.
- Resolve: Given that adrenaline is a significant part of this Witcher 3 best endgame build’s damage output, mitigating the amount you lose when you take a hit is a great way to ensure that you’ll reliably build your bar to the maximum.
- Fleet Footed: Arguably, this skill could be swapped out for another combat skill, or perhaps a sign. That said, any increase to this build’s evasiveness and survivability is not going to be unwelcome. But for those looking to add an extra punch, a complete set of Grandmaster Cat Armor with the two swords adds an ability that increases the usefulness of heavy attacks for this build. Leaning into that (perhaps at the expense of Whirl, depending on how many options you want to keep open) will undoubtedly add to the build’s already formidable damage capabilities.
- Heightened Tolerance: This is a staple of any Alchemy build and especially important for a build centered around Euphoria. If toxicity proportionally increases damage, increasing the amount you can handle before overdosing is a great way to draw out considerable reward while ignoring all the risk.
- Poisoned Blades: Your mileage may vary, but free status effects on enemies tend to serve my purposes well. Since this build is so damage-focused, you’ll be able to manage group fights a bit better by striking an enemy’s health down to near-death, rolling away, and handling other foes while the first succumbs to the effects of your poisons.
- Refreshment: Refreshment rears its head once more. Even without the helpful compromise between healing and potential damage buffs, it’s great for emergency first aid without sacrificing combat effectiveness or wasting toxicity on pure healing potions.
- Synergy: This skill is so useful that people will pump points into alchemy just to bring Synergy into other builds. A large bonus to the powers mutagens provide on the character screen continually proves its usefulness during gameplay.
- Hunter Instinct: This is the cutting edge of the adrenaline aspect of the Death March! build. In a prolonged fight, when your adrenaline reaches its maximum and you’ve got to dish out some serious harm, boosting critical damage can be pivotal. This skill is handy when paired with Precise Blows or even a Katakan decoction.
- Killing Spree: If your toxicity is above zero (and it will be), each kill racks up a big bonus to critical hit chance. Excellent when combined with Hunter Instinct and formidable on its own, Killing Spree will show those damn bandits that you’ll only become stronger the more they throw themselves at you.
- Acquired Tolerance: This skill is practically mandatory if you want to benefit from both decoctions and potions at the same time.
- Protective Coating: While this build is downright stupid in the damage department, it doesn’t have quite the resilience afforded to the tanks. Thus, a defensive skill that applies broadly to most — if not all — combat situations is a handy addition to the loadout. It’s absolutely essential for creating The Witcher 3 best melee build or The Witcher 3 best combat build.
Cat School Techniques: This skill increases damage when using light armor. If something increases attack power by a certain percentage, chances are it’ll be useful in a Death March! build. It’s also a crucial skill for The Witcher 3 best light armor builds.
Euphoria: This is the crown jewel of a Death March! build. Each point of toxicity increases sword damage and sign intensity. If you’re hopped up on a shitton of drugs like a good witcher, you’ll be dropping enemies with hardly more effort than snapping your fingers.
Now that you’ve pored over an ancient witcher tome at Kaer Morhen (aka our best Witcher 3 builds guide) and gained some new insights, you’re free to brew some potions, oil up your blades, and test your newfound prowess against the world’s most twisted monsters! Feel free to share this article and tell us about your favorite Witcher 3 build in the comments.