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Scarlet Nexus guide: Best skills to unlock for the early game

How to spend points in the Brain Map

Shidan and Kasane from Scarlet Nexus Image: Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment via Polygon

In Scarlet Nexus, you unlock new skills and improvements through a sprawling skill tree called the Brain Map. Making sense of the Brain Map can be daunting at first.

Polygon’s Scarlet Nexus skills guide explains some of the best skills to unlock early on in the Brain Map. We’ll give you our recommendations for which skills to ignore at first, which to focus on first, and why you should make these decisions.

How to use Brain Map

Each time you level up in Scarlet Nexus, you receive Brain Map points, which you can assign to the various buffs and new abilities inside the Brain Map. At first, skills only cost a single point. As you progress further into the Brain Map, new talents cost multiple points to unlock.

The Brain Map from Scarlet Nexus
The Brain Map has multiple trees
Image: Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment via Polygon

At the beginning of the game, the Brain Map will have three trees:

  • Enhance increases different aspects of your character like their health, defense, and improves gauges related to special abilities.
  • Expand adds new abilities to your character such as a double jump, follow up attack moves, multiple dashes, and more.
  • Support boosts abilities that improve your character, giving them more slots for gear, empowering certain special attacks, and increasing the strength of your support characters.

Later on in Scarlet Nexus, new areas of the Brain Map open, like a specific section related to the Brain Drive mechanic. However, before you even get a chance to improve that part of your skill tree, there are multiple skills worth getting in the game’s opening hours.

Scarlet Nexus best early game skills

At the very beginning of the game, it’s not clear how you should improve your character. Before you make any decisions, ignore everything in the Enhance skill tree. While each node in that section of the Brain Tree will power up your character, the improvements are minor. If you choose to strengthen your character early via the Enhance skill tree, you’ll waste skill points that are better used for unlocking new talents first.

Here are the best early game skills:

  • Expand: Double Jump — While the double jump isn’t a powerful attack or a major improvement, it makes traveling through levels easier. You’ll also need the double jump to access hidden areas to find materials.
  • Expand: Aerial Dash — If you want some added mobility when fighting enemies in the air, the aerial dash can help. It’s a good choice for players who like to be as mobile as possible. It also allows you to dodge attacks in the air.
  • Expand: Rebound — Rebound allows you to quickly get up after being knocked down. Without this skill, your character will be immobile for a few moments after getting hit by a large attack. Since skills like your SAS and Brain Drive are only active for a limited amount of time, don’t waste them by lying on your back.
  • Support: Brain Crush SAS Restore — As you get stronger, you’ll be performing the Brain Crush finishing move often. Since you’ll see this powerful move’s animation a lot throughout the game, you might as well use that opportunity to restore a chunk of your SAS gauge at the same time.
  • Support: Concurrent SAS Activation — This allows you to use two SAS abilities at once. It can be really powerful, depending on which skills you activate at the same time. For instance, if you use Kyoka’s duplication ability and Shiden’s electricity power, you can throw multiple objects wrapped in electricity. If you get the other Concurrent SAS Activation skill on the Brain Map, you can use four SAS abilities at once.
  • Support: Additional Plug-In Equip Slot — There are two of these on the Brain Map. At the start, you can only equip a single plug-in. These pieces of equipment grant passive buffs like boosts to your strength or health. As you progress through the game, you’ll find more powerful plug-ins. Unlike the boosts you’ll get on the Enhance side of the Brain Map, plug-ins become stronger as Scarlet Nexus progresses. Stat boosts granted by nodes on the Enhance skill tree stay the same throughout the game. Use plug-ins to boost your stats instead of the Enhance skill tree.

Once you unlock the Brain Drive skill tree, its progression is pretty linear. The best talent to unlock is BD: Consecutive Assault Vision. When Brain Drive activates, all the characters whose bond level is at level four will perform their Assault Vision attack. If you’ve increased the bond level with multiple characters and unlocked their Assault Vision attacks, you can perform multiple special moves at once without lifting a finger when Brain Drive activates.

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