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The Evil Within 2 skills guide

There are no essential skills, but there sure are some great ones

The Evil Within 2’s skill tree is gloriously straightforward, but picking among skills can be difficult. (It sure was for us.) What are the best skills? What should you buy? What should you ignore? The answers felt as elusive as Nurse Tatiana.

We’re writing this guide only after we beat The Evil Within 2. It took us that long to fully understand the best and worst decisions we made. In this guide, we’ll tell you what we learned and give you some suggestions about the best skills to buy.

Kill everything to get green gel

You need green gel to upgrade your skills. Because you get it primarily from killing enemies, we have some simple advice: kill everything. Collect as much green gel as you can. There’s no limit to the amount you can carry.

Understanding the skill trees in The Evil Within 2

Before you spend that green gel on a skill, you should understand how the skill tree works. In this section, we’ll teach you the basics and explain some things that The Evil Within 2 doesn’t quite make explicit.

There are five paths you can take:

  • Health, which is primarily about increasing your … health
  • Athleticism, which is primarily about increasing your stamina
  • Recovery, which is primarily about making your healing items more effective
  • Stealth, which is primarily about sneaking around the world
  • Combat, which is primarily about shooting things without swaying back and forth

We say “primarily” because it’s not always the case, and we’ll discuss that further in the next section.

The skills you purchase are a reflection of how you want to play The Evil Within 2. There’s no wrong answer to how you do that. Want to shoot lots of zombies? Don’t spend much on stealth. Want to sneak around and stab zombies? You probably shouldn’t invest much in combat.

If you want to play stealthily, focus on stealth (to be quiet) and maybe some health (to survive your inevitable confrontations). If you want to play like Rambo and shoot everything, focus on health (because you’ll be up close and fighting a lot) and combat (because you’re going to become a weapons expert). The remaining categories apply to everyone. Choose athleticism for more stamina, which helps stealthy players and Rambos alike run. Choose recovery to heal more and faster.

How skill trees work: trunks, branches and crowns

Each skill tree in The Evil Within 2 has multiple components: a thick center trunk, some branches that veer off of the trunk and crowns that give you an incredibly powerful (and usually expensive) skill.

Also, we should note that some of the skills are locked, and you’ll need to use red gel to unlock them. Bottles of red gel are scattered throughout the game, usually in important places. They’re not hard to find.

Trunks

Each of The Evil Within 2’s skill trees have a thick center trunk that increases one trait multiple times. In the health tree, it’s called toughness, and every node in the trunk will “increase life gauge maximum,” which, in English, means “give you more health.”

Health’s trunk increases toughness
Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

Branches

Then there are offshoots — the branches — which are related to the trunk. Sticking with health, you have two options: defiance (which allows you to survive attacks that would otherwise kill you) and vitality (which gives you more health when you heal near death). They don’t increase your health like toughness, but they have an effect on your health in certain situations.

Crowns

Some trees have a third option — a crown — which is an expensive capstone to the skills that came before it. For example, in combat, instead of a fourth node for steadying your hands while aiming, there’s synaptic focus, which lets you slow down time while shooting.

In short, everything’s related. Now how do you choose between them?

The best skills in The Evil Within 2

These are our favorite skills in The Evil Within 2. They’re the most valuable and applicable to a wide array of styles.

Bottle break skill

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

Bottle break is the first node on the stealth tree. It’ll cost you 5,000 green gel.

When a zombie attacks, you’ll automatically grab a bottle from your inventory and smash your enemy over its head. Instead of losing health, you’ll get a moment to adjust, aim and fire (or run away). Things will go wrong. This skill preserves your health when they do.

Ambush skill

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

Ambush is the third skill you can purchase in the stealth tree. It’ll cost you 3,000 green gel.

Stealth kills are your surest way to take out zombies quietly and save on ammo. But early in the game, you can’t stealth kill from the side or around a corner. When you visit Nurse Tatiana, upgrade your stealth to include ambush. This lets you stab from cover and will make your life a lot easier.

Endurance skill

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

Endurance is the first skill you can buy in the athleticism tree, and you can upgrade it four times. The first node will cost you 1,500 green gel.

We suggest increasing your stamina maximum not because you’ll be running a lot, but because it’ll sure pay off when you do. Whether you just need to get away to regroup or you’re running to hide, more stamina means more space between you and your enemies.

Second chance skill

Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

We didn’t buy second chance until the end of The Evil Within 2, and the first time we automatically injected our arm with a syringe, we had exactly one question: “Why the hell didn’t we buy this thing 20 hours ago?” In fact, here’s a GIF of that very moment:

Second chance is skill that eliminates stress
Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks

How many times did we run away from enemies, draining our precious stamina, mashing a button with the sweatiest of hands and spinning around the radial menu — all just to heal slowly? Approximately 7 billion. Exactly none of those would’ve been necessary had we unlocked this skill. Treat yourself. Go ahead and buy it.

Hey, what about health?

Well, we spent all but the last hour or so of the game with a single health upgrade, so we don’t think it’s necessary. Spend your green gel in here if you find yourself dying a lot. Otherwise, let it slide.

There are no essential skills

Having beaten The Evil Within 2 (#humblebrag), we can tell you this: There are no essential skills.

We hoarded a lot of green gel, mostly because we feared a scenario where something we ignored would become essential just around the corner. But that was never a problem. You can defeat every enemy with some combination of your favorite weapons. If you never use the sniper rifle, don’t worry. You won’t ever have to use the sniper rifle. Upgrading steady hands in the combat tree, which would make using weapons like the sniper rifle easier, isn’t worth the investment. Feel free to ignore it.

Rather than being essential, skills are mostly helpful. It’d be nice to have more stamina. But is it necessary? In our experience, no. It’s good to have, but it’s never a requirement. The solution: Don’t think of purchasing skills as a necessity. Think of them as ways to change Sebastian so that he reflects your preferences. If you want to be quieter, go ahead and buy skills that help you do that. If you love your sniper rifle and use it a lot, don’t hesitate to buy steady hands.

You get to play The Evil Within 2 in any way you want to. You might as well make your trip through hell comfortable.