Shadow Of The Tomb Raider: Best Skills Guide

A revamped skill tree awaits Lara Croft in her latest globe trotting adventure -- but which skills do you really need?

Lara Croft is back to her stealth assassin shenanigans again in Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, which features a revamped skill system slightly different from the previous two games.

Some skills unlock automatically during the course of the campaign, or by completing secondary challenge tombs not directly tied to the story.

The rest must be unlocked as you earn experience and gain skill points. Deciding which skills to buy can drastically change your playthrough depending on whether you favor stealth, gunplay, or exploration.

Be sure to check out the rest of our guides at the bottom of this page. 

Best Shadow Of The Tomb Raider Skills

In general, exploration (Seeker) and stealth (Scavenger) skills tend to be the most helpful to pick. The Warrior tree tends to be the least necessary, as you usually don't want to be in drawn-out combat in this game.

Even on standard difficulty, combat isn't that hard if you stay out of sight more often than running into a group of guards firing wildly.

The Warrior skill Howler's Speed in particular just flat out isn't necessary, since you can just turn down the difficulty instead of spending skill points and get the same effect.

Below, we cover all the most important skill to buy first if you want to breeze through the game and find all the collectibles on your first go.

Caiman's Breath

Skill Tree: Scavenger
Bonus: Improve breath capacity underwater

Underwater areas play a significantly expanded role in Shadow, and it's really easy to get turned around when you have to wait on the air bubble animation in a dark flooded tunnel.

To find all the collectibles in underwater areas and complete some of the later crypts with the least amount of frustration, you definitely want this skill.

An upgraded second version of the skill is also available for those who want to truly explore every last nook and cranny of the flooded tunnels.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Skill Tree Showing Caiman's Breath, Lara to Right

Serpent's Fury

Skill Tree: Scavenger
Bonus: Chain together stealth kills

For those who prefer to stay in stealth, this is a must-have. There are areas where enemies will always be within line of sight of each other, and even if you distract a few you usually can't take out all the guards without kicking off a fire fight.

Use this skill to create a loophole. 

Skill Tree Showing Serpent's Fury, Lara to Right with bow

Boa's Blow

Skill Tree: Scavenger
Bonus: Craft concussive shells

Normally, I prefer to stick entirely to stealth and use either the bow or the silenced pistol, but in some cases, you've got to go loud. When you need to return to stealth mid-battle, Boa's Blow is amazingly helpful.

Concussive shells daze enemies and give you time to retreat to a mud wall, climb up a tree, get behind cover, jump into a swimming area, etc.

If you use this feature a lot, it can also be worth upgrading to the Serpent's Fang skill so the dazed effect lasts longer.

Skill tree showing Boa's Blow; Lara to right in blue heron tunic

Eagle's Sight/Crow's Cunning

Skill Tree: Seeker
Bonus: Reveal artifacts, monoliths, treasure chests, maps, and backpacks while using survival instincts

With the sheer number of hidden collectibles in the game and the constant need for more resources, this cheap skill will save you a lot of headaches for only a single skill point.

If you find yourself often missing the signs of traps and dying horribly, be sure to also take Crow's Cunning, which reveals traps when using survival instincts.

Skill tree showing Eagle's Sight; Lara to right with bow

Eagle's Talon II

Skill Tree: Seeker
Bonus: Hide corpses killed with rope arrows from tree branches

Eagle's Talon I unlocks automatically fairly early on in the game as Lara apparently decides to become a one-woman jungle death squad.

For maximum stealth combat opportunities, be sure to pick up the enhanced version of the skill. Enemies rarely notice you when hiding in trees, so taking them out from above without a trace is a big plus.

Skill tree showing Eagle's Talon II; Lara to right in blue heron tunic

Crow's Charm

Skill Tree: Seeker
Bonus: Negotiate better prices from merchants

This one is a bit of a personal preference skill. If you are fully exploring every crypt and grabbing every single resource, you will probably find enough gold and jade to buy whatever you want at full price. 

If you intend to fully upgrade every gun, this can still be a worthwhile skill to take, however, as merchants directly sell salvage for upgrading firearms. By buying salvage directly, you can upgrade much more quickly.

Skill tree showing Crow's Charm; Lara to right

Puma's Charge / Howler's Troop

Skill Tree: Warrior
Bonus: Draw the bow string more quickly, reduce time between charged shots

When the bow is your primary weapon for killing quietly, you need to be able to draw more quickly and use fully charged shots to the head to take down enemies in a single shot.

If you use the bow more than the guns, be sure to also take the related skill Howler's Troop, which lets you fire two arrows at different targets simultaneously.

Skill tree showing Puma's Charge; Lara to right

Puma's Brace

Skill Tree: Warrior
Bonus: Resist damage for a short time after healing

This one is primarily useful if you have trouble navigating the game's stealth mechanics. When you are often in direct gun fights and are hit frequently, this can be a life saver if you are always healing and then shooting again immediately.

Skill tree showing Puma's Brace; Lara to right with bow

Those are the best skills we used most frequently in our first playthrough of Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. What's your favorite skill, and which ones did you pick up that you never ended up using? Let us know in the comments below!

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Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction, covering underground black metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. As much as digs the latest shooters, he thinks gaming peaked with Planescape: Torment.

Published Sep. 13th 2018

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