The Last of Us 2 Remastered No Return Upgrade Branches: All Manuals and Skills

A list of all the upgrade paths in The Last of Us 2 Remastered's No Return Mode — and tips on how to use them.

Dina crouching and placing a trap mine on the floor of a warehouse.
Screenshot by GameSkinny
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There are 21 upgrade branches in The Last of Us 2 Remastered‘s No Return roguelike mode. Some are unique to characters, while others are found in runs, combining skills and Training Manuals from multiple ability sets. I’ve collected them all here as a reference in your runs.

I’ve also provided some tips, use cases, and suggestions for using them. After almost 20 hours with No Return, I’ve found myself going back to some upgrade paths and skipping over others entirely.

Every No Return Upgrade Path Listed: All Skills, Perks, and Abilities

Ally

Ally is Yara’s starting upgrade branch. This skill tree is unique among the playable characters in No Return. No other character starts with an ally. I don’t think it’s as good a skills path as some others since it relies on the TLoU2‘s AI to work, which doesn’t always watch your back. However, maxing it out makes Lev a killing machine, especially against human enemies like Seraphites.

  • Ally Lethalilty (40 Supplements): Lev fights more aggressively and kills more often.
  • Listen Mode Clarity (40 Supplements): Adds more clarity to Listen Mode outlines.
  • Ally Lethality+ (40 Supplements): Leve is more of a badass.

Archery

Archery is Lev’s starting path. It’s perfect for the stealth character, as he starts with a bow and relies on a stealth playstyle. Explosive arrows are great in certain situations, but they also take crafting resources away from traps like Trap Mines, which I find are great against Infected.

  • Craft More Arrows (40 Supplements): Increases crafting amount from 2 to 3.
  • Craft Explosive Arrows (20 Supplements): Craft arrows with explosive tips.
  • Craft More Explosive Arrows (40 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 1 to 2; increases storage capacity from 3 to 4.

Brawler

Abbey kneeling on the floor of a cabin, reaching into her backpack.
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Brawler is Abby’s starting upgrade path. I think Abby is one of the most fun characters to play as in No Return, and this Training Manual skill tree makes her gameplay even more visceral. While meleeing is a great way to save precious ammo, most other characters aren’t as good at it. Having the confidence to run into a group of two or three enemies with this kit makes that — and completing some challenges — much more manageable.

  • Heal on Melee Hit (40 Supplements): Melee hits restore health.
  • Momentum (40 Supplements): Killing enemies with a Strike makes the next melee attack a Strike. To proc a Strike, melee attack a stunned enemy or one you’ve snuck up on.
  • Momentum Duration (50 Supplements): +70% Momentum duration.

Close Quarters

The Close Quarters upgrade branch is found in runs. It’s good for completing challenges that require you to craft melee weapon upgrades, such as the one for Abby for the Bomber skin.

  • Craft Melee Upgrades (20 Supplements): Allows you to craft upgrades for melee weapons.
  • Improved Melee Weapon Upgrades (40 Supplements): Allows for improved melee weapon upgrades.
  • Increased Health (50 Supplements): +25% health.

Crafting

The Crafting upgrade branch is found in runs. This Training Manual is a better choice than Close Quarters because it provides buffs to multiple useful skills. I try to pick this one up in most of my No Return runs.

  • Craft Melee Upgrades (40 Supplements): Gain the ability to craft melee upgrades.
  • Faster Crafting (40 Supplements): +100% crafting speed.
  • Faster Health Kits (30 Supplements): +100% healing speed.

Covert Ops

The Covert Ops upgrade branch is found in runs. Pairs well with a stealth-based character or if your playstyle revolves around stealth. Otherwise, it’s not useful.

  • Faster Prone Movement (50 Supplements): +50% prone movement speed.
  • Grabbed Enemy Movement Speed (50 Supplements): +50% movement speed holding a hostage.
  • Faster Stealth Kills (60 Supplements) +100% speed increase.

Double-Craft

Dina sifting through her backpack in No Return, showing the Double-Craft upgrade menu.
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Double-Craft is Dina’s starting upgrade branch. If you’re a stealth player, this skill tree is decent, giving you access to Smoke Bombs that hide your movement and help you escape. I don’t love it, though, as I never use the items. The Trap Mine upgrades are nice, but they’re found in other Training Manuals, and spending 80 Supplements just to get to the ability stinks.

  • Craft Smoke Bombs (30 Supplements): Does what it says; lets you craft smoke bombs at the start of a run without getting the recipe from the shop or Dead Drops.
  • Craft More Smoke Bombs (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 1 to 2. Increases storage from 3 to 4.
  • Improved Trap Mines (20 Supplements): +50% blast radius on Trap Mines.
  • Craft More Trap Mines (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 1 to 2. Increases storage from 3 to 4.

Evasive

The Evasive upgrade branch is found in runs. The usefulness of this Training Manual is in its first perks, but it’s not worthwhile unless you have the Bow. You can’t use the second perk without it, and using 130 supplements to get 4 Smoke Bombs isn’t a good return on investment.

  • Craft Smoke Bombs (30 Supplements): Gain the ability to craft Smoke Bombs.
  • Craft More Arrows (50 Supplements): Increases crafting amount from 2 to 3.
  • Craft More Smoke Bombs (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 1 to 2. Increases storage from 3 to 4.

Field Tactics

The Field Tactics upgrade branch is found in runs. I like this one quite a bit. It combines some of the better perks from other unique Training Manuals. Field Tactics is a good general purpose upgrade branch that iimproves both quiet and loud playstyles.

  • Listen Mode Range (40 Supplements): +50% range increase to Listen Mode.
  • Faster Crafting (40 Supplements): +100% crafting speed.
  • Improved Health Kits (40 Supplements): +50% healing.

Firearms

The Firearms upgrade branch is found in runs. Firearms is a must-have if you’re not Manny and have the Double Barrel Shotgun. Otherwise, it’s worthless. There’s no reason to spend 90 Supplements just to get Improved Trap Mines.

  • Craft Incendiary Shells (20 Supplements): Allows you to craft Incendiary Shells for the Double Barrel Shotgun.
  • Craft More Incendiary Shells (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 2 to 3. Increases inventory cap from 4 to 6.
  • Improved Trap Mines (20 Supplements): +50% blast radius on Trap Mines.

Guerilla

Jesse kneeling with his backpack and the Guerilla upgrade tree menu.
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Guerilla is Jesse’s starting upgrade path. To me, the best skill in this branch is the ability to craft more pipe bombs coupled with an increased blast radius. Pipe bombs briefly stun enemies if you hit them, and the larger blast radius catches more enemies, especially if you hit them just as they spawn or kite them into a group. Silencers are whatever.

  • Improved Silencers (40 Supplements): Increases silencer durability from 3 to 5.
  • Improved Pipe Bombs (30 Supplements): +50% blast radius on pipe bombs.
  • Craft More Pipe Bombs (40 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 2 to 3. Increases inventory capacity from 4 to 6.

Healing

Healing is Mel’s starting upgrade branch. I don’t love this skill tree because it includes some things from other Training Manuals. Healing isn’t easy in No Return, especially in Hunted Encounters, Encounters with combat Infected, and most boss fights. I’d rather spend my Supplements elsewhere. However, this is perfect for Mel’s challenge of crafting 8 Health Kits in a run.

  • Double Health Kits (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 1 to 2. Increases inventory capacity from 3 to 4.
  • Health Kit Recycling (30 Supplements): Recover 0.25 alcohol and a rag after using a health kit. Using health kits at full health activates a speed boost.
  • Increased Health (50 Supplements): +25% health.

Marksman

Marksman is Tommy’s starting upgrade path. This is another Training Manual skill tree that fits the character well. Tommy starts with a kitted-out sniper rifle and having the improvements to stability, accuracy, and ADS movement speed enhance his deadliness. Like Joel, Tommy can’t dodge, so keeping enemies at bay with ranged weapons is a good idea.

  • Aim Stability Increase (20 Supplements): +100% Stability; +100% Accuracy.
  • Hold Breath (40 Supplements): Allows Tommy to hold his breath for more accuracy by pressing L3.
  • Faster Aim Movement (30 Supplements): +50% movement speed.

Munitions

Munitions is Manny’s starting upgrade branch, and it’s a little weird. While you begin with the Hunting Pistol, you don’t start with the Double Barrel Shotgun. You must acquire it through the shop, which is RNG. If it doesn’t appear in your run, Manny’s initial skill tree is rendered inert. But if you get the Double Barrel shotty, Incendiary ammo is the way to go against bosses.

  • Craft Hunting Pistol Ammo (20 Supplements): Craft 2 bullets for the Hunting Pistol.
  • Craft More Hunting Pistol Ammo (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 2 to 3.
  • Craft Incendiary Shells (20 Supplements): Does what it says; unlocks the ability to craft Incendiary shells for the Double Barrel Shotgun.
  • Craft More Incendiary Shells (50 Supplements):

Perseverance

Ellie in the No Return hub with the Perseverance upgrade branch menu open.
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Perseverance is Ellie’s starting upgrade path. As a jack-of-all-trades balanced character, Ellie benefits from the increased effectiveness of Molotovs, which I find are perfect for large groups of Infected, Shamblers, and bosses like the Bloater and Rat King. Endure is specifically vital at higher difficulties in No Return. Ellie also starts with Crafting, which is available for other characters.

  • Improved Molotovs (40 Supplements): +50% flame radius.
  • Improved Health Kits (40 Supplements): +50% healing.
  • Endure (60 Supplements): Survive lethal damage at low health.

Precision

The Precision upgrade branch is found in runs. This Training Manual gives you the same perks as Tommy’s Marksman path. I like to get this skillset whenever possible to improve my aiming and help get more headshots. Using this and upgrading your weapons with Stability and Recoil upgrades is a nice combo, especially for No Return S Rank runs.

  • Aim Stability Increase (20 Supplements): +100% Stability; +100% Accuracy.
  • Hold Breath (40 Supplements): Allows Tommy to hold his breath for more accuracy by pressing L3.
  • Faster Aim Movement (30 Supplements): +50% movement speed.

Shiv

Shive is Joel’s starting upgrade branch. It fits his character well; he’s done some bad things interrogating prisoners if we look at what he’s done off-screen. Unlike some other No Return skill manuals, this one is also more practical for Joel since he can’t dodge. Having shivs to insta-kill Clickers is great, and having more movement with human shields can make up for the lack of a dodge mechanic.

  • Faster Stealth Kills (60 Supplements): +100% speed on stealth kills.
  • Craft More Shivs (50 Supplements): Increases craft amount from 2 to 3. Increases inventory capacity from 4 to 6.
  • Grabbed Enemy Movement Speed (50 Supplements): +50% movement speed when holding a hostage.

Stealth

The Stealth upgrade path is found in runs. I don’t love this one, either. I’m not big on stealth Training Manuals in No Return. When things go south, stealth skills aren’t useful. The same can be said for enemies starting in the combat state, as well as bosses (besides the Theater Infestation). I always avoid this one and spend my Supplements elsewhere.

  • Craft Silencers (20 Supplements): Allows you to craft silencers for your pistol.
  • Listen Mode Movement 2 (40 Supplements): Increase movement speed while in Listen Mode by 100%.
  • Improved Silencers (40 Supplements): Increase Silencer durability from 3 to 5.

Survival

The Survival upgrade branch is found in runs. I recommend this Training Manual as a general way to improve your ability to heal — and heal quickly. Both healing and crafting are painfully slow and can be impossible to do when enemies are in combat mode. Or when facing a boss like the Garage Bloater. This path is worth it at higher difficulties.

  • Faster Crafting (40 Supplements): +100% crafting speed.
  • Faster Health Kits (30 Supplements) +100% health kit use speed.
  • Improved Health Kits (40 Supplements): +50% healing.

Unstoppable

The Unstoppable upgrade branch is found in runs. Except for the last skill, this Training Manual is the same as Abby’s Brawler. Use it if you’re like me and love melee attacks — or have a character that also gains health on melee through their base skills or another path. If you don’t love fisticuffs, don’t pick this up.

  • Momentum (40 Supplements): Killing enemies with a Strike makes the next melee attack a Strike. To proc a Strike, melee attack a stunned enemy or one you’ve snuck up on.
  • Momentum Duration (50 Supplements): +70% Momentum duration.
  • Increased Health (20 Supplements): +25% health.

Vigilance

The Vigilance upgrade branch is found in runs. Even for stealth players, this skill tree isn’t a good Supplement investment. There are better Training Manuals that provide similar perks alongside more useful options. This may be good at higher difficulties.

  • Listen Mode Movement Speed (30 Supplements): +50% to Listen Mode movement speed.
  • Listen Mode Clarity (40 Supplements): Enemies show in sharper clarity.
  • Listen Mode Range (40 Supplements): +50% to Listen Mode detection range.

Those are all of the upgrade paths, skills and abilities you can get in No Return, The Last of Use 2 Remastered‘s roguelike mode. Ultimately, the best choices are up to you, no matter what I think. Spend time with each one to see which fits your playstyle. In the meantime, find out why Dead Drops are so important.

About the author

Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore is the Editor-in-Chief of GameSkinny and has been writing about games since 2010. With over 1,200 published articles, he's written about almost every genre, from city builders and ARPGs to third-person shooters and sports titles. While patiently awaiting anything Dino Crisis, he consumes all things Star Wars. He has a BFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing focused on games writing and narrative design. He's previously been a newspaper copy editor, ad writer, and book editor. In his spare time, he enjoys playing music, watching football, and walking his three dogs. He lives on Earth and believes in aliens, thanks to Fox Mulder.