Saints Row: Best Skills to Unlock and Use First
In the latest Saints Row, your character has four slots for active skills that can be used in combat. Some of these abilities are essential for taking down the Idols or Marshall, while others are more or less useless against anyone. You will want to equip the best ones unless you plan on beating your head against the more difficult missions.
To be clear, you have two different character upgrade options in Saints Row: skills and perks. Perks are passive bonuses and safeguards. Most skills are combat abilities, while some increase your health and Flow meters, with each additional health and Flow skill upgrade stacking upon the last.
Skills are unlocked by collecting XP from missions, Criminal Ventures, and other ancillary activities and then leveling up. Perks are unlocked by completing various challenges. You have all four skill slots available from the beginning, and unlike perks, where you begin with one slot and pay to unlock more, you cannot get more skill slots.
To set skills, open your phone and choose the Skills App underneath the Map App. Scroll right or left to highlight a skill and see a description and video of it at the top of your phone. Then select the skill you want by left-clicking on PC, pressing X on PlayStation, and A on Xbox. Below the row of skills, you will see four slots corresponding to four keys or face buttons. Highlight the slot/key/button you want to assign the skill to, and left-click on PC, press X on PlayStation, and A on Xbox.
Saints Row Skills List
The following is a list of all the skills in Saints Row in the order you unlock them while leveling up.
- Lvl 2: Pineapple Express – Grab an enemy, drop a grenade down their pants, and throw them.
- Lvl 3: Smokescreen – Drop a smoke bomb at your feet to confuse your enemies.
- Lvl 4: Proximity Mine – Place a sticky mine that explodes when enemies are near.
- Lvl 5: Health Upgrade – Maximum health increased permanently.
- Lvl 6: Tough Mother – Gain a temporary health boost to absorb damage from enemies and negate staggers.
- Lvl 7: Frag Out – Throw an explosive anti-personnel device.
- Lvl 8: Flow Upgrade – Maximum Flow increased permanently.
- Lvl 9: Flaming Punch – Ignite your fist for an explosive punch.
- Lvl 10: Health Upgrade.
- Lvl 11: Transfusion – While active, heal yourself and your friends by hurting your enemies.
- Lvl 12: Overscope – Pull out a powerful sniper rifle. Headshots explode and damage nearby enemies.
- Lvl 13: Impulse Trap – Throw an anti-gravity device that lifts enemies into the air, making them vulnerable to a quick shot.
- Lvl 14: Flow Upgrade.
- Lvl 15: Health Upgrade.
- Lvl 16: Berserker – While active, your melee attacks do more damage
- Lvl 17: Intercession – Call in some Saints to help you fight.
- Lvl 18: Quick Draw – Pull out a powerful revolver, then shoot to quickly gun down up to four enemies.
- Lvl 19: D4th Blossom – Spin around and fire bullets in every direction.
- Lvl 20: Flow Upgrade.
Best Skills to Unlock ASAP
- Pineapple Express: Unlocked at Lv.1; uses 1 Flow.
- Proximity Mine: Unlocked at Lv. 4; uses 1 Flow.
- Flaming Punch: Unlocked at Lv.9; uses 1 Flow.
- Tough Mother: Unlocked at Lv.6; uses 2 Flow.
- Transfusion: Unlocked at Lv.11; uses 2 Flow.
- D4th Blossom: Unlocked at Lv.19; uses 3 Flow.
The best overall ability in Saints Row is actually the first one you unlock. Pineapple Express will automatically kill most enemies while also tossing them as an explosive projectile into a group of oncoming enemies. There isn't a way to fine-aim this toss, but you can toss them in a general direction. Wherever they land will explode in a powerful AoE blast. You'll want to keep this one equipped for the entire game.
The best combat skill is by far D4Th Blossom. It's well-suited for taking on large groups of enemies, and it can be a powerful addition to your arsenal in the late-game or against some of the Threat activities around Santo Ileso (especially against Marshall soldiers). You'll become a whirling dervish of death, spraying enemies around you in a hail of submachine gun bullets.
The Proximity Mine is a great choice because while it doesn't do as much initial damage as the Frag Out frag grenade, the longer it sits on the ground un-triggered, the more damage it will do when tripped. This is another good crowd-control option that can lead unwitting enemies into a death trap.
Another combat essential is Flaming Punch, a high-damage, close-range attack sure to knock most any enemy on their booty or flying across the map. It's good for elites, too, capable of knocking their armor meter down in swift order.
It is also always good to have at least one slot dedicated to a healing ability. At first, your only option will be Tough Mother, which gives you an overshield of sorts by way of an additional yellow health bar. You'll also be immune to stagger. But once you unlock Transfusion at Level 11, that skill is much more advantageous in combat because it returns health each time you damage an enemy. And that's a priceless skill in the later missions.
And those are the best skills to focus on in Saints Row. For more tips, look no further than our dedicated Saints guides hub.