In Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, unlocking new skills requires a decent understanding of the game’s neuronal matrix. This is an interconnected web of skills and abilities that’s sure to remind you of your high school/college psychology class. Doing certain actions creates new nodes which can be unlocked by establishing neurological synapses between them and existing skills. There’s a lot that goes into this feature of the game, and very little of it is explaned to you.
The neuronal chart: What is and where to find it
The neuronal chart is essentially the skill tree in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. In it, you can discover new abilities and improve existing ones by connecting neuronal synapses together. You won’t be able to simply pause to see these skills, though. Instead, you can only access it by lying down at a sleep spot and pressing ‘Y’ to access your Evolution menu.
How to get neuronal energy
To build pathways and evolve skills, you will need Ancestors‘ neuronal energy. How much you have is represented by the large circle in the chart’s center. The more you have, the more that circle will fill with light. As you evolve into new humanoid species, the capacity for how much neuronal energy can be stored here will increase.
You acquire neuronal energy by doing tasks that push your species forward. An easy thing to do at first is to start banging rocks together. No, seriously! Trying out different alterations and discovering new tools to craft will build up a decent amount of energy. You can also explore, attack and dodge enemies, and discover new areas (in addition to a ton of other things) to accumulate neuronal energy. During gameplay, the icon in the bottom right corner will indicate when you’re gathering energy with white lines rushing to the center like electrical currents.
If you are trying to build up energy for a new skill, you should always make sure you are carrying a baby or two with you. Having a child piggyback on you (which you can do by pressing ‘B’ near them) will increase the amount of neuronal energy you receive when doing these tasks. If you have a second child with you, this bonus doubles. Just be careful as you venture away from your home with these babies. If your clan member is killed, the babies will have to find a hiding spot away from predators until another adult or elder comes to rescue them.
Unlocking new skills
As you go around in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, you will notice an indicator in the top right corner telling you when a new skill is attainable. Skills unlock based on your actions in the game, rather than everything being available from the get-go. For example, the more you attack enemies, the more skills will unlock in that tree. Neurons that you can unlock will show up as white, while ones that require you to do more of a certain action are dark.
Until you unlock a skill, Ancestors will give you a vague description of what it is. Clicking on the white node to unlock it (which will add a ring around the icon) will give you the full spiel on what it will do. From there, with the cursor hovering over the skill, hold down the ‘A’ button to purchase the new ability. You will see a bridge between the skills start to build (and your neuronal energy start to decrease). This can take quite a bit of time for some nodes.
Another quick note: you will only have access to your pool of neuronal energy when you are around a baby. If you venture away from your settlement without a child and build a sleep spot, you will have access to your evolution menu but no energy. It really helps to carry them with you everywhere.
Unlocking locked (black) skills
On Ancestors‘ neuronal chart, you will see black nodes indicating skills whose conditions you haven’t met yet. Unlocking these requires you to complete an action a certain number of times or for a certain duration. You can hover your cursor over and read the description that pops up to give yourself a pretty good clue about what needs doing. Take note of what type of skill it is (dexterity, communication, attack, etc.) and try to do the action that the node’s description hints at.
Meeting these conditions unlocks the skill for upgrade pretty fast, provided you’re doing the right action. If you’ve been repeating an action for more than a few minutes (or more than a dozen times or so if you’re doing something like scanning for items or dodging attacks), it’s likely the wrong action. Try something else. Keep an eye on the top right corner of your screen. You’ll see a notification when a new skill becomes unlockable. If it’s in the tree you’ve been working towards, head back to a sleep spot and see if you’ve met the requirements.
Some skills will require a genetic mutation to be present (and matured through evolution) before you can spend your neuronal energy on that skill. Ancestors will tell you when a genetic mutation is needed in the node’s description. You might also see a line from a locked skill lead to a totally empty space. These indicate a genetic mutation will eventually pop up.
Mutant genes pop up occasionally as the result of breeding. In my playthrough, they seemed to have a 50% chance of popping up when mating. After a new baby is born, you’ll receive a notice in the top right when a genetic mutation occurs and what its parent skill is. You’ll see these on the chart as smaller, orange nodes. Similar to the locked nodes mentioned above, you can hover your cursor over it when in the neuronal chart to get an idea of what it will be. However, you won’t need to repeat a task to unlock these skills.
To unlock a genetic mutation, you’ll have to advance into the lineage’s next generation. Once you’ve moved onto the new generation, these will change into full-sized nodes and provide a better description of their benefits. Genetic mutations will not be in effect until you initiate an evolution.
A genetic mutation will disappear if the clan member carrying it dies (from a predator, age, or anything) before you undergo a new evolution. If you luck into getting a mutation that you really want, advance to the next generation so that the gene matures. Then, initiate your clan’s evolution.
There are a lot of skills to unlock in Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. Make sure you are trying to round out your lineage’s development so you can face all of the threats that pop up.
Be sure to check out our other Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey guides to learn to survive and thrive!