How to unlock and upgrade Skills in Darkest Dungeon 2

Get the skills to make the kills.
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Skills are incredibly important in Darkest Dungeon 2. You can manage your Loathing level perfectly, cultivate strong inter-party relationships, and plot the perfect course through each twisting map, but if you don’t have the right Skills then the second you come into contact with combat your band of buddies will be crushed into a fine mist. For this reason, knowing how to unlock and upgrade Skills in Darkest Dungeon 2 can be the difference between life and agonizing death while you’re out on the road. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know in this regard.

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How to master Skills in Darkest Dungeon 2

How to unlock Skills

Each character you unlock in Darkest Dungeon 2 has five Skills by default: just enough to fill their five available Skill slots. Beyond these starter Skills, however, each character can also unlock 6 additional Skills, which can be mixed and matched into their moveset as you see fit. To unlock these extra Skills, you’ll need to visit special locations on the map called Hero Shrines, also known as Shrines of Reflection.

These can be found in every region except the Mountain and Valley, with at least one appearing in each, though sometimes you’ll encounter more than one per region if you’re lucky. They’re shown on the map with a bell icon, so you can make a beeline for them if you get lucky with your scouting, or stumble upon a Watchtower early on. Make your way to a Hero Shrine, and you’ll be asked to choose a hero from your party. Do so, and you’ll be shown a snippet of that hero’s backstory, sometimes with an interactive battle sequence to play through before you can progress.

Once you do, and the story segment is complete, you’ll unlock a new Skill for the hero you chose. If you’re on the final chapter of that hero’s story, you’ll unlock two Skills instead, meaning it takes five visits to a Hero Shrine with the same hero to unlock their full set of Skills. The only exception to this rule is the Bounty Hunter. Since he operates so differently to the other heroes in the game, his Skills are unlocked by investing candles at the Altar of Hope, rather than via Hero Shrines.

Important Note: While heroes who have all their Skills unlocked will still be shown as options when you arrive at a Hero Shrine, choosing them will not unlock anything new, and will effectively waste the Shrine if you have other heroes in the party who still have Skills to unlock. This is true for the Bounty Hunter as well, if you happen to have him in your party. Make sure you choose carefully as you max out more and more heroes!

How to upgrade Skills

In addition to unlocking new Skills to play with, Darkest Dungeon 2 also lets you improve the Skills you have. This can range from adding additional damage, to brand-new effects that transform the original Skill. To do this, you’ll need to visit the Mastery Trainer, who appears at each Inn you visit during your run. The Trainer can upgrade any of your party’s Skills for one Mastery Point each.

These Mastery Points can be earned through combat, with five being rewarded from the unavoidable battle you’ll face in The Valley before your first Inn. This gives you a solid base of upgraded Skills to work with as you start the run proper, and you can expect around 2-3 additional Mastery Points per region after that, depending on how many scraps you get into. It’s worth noting that the Bounty Hunter comes with all of his Skills pre-mastered, which prevents you from wasting Mastery Points on a hero who isn’t sticking around.

So there you have it: a full guide on how to unlock and upgrade Skills in Darkest Dungeon 2. Unlocking each hero’s full arsenal will give you a lot more options to work with, and upgrading the best of those options will help you secure victories against even the most despicable late-game foes.

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Author
Nathan Ball
Nathan Ball is a freelance games writer with a deep love for the medium. Having studied Game Design at the University of Abertay, Dundee, he's always on the lookout for games that push the envelope and try out fresh and exciting design techniques. You can usually find him covering the latest indie gems, but he does dabble in the world of AAA from time to time as well. Nathan has written professionally for various outlets, including TheGamer and the Scottish Games Network. When not writing, he enjoys good books, good TV, and analysing both within an inch of their life.