The Hidden Beauty Of Skill Trees

The recent launch of Path Of Exile's open beta — a new hack and slash action RPG known especially for its enormous skill tree, as you can see in the pic above — inspired us to collect some of the best looking skill and research trees spanning a variety of genres. It's interesting to see how creatively devs can handle this part of a game.

The Sphere Grid Of Final Fantasy X

Source: Zenon1320's gameplay video

The Skill Tree In Hawken

Source: Hawken Forums

The Passive Skill Tree In Path Of Exile


The Technology Trees In The civilisation Series

Source: Civfanatics

The Skill Tree In Borderlands 2


The Research Tree In Ascendancy

Source: Ascendancy Manual

The Heron, The Shark And The Spider In Far Cry 3

Source: own screenshot

The Character Abilities Screen In The Witcher 2

Source: The Witcher Wiki

The Skill Tree In Dead Island

Source: Gerald Hopkins' gameplay

The Talent Tree In Star Wars: The Old Republic

Source: Biowarefans

Make sure to tell us about your own picks in the comments below.


    Definitely needs to include the skill tree of Xenoblade Chronicles. Also, that Path of Exile's tree seems to borrow more than one thing from FFX, does it not?

    Seriously you are not doing POE's passives tree any justice, thats just a tiny zoomed in section of the whole thing. I think it was most recently stated as having ~1300 passives in it

    I think the research tree of Sword of the Stars is also quite good - and a bit randomized as well! :)

    It's interesting just how common the "Three class aspects" skill tree is. More games need to use a skill graph rather than tree.

    Last edited 26/01/13 6:42 pm

    FFX's sphere grid sure looks different to how I remember it.

      If you played an early version in the US, you may have had a much simpler grid, it wasn't until the international versions came out that they added the 'expert' grid, which was much larger and offered a lot more by way of chances to change things up.

    The sphere grid in FF10 shouldn't really be on that list since it's just a straight line.

      It isn't though? You can follow paths and unlock extra things by going out of your way.

        Especially if you used the advanced grid, you can get all sorts of high stats if you go different ways.

        Nnno not really. The only path you can follow is already pre-determined for each character. There's only a few small branches that only have an extra stat point or ability. The only time you can "explore" into other character paths is after you've already fully followed a characters path. By then you've already beaten the game.

          Nop you are wrong, it takes some effort to deviate from the intended path but it doesn't take as long as you said. I remember tuning my Rikku to Auron's path so that she would be a badass.

            Well someone did take the time to prove it.

              From that link:
              The “Expert” grid in the PAL/International version is completely different, however.

              Yeah... the expert sphere grid was actually pretty flexible. The last time I played FFX I sent Yuna to learn Black magic and Lulu, White, just for fun. And I was able to do that pretty close to the start of the game. I think Tidus and Wakka switched places after learning most of their core skills.

                Regardless, most players would have opted for the default grid, looking at the "expert" grid as something more suited for players on a second run.

                  Well you are no badass ;)

                I didn't realise there was a difference but yea I did play the international version because I wanted to battle those dark versions of the summons. Good times

      nah dude.. It's anything but a straight line.
      But you're right, it shouldn't be there as it's more of a level system then a skill tree as it's where you get all of your stats. =/

      Dunno what Gergovas was thinking adding that in. It doesn't fit at all.
      Should've thrown in Ragnarok Online or Diablo 1 and 2 or something.

        Someone once created an image where he took all the sphere nodes and arranged them in a straight line to show how many paths there were. It showed that the majority of the time you level up in a straight line.

        The sphere grid just gives off the illusion of choice by curving those lines around in circles.

          Well it was an image of lies since they expect you to return to earlier sections and unlock nodes to get to additional paths. In the end the whole thing could be considered one path yes, but when you start down the healer path with Aurion instead of getting his heavy attacks and stat effects, you pay for it. Plus blocking of nodes = blocking off paths dude. =/

    The tech tree in Endless Space is pretty nice.

    Endless Space has a solid research tree.

    Nothing from RIFT? That MMO has one of the more innovative skill systems around.

    I quite liked the circular skill tree layout from The Darkness II

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now