[Top 5] The Last of Us 2 Best Skills To Get First (Abby and Ellie)

Ellie, the deuteragonist of The Last of Us, looks over the main gate of Seattle
What skills can Ellie and Abby develop across their journeys?

When playing the second instalment of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, a game that almost dwarfs the previous game in its size alone, there are many more skill tree decisions to make than we ever have before - especially given our time is split between 2 protagonists. 

So, it’s time to get chugging those Flinstones gummy vitamins you found in that abandoned pharmacy again (in-game, of course - do NOT try this at home, I promise you it won’t give you the ability to make bullets). Here are the best 5 skills to get in The Last of Us 2 - for both Ellie and Abby - and the ones you should prioritise when making choices in your skill tree. 


5. Listen Mode Movement Speed I & II [Survival tree, cost 30/40]

Ellie sneaks through a section in the new prone position.

Okay, okay, the first one is obvious - it’s the first skill upgrade you can unlock in the game. But that’s why I’ve paired it with part II of this skill - in a game where stealth is even more important than it was in its predecessor, listen mode is a crucial game function that any grounded player will berate you for not taking advantage of. With part II of this skill, the days of slowly creeping around trying to get the best angle on those crucial white noise patterns are gone, allowing you to move swiftly as you navigate the city for threats. There’s a reason this skill is the first you unlock, and this is it. 

4. Craft Silencers [Stealth tree, cost 20]

Ellie sneaks, prone, holding a gun with a makeshift silencer attached.

In my first playthrough of TLOU2, I doubted the efficacy of silencers. I was disenchanted with the notion of the things after being ripped off in Red Dead Redemption 2, where the small devices always seemed to do very little for me.

But somehow, these rolled-up t-shirts shoved inside a cut-up water bottle manage to completely silence your shots in The Last of Us. Crafting them may just save your life when stuck in a stealth situation with just a few too many wary enemies, and not enough arrows. 

Note: I would recommend against the ‘improved silencers’ upgrade for Ellie unless you are buying it to access further upgrades - there aren’t many situations in which Ellie can get away with that many stealth kills with that much ammo, and you’re better off finding other ways of stealth killing if the need comes and you’re out of silencers. 

3. Faster Stealth Kills [Stealth tree, cost 60]

Ellie performs a brutal stealth kill in the Seattle suburbs.

Linked to the above skill upgrade, faster stealth kills come in handy when trapped in those situations with just a few too many enemies and not enough cover to covertly take them out under the radar. This is where speed becomes key, and having faster stealth kills also means you can save crucial arrows (or ammo for your silenced weapon) you may have wasted trying to get those sneaky kills in quick. 

2. Aim Stability Increase [Precision tree, cost 30]

Ellie takes aim at one of the more horrific TLOU enemies - stalkers.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if you have silencers or arrows if your aim is off. The Last of Us has always been a hard game, and Part II is no exception - the higher your game difficulty, the more scarce resources such as ammunition will be, and as Joel says in Part I, you have to “make every shot count.”

Aim stability increase calms those shaky hands Ellie seems to have (she’s been through a lot, to be fair) and allows more clarity and confidence in your shot taking. You got this, kid. 

1. Listen Mode Range [Precision tree, cost 40] 

And lastly, what I would argue is the best upgrade in both games: listen mode range. What most people (myself included) seem to struggle with most when playing Grounded mode is the fact that listen mode is turned off. So, if you’re playing a non-grounded run, you better take advantage of that skill - you’ll miss it later!

In a game where stealth is ultimately the most important skill to hone, being a master of your spatial awareness is key, so the larger your listen mode range is, the better. Don’t underestimate the power of knowing every move of your enemies. 



5. Momentum [Close Quarters tree, cost 40]

Playing as Abby, you’ll find yourself in considerably more gritty hand-to-hand battles than with Ellie, making melee upgrades a priority. One of the first and most important of these is momentum, giving you the ability to perform a second ‘strike’ action in a short period of time following a strike kill. Although these attacks can only be performed against stunned enemies, they are incredibly powerful, making the ability to perform two consecutively invaluable.

4. Crafting Hunting Pistol Ammo [Firearms tree, cost 20]

Somehow, Abby's homebrew bullets work just as well as army issued ones...

Don’t ask me how Abby manages to craft literal bullets out of scrap metal and her hands, but if Ellie’s water-bottle silencers work, I don’t see why these bullets can’t (video game logic, eh, Naughty Dog?)

Although some might find the incendiary bullets a more appealing skill upgrade (because who doesn’t love fire?) I’d argue that the hunting pistol is an all-around more powerful and efficient weapon, and the more ammo you can get for it, the more critical shots you can get in on your enemies with this powerful, nifty weapon.  

3. Faster Health Kits [Close Quarters tree, cost 50] 

The value of any health upgrade can't be underestimated in The Last of Us, including Abby's first unlockable upgrade pictured above.

Distinct from improved health kits, faster health kits become increasingly important in the later stages of the game, as you become increasingly inundated with enemies from all sides. The ability to heal quickly is important both in stealthy and overt operations - every second counts.

2. Faster Prone Movement [Covert Ops tree, cost 40]

Stealth is an important aspect of The Last of Us, especially when you don't know your enemy...

Depending on how fond you are of the prone function in The Last of Us 2 (something I personally hope is added in the new The Last of Us: Part I), this skill may or may not be worthwhile.

But, again, in those later stages of the game where stealth becomes increasingly vital, and you have many more opportunities to utilise that tall grass as cover, prone movement may just become your best buddy, and it’s nicer to be able to go a little faster than the initial crawl Abby is equipped with. 

1. Improved Silencers [Ordiance tree, cost 40]

Abby comes pre-equipped with the ability to create silencers, so you might as well skip ahead to the increased durability skill upgrade. Although this skill upgrade feels a little wasted on Ellie, Abby’s ability to use these DIY silencers is incredibly useful in areas where stealth is needed, and there are a few too many to leave to hand-to-hand. Just make sure you use your shots well - I’ve wasted a few too many silencers in my time.

You may also be interested in:

Equipped with potion bottles of coffee and a notebook that's seen better days, Henry can often be found making friends with local animals (when he's not taming them in-game...)
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:Undertale, Portal 2, The Walking Dead

More Top Stories