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TSWicon.png This article concerns content for The Secret World. For the Secret World Legends version, click here.

Abilities are what players use in combat. Abilities are viewed, purchased, and equipped via the "Character Ability Points" portion of the GUI. Also see the article on Ability Points for rules on purchasing abilities.

In general, they break down into two main groups, Weapon Abilities and Augment Abilities.

There have been references to faction abilities are obtained through routes other than experience gain; supposedly non-combat abilities, but if they are still planned, they are not currently in the game. [1]

Weapon Abilities

All abilities are unique instead of just being more powerful forms of earlier abilities or copies of abilities from other weapons. Once you have purchased a weapon ability, there is no "Ability X, rank 2" or "Ability Y, level 3". And, in general, abilities you purchase later in the game tend to be more situational, rather simply more powerful versions of earlier ones. This uniqueness and situational usefulness are meant to create a gameplay where players swap out abilities as needed for various group combinations or encounters.

And, characters can eventually learn all 588 weapon abilities. There is a limitation to what can be currently equipped, but no limitation on buying abilities (other than the order they must be bought in - see the Ability Point article for rules governing the purchasing of abilities).

Characters can have up to 16 weapon abilities equipped at any one time.

Also note that there are three cells of main weapon abilities that are not directly associated with any weapon. They are referred to as Miscellaneous, and can be used regardless what weapons the character has equipped. Equipping one of these Miscellaneous abilities still counts as a main weapon ability and uses one of the 7 active or passive slots available.


All Abilities fall into two very broad categories "Active" and "Passive".

Within each category, there are some abilities that are considered "Elite" which may be either active or passive. Additionally some abilities will be considered Resource Point consumers or Resource Point builders. There will also be some abilities that are neither consumers, builders, or elite.


Abilities that must be activated and players must actively trigger them to be used. These are the abilities that you put on your GUI hotbar and use either by mouse-click or hot-key to activate.


Abilities that are "passive" do not need to be manually triggered to be used, but will automatically do whatever it is they're supposed to do. These are on a "hidden" hotbar that is normally only visible on the "Character Ability Points" screen of the GUI, although you can make them show up on your main window by using the little icon next to the active hotbar. Some of these will always give a benefit of some sort (always-on bonus to defense for example), while others only take effect when a specific event takes place (gives you an additional bonus to damage whenever you make a critical hit).


Abilities that are "Elite" are the final (7th) abilities in a each cell of Main Weapon abilities. Auxiliary weapons do not have Elite abilities. Elite abilities are stronger than previous abilities in the cell, and are meant to reward the player for specializing in a certain ability line.

Ability Characteristics

Abilities can have the following general characteristics:

  • Activation Time - How long does it take for the ability to take effect. AKA "Casting Time"
  • Recharge Time - how long does it take before you can reuse the ability. AKA "Cooldown Time"
  • Builder / Consumer - abilities either build resources that can be used by other abilities, or consume those resources to activate their effect.
    • Builders are abilities that create Resource Points. These are typically Active abilities, although there are a few Passive abilities that can build resource points. Additionally an ability typically builds resource points for both weapons, although a few (primarily healing weapon abilities) only create points for it's own related weapon.
    • Consumers are abilities that use Resource Points. These are almost exclusively Active abilities. In general, an ability that consumes resource points will do more damage or be more powerful than one that doesn't. Additionally, some consumers will use a fixed number of resource points, while others will use "all available" resource points. Abilities that consume "all available" points will be more effective with the more points used - typically 20% more damage or healing done per point used, with exceptions being noted in the ability description.
  • Modifier - Some passive abilities directly improve one specific active abilities.
  • Damage - About 1/2 of the abilities do direct damage of some sort. There are various damage types and subtypes available to abilities, see the Ability Damage section below for more details.
  • Effects - There are a large number of affects available to abilities - Healing, Controlling Aggro, placing Buffs or Debuffs, etc. See the Ability Effects section below for more details.

Ability Damage

Main article: Combat

Damage is broken down into 2 main types - "Physical" and "Magic". With a few very rare exceptions, the Magic weapons do Magic damage. Melee and ranged weapons both do Physical damage. For the most part this distinction rarely comes into consideration, but there are a few monsters (or other Player vs. Player players)) have a high Physical Protection or Magical Protection rating.

Additionally, weapons can either do damage to a single enemy target or to multiple enemy targets. There are "sub-types" of damage available to weapon abilities, depending on if they are single-target or multi-target.

The single-target damage sub-types are:

  • Normal - The majority of abilities do not have a special sub-type of damage, and unless they explicitly state that they do, they are considered to do Normal damage sub-type
  • Burst - An attack that attempts to land a hit multiple times. Could be 2-5 times, but typically 3. Each attack in the burst rolls to-hit and damage separately from the others.
  • Focus - A Channeled attack. Requires the attack to take place over an extended duration, doing damage every so often during that duration
  • Strike - An attack that does more damage than most other single-target attacks. Often offset by having longer Activation or Recharge timers than similar non-strike abilities.

The multi-target damage sub-types are:

  • Normal - The majority of abilities do not have a special sub-type of damage, and unless they explicitly state that they do, they are considered to do Normal damage sub-type
  • Blast - A PBAoE attack that could be Cone or Column shaped, affecting a number of targets within that area. For TSW, typically up to 5 targets.
  • Chain - A TAoE attack that hits it's intended target, and then "jumps" to another nearby enemy target as well. The number of times the attack can "jump" as well as the distance allowed for each jump is dependent on the abilities description. Although most TSW abilities are 4 jumps of 3 or 5 meters max.
  • Frenzy - A circular PBAoE attack that strikes at a number of targets around you. Each attack rolls separately for to-hit and damage from the other attack. Nearly all TSW Frenzy attacks affect upto 5 targets within 5 meters of you.

While the special multi-target sub-types define their areas of effect, the "normal" multi-target attacks also have additional ways of determining which enemies are affected:

  • GTAoE - Ground-Target AoE - The player selects a point on the ground (which may or may not have an enemy there) for the ability to take affect. These attacks are always circular shaped in TSW.
  • PBAoE - Point-Blank AoE - Attack originates from the character. These attacks may be one of these shapes:
    • Circular - Default shape, used unless the ability specifies otherwise
    • Column - Some column shaped abilities also include a Dash effect.
    • Cone
  • TAoE - Targeted AoE - The ability takes effect originating from the intended enemy target. These attacks are always circular shapped in TSW.

Note that the GTAoE, PBAoE, and TAoE types of attack may also include a "Persistent Ground Effect" that lingers in the affected area for some time after the ability has been used.

Ability Effects

There are a large number of effects that abilities can use or create.

  • Triggers - Some abilities are more likely to trigger certain types of hits or defenses. Other abilities are able to do additional damage, give additional defense, or have additional effects when when a triggering hit or defense occurs (or after a number of these triggers have occurred). The Triggers are:
  • Healing - There are 4 main forms of healing available in the game
    • Direct Healing - The target is healed instantly
    • Heal over Time - The target is healed for some amount every interval for a fixed duration
    • Leech Healing - The friendly target is healed when the enemy target takes damage
    • Barrier - A form of "healing", it absorbs damage that would have been done to the character instead of healing them after the damage has been done
  • Purge/Cleanse - Removes De/Buffs
    • Purge - Removes Buffs from enemy targets
    • Cleanse - Removes Debuff from friendly targets
  • Summon - Summons a turret, drone, or manifestation that fights alongside you. Note: TSW summons are not directly under the control of the players and cannot be given commands but follow preset actions. There currently are no "Combat Pets" that can be summoned and controlled.
  • Aggro Control - Abilities that modify the damage you do so that you generate either greater-than-normal or less-than-normal Aggro for the amount of damage you're doing.
  • Knock/Pull - Abilities that either knock enemy targets back away from you, or that pull them towards you. These are often, but not always, coupled with setting State = Impaired.
  • Movement - Abilities that affect your movement (as opposed to Knock/Pull abilities or that set the State = Hindered on enemies). Typically either abilities with a Dash effect or that increase your normal movement rate.

Augment Abilities

Augment abilities are broken down into the four Augment groups (Damage, Support, Healing, Survivability), and there are 10 abilities per group. Each of these 40 Augment abilities are unique. However, unlike Weapon abilities, they can be improved on and leveled up. Each Augment ability can go from Rank 1 to Rank 5. See Ability Point and Augment for instructions on how to purchase Augment abilities and how to level them.

Eventually, characters can learn all 40 abilities (and level them all up to rank 5). However, only 7 of them can be equipped at any given moment. Augments are equipped by attaching them to the 7 Active abilities of the characters Main Weapon abilities, using the following rules:

  • They can only be attached to active abilities
  • They cannot be attached to auxiliary weapon active abilities
  • Each Weapon ability can only accept certain augment groups (Damage, Support, Healing, Survivability), and the Augment Ability must be one from the groups the Weapon ability can accept
    • Some Weapon abilities can accept 2 or 3 of the augment groups, allowing a wider choice, but no weapon ability accepts any augment ability from all 4 groups
  • You can only equip the highest rank of the Augment ability you have learned
    • If you have an ability you know at rank 4 - you cannot equip a rank 3 version of the ability
  • You can only equip one each of the Augment abilities that state "this affects all abilities"
    • Each augment group contains one of those types of abilities and you CAN equip ones from different groups, just not multiple equippings of the same ability

Augmentment abilities are automatically activated whenever the Weapon ability they are attached to is used, and you cannot activate an Augment ability on its own.


Your Deck is the abilities you currently have equipped. There are Pre-Built Deck available, which are suggested build paths, meant to give players an idea of something to work towards with their Ability Point allocation. You can view these pre-built decks by opening your "Character Ability Points" screen of the GUI (typically shortcut key "N") and looking to the left of the wheel. While the pre-built Deck are faction specific, any player can create a deck using the same abilities as a pre-built deck from another faction. The only difference would be that the clothing rewards from completing a pre-built deck are only granted to characters of the same faction as the pre-built version.

Player-created Decks can be saved using the in-game Gear Manager feature on the Character Sheet in order to make it easier to swap decks/builds without having to manually slot the abilities on the hotbars.

See the main article Deck for detailed information about pre-built decks as well as theory crafting and building customized decks.

Starter Decks

Added in Update 1.4 these are Pre-Built decks that only use the inner ring of abilities to help give starter characters something to work with before moving on to the larger and more expensive Decks.


Related Articles

  • For help with selecting abilities to equip - See Synergy
  • For more information on the Character Ability Points screen, how to access it, and what you can access from it - See GUI
    • Also see GUI for information on displaying pre-made ability groups (Decks), searching for abilities, and how to equip abilities
  • For the default keystroke commands to access these GUI screens, also see Keyboard Layout
  • For more information about purchasing abilities - See Ability Point
  • For a list of weapons and links to their individual abilities - See Weapon
  • For more information on Augments, learning their abilities, and Harmonizing - See Augment
  • For information on pre-built groups of abilities - See Deck
  • For instructions on how to save and load your own Deck - See Gear Manager


Ranged: Assault Rifles · Pistols · Shotguns
Melee: Blades · Fists · Hammers
Magic: Blood Magic · Chaos · Elementalism
Miscellaneous Abilities
Auxiliary: Rocket Launcher · Flamethrower · Chainsaw · Whip · Quantum