Disco Elysium’s skills are a riot. Not only do they let us perform 360 roundhouse kicks or breakdance on command, but the conversations they have in our brain can be more worthwhile than dialogue with other characters. Whether we’re solving our problems with artificial intellect or brute force, careful management of our skills can determine our success in every outcome and open pathways we didn’t even think to try.
In this Disco Elysium Best Skills guide, I’ll review the game’s most useful skills for conducting our investigation, surviving the mercenary tribunal, and getting the good ending. As a bonus, I’ll detail clothing and thoughts we can use to boost each stat.
Bottom Line Up Front:
Consume drugs and invest points in Authority, Hand/Eye Coordination, and Perception to ensure a happy outcome for our ill-fated detective. Wear stat-boosting clothing and items before the late-game mercenary tribunal to boost our odds of victory.
Before starting our playthrough, we have the option to invest points into a set of skill types as well as a signature skill. While we can choose one of the three presets available, I advise creating your own that prioritizes investment in Motorics and Physique over Intellect, with a mediocre Psyche. Even if we’re concerned about getting locked out of a particular stat, we can always end up boosting it with clothes, thoughts, and drugs, so don’t take this initial investment too seriously.
The less frequent but more impactful decisions we make, active checks are made up of white retryable checks and red checks where we only have one shot. I advise putting on any skill-related clothes before attempting a given check (higher skills have better odds) and retrying white checks after investing another point in the specific skill, usually at the cost of a single point of health or morale.
The more numerous but generally less crucial mechanic of Disco Elysium, passive checks determine our ability to root out hidden truths or ask questions we wouldn’t have considered in the first place. We only have a single chance to pass these checks but usually won’t know these checks existed until a second playthrough.
Drugs: A Detective’s Best Friend
Unfortunately, doing drugs in Disco Elysium is the quickest, easiest way to boost our skills. Doing a particular drug raises each related category and skill cap by one. While we can finish the game as a sober detective for an assured good ending, we’ll be less effective at cracking the case and arresting the killer. Overall, I advise consuming copious amounts of drugs to boost a particular stat and improve our odds in unretryable red checks.
- Cigarettes: +1 Intellect (Drama, Encyclopedia, Rhetoric, Conceptualization, Visual Calculus, Logic)
- Alcohol: +1 Physique (Shivers, Pain Threshold, Physical Instrument, Electrochemistry, Half Light, Endurance)
- Speed: +1 Motorics (Composure, Savoir Faire, Hand-Eye Coordination, Perception, Reaction Speed, Interfacing)
- Pyrholidon: +1 Psyche (Suggestion, Inland Empire, Empathy, Authority, Esprit de Corps, Volition)
Best Skills Ranked
Oddly enough, having a functional brain isn’t necessary to recover our identity, solve the case, or save the day. As idiot-savant detectives, we can resolve most problems through intuition and brute force for fun, strange, and exceedingly successful outcomes. Still, having a decent bearing on logic can aid our investigative efforts and make sense of our bizarre post-communist world. I recommend investing in logic if we want a sensible playthrough with regular investigations and interactions.
- Interisolary Dress Shirt (+1 Logic) – A clean white shirt for generic business people, the Interisolary Dress Shirt is perhaps the only piece of regular clothing in our arsenal. We can find the dress shirt in the racist room beside the hanging corpse after getting the key from Evrart.
- Korojev Jacket (+1 Logic) – A delightful jacket for playfully serious people, the Korojev Jacket is a decent coat with few drawbacks. We can find the jacket in a box in the fishing village across the water lock. Due to other jackets, like the RCM jacket and patrol cloak, providing two skill points, I advise turning to other more beneficial apparel unless we’re looking for a pure logic playthrough.
- Date of Birth Generator (Logic Learning cap raised to 4, all Physique passives are easier) – For those interested in learning Harry’s age (he’s 44), we can invest time and effort to uncover more of our identity. We gain access to this thought after talking to Kim about the Hanged Man’s age and wondering how old we are. I highly recommend this skill with the bonus to Physique passives.
Essentially our most trustworthy lie detector and a reliable means of turning into a knockoff Shakespearean character, Drama is an excellent stat for wannabe actors and washed-out stage performers. While Drama is only crucial for a few moments of our investigation, it allows access to a few different sidequests, particularly the doomed commercial area, and helps us evaluate other characters. I advise investing in Drama if we want a particularly theatrical playthrough with the thoughts in our head constantly referring to us as “my liege.”
Continue reading: Comprehensive Guide to Elysium Side Quests.
- Bow Knot (+2 Drama) – A bold bow that empowers our ability to act, the Bow Knot is a suitable piece of apparel for duping others. We can find this bow across the water lock inside the fishing village’s empty shack.
- Party Dragon’s Silk Robe (+1 Drama,+1 Electrochemistry) – A Dragon-embroidered robe for only the most stylish of police officers, the Party Dragon’s Silk Robe is fantastic for looking the part of a kung-fu fighting detective. We can find this Silk Robe in the second-floor capeside apartments inside the room with the smoker outside. Reaching this floor requires passing a suggestion or perception check with the smoker before he points out the apartment’s key.
Our sole voice of reason, Volition encourages us to do the right thing and be a better person instead of doing drugs and punching children. While Volition is only necessary for a few investigative checks, it is the only voice that truly has our back in every situation. I advise investing in Volition if you want a safe playthrough with reasonable ideas and advice.
- Eight-Eyed Teratorn Tie (+1 Inland Empire, +1 Volition) – A strange bolo tie in the shape of a bird, the Eight-Eyed Teratorn Tie is a lovely quest reward for completing Lena’s cryptid quest. To get the tie we’ll have to finish dealing with all of Morell’s traps, report back to Lena, and ask about the cryptid.
- Fairweather T-500 Cuirass (+1 Pain Threshold,+1 Volition, -1 Empathy) – A key piece of the Fairweather T-500 set, this shirt grant us Volition and armor protection in the mercenary tribunal. Getting this armored shirt requires talking to the Crypto Fascist Gary on the other side of the water lock about a racist mug and passing a composure check.
- Magnesium-Based Lifeform (+2 Volition, -1 Logic) – Bid farewell to the age of carbon and embrace your magnesium destiny! We can acquire this odd stat after talking to Cuno about magnesium in his shack.
Determines our ability to open locked doors, access secret compartments, and fix broken machines. While few parts of our investigation require Interfacing checks, this skill is still a great way to open rooms containing free Real, items, and clues. I advise investing in interfacing if we’re low on resources or want to explore new locations behind closed doors.
- Yellow Gardening Gloves (+1 Interfacing) – Perfect for gardening or performing live autopsies, the yellow gardening gloves are an excellent find for players looking for a free pair of gloves. We can obtain these gloves after talking to Elizabeth outside the Whirling-In-Rags and asking for her gloves.
- Fairweather T-500 Gauntlets (+2 Interfacing) – A set of power-armored gloves, the Fairweather T-500 Gauntlets are a rare find for players looking to collect all four pieces of the Fairweather T-500 set. We can obtain these gloves after investigating a sandcastle on the other side of the water lock.
- Chaincutters – A crucial tool that tears apart locks, Chaincutters are a valuable item for opening locked containers and doors. While this item doesn’t give any actual stat bonuses, it eases several interfacing checks for recovering our ledger or finding communist caches. We can find the Chaincutters inside Kim’s car outside the Whirling-In-Rags.
- Torque Dork (+2 Interfacing) – A must-have for motor enthusiasts, we can gain the Torque Dork thought after obsessing over Kim’s motor carriage. We’ll have to pass an encyclopedia check at the very start of the game and then exhaust the dialogue surrounding Kim’s car to get the thought.
Governing our ability to commune with the city of Revanchol, investing in Shivers allows us to intuit our surroundings, gaining a detailed picture of the world around us and looming threats. While Shiver’s provides less utility than other mechanical stats, the sheer amount of information earned makes this stat worth the investment. I recommend investing 3-4 stats in Shivers and clicking on the floating orbs above our head to tune in to the city’s comings and goings.
- RCM Patrol Cloak (+1 Esprit de Corps, +1 Shivers) – Out tattered police jacket, brimming with bullet holes and bad memories. We can retrieve our police jacket from a railing just outside the office building atop the scab strike. Reaching the jacket requires performing a Savoir Faire jump from the roof outside Cuno’s shack or opening the office door by dealing with Measurehead or stealing a keycard from the Whirling-In-Rags’ sleeping drunk.
- Polar Anorak (+1 Composure, +1 Shivers) – A toasty jacket for beating back the cold, the Polar Anorak is a warming gift from the city of Revanchol. We can find this jacket under the massive building across the water lock after a Shivers conversation tells us where the coat is.
- Bow Collector (+3 Shivers) – A vivid memory of you and your estranged love, the bow collector is a powerful thought that brings the city closer to you. We can acquire the Bow Collector thought after reading the note in our ledger’s hidden compartment and asking after a bow with our Ancient Reptilian Brain.
- Cop of the Apocalypse (Learning cap for Inland Empire and Shivers raised to 6, Pyrholidon drug applies +2 PSY) – A thought before the world ends and the great culling begins, the Cop of the Apocalypse is fantastic for players looking to make their playthrough stranger and more outlandish. We can acquire this absurd thought by continually stating that the world is ending to Kim, passing civilians and ourselves five times.
5. Inland Empire
Governing our ability to imagine and personify dead and inanimate objects, Inland Empire creates an entire world beneath the decay and ruin of Martinaise. Whether we’re arguing with a substance-abusing necktie, having meaningful conversations with rotting corpses, or discovering the meaning of life from a giant cryptid, Inland Empire allows us to imagine our way to the answer. I advise investing heavily in Inland Empire if we want to make our playthrough into a wonderfully strange adventure.
- Horrific Necktie (+1 Inland Empire) – Disco Elysium’s most fleshed-out piece of clothing, the Horrific Necktie is an out-of-control necktie-turned-companion that wants us to party and do drugs. Despite their reckless advice and silly dialogue, the Horrific Necktie sacrifices themselves to save us in the mercenary tribunal and provides spicy dialogue to liven up our tragic fate. I highly advise we wear this fantastic article of clothing and give in to their ridiculous whims for a worthwhile payoff. We can liberate the Horrific Necktie from the evil clutches of our room’s ceiling fan after stopping the fan and performing an easy Hand/Eye Coordination check.
- Sunglasses Sub-Insulindic Rendezvous (+1 Inland Empire, -1 Perception) – A pair of sunglasses that improves our psyche at the cost of eyesight, the Sub-Insulindic Rendezvous Sunglasses are decent shades for playing make-believe. After passing an easy conceptualization check, we can obtain these knockoff sunglasses from Siileng in his booth next to the Whirling-In-Rags.
- Ledger of Failure and Hatred (+1 Empathy, +1 Inland Empire, -2 Authority) – A written reminder of failure and betrayal, no wonder we threw this out! We obtain the Ledger of Failure and Hatred after opening the Whirling-In-Rags dumpster, investigating the ledger, and choosing to look at the note in the hidden compartment. Warning: triggering this reaction knock us out and gives us a fake game-over screen until Kim revives us with smelling salts.
- Clearing out the Rooms (+1 Suggestion, +1 Inland Empire, +1 Rhetoric) – A better justification for why we turned into an amnesiac, Clearing out the Rooms explains forgetting our past as a better way to start anew. Fun fact: this thought is a lyric of a British Sea Power song, the leading composers behind Disco Elysium’s killer soundtrack. We can acquire this thought in the church past the water lock after passing a hard logic check with Soona after investigating the void of sound in the church’s center.
4. Visual Calculus
Governing the inner detective that lives within us all, Visual Calculus turns our surroundings into a crime scene, enabling us to make sense of violent aftermaths and past confrontations. While we can get by without overanalyzing the whereabouts of every thrown shoe or wayward automobile, this skill is crucial for progressing our investigation and figuring out our next course of action. I advise putting at least 3-4 points into this invaluable skill and wearing appropriate clothing before we touch every crime scene.
- RCM Commander’s Jacket (+1 Esprit de Corps, +1 Visual Calculus) – A weathered police jacket, lost and forgotten in the ruins of our destroyed police car, the RCM Commander’s Jacket provides several boosts to make us feel better after wrecking our priceless motor carriage. We can retrieve the jacket, and our badge, from the car’s ruins after waiting for the water lock to lower and interacting with our car on the other side of the bridge. I advise going after this jacket if we’re roleplaying more as a straight-shooting cop rather than a drunk waste of space.
- Neat Office Shades (+1 Visual Calculus, -1 Drama) – A functional, unstylish pair of sunglasses, the Neat Office Shades provide supple shade at the cost of our dazzling appearance. We can find these shades in the toilet of the office building atop the scab strike. Accessing the office requires knocking out Measurehead, subscribing to fascism, or swiping the keycard from the sleeping counter drunk in the Whirling-In-Rags.
- Some Kind of Superstar (-1 logic/Learning Cap for Visual Calculus, Suggestion, Electrochemistry, and Composure raised to 6) – Transform into the superstar cop destined to crack the case and become Revachol’s next hit idol! We can attain this delusional thought after continuing to introduce ourselves as a superstar. I highly advise internalizing this valuable thought so we can invest in Visual Calculus when needed.
For the discerning kleptomaniac, Perception reveals hidden details that make it easier to conduct our investigation, access new parts of Martinaise, and find hidden items that trivialize fights. Whether we’re uncovering bullets beneath floorboards, discovering Cuno’s secret shack, or uncovering the hangman’s true cause of death, Perception is rewarding as it is necessary. I advise investing in Perception immediately to access these profitable opportunities and insights.
- Franconigerian Cavalry Boots (+1 Perception) – Cavalry Boots missing their horse counterpart; the slight height from the heels is just enough to make us feel more perceptive. We can snag this family heirloom in a container next to Lilienne in the fishing bridge across the water lock.
- Amphibian Sports Visor (+1 Perception) – A sports visor with two ridiculous frog eyes sprouting from the top, the Amphibian Sports Visor is a cheap hat with perceptive bulging eyes. We can purchase this absurd piece of apparel from Siileng outside the Whirling-In-Rags for 6 Real.
- Col Do Ma Ma Daqua (+3 Perception) – Governing our determination to find the lost cryptid, the Col Do Ma Ma Daqua thought doesn’t reveal this archaic insect, but it does improve our sense of hearing. We can obtain this powerful thought after hounding Lena about cryptids and walking outside with at least 3 points in Inland Empire.
- Apricot Chewing Gum Scented One (+2 Perception) – A cruel reminder of our lost love’s betrayal, the scent of Apricot is a brutal trigger for our character’s psyche. We can trigger this sad thought early on from smelling the gum within the ledger’s secret compartment (found in the Whirling-In-Rag’s dumpster) and after putting on a pair of worn-out jeans (located in the Capside Apartments’ coal room).
2. Hand/Eye Coordination
Whether we’re shooting down the corpse of the hanged man or firing the killing shot on an enranged mercenary, Hand/Eye Coordination is vital for a few crucial red checks that can make or break our playthrough. We should put at least 5-6 points into this critical stat or at least internalizing the Fairweather T-500 thought to improve our chances in the mercenary fight. I advise investing in this stat and putting on related clothing just as before we shoot down the corpse and fight the mercenaries much later.
- FALN Ultra Series Sneakers (+1 Hand/Eye Coordination) – A new-age pair of sneakers to redeem your drunken, disheveled appearance, the FALN Ultra Series Sneakers add one more point to our hand/eye coordination skill. We can purchase these sweet sneakers from Siileng just before the Whirling-in-rags. Unfortunately, these sneakers cost a whopping 50 real so I advise only buying these sneakers if we’re abstaining from drugs, particularly Amphetamine, and find ourselves with a surplus of real.
- Pinball Maker’s Coat (+1 Hand/Eye Coordination) – A striking overcoat for scoring a lucky shot, the pinball Maker’s coat grants us one additional point of Hand/Eye coordination. We can find this odd piece of apparel in the abandoned section of the Whirlin-in-rags behind a locked door in the kitchen or from the upstairs roof. Breaking in requires reluctantly gaining the key from the Hardie Boys or breaking down the roof door on Day 2.
Perhaps the meanest, most commanding skill in the entire game, Authority governs our ability to coerce others and compel our friends and foes to get what we want. Despite most players’ aversion to being a complete jerk and making women cry over the police radio, Authority is vital for a few essential checks. These checks (i.e., saving Kim’s life during the mercenary tribunal or making him dance during the church rave) are the most rewarding decisions throughout the game and impact Harry’s fate. If we want a good ending in Disco Elysium, Authority is crucial to achieving a happy outcome.
- Fairweather T-500 Greaves (+2 Authority,-1 Composure) – A legendary pair of boots found on the body of the Hanged Man. We can steal these boots from the corpse in the dead of night after Kim has fallen asleep. We’ll have to clean these boots in a warm bubbly bath before putting them on.
- RCM Lieutenant’s Cap (+1 Authority) – A commanding hat to affirm our status as police officers. We can nab this hat from the lady wielding our unloaded gun across the water lock after disarming her.
Ledger of Oblivion (+1 Authority, +1 Suggestion, -1 Inland Empire) – One of two types of our recovered ledger, attaining this version requires digging it out of the Whirling-In-Rags dumpster, completing the case history, and the note within the hidden compartment. I don’t advise learning the Caustic Echo thought attached with the ledger; it decreases our Authority by 1.
Overproductive Honour Glands (Learning cap for Authority raised to 5) – For only the most honorable of cops, we can gather enough honor points (a fake gameplay mechanic) to undergo the “The Rite of Honour” (also fake) for an honorable reputation bonus (still fake). We can obtain this useful, albeit obnoxious thought from doing “honorable” deeds (i.e. returning Lena’s pawned trinket after pawning it) until our authority contacts and makes us go through the rite. Be warned that the ceremony is graphic, humiliating, and vulgar.
Question: What is the best skill in Disco Elysium?
Answer: Authority is the most valuable skill for saving Kim’s life to ensure a good ending. We can boost this stat by putting on the Fairweather armor, consuming Pyrholidon, and internalizing the Overproductive Honour Glands thought.
Question: How do I put points into a capped-out skill?
Answer: Consuming relevant drugs and internalizing skillcap-increasing thoughts allows us to continue putting points into maxed-out skills. Otherwise, we can put on skill-boosting clothing and items.
Question: How do I beat an impossible check?
Answer: Most impossible checks decrease in difficulty if we learn more about the relevant place or person. Only one check, dodging the final mercenary bullet, will fail every time.
Question: How do I awake the Horrific Necktie?
Answer: Investing points into Inland Empire turns our gaudy necktie into a crucial main character. However, we’ll have to physically remove the necktie from our room’s ceiling fan before we can equip it.
Well done, detective. We’ve turned our character from a drunk shambling mess into a loose cannon ready to fight crime and right wrong. While the specter of his lost love may forever torment Harry, we at least gave the wayward man a fighting chance in the cold, cruel world of Martinaise. So load your pistol, ready the ledger, and grip our Horrific Necktie for dear life; the investigation awaits our groovy disco moves!