We've all been there. After hacking, shooting, slicing, incinerating, or just plain annihilating, we finally get that skill point we've been waiting for. That's the easy part though. The hard part comes when we have to decide between placing that skill point on one skill or the other. Do you go for the defensive, passive ability or the aggressively destructive offensive ability? How about an increase in health? Or perhaps a sentry gun complete with a mini nuke? There are so many different things you could do with that one skill point that could change the way you play. Skill tree based characters are some of my favorite to play as because of that. I feel as though when I'm dictating where my character's skills are being put the use, I am making that character more so my character. As my character progresses deeper and deeper into their journey, it simply feels right that their powers are growing and becoming more complex just as the characters themselves do. There is a plentiful amount of skill tree based characters, but here is my favorite top ten that I've played as! 

#10 Gaige (Borderlands 2) 

Gaige, better known as the "Mechromancer," is the first character dlc Gearbox added to Borderlands 2. At this moment, I'm going through my 5th playthrough of Borderlands 2, this time with dlc, as Gaige, and I'm loving every minute of it. Her skills primarily focus on her, and my, favorite, robot friend Deathtrap. Through Gaige's skill tree, you can give Deathtrap everything from a laser beam to rapid slashing claws to a copy of Gaige's shield. If you care for more exotic skills, you can even shoot Deathtrap with any elemental weapon and he will then cause that elemental damage to all enemies. Right now, I have my skill tree set out to give Deathtrap lasers, claws, and this awesome ability where if he kills an enemy, a shocking, electrical explosion occurs. Taking down bandits on Pandora has never been easier with my trusty friend Deathtrap. 

#9 Xcom Soldiers (Xcom: Enemy Unknown)

Xcom soldiers: humanities last hope against a merciless alien invasion.......good thing they have a lot of skills. Xcom's skilltrees vary with each class (sniper, assault, heavy, support) and allows for invaluable tactical advantages over the enemy. However, these advantages are limited in the way that you place your skill points. Each soldier comes with two possible paths and once you choose one, the other becomes locked permanently. Will you opt to give your heavy trooper two rocket launchers for twice the environmental destruction, or will you pick a more supportive role with improved cover fire? With Xcom: Enemy Unknown, the skills that you put on your soldiers may do more than just help you along your way, they will determine the outcome of many battles. There were countless occasions where a skill, such as double shot with my sniper or increased movement with my assault class soldier, has made the difference between defeat and victory. 

#8 Dante (Dante's Inferno)

Dante's Inferno was one of my favorite beat em' up, hack and slash games that I've played in recent memory. Battling through the nine circles of hell to fight none other than Lucifer himself was epic to say the least, and would have been near impossible if not for Dante's double sided skill tree. With Dante's skill tree, there was a good (holy) and evil (unholy) side with equally useful skills. These skills range from magic enhancements to new scythe combos to holy cross attacks. When I played, I tried to evenly distribute my points between holy and unholy skills. I can remember pulling off extremely brutal combos using both holy and unholy moves. What I really liked about Dante's skill tree is that every skill, although different, could be coupled with other skills to do some major destruction. I'll tell you this, Satan didn't know what hit em'.

#7 Death (Darksiders II)

The eldest of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, nothing, and when I say nothing, I mean nothing, can stop Death from obtaining what he wants. Besides Death's uber powerful scythes and various other weapons, Death also has a sizeable skill tree at his disposal. Death's skills are split into two categories, harbinger and necromancer. The harbinger has to do more so with Death causing major destruction with his scythes while the necromancer has to do more with summoning creatures to do his bidding. I leaned more with the latter skill set because I loved summoning ghouls to distract my enemies while I plotted out another way of attack. With Death's skill tree, according to how you placed your skills, you basically changed the way you would have to play as Death. With my necromancer skills I would deliberately wear down the enemy while when I chose the harbinger skills, I would go on a full frontal, no let up attack. This change in gameplay caused by Death's skills is why I have him ranked ahead of Dante. I would still love to see a fight between Dante and Death though.........

#6 Batman (Batman: Arkham Asylum/City)

Because he’s Batman.

#5 Lilith (Borderlands)

Lilith lands at #5 on my top 10 because she is my second favorite borderlands character to play as ever. Lilith is an extremely powerful siren with an attitude to boot. She was actually the first female character I ever played as and will forever be one of my favorite characters of all time in general. Her skill tree focuses on her immensely powerful siren abilities amongst other upgrades. Phasewalking simply was a game changer while I played as Lilith. I would always phasewalk into a group of enemies, melee an enemy thus releasing a massive blast of energy, and then other powers such as fire or corrosive damage would follow. Besides one other borderlands character that I will reveal later, Lilith’s ability is one of my favorite without a doubt. Adding more and more skills to said ability just makes it that more, for lack of a better word, awesome to use.

#4 Fallout Character (Fallout 3/NewVegas)

Fallout is one of my favorite open world games that I’ve played and the Fallout style skill tree is also one of my favorite skill tree set ups as well. I like the idea of having main skills, sub skills, and then further possible skill advantages. Fallout is basically another one of those games where your character is a blank canvas and it is up to you to fill said canvas. When I played Fallout 3 in specific, I always focused on sneaking, small arms, science, repair, and lockpicking. Basically my character was a scavenger of sort, avoiding combat as much as possible and simply gathering what I needed to survive. I did, however, carry around a rocket launcher just in case I needed it…….even though it didn’t do a lot of damage because I had no skills on big guns……..

#3 Corvo Attano (Dishonored)

Filling in Corvo’s skill tree is a bit different than that of all other characters on this list. Instead of simply leveling up and acquiring skill points that way, one must find “runes” that can be used to unlock a new skill. These runes are, however, not that plentiful in quantity so you really have to think about where you want to put each rune. Do you want to be able to stop time or how about an ability to jump twice as far? Or maybe you’ll just opt for the safe route and increase Corvo’s max health? Or how about an ability to control plague rats to do your bidding? Throughout my multiple playthroughs I usually opted for a much more stealth orientated play style by using improved blink, agility, stop time, and dark vision. Whatever the case may be with your skill decisions, the abilities that you spend your skills points on will entirely alter the way that you play as Corvo.

#2 Dovahkiin (The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim)

Dovahkiin does not have a very typical skill tree set up, but never the less; I still consider it to be a skill tree. By far, Dovahkiin has the largest and most diverse of any skill trees on this list. Not only that, but Dovahkiin is probably the most custom tailored to each gamer as well. No two peoples’ Dovahkiins will be exactly the same. With my main skyrim character, a wood elf by the way, I always focused on archery, stealth, light armor, and one handed weapons. The specific skills in each of these really changed the way that my character played. Immediately I put as many skill points on my archery as I could because for one, I absolutely love archery, and for two, I was a wood elf. After a bit of a hiatus from skyrim, I returned as a dark elf and focused solely on magic. Both characters were completely different because of the way a chose to delegate my skills, but both were still technically the same character. That is what makes Dovahkiin so high on my list.  

#1 Mordecai (Borderlands)

Mordecai is simply my favorite skill tree based character of all time just because he is the perfect character for the way I like to play (plus I just think he is a pretty cool character). I’ve always been somewhat of a sucker for the reclusive, sniper type character. With his skill tree, a blatant focus is put on sniping from afar. Shocker, I know. I can always get that early, surprise hit on my enemies with my trusty sniper rifle and it’s usually a one shot because of the improved sniping skills. Then after that initial shot, I can hit hard with my favorite companion of all time: Bloodwing! Good ol’ Blood is my favorite ability of any of the Borderlands characters. She can quickly take down multiple enemies from the sky and then when she returns, the recharge is relatively fast so I can just send her out again to wreak havoc. Mordecai may not have the skill variety that Dovahkiin and Corvo do, but to me, Mordecai simply defines what a skill tree based character is to me: a simple, yet effective, character in which every skill feels as though it has a legitimate use to it.

There you have it, my top 10 favorite skill tree based characters. Leave a comment with your own!