Armor and weapons are some of the core parts of The Witcher 3. The quality of your gear will have a huge effect on Geralt’s combat performance, so you need to make all sure your gear is up to par.
When I first started playing, I got very confused about how the whole upgrade system works in this game. There isn’t a whole lot of explanation about how to do it, and it took me searching for quite a while before I found the answer.
To upgrade your weapons and armor, you must first obtain the right diagram for the next gear level. Then you need to take that diagram to the appropriate blacksmith and craft it using your upgrade materials.
This was a shortened explanation, so I’ll try to make the explanation simple but as detailed as possible.
Related: Is The Witcher 3 Overrated?
When to upgrade
The only gear you ever need to upgrade in this game is the Witcher gear. There are 8 Witcher gear sets in the game: Kaer Morhen, Teigr, Bear, Cat, Griffin, Manticore, Wolf, and Viper.
All of these gear sets will give you different bonuses, but the upgraded versions of them will always be better than regular armor. Forget about any starter gear you might have, as none of it is special or necessary to keep.
Upgrading every piece of Witcher gear is also both unnecessary and a waste of resources (unless of course, you are a completionist), so save your materials to craft items you need to increase your stats.
As you level up, your current stats and gear will quickly become obsolete, so you’ll be forced to get new gear or upgrade your Witcher sets. You might find that you are unable to upgrade them, which is probably because you haven’t obtained a diagram for it yet.
You should upgrade your gear when you find that your current armor is one or several levels behind your character’s level. The further behind the levels get, the harder time you’ll have defeating enemies. Always be sure to check on the current level of your gear, and upgrade when as soon as you can.
It also depends on the difficulty level you’re playing on. I like to play on Death March difficulty, so naturally, I have to make sure my gear levels are very current. For the more casual players on a lower difficulty, armor will be viable for much longer without upgrading.
The Diagrams you get are the most important thing you’ll need when it comes to upgrading your Witcher gear. They are the basic blueprints that allow you to both craft items and upgrade your existing ones.
Not every single diagram is for pieces of the Witcher gear though. Obtaining them will either take a lot of exploring, getting lucky by finding one at a blacksmith, or looking up a guide online.
Personally, I think looking up a guide to find them will cause you to miss out on having fun exploring this beautiful world.
I’ve read that when you come across a diagram at a blacksmith, it’ll be different every playthrough. I can’t confirm this though since I haven’t played through this game a second time.
Finding all of the upgrade diagrams for your Witcher set of choice is very important to keep your gear from becoming obsolete. You could always equip normal gear in the meantime, but then your stats won’t be as good.
I actually really enjoy searching for the diagrams, as they give you another reason to explore the world. There really isn’t a reason to buy them and waste your money on the ones the blacksmiths offer.
You’ll need to find a lot of diagrams for each upgrade of every armor piece, so get ready for lots of exploring!
If you are finding that you are unable to craft a sword or armor at a given blacksmith, then you are probably at the wrong type of smith. There are 2 types of smiths in The Witcher 3: blacksmith and armorer. The blacksmith only deals with weapons, so naturally, the armorer is the go-to person for all your armor needs.
There are tons of these smiths scattered in cities and towns all over the world. Besides the smith type, you also need to be aware that each smith has a level that determines the level of gear you can upgrade. Here are the levels of blacksmiths that you’ll need to locate: Amateur, Journeyman, Master, and Grandmaster (Blood and Wine).
The higher level blacksmiths will need to be unlocked by completing specific quests that you’ll receive by talking to them. For the Grandmaster level, you’ll need to own the Blood and Wine DLC to access them. This isn’t a big deal though, as the only level of gear you can upgrade with this type of smith is available through the DLC as well.
To locate master blacksmiths, you can talk to lower-level blacksmiths who will sometimes give you helpful hints to their locations. Even then, you won’t need to find the master smiths until you have around level 30 gear to upgrade.
Once you collect the basic level gear, you’ll need to collect the diagrams for each level of upgrade. Here is the upgrade path you’ll need to take with a single piece of gear: Basic > Enhanced > Superior > Mastercrafted > Grandmaster (Blood and Wine).
As you can see, you’ll need to find 5 separate blueprints for each piece. These many pieces may seem like a lot, but you have to remember it may take several hours to level up to the point where you’ll need the next upgrade.
Every piece of gear in the game has a specific level you need to use it. Whenever you upgrade a new piece of gear, it’ll upgrade to a higher level than before. If you plan on using it at your current level, make sure the upgraded level isn’t higher than yours.
Several times I didn’t pay attention to the level the gear would be after the upgrade, and I was stuck without that piece of gear for a little bit. Thankfully I learned my lesson, as the game makes it very obvious what level the gear it’s going to be.
It seems like you find crafting materials everywhere you go, and this is a good thing. Every crafting and alchemy item in the game has 0 carry weight, so this means you should be grabbing everything you possibly can.
You’re gonna need these items later on for lots of different uses. If you are a completionist and want every single set in the game upgraded, it’s going to take hours and hours of grinding before you finally have every upgrade material.
I’ve seen people wondering if the game has enough materials in the world to upgrade every item, which the answer, of course, is yes. It may seem to take a long time collecting them, but they are there.
Dismantling is your best friend when it comes to getting certain crafting materials. Go to the craftsman to dismantle your old gear, and you’ll be able to get tons of materials this way.
Sometimes it is cheaper to dismantle outdated items for materials rather than going out to farm for brand new materials. If you come across low-level gear that you can dismantle
Get the best saddlebags for Roach that you can find, and then fill it to the brim with armor and weapons you find. Bring these to the blacksmith and decide which ones you should sell and which you should dismantle.
Loot every chest, every house, and every cave you come across. There definitely isn’t a shortage of items in this massive world, so always collect every material that you can get.
Upgrading items in The Witcher 3 isn’t very complicated, but it isn’t explained very well in the game. Once you understand how easy it is, you’ll be able to upgrade any piece of Witcher gear you’d like.