In general, kill as many monsters as you can, even if it means lurking in dangerous places. You have swallow potions, so make the most of them! And if you run out, brew some more! For each level Geralt advances, the experience points (XP) you get per monster are reduced by 5 XP and the XP you require to reach the next level increases by 1000 points. This means that killing foes sooner than later is more beneficial. Only your patience (or lack thereof) limits the amount of experience points you can rack up.
Another obvious exploit is the way the game handles the passage of time. Because it does not actually affect gameplay, quests can be put off indefinitely while you rack up additional experience points. Below is a chapter-by-chapter guide on how to earn that extra XP:
Be forewarned that any XP you gain from killing monsters depends on your level at the time, so any deviation from the numbers mentioned below is perfectly normal.
Prologue (Kaer Morhen)
There is an endless supply of Salamandra if Geralt chooses to fight the frightener during the assault on Kaer Morhen. This can be exploited by postponing finishing the fight. Simply do not ring the bells, avoid the frightener, and stay near the entrance. This allows Geralt to kill bandits without advancing the main battle (with the frightener). Each bandit is worth 10 XP.
Note: To allow new bandits to respawn, you must rotate the camera so that the entrance is not in your field of view. Bandits only appear if Geralt has his back turned to them... It is possible to gain an extra level this way, but it does take a while.
Chapter I (Outskirts of Vizima)
Echinopsae can be found in the cave to the west of the Maribor Gate to Vizima. Depending on Geralt's level, these beasts are worth around 100 XP each and there are seven of them in the cave (Technically, on your first visit, there are eight of them, but the eighth one does not respawn). They respawn every time you exit and re-enter the cave, so just keep doing that until you have had enough. This way you can easily boost Geralt's stats by two to three additional levels. As previously mentioned, doing this as early as possible in Chapter I, will maximize the number of points you can gain.
- Note: A torch is a surprisingly good weapon against echinopsae.
- Note: One incineration effect will usually kill an echinops, Geralt can duck behind cover after using Igni and simply wait for the echinopsae to die enabling you to acquire kills with minimal risk.
Chapter II (Temple Quarter of Vizima)
Wyvern Island is a good place to rack up a few extra XP (wyvern: 125 XP at Level 20). It is also worthwhile running around the swamp at night. This early in the game, bloedzuigers (65 XP at Level 20) are quite abundant. I use the Igni on them and just keep running around them until they die from the incineration (this avoids taking damage from their poisonous spray when they die).
Near the collapsed towers, to the east of Wyvern Island, there is a campfire and at night the place is crawling with ghouls and alghouls. These re-spawn nightly, so killing them all and then using the campfire to wait for more is another way to gather XP. The alghouls (155 XP at Level 20) are tougher but much more rewarding in XP terms. Alghouls and Ghouls can also contain White Vinegar, which can be sold to Kalkstein for 20 per vial.
Don't talk with Detective until you finish the Rat quest.
Don't finish any Suspect quest by finding Raymond's body. This causes a huge amount of XP loss.
You can easily level up in the Vizima sewers by slaying graveirs in the crypt. Take the Finders Keepers quest to get the key. You will eventually find the heirloom and then four graveirs (200 XP at Level 20) each time you enter the crypt. There are also some re-spawning ghouls, but less frequently so. Another method is to use the fireplace within the crypt to rest, this will not only restore Geralt's vitality but also re-set the zone exactly as if you'd just re-entered the crypt. The entrance and the fireplace are on opposite ends of the crypt thus allowing you to make a circuit clearing the crypt of monsters as you head in one direction, resetting when you reach either end and having a new set to clear on the return trip with no extra time spent on backtracking before resetting the zone. At level 20 that's 1600 XP per circuit from graveirs alone.
Chapter III (Trade Quarter of Vizima)
The best way to earn XP in Chapter III is in the swamp cave which is full of cockatrices. They are worth 725 XP at Level 20! They respawn roughly once a day, so use the fireplace just outside the cave to meditate for 24 hours. There are six of them per cave run, yielding a whopping 4500 XP total! In the EE there are 7-9 of them, but seems only for like 2-3 Level ups, after that it's just 6 every time.
Another way to earn some XP in a (comparatively) short time is during the Gold Rush quest. Take the warehouse route into the bank. There will always be 5 Fleders available for your hunting pleasures: 3 on the ground floor and 2, by the door, on the upper floor; simply alternate getting in and out of the town hall exit or through the trade quarter exit, and they will keep respawning. Depending on your level, each of them will net you upwards of 285 points, which works out to a total of almost 1,500 XP per run.
An endless supply of Alps is available in the Elven ruins in the sewers in the Trade Quarter. Just go there before completing any quests in Chapter III, and use the campfire in the room adjacent to the room with the teleporter and the throne. On your way you will also encounter a couple of other beasts, a fleder (bonus) and a ghoul (not as lucrative, but readily available).
All three foes respawn every time you meditate, so just keep alternating between meditating for an hour and killing the monsters. And if you do not want to waste time, just teleport out and back again. Each one of these "rounds" is worth around 850 XP (depending on Geralt's level at the time). Note that this can only be taken advantage of before completing Echoes of Yesterday or Gold Rush. As long as you have not done the quests, the monsters will respawn endlessly and everything game-wise is simply on hold until you are done.
Another good area to gather XP is the Swamp at night. There are tons of echinopsae, archespores, bloedzuigers, drowned dead, and drowners (more of a nuisance at this point, but still easy to kill). Also the path through the swamp, between the ruined tower and Wyvern Island offers many ghouls, alghouls and cemetaurs which appear at night and respawn every time Geralt meditates at the nearby campfire. Some caution should be exercised as a group of them will very quickly attack when Geralt finishes meditating.
Royal wyverns should replace the regular wyverns in the swamp after you knocked off Moa for the Royal huntsman trophy quest, and these are worth around 500 XP a piece. They spawn in groups of four, so 2000 XP per run. Do not get swarmed, they hit hard.
Kikimore warriors will also spawn all over the swamp, and they are worth 450+ XP a piece.
- Make sure you have the bestiary entries for fleders, alps, bloedzuigers, wolves, royal wyverns, ghouls, cemetaurs, kikimores, archespores, cockatrices, and graveirs before doing the above. For contracts, and skinnable items see The Witcher Cheapskate's Guide.
- If you are farming the alp near the elven ruins and you also want ingredients from fleders and ghouls then it can be worthwhile to run straight to them without looting the alp corpse. Loot the alp corpse on your way back after you have slain them. However, if all you want is XP then it's quicker to just continue killing the alp.
Chapter IV (Lakeside)
Basilisks! These are worth 1455 XP at level 35 each and while they do not respawn reliably, they do eventually. You will find them on Black Tern Island, just west of the Lady of the Lake. There is also a colony of wyverns on the island, including a few royal wyverns and they also respawn (if not reliably).
The creatures in the crypt in the fields (which include garkains, cemetaurs, alps, fleders and alghouls) respawn at midnight. Simply use the nearby campfire to rest for 24 hours and they will be back. One full clear of the crypt nets around 5300 XP. Remember that Quen also illuminates your surroundings in case you are in need of lighting. However, there are four alps that will constantly respawn every time you enter the crypt, worth 400-500 XP each. A quick run can net at least 1600 XP per cycle, providing the highest XP gains in Chapter IV.
Advance the quest The Heat of the Day to the point where you have seen the Midday bride but not to the point where you have to find her mirror. She will respawn at the Raspberry patch every time you meditate or reload the Fields map during daylight hours. Approach her when she is neutral (blue) and there is a cutscene, then she becomes aggressive (red). Killing her yields around 950 XP each time (yes, this is quite evil). You can also do this as long as you don't repair the pieces of the mirror that you've got from the other midday brides just in case you have already progressed the quest line. She will spawn every hour from dawn and before till dusk. The best way to take her down is to have a high level Aard and hope you stun her so you can one do a one hit.
Chapter V (Old Vizima)
More basilisks. There is at least one basilisk in each one of the ancient tombs that can be accessed via the Wayfarer's stones, worth over 1400 XP each. Just because you do not have to visit all three ancient tombs to complete the game, does not mean that you should not!
The creatures in Raven's crypt all respawn after midnight and contains at least 24 wraiths, 16 fleders and 1 basilisk, though an average quick run will only have about 20 wraiths and 12 fleders because of how monsters reveal themselves. Meditating until midnight and then again meditating until a couple of hours before midnight will allow you to use potions, clear the crypt and then meditate an hour until midnight so that everything respawns, enabling you to get two full runs from one set of potions. Or better yet, measure how much it takes for you to clear the crypt and time the meditation so you can clear the crypt and come out of it at around 15-30 minutes before midnight.(Don't forget to count running from the campfire). Just chilling for a bit outside cave is less stressful than running to the campfire and back. Using this method, it will take about 36 runs or 18 sets of potions to level from 40 to 50, give or take a few runs/sets depending how thorough you are.
Finally, there are at least two, and often three necrophages (graveirs and cemetaurs) outside Kalkstein's place in Old Vizima. Simply enter / exit Kalkstein's for them to respawn.
- Just generally kill as much as possible, no special tips here.