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"The Evil Within": A Guide to Leveling

Joseph has been an avid horror video game fan since first visiting the world of survival horror in Resident Evil 4 back in 2005.

"The Evil Within" Cover Art

"The Evil Within" Cover Art

When you’re going through any game for the first time, knowing what stats to level up or items to upgrade is a process of trial and error. You don’t know what you’re going to need until you progress further in the game, and by that point, you’ve probably realized that you’ve made a few errors along the way. If only you had leveled up your weapon instead of leveling up stamina you’d have been able to take out that sliver of health left hanging on the boss instead of looking at a “Game Over” screen for the tenth time. So, one of the keys to surviving The Evil Within is to know how to use your green gel wisely.

There are four categories of skills to level up; Abilities, Weapons, Stock, and Agony Bolts. The Abilities category focuses on upgrades for Sebastian as well as how much syringes heal you. The Weapons category is where you’ll find upgrades for your weapons such as Damage Multiplier and Accuracy. The Stock category, probably the most important category to focus on, has upgrades for how much ammunition you can carry as well as how many syringes and matches. Finally, the last category, Agony Bolts, is where you’ll go to upgrade your different bolts. So, what upgrades should you be looking at?

A Quick Glance

A Quick Glance

Critical (Revolver and Shotgun)

I didn't realize the importance of this upgrade until about halfway through my first playthrough. What it does is increase the probability of instantly killing an enemy with a headshot. Normally, games start your weapons off with a small critical percent chance, but in The Evil Within, all your weapons start with a zero percent chance. Putting one level into the critical chance of your revolver and shotgun, the weapons that you’ll be using the most, will increase the critical to a ten percent chance for both. There isn’t really a need to level up the critical of your shotgun beyond level two seeing as you should only be using it for crowd control. The revolver, however, benefits more from raising it to level three, where the percent chance is twenty. This will help conserve ammo and plus there's nothing more satisfying than exploding your enemy's head in a horror game.

Handgun Ammunition

The most common type of ammunition in the game is for the revolver, and since you can only carry with you a small number with you at the beginning of the game, you’ll most likely find yourself unable to pick up any more bullets for it. At the start of the game you are only able to carry with you sixteen rounds, six in the revolver, and ten in your pocket, so it makes sense in putting a level or two into how much you can carry with you. Getting it to level three will increase your stock by ten which gives you an overall carrying capacity of twenty-six. This may seem like a lot, but there are plenty of areas in the game where handgun ammo is hidden or just practically given to you.

Shotgun Ammunition

This is the second most common ammunition type in the game. When you find the shotgun, it comes with a starting capacity of four, and your starting stock for it is also four, making for a total of eight shells you can have for it on you at a time. You’re not going to be using the shotgun as much as the revolver, so you’re going to find yourself having a full stock of shotgun ammunition fairly quickly unless you put some levels into the stock. A good level to get your stock up to is three. This increases the stock to eight, for a total of twelve shells that you can have on you at a time, so you’ll rarely find yourself unable to pick up ammunition.

Maximum Sprint Time

You start off the game with three seconds to sprint before Sebastian has to stop and catch his breath, leaving you wide open to attacks. Three seconds may seem like plenty of time to sprint and get away from whatever threat is upon you, but you don’t get a full three seconds of sprinting. Sebastian starts to slow down once his stamina bar is close to running out at about the last second or so of your sprint. So investing some green gel into leveling your sprint to level four, eight seconds, is highly advised.


Syringes are one of the ways that you heal yourself (the other being the incredibly rare Medical Kits) and there’s nothing more frustrating than having to pass up on a healing item because you’re already full. You start with only being able to carry two syringes and the maximum you can carry, after two upgrades, is four. Syringes are typically few and far between in The Evil Within, so you’ll want to make the most of them. At the very least, level it up once. If you have enough green gel lying around, max it out at level three.

Life Gauge

Sebastian’s starting health is a hundred and syringes heal you by thirty, a little less than a third of your maximum health. I mentioned above that you’ll want to make the most of your syringes and a good way to do this is by utilizing leveling up the life gauge. You should only level up the life gauge when you are low on health as leveling it up will heal you completely as well as increasing your maximum life by a small amount.

Agony Bolts

The Agony Crossbow is the most versatile weapon in the game so you'll be using it quite a lot to help you out in different situations. You’re initially only able to carry with you two agony bolts of each type of bolt so it’s worth investing in leveling it up at least once, increasing your capacity to three. Along with just finding bolts in different areas, you're also able to craft agony bolts from the parts you get from disabling traps, so being able to make the most of these parts is an important aspect of the game.

Harpoon Bolts

You’ll also want to get the harpoon bolts up to level five as fast as possible. At level five, not only do the bolts do 240% more damage, but they also do fire damage. It requires a hefty amount of green gel to get to level five, so leveling it will be something you do slowly over the course of the game, but the long term investment is definitely worth it. This is also the only upgrade you should worry about getting to level five during the first playthrough of the game seeing as the other level five upgrades you can save until you are in New Game+.

Accuracy (Revolver)

After the first couple of minutes with the revolver at the beginning of the game, you’ll realize just how annoying the weapon sway can be. I don’t know how many times I've been a few feet away from an enemy only for my shot to not go anywhere near its head. Initially, it would seem ideal to get the accuracy to level five as soon as possible, but the problem with this is that it doesn't take away the sway completely, so you’ll still be stuck battling it. I found that getting the accuracy to level three gave the revolver a decent enough sway so that I wasn't missing as many shots as I was when it wasn't upgraded. The key is getting used to the sway of the revolver, knowing when to fire and when you shouldn't. Level three accuracy is easy enough to get the hang of and you can use the green gel that would get you to level five on other upgrades.


You start out with only being able to carry five, so it’s important to level up your stock a few times. An interesting feature of the matches is that when you use a match on a body it can spread to other bodies near it. If you’re able to knock down a couple of enemies next to each other and then use a match on one of the bodies, you’ll end up saving ammo. Matches also are used to reveal a few secrets in the game as well. There is also a boss somewhat early in the game that, when fighting it, it is advised to burn some of the bodies lying around. Again, level three is a good stopping point. You tend to get a reasonable supply of matches as you progress through the game and having a stock of ten matches ensures that you are rarely put into a position where you find yourself wishing you had one.

Flash Bolts

These are really helpful when you are low on ammo. Shoot one of these and you’ll blind enemies, allowing you to get a sneak kill in without wasting precious ammo. Getting this up to level three means that enemies will be stunned for a total of ten seconds, which is plenty of time to take out two, maybe three, enemies with sneak skills.

Other Upgrades to Consider

The damage multiplier for the revolver and shotgun are good investments if you have enough green gel to spare. The damage and radius of the explosive bolt and the duration of the freeze bolt are also good upgrades as these help with bosses. So if you're finding different areas difficult, or a boss, try upgrading one or two of these. However, if you're not having any problems dispatching enemies then prioritize the other upgrades over these.

Concept art from "The Evil Within."

Concept art from "The Evil Within."

Where to Start?

So where do you start? Your very first upgrade should be getting the revolver's critical chance up to level two and your second upgrade should be to increase your maximum sprint time to level two as well. After these two, focus on getting your stock up a level to start; handgun ammunition, matches, and then syringes. If you have enough green gel then upgrade the critical of your revolver as well as accuracy. As soon as you get the shotgun level up the critical chance of it and how much ammunition you can carry for it as well. When you get the agony crossbow, ideally early in the game and not later, upgrade your stock and then the damage for your harpoon bolts.

At this point, it's up to you on what order you should upgrade based on how much green gel you have and what's fitting your play style. For example, if you find that you're never full on handgun ammunition but you often have to pass up on shotgun shells, then you're better off upgrading the stock of your shotgun rather than the handgun. The levels mentioned above are more of a baseline for you to get to before you put levels into anything else, such as the revolver's damage multiplier. You should be able to increase all the upgrades to the recommended levels by the time you're halfway through the game, with the exception of the harpoon bolts.

I hope this guide has been helpful in some way and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Questions & Answers

Question: What about the other weapons you get in The Evil Within?

Answer: They aren't worth upgrading over any of the upgrades/weapons I mentioned. They may be fun to try out though in a second or third playthrough.


Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on January 02, 2019:

I bought this game recently and it's super scary. This guide will come in useful when I pluck up the courage to play it again. Thank you!