What are the best Payday 3 skills? The Payday series has always invited players to embrace their own individual playstyle. You and your crew of crooks can choose to take on the game’s heists ‘loud’ and chaotic or ‘quiet’ and stealthy. The distinct Payday 3 skills you can spec your character out with aid you in carrying a job as you see fit.
With the Payday 3 release date now here on PS5, PS4, Xbox, and PC it is set to maintain the series’ focus on tailoring your experience. However, it introduces a slight overhaul to the game’s skill system and presents plenty of new options. It’s worth getting to grips with it all before diving into your life of crime. Luckily, we’re here to take you through everything you need to know.
Payday 3 best skills
The best Payday 3 skills are:
- Aced Engineer – Engineer skill line
- Ammo Funnel – Mower skill line
- Bagger – Infiltrator skill line
- Glitch Protocol – Hacker skill line
- Quick Fingers – Infiltrator skill line
- Secure Loop – Hacker skill line
- Slippery – Grifter master node
- Sprint Loaded – Mower master node
Ammo Funnel – Mower skill line
With Ammo Funnel, any ammo you pick up is instantly added to the magazine of your equipped weapon provided you have the EDGE status effect. If your magazine is full, it’s instead added to your ammo reserves. This perk is excellent as it gives you a continual flow of ammunition.
One of the caveats is that it has to be paired with a skill that grants EDGE. The basic Gunslinger perk fits this requirement, as it provides EDGE each time you switch your weapon. However, aiming down sights removes this effect. Pairing Ammo Funnel with Sharpshooter is a better bet for those who like to attack with more precision.
Aced Engineer – Engineer skill line
On higher difficulties in particular, you may find yourself wishing for another gunman to help you clear waves of police. Thankfully, the Engineer skill line can lend you a little added firepower. With it, you can deploy a turret that’ll shoot any enemy in its sight. The only downside of turrets is their propensity to overheat. The Aced Engineer increases the maximum heat build-up of the sentry turret by 40%. This gives it plenty of time to chip away at the crowd of enemies before it needs to be redeployed.
Bagger – Infiltrator skill line
Equipping the Bagger skill means you bag loot 50% faster as long as you have the RUSH status active. With the basic Infiltrator skill, you’ll gain RUSH when you pick a lock or kill an enemy with a throwing knife. This is more of a narrow use case though, so take the Escapist skill for an easier way to activate it: just sprint for 3 seconds.
This skill is especially valuable when you’re playing solo. Unfortunately, bots don’t take the initiative to help you transport bags. To ease the strain of moving loot, add Bagger to your loadout.
Glitch Protocol – Hacker skill line
Using Glitch Protocol, you can create a disturbance on a guard’s radio as long they’re in your line of sight. This will make them totally preoccupied for 5 seconds. This is a smart move if that guard is at risk of catching you doing something illegal or is about to escort/detain you.
If the guard was trying to escort you before the Glitch Protocol was activated, they’ll go back to patrolling. If you were in deeper trouble and they planned to detain you, they’d instead be actively searching for you. Thankfully, the distraction should give you enough time to get well out of their sight.
Quick Fingers – Infiltrator skill line
Picking a lock is a process that usually requires two to four QTEs, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to be sneaky or preoccupied with hoards of enemies. The Quick Fingers skill drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to pick a lock. On the condition you have the RUSH effect, you only need to complete one QTE.
Faster lockpicking enables heisters to access loot and maneuver around the map more effectively. As a result, Quick Fingers is one of the most universally useful skills in Payday 3 — no matter what your playstyle is.
Secure Loop – Hacker skill line
While playing a stealth heist, there’s plenty to keep track of. Along with avoiding the sightline of guards and civilians, dodging security cameras can be a real struggle at times. Secure Loop allows you to bypass this challenge by looping the camera’s footage. While this effect is active, the camera will be unable to detect you, even while committing illegal actions.
In order to use the Secure Loop skill, you’ll need to also have the basic Hacker skill equipped. This will allow you to take control of the security camera and gain one ‘runtime’. This runtime is spent in order to enact the Secure Loop.
Slippery – Grifter master node
Heisting doesn’t always go to plan, but avoiding getting taken into custody is vital. If you’re playing with a team, they’ll be down a member while they wait for you to respawn. Even worse is if you’re playing solo, as it’ll end your heist. Luckily, with the Slippery skill, you have something of a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Once you’re cuffed, you can lockpick your handcuffs and escape.
Sprint Loaded – Mower master node
While it’s an immensely simple skill, you really don’t notice just how valuable Sprint Loaded is until you play with it equipped. The ability to run and reload gives you added mobility and allows you to quickly regroup and reposition in combat. It also feels exceptionally cool to tear through crowds of enemies without having to slow down to reload.
Payday 3 skills list
The Payday 3 skills are:
- Engineer skill line – AP Turret, Cooling System, Detonation, Spin Cycle, Dual Sentries, Targeted Fire
- Medic skill line – Steady Hands, Extra Charge, Combat Medic, Code Blue, Triage, Field Surgery
- Ammo Specialist skill line – Scrounger, Fully Loaded, Plate Up, High Grain, Mag Throw, Top Up
- Mower skill line – Recoil Handling, Suppressive Fire, Ammo Funnel, Replenish, Sprint Loaded
- Infiltrator skill line – Quick Fingers, Retriever, Bagger, Blade Bouncer, Frugal Thrower
- Tank skill line – Hardy, Extra Plates, Armor Up, Last Man Standing, Disengage
- Sharpshooter skill line – Collateral Control, Long Shot, Precision Shot, Cutting Shot, Speed Aim
- Escapist skill line – Balanced, Move and Cover, Slide Tackle, Battering Ram, Swift
- Demolitionist skill line – Cooker, Shell Shock, Blowback, Blast Shield, Overcooked, Extra Munitions
- Enforcer skill line – Quick Reload, Face To Face, Solid, Combat Reload, Shock and Awe
- Manipulator skill line – Overbearing, Silver Tongue, Negotiator, Menacing, Stockholm Syndrome, Master Trader
- Gunslinger skill line – From The Hip, Heavy Hipfire, Finisher, Quick Draw
- Grifter skill line – Walk The Walk, Social Engineering, Open Mic, Slippery
- Hacker skill line – Secure Loop, Appliance Breach, Routed Ping, Signal Catch
- Tactician skill line – Crowd Control, Coup De Grace, Discombobulate, Expose, Scramble
- Strategist skill line – Combat Marking, Threat Assessment, Misdirect, Marked For Death
- CQC Specialist skill line – Soft Assets, Groundskeeper, Pin Puller, Savage Takedown, Pressure Points, Cover-Up
Payday 3 ditches skill trees in favor of skill lines. Each line consists of a core skill, which you unlock through ‘research’ during heists. After you’ve selected the base node, you can pick any of the upgrade nodes in the skill line to develop its abilities. There’s a final node in the line called the Mastery Node. This is weaker than other skills in the line but can be added to your build without equipping its base node.
Across all skill lines, there are a total of 105 skills. That’s a massive amount of potential for build customization that warrants an equally massive amount of explanation. So, let’s get right into it.
Engineer skill line
Focused on turrets.
Basic: Unlocking this skill gives you access to the Sentry Turret equipment. This turret can be equipped in the equipment slot of your loadout. The turret will shoot any non-mechanical enemies it sees until the enemies are dead or no longer within sight. As it shoots, it will build up heat until it reaches max heat. Once the sentry is at max heat, it will stop functioning. The owner of the turret can pick up the turret at any point to reset the heat to 0 and redeploy it. Equipping this skill increases the max heat build-up of your turret by 20%.
Aced: Increases the max heat build-up of your sentry turret by another 20%.
- AP Turret: Increase armor penetration of sentry turrets you deploy by 1.
- Cooling System: Reduce heat build-up from damage, electrical explosions or hack attempts by 30% for all turrets.
- Detonation: Whenever your turret overheats, it will cause an explosion that damages NPCs in an area.
- Spin Cycle: Your sentry turret can now rotate 360 degrees to acquire its targets.
- Dual Sentries: You can now deploy a second sentry turret, but all your turrets build heat 50% faster while shooting.
- Master Node: Targeted Fire: Your turrets will switch targets to whichever enemy you mark manually if it’s within line of sight. If you mark multiple enemies, it will prioritize the last one you marked.
Medic skill line
Focused on healing yourself and reviving teammates.
Basic: You revive teammates 20% faster. Medic bags you deploy have 2 additional charges.
Aced: When you start reviving a teammate, you gain GRIT (-10% damage taken). As long as you have GRIT, you take 15% less damage when reviving a teammate.
- Steady Hands: Interacting with Medic Bags heals you for an additional 20% of your max health.
- Extra Charge: Medic Bags you deploy have 2 additional charges.
Combat Medic If you have GRIT, successfully reviving your teammate will give both you and that teammate damage immunity for 3 seconds.
- Code Blue: Whenever a teammate is downed or disabled, you gain or refresh RUSH (movement speed increased).
- Triage: Interacting with a Medic Bag or First Aid Kit will consume active EDGE (+10% damage dealt), GRIT, and RUSH and heal you for an additional 15% for each.
- Master Node: Field Surgery: Interacting with a Medic Bag will restore an additional 10% of your max health and restore 1 “down”.
Ammo Specialist skill line
Focused on ammo collection.
Basic: Your reserve ammo capacity is increased by 20%. Ammo bags you deploy have 2 additional charges.
Aced: Whenever you pick up ammo, if your current weapon’s magazine is full, you gain EDGE if you don’t have it.
- Scrounger: As long as you have EDGE, ammo drops have a 10% chance of replenishing one of your throwables.
- Fully Loaded: Ammo bags you deploy have 2 additional charges.
Plate Up. As long as you have GRIT, ammo drops will instantly regenerate your current armor chunk.
- High Grain: After interacting with an ammo bag, you get 20% more damage for 10 seconds or until you swap weapons. This bonus does not stack with itself.
- Mag Throw: As long as you have RUSH, any ammo drops you pick up are also given to crew members within 10 meters. This won’t trigger the Mag Throw skill of other players.
- Master Node: Top Up: Interacting with any ammo bag will restore an additional 20% ammo and fully restock your throwables.
Mower skill line
Focused on increasing damage through EDGE.
Basic: Every 35 bullets you shoot, gain EDGE.
Aced: Whenever you reload a weapon with an empty magazine, refresh EDGE.
- Recoil Handling: As long as you have EDGE, your weapon recoil is reduced.
- Suppressive Fire: As long as you have EDGE, every shot from your weapon has a chance to inflict a heavy stagger.
- Ammo Funnel: As long as you have EDGE, ammo you pick up is directly added to your equipped weapon’s magazine. If your magazine is full, it’s added to your reserves instead.
- Replenish: As long as you have EDGE, you automatically pick up ammo dropped by enemies you have killed.
- Master Node: Sprint Loaded: You can reload while sprinting.
Infiltrator skill line
Focused on lockpicking and knife throwing.
Basic: Whenever you successfully pick a lock, or kill an enemy with a throwing knife, gain or refresh RUSH.
Aced: Whenever a guard begins to detect you, gain RUSH.
- Quick Fingers: As long as you have RUSH, a successful lockpick jiggle will immediately pick the lock.
- Retriever: Your throwing knives won’t break on impact with the environment.
- Bagger: As long as you have RUSH, you bag loot 50% faster.
- Blade Bouncer: Your throwing knives will ricochet off the environment up to two times. The throwing knife will do extra damage for each bounce.
- Master Node: Frugal Thrower: Throwables you use have a 20% chance to be replenished after they are destroyed.
Tank skill line
Focused on armor strength and resilience.
Basic: Increases the regeneration speed of your armor chunks by 20%. Your armor bag has 2 additional charges.
Aced: Whenever one of your armor chunks breaks, gain or refresh GRIT.
- Hardy: As long as you have at least one armor chunk, any flashbang, stagger or stun effect duration you suffer is lowered by 50%.
- Extra Plates: Your armor bag has 2 additional charges.
- Armor Up: Interacting with any armor bag will restore an additional chunk.
- Last Man Standing: If damage would normally down you, you can instead consume available GRIT to stay on your feet and become immune to damage for 10 seconds. After this effect has been applied, you can’t gain GRIT until you heal using a Medic Bag or First Aid Kit, or until you’re downed.
- Master Node: Disengage: Once per heist, you can free yourself from a Cloaker or Zapper, after which you can’t be disabled by them again for 5 seconds.
Sharpshooter skill line
Focused on precision and accuracy.
Basic: Stand still for 1.5 seconds while aiming down sights or scopes and gain EDGE.
Aced: Performing a headshot while aiming down sight will refresh your EDGE.
- Collateral Control: If you destroy a Special enemy’s weak point, like the Zapper’s batter or the Nader’s belt, the explosion will only affect enemies.
- Long Shot: As long as you have EDGE and are aiming down sights, distance penalties do not apply to headshot multipliers.
- Precision Shot: When aiming down a scope, your shot will consume any EDGE you have. When this happens, your shot will do extra damage based on your scope magnification.
- Cutting Shot: As long as you have EDGE, your armor penetration is increased.
- Master Node: Speed Aim: Once per heist, you can free yourself from a Cloaker or Zapper, after which you can’t be disabled by them again for 5 seconds.
Escapist skill line
Focused on evading enemies.
Basic: Whenever you sprint for at least 3 seconds, gain RUSH.
Aced: If you have RUSH available and slide, it’s consumed, and you gain or refresh EDGE.
- Balanced: As long as you have RUSH and an enemy or effect would stagger you, instead consume RUSH and ignore the stagger.
- Move and Cover: If you have EDGE available and vault or mantle, it’s consumed, and you gain or refresh GRIT.
- Slide Tackle: If you have GRIT and slide into one or more non-Special enemies, you consume GRIT and stagger those enemies.
- Battering Ram: As long as you have EDGE, GRIT or RUSH, you can sprint through doors to breach them as though you had shot the lock. Only effective on doors that can be shot open.
- Master Node: Swift: Your base sprinting speed when masked on is increased by 10%.
Demolitionist skill line
Focused on explosives.
Basic: Explosions caused by your shots or throwables have their area of effect increased by 20%.
Aced: Whenever you cause an explosion, gain or refresh RUSH.
- Cooker: Whenever you hold a throwable for at least
1.5 seconds before throwing it, gain GRIT.
- Shell Shock: Non-special enemies damaged by your explosions get a permanent penalty of 10% to accuracy. This effect can only be applied once.
- Blowback: As long as you have RUSH, non-special enemies damaged by your explosions lose all armor.
- Blast Shield: Available GRIT is consumed to negate any damage you would normally receive from explosions caused by you.
- Overcooked: Any throwable or weapon that you use that has an explosive component will no longer run on a timer but will immediately explode on impact with the environment or an NPC.
- Master Node: Extra Munitions: Your throwable capacity is increased by 2.
Enforcer skill line
Focused on point-blank gunplay.
Basic: Whenever you kill 2 enemies within 4 seconds that are within 5 meters of you, you gain GRIT.
Aced: Whenever you kill 1 enemy within 5 meters range, if you have GRIT, gain EDGE.
- Quick Reload: As long as you have both GRIT and EDGE, you have increased reload speed.
- Face To Face: As long as you have both EDGE and GRIT, you deal 10% extra damage to targets within 5 meters of you.
- Solid: As long as you have both EDGE and GRIT, you’re immune to stagger effects.
- Combat Reload: Whenever you reload a weapon while the magazine still has ammo, refresh EDGE and GRIT.
- Master Node: Shock and Awe: Killing an enemy within 8 meters of you has a chance to stagger all non-Special enemies within 5 meters of you.
Manipulator skill line
Focused on hostage management.
Basic: Whenever you kill 2 enemies within 4 seconds that are within 5 meters of you, you gain GRIT.
Aced: Whenever you kill 1 enemy within 5 meters range, if you have GRIT, gain EDGE.
- Overbearing: Your shout range for intimidating civilians is increased by 20%. Civilians stay down 50% longer after being shouted down.
- Silver Tongue: Trading Employees, Guards or Law Enforcement counts as trading an additional hostage.
- Negotiator: Trading hostages for First Aid now yields 1 additional First Aid pack.
- Menacing: You can shout at guards, SWAT or Heavy SWAT within 5 meters of you to force them to surrender. As long as you’re aiming at them, they will go down on their knees to drop their weapon. Any damage dealt to them or taking your aim off of them interrupts this process. Once fully surrendered, the SWAT obeys all the rules of a civilian, including any penalties for killing them. You can’t have more than one SWAT as a hostage at any time.
- Stockholm Syndrome: When you’re downed, you can shout at a tied-down or cowering hostage within range to try and reach you and revive you.
- Master Node: Master Trader: Every hostage you trade between assault waves reduces the player’s time in custody by 20 seconds; the minimum time spent in custody is capped at 10 seconds. This time reduction resets after any player has been taken into custody.
Gunslinger skill line
Focused on secondary weapons.
Basic: Whenever you switch to your secondary weapon, you gain EDGE. ADSing or switching weapons will end any EDGE you have active.
Aced: Performing headshots with your weapon in hip fire will refresh any EDGE you have.
- From The Hip: As long as you have EDGE, your hip fire spread is decreased.
- Heavy Hipfire: As long as you have EDGE, hipfire shots will cause heavy stagger.
- Finisher: If you have EDGE, the last shot of your magazine will consume it to deal 200% more damage.
- Master Node: Quick Draw: Increase your weapon swap speed.
Grifter skill line
Focused on casing mode.
Basic: As long as you are masked off, if you are within 1 meter of a civilian or employee, gain RUSH.
Aced: When your mask is on, any civilians and employees within 10 meters that can see you will become intimidated.
- Walk The Walk: As long as you’re unmasked and have RUSH, cameras can’t detect you trespassing into private areas. (They will still detect you performing an illegal action.)
- Social Engineering: As long as you’re unmasked and have RUSH, employees will ignore you performing illegal actions.
- Open Mic: You answer radios 50% faster.
- Master Node: Slippery: After getting cuffed by a guard, you can break free by lockpicking the cuffs.
Hacker skill line
Focused on hacking skills.
Basic: You can hack cameras to gain access to the area’s CCTV system. This functions as though you accessed the heist’s security room. You gain one Runtime.
Aced: You can overload a device that already has an active Runtime. This will cause an electrical explosion that will stun anyone within range and destroy the device. You gain one additional Runtime.
- Secure Loop: You can use one Runtime to make the security camera you’re controlling loop its footage. Cameras looping their footage cannot detect you or anything out of the ordinary. If the camera is destroyed, you regain your Runtime use. If you apply a new Runtime when you’re at max Runtimes, your oldest active one is removed.
- Appliance Breach: You can activate lures from a distance, as long as you have a clear line of sight.
- Routed Ping: You can spend a Runtime to make the hacked camera automatically mark any guards or law enforcement within its range. Targets stay marked for 5 seconds after leaving the camera’s view and do not count towards your maximum number of marked targets.
- Glitch Protocol: You can hack a guard’s radio to cause a disturbance, stopping and distracting them, pausing any action they are doing. You must have a line of sight to the guard to hack them. The guard is distracted for 5 seconds, after which they will go back to their previous action. If the guard was escorting a player, the guard will go back to patrolling. If the guard was about to detain a player, the guard will go into Search mode instead. Using this ability has a cooldown of 60 seconds.
- Master Node: Signal Catch: You can answer radios remotely if you have line of sight to the guard’s body.
Tactician skill line
Focused on stunning enemies.
Basic: Whenever you stun or stagger an enemy, gain EDGE.
Aced: Your flashbang and smoke grenade area of effect is increased by 20%.
- Crowd Control: Civilians affected by your flashbang will cower for a duration that is twice as long as if you had shouted them down. Civilians affected by your smoke grenade will stop moving unless you order them to follow you.
- Coup De Grace: If you have EDGE, you will deal 5% more damage when you shoot a staggered or stunned enemy.
- Discombobulate: Enemies affected by your flashbangs suffer a 40% damage debuff for the duration of the stun and for 5 seconds after it wears off. Enemies affected by your smoke grenade suffer a 40% damage debuff while in the smoke, and it has a duration of 5 seconds after they have escaped the smoke.
- Expose: Shots fired at enemies affected by your flashbang will ignore armor for as long as they are stunned.
- Master Node: Scramble: Any stun effects you apply last 20% longer.
Strategist skill line
Focused on marking targets.
Basic: You can mark 1 additional target. Your marks last 20% longer.
Aced: You can mark 1 additional target. Your marks last 20% longer.
- Combat Marking: As long as you have EDGE, you deal an extra 10% damage against any marked target.
- Threat Assessment: As long as you have GRIT, you take 10% less damage from any marked target.
- Misdirect: As long as you have RUSH, any marked Cloaker or Zapper that tries to disable you will instead suffer a heavy stagger.
- Master Node: Marked For Death: Whenever you are downed or disabled by an enemy, that enemy and up to 5 enemies within 5 meters of you are marked.
CQC Specialist skill line
Focused on close combat and human shields.
Basic: Whenever you perform a takedown, gain, or refresh RUSH.
Aced: Whenever you grab a human shield, gain or refresh GRIT.
- Soft Assets: When you shove away a SWAT you’re using as a human shield, gain extra ammo. You move 5% faster while holding a human shield.
- Groundskeeper: You perform takedowns 20% faster.
- Pin Puller: If you have GRIT and shove a SWAT you held as a human shield, GRIT is consumed, and the SWAT’s smoke grenade is triggered when they land. Only one grenade per SWAT can be triggered. You move % faster while holding a human shield.
- Savage Takedown: Whenever you perform a takedown, any civilian within 5 meters will immediately become intimidated.
- Pressure Points: Corpses you’ve left after performing a takedown need to be examined in detail before civilians and guards realize they are dead.
- Master Node: Cover-up: Taking down a guard will immediately also answer the radio.
That’s it for the Payday 3 skills. Still eager for more information on Payday 3? Check out our guide on the best Payday 3 weapons for everything you need to know about the gear available in your class whether you are playing with friends or Payday 3 solo. If you plan to play on PC or Xbox then you can also jump in thanks to the Payday 3 Game Pass release.