In the opening hours of Atomic Heart, the game guides you through the acquisition of a “Shok,” a rudimentary upgrade for your Char-Les smart polymer glove. This tutorial, along with my experience with similar games, led me to believe that this was the only rudimentary upgrade available to me at that early stage. In fact, Char-Les even says (the clip “More skills will be available to you soon”), but it’s not 100% true, since all the glove upgrades are available at once, you just need enough materials for them.
Atomic Heart doesn’t tell you this, but if you go back to the NORA machine after the free manual updates, you’ll see that you have about 30 neuropolymers to use. That’s enough to buy Polymeric Shield separately OR Frostbite and Polymeric Jet together. The latter will give you 3 elemental abilities right out of the gate, giving you an early advantage against your enemies.
The best part is that you are not limited in your decision here. You can return abilities at any point in the game to NORA for a 100% resource refund. So if you want to try the Shield ability first, you can do that and then try the other two abilities, and vice versa. The game eventually gives you this information, but it’s good to know it early so you can start to change your playstyle during business hours. This awesome refund feature also works when disassembling weapons and consumables, but you don’t have to worry about the weapon part just yet. This is because unlike glove upgrades, not all weapons are available from the start and must be unlocked through found blueprints.