In the first part of this beginners guide, I gave players some useful Grim Dawn tips to help them make their way through in a more efficient manner (and find joy in doing so!). In this second installment, I will continue to give more advice, focusing on the leveling and endgame aspects, and how they are different.
Part Two: Leveling v.s Endgame
This concept took me some time to get use to, and when I started playing as a newby, I would spend hours looking at Guides. I was perturbed to find in my searches that there were NO beginner leveling guides, so I instead just skipped to ones covering builds. Other times I’d play another build, following it’s leveling guide on “veteran” difficulty, and would think, “Wow! This build is going to be the easiest to run.” In both cases I came out with false impressions of the game, as what I thought were hard facts, were simply a lack of understanding. I have since come to the realization that Grim Dawn is simply unfriendly to beginners… Although, this I consider is totally fine, as Grim Dawn has a very steep learning curve, as I explained in my Grim Dawn review.
The reality is: There are many ways to level a build, some of which are easier than others, with the endgame result being very different. I’ll try to go into more detail about some of these differences between endgame and leveling in hopes to give new players an idea of what to expect and what to not to.
Endgame Skills Might Not Be The Same As Leveling Skills
Yes it’s true, you could choose “Arcanist” for the first mastery and pick up one of strongest leveling skills such as “Olexra’s Flash Freeze” or “OFF” as some call it. This can be your focus early on and one hit the entire screen as you begin leveling. Or you could pick up “Fireblast/Greater Fireblast” from components and think it’s a strong build… but you’d be wrong.
The build is neither strong, weak or anything yet as it’s way too early in the game for you to make your judgement. These skills might not even apply to your endgame build, just like “Fireblast”. Or you may reduce its level to one, just like “OFF” in a “Albercht Aether Ray” build.
So enjoy being overpowered for the first few levels, but be smart about it while leveling as some skills (such as “Primal Strike” for “Shaman”) have good scaling with “weapon damage”, others have extensive modifiers like “Panetti’s Replicating Missile,” and might be suitable as a main skill for you endgame if you build around them. But other skills are good only for lower levels such as fillers until you get your upgrades so don’t get too attached. If you’re not following a step-by-step leveling guide make sure to ask questions, ask other experienced players forums and/or experiment around with different variations.
How Early Game Offensive Priorities Differ To Endgame
I’m talking about the most common question asked in the game: “What bonuses do I look for, for gear and weapons?” The answer is…it will differ, sometimes greatly depending on which build you pick. Let’s continue with the “Fireblast” example from the previous point, this spell does pure fire damage. So while leveling, picking up “Fire Damage %” will be the best bonus for you to choose as you can increase your damage with it. When you reach 50% and have found a good “Aether” weapon, start to invest in “Albercht Aether Ray” (which is “Aether/Fire damage”). Keeping fire might sound good for few more levels (as it’s a part of the damage spec anyway) but soon you’d be better off looking at getting “Convert X damage to Aether”, “Aether resistant reduction” along with “Aether damage %”. Also be wary of “Reduce Energy Cost” , because this skill can drain you dry in no more than a couple of seconds. See the difference now between endgame and leveling?
Another example would be a “Fire Pets” build, where you might see some drastic differences from stacking “Pet damage %” early on. However, as you level up, things gets quite different. “+Level to Flame Touched” should be your biggest concern, I won’t explain about it here but if you’re interested go read DaShiv’s extensive guide as it will give you more insight into it.
How To +Levels To All Skills
This part can easily trick novices, as it did to me. As I said before, most builds are easy to play early in the game and everything turns out fine. But not all builds can keep up throughout the game, the reason being is the need for more skill points. It’s a serious concern for builds which need many skills, these include “Damage”, “Damage Mitigation”, “Resistance Reduction”, “Health”, “Armor”, “Procs”, “Defensive Ability” and “Offensive Ability” reduction etc. All these require skill points to be at max, and then “+ levels to skills” to go over max for example 22/12 and 26/16.
“+ Levels to skills” only comes from gear which come from random drops and are from a huge drop table. You are never know what you will get and if it’s what you want at endgame (with few exceptions for granted drops).
So know this: If you plan to go with something that requires many skills, don’t let the leveling process fool you into believing it will be easy, it will be an uphill battle unless you have the right gear. That’s why a build which is gear dependent isn’t that friendly to newer players. You might want to shelf characters that lack the right gear and level another character who can gain you gear more readily and are easier to be kept content.
Relics Will Not Level As Fast As You Do
You will learn this very soon, relics will NOT progress as fast as you do, so don’t be disappointed when you see this happening. The recipes for relics are obtained in random drops, meaning they are harder to get than gear, and they have a progression system that can hinder you for several playthroughs. Even something as simple as a level 35 relic can be very hard to craft. You finally get the recipe for it only to discover it’s not enough and you are not ready to use it yet as you still require another few relics. Each of those relics will need an additional recipe and each of those need rare materials you probably used for some other task. Not only will they require components but, some might need certain faction reputation in order to be made available. That’s normal, you aren’t slacking so don’t blame yourself for not having a proper relic yet. Make do with whatever you can craft (or trade) and make sure whatever build you are making it is not dependent on a certain relic (for example some pets are exclusive to relics).
Resistance Reduction (RR) Is Mandatory At Endgame But Not While Leveling
That one might not be very obvious, but it’s true for most builds “Restistane Reduction” is essential later on. Whatever damage type you decided to go with, you will most likely need to de-buff the enemy, reducing their resistance to that type of damage. It’s good to know that beforehand, and plan your devotion path/items accordingly. You will not need them on “Normal/Veteran” difficulty, but you will need them in the end, so remember this!
Faction Reputation Is Important At Endgame But Not Early On
Well, the gear these factions provide might be good for your build, bad or anything in-between. But what is mandatory from factions are the little flasks named “Augments” as these put bonuses on your gear. Again, this is something you might not want to bother with early on, but when you hit “Elite” and “Ultimate” difficulty, you will need to get them on every item. Weapons and accessories become accessible when “Respected” and “Honored” faction status are reached, but armor ones need a “Revered” status, these are crucial to compensate the higher resistances and counter the difficulty level.