This guide assumes that you have read the New Player Guide and looking for how to progress beyond the beginning of the game. This guide will focus on when to upgrade, how to upgrade, how much to upgrade, which quest lines to rush (and when to rush), leveling strategy, along with a long term planning ideas. It's followed by Intermediate Guide, Advanced Guide and eventually by the End-game Guide.
At the start of the game, getting combat and mining exp masteries are very important for progressing faster by unlocking higher tier items or more mining lasers. Getting these early on, when the global boosts are especially more powerful for you multiply their value. For the global boosts to be more effective, we want the % exp masteries. Therefore, we need these masteries:
- Skilled Weaponry (4)
- Knowledge Weaponry (3)
- Skilled Extraction (4)
- Knowledge Extraction (3)
After exp, action efficiency is key. You don't have any buffer actions and thus will go into negative actions (aka fatigue) quite often every time you sleep. There are multiple ways to solve this: Buying stasis injections from market before sleeping (temporary) Buying actions with credits (permanent) Getting action masteries and eventually getting buffer mastery (permanent)
The action masteries get better with every following one on the chain. These are:
- Limitless (4)
- Prevail (4) (takes very long) (needs combat level 100)
- Buffer Efficiency (Ideally 5, in practice at least 4)
As you hit negative actions, both your combat and mining rate will drop. So, if you wanted to focus on mining, you should get the mining exp masteries first, then get the action efficiency masteries so you don't lose out on mining because of hitting negative actions. As these masteries will take time, more mastery specialization will be covered in the next guides; specifically the late-game guide where you are expected to be above combat level 100.
Keep in mind that early game, selling data chips on market gets you an incredible amount of income. As the price fluctuates around 3-4M, that means, by selling every data chip you get (one per hour), you can get around 80M income if you sell them all.
The Equipment Conundrum
Your equipment doesn't need to be the best that you can buy that is allowed by your level: it must depend on your current objective. For example:
- If you want to level combat as fast as possible, you don't need to switch to T4 when it becomes available, as you can max kill the last Wastelands enemy with all T3 + T4 earrings setup easily. Nothing else needs to be converted to T4.
- When you acquire your T6 augments, as they provide enough power to max kill Unseen Horrors; you don't need to swap to T6 gear then; just get the new T6 shoulder as a new equipment.
The starter T1 items are recommended because the upgrade resources are actually cheaper than of T0 items, and they provide much better benefits: enough for our purposes for some levels.
When upgrading, as T1 reinforcements are cheap, take the 100% chance upgrade option. Due to the abundance of upgrade materials from Prospector's Antiquing ability, you should do this for every tier except the final one. Decide by looking at the market price of these upgrade materials: if they're above 10k gold a piece, go for the 10% upgrade option as that's statistically cheaper.
There is a very simple principle about empowerments: DON'T. Not until you reach T5 or T6 gear, it's just not worth it. It's very expensive (at least 1M in gold/ore, increases with every tier) and you will either need the money for quests or the small stat increase it will bring won't be enough to make a difference unless you invest a lot of money for mass empowering and do it all the way to 9 stars which gives +10 speed.
You can get your 1st mining laser at lvl 20, 2nd at lvl 60, 3rd at lvl 90 and so on. At the start of the game, where you don't have many bonuses from Prospector levels, mining lasers will be especially weak. By only having 1 mining laser to use, you won't be getting much mining income from any of these lasers. As you don't have much gold in hand, it won't make too much of a difference to have 20% more ore when you were only mining 16. The mining lasers only really start to matter when you have 2 of them: base ore and percentage together. Before having 2 lasers, getting only 1 of them isn't justified against the cost. Your gold can be better invested in other areas like data chips, injections, mastery unlocks or Rbot upgrades. If you want to mine more, upgrade the Cache ability from Prospector: it'll give the majority of your mining income for the early-mid game later on.
Mining lasers are really expensive as you go above level 20 lasers. Keep than in mind.
The Beginner Times
Your first goal should be to have all your T1 gear fully upgraded, you should have no trouble clearing the questline until the end of “Maintaining Supply Routes”. Your next goal should be focused on getting to combat level 50 for the T3 equipment power spike. Until then, you may not max kill the required monster all the time. To compensate, you can buy lvl 1 brutality injections from the market. All the other injections provide you with % bonuses while brutality provides flat amount bonuses; this makes it much more useful than any other injection early on in the game. With a higher brutality injection, you can easily max kill all Wasteland monsters with ease. Use these to breeze past “The Gishin Excavation” questline, as it provides Combat exp, permanent actions and -most importantly- the T2 augments which will fill the empty slots in the right side of your Gear. These augments are important as they will be with you until level 100.
For reference, if you go by max killing the highest Wasteland monster that you can, this is what your timeline should look like (when you fall to negative actions during the night):
- 3-4 hours to get to level 30 (T2)
- 13-14 hours to get to level 50 (T3)
- 25-30 hours to get to level 70 (T4 earring)
- 2 days to get to level 80 (T5 belt)
- 4 days to get to level 100 (T6 augment)
To help your purposes of clearing the required monsters easier, complete the 2nd quest in the Sidearm Instructor questline to get the T1 sidearm. Only continue this questline until you reach level 30 for the T2 sidearm and likewise for level 50. There are some quests that grant some combat exp that will push you to level 50 for tier 3, so you can rush those quests.
You can slow play getting the Brain (aka not rush through the questline with brutality injections) as it's at the end of the questline, while the other 3 are much easier to get. If you decide not to rush, wait until combat lvl 50, then get all tier 3 equipment and demolish the questline.
T3 Power Spike
To increase your exp income, prepare for a huge power spike at combat lvl 50. That's when T3 unlocks, and that's when you should swap every equipment you have into their T3 variants. You can prepare this step even before hitting lvl 50, as crafting an item doesn't require levels. The process is as follows:
- Buy the crafting materials from market (Karth Plate, Gory Tusk, T2/T3 scrap, omnium)
- Craft your mainhand weapon (Vecrotic Rifle), purchase a Puncture 4 from the market (costs around 1M but very much worth it) and reinforce the rifle with puncture 4 before doing the rest of the reinforcements with 100% pierce.
- Craft several of an item, picking the one that has good speed, armor and pierce on them. You should prioritize these because fortitude and savagery being above/below average doesn't matter as much since each reinforcement grants you +5 of those stats.
- Reinforce/energize all T3 items as much as you can. As you have low armor, don't go for the %armor energizements for now.
Now, after completing the Gishin Excavation questline, getting all T3, equipping the T2 augments and upgrading those, it's time to prepare for the next phase. Or rather, wait to hit combat level 100.
The Great Abyss Difficulty Jump
The last quest of Enter the Abyss questline is the first big limiter on your progression: pay 1M gold. This is the first quest that requires a huge amount of resources to complete, but it should pose no trouble if you've been following the 'Get money' section in the New-player guide.
Even before the above quest, you won't be max killing the enemies required by the questline. Fully reinforced/energized gear can max kill Thrashers. To max kill any Wasteland monster (which we face in the last quests of 'Enter the Abyss' questline) you're going to need the T4 earring (lower tiers don't have this item available). You don't actually need to swap any gear to T4; the increase in power in comparison to T3 is very few. The T4 energizements are exactly the same as T3 energizements and the only change in reinforcement is that each reinforcement gives +6 stat instead of +5, which isn't as potent compared to the jump from other tiers.
The jump from killing monsters in Wastelands and in Abyss is extremely high: you might not even kill a single Mammoth Bat when you were able to kill 5 Warped Tormenters (the last monster in Wasteland). If you can max kill 15 Warped Tormenters, you can only kill 5 bats. They are that hard to kill. This makes progressing through the abyss questlines a slog, which is bad news for us. For one, getting max kills early on is the best way to get experience to progress to higher tiers. For another, it also increases your max kill count, which is then required in Slayer mastery so that you will kill more monsters. This will be mentioned in the Intermediate Guide.
Our reasons for progressing through the Abyss questlines lie in their rewards:
- The early sidearms are tricky business. You cannot craft them until T8; they are only given as quest rewards.
- The early augments are the same: only in T9 can you craft augments, and not easily (requires weekly quest).
- It also unlocks dungeons, but we have no use for these. The rewards are weak and the exp dungeons give is now eclipsed by killing 15 of any abyss monster. Don't do early dungeons, it's a waste of time.
The T5 sidearm is unlocked at the last quest of the “Abyssal Pressures” questline while the augments unlock in the same questline earlier. All of these items are good or rare enough to warrant empowering, at least up to E9 for the +10 speed.
T6 and the first empower
For the following part, where paths will diverge, you need to be able to max kill Unseen Horrors, the first truly profitable monster in the game. To max kill an early abyss monster, full T5 or T6 isn't enough. You will need to empower some gear for it. Since we'll be using them for a while, getting the first T6 augment from the questline and empowering it to 9 (E9) is enough.
As you don't get any benefits switching from the latest Wasteland monster you're on (Karth Drake recommended for it's drop and the speed compendium) if you can't actually max kill it, it's better to wait until level 100. While waiting for level 100, buy a lot of ore, around 1M ore to be safe. When you hit level 100 combat, craft a full set of T6 to replace your T3 equipment. Now, you'll have 2 extra slots with belt and shoulders to equip, giving you a massive power increase. Do the standard equipment stuff: buy materials to craft multiple, prioritize speed, armor, pierce when choosing, reinforce + energize them all. Then, we start clearing the quests.
If you've joined a corporation, you can get some decent passive bonuses from your corporation abilities alone. More importantly, you can join an incursion and get some injections as a reward. It's time to use these (or buy higher leveled ones from market and use them). Again, prioritize higher level brutality injection over any others.
Your goal is to inject until you complete the “Intense Pressure” quest from the “Abyssal Pressures” questline, which gives you your first T6 augment, the abyssal exo-arm. Even with good injections, you'll likely kill 6-7 or less monsters for the questline. Nothing to do, just truck onwards until it's done. When you get your augment, reinforce+energize it and equip it.
Now, with the ores we stocked by buying them on market, it's time to empower.
There isn't much trick to empowering at the start of the game, as we're only doing it until E9 (or E10 if you want the green stars instead of the gold ones). The empower chance drops with each successful empower until 10%. When you fail empowering, you'll get precognitive dust. Use them on the last 2 empowers to increase your empower chance at the cost of slightly increasing the empower costs and spending all used dust when the empower is successful.
Empowering until E10 costs around 20M gold (raw+materials from market) and 650k ore. This will vary with how lucky you got when empowering.
After getting the final +10 speed empower, you should be strong enough to max kill the earliest abyss monsters like Unseen Horrors.
This is where the paths forward diverge significantly, depending on focusing on raw income, compendium, quests or max experience, in the next guide in the series, Intermediate Guide.
One of the primary areas one can improve their power is through Companions, which actually relates to every existing area of the game through the various Companions. There are 2 ways to invest in this area of the game: Raising the level cap of the Companions (which gets exp passively every combat action for the same amount), which gives passive static bonuses Leveling up abilities under companions, which gives passive % based bonuses. These abilities can only be leveled up to the level of the related companion.
Early on in the game, since our base income or stats are low, the static bonuses instead of the percentage ones are much more significant. Also, since more abilities unlock at companion levels 50, 100, 150 and 200; until these levels, we don't really have much options to level. The progression guide, related formulas and best ability picks can be found at the Companion guide (soonTM).
We don't go after companion abilities since they are very weak for now. Therefore, we will increase the level cap of the companions. The passive fortitude and savagery gained by Drone and Drake are very powerful early on.
Once you have slowly leveled the companions' max levels to 20, you will need to prepare for the almighty lvl 20 → 25 companion level jump, which features a staggering 10 plat cost per companion. As a new player, it's expensive to get all companions past the 20→25 wall but with good Plat Emporium deals, it's manageable. If you don't have the funds, you'll have to prioritize. I recommend you level up Drone, then Drake. These 2 companions give Fortitude and Savagery and they give great amounts of it when we've just started the game. The ability to kill more types of monsters opens up much more avenues than other passive incomes from the other 2 companions.
Until you have leveled all your companions past level 25, don't spend plat on any ability whatsoever, no matter how tempting it is. The levels on companions are more valuable. keep this up until level 50, however, if you have excess gold and want to spend it on plat, Cache ability can be leveled in small amounts.
Now that you've ready to max kill abyss monsters, you need to decide on which area to progress. Until you equip full T7 and empower them, the mainline quests won't matter too much. Therefore, as you wait for level 115 and then way beyond (enough that this'll be covered in the advanced guide), you need to decide where to invest your income to. You'll need to answer the list of questions below:
- Do you want to be a miner?
- Do you want to stick to great combat income?
- Do you want to play the long game and start going for Compendium?
- Do you want long term income from Rbot levels?
- How much do you want to invest in Companions?
- How much do you want to invest in Masteries?
- How soon do you want Slayer mastery maxed?
All of these questions are relevant towards different paths of progression, which will be explained in the next guide in the series: Intermediate Guide.
Thank you for reading, all feedback is appreciated (just write about it on discord).