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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 and eventually by the Advanced Guide (when I actually arrive there or someone else bothers to write it).
Early on, there is only one mastery that truly matters: Pack Hunter. There is also another mastery that helps with leveling: Skilled Weaponry. Both will take about 3 days each to get to level 3 mastery each. Since the general plan is rushing leveling many tier level requirements, the beginner mastery plan is focused solely on combat and it takes so long that it also covers the intermediate guide. My recommended skill queue is as follows:
- Train both to level 2
- Train Pack Hunter to level 4
- Train Skilled Weaponry to level 3
- Train Pack Hunter to level 5
- Train Carnage to level 4
- Train Skilled Weaponry to level 4 (optional)
- Train Knowledge Weaponry to level 3 (optional)
- Train Carnage to level 5
With the first 2 steps, you'll be clearing monsters with a bit more exp, 8 at a time. This will be very important to reach level 80 and beyond, where you will get access to T4 and T5 items respectively, in new unused slots. This is essential to start getting Compendium bonuses and will benefit you the most in the long term. Getting the mastery to level 5 takes 20 days and unlocks the next mastery in line that does the same thing: Carnage.
Unlocking Knowledge Weaponry isn't a necessity, but since it helps leveling and the early levels are fast enough to train, I've added it in. However, keep in mind that it will take about a month to reach Knowledge Weaponry in the plan outlined above.
If you choose Orthoclase or Anorthite ores for investing in mining lasers (they are much cheaper after all), I would recommend getting some early levels in their specializations, up to level 3 at most.
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. If you can complete your objective without switching or upgrading your items: don't. Save your money for later; invest in market since putting an order in the market doesn't have a cost. There are many quests early on which will require hefty ore and money investment.
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 many levels.
When upgrading, as T1 reinforcements are cheap, take the 100% chance upgrade option. For all other gear, take the 10% option as it'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 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.
I recommend holding until you hit mining level 40, where you can affort 2 mining laser upgrades so you can check the different ore collection rates and compare it with the market to choose which one to focus on.
The Beginner Times
Your first goal should be to have all your T1 gear fully upgraded, you should have no trouble clearing the questline up until the abyss monsters. A good T1 base will last you until the beginning of Enter the Abyss questline.
Next, your objective is to complete the Gishin Excavation questline as fast as possible for the T2 augments and upgrade those to prepare for the next phase. These augments will be with you until level 100. The progression here will be slow but steady, your focus going between buying ores and buying upgrades for your T1 set if you haven't finished it yet.
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. The sidearm reward quests need quite a lot of ores, so only take it when you meet the level requirement.
The 1M gate
The last quest of Enter the Abyss questline is the first big limiter on your progression: pay 1M gold. At this point, your goal should be selling everything you own to afford this cost ASAP because it unlocks the first dungeon and the Abyssal Riches daily questline, which you can only complete one quest in it that rewards the dungeon runs (Extracting Wealth quest).
It's recommended to buy a level 3 experience injector if you don't have one (corp incursion runs will give you some good amounts if you join a good team in a lvl 3 or 4 incursion) and use it after saving 8 runs (4 days worth). Dungeons will give a great deal of exp, and you fight the monsters one on one, so you will easily calculate if you can win by looking at the dungeon monster's stats.
By this point, you should be really close or arrived at level 50 and thus can switch out to T3 items (after the 1M quest). Remember to follow the equipment guideline I've wrote here. However, T1 items are definitely not enough for the next phase.
The Great Abyss Difficulty Jump
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). They are that hard to kill. The solution is T3 gear. At this point, your goal should be to get T3 equipment and upgrade them until you can kill 2 bats. 4 fully upgraded T3 equipment will be enough. The reason for this goal is another goal: Unlocking the Death of Darkness dungeon, the 2nd dungeon. The daily mission that gives 1 run of this dungeon is also unlocked with the same The Finished Map quest.
Now to the hard part: you will grind, very slowly, through the Taming the Abyss questline. It will slow your progression, since you won't be leveling as quickly and killing only 2 monsters at most means you won't be getting that much gold and loot from the monsters. Using brutality injections when you are against the harder enemies in the last few quests is recommended.
Following this rush strategy, I've achieved finishing the map in 8 days of playtime.
Dungeons give great exp rewards, and should always be completed with experience injectors. The fact that you can save attempts is why we rushed all the quests to unlock the dungeons in the first place. Save your runs and do them all under a lvl3 or higher experience injection for maximum benefit. They are relatively cheap in the market.
The 1st dungeon is relatively easy and doesn't require item prep.
The 2nd dungeon is hard: I recommend waiting until level 70 and crafting an earring before trying out the dungeon. If stuck, the 2nd dungeon can be completed (barely) with brutality injections. 5 fully upgraded T3 or T4 pieces and a brutality injection will be enough to clear the monsters.
The previous questline was the last important quest to rush, as the next main questline gives abyssal T6 (level 100) augments. Since the strategy was to rush unlocking the 2nd dungeon, we will need to wait quite a while to arrive to that level. For now, your goal should be switching back to killing Warped Tormenters, the last enemy in Wastelands, or Karth Drakes for compendium, to farm experience to level up until level 80. This is the point where we can transition into T5 equipment and skip T4. T4 and T5 share the same upgrade materials, so waiting until level 80 would save us resources.
You can switch into shiny T5 gear to make a push for killing the max amount of monsters against Abyss monsters, or just keep killing Wasteland monsters to casually level up until level 100, where the mainline quests will finally be relevant. Killing the slightly lower reward Wasteland monsters isn't detrimental to your progression, as Compendium rewards will start to be completed on your way to level 100 and beyond. This will be mentioned in the next Intermediate Guide.
Thank you for reading, all feedback is appreciated (just write about it on discord).