The progression hurdle - Your first level 100 character will suck for a LONG time

your first character will only suck if it was

  • built poorly (not putting every excess point into phys, not getting the right investment where needed, going over softcaps) wh ch can be fixed at the spirit guide.
  • unsupported by the faction vendor and lacking helpful monster infrequents.
  • uses raise skeletons and realizes they die to everything ( #buffskeletons2019 )
  • not built as a soldier, inquisitor, or oathkeeper, the latter of which even makes mediocre masteries like demolitionist thrive and shine.
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All the replies to the OP are valid. Crate has put in a lot of effort to help players with the transition.

Still, farming the right legendary (set) items for a build can take 100s and 100s of hours even with a fully decked out gladiator or SR farmer. That’s because the item pool is huge (iirc Crate increased the drop rates with the expansions). Rightly so, otherwise we’d be making threads about lack of variety. I’ve overcome the hurdle with a lot of trading, but that’s not something everybody likes doing in a single player game.

To me this looks like an issue of conflicting design goals which are hard to reconcile.

Things like Dark One’s, Krieg’s and Vanquisher are steps in the right direction, but they aren’t obvious to new players.

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Basically the reason why I still make new chars not using any item transfers (apart from faction mandates). Building up chars from scratch is what this game is about for me.

Might be a reason why I prefer to make budget/beginner builds with leveling tips rather than SR95 builds for the forum :stuck_out_tongue:


I think OP is partially right, there certainly is a jump in end ultimate which is designed for endgame builds (expansions, roguelikes, Nemesis and the like). at that point you need good gear to farm and if you can’t farm you can’t have better gear :upside_down_face:

that said, a solid build (with good synergy between skills, focus on one damage type with corresponding rr, decent defense layers…) doesn’t need ultimate gear to farm Sot for rexample. that’s where you have to know how the game works to maximize the dmg output of your main attck skills while taking care of your health, da, res.
it’s also why it’s a good idea to level a few chars simultaneously, because at first playthrough you have one shot chests which give you a minimum amount of legendaries. so you’ll most likely find something useful for one of your char (even if it’s not that damnedd set which will ultimately define your build).

I think the gear acquisition rate can be modeled by a logistic function:


In the beginning, you have very slow loot/time rate. And the better geared that char is, the better your knowledge with the game, the higher the loot/time rate will become, until it reaches is maximum rate where it stays practically constant.

The game already have implemented “guaranteed” items for you, to speed up this process.
Faction items, MI’s, farmable sets, secret items like fettan mask and the totally normal “shields”.
The blacksmith also have default recipes for items so you can always craft good greens.
Blue/Epic items have much higher drop chances than purple/legendariers and should not be dismissed.
So yes, these items exists in the game for a reason - the reason you adress.
And now with set-transmutation feature, try to complete a high level blue set like silver sentinel, mythical perdition set, blind assassin etc this will give your char a nice boost so that it can tackle on higher difficulty areas smoother and thus improving your loot/time rate significantly.

Personally, I think the “get the set and win” mentality is a bit lazy approach to build progression. I can understand that someone from Diablo III thinks it is a perfectly normal thing though - but itemization and char progression in Grim Dawn is much more nuanced and complex and I think it should stay that way - it is one of the things I really enjoy about this game that you can actually have a long gear progression rather than “get set and grind paragons endlessly to progress the build”: in Grim Dawn you also have to play smarter - not more.


I can understand you OP, I have very similar experience, until very recently.

My own experience, there was a huge wall like you said, but I passed the wall not by obtaining gears, but by obtaining knowledge from this forum. Folded due to being a wall of texts

My first two characters sucked, the first was an infiltrator and I didn’t even finish everything in Ultimate with it, my second was a spellbinder which is still using greens and blues today (haven’t touched it for a while). It died like 30 times in finishing FG main campaign. After I played like 250 hours I have two characters, bunch of trash gears and ~1 pages of legendary that 90% of them I don’t use.

I was frustrated by such experience, so I did some research in this forum. I saw malawiglenn’s Perdition acid aegis sentinel, it’s based on a blue set that I already had 3 pieces, so I decided to level up my 3rd character, a sentinel. I got the last piece of the set in the skeleton dungeons after some farming. It was a pretty decent build, I could breeze through all four skeleton dungeons with it.

So at this stage my legendary farming speed already significantly increased compared to my first 250h, though still far from comparable to those crucible farmers you see in this forum.

Then again I did some research in this forum and finally am aware of the farmable sets (Krieg, Dark Ones, Vanquisher) and saw x1x1x1x2’s skater Templar. One of my friend also showed me off his own Vanquisher build. They seem strong, fun to play, and the Vanquisher set is something I can farm for on purpose.

So I theorycrafted my Vanquisher skater Sentinel, farmed the set with acid aegis build, updated the gears and made the skater build I want, and starting pushing SR. I have a whole thread about this (both the build and the farming process).

Now I can farm SR 65-66 with my skater reliably, and the farming speed is far far better than before, I guess it has become near-endgame. And just yesterday, I managed to finish SR 75-76 with a g2 setup (meaning using full blue gears except for the Vanquisher set and a cheap MI).

The points I want to make are:

  • There definitely exists a huge wall between finishing Ultimate the first time, and being able to farm legendary in end-game speed, for most new players;
  • But the huge wall is actually NOT made by the gears, but mostly by Knowledge;
  • It is not easy to obtain such knowledge, especially if you think “heck I played Diablo 2 for like 3000 hours why should I even read beginner build / knowledge posts” like I did.

The exact knowledge I really hope I knew when starting the game, and maybe you would like to know too, is:

  • YOU DON’T NEED A G3 BUILD (all purple gears) TO FARM ENDGAME EFFICIENTLY. Beginner-friendly and semi-budget builds are sufficient for the purpose (G3 builds just make it quicker). DO NOT IGNORE THEM WHEN STARTING THINKING ABOUT ENDGAME.

My G2 skater sentinel can finish SR 75-76 in time, and can farm SR 65-66 at ease. Many beginner-friendly builds can complete Gladiator 170 and farm 100-150. This is already very good for legendary farming, when you get into this stage you’ll soon start complaining about stash size.

I also want to point out that not all G3+ builds are C+ and SR+, so those beginner builds are actually quite competitive.

Most importantly, those beginner-friendly builds are super easy to gear up, it’s like you level up your first toon to 100 at the 100th hour and gear it up at the 101th hour. So if you have the full knowledge at the beginning, you will not hit a wall at all. Such is the power of knowledge.

You just need the right knowledge. I just needed the right knowledge. I wish it is provided in a more obvious way, both in game and in this forum. Anyway, I’m actually quite happy with my own experience, so not really complaining anything here.

p.s. I like posts with wall of texts, this make it legit to me to write my own wall of texts lol

edit: just want to clarify that I’m not suggesting that people should play a beginner build for their first playthrough, the first playthrough should be played in any way you want to. I’m suggesting that if you start thinking about endgame after finishing first/second playthrough, then the beginner builds are actually very good choices.


I got an answer to all your troubles, my friend. It is hidden in this link:

And seriously, despite the fact that drop rates in GD are better than elsewhere, it’s still a not fun to run a toon for 10 hours straight and find not a single upgrade. This is sad but there’s little that can be done about it. Drops are random, period. Would you rather have microtransactions?

However, more target-farmable sets and uniques wouldn’t hurt. Krieg, Dark and Vanq are only three. There’s nothing for nightblade or shaman.

Blueprints? I got 2000+ hours and I still found a blueprint from before FG a few weeks ago. I recently realized I can’t craft a freaking Conduit of Divine Whispers when my old trade friend asked me to help him out! I’m sure many people rage-quit because of Blueprint drops, especially relics, when you need a bunch of them to make one decent.

Those Eldritch Essences should be buyable (but expensive). There is still nothing to do with money in this game if you don’t craft Stoneplate Grieves.

Yup, the game is so bad that you need to use tools to create items :slight_smile: * sarcasm *

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RNG gear on some bosses and champions usually leads to many of my unforeseen deaths. I had a skeletal knight hero which spawned with this shield during levelling

When I realised I was taking too much damage I tried to run away but my guardians of Empyrion decided to hit him an extra 4 times and guess who ended up eating all the “physical retaliation”. Yup, the player.

I thought that was a “one of” but later on - different skeletal knight hero but same bloody shield.

There goes another death.

I’m not salty about it though. I don’t play HC. But I can understand OP’s viewpoint from a main campaign player. I make a lot of fire builds and Bolvar spawning with “insulating” gear which gives him +75% fire resist means the battle can take a long time but there’s no real threat from the boss himself. If Sentinel on the other hand spawns with “insulating” gear on a medium built character well, that’s another death to add to the count.

Just for the record. If you’re new, I recommend to ask for advice and just play the game. You don’t need a build decked out in “purples” to finish the game or farm end-game content. You can clear the game easily with decent blues and greens (you don’t need double rares either). You just need to build correctly and the rest will just follow. But I get everything is a matter of “time”. 4K + hours and I definitely don’t have all blueprints even from AoM, but I do have a decent collection and some sets look too easy for my liking. I like the grind…

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I agree with you that some more target-farmable sets and uniques will be great for beginners. There is a game called Borderlands 2 which is basically an ARPG + FPS, in which more than half of the end-game gears are target-farmable and have decent drop rate, so there is practically no gear barrier in that game.

The bad part of such design is, because endgame gears are not really balanced in that game, most people just farm the most OP gears and end up with exactly the same builds. So more gears being target-farmable means that the game is more sensitive to the balance. The gear system is far more complicated in GD than Borderlands 2, so I suspect the current state here is a deliberate design.

welp… that looks really painful… i remember times in titan quest where some random common ranged skeletons does HUGE pierce damage on me. it turns out that skelly has the skeleton dart weapon, which has a small chance of dealing huge pierce damage… and i remember a thread once that has a player getting GIBBED by fabius who wield notched edge of something axe that has small chance of dealing huge damage.

this kind of rng loxmere-like-jumpscare’s sudden damage spike out of nowhere has made me watch my healthbar most of the time when fighting anything. except when running to farm spots.

The problem isn’t that it takes a long time to fully max a character, the problem is that it isn’t a smooth progression. Gear in Grim Dawn is so overly specific to a set of skills and damage types that only one in a hundred pieces even goes on any given character, so you can go ages without an upgrade despite the fact that you’re playing and looting the whole time. Sure, all ARPGs are kind of like that, but in a lot of the older ones where drop rates were bad the gear was a lot more generalized. You didn’t get a lot of stuff like “Oh, this piece gives +3 to two skills I use… but also turns them into a different damage type so they no longer work with my secondary class”. That kind of gear is what makes Grim Dawn interesting in the regard that it makes you want to try out new builds, but you also find way too few usable items when you’re working on just one character.

maybe this is what crate intended. to have players invest a lot of time on several max lvl char rather than one or two max lvl char. so crate wants players jump between their different characters, so that players have many different options available to them when a bis item drops. this also fits with crate’s design philosophy of wanting characters to have a ‘finished’ feeling to them, rather than endless progession like diablo3’s paragon system.
that also means players need a lot of time not to just grinding bis item with 1 max lvl char, but also try new different chars and max lvl them to have many different style of gameplay and gear options.

I partly agree with this, I finished the whole FG main campaign with my spellbinder and only updated one slot, from a random green redeemer armor to an MI with still random affixes.

But now that I think about it again, this was mainly due to I ignoring blue gears. Blue gears, unlike what you said, are pretty general, and actually are not bad at all. You can see some very end-game builds still use blue gears in some slots. And if you can choose the right pieces, a full-blue-gear build can still be very powerful and do well in end-game farming, you just can’t do crazy things like 5mins crucible. Even some blue gears that you can buy from faction vendors are pretty nice, the only thing they lack is some special flavours like the purple gears have.

So basically, at least in my case, it was due to not knowing how good the gears I already have are, rather than not having some legendaries, that made the progress less smooth. Like I said above, it’s mostly a barrier of knowledge, rather than a barrier of gears.

I’d like to see a “full blue” build with all the resists, DA, and OA requirements met. I haven’t seen a blue build in an age.

How about my Perdition set Sentinel?

I made several blue builds pre-FG, regarding capping resistances: purple items are not superior in this sense.

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It’s not that hard to do that.Silver sentinel set Trickster.Just use legplates of Valor and Final march boots and you are set to cover all resistances.

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I think it depends on what the requirement you have in mind. Sure it is difficult to make a pure blue-gear build that is comparable to those full-purple ones. But we are talking about builds that one can make as the first / second chars and use it to start end-game farming, and I think blue gears are sufficient for the purpose.

Edit: and I still think blue gears are not that weak, I mean my G2 skater sentinel actually feels stronger than my G4 version.

I think “blue builds” are more common than what people think. It is just that most do not bother posting builds for them since they can’t in general breeze through gladiator and SR. I wish more people did like you did in your sentinel build thread: showing the actuall progression of the char and just not the end result.

i agree. blues are rarely for SR 65+/Cruci 150/170 (though some players manage to build around them) but they’re very useful to help farming (and it’s pretty much their purpose in fact) and shouldn’t be underestimated

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