What is the point of Drain Essence when we have AAR?

I have been thinking about this a bit lately, and I have been wondering why anyone who does not have BiS gear would build around vitality or aether Drain Essence instead of AAR?

By comparing several builds with similar gearing (g1-g2 gearing) all my attempts results in AAR having more or less twice dps. Then you can add on top that AAR has MUCH longer range and potential for hitting multiple targets (due to piercing).

What are you guys thoughts on Drain Essence, can it have some “use” compared to AAR outside Uroboruuk, Chillwisper or Retal added to attack?

It’s probably worth including Dreadwalker in that list of sets/build concepts as it does give a pretty substantial buff and be kept up in SR chunks or Crucible waves.

DE: You have better life leech.
Also its more comfortable when you´re surrounded by enemies.
Biggest drop for me: The optics - they are close to non-existent.
Before the nerf the DE oppressor was really fun to play. Still is - with 2/3 the damage^^

When one can stand the little life leech with AAR (phoenix, seal, …), it is better to play atm.

Dreadwalker is in g2 since its epic. Yes I have tested with it, not very impressed but perhaps I did something wrong.

Its not like there is a Dreadwalker set build in the compendium, at least not in FG compendium

Life leech is also based on the damage you deal, so its not THAT much better than AAR with pulsing shard.

Probably true, no need of “rotating” the beam.

The animation sucks for drain essence yes

Here is the dreadwalker set build that I tried: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/JVlW0Yo2
it sure is tanky and has sustain, but in terms of sheer dps, it is not even close to a similarly geared AAR build (~50k sheet dps vs ~120k sheet dps)

In terms of life steal (excluding Twin Fangs and Siphon souls)

(22/6) * (50/120) = 1.53 i.e. 53% higher life steal per second than AAR

https://www.grimtools.com/calc/0V0BlyRN the one i tested at end game via gd stash. lots of green to make it work on resists and oa/da

Yes, Aether and vitality are a bit underperforming…
How about physical retalliation DE:
I bet it’s the strongest DE build. Though it might lack single-target DPS a bit, he makes it up with insane ADCTH, being able to facetank most enemies, and massive AoE power.

What’s the point in DE, when you can build AAR character? Thank goodness you don’t mentioned FoI here :see_no_evil:

After patch change to AAR, it makes it playable and recent changes to Arcanist makes it even better. I am not big fan of channeling spells, but I will be interested in trying aether DE Spellbinder, to see if it’s working.

I wrote in the first post:

What I am after is if a pretty new players was gonna play a “channeling build” why would he/she go with Drain Essence over AAR? (I was gonna open for FoI too but wanted to have the discussion pretty limited for now).

But perhaps it still is possible to make a decent g1-g2 retal DE with the Spectral war shield? its just 8% retal to attack though…

Yeah I wanted to include FoI in the discussion too.

I mean for the sake of a budget set-up, DE works but it has more than 50% less DPS than AAR so why should one go with DE instead of AAR as a first channeling build? :stuck_out_tongue:

We can also compare the blue set “Dreadwalker” with other good blue sets like Perdition, Silver sentinel or Blind Assassin. Compared to these, Dreadwalker is pretty mediocre.


For me, context is crucial here. For someone like me who has little ability to participate in endgame content, DE is much more enjoyable.

I have 2 AAR builds that are about level 40, which I could definitely improve upon and take further, but i feel a lack of drive to do so as its just not super fun for me to play, and has proven in the early-mid game to be very challenging without the right gear.

I started a DE build in the interim while farming for better AAR gear and also because it was something Id never done in the game. I went necro/arcanist with it, and actually didnt even bother with Aether damage yet, just full tilt vit.

Despite DE also being a channeled skill, the range is more limited. What this means is you cant just stand there and blast everything from a distance- you at least have to get into danger range first, and when that range is much closer than AAR’s, it requires more interesting gameplay (my opinion) to close range and evade nukes, and i have to say… Melting mobs with AAR doesnt feel half as satisfying as melting mobs with DE at the levels im at. Maybe this is different in the end game but i love DE man, the character is now level 70 and climbing. My AAR guys just fell to the wayside and i lost interest.

it also feels safer despite operating at like facetanking range, so for a noob like me its great. But I havent tried my AAR characters since the patch. They may feel a lot stronger and safer without the desired gear now. For me, though, i would play DE for fun factor and the general feel of sucking the life out of everything is awesome and more interesting to me than an infinite kamehameha.

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Thanks for sharing your experience.

I just finished a guide for lightning AAR mage hunter and it is the sickest beginner build I have done so far in terms of sheer dps and damage mitigation.

A while back I was gonna do something similar with Drain Essence, and coming back to that project by doing a similar guide but for Drain Essence - it just feels like jumping on to a childs tricycle compared to playing with a 200cc motorbike :stuck_out_tongue: Sure you can get around, but it slow as hell in comparison.

You can just look at the damage numbers on each skill and compare. I had 60k dps AAR at level 40, which is more than what my level 100 DE cabalist has (with dreadwalker set) and my level 100 DE spellbinder has (with hex launcher gun and MI off-hand with vit to aether conversion)

(if you have trouble with your AAR build, you can check out my or Nery’s gudies for it to get some tips)

Nah, i dont think so. You need the amulet, period.
However, i dont think Aether DE would feel good without Uroboruk set either…

Aether DE can be made with Krieg set, which is much more accessible. Krieg can’t handle AAR, due to lack of enough energy regen.

Yup that is what I also have, a Krieg spellbinder with Hex launcher and off-hand that converts some vit to aether. 55-60k sheet dps RIP xD

Perhaps one could have 100% conversion on Hexlauncher so it becomes “on par” with the Aetherbolt amulet for lightning AAR or Hexflame for Fire AAR… having 100% conversion on hex launcher would push the sheet dps from 55-60k up to 75-80k

Uroboruuk set gives a lot of terrify effect and make it unviable.
AAR is far better.

@malawiglenn: could you link your end game lightning AAR build here? I am planning to experimenting mix AAR mage Hunter in the near future.

Here is my guide for beginner/budget Lightning AAR

pretty reasonable items I’d say, I managed to do this char in ~25 hours from scratch (only used faction mandates and exp pot)

I have other versions too, with better Log shoulder, Pulsing shard (that I shopped from vendor in Port valbury) and a better armor (Valaxteria robe)

There is no chance in hell one can do a similar dps build with Drain Essence with same tier of gear.

My suggestions are

  • change conversion on Hex Launcher to 100% to make it comparable to the other faction legendaries for AAR: Hexflame and Aetherbolt pendant.
  • change skill modifier on faction legendary amulet Reavers Hunger to give it 100% conversion from aether to vitality on DE instead of its modifiers to Bone Harvest (which already do a ton of damage)

@thejabrixone I also have a sketch for budget Fire AAR in my guide, and Nery did budget Chaos and Aether AAR here [] Budget AAR Mage Hunter and you see he hits +100k dps on them too. I think my Fire AAR have around 130k dps I have not checked after patch though.



Drain Essence of DOOM

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What’s the point of Savagery when we have Fire Strike?

Different playstyles so everyone finds something they like.