If you are new and want to know how things work in this game you may find this useful. If you are experienced and want to make sure you are familiar with the mechanics, same thing.
This guide is current as of the Blood Trail (Dec 2020) update.
Wolcen is an RPG similar to Diablo, Grim Dawn and Path of Exile. It had been in early access for about 4 years and released in Feb 2020. Release did not go very well. Offline the game played OK, however extreme demand caused online to be broken for many players. Most issues were fixed over the next few months and the game is in a very solid state now.
The first "season" called "Bloodtrail" was released. The game currently does not support micro-transactions, the studio may intend to go there for long term viability. Developers have stated they want to continue supporting the game as a passion project but its unknown where exactly they plan to take the game and which model they want to follow.
A new player starting out should always choose Bloodtrail (or whatever the current season is) as it adds optional content that is not available in the original game mode. The original game characters will likely not have access to the new content until the next "season" – depending on how they handle seasons. There also is an additional choice when making a new game, online or offline. These two modes are also not compatible and it is not currently possible to switch to offline with an online character.
There are three chapters to the campaign. It is fairly linear and will probably take some 20-30 hours and gain about 40 levels or so. There are no real secrets on the map, so no concerns of missing out on anything. There are doors/portals in many areas, which are probably worth doing and have their own mini-objectives.
After the campaign the endgame mode will unlock. Endgame consists of doing random levels with the enemies starting at level 30. You can do up to 3 at a time, and doing 3 will unlock the next step up of levels. After completing 10 sets of 3 levels the next level tier will unlock. The highest level tier is Ascended, it starts at level 160 and goes up to level 189. The most difficult level however is considered to be 187, with the untainted enemies modifiers. In this mode the enemies do not drop loot except at the very end. The untainted missions are always one level only. It can be effective for some types of speed farming, but it is not ideal since it costs gold and "affinity" to enable, crafting materials are somewhat more rare and you can only every get one load of loot to sell.
There are 4 types of character stats. Stats are not used for any item requirements so they can be mixed and matched at will. The more points that are in a stat, the more bonus damage is done (shown at the bottom), so points should probably be limited to one or two stats typically based on your build, and possibly some Toughness when dying too much.
Ferocity : Attack/Spell Critical chance (Crit build)
Toughness : Base Health multiplier % /Force Shield (Tank build)
Agility : Attack/Spell casting speed (Melee build)
Wisdom : Attack/Spell status ailments (Status build)
Stats can be redistributed any time at will for a minor cost, so no worries on "making wrong choices".
Each level gained (up to the 90 cap) will increase all 4 base character stats by 1 and gives 10 stat points which can be allocated as desired along with 1 Gates of Fate point. Character stats can also be directly increased through Gates of Fate nodes and more commonly through armor piece additions.
There are 9 different damage types, separated into 3 categories. Each damage type has a status effect.
Physical -> Stun (Duration)
Rend -> Bleed DoT
Toxic -> Poison DoT
Fire -> Burn DoT
Frost -> Freeze (Duration)
Lightning -> Small AOE Shock
Occult: (note, different guides assign the statuses differently, below were derived from looking at gems)
Sacred -> Weakness (Reduces Resistances and Damage. Duration)
Shadow -> Curse (Spreads status ailments to others)
Aether -> Stasis (Slowed duration)
Abilities and Buffs can apply based on a damage category, or a stronger effect for a specific damage type. For any build it will probably be important to look at the abilities you want to use and choose a specific damage category and damage type that complements that ability. Then you choose armor, weapons, crafting that also benefit those specific damage category/type.
Another good thing to know is that the game also has attack damage and spell damage. Attack damage is going to be all melee/ranged weapon/ability attacks. Spell damage… is only going to be spell attacks. Depending on what abilities you plan to use, you would choose equipment that provides either attack or spell damage.
There are 4 armor types. The type should mostly be ignored, choosing armor instead based on the stats that help make the character more powerful. Some of the campaign bosses can be very difficult though, for those it may make sense to shift to higher health/resistance armor.
Heavy: High Resistance (+Toughness or +Block Chance)
Bruiser: Health + Resistance (+Ferocity or +Health Regen)
Rogue: Health + Force Shield (+Agility or +Movement Speed)
Sorcerer: High Force Shield (+Wisdom or +Force Shield Restoration)
Helmets: Up to 1 Gem Slot
Chest Pieces: Up to 3 Gem Slots
Spaulders: No Gem Slots
Gauntlets: No Gem Slots
Pants: Up to 2 Gem Slots
Boots: No Gem Slots, Can have stamina points, up to 40% movement speed
Note: Shoulder/Arm pieces appear to be left handed, but they can fit into either slot. Press shift when comparing gear to compare/equip the other slot. I did not know this for a long time and wondered why the other pieces were not dropping.
Regular Armor can support
+Damage % for a specific Class
+Ailment % for a specific Class
Rage + Willpower Cost Reduction %
+Resource Generation %
+Transfer Time Speed %
+Skill Cool down reduction
There are additional attributes available which may be more beneficial for other build types, however these are the ones that I personally find useful. I compare against the top stat, which has to be elemental damage for my build, and look for critical chance, resource generation and transfer time.
2x Rings: Up to 1 Gem Slot, Can add 2x(3x rare) base damage to spells or attack, +projectile pierce
Amulet: Up to 1 Gem Slot, Can add 2x(3x rare) base damage to spells or attack, +projectile pierce
Belt: Up to 1 Gem Slot, Can add 2x(3x rare) base damage to spells or attack
The effect of base damage cannot be overstated. It can translate into huge numbers, especially if they are in the correct class to have multipliers applied.
Health / Force Shield / Resistance
These are the 3 basic damage mitigation stats. The health and force shield % values are directly affected by toughness. For that reason, at least in the beginning, toughness should probably receive some points. There is 1125 base health, and every point of toughness adds .4% of the base, or 4.5 points to the total. The multiplier also applies to force shield, but unlike health, Base Force shield starts at 0 and can only be increased by armor pieces.
Armor pieces can add base health and base force shield, directly or indirectly. They can also add regeneration rate and in the case of force shields regeneration delay. Fate points will mostly add % increases however there are some nodes that directly increase base values.
Resistance values are only added through armor pieces and/or Fate points. Resistance can come in 3 different flavors, All resistance %, Damage Class (Material, Elemental or Occult) resistance or specific Damage Type resistance.
Health will recharge naturally, although slowly. Armor pieces can help with this. Force shield is faster, after a delay, but has to be supported through armor pieces.
Health can be restored by health flasks and/or Health Globes. Force shield will usually have to recharge, although some armor pieces will apply Health Globes and a Fate node will also do the same.
Health Flasks will also be recharged by Health Globes while playing the game so they can be freely used as necessary.
Willpower and Rage
Abilities will list if they are spells or attacks. Spells and basic attacks use willpower. Attack abilities use rage. Damage buffs can be global, for either Spells or Weapons, for Damage types (material, elemental or occult) or for a specific damage type.
These are loot pickups that enable new skills for you character. You can initially have 5 active at once, 1-4 on the keyboard + Right Mouse Button. End game allows an additional one to be unlocked on the 5 key.
The skills assigned to each slot will level up using the same amount of XP that the character uses to level up. Skills acquired at the beginning will level up at the same time as the player. Skills assigned at endgame will pick up the initial levels much faster as stronger enemies mean more XP. As each skill levels up it will unlock both skill options and skill points and also a hidden damage multiplier.
Looking at an example, a level 90 skill with no options selected will do about 250% the damage of a level 1 skill. The options are what can make a skill intensely strong. Combining Skills with Gates of Fate and equipment buffs is what makes builds insanely strong.
Loot will come in the form of coins, equipment, Enneracts and dyes. Enneracts and Dyes should always be consumed when found. The first Enneract will teach a skill. A duplicate will give primordial affinity, which is one of the base currencies to the game. You always receive the exact same amount of affinity as the shopkeeper will give.
There can be an argument to not consume Enneracts that that will not be used, to instead trade them at the shop keeper. The maintenance and inventory clutter is just not worth it. Dyes also can only be used once. Duplicates should be dragged out of inventory or can be sold, they are not worth carrying around.
Reagents: These are the endgame RNG loot perfection systems. They come in two flavors. Regular and rare. Rares are required to upgrade rare gear.
There are 4 types of reagents:
Abyssal Tear: Removes an effect on an object. The empty slot can then have something added or remaining slots can be swapped.
Entrophy Orb: Rerolls all magic effects on an object. This is essentially a do-over, to find a more desireble version of an item that has good main stats.
Erieban Tear: Adds a new random effect to an object (up to 4 for regular magic items, 6 for rare items). When given a choice for choosing a reagent from a mission reward this one is probably the most useful.
Ohm’s Echo: Swaps a random on an object
I find this scheme to be overly heavy in the RNG department, and it should probably be ignored until the very endgame. Entrophy orbs can be used to rapidly look for good gear. Instead of searching though 20 pieces of loot for good stats you can use 20 orbs and one piece of gear to quickly look for something useful.
Erieban Tears are good for adding missing stats, so it is important to have both regular and rare versions of these. Ohm’s Echo – can be used to try and make a decent piece of gear into a great piece, but the result will often be that the gear turns into trash.
For advanced crafting it is important to know about prefix and suffix attributes. Gear will typically have 2 prefix and 2 suffix stats, 3 each for rares. If gear is missing a suffix then only a suffix can be added. If gear has only 2 prefix stats then Ohm’s echo will always exchange one prefix for another. To craft the best weapons it may be advisable to delete suffixes using Abyssal Tears and then swap prefixes with Ohms Echo until 2 (or 3) desirable ones are found. Gems will influence the type of attribute added and the number of gems will influence how high the rolls are. This can be tremendously expensive so it is probably advised for endgame build perfection.
There are 12 types of gems with 12 tiers of rarity for gems in the game. The higher the mission level the better the dropped gems. Any gem can go into any slot, however there are 9 different slot types and the gem will provide different properties depending on which slot it is put into. Gems can be removed for a cost, but lower tier gems on obsolete equipment should be sold off instead. Some gems may be more useful to you than others, for those the lower tier gems can be kept. Other gem types, lower tier stuff should just be trashed. It will not be worth the inventory space.
The 12 types of gems consist of 9 gems that support each damage type, 2 utility gems, and genesis stones, which are only one rarity and in a class of their own.
The 9 slot types consist of 3 offensive, 3 defensive and 3 support types. Weapons and chest pieces can get 3 slots. Pants can get 2. Head, rings, amulet and belt can get one. Arms and shoulders, 0. Sockets can be rerolled at will. Getting a desired roll however can be very painful. For example, wanting 3 offense II (spell damage) slots on a weapon will on average take 64 rolls. Catalysts are worse, since they can give either support or defense sockets. That gives about a 1 in 340 chance to get a perfect set of 3. Usually I stop at 2 of what I want, any third then is a bonus.
Gems can also be "burned" to affect reagent crafting RNG. That… is another extremely endgame topic with extremely high cost. Youtube guides explain the process much better.
Items come in 5 rarities:
Common: (white, plain) : Recommended to filter these out as soon as possible
Magic: (Blue) : Recommended to filter these out once rares start dropping
Rare: (Gold) Can have sockets, 4 attributes. Can be upgraded to legendary.
Legendary: (Red) up to 6 attributes. Attributes can be modified at extreme cost.
Unique: (Plum) Can be game changing. Will usually have 2 or 3 special fixed attributes. Unable to be modified. They were previously but this was patched.
Abilities come in 4 categories.
Warrior: (melee weapons only including daggers)
Projectile: (mostly bows and pistol)
Magic: (Staff, Catalyst)
Rogue: (Dagger, bow, pistol)
Magic abilities (and regular attacks) will always consume wisdom and create rage.
All other abilities with some exceptions will consume rage and create wisdom
The exceptions are:
Sovereign Shout and Wings of Ishmir, both melee, will both generate rage.
Trackers Reach builds a charge over time
Phantom Blades will generate 2 or 3 charges over time.
Using a weapon and a catalyst is the most straightforward method of combat. Every skill can be used with a catalyst and the appropriate weapon. You have access to spells that create rage and spells that consume rage and create wisdom. Rage will eventually transfer back to wisdom. There are support gems and attributes that make the process faster. Combat consists of alternating between the two ability types. Pure melee characters would use rage potions, sovereign shout and wings of ishmir. There is also an ability that flips the rage/wisdom process, so that by default you start with rage and wisdom eventually transfers to rage. Staff characters would use wisdom potions. Potions refill automatically as enemies are killed. Transfer speed determines how long it takes rage to turn back into wisdom, so more spells can be cast. A staff will have a bonus to transfer speed. A catalyst will have a 50% negative to transfer speed. It takes 3 gem slots to compensate for the negative, so a weapon + catalyst is not always better. Finally just having a fast transfer speed is not enough. Using an ability consumes resources. So it is important to have a few gear pieces that give bonuses to wisdom/rage/resource generation.
In the regular game during missions sometimes a special vendor can be found. It probably only happens about 10% of the time per level, and then it may be necessary to clear the entire level to find them.
The gear they sell has a better rarity than the home vendor, but they are more desirable in that they always sell a single unique item. Some of the uniques can be game changing so they are always worth picking up. Cost is about 45000 gold, so you should always have this amount of money in the bank.
Endgame levels that can be ignored because the level should probably 100k or more of gear to find and sell.
Exceptions being untainted runs, which have no regular drops, although sometimes you can get a piece or two from shrines. Their gear, like other vendors, caps out at at the player level – 90. Uniques found as a drop will typically have better stats.
Endgame gives a Bloodtrail vendor. The main thing that Bloodtrail provides is gear with positive and negative affixes. +damage modifiers with reasonable negatives can be very strong in the right build.
Arctic Spear: Many of the meta builds are bult around this ability. Plenty of examples online. Possibly makes the game too easy or boring.
Aether jump: This is a must have for mobility, very useful for escaping, removing status effects, and can help with aggro.
Liver Mortis: These are the huge tank companions. They are much more tanky than other companions. Only 1 can be had per ability slot.
Feeding/Hunting Swarm: These are fairly weak melee or ranged zombies. They can help with aggro. Up to 2 or 3 can be created per ability.
Avenger Autoturret: This is a fairly standard rage dump. It is fairly useless in the beginning, later versions double the firing rate, allow for 2 turrets and auto targeting.
Having companions along with auto turrets always active can be useful in cases of death, as sometimes they can finish off enemies before you respawn.
The player can hold 30 full size items (all armor and weapons except belts and jewelry) or 60 half size items (enneracts, amulets, rings, belts, gems).
Chest Storage capacity is 5 tabs, shared between characters. Each tab can hold 50 full size items or 100 half size. 3 tabs are unlocked by default. The other two have to be unlocked via the Diamond Bank Missions.
Magic- gets a staff and Consuming Embers (fireball/wisdom) ability
Melee – gets a melee weapon and Anvil’s woe (giant hammer smash/rage) ability
Ranged – gets a bow and Stings of Krearion (magic arrow spread/rage) ability
Starting class only provides an initial weapon and ability. It does not affect anything else, and builds can always be completely modified at will with a small cost. If you plan to use weapons and magic then either Melee or Ranged are the best starting choice as they have abilities that work with catalyst + 1 handed weapon and consume rage. Magic class will need to find or purchase a compatible ability. Its not a big deal but might make the initial gearing up to be a bit smoother.
Building an armor set
The general idea is to look at the abilities you plan to use. What type of damage do they do? What type of build do you want? On probably all regular armor you want some sort of bonus damage %, material, elemental or occult. I use the very first line as the criteria to determine if something is rejected or not. You also will want a second damage multiplier, +crit chance (crit) + ailment chance(status) +damage(blood trail only).
Boots you also want to have movement speed and possibly a stamina point. For that reason I’d always pick up boots, unless you get the unique that can do 60% movement speed.
Rings, amulets and belts can do bonus base damage added to either spells or attack. Although the numbers may appear to be small the overall effect can be huge, especially if the damage they do applies to enabled multipliers.
Playing through the basic game will put the character at about level 40 or so. Endgame starts once the 3 Acts are completed. Endgame allows for base building and escalating mission types. Base building will consist of paying for missions that give certain benefit results.
This is a source of simple missions that always scales to the player level. Because that is the case the missions will quickly grow obsolete. Gems will always be tier 8-9, loot up to level 90k, and only worth 1/2 of what they are at level 160. No trading shrines so you can only ever get one load of loot, although special vendor may appear in those levels.
These are customizable missions that allow you to choose a starting level, to add maps, area modifiers, and a "Lure Untainteds" option. Adding a map may lock the mission level depending on the map type. It will also limit the mission to one level. Untainted runs also limit the mission to one level and the loot to one chest at the end.
Each starting level increases by 3 levels. It is necessary to do 3 levels in a row to get to the next starting level. To be able to run level 187 content it will be necessary to go from level 40, run 3 levels, repeat for level 43, and keep repeating until 187. The highest level will be level 189, although generally it is believed that 187 + Untainted is the greatest difficulty the game has to offer.
End game base building (Projects)
Projects are how the home base is improved. The projects will typically have a gold cost, an affinity cost and a productivity cost. Gold and affinity are paid upfront. Productivity is earned through running missions. Once enough missions are run the project completes and you gain permanent benefits. You start out being able to run two missions at a time. This can be increased to 5 with upgrades. Doing things like improving item quality, getting reagents, item rarity, all counts as a "mission". You then have to earn enough productivity to "complete" the mission.
Stormfall palace: This is a set of missions which only purpose is to give a permanent productivity bonus for running missions. The maximum is probably about 600, which means in addition to what a mission provides another number will be added on top.
Refuge for the blind: Smallish cost, small productivity bonus.
Seekers garrison: The other ship missions are better, however "rare" reagents can be picked up with the Abyssal Rift mission, so it is always worth doing.
Stormfall Shipyard: Required for Stormfall Trade Assembly missions
Stormfall Trade Assembly: Ship missions that return gold, affinity and temporary productivity. Use these to fill out any empty mission slots.
Diamond bank: Gives two stash tabs.
Transmutation forge: Never used this, not sure of if it has any realistic use.
Renovate salt baths: Gives a permanent 20% magic find boost, expensive but worth it.
Cartographical archives: Permanently better merchant prices
Oshara’s Council: These have the new story based missions for the current Bloodtrail season.
Enneract Laboratory: Allows for skill triplicates. Can be ignored, unless it is desirable to a build using multiple golems, zombies, turrets or similar.
Energy Instillator and Siphon Chamber: These are simple conversion tools, to make money from affinity or the opposite.
Dark Market: This is the main source for reagents. One can be picked up for 2000 productivity and 10000 gold, which is fairly doable on every mission. It also gives options to increase item quality, rarity, and reagent rarity. At endgame a reagent should be created every run.
The endgame loop consists of finding better gear, improving that gear, going to higher levels and repeating the process. In the regular game you can return to town whenever desired, to sell a full load of gear. In the endgame the only time you can sell gear is on the very rare occasions you find the rare gear vendor, or the rest of the time, at a shrine which will appear at the exits.
The game has loot filters by rarity, although they are good for weapons, it does not allow you to filter out armor types, only armor classes, which makes armor filters useless. It is possible to kill everything on a map and go back repeatedly to collect all the loot and sell it at the end, however all the travel back and forth will just waste tremendous amounts of time. Collecting everything will probably amount to 3-4 loads, possibly more as you find things to "keep".
The alternative of picking up loot, opening inventory and discarding junk when the inventory is full will also waste a lot of time. You can make money doing this, but you do not gain any "productivity" this way. Productivity is another type of endgame currency which is used to finance projects that upgrade your base.
Within each level will be the monsters, which have drops, chests (of various sorts), bodies, shrines of different sorts, and portals. In the regular game the portals would lead to mini-missions. Endgame they just contain some bodies, monsters, maybe a shrine and an exit. The glowing red chests and shrines should always be picked up. They will tend to have better loot. My experience is that Genesis Gems can only be found from Shrines that give gem rewards.
My suggestion for a decent run would be to pick up only boots, belts, rings, amulets, materials, maps, and armor pieces you need to improve. For boots you want them to have 40% movement speed and a stamina point in addition to build related stats, so it is good to always look at them. Doing this will net about a full load of equipment. Sell the junk at the end and move on to the next level. That will allow for maxing out productivity in the minimal about of time, also collecting all the crafting materials from a level.
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