This is for brand-new players of SWL.

My goal was to write up a broad guideline for building and levelling, the sort of thing I wish I'd had when I was first playing. Funcom's tutorials aren't bad, but they are very vague in certain areas. I'm going to try and focus on things that aren't covered by the in-game tutorials. This is a supplementary guide, not meant to replace the references in the game, but to complement them.

Starting out - Tutorial through level 3

Okay, so you picked a starting class. Good job! But what does that mean, exactly?

Not a lot. A 'class' is just a starting loadout. I feel like 'archetype' would be a better term, as SWL doesn't have classes in the traditional sense. Your Warlock won't unlock new powers, abilities, or skills that others don't get, for example. Your Mercenary doesn't excel in any area that others don't. Strictly speaking, your class is just a cosmetic clothing outfit that you don't even have to wear, and access to two of the nine possible weapons.

What if you don't like the weapon selection?

Well, there's some logic behind the classes being the way they are. Each weapon appears as a primary and a secondary weapon in the available classes. I'd suggest watching a video guide to see what each weapon is about - this one is pretty good: - and then pick a class that has your favourite weapon as a primary.

Primary weapons matter, because of the energy resources that fuel your powers and attacks. Your secondary weapon will recharge energy at half the rate of your primary. Some will argue that you don't even need a secondary weapon, but I'll point out that energy is a valuable resource. Having a second pool to fuel your abilities is absolutely worth it, even if it's a smaller pool during longer fights. More on this later on.

It may be that you're happy with the secondary weapon you start with. Lots of people are - there are NO bad combos available. Any combination is a viable build for solo play. Don't lose any sleep over stressing about that choice. That having been said, you may like the look of a different option. You'll probably need to pay Marks of Favour to unlock a new weapon. (TSW legacy transfers are the exceptions to this.)

How can I gain currency?

You'll need to play for a bit, to earn Marks of Favor by completing daily challenges. This is the primary means of acquiring money, and it's not terribly difficult. Do a few main missions (not storyline,) a few side missions, perform a few item empowerments, and kill some critters. Everything that was covered in the tutorial - and you'll have some money. Unlocking a third weapon can be done just from two days of challenge payouts.

During that time, you may acquire a new weapon that you like from mission reward bags, or you can purchase one from the in-game item market. You'll want to sell off some of the weapons and talismans you don't want - this is the secondary means of acquiring money.

It's worth pointing out that you're limited to only posting ten items for sale on the player market each day. It's up to you to find a balance between selling cheap items that will sell quickly and easily and selling more expensive items of quality that may take a few days to actually sell.

Don't worry if your new weapons aren't three-pip extraordinary gear. You can fuse mediocre weapons into better ones as you advance.

Training Wheels - levels 4 through 12

This phase of the game is all about learning how Secret World Legends actually works. You'll do some missions, none of them are too hard. You'll learn how to use the mini-map, how the mission tracking icons work, pointing out the next mission waypoints, and so on. As you do missions, you'll see more missions appearing on the map.

The 'M' key opens the map. Quest-givers or side missions appear as larger, blue icons... until you do those missions. Then you'll see them disappear. They'll stay vanished while they're on cool-down. Missions can be repeated, just not right away. For patrons, the cool-down is only eight hours. For non-patrons, it's closer to two and a half days. This seems like a lot, and it is, but there are a LOT of missions available. You'll never find yourself lacking for missions to do, fear not. When the cool-down ends, and the missions are available again, they'll appear as smaller, grey icons.

When you reach level 10, you gain access to normal-mode storyline dungeons and the Shambala PvP arena. Both are excellent ways to acquire resources, especially while levelling up. Don't worry about whether or not you're 'good enough' or if your gear is high quality or optimized. The dungeons are simplified and Shambala equalizes all players so everyone is on equal footing. Go play. Meet some people, learn how dungeons work, and enjoy some short combat against a team of other players.

Leaving the Nest - levels 12-17

At level 12, you're able to continue the main storyline mission, going underground to find Joe Slater. From this point on, the game is more serious. You'll find the missions do less hand-holding, and you have more freedom to either pursue the main storyline and move on to the next stage, the Savage Coast, or not to. You may want to stay in Kingsmouth and complete all the missions available. It's up to you. Again, there's no wrong choice. The missions you skip will still be there later, if you want to come back later and round out the completion achievements another day. Likewise, the storyline won't time out or expire if you want to take your time.

If you level up before advancing, you may find the next few regions are less challenging, but then again, this game will challenge you in other ways. Your level won't matter when you're puzzling out an investigation mystery or trying to stealth your way through a tricky sabotage mission.

If you have any doubt about whether or not you're ready to go to a more challenging zone, like Egypt or Transylvania, go to the training ground area in Agartha. The dummies there are keyed to different levels and difficulties. If you're glancing every hit and doing miniscule damage on a particular dummy - avoid that zone until you're stronger.

Buying Abilities and fine-tuning your build:

By now, you've acquired enough AP and SP to have some choices about which abilities and passives to equip.

Look at your active ability page - that's the 'N' key, and the tutorial gave you a brief introduction to how this page works. Let's go into some more detail.

Basic abilities are the abilities in white. Each weapon has two of them. I sometimes see these called builders, but they're not. You mostly gain back energy just by waiting. (There are exceptions. Looking at you, Flourish.) Basic abilities are free to use - no energy cost. And they have no cool-down, so they can be spammed to your heart's content. That said, they also do less damage than any of your other options. It's meant to be a fall back option, used when you have no other options. You must equip one basic, and it must be from your primary weapon.

If you're relying on just one weapon, ignoring a secondary choice, you will run out of energy and you will be forced to rely on your Basic attack to stay in the fight during longer battles. It's better than nothing, but your damage output will suffer considerably. It's much better to pick a secondary that complements your primary. Maybe pick a ranged weapon or magic if your primary is melee. Maybe pick a healing option to help you through solo content. You have lots of choices.

Power attacks are in red. Each weapon has four choices of Power attacks, usually giving you some variety in terms of single-target or AoE. Between your primary and secondary, you probably want one of each, so you have options to deal with groups or bigger solitary mobs. Alternately, you may want one melee and one ranged. The thing with Power attacks is that they also have no cool-down, so you can spam them. However, they do cost energy, so you can run out if you just clicky clicky them without paying attention.

Special attacks are in blue. These have both energy costs and cool-downs, but also have some of the most useful abilities in your arsenal. These are the ones that can stun, debilitate, boost your damage, activate special weapon modes like Spirit Blade, Wrath, or Grenades... all sorts of fun, violent choices. These can be from either your primary or secondary weapons, but remember - you'll have more energy from your primary, and that means you'll get to use them more often.

Elite attacks are in yellow, and each weapon gives you three choices. Again, these choices will come in a variety of options. Single target, healing or damaging, AoE and so on. These will be the most powerful abilities you have to choose from, and they will have cool-downs so they can't be spammed, and energy costs so you need to plan when and how often you can deploy them. You can only equip one, but it can be from either your primary or secondary weapon.

The last thing to keep in mind is that your Active abilities are sorted into categories. The abilities in the top row are suggested for solo play. The abilities in the bottom row are suggested for group settings, like dungeons. This is a general rule, not an etched-in-stone requirement, but it's something to keep in mind.

Likewise, your Passive abilities are sorted into rows with common themes as well. The top three rows include passives that are tied to specific active abilities, expanding or enhancing what they're capable of. The bottom two rows affect your weapon mechanics or apply general buffs that apply as long as you have that weapon equipped.

The stat bonuses, the passives in the little round bubbles that boost your attributes, are permanent bonuses. They apply no matter what you have equipped, once purchased. What's more, they get more impressive the further to the right they are. A stat bonus at the end of a row gives a much better bump than one to the far left. They may not wow you, but believe me, they do add up. None of them are wasted purchases.

Angling toward endgame - Levels 18 and up.

There are other guides available, to advise you what sort of talisman you might want to equip.

Keeping it basic for now, simply put, Attack Rating equates to damage dealt in combat, and that is likely your best friend for the first forty-plus levels. Tanking or Healing builds don't become a big concern until level fifty. Yes, really. Even in dungeons. Focus on your own play style, and use whatever works best for you. For myself, I did very well with one health talisman for extra protection and hit points, one healing talisman, so my self-heals were more effective in dicey fights, and using attack rating talismans for all the other slots.

A helpful rule of thumb: You get more bonuses from the slots in the higher positions. An attack talisman in the head slot will give more bonus than one in the wrist slot, which in turn will give more bonus than one in the luck slot. Keep that in mind when picking and choosing what you put where.

The Head slot opens at 15, Occult at 20, Wrist at 25, Luck at 30, and Finger at 35. Keeping this in mind, you may want to save up some Marks and keep an eye on the marketplace, so you can acquire a good item to have ready as soon as you can equip them.

Your first weapon and talisman that you empower to level 20 will come with a free duplicate item, so you can fuse them to blue level one. This will represent a useful power-up, but keep in mind that these will be the same item you just levelled, so it won't be an opportunity to switch to a better weapon or talisman right away. Just a higher-level item. Blue talismans can level up to 25, and you'll need two blue 25s to fuse into an purple epic level one. However, you can't actually do that until you reach level 50.

So, it's worth your time to start building new level 25 blues as you level up, so that when you reach level 50 you can immediately fuse them and begin on the next tier of gear quality. While any cheap weapon can be levelled up and used (your three-pip extraordinary Pistols will happily fuse to any cheap one-pip Pistol, regardless of suffix or quality) your talismans are pickier. A chain belt will not fuse to a buckle, for instance. Bear this in mind as you're levelling up fusion-fodder.

If you're a Patron, you'll get a daily reward with a cache key. The Caches are everywhere after you reach level 15. You'll get far more of them than you will be able to afford to open, and that's a feature, not a bug. They can be sold to any vendor for Anima Shards, and as you're empowering your gear you will NEVER have enough Shards. (And that's ignoring the Museum of the Occult, which will happily devour any Shards you have left over.

I mention those cache boxes because they're chock full of distillates, free distillates that will level up your gear faster than any other method, and they'll do it at no cost in Shards or Marks. If you're not a Patron, it's worth your time to save up your Marks and buy Aurum off the exchange, just to get the keys to open a few of these boxes.

The second best way to level your gear is by running dungeons. LOTS of them. Before level fifty, you have access to the story-mode normal dungeons. They're not super difficult, and you don't need to worry about tanking or healing specialty roles. About half the reward loot you'll walk away with will be distillates to empower your gear with. They'll cost Shards to use, but they'll give more of a reward than using other items.

Other items, of course, being the third best method to empower your gear. Like items give 2 1/2 times the benefit, so it's definitely worth it to use chains to improve chains, pendants to improve pendants, blood focuses to improve blood focuses, and suchlike and so forth. You acquire these all over, from missions, dungeons, and Shambala. Hands down Shambala is the fastest way to acquire items. You'll get two reward bags for three or four minutes of PvP - three bags after level 30, one each of weapon, talisman, and glyphs.

Glyphs. These can be applied to any talisman or weapon, and they come in only five flavors:

  • Accurate Glyphs increase your chance to hit.
  • Devastating Glyphs increase your crit damage rating.
  • Fierce Glyphs increase your chance to crit.
  • Elusive Glyphs increase your evasion.
  • Stalwart Glyphs increase your Defense rating.

Signets can only be applied to talismans, and they come in LOTS of flavours. However, they can only be slotted into epic-level talismans, so they're not really a concern until you reach level 50.

This thread: is a marvelous resource about gear and leveling, and I see little reason to go into more detail when they already covered it in excruciating detail already. Besides, I'm trying to keep this post fairly generalized and accessible. Read that when you're ready for solid number crunching.

For now, keep in mind that Elusive and Stalwart Glyphs are primarily useful for tanks, while Brutal and Devastating are good for DPS and Healing. Accurate is good for everyone, though it's easy to overdo it and get more hit rating than you'll really need if you go with lots of them.

All levels - Show me the Money!

I mentioned earlier that you can buy Aurum to get cache keys. You can also buy Aurum with Marks just to have Aurum. The higher levels of inventory and sprint unlocks require Aurum to purchase, and some people assume that means you must use real-life cash money to purchase them. That's never the case. You certainly could - it's faster and easier. But buying with Marks is always a possibility.

Fun fact: while most items are character bound, like Marks, dungeon keys, cosmetic clothing items, sprints, etc... your Aurum balance is account-wide. This means that if you have an alt character (slots are sold for 1000 Aurum each) you can farm daily challenges and sell items on the exchange, and then use those Marks to buy Aurum. You can then switch characters, and sell that Aurum for Marks, effectively transferring that money to your main character and increasing your daily income. It's time-consuming, yes, but it does let you grind for cash faster when you need it.