A special thanks to Almar's Guides, Allakhazam, and Fanra's for much of this info.
Like every other guide states, don't worry if you have some empty slots when the tutorial ends. Unless you are trying to experience the game with some special approach (some returning players play only in expansions in order, etc.), step one is going to be getting to L80 with whatever drops and minimal expenses on spells/abilities, then focusing on gear/spells/disciplines/AAs and fine-tuning your spellsets, hotkeys, and tactics.
The Starting Game
As so many other guides advise, please do the tutorial and most or all of the tutorial's quests. This will get you to at level 10 with some decent armor. Hand Vahlara Gloomingdeep Spider Silk to receive Burlap armor (it's better than nothing) for every slot. Other armor will drop from the Gloomingdeep Kobolds pretty regularly. Again, the Gloomingdeep gear is exactly equal to the lowest level of Defiant gear.
The Early Game
Fight content, do daily quests, or at least XP in the hotzones. You can get the quests from Franklin Teek in the Plane of Knowledge, and then go XP in that zone if you don't want to do the quests. But I've done most of them.
Grab the armor that drops that you can use. Sell/bazaar/destroy what you don't want. When I'm XPing, I don't usually loot anything that I can't use unless it's stackable.
By level 80, it seems wearing defiant gear (don't forget your augments!) and moloing (soloing with your mercanary) becomes too weak to continue. This is the time to grind out some AAs, learn your spells/discs, and work on improving your stats, strats, and survivability. This is one reason why many folks multibox - with three characters, even if all are only played at some low percentage of efficiency, you can do group tasks for progression and upgrades. Please note that for tanks, Defiant gets outcalssed sooner and should be upgraded as you are reaching level 70 due to Defiant AC not keeping up with mob tuning for level-apporpriate content.
Defiant visible armor pieces (as well as weapons and shields) drop from mobs in all content, and are usually rated for the levels of character that will be XPing in that zone or on that mob. Each set also has a certain coloring (shown below). It seems like the last several releases have standardized which focus effects are on which armor slots, so upgrading an armor slot will not leave you with a lesser or missing focus. Defiant seems to follow this convention.
Defiant non-visible slot items come from a variety of sources (including Teek jobs), and instead of plate/chain/leather/silk, they are available in versions for combatants (War, Pal, Shd, Mnk, Brd, Rog, Bst, Ber) or adepts (Clr, Dru, Shm, Nec, Wiz, Mag, Enc).
Consigned armor pieces come from Consigned Armor packages through the marketplace, but if you XP (versus being power leveled) you'll be tripping over defiant stuff. I did, after grinding to the low 70s, go Heroic on the Shaman and Shadow Knight, and so they are now geared up in Grandoise Consigned in every slot. Every bit on the Shaman and the SK averages 2k HP and 200 AC. Or better.
Colors are Effed if you're running your browser in dark mode, sorry.
|Dropped Armor Name||Required
(full focus effects)
|Purchased Armor Name|
|Crude Defiant||-||10||Crude Consigned|
|Simple Defiant||5||20||Simple Consigned|
|Rough Defiant||15||30||Rough Consigned|
|Ornate Defiant||26||40||Ornate Consigned|
|Flawed Defiant||37||50||Flawed Consigned|
|Intricate Defiant||48||60||Intricate Consigned|
|Elaborate Defiant||59||70||Elaborate Consigned|
|Elegant Defiant||70||80||Elegant Consigned|
I made it to the low 70s following this - taking drops or buying CHEAP bazaar gear for non-visible slots, and only augmenting gear on the SK. Then I went Heroic, and got geard out with Grandiose Consigned in every slot at level 100.
Elegant Defiant gear sells well in the Bazaar (at least on FV), but that means there are a lot of people selling it, so the prices tend to be low for most pieces. I've sold Elegant Defiant plate for good money, though, since it's generally accepted that it's more important to gear up the tank than anyone else.
However, THE HEROIC UPGRADE DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY AUGMENTS, so I've found some reasonably priced AC augs for the SK (Solus' Polished/Burnished Gemstones, and Zev'ran's Bauble of Might for the shield), and will be doing level 90 content until I've geared up appropriately (and learned more about what all these new abilities are and when to use them).
The Late Game
While Defiant is still good for non-tanks until 80 or so, anyone (but especially tanks) can begin to seek out better-than-Defiant gear.
I'll be testing the recommendations at Almar's as I get to these levels, but the concensus seems to be:
- 65-70: Bazaar gear for $2kp or less per slot.
- 70-75: Bazaar gear for $2kp or less per slot.
- 75-80: Secrets of Faydwer gear - see Rasper's guide.
- 80-85: Underfoot gear - see Rasper's guide.
- 85-90: Hose of Thule gear - see Rasper's guide.
- 90-95: Veil of Alaris gear - see Rasper's guide.
- 95-100: (Rain of Fear), Call of the Forsaken gear - see Rasper's guide
- 100-105: (The Darkened Sea, The Broken Mirror), Empires of Kunark gear - see Rasper's guide
- 105-110: (Ring of Scale), The Burning Lands gear - see Rasper's guide
- 110-115: (Torment of Velious), Claws of Veeshan gear - see Rasper's guide
- 115-120: (Terror of Luclin), Night of Shadows gear
I made a table listing which tier of gear was better than which, but there's really only overlap until Reigh of Fear; after that, the bottom teir gear of any expansion outclasses the top tier gear of the previous expansion. Here it is anyway (based on online sources, not my experience, and I'm not sure about the nomenclature for some of them. /shrug):
|Expansion||More Better Gear Tier =>|
|Secrets of Faydwer||2||3||4|
|Seeds of Destruction||1||3||4,5||A?|
|House of Thule||1||2||3||4|
|Veil of Alaris||1||2||3||4|
|Rain of Fear||1||2||3||4|
|Call of the Forsaken||1||2|
|The Darkened Sea||1||2||3|
|The Broken Mirror||1||2||3|
|Empires of Kunark||1||2|
|Ring of Scale||1||2||3|
|The Burning Lands||1||2||S|
|Torment of Velious||1||2||3|
|Claws of Veeshan||1||2||3|
|Terror of Luclin||1||2||3|
|Night of Shadows||1||2||3|