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How leveling up and progression works in New World

New World offers a classless progression system that lets you change up your playstyle by switching out your equipment. One moment you can be fighting off zombies with a fire staff, then a second later you can be slicing through the Corrupted with a two-handed great ax. This versatility makes it easy to craft your perfect character — but it also makes it daunting to level up and select the right skills.

Beyond all the combat skills, there’s a bevy of upgradable crafting and gathering trades. These combine to create a complex leveling and progression system, but one that rewards you for every in-game action. Whether you’re looking to be a dominating force on the battlefield or the best cook in Aeternum, here’s what you need to know about progression and classes in New World.

Further reading

New World uses three main progression systems

New World players walking through town.

Because there are so many activities you can get lost in, New World has decided to break its progression system up into three unique categories — Attributes, Weapon Mastery, and Trade Skills. It might seem convoluted to newcomers, but it’s actually an intuitive system that provides you with a constant sense of progression.

Core Attributes

Most actions in New World will grant you a bit of XP toward improving your character’s overall level. Whenever you reach a new level, you’ll be given a few points to increase your Core Attributes. These attributes have an impact on your overall HP, Mana, and ability to use certain weapons and deal damage. The five core attributes are all related to your effectiveness in combat, and they include:

  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Intelligence
  • Focus
  • Constitution

These can be freely reset up until you hit level 20, so don’t be afraid to frequently change up your allotments and test out a playstyle with different Core Attributes.

Weapon Mastery

Two players fighting each other in New World.

Increasing your overall character level and upgrading your Core Attributes will only get you so far — you’ll also have to hone your skills with each type of weapon. Weapon Mastery is New World‘s way of rewarding you for sticking with certain types of weapons and unlocking powerful skills. Weapon Mastery is leveled up by slaying opponents with a specific weapon. When you hit a new Weapon Mastery level, you’ll be able to pick up new active and passive skills related to that gear.

For example, increasing your Strength Core Attribute will allow you to deal more damage with both great axes and swords. However, you won’t gain access to unique skills for either type of weapon unless you’re actively using it in battle and increasing your Weapon Mastery.

Here’s a look at all Weapon Mastery categories in New World:

  • Sword and Shield
  • Hatchet
  • Rapier
  • Spear
  • Great Axe
  • War Hammer
  • Bow
  • Musket
  • Fire Staff
  • Life Staff
  • Ice Gauntlet

There’s no shortcut to leveling up your Weapon Mastery. Instead, you’ll need to grind as many mobs as fast as possible. Find a location that’s free of other players but heavy on monsters — as long as they’re close to your current level, you should be able to gain a significant chunk of Weapon Mastery XP every hour.

Only 19 Weapon Mastery points can be acquired for each skill line, however, New World doesn’t limit the number of weapons you can level up. That means you won’t be able to fully unlock each node on an individual skill tree, but you can become a “master” of every weapon in the game.

Trade Skills

New World player gathering resources.

Completely separate from your Core Attributes and Weapon Mastery, Trade Skills offer you a relaxing way to spend your time in New World. These are further broken down into the categories of gathering, refining, and crafting, and you’ll need to perform very specific tasks to level them up. The higher your rank, the better items you’ll be able to gather, refine, or craft.

You’ll often find that these are best tackled in groups, as gathering one type of resource can then be refined and crafted into something new — making it easy to level up three Trade Skills at once.

Here’s a brief look at the 19 Trade Skills available in New World:


  • Fishing
  • Harvesting
  • Tracking & Skinning
  • Logging
  • Mining


  • Leatherworking
  • Smelting
  • Stonecutting
  • Weaving
  • Woodworking


  • Arcana
  • Armoring
  • Crafting
  • Engineering
  • Furnishing
  • Jewelcrafting
  • Weaponsmithing

Even if you’d rather be running quests or waging war against other factions, it’s in your best interest to focus on a few Trade Skills. Not only do they provide you with a bit of XP toward your overall character level, but they’re a great way to load your inventory with gold. And since resources are littered just about everywhere in Aeternum, you don’t have to go far off the beaten path to do a bit of gathering.

New World progression tips and tricks

New World players fighting a bear.

While Amazon Games offers a very free-form leveling system with New World, there are a few tips and tricks anyone can take advantage of:

  • Try all Weapon Masteries as soon as possible. Many of the game’s resources and attribute allotments can be freely reset until you hit level 20. Because of this, you’ll want to try out as many weapon combinations as possible before your reach that cap — otherwise, you’ll need to spend the rare Azoth resource to respect.
  • Focus on both ranged and melee combat. New World gives you two different weapon slots, and most players will find that a combination of one melee and one ranged weapon is the best fit. This allows you to engage enemies from a distance and reduce their HP bar before they can start attacking you at close range.
  • Make liberal use of your Storage Shed. This is essentially your bank, and making frequent stops should provide you with a smoother leveling experience — especially if you’re a crafter. Resources can quickly bog down your inventory, so staying close to a Settlement and dropping things off at your Storage Shed allows you to continue gathering without a bunch of downtime. Then, once you’ve amassed hundreds of resources, you can make a quick refining and crafting stop to level up those Trade Skills.
  • Don’t fight enemies above your level. You might be able to take them out, but it’s much easier to level Weapon Mastery by fighting monsters around your own level.
  • Turn off PvP in territory controlled by other factions. Sure, you get an XP bump with it turned on, but heading into enemy territory with it turned on is just asking for a headache.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance journalist whose gaming addiction began with the SEGA Genesis. His work has been published on…
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