Great Axe Weapon Guide and Builds in New World

Last updated on Nov 19, 2021 at 20:40 by DonTheCrown 1 comment

One of the most fearsome melee weapons in New World, the Great Axe user chases down their foes relentlessly. With powerful self-healing from attacks and Abilities the Great Axe is solid in both PvE and PvP.


Great Axe Patch 1.1 Changes

With Patch 1.1 of New World having been released on the 19th of November, we have prepared patch notes with commentary for the Great Axe weapon. Please follow the link below for more information.


Great Axe Overview

The Great Axe is a two-handed weapon that scales with Strength. It deals Slash damage with its basic attacks and most skills. This weapon excels at getting up in its foes' faces and cleaving them down with area-of-effect attacks. While most other weapons can hit multiple foes with well-placed light or heavy attacks, the Great Axe easily hits multiple foes with its broad, side-to-side swings. The Great Axe also has multiple ways to heal from damage dealt such as Feed Feed, Critical Gains Critical Gains, and Hunger Hunger, making it a good choice for solo content.


Great Axe Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
X Weaknesses
  • -Melee
  • -Slow attacks that can be interrupted without Grit
  • -Long cooldowns
  • -Limited crowd control
  • -Conditional damage and healing
  • -Weak against Ancients

Great Axe Attributes

Since the Great Axe scales only with Strength it is highly recommended that you focus on obtaining as much Strength as possible on both gear and with your Attribute selection. Constitution is a decent secondary Attribute but only Strength will increase the damage you do. The 50-Strength breakpoint will increase the damage of your light attacks by 5% and the 100-Strength breakpoint will increase your heavy attacks' damage by 10%. Once you reach endgame and are able to have 300 Strength you will have Grit during light and heavy attacks, which is incredibly useful for avoiding crowd control.


In PvE, you can use the Great Axe as a DPS or tank. In the two subsections that follow, we quickly give you the recommended build for each role. To see what weapons best pair with the Great Axe, check out our Weapon Combos section below.



The Great Axe is incredible for area-of-effect damage and has the widest-hitting basic attacks in the game. Your primary role in PvE will be to provide some light crowd control and to take down multiple foes. To that end, the best Great Axe abilities to use are Charge Charge, Gravity Well Gravity Well, and Reap Reap. This set of abilities will allow you to close the distance with foes quickly and then do large amounts of area-of-effect damage. Alternatively, if you are focusing on maximum single-target damage then you switch Reap Reap out for Execute Execute. If you can get the Insatiable Gravity Well Insatiable Gravity Well perk on your weapon or armor it is a great damage booster but it is not mandatory. The best gem for your Great Axe is Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond because with your self-healing you are likely to be at full health while fighting. For armor gems we recommend either Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx, Cut Pristine Malachite Cut Pristine Malachite, or Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond to provide generic damage absorption.

We recommend taking the following Mastery Points:



For tanking we recommend pairing the Great Axe with the Sword because it is the best tanking weapon. The Great Axe offers great area-of-effect crowd control that groups up several enemies, which is something the Sword lacks. Gravity Well Gravity Well is great for locking down a crowd of enemies that you might not have aggro on so you can regain threat on them. Reap Reap can apply a taunt as long as you have socketed it with a Carnelian Carnelian gem and does a great job of clumping up enemies for your group to cleave down. Reap also will heal you for a large amount if you manage to hit a lot of foes, so it can be used as an emergency heal. The mastery choices remain the same as the DPS build with the sole exception being that you never drop Reap and that you want to take Unyielding Unyielding over Center of Attention Center of Attention.

You can use the Great Axe while tanking Expeditions mostly between boss fights or when you need to crowd control foes. For boss fights we recommend using the Sword to block the boss' attacks. Shields naturally have a higher Block Stability rating and can take more punishment without expending your Stamina gauge. While tanking with the Great Axe you want to focus less on Blocking and more on avoiding being hit with timely Dodges. Charge Charge can be a lifesaver after taking a big hit, as you can quickly get away to give your healer time to recover your health. The best gem for your Great Axe is a Carnelian Carnelian because it activates your taunt with Reap Reap and increases the threat you generate based on the tier of gem used. For armor gems we recommend Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx as you will likely be taking mostly Physical damage while tanking.


In PvP, the Great Axe is the melee terror of the battlefield from which there is no escape. You primary objective will be to chase down ranged enemies and to help push players off of objectives. To that end, the best Great Axe Abilities to use are Charge Charge, Gravity Well Gravity Well, and Reap Reap. This toolkit will give you everything you need to chase down enemies and then prevent them from escaping. Getting the Insatiable Gravity Well Insatiable Gravity Well perk on your weapon or armor will make a big difference when fighting multiple players at the same time. The best gem for your Great Axe is Cut Pristine Emerald Cut Pristine Emerald to help you finish off low-health enemies. For armor gems we recommend either Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx, Cut Pristine Malachite Cut Pristine Malachite, or Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond to provide generic damage absorption. To see what weapons best pair with the Great Axe, check out our Weapon Combos section below.

We recommend taking the following Mastery Points:


Great Axe Abilities

The Great Axe, like all other weapons, has six abilities. However, you can only use three abilities at any given time on your action bars. While you can spend Mastery Points on more than 3, it is a waste of points since respeccing is rather cheap to do.



Charge Charge — Charge forward 10 meters and deal 120% weapon damage when you reach a target. This ability is great for closing gaps and for crossing through water as it moves you through water or off cliffs at the same speed as it does on land. Most Great Axe builds will use this skill for the mobility it provides; however, the Masteries that support it are considered to not be worth taking. One of the best parts of this skill is that you can steer the charge throughout the animation, which allows you to turn corners and go exactly where you want to go. Charge will end when you run into an foe or friendly player so be careful of accidentally bumping into other players. You can charge in town though without having to worry about this.



Reap Reap — Extend your axe 5 meters, pulling foes to you and dealing 110% weapon damage. This ability will taunt foes it hits if your Great Axe is socketed with a Carnelian Carnelian gem. This is great for pulling foes to you in both PvE and PvP. This ability also gains more range, life leech, and an additional damaging swing with Masteries. This ability can easily help you keep yourself healthy with its hefty leech when you hit multiple foes. Unfortunately, foes can Dodge Roll out of the pull so in PvP scenarios you will want to use this to either bait out a Dodge or movement skill, or punish those who have neither ready.



Execute Execute — A powerful overhead attack dealing 200% weapon damage which increases to 300% weapon damage vs foes under 50% health. This ability has a long animation and a rather small hitbox. This skill is great for PvE due to the Masteries that allow it to always crit versus foes on less than 30% health. Combine this with the other Masteries in the Reaper tree that provide healing for both crits and hitting foes on less than 30% health and Execute is both a powerful damage dealer and healer. For PvP this ability is a lot less stellar since it can be extremely difficult to hit someone who can see the ability coming and move out of the way.



Whirlwind Whirlwind — A spin attack that deals 50% weapon damage to all nearby foes. If you hit a foe, spin again for a maximum of 4 spins or 7 spins with Masteries. While this spin-to-win skill looks great, it unfortunately can be interrupted easily by attacks and does not have the ability to backstab-crit. While this does have some potential in group PvE content there are just too many ways to be interrupted while using this ability to make it good.



Maelstrom Maelstrom — A fast-spinning attack that pulls targets closer to you and deals 110% weapon damage. This sweeping attack gets an extra swing with Masteries and can destroy incoming projectiles. The fact that it can hit in a 360-degree arc around the player does feel good and the two attacks are rather quick; however, it does not have the crowd control power of Gravity Well Gravity Well or the healing of Reap Reap.


Gravity Well

Gravity Well Gravity Well — Throw your axe to create a vortex that pulls foes to its center for 3 seconds, which ends with a damaging burst dealing 125% weapon damage. This ability is extremely strong because the only way to escape the vortex is to use a Dodge Roll or movement ability — it is not possible to walk out of it. Due to its strong area-of-effect crowd control, this ability is popular for both PvP and PvE. This can even stop charging foes such as Bison or Elk in their tracks, allowing you to kill them much more easily.


Great Axe Mastery Trees

Like all other weapons, the Great Axe has two Mastery trees. You can spend Mastery Points in either tree but must have a Mastery from the preceding row to select deeper Masteries. Likewise, if a Mastery has a vertical line connecting it to a Mastery above it, then you must first select the higher Mastery in order to unlock the lower ones. These linked together Masteries typically support abilities which are denoted by a square-shaped icon. While you can unlock all six abilities at once, you will only be able to place three abilities on your action bar at a time. It is unwise to invest in more than three abilities because it is rather easy to respec. The Ultimate Mastery point will unlock once you spend 10 Mastery Points in its tree. You are unable to add additional Mastery Points, respec your Points, change your action bar, or unequip your weapon while any ability is on cooldown.



The left-side tree, Reaper focuses on healing from crits and hits against foes below 30% health. Its Ultimate Mastery, Blood Lust Blood Lust, makes you move 30% faster and deal 15% more damage when looking at a foe within 15 meters. This is arguably the strongest passive mobility Mastery in the game and it activates from even the simplest of foes like Rabbits. This helps the Great Axe keep up with slippery PvP targets without having to expend ability cooldowns and to get into the fight faster than other weapons.



The right-side tree, Mauler focuses on heavy attacks and buffs from being surrounded by foes. Its Ultimate Mastery Mauler's Fury Mauler's Fury provides a stacking buff that increases your damage dealt on hit by 3% which stacks up to a maximum of 30% increased damage. This can be a powerful PvE buff, but due to needing to hit every three seconds to maintain the buff it is not good in PvP.


Great Axe Perks

Every Weapon Ability in New World has a corresponding perk that can be found on armor and weapons. Most perks scale in power with the Gear Score of the item they are on. You can only benefit from one instance of a Weapon Ability Perk at a time. So, you could have Mending Execute Mending Execute and Insatiable Gravity Well Insatiable Gravity Well at the same time, but you cannot benefit from having multiple Mending Executes.

  • Refreshing Charge Refreshing Charge — Reduces the cooldown of Charge Charge when it hits a full health foe. This is an okay perk but is not something that feels game-changing.
  • Crippling Reap Crippling Reap — When you hit a foe that is below 50% health you will slow them for 2 seconds. This is a nice PvP perk that helps you catch up to foes. It is pretty common for people to Dodge Roll out of Reap Reap so this extra slow helps a lot if you connect with the first hit. It only works when the target is below 50% health, which is a bit of a nuisance.
  • Mending Execute Mending Execute — Whenever you kill a foe with Execute Execute you heal for a percentage of your maximum health. This perk is amazing, especially for leveling and PvE content as you can keep yourself healthy by killing foes. Since Execute is already tailored for finishing off low health foes this can give you a big health boost whenever you land a kill.
  • Fortifying Whirlwind Fortifying Whirlwind — This perk allows you to quickly stack up Fortify to the maximum of 50% damage absorption. However, it only lasts 2 seconds. Whirlwind Whirlwind also does not have Grit so even a simple stagger can interrupt the ability.
  • Enfeebling Maelstrom Enfeebling Maelstrom — The second hit of Maelstrom Maelstrom applies Weaken which reduces the damage those affected by it can deal for a short time. Applying a Weaken to a foe that is in melee range is nice; however, this perk only applies if they are hit by the second swing of Maelstrom.
  • Insatiable Gravity Well Insatiable Gravity Well — This perk not only grants damage leech for Gravity Well Gravity Well, but also causes you to release a second damaging burst around you on a successful hit. This perk is amazing for both PvE and PvP content and we recommend always trying to have it on your gear when you are using Gravity Well.

Great Axe Leveling

Great Axe is a low maintenance weapon that does not need ammo or mana to dish out serious damage. It is important to note that weapon damage in New World scales with both Attributes and Gear Score. If you find a Great Axe that has a higher Gear Score than what you currently using then you should almost always use it, unless you will lose a significant amount of Strength or a strong perk such as Enchanted Enchanted.


Early Game

Leveling a Great Axe is a smooth experience from Mastery 1 to Mastery 20. We recommend spending your first three points picking up the Reap Reap, Charge Charge, and Execute Execute abilities which gives you a nice full 3-ability setup. Charge helps you get to your next foe quickly, cross water, and catch up to or escape PvP. Both Reap and Charge are able to be used immediately after a basic attack to get some burst damage in against foes. Your fourth Mastery should pick up Greed Greed which will increase your damage by 15% after 3 light attacks. This is really nice because you should have this buff up most of the time since you want to use a lot of light attacks. Next, get all of Reap's supporting Masteries which make it heal and do more damage with a second swing from Fatal Attraction Fatal Attraction. Feed Feed and Critical Gains Critical Gains come next to increase the amount of self-healing your Great Axe provides. Keen Edge Keen Edge increases your critical damage which you will see occasionally or whenever you backstab-crit. At this point you can get Blood Lust Blood Lust which will make you do more damage and move faster. Death's Embrace Death's Embrace allows you to penetrate Armor against foes who are below 50% health which is nice for increasing damage. Critical Condition Critical Condition provides more crits against low-health foes which is nice for extra healing.


Switching to Gravity Well

At Mastery 15 we recommend respeccing your Mastery to drop Execute Execute for Gravity Well Gravity Well. You can do this by clicking the respec button at the bottom of the Great Axe Mastery screen; this should cost you 75 Azoth Azoth. We wait until this point to switch over because this is the first moment in which you can get both Blood Lust Blood Lust and Gravity Well. Gravity Well does a great job doing area-of-effect damage and can help crowd control clusters of enemies if you are in a group. We finish up by picking up some of the Masteries we dropped when getting Gravity Well and filling out the Mauler tree. If you plan to PvP we recommend taking Gravity Gravity as it will make Gravity Well hold enemies longer, but if not you can grab Center of Attention Center of Attention.


Great Axe Armor

All pieces of equipped armor contribute to your Equipment Load in New World. This determines a bit of your playstyle, ability to take hits, and what your Dodge does. For more information check out our Equip Load Guide. For Great Axe we recommend using a Heavy Equipment Load with every piece of gear being Heavy and granting Strength or Constitution. This will allow you to survive the hits that you will inevitability take while in melee range or attempting to gap-close with distant ranged foes. If you instead want to maximize mobility with the Light Dodge Roll then wear primarily Light armor with a Medium chest. If using the Faction armor then you can buy a Seal to change the Attributes of any of the Faction armors to Strength / Constitution at the Faction vendor.


Great Axe Weapon Combinations

The Great Axe is a great weapon to combine with any weapon that is looking for more mobility or a splash of crowd control. There are a few weapons that pair extremely well with it:

  • Hatchet — What is better than some self-healing? How about even more self-healing! The Hatchet does a great job providing even more health sustain through Berserk Berserk which allows you to heal up out of combat. Feral Rush Feral Rush can also root enemies so you can catch slippery foes. You can also make the Hatchet a throwing weapon which adds a ranged option to your setup. One downside is that both of these weapons deal Slash damage and will be weak when fighting Ancient-type enemies.
  • War Hammer — Also scaling primarily with Strength, the War Hammer provides a lot of crowd control options. You can use the Great Axe to close the gap and then Stun and Knockdown your foes to your heart's content. Since the War Hammer deals Impact damage it also helps cover for the Great Axe's weakness against Ancient-type foes. The main downside of this combo is that you will have two slower-attacking two-handed weapons that have limited ranged potential.
  • Spear — Scaling primarily with Dexterity, the Spear scales damage with Strength as a secondary Attribute. This is a strong crowd control weapon whose primary weakness is closing the gap to its foes. Use the Great Axe's Charge Charge and Blood Lust Blood Lust to get on top of your foe and then stun them with a Vault Kick Vault Kick and Sweep Sweep them to the ground. You could even pair this weapon with Execute Execute to secure a hit in PvP. The main drawback of using a Spear is that it does not scale primarily with Strength, so your damage will be less than if you scaled Dexterity. Also, the Spear can only offer Javelin Javelin as a ranged ability, so you will be mainly melee.
  • Life Staff — While somewhat of a strange option at first glance, the Life Staff can be a strong weapon to pair with the Great Axe. For this setup you would scale Focus instead of Strength and then use an Amber Amber gem to change some of the damage scaling to Focus. The Life Staff is the healing weapon in New World and it benefits from Great Axe's mobility and crowd control from Gravity Well Gravity Well. While this combination does less damage than a pure Strength setup, it is incredibly difficult to kill.

Great Axe FAQ


What Attributes do the Great Axe scale with?

The Great Axe scales solely with Strength


Can I use the Great Axe without scaling Strength?

Yes, you can convert up to 50% of a weapon's damage to elemental to allow it to scale with Intelligence or Focus based on the gem used.


Where do you get the Great Axe?

You can get your first Great Axe either from killing enemies or from chests. If you do not find one then you can craft it for yourself at the Forge. We recommend crafting a Great Axe after completing your 'craft a weapon' introduction quest if you have not yet found one. For more information about crafting, check out our Crafting guide.



  • 19 Nov. 2021: Added link to Patch 1.1 Great Axe changes.
  • 28 Sep. 2021: Guide added.
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