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New World Watermark: Gear Score and How It Works

The basics of New World's High Watermark system explained
New World Watermark: Gear Score and how it works

Update: New World plans to switch to the Expertise and Gypsum system in a coming update.

When you reach the endgame in New World, it’s all about acquiring the best and highest level gear score items you can find. The system in place is reminiscent of other MMOs like Destiny, with a few caveats. In this guide, we’ll explain how New World’s “High Watermark” system works, how it affects your gear score, and everything else you need to know.

Each item class in New World has its own Gear Score. Your overall Gear Score is determined by taking your total combined Gear Score for all items and dividing it by the total number of items. That calculation determines your overall Gear Score. We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty details some more down below.

What is the New World High Watermark System?

The High Watermark (HWM) system is a mechanism that determines the possible Gear Score of individual item drops from endgame content. The system comes into play when you reach character level 60 and is independent for each item slot. That means a Helmet and Gloves have two different Watermarks, and the same goes for every other item slot. It is also weapon-specific, meaning it is individual for Swords, Hatchets, Fire Staves, etc.

The absolute maximum Watermark you can achieve is 590, but this could very well have a higher cap in future updates and content releases. When you reach level 60, you will begin with a 500 HWM on all items. When you find any item from killing mobs or looting chests, you have a small chance to find an item above your current HWM. That new item of higher Gear Score will now be your new Watermark for that item slot.

For example, when you find a Helmet with a 505 Gear Score, your new HWM for helmets is 505. That means you can now find items up to Gear Score 505. However, you also have a small chance to find an item within five levels higher than your current HWM. In this example, it would be 510. Quest rewards and items purchased from the Trading Post (as well as crafted gear) do not affect your HWM.

How to find items with a higher Gear Score in New World

To increase your HWM and find higher Gear Score items, you can do the following:

  • Kill level 60+ mobs in Elite areas
  • Loot Elite Supply Chests
  • Complete Expeditions/Dungeons
  • Complete Corrupted Breaches
  • Participate in Outpost Rush
  • Use gear that increases your Luck

One thing to note is the last point. Using luck-based gear does not influence the raw Gear Score, but it does influence the rarity of drops you receive. Therefore, it indirectly helps you get a higher Gear Score by giving you more overall drops. That said, there is no way to target-farm a specific item type, so you are limited to just grinding out mobs and chests as much as possible.

The most efficient way to increase your Gear Score in endgame New World is finding a group and farming elite mobs. Some popular areas are Myrkgard, Siren Strand, Caminus, Imperial Palace, and Malevolence, to name a few. The most popular spot is Myrkgard in Shattered Mountains, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a group within your company or by keeping an eye on chat.

Another thing to note is that you should avoid zergs, or large groups of people. Each group in an area tagging mobs will decrease your overall odds of getting loot. Your best bet is to run with two five-person groups when it comes to elite mob farming. A ten-person group provides a good balance of being able to kill things quickly and still get drops. You could, of course, solo farm as well if you find a good spot. A popular solo area is in the Scorched Mines doing chest runs by exploiting AI pathing.

Finally, you don’t need to worry about equipping your highest gear score items while grinding your Watermark. When you receive an item drop from a mob or chest, the new Watermark is taken into account and applied to the corresponding item slot. It is a bit of a complicated system to wrap your head around at first, but it’s what we’ve got to work with for the time being. Just remember, every slot has its own Gear Score, so if you are looking for a particular item type, you’ll just need to keep farming elites and chests until you find them. Some of your item slots will inevitably be much lower than others unless you have some incredible luck.

Best Methods to pushing your Gear Score (item level) in New World

While the overall system can all be boiled down to more kills and chests equals more loot, there are some basic guidelines. The main thing to consider is the level of elite mobs you are killing, and the levels will vary depending on location. Higher-level mobs have a higher upper limit gear score loot table.

Here is the breakdown for which areas to farm depending on your gear score:

  • Gear Score 500-525 (Elite 61+)
    • Great Cleave – Nihilo Visage
    • Shattered Mountain – Upper Svikin
  • Gear Score 525-549 (Elite 62+)
    • Ebonscale Reach – Imperial Palace
    • Edengrove – Malevolence
  • Gear Score 549-577 (Elite 63+)
    • Reekwater – Forecastle Drift
    • Shattered Mountain – Scorched Mines
  • Gear Score 577-591 (Elite 64+)
    • Shattered Mountain – Myrkgard
    • Reekwater – Sirens Strand, Eternal Pool
  • Gear Score 591+
    • Dungeons or Arenas (save your keys for this)

Other things to consider:

  • Elite Chests have a 23-hour cooldown
  • Outpost Rush and 65+ Portals work for increasing your Gear Score
  • Do your dungeon keys when you are nearing 591+ Gear Score
  • Don’t over-grind and burn yourself out

For more related content, guides, and builds, check out our website’s New World section.

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