Like most MMOs, New World has the holy trinity of character archetypes: tank, DPS, and healer. You’re likely familiar with the larger gameplay expectations of each class, but you’ll need to know the ins and outs of how each archetype plays in New World to be successful. In this guide, we’re taking a closer look at the tank in order to determine the best tank build in New World.
Let’s get started!
What is a tank in New World?
Tanks are tough. They prioritize survivability over damage, relying on any combination of damage negation, high HP pools, and health regeneration to stay in the fight long after others would have fallen. Simply put, they’re hard to kill.
Despite having strong solo potential, tanks are primarily team players. While you can solo as a tank in almost any game, your real job is taking hits for the rest of your team. Tanks use certain abilities to draw enemy aggro so they’re the only ones in the group being targeted. Their impressive survivability lets them sustain a lot of hits while their weaker (but more damage-focused) teammates do their thing.
When looking at the best tank build, we need to consider not just how survivable they are, but how good they are at attracting and maintaining enemy focus.
Best Tank Build: Sword and Shield
Unsurprisingly to most players, the best tank build in New World uses the sword and shield. We’ll go into a little more detail as to why, as well as offering a few tips on how to optimize the sword and shield for tanking.
The Defender Skill Tree
Also unsurprisingly, we’ll be focusing on the Defender skill tree in this guide. While the Swordmaster skill tree has its uses, it’s primarily DPS-focused and not quite what we’re going for with our build.
So we said we’re focusing on the Defender skill tree, but which Defender skills do you want for this build? The short answer is all of them. The slightly less short answer is start with the three active skills. The long answer is it depends.
Shield Rush is the first active skill in the Defender tree. It’s in the top row of skills, meaning you can purchase it with your first skill point if you want to. The other skills are just as solid, but a fully-upgraded Shield Rush really shines as a tanking skill.
The base skill moves you forward 5m, staggering and pushing back any foes in your wake. It deals 125% weapon damage and gives you Grit, a status effect that reduces stagger. All of this for a 19.6s cooldown!
This is all fine enough, and the stagger can be clutch if you time it right. It’s still a mediocre tank move on its own, however, which is why it’s worth investing in the upgrades. Improved Rush triggers on a successful hit, weakening all enemies within 5m by reducing their damage dealt by 10% for 10s. This already greatly improves the tanking potential of the skill, but Intimidating Rush takes it a step further by adding a 30% slow debuff for 4s.
All of these upgrades make Shield Rush a great tank move, but it’s still nothing compared to the other two active skills.
Shield Bash is the next active skill in the Defender tree and can be purchased on the second row. For the purposes of going full tank, Shield Bash is largely just a better version of Shield Rush.
Shield Bash does 50% weapon damage and staggers/stuns enemies for 2s. It has the same Grit ability as Shield Rush, but also has the Taunt Gem Compatible ability, which we’ll get into later in the Equipment section. All this for a 24.5s cooldown.
A good stun is a staple of any tank’s arsenal, so Shield Bash is an excellent tank move right off the bat. The cooldown is large, but since it stuns enemies, it can be invaluable when used at the right time during a boss fight. And sure, the damage is paltry compared to that of Shield Rush, but remember, the tank’s primary job is to…well, tank. Of course you should be dishing out your share of hits, but leave the damage to the DPS.
While not as necessary to the build as the Shield Rush upgrades, the Shield Bash upgrades are still solid. Remember how I said the damage on Shield Bash was paltry? Well, the Intimidating Bash upgrade increases the skill’s damage by 100%. More importantly, it greatly increases Threat, meaning enemies are much more likely to target you. Concussive Bash adds 1s to your stun duration. It’s a simple change, but not to be overlooked — an extra second can mean a whole lot in a fight.
Defiant Stance is the third active skill in the Defender tree, and it’s well worth the wait. If stuns weren’t so valuable in boss fights, I’d say it’s your best tank skill, hands down.
This skill lasts 8s and gives you the standard Grit package, the Taunt Gem Compatible ability, and reduces your damage taken from attackers by 30%. All of this comes at the cost of a whopping 44.2s cooldown, but that’s a small price to pay.
Defiant Stance is an excellent ability that’s well worth the skill point on its own, but it’s especially good once you add in the upgrades. Final Countdown increases the damage reduction by 20% if you are above 50% health. Barring late-game boss fights, you’ll probably meet that requirement most of the time, meaning you get 50% damage reduction for 8s. Does it get much better than that?
Debatably. Restoration heals you for 15% of your maximum health when your Defiant Stance duration ends. Aside from just being awesome on its own, the healing means you’re much more likely to be at above 50% health when those 44.2s are up, letting you start the cycle all over again.
All the passive skills in the Defender tree are great for the build, but the two standout passive skills I recommend prioritizing first are Sturdy Grip in the first row, and High Grip in the second row. They reduce the stamina cost of blocking melee and ranged attacks respectively by 15%.
The Swordmaster Skill Tree
With all the awesome abilities in the Defender skill tree, do we even want to bother with the Swordmaster skill tree at all? Potentially.
First off, if you plan to primarily use this build in solo play, you might want to swap out Shield Rush and maybe even Shield Bash for more damage dealing Swordmaster skills (since you can only have three active skills equipped per weapon at any given time).
However, even for the pure tank who only nominally cares about damage, there are a couple of passive skills I want to highlight.
- Freeing Justice is a second row skill that negates one debuff on you if you hit with a heavy attack. Debuffs can be quite nasty, so this ability could come in handy.
- Counterattack is a third row skill that grants you a 3% empowered buff on a successful block that lasts for 5s and can stack up to five times. Again, you don’t care much about damage in this build, but you still need to deal it. And since you will be blocking a lot regardless, the incidental buff can be nice.
Now, you might wonder why I’m not specifically recommending Confidence here. After all, it gives you a 15% damage boost for being at full health — if you time your blocks right, that could last you a very long time during a fight.
The reason I’m not including it is because it’s a fifth row skill. This means you need to first spend four other skill points in Swordmaster skills to unlock it. While doable, especially in a hybrid build, I cannot in good conscience recommend it for the pure tank build.
Other Tanking Tips and Tricks
Now that we’ve covered the basic tanking role and how to spec your skill trees, let’s cover a few tips to help you determine how to optimize your tank in New World.
The sword scales primarily with Strength and Dexterity. However, for the tank build, I recommend ignoring Dex and focusing on Constitution and Strength. Prioritize swords “of the knight,” since those will increase both attributes.
For this build, you want to grab the biggest, heaviest armor you can. Maximize your armor rating for both physical and elemental. At lower to mid levels, iron and steel plate armor will be your best choice. Ideally if you can, get armor with the “of the knight” tag in the name, because that means it will increase your Constitution and Strength.
“Won’t this nerf my dodge into the ground?” you might ask. The answer is yes, but you’re a tank! Dodging is for cowards and light armor users.
Remember that Taunt Gem Compatible ability I mentioned earlier? Well, higher quality weapons and armor in New World have gem slots for equipping special bonuses to your weapons and armor. If you equip a Carnelian gem to your sword, then both Shield Bash and Defiant Stance will trigger a taunt when you use them. This taunt lasts for 6s and effects all enemies within 8m. The taunt can boost your threat by up to 300%.
Be warned, if you equip a Carnelian gem to your armor, it reduces your threat. We obviously don’t want that.
Blocking is your best friend in the sword and shield tank build. Hold the right mouse button to block with your shield. Obviously you can’t attack with your sword while blocking, but you also can’t take damage to your health. Instead, you take damage to your stamina. If an attack’s damage exceeds your current stamina, then your block is broken and you take the excess damage. This makes the aforementioned Sturdy Grip and High Grip super useful. After all, you’ll be blocking constantly.
Timing is Everything
To properly tank, you want to time your blocks to enemy attacks to maximize the number of hits you can dish out while minimizing the number of hits you take. Be wary of fighing multiple enemies at once, as you can only block what is in front of your shield. In boss fights, you also need to learn to time your Shield Bash to stun bosses at crucial moments. The only way to get the timing down is to practice and learn specific enemies attack patterns.
Join the High Ground
There you have it. If you want to play the tank, the whole tank, and nothing but the tank, you now have a proper build. Good luck, explorer, and may your party never wipe! If you found this guide on the best tank build for New World helpful, leave a comment below! You can also join our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our latest game guides.