Last Updated: June 24, 2022 Reading Time: 10 min

New World Great Axe Guide

Introduction To The Great Axe in New World

The Great Axe is a 2 handed weapon in New World that scales off of Strength.  The Great Axe excels at close-range combat and provides good self-healing and crowd control.  In our New World Great Axe guide, we will discuss the Great Axe’s mastery tree,  recommended skills, and techniques to optimize the use of this weapon. 

Great Axe Mastery Trees

The Great Axe mastery tree is divided into two skill trees – The Reaper and Mauler

Reaper Mastery Tree

The Reaper skill tree is focused on mobility and critical strikes.  Charge allows you to close gaps, moving 10m forward and dealing 120% of weapon damage.  When fully upgraded, Charge can deal more damage based on distance traveled and adds a skill shot.  This further increases damage if you can right-click at the right time.  

The next ability is Reap is a pull CC that adds self-healing and increased damage with upgrades.  Reap also gives a nod to tanking with Reap being compatible with a Carnelian Gem (taunt). 

Execute is the last ability in the Reaper skill tree.  Execute deals 50% more damage to enemies that are under 50%.  Upgrading this ability will add Grit to the attack as well as guarantee a critical strike if the target is below 30% health. 


The Passives in the Reaper tree magnify the Great Axes abilities.   Death’s Embrace gives a big boost to damage, by adding 10% armor penetration against enemies below 50%.   The Critical Condition passive increases critical chance to targets below 50% health by 15%.  These two passives combine well with Keen Edge, which increases the amount of critical damage you deal by 15%.  Critical Gain and Feed both give a decent amount of self-healing with critical damage and damage to target below 30% health. 

Key Passives

The key passive in the Reaper tree is Blood Lust.  Blood Lust increases your movement speed by 20% and deals 15% more damage to enemies within 15 meters.  This passive is extremely powerful in PVP, allowing Great axe users to track down ranged opponents.  Overall, Blood Lust should perform well as a consistent boost to single target damage. 

Mauler Mastery Tree

The Mauler tree, AKA the spin to win tree, is full of crowd control and AOE damage.   Whirlwind is a spinning attack that deals 50% weapon damage to all nearby foes with each rotation.  This ability requires you to keep hitting a target to perform the next rotation.  It can be upgraded to include 7 rotations (increased from 5), speed up the attack speed of the ability by 50% and increase the damage by 30% if surrounded by 3 or more foes.   

The next ability is Maelstrom.  Maelstrom is a fast-spinning attack that pulls enemies towards you and deals 110% of Weapon damage.  The upgrades to Maelstrom increase the range of the attack/pull, increase the number of rotations of the attack to 2, and allows you to consume all projectiles while the ability is active. . 

The last ability is Gravity Well is a ranged ability that allows you to put an AOE on the ground that pulls enemies to the center of the AOE for 3 seconds. Foes who are pulled to the center of the vortex are rooted for 1 second.  At the end of the 3 seconds enemies inside the AOE take 125% weapon damage. The first upgrade to Gravity Well increases the damage done to enemies by 10% for each enemy caught by the well and the second upgrade, unyielding, adds utility to the ability by applying a 10% fortify buff to allies who stand in the Well.   


The Passives in the Mauler tree are mostly centered around being surrounded by enemies and upgrading your heavy attacks.  Enduring Strike gives you Grit with all Heavy attacks and a 20% damage reduction during the animation.  Heavy Pull allows them to pull enemies towards you.   Gravity upgrades all of your pull abilities to hold enemies for 0.25s longer (including Gravity Well and Maelstrom).   Center of Attention gives you a 10% increase in damage and Crowded Protection gives you a 10% increase to armor but both require you to be surrounded by 3 or more enemies. 

Key Passives

The Key passive in the Mauler tree is Mauler’s Fury.  This passive increases your damage by 3% with each Great Axe attack for 3 seconds stacking up to 10 times.  Whirlwind, especially in a large group of enemies, can provide you with large amounts of Maulers Fury, greatly increasing damage output.

Recommended Roles and Mastery Point Assignment

The recommended skills for the Great Axe will greatly depend upon what activity you are participating in and what role you want to perform. See our builds page for more specific builds that may fit your playstyle depending on which activity you are engaging in.  


Active Abilities

  • Reap
  • Gravity Well
  • Maelstrom (Charge)

Passive Skills:

  • Feed
  • Frustration (Critical Gains if Charge is Selected)
  • Maulers Resolve
  • Heavy Pull
  • Enduring Strike
  • Gravity
  • Crowd Protection

Key Passive

  • Maulers Fury (Blood Lust if Charge is selected)

Reap will be your taunt ability as it can both increase your aggro and pull enemies closer to your location.  When upgraded, Reap can also give you a decent amount of self-healing.   This coupled with Feed and Crowded Protection gives you a good amount of survivability when combined with heavy armor.  

Gravity Well is the next skill you will take as a tank.  Gravity Well has a lot of utility that can help you contain mobs you lose aggro on, serve as a ranged pull, and provides you and your allies with a 10% fortify buff.   

The third ability choice will be between Charge and Maelstrom.  Charge allows you to charge into a group of mobs, grabbing initial aggro and giving you added mobility when required.  Maelstrom allows you to keep enemies close to you, allowing your allies to more effectively AOE down groups of mobs.  The choice ultimately comes down to what situation you’re in (mobility vs AOE) and which Key Passive you want (since it takes 10 points in a tree to unlock).  Bloodlust can add increased mobility for bosses that require frequent movement.  Mauler’s Fury adds a stacking buff that shines when attacking multiple enemies. 


Active Abilities

  • Whirlwind
  • Maelstrom
  • Execute

Passive Abilities

  • Greed
  • Death’s Embrace
  • Frustration
  • Keen Edge
  • Critical Condition
  • Center of Attention
  • Crowd Control

Key Passive

  • Mauler’s Fury

Great Axe DPS provides the “spin to win” playstyle players know and love.  Whirlwind is your primary damage ability and you will be using it off cooldown in most situations. The key to using Whirlwind to its full potential requires a good tank that can hold aggro and group up enemies.   A fully upgraded Whirlwind combined with Mauler’s Fury can deal massive amounts of AOE damage.  

Execute is the next ability to slot. A fully upgraded Execute used against targets under 30% guarantees a crit. Execute synergizes well with Keen Edge and Death’s Embrace but when you use it with active stacks of Mauler’s Fury, you get one of the most hard-hitting abilities in New World.  To complete this feat, Great Axe users will look to use Execute immediately following a Whirlwind

The final recommended ability is Maelstrom.  Maelstrom can help you set up whirlwinds and per ability has the 3rd highest damage output on cool down.  Charge could be switched out for Maelstrom but It is worth noting that if you go with Charge you will most likely lose your ability to unlock Maulers FuryBlood Lust provides a more consistent damage buff in single-target situations but is inferior to Mauler’s Fury against multiple targets.  Blood Lust also does not synergize as well with Whirlwind, your primary damage ability.   


Active Abilities

  • Gravity Well
  • Charge
  • Reap

Passive Skills

  • Heavy Pull
  • Enduring Strike
  • Critical Gains
  • Keen Edge
  • Feed
  • Critical Condition
  • Death’s Embrace
  • Gravity

Key Passive

  • BloodLust

**Note – Consider adjusting your passives to allow you to take Center of Attention and Crowd Protection for Sieges**

The Great Axe thrives at tracking down and controlling enemies in PVP.  Gravity Well places a Vortex that can help pull your enemies to a location of your choice, setting you(and your team) up for damage. Charge grants you the ability to close the gap on ranged enemies and deals large amounts of damage.  Once in melee range, Reap can help keep your target close while providing a decent amount of self-healing.  The Passives in the Great Axe tree also play well in PVP providing you with a significant increase to damage output and survivability.

Recommended Weapon Pairings with the Great Axe

The Great Axe scales off of Strength, so pairing the Great Axe with another weapon that scales off Strength is recommended.  

  • Sword and Shield – The sword scales solely from strength, making this a great pairing with the Great Axe. This will add another set of taunt abilities as well as either blocking defense or AOE damage depending which tree you go down.
  • War Hammer – The war hammer scales solely off of strength making this a great pairing with the Great Axe. The war hammer is also a strong pairing with the Great Axe when tanking in New World due to the amount of crowd control and taunts that it provides. When pairing it with the tankiness and utility of the Great Axe it makes a great tanking combination. 
  • Spear – The spear scales primarily off of Dexterity and secondarily off of Strength, making this an ok pairing with the Great Axe as well. The spear can provide you with quite a lot of crowd control options that can help you deal with foes that get too close, and can also provide you with some additional damage over time as well.
  • Hatchet – The hatchet scales primarily off of Strength and secondarily on Dexterity. It will not benefit as much as the weapons mentioned above damage unless you are pumping points into dexterity also, but can still be a great option to pair with the Great Axe. The hatchet can provide some self-healing and mobility boosts, and will still do quite a lot of damage at close range..

You can reference our builds section for specific Life Staff pairings and builds that other players in the community are using. 

How to Level the Great Axe in New World

AoE killing is the best way to level any weapon. For this reason, you will want to mostly use the Mauler skill tree and the three abilities there; Maelstrom, Whirlwind, and Gravity Well. Reap is a good alternative to Whirlwind if you don’t mind putting off Mauler’s Fury passive. The nice thing about the Great Axe is that the light and heavy attacks both have an amazing cleave action when using them. After gathering up all the enemies, open with Gravity Well to help control all the enemies you’ve just gathered. After they are all in once place follow up with Maelstrom and then Whirlwind or Reap. While your abilities are on CD you can use your Heavy/Light Attacks to finish them off and chances are they will die before your Gravity Well is off CD.  

Great Axe Perks

Every Weapon Ability in New World has a corresponding Perk that can be found on armor and weapons. Most of the perks scale in power with the Gear Score of the item they are on. It’s important to note that you can only benefit from one instance of a weapon ability perk at a time. You can obtain the weapon perks randomly from drops or you can craft gear with the specific perk on it. You can enhance your chance at obtaining a specific perk by utilizing mods. Additionally, you can enhance your chance at obtaining your perk with the right stats by using the timeless shards.

It is recommended that you apply the specific weapon perks to your armor because these perks can be applied to either the weapon the perks pertain to or any piece of armor. There are other perks, such as, enchanted and vicious that can only be applied to weapons. So, your perk slots for your weapons should be reserved for the perks that can only be applied to weapons. 

The Ability perks for the Great Axe in New World are as follows:

| Ability Perk Name       | Crafting Mod Item                     |
| Enfeebling Maelstrom    | Reinforced Starmetal Great Axe Charm  |
| Fortifying Whirlwind    | Reinforced Steel Great Axe Charm      |
| Insatiable Gravity Well | Reinforced Orichalcum Great Axe Charm |
| Refreshing Charge       | Steel Great Axe Charm                 |
| Crippling Reap          | Starmetal Great Axe Charm             |
| Mending Execute         | Orichalcum Great Axe Charm            |

Recommended Great Axe Gems

The type of gem you will want to slot into your Great Axe is heavily dependent upon your build and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you are running as a Tank you might prefer a Carnelian gem for taunting. If you are going DPS you might want Malachite to do more damage against targets with Crowd Control status effects like Stun. (You can check our quick reference guide for gems for a full list of gems and their effects).  

A few good overall recommendations for Great Axe would include:

  • Carnelian: +X% more threat with Taunt abilities.
  • Malachite: +X% damage against targets with an active Crowd Control status effect (Slow, Stun, Root.)
  • Emerald: +X% damage against targets with less than 30% health
  • Onyx : +X% damage against targets with full health

The Opal is a universally recommended choice due to the uptime of the damage increase you’ll receive.

Enemy types the Great Axe is strong/weak against

With a Great Axe the damage type you will be dealing is Slash! Our Damage Type vs Mob Types Quick Chart guides as a complete breakdown for every weapon. Angry Earth will be the monster most affected by this and is ideal to use against them. Ancients are resistant to Strike. 

  • Angry Earth : Takes 20% MORE damage from Slash attacks
  • Ancients:  Takes 15% LESS damage from Slash attacks

New World Great Axe Guide Conclusion

That concludes our New World Great Axe Guide. For more on where to level your Great Axe, check out our Weapon Leveling Locations.

Stream Team