This build guide is split over multiple pages, both to prevent it from getting too long, as well as to help you better find the information you are looking for. In addition to the current page, which presents general information about the build and also contains a Leveling and FAQ section, we have the following pages:
The combination of Essence Drain and Contagion has been strong for a long time. Contagion is an AoE skill that applies a DoT when an enemy is hit by your Essence Drain and dies, which causes Contagion to spread both itself and Essence Drain to nearby enemies. This allows for a very satisfying and efficient way to clear packs of monsters. Essence Drain is also a great single-target damage output skill, one of the strongest when it comes to Damage-Over-Time Chaos skills.
The Occultist ascendancy class has great perks when it comes to building around Chaos skills and provides a lot of defensive power for every Energy-Shield-oriented character. It also makes going Low Life very easy compared to other ascendancy classes; going Low Life can improve your damage by a great deal in this particular case.
The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist does not require any initial investment in order to start. When it comes to endgame, there are some expensive items you can save up currency for. Shavronne's Wrappings will allow you to transition into Low Life. Presence of Chayula will help out a lot with the Chaos Resistance and the additional Energy Shield, but is not mandatory since you are immune to Stun via the Occultist ascendancy anyway. Decently rolled Energy Shield gear can also be pricey.
Pros & Cons
+ Hardcore viable
+ Cheap to start
+ Good balance between clear speed, single target, and defense
- Using two skills instead of one in order to clear can feel clunky to some people
Offensively, your main goal when clearing is to apply Contagion to enemies and then hit one of them with Essence Drain. This will allow your Essence Drain to affect all enemies and basically degenerate their life in a second. Against single targets you do not have to use Contagion at all, instead you can have a Vaal Blight you can use in your spare time.
Defensively, even though you can take a lot of damage in a short amount of time, it is a good idea to keep your distance. Both your main skills have good range and you only need to be near enemies when casting Blight. Occultist’s Wicked Ward and Vile Bastion will prove to be very powerful defensive mechanics over the course of your character’s lifetime.
For playstyle, apply Contagion and then Essence Drain when clearing. For single target, make sure you have good Essence Drain uptime on the monster; in the free time you have, use Vaal Blight and its normal version in order to augment your single target damage output even further. Vaal Discipline will allow you to tank immense amounts of damage in a short period of time.
This is the endgame Low Life passive skill tree.
For more information, be sure to check out the Passive Skill Tree page.
Ascendancy, Bandits, and Pantheons
Our Ascendancy, Bandit, and Pantheon Power page goes into detail about all the choices you need to make in these regards.
We go over all of the gem links this build uses in the end-game on our Gem Link page.
Gear Summary / TL;DR
These items provide a good balance between offense and defense and are enough to deal with the endgame, although there is definitely a room for improvement. Please ensure you read the Gear, Jewels and Flasks page in its entirety.
|Item Slot||Item Name|
|Belt||Rare Crystal Belt|
|Rings||Lori's Lantern and a Rare Ring|
|Weapon||Breath of the Council|
As a reminder, we have several guides to help you level up a character.
- Our step-by-step leveling walkthrough, which allows even more experienced players to save time and speed through the leveling process.
- Our guide to Unique Items for leveling, which helps you gear up your characters for the leveling process.
- Our beginner leveling guide, which answers many of the questions new players might have and will set you on the right path.
The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist can be leveled with its signature skills since the beginning.
Here is an example of the early passive skill tree, before you are ready to transition into Low Life / Chaos Inoculation.
Useful Leveling Unique Items
As you begin a new character, there are few unique items that can boost your power exponentially. Tabula Rasa allows you to have a 6-Linked skill as early as you get the gems. Wanderlust gives a decent movement speed, which will make your leveling that much more efficient. Goldrim provides a lot of elemental resistances, this will let you worry less about gearing when approaching certain Act encounters.
If you are a new player (or if this is your first character for the league), then note that obtaining these items will be very difficult, if not impossible. They are rare drops, which you can otherwise only acquire if you have saved up currency, so do not focus on them too much, and instead simply look for items that match the affix priorities listed in the gearing section above.
Using Tabula Rasa will allow you to have 6-Link gem setups early on, which is why we show such examples below. If you cannot get Tabula Rasa (or another item with a 6-Link), then simply prioritize the first gems in each link provided below.
In order to acquire gems that are not available to your class as a quest reward, simply ask a friend to buy them off vendors for you, or buy them yourself from Sioasa in The Library in Act III Library.
From level 1, you should use the following link.
At level 4, you should pick the Contagion gem.
At level 10, you are able to add Flame Dash, which will help with your mobility.
At level 12, you can start using your signature skill, Essence Drain.
By level 18, your Essence Drain link should look like this.
By level 31, your Essence Drain gem setup should look like this.
- Essence Drain
- Controlled Destruction Support
- Void Manipulation Support
- Efficacy Support
- Swift Affliction Support
- Energy Leech Support
What map mods are impossible to do?
No regeneration is rough, but doable if you run a Mana flask.
The Essence Drain & Contagion Occultist specializes in applying very powerful Chaos damage over time effects upon enemies. The build has decent clear speed and very good endgame potential when it comes to killing bosses.