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The Shapeshifter - A Beginner Build Guide - Last Epoch 0.8.5

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Hello lovely people, Thyworm here with an extensive beginner build guide for Last Epoch Patch 0.8.5. If you enjoy Last Epoch content, consider subscribing, it really helps me out, and I’m making a lot of Last Epoch content for you to enjoy. You can find a written guide, this script, on the forum. Timestamps are available. And the build is available in the Last Epoch Build Planner. See the description for all of this.

However, I strongly advise you to watch the video, as I’m discussing all sorts of mechanics, as well as various options you can choose from. I’m trying to explain the build for beginners, or people unfamiliar with shapeshifting in Last Epoch, and I’m doing that in great detail.

I levelled this character from scratch and put around 20 hours into it. I don’t cheat to make these guides, which means if I can do it, so can you. I don’t use insane gear either. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the result. The bug is level 89 currently, with some room to improve still, and easily clearing 130 corruption right now.

I’ll go into detail about the build soon, but this is basically a shapeshifter, constantly changing forms, summoning a ton of minions, all those minions do poison damage, and that’s how we function.

Some Pros

  • Very Controller-friendly build
  • Really smooth levelling
  • Poison is overall still strong
  • Good boss killer
  • Decent survivability


  • Poison and minions mean all the loot drops behind you
  • You’re a bug and it’s ridiculous
  • Performance, it’s quite bad

This is a build that’s easy to play and easy to learn, if you want to. You can also try to use all skills optimally, increasing the skill cap quite a bit, which is fun to do, especially in the arena.

Let’s start with the build requirements


There are no requirements really for this build to work. I am using 2 uniques, which are very common, but they are by no means required. The Vipertail synergizes will with what we do, and Eterra’s Path is a great option too. But once again, not required at all.

Then, the build philosophy


I wanted to make a hybrid poison build, combining the Swarmblade form, which I’ll refer to as bug form from now on, and the spriggan form. They synergize extremely well, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of minions, it’s a lot of poison, and it’s a lot of healing too. Up to at least 130 corruption you’ll have no issues clearing the content, and with additional investment, you can push it even further.

The idea of this build is to make use of the transformation between bug form, and spriggan form. While we make that transition, we gain additional buffs, additional bugs, and more minions, to flood the screen with poison inducing threats, killing both enemies and our framerate. We can do this rotation endlessly, and spawn endless minions, doing endless damage. It’s a very active playstyle, a lot of fun, and very effective. We’re using more innate abilities to the forms, like serpent strike to deal poison damage ourselves, and we’re summoning both thorn and healing totems.

Defences are coming from a decent health pool, aspect of the boar in late game, and overall tanky stats on druids. Every time we shift, we heal ourselves to full completely, which helps a lot.

Finally, the build definitely has a few versions you can try out, and I will discuss some of the different things I tried, and some of the options you have. That’ll be done mainly in the skills section.

So, what do you need in terms of stats? Here’s the wish list.


In terms of defences, make sure to get res capped of course, and get 100% crit avoidance. As soon as you get into the second island of the monolith, it’s really required, I would say. Early on, you can use the woven flesh for easy crit avoidance. Later in the passive tree, we scale crit avoidance because of attunement. The blessings in the monolith can help a lot here too, as well as idols. Furthermore, you want health, some dodge and some endurance, basically whatever else you can get.

In terms of offence, this build scales really well with attunement. We get crit avoidance from it and generic damage for our skills. You want to get minion chance to poison on hit, so they start stacking up those poison stacks. Minion damage over time, and minion poison damage is great. I would suggest some cast speed too, for quality of life. Without it, the build can feel sluggish. The same is true for attack speed, although you’re not attacking very often. I would prioritize minion damage over time over your own damage over time, because you will not be doing the heavy lifting most of the time. That’s it honestly.

You don’t have to be concerned with minion health or minion defences, as they’re all temporary minions that don’t last long anyway. This saves up a lot of room for other affixes on gear. You don’t care about mana, because we don’t use mana and the rage we use is irrelevant, because we’re swapping forms all the time. Whenever you swap a form, you gain a full rage bar.

Let’s look at the skill specialization and skills we’re using

[skill specialization]

I will not discuss each point invested, but instead focus on the most important nodes. You can see everything in the build planner yourself.

I’ll get more into the levelling in the levelling section, but most of these skills are late game skills. I just took the skills as they became available, and in that order I will discuss them here, starting with Summon Thorn Totem.

While levelling, I would first head right into the poison nodes, because you won’t have the mana most likely to sustain otherwise. Venom tipped thorns and lasting affliction are the main reason our totems are effective. Rotten core makes the totems explode on death, adding one more poison stack to everyone surrounding them. And it’s all about stacking poison, after all. Then, you travel north, to forested expanse, 3 points in eternal forest, and finally grove mind, summoning all totems at once. You will not self-cast this, but either proc these totems via an idol, or via the spriggan form tree, which is what I did in the end.

Then, serpent strike, a great levelling skill. Just make sure you got a spear, or the skill won’t work. I went first to the right, nagasa venom, for poison chance. Please note that the skill itself already has 140% poison chance if you cast it yourself and if you directly use this skill. This is important later down the line, so remember this. As soon as you got the poison chance, I go to spear flurry, for 20% attack speed. Then, I take scorpion strikes, for global poison damage, and finally 3/3 debilitating poison, to blind our enemies. That’s just a bit of defences there. You could path a bit differently though as well, for example not taking the global poison damage, but instead go to blood flurry for even faster attack speeds, meaning more poison stacks. Or culling point, for a kill threshold. That’s a personal consideration. I feel poison does enough damage as it is, and I’m not using this skill that much in end-game, but there are some options here for sure, so feel free to experiment.

On to Spriggan Form. As soon as you get this, the build gets a lot more interesting. The true synergy doesn’t kick in until much later, but you can already walk around, summoning poisonous vines, and from this moment it’s very smooth sailing. I first went to nightshade, because your first priority is to make sure your minions stack poison. Then I took 3 points in Creeping underbrush, which is debatable, but there you go. You take Blades of the Forest, which allows you to swap from Spriggan form to bug form. I’m going to explain this mechanic in the playstyle section, and show you exactly how it works. We take 4 points in Totem Warden, for the healing and the summoning speed. This 60% summoning speed of totems is a huge quality of life feature. Then you go spiked totems, and this enables you to use the entire skill tree of thorn totems on your healing totems. If you cast healing totems with spriggan form, you’re basically casting thorn totems. However, you’re not actually casting thorn totems. You can still also cast thorn totems in human form. It’s not advisable, but you can. That is seen as a different minion. These are healing totems that heal, but otherwise act like thorn totems. And thorn totems are, well, just thorn totems. This is also going to come in handy later, so pay attention. Finally, we path towards Leaf Barrier for a whole bunch of ward when shifting, and Friend of the Forest, to give us an additional spriggan companion whenever we’re in spriggan form, which is cool, because we’re speccing into that skill and it uses the skill tree. You don’t have to do this however. I do it, because I like the healing of the spriggans, but you can skip these 5 points and just invest more in poison vine damage. That might be the optimal play, but I like fun in my builds, not optimal play.

This brings us neatly to summon spriggan. This is the only companion we have, and you could argue it’s not the best choice. At level 89, you spend enough points in beastmaster to unlock the scorpion, which might be the superior choice here, in terms of damage. I’m keeping the bug/spriggan theme alive though, and I went with this. First, I made sure my spriggan starts casting more vines, which are additional to the vines you cast in Spriggan form. Take deadly thicket, so they deal more damage. Take vine mastery, so she summons them more often. And take Forest Raiser, so she summons 3 at once. Then, we make sure she heals us, with aura of life. The spriggan can give us dodge as well, with aura of evasion, 4 dodge per attunement. You should be stacking attunement, meaning you get quite some dodge from this node. Finally, for some survivability on the spriggan itself, you give it Arboreal Vitality. I experimented a bit with entangling roots and the healing route there, but it was a bit overkill, as I have so much healing already. Maybe for a zoo build this is a decent route, but in my build it was a bit too much.

Finally, bug form. I’m taking Wasp Flight, for quality of life. Having high attack and cast speed makes the build feel a lot better, you summon the hives with locusts much faster, I think it makes a lot of sense. I take Feverous Stings, primarily for the locust poison chance. They’re coming out of these hives, it’s very nice. Speaking of hives, grand colony adds 4 locusts per hive, and hive mind adds 2 hives, bringing the total number of locusts from 4 hives up to 48, potentially. You won’t reach 48, but it’s not uncommon to have 40 locusts on the screen. I added 12 bees as well, for the memes, using idols, but ultimately stepped away from that. You do all of this to get to Swarmkeeper’s Call, which you want to rush to, by the way. This changes you back from bug, into spriggan form. Once again, in the playstyle I will fully explain the rotation. Don’t forget to take Viper’s Call along the way somewhere, which makes you use the skill tree of serpent strike when you use armblade slash, which is basically your regular attack in bug form. This clearly synergizes well with serpent strike. There are a few things to consider however. First of all, the implicits from serpent strike don’t work anymore, which means the inherent 140% poison chance, and 40% poison duration. Everything else however, does work, so the attack speed, the blinding, the global poison damage. So it’s definitely worth it. You could consider in end-game to specc out of serpent strike, just decide to not attack anymore yourself at all, don’t take this point, and replace serpent strike for a scorpion companion or something. That would be a viable route, because you will start noticing that the harder the end-game gets, the less you’re willing to be in melee range, slashing away. And by this time, you have so many minions, it really doesn’t matter or add too much anymore if you apply additional stacks. Once again, this is up to you. Finally, I’m taking Slashing spiral, for some more area of effect of the locusts, so they hit more enemies. This is primarily useful for clearing maps.

Normally I explain the playstyle at the end, but let’s talk about it now, now that we have the skills fresh in our mind.

[play style]

Here’s the build in action.

The whole idea of this build is that you keep swapping, over and over, between bug form and spriggan form. I personally always start with Spriggan form. Here’s how it works. In order to successfully swap between forms, and not just return to human form, you need to do 2 things. First, don’t run out of rage, which you shouldn’t. And second, make sure you meet the prerequisite for the swap. Because if you don’t, you just swap back to a human form, and you may be in trouble, because the human form is the weakest form, as we all know. The flesh is weak, and all.

This prerequisite in Spriggan form is that you have casted poisonous vines. You need to cast poisonous vines first, before you hit the button again for bug form, because otherwise it doesn’t work. This works nicely with what you’re supposed to do in spriggan form, which is really only 2 things. 1, summon a bunch of vines, targeted at the enemy. 2, summon your healing totem, which is a healing totem that works like a thorn totem, remember? This costs loads of rage, but you should have enough as you’re fairly high level at this point. The spriggan has more abilities, but we’re not bothered with those. Once you’ve done this, you hit the transform button. As soon as you hit the transform button, a few things happen.

Your 2 nearest vines are transformed into hives, which spawn the locusts.

You enter bug form

Upon entering bug form, you automatically cast swarm strike. Now, this isn’t an ability we really discussed, but what it does is consume any locusts around you, and turn them into this massive AOE damage over time effect. Because we’re a damage over time build, this ability does quite some damage. So if you want to min max your damage, you should make sure that you transform from spriggan to bug once you’re surrounded by locusts. And don’t worry, those locusts are coming back soon enough, you’re starting with 2 hives after all.

So now we’re into bug form, you should do only 1 thing, with some optional stuff. The only thing you need to do is cast hives, to spawn locusts. What you can do is use the dive ability, which is a short dash. And you can use armblade slash, which is basically serpent strike now, to add poison damage. As soon as you can however, transform back into spriggan form. Once you do, 3 things happen

It transforms remaining locusts in the hives into healing totems. This is why you need to cast hives, because there should be locusts remaining in them, so you can turn a few into healing totems. And once again, these are the healing totems with thorn totem skill trees on them, meaning they heal and do loads of poison damage. The maximum additional totems you can get from this conversion is 5. Meaning you can summon an additional 5 yourself. Which we do, by following what I just told you earlier, casting healing totem.

You enter spriggan form

Upon entering Spriggan Form, you automatically cast thorn shield. Don’t worry about it, it’s not important, but now you know where it comes from.

This is the rotation, from here on it’s just rinse and repeat. What really helps, is to arrange the skills in the different forms so they’re easily accessible to you. I keep summon hives and summon vines on the same key. I keep the transformation skill on the same key. Etcetera. It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll be a master shapeshifter in no-time.

Time to look at the passives.


I will just highlight a few interesting decisions, as most of this is rather straightforward, given what I already told you before.

In the base tree, take Natural attunement, because attunement is good. Primal medicine is decent for minion damage, hunter’s restoration gives 10% health which is good, and the final point is in hunter’s emanation, but it can go anywhere.

Then, you fill up the druid tree, so far 57 points. I take chitinous plating for some tankiness, Druidic Prowess for attunement, and the bonus is nice too. If you’re unfamiliar, you need to spend the required points in the passive, and then you get the bonus. Claws of the forest is a no-brainer, poison damage. Wind in the Leaves is important for quality of life, and minion attack speed is really good, because it means they apply their poison stacks faster. Harmonious wisdom, more attunement. You take 4 points in woodland beings, because you need to get to Toxic Reach. You should take this node and fill it up as soon as you can. 60% minion poison chance is nuts. This is a great node. Finally, I’m taking primal shifter, because we’re shifting a lot between forms, and it gives you 50% armor and damage for 8 seconds. Reincarnation, 5 points, then heals you as well for 500 health whenever you change forms, which is really, really great. You could consider not taking that 500 healing, and take one point less in primal shifter, to spend those 6 points into piercing gale. In itself, the passive isn’t great, but the bonus, 15% locust attack and cast speed, that is really, really good for damage. If you feel that you don’t need the healing, because you got a lot of that going on, you could take this instead.

I then went into the Shaman Tree after completing the druid tree. This is mostly quality of life. 4 points in shamanic infusion for attunement. And then we path towards totemic fury, 25% attack and cast speed. We’re both attacking and casting, and there’s always a totem up somewhere, so these are really, really great quality of life nodes. I highly recommend them, and if the build feels sluggish, maybe just go here first and delay the druid tree a little bit. It makes a big difference.

Finally, beastmaster. This is purely defensive. Ursine strength, because strength is armor, and 16% less damage taken is very nice. Aspect of the boar is just mandatory on any druid, I feel. 15 reduced damage taken for 5 seconds when you’re being hit, which is a lot. Then you spend 2 random points, and should you level all the way to 100 with this, which is definitely fun and viable, you should take also porcine constitution, granting another 15% damage reduction on the buff, for a total of 30% damage reduction. That would mean you have 6 points left, to reach level 100, which once again I would then put in the druid tree, in Piercing Gale.

Then, also very important, Gear


As per usual, my gear is okay. Increased minion damage over time on a 2-hander is worth a lot, in my opinion. It’s a big damage boost. The vipertail is a nice unique for this build, I turned it into a great legendary. Eterra’s Path with additional movement speed is great too, of course. Lucky craft, 25% chance, but it happened. The rest of the gear focuses on defences, health, minion damage, and a bit of crit avoidance.


For idols, you have a lot of options really. You can meme around with bees. You can definitely see them in the footage, I think it’s fun, but ultimately, not sure if it’s worth it. I went for resistances while transformed, because we’re always transformed. Aspect of the boar duration is a common idol, and very nice. Chance to poison on minion hit is probably the best thing you can get, but it is pretty rare. Crit avoidance is an option, and minion melee attack speed helps too, as locusts and vines and bees do melee damage.


For blessings, I’m pretty much taking all the resistance blessings, because I don’t want to deal with resistances. It’s really nothing special, just check the builder.

[Loot filter]

I created a loot filter from scratch. Big warning, use this at your own risk. I like strict loot filters, so at higher levels, you will see very few things dropping. That’s fine, I feel, for me at least. Let me walk you through it however. I recolored idols for you with affixes you want. I made flashy green all the affixes that give you levels for the skills you’re using, like spriggan form. Then there are hide rules which kick in at higher levels, making sure no low-level weapons drop anymore. Use at your own risk. The loot filter shows normal items till level 10, it hides all boots without movement speed, it hides all non-primalist gear, it hides all weapons that don’t have minion damage on it, expect spears. You will want spears, for serpent strike, while levelling. And then there are more colors for all your other loot, starting at the bottom with yellow and gradually getting stricter all the way to purple. At some point, I put a level cap on those rules, so yellow items will show up until a certain character level, and then not anymore. I created this while levelling, I’ve been fairly generous, so using this filter you should be able to farm your way towards decent gear, but I may have missed a thing or two. I got most of my gear using this filter however, also during levelling.


Talking about Levelling, it is super easy, barely an inconvenience. The very start is a bit wonky, with thorn totems, but as soon as you have serpent strike, it gets much better. In the meantime, I just took wolves for some extra damage, until you can ditch them later. You just take the skill in the order they arrive, and it’s really smooth sailing honestly.

Let’s talk some Monolith modifiers


Generally, the only thing I would avoid is giving enemies dodge. Because poisons apply their damage based on a hit, so if you don’t hit, you don’t apply a poison stack. Everything else is basically completely fine, which makes this build strong as well.

I had a lot of fun creating this build, all the way from scratch to finish. I do hope you enjoyed the video. If you did, give it a like, toss a sub to the channel because I create more extensive guides like this, and finally, thanks for watching. See you soon, love you all, bye bye.


Build looks super fun!

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