So first off, we need to know what is Path of Exile? Well, Path of Exile is a free to play online action role playing game, or arpg, that is based in the dark world of Wraeclast. You are an exile in this world with the ability to harness a great power others of the land cannot. As such, you are able to use skill gems which are socketed into gear and supported by linked support gems. This means all exiles have the ability to use whichever combination of skill gems and support gems that they wish to build around.
CREDIT TO: Engineering Eternity for the Complete Beginners GUIDE.
In your time in Wraeclast you can also interact, trade and party with other players. Or, completely ignore them and play on your own!
The focus of this game is not only the story, in which you beat in three difficulties: Normal, Cruel and Merciless (subject to change with patch 3.0), but the customization and growth in power of your character as you reach end-game map content and bosses. This customization springs from the skill gems you have chosen, the investments into the sprawling passive tree, the ascendancies of your class, and of course the massive pool of randomly generated loot you equip yourself with (whether you found it, traded for it or even crafted it yourself!). Did I mention that Path of Exile is really driven by randomness in its loot and crafting system? No? Well prepare yourself for endless nights of praying to the RNG gods.
Before I begin the guide, a great resource to consult all the time is the community driven Path of Exile wiki. If there is ever something that you don’t understand about the game, it more than likely can be answered here:
The Path of Exile forums are also another great place to find information and build guides/ideas:
I do recommend, though, trying to play your own ideas a time or two before resorting to build guides, as blindly following them will provide you little benefit in the understanding of the game’s mechanics and what it takes to get a build to work.
Hopefully, from this guide series, I can explain all the mechanics well enough you will have a good base understanding of how to make your own character from the ground up.
So the first thing that you will be prompted with, is the league you wish to make your character in. Leagues in Path of Exile come in a couple variations, but the main two base rule sets being softcore and hardcore.
In softcore, your character can die as many times as they like and suffer no penalties, aside from a growing experience loss depending on the difficulty of the zone you are in (normal – no experience loss, cruel – 5% experience loss, and merciless – 10% experience loss (you cannot de-level and subject to change with patch 3.0)).
In hardcore, if your character dies, the character is removed from the league and placed into the permanent standard softcore league.
Now there are also other types of leagues that exist on top of these base rules: Temporary and Permanent.
Permanent leagues include standard softcore and standard hardcore. These are the base leagues of the game that have been running since the last reset in beta. Permanent leagues are where all legacy gear and characters from older temporary leagues end up. They also include most all of the older temporary league mechanics, that have been tweaked to co-exist and feel balanced with each other.
These leagues were initially made as beta testing realm for new game mechanics, but over time have become the way to play the game. Leagues that introduce new mechanics last for 3 months, with a fresh high scores ladder and economy, meaning you begin with no items or characters. For example, from recent history, they can introduce things like new quest types and unique item upgrades (Prophecy League), new ways to craft gear (Essence League) or new monster types and mechanics (Breach League). These leagues also have accompanying challenges that players can complete during the period of the league to receive aesthetic microtransaction rewards, such as footprints or back attachments.
Temporary leagues come in softcore and hardcore rule sets (generally the same mechanic for both softcore and hardcore). After a temporary league ends, all the characters and items in the player’s stash are merged with the permanent leagues of their respective base rule set. (standard softcore or standard hardcore).
I always recommend that new players start in the temporary league, softcore or hardcore, as they will have a better footing in the economy, have access to new challenges and rewards, while still being able to play into standard once the league ends.
So now that we have chosen a league, we have to choose a character type.
In Path of Exile there are 7 character classes: The Marauder, The Ranger, the Witch, The Templar, The Shadow, The Duelist and The Scion. The Scion is unlocked one you reach the end of act three in the story on any class and league. These classes are not hard defined with specific playstyles or exclusive skills. Skills are instead items that are socketed in gear while each class starts on a different point of the same passive skill tree, and has access to any nodes in that tree. Each class also has its own selection between 3 Ascendancy classes, which provide further power and specialization to that class, making it excel at certain types of builds.
Each class also has a certain attribute affinity based on its location in the tree. These basic attributes are Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. Some classes are purely based on one type of attribute, while others are a hybrid of two or three attributes. These attributes provide small, but meaningful bonuses if stacked high enough and dictate the equip requirement of skill gems and gear.
Now, before we pick a class, let’s take a look at the passive tree and see where all the classes start and get an idea of how the skill tree is structured for the character you want to create.
In this part of the guide, I aim to give a very high level view of the passive tree. This includes brief descriptions for locations of most offenses, defenses and types of nodes in the tree and what you should be concerned with getting. I will not be able to address all types of builds or a specific tree, but will try to guide you through the process of efficiently pathing through the skill tree.
A great tool for planning your passive tree is the offline skill tree planner made by EmmittJ:
This is the one that I am using here. It provides a wealth of information about your skill tree, stat compilations and totals as well as quick search methods for finding nodes. It can be installed on Windows by downloading and running the installer executable.
Another option is Path of Building:
This is an offline version of the skill tree with the ability to easily add items, skills and get calculations for your damage, offensive and defensive stats. Basically the best PoE tool ever.
Character and Attribute Bonuses
The lower left hand side of the passive tree is focused on strength with strength based offense, such as maces, axes and two handed weapons as well as strength based defense nodes, such as armour. Strength provides 2% increased melee physical damage and 5 maximum life per 10 strength. The Marauder is the strength based class.
The top of the skill tree is focused on intelligence with intelligence based offense, such as spells, elemental damage and wands, as well as intelligence based defense nodes, such as energy shield. Intelligence provides 5 additional mana and 2% increased maximum energy shield per 10 intelligence. The Witch is the intelligence based class.
The bottom right of the skill tree is focused around dexterity with dexterity based offense, such as swords, bows and one handed weapons, as well as dexterity based defense nodes, such as evasion. Dexterity provides 20 additional accuracy and 2% increased evasion per 10 dexterity. The Ranger is the dexterity based class.
The duelist is the strength and dexterity hybrid at the bottom of the passive tree.
The templar is the strength and intelligence based hybrid in the top left of the tree.
The shadow is the dexterity and intelligence hybrid class in the top right of the tree.
The scion is the only class that starts in the middle of the tree and has an equal balance of all three attributes. This makes her a good class for being a jack of all trades but a master at none.
Notables, Keystones and Jewels
Looking at the tree some more, we can see that there are some larger and more decorated nodes. These are called notables and keystones.
Notables are slightly larger nodes, with a small spiked gold border, that provide a special dual or triple stat increase or a large increase of a single stat, compared to their normal node counterpart.
Some examples of notables are:
Barbarism – which provides percent maximum life, percent fire resistance and +1 to maximum fire resistance. (+ max to resistances is very powerful in this game defensively.)
Herd of the Flock – which provides minion elemental resistance as well as +1 to maximum zombies and skeletons.
Art of the Gladiator – Attack speed, accuracy, dexterity and the ability to ignore all movement penalties from armour.
Keystones are very large nodes with a thick decorated gold border that provide an entirely different mechanic to your character. These keystones define the direction and playstyle of your character.
Some examples of keystones are:
Ancestral Bond – You can summon 1 additional totem, but you can no longer deal damage yourself.
Chaos Inoculation – You are immune to chaos damage, but your maximum life is now 1.
Blood Magic – You now spend life instead of mana, but your mana is removed.
Jewels are items that can be found, crafted or purchased from other players and socketed into allocated jewel sockets in the tree. Jewels can come with 1 to 4 properties on them, giving them equal or more value than most notables, making them a very worthy investment if you are pathing near them in your tree.
Each character class has their own 3 class ascendancies (the scion having one large ascendancy that takes small parts from all the rest of them). These ascendancies provide further power and specialization to that class, making certain classes better with certain skills. As you progress your character, you will receive up to 8 ascendancy points, separate from your regular passive points, to allocate into the ascendancy of your choice. I will go into more depth on how ascendancies work in the Story and Leveling portion of the guide.
Now you get 1 skill point every time you level up, as well as skill points from certain quests in the game. The maximum level in path of exile is 100, however do not expect to reach it as there are massive diminishing experience returns at endgame, exponential experience requirements for levels and experience lost on death. A comfortable goal is currently level 90, which leaves you with around 110 skill points to spend in the tree. This means we want to spend these points as efficiently as possible.
You first want to consider the type of character you wish to play, as it will dictate all the rest of the choices you will make in filling out your tree. This means you will have figure out what main skill you want to build around, item, ascendancy or play style, and then you will be able to figure out what you need from your passive tree.
The main thing you will need to figure out, are which keystones you will require. You will want to find the most efficient ways to get to them, while also picking up enough defenses, life (or energy shield) and offenses on the way, without using too many points on pathing. Pathing in the passive tree is when you are spending points moving through the +10 flat attributes nodes, or nodes that provide little benefit to the build. Always try and path through or close to notables, defensive or offensive nodes. This means you do not want to spread your tree to thin, going all around the tree in different directions.
If we break the tree up into 6 zones, you will generally be pathing within the 3 of those zones,, while still maintaining enough defenses and offenses to make your build work.
You will want to grab more % life nodes or % energy shield nodes, than you may first consider picking. I know the offensive nodes look so good, but believe me, you will regret not having enough life to survive against single white monsters in the end game. A good goal to shoot for is around 180-200% increased maximum life, or 200 – 250% increased maximum energy shield, depending on your build choices. We will talk more about gear and defenses later on that will explain the use of life or energy shield as a main health pool.
Finally the last step, is to fill out the rest of the points into offensive nodes, jewel sockets or temporary resistance nodes to fill out problems with your gear. There is no guide for % increased damage to aim for by end game, but rather you will be trying to find a solid weapon/spell to carry the majority of the base damage that the % increases in the tree scale off of.
For a starting character, I recommend picking a strength based class such as the Duelist, Marauder or Templar on the left side of the passive tree. This is because life based characters are the most straightforward and cheap to gear characters. These classes have access to the most amount of life nodes in the tree, and simple defenses like armour, block and life leech.
Before we start playing the game, I recommend grabbing a loot filter. Loot filters are simple text like files that anyone can create, that Path of Exile uses to filter loot drop nameplates, either hiding certain items or making other items pop out more. This makes picking up and identifying loot much easier on the player. The current filter that I use is “One Filter to Rule Them All”. It is a very clean and non invasive filter that keeps to the common color scheme of path of exile:
Another common loot filter that is used is Neversink’s filter:
Each of these forum posts describes what the nameplate colors and styles mean, for now we will just install a loot filter to make looting easier and understandable.
To install the filter simply right click the link to the filter in the forum post, “Save Link As…” And navigate to My Documents > My Games > Path of Exile and save it there. Once we can select this filter under Options (O key) > UI, Scroll to the bottom and use the drop down menu for Loot Filter and select the filter you downloaded.
Taking a look at the User Interface, we can gain a lot of information about the game before we even move our character. First we should adjust our settings so that they are equivalent so we can go through it together.
*adjust UI settings*
Now we will look at the main UI from left to right, bottom to top. The first item is the red globe, which is the character’s life pool. This is the character’s main buffer between life and death.
To the right of the life globe we can see the button for the menu, default esc, which shows all of the sub menus that exists along with their bound keys. Before we look at any more menus, let’s continue on with the rest of the main UI.
To the right of the menu button are the 5 slots used for Flasks. Flasks can be activated out of town by either hitting the associated hot key (1 – 5 default) or right clicking the desired flask. The flask system in Path of Exile is very unique, in that flasks are used regularly and not just to resupply your life and mana resources. Flasks recharge when you kill monsters and enter towns. These will be described in more detail later in the guide, but for now know that they are very important to your character.
In the bottom center we can see the experience bar, this will display the current amount experience you have in your current level. If you hover over it, you will see your current level, percentage of experience and total experience.
To the right of that we can see 8 skill slots. These are slots where you can place active skills and auras to be used by your mouse key and hot key binds. Left clicking on a slot provides you with a bunch of tiles, displaying all possible skills you can add to the bar. Left clicking one of those tiles will place the skill in the respective slot that was clicked. You can have the same skill on multiple slots, and auras are not required to stay on a slot once they are active.
I recommend always setting your left mouse button to walk, so that you do not accidentally attack enemies while trying to escape or walk by them.
Finally, the last item on the bottom is the blue globe, the character’s mana pool. It is the character’s main resource for performing attacks or casting spells.
Above the mana globe is the quest tracker, which shows the quests that you currently have active, a quick description, as well as depicting if the quest is required or optional.
In the top right we can see the mini-map. This map can be expanded by pressing tab. This brings the minimap as a screen overlay, and lets you see more of the map at once. You can also use the arrow keys to move the map around and check for areas you have not explored. In the top right of this overlay, we can see what zone we are in, the difficulty level, zone level, the league and the realm we are on. Pressing tab again will recenter the map after moving it and pressing it again will close the map back to the minimap.
Finally, it is important to mention the upper left corner of the screen houses the buff bar. This area will display small tiles of current buffs or debuffs, and their durations, that exist on your character. It is important to keep an eye on on this bar for status effects like bleeding, that can kill your character very fast upon movement.
Now we can look at some of the important sub menus.
S key brings up the social menu. This displays online friends, guild info and members, and party information. Since Path of Exile is an online multiplayer ARPG, you can join parties with other people and fight alongside each other in the same instances.
H key brings up the achievement, challenge and prophecies menu. This shows your progression for game achievements, league challenges and in-game prophecies respectively.
U key brings up the World Screen which shows the current act and difficulty in which you are in, along with connecting zones and quests in that act. Mousing over the i in the top left of the map, you can see the legend for the map.
C key brings up the character info screen. Here we can see all the stats of our character including offence and defence. When looking at offensive stats, ensure to select the right skill from the available tiles to get the right stats for that skill, by default, the auto attack is selected.
P key brings up the passive tree. This, as discussed before, is where all of your skill and ascendancy points are allocated. You can zoom in and out and move the around the tree by left clicking and dragging.
Finally, the I key brings up the inventory. This is where you store and equip items while away from your stash. The items follow a block type style, where certain item types take up certain amounts of space and cannot be rotated. Above the inventory, we can again see the flask bar as in the bottom left of the Main UI. We can swap flasks here by left clicking on them to take them out of their slots. Above this is where your gear is equipped on your character. We have open slots for a Helmet, Body Armour, Gloves, Boots, Amulet, Rings, Belt and a Weapon. Weapon swaps can also be used, swapping weapons with the X key.
This is where you store all of the currency and items you collect during your adventures in path of exile. By default you are provided 4 standard stash tabs. If you continue playing and are a hoarder like me, you will most definitely invest in more stash tabs.
Stashes are found in every town and in player hideouts. They are account and league bound. So all the items within one league are shared across all characters in that league.
Currency, RNG & Crafting Items
Path of Exile is heavily based around pseudo random number generation or RNG, that determines everything from item drops to the affixes and affix tier that those items roll, to the way zones are generated. This means, in effect, you could be chasing that perfectly rolled item, or best in slot item for a long time if you decide to hunt it on your own.
Now one thing that really differentiates Path of Exile from other games, is its currency system. There is no gold in Path of Exile, all currency is in the form of orbs that can create or alter all items of the four rarities: normal, magic, rare or unique.
Before we go into the rarities more, we understand what Affixes are as well as Item Levels.
Items in their normal, white, rarity will have an implicit property that right below the name of the item. Items that are above normal rarity will have explicit properties or affixes attached to them, improving the base item.
Affixes are the modifiers that are seen underneath the implicit stat of the base item. Affixes come in the form of prefixes and suffixes. Each rarity can have a certain amount of each of these. The prefixes and suffixes have different pools of modifiers, and no two of the same prefix or suffix can roll on the same item. This means you cannot roll + to maximum life on an item twice.
These affixes can have certain roll ranges based on the item level of the item. Item level can be seen by mousing over the item and holding alt and it appears above the required level. Item level also determines the amount of sockets a piece of gear can roll. For now, understand that the higher the item level, the better affixes that it can roll and the more sockets it can roll.
Now going into rarities we can see that:
Normal Items – Are just the white base item with no affixes.
Magic Items – Are blue items and can have 2 affixes, 1 prefix and 1 suffix. Their name is generated from the affixes that are added to it.
Rare Items – Are yellow items and can have 6 affixes, 3 prefixes and 3 suffixes. Their name is generated randomly and has no affiliation with the affixes added.
Unique Items – Are orange items and can have a variable amount of affixes and special modifiers. Their modifiers, names and flavour text are unique and generated by supporting players or employees.
Now that we have a loose understanding of what items can form into, let us look at the currency system and how it can affect these items.
Starting from the bottom, we will look at the lowest tiers of currency:
Scroll of Wisdom – Identifies the desired item. Is the most commonly used currency to identify all dropped items that are above the normal rarity.
Portal Scroll – It is used to create a portal that brings you back to the current act’s town. It can only be used once both ways and then it disappears and a new one will have to be made.
Quality Enhancing Currency
These currencies perform in similar manner. Every item, aside from jewelry, can be improved to a +20% quality. When using one of these orbs on an item, you will gain +5% quality if the item is normal, +2% quality if it is magic and +1% quality if it is rare.
Blacksmith’s Whetstone – Improves the quality of a weapon. Only affects the physical implicit damage of a weapon and not the explicit properties.
Armourer’s Scrap – Improves the quality of an armour. Only affects the implicit property of a gear piece, not the explicit properties.
Glassblower’s Bauble – Improves the quality of a flask, extending its duration.
Cartographer’s Chisel – Improves the quality of a map, increasing its overall quantity modifier.
Gemcutter’s Prism – Improves the quality of a gem. This can have different effects, depending on the gem.
Creating and Modifying Magic Items
These orbs carry low value and are best used to re roll gear and flasks while leveling.
Orb of Transmutation – Upgrades a normal rarity item to a magic item with a random affixes.
Orb of Alteration – Re-rolls a magic item with new random affixes. Could only roll a prefix or suffix, or both.
Orb of Augmentation – Adds the missing prefix or suffix of a magic item.
Creating and Modifying Rare Items
These orbs carry medium to high value and are best used on gear found later in the game or to trade for better gear.
Orb of Alchemy – Upgrades a normal item to a rare item with a random amount of affixes.
Regal Orb – Upgrades a magic item to a rare item, retaining the affixes on it, and adding one more random one.
Chaos Orb – Re-rolls a rare item with new random affixes. Just like an alteration, it can roll any number of affixes. Between 1-3 prefixes, and 1-3 suffixes.
Exalted Orb – Adds an affix to a rare item, as long as it has an open affix slot.
It is recommended to save chaos and exalted orbs, as they carry a lot of value and should not be used for crafting low level items. Chaos is best save for end game crafting and crafting map items. Chaos is also one of the main trading currencies for buying all types of items. Only use Exalted Orbs if you know what you are doing.
Creating and Modifying Unique Items
Orb of Chance -Upgrades a normal item to a random rarity. This means the item could become a magic, rare or unique item (if there is one of that base item type). This is the only way to craft a unique item other than finding one as a drop or trading for it. The chances of rolling a unique is generally very low, but worth trying if it is a valuable unique.
Orb of Scouring – Removes all properties from an item, returning it to normal rarity.
Blessed Orb – Re-rolls the implicit property of an item, regardless of the rarity.
Divine Orb – Re-rolls the explicit properties of an item, regardless of the rarity.
When re-rolling the explicit stats, you must understand the ranges for the affix tiers that are on the item. This is another orb that is worth holding on to for a really good endgame item or trading for other items.
Socket Modifying Gear
Jeweller’s Orb – Re-rolls the number of sockets on an item.
One handed weapons or shields: 3 sockets
Two handed weapons: 6 sockets
Gloves, Boots, Helmet: 4 Sockets
Body Armour: 6 Sockets
Before trying to socket an item, make sure to check its item level:
Having 20% quality on the item improves socketing chance.
Orb of Fusing – Re-rolls the links between sockets on an item. Items can have up to the same number of links as the number of sockets. Crafting a 6 link has quite a small chance and could happen with one fusing or thousands.
The chance of attaining these links are roughly:
Having 20% quality on the item improves linking chance.
Chromatic Orb – Recolours the sockets of an item. The sockets will have an affinity to the attribute of the respective base item. So an intelligence based item will have better chances at rolling blue sockets, over red and green sockets.
Orb of Regret – Provides a passive respec point upon use.
Vaal Orb – Corrupts an item modifying it unpredictably. Once corrupted, the item properties cannot be changed. Depending on the base item type, many different things can happen, majority of them are not good, so it is recommended to not use these on gear until you fully understand what they do.
Mirror of Kalandra – Creates a mirrored copy of an item.
These orbs are over 1 thousand times as rare as an Exalted Orb, leaving it as one of the most expensive currencies in the game, as it can literally duplicate items. Mirrored items, similar to corrupted items, cannot be modified in anyway.
The following are special type currencies:
Silver Coins – These were introduced with the Prophecy league, and can be traded in to Navali in town after rescuing her from the climb. These provide you with a new prophecy, 1 per coin.These can also be used to seal prophecies and remove them from your prophecy list. These will be covered in more detail in the Story and Leveling section.
Essences – Were introduced with the Essence league, and are a complex system of crafting currency. There are designed to help players craft an item with one determined affix, while the rest are random. There are 25 different bases of essences and they can be upgraded to higher tiers, increasing their power. Essences are obtained from frozen essence monsters that can spawn randomly in zones. These will be covered in more detail in the Story and Leveling section.
Divination Cards – These are not so much a currency, but rather a system that allows a player to semi-deterministically gain an item, item base or currency. They are single slot items that stack, and once a stack is completed, the player can trade the full stack into Tasuni in the Act IV town, Highgate.
Cartographer’s Sextant – These currencies are used in the end game mapping system. These are not used on items, but the endgame atlas, which is a map of all of the maps within the game. They provide special modifications to a map and maps within a certain range, similar to affixes, but with a set number of uses. You need not worry about using this currency as a beginner, and can hold onto them.
To give a quick analogy, we can look at some of the currency orbs as if they were in the form of real life money (USD, but it applies pretty much anywhere else):
|$00.01||Whetstones or Scraps|
|$00.05||Orb of Alteration|
|$00.25||Cartographer’s Chisel / Orb of Fusing|
|$01.00||Chaos Orb / Vaal Orb|
|$10,000||Mirror of Kalandra|
Now, since there is no common gold or silver currency in the game, what happens when you sell items to the vendor? Well, when vendored, all items will return scraps of an orb, or possibly a full orb, depending on the rarity and explicit properties that exist on the item. There also exist currency recipes that you can perform by selling certain items or combination of items to a vendor to receive a certain currency orb or item back. I will explain important recipes later in the guide in the Vendor Recipes and Tricks section.
Sockets and Gems
As mentioned previously, skills are in the form of skill gems, rather than passively attained skills that are tied to character class. These are items and can be obtained via quests, purchased from vendors or other players. Certain classes will have access to a subsection of gems (based on their attribute affinities) via their quests and will have to purchase the other gems from other players or obtain them from drops.
To use these skill gems, you must socket them in a piece of gear that you are wearing. You must have the required level, attribute requirements and socket colors to socket them. Sockets can appear in three colors: Red (Strength Based), Green (Dexterity Based) and Blue (Intelligence based). Once you have it socketed, the skill will appear on your action bar in the lower right hand corner. We can modify which skills go on which hotkey by clicking on the desired action bar slot and selecting a new skill from the available socketed skill tiles that appear. Sockets are universal to the character, and skill gems are not required to be socketed in specific gear slots to be used. However, some unique items can provide bonuses to socketed gems.
Now, each piece of gear can have numerous sockets, meaning more skill gems can be socketed or those skill gems can be linked to support gems, improving them. In order for skill gems to be supported by a support gem, the sockets must be linked together. Items can drop with various amount of sockets, socket colors and linked sockets. All these can be changed using aforementioned currency.
Skill and support gems can be placed in any order in the sockets, as long as they are on the same gear piece and linked together. The support gem tags must also match a tag from the skill gem (such as melee or spell), otherwise the skill gem will not be supported. An easy way to see if the skill gem is being supported, is to check the skill icon on the action bar or character screen and seeing if a small letter appears on the icon when the support gem is placed in the links.
As you gain experience, your gems also gain experience and level. Leveling gems will increase the damage they do, as well as the level and attribute requirements of the respective gem. Gems do not lose experience upon death, as your character level does. Gems in your weapon swap will also gain experience, so it is worth leveling other gems you may want to use or sell in that weapon.
This is a good point to differentiate the two main types of offensive Active Skill Gems: Attack and Spell.
Attack gems perform attack based damage and scale damage from the implicit properties of your weapon. This includes the physical, elemental, critical and attack speed modifiers on the weapon. Do remember that explicit properties can increase implicit properties of a weapon, which is shown by a purple text for that implicit property. Global increases to those types of damage or weapon types via modifiers, passive tree or items will benefit those gems. This means for attack based gems, you will want to have a good weapon with high implicit properties to scale your damage from.
Spell gems base damage, base critical strike and cast speed is determined from the spell skill gem. Only it’s base damage increases with levels to the gem. Spell gems do not benefit from weapon implicit stats, only from global modifiers to spells in the explicit properties of the weapon. Global increases to the spell’s damage type(s) via modifiers, passive tree or items will benefit those gems. Spells are nice in that they can scale easily with levels and support gems, while not needing a very good weapon.
In general, most builds focus around scaling one or two skill gems heavily in separate 5 or 6 link setups.
Another gem type that is very useful in builds are movement skills. These are gems that allow you character to traverse the environment quickly or get over certain terrain types. It is recommended to have at least one movement skill paired with a faster attacks or faster casting support to ensure you move as fast as possible.
Flasks play a major role in a successful character and like gear, they too can be crafted. However, they can only occur in normal, magic and uniques rarities. Flasks also come two base variations: Recovery Flasks and Utility Flasks
Recovery flasks include Life, Mana and Hybrid flasks. These are used for recovering the respective resource, hybrid recovering a portion of both. Life flasks are a must in any life based build and have many prefixes that are very useful to have one one of your flasks:
Panicked – 25% reduced recovery, with instant life recovery when on low life (below 35% life).
Bubbling – 50% reduced recovery, with 50% of the recovery applied instantly.
Seething – 66% reduced recovery, recovery is applied instantly.
Catalysed – 50% increased recovery speed.
When using recovery flasks, a lighter shade of its respective resource type will be seen in the empty portion of the resource globe. This is the projected recovery of the flask. The flask recovery will end once the shaded area is filled or the resource globe is filled. This means all effects that the flask provides will end once the flask finishes its recovery or the resource is filled.
Utility flasks cover many different functions, most of which are covered in the gear and defenses section, that recovery flasks do not. They provide defensive and offensive bonuses implicitly, while being able to roll explicit properties as well. General utility flasks to look out for that can be used on most all characters include: Quicksilver flask, Silver Flask, Granite Flask, Basalt Flask and Quartz Flask.
When rolling utility flasks, it is good to look for the following prefixes:
Perpetual – (20 to 40)% increased Charge Recovery
Ample – +(10 to 20) Extra Charges
Experimenter’s – (30 to 40)% increased Duration
Alchemist’s – 25% increased effect, 33% reduced Duration
Unlike recovery flasks, utility flask effects will last the full duration of their use and their respective buffs can be seen in the upper left buff bar or on the character screen for the respective stat bonuses.
For crafting all flasks, it is always good to have the following suffixes within your flask lineup, as these damage effect are applied to your character frequently and can be deadly:
of Staunching – Immunity to Bleeding during Flask effect , Removes Bleeding on use.
of Heat – Immunity to Freeze and Chill during Flask effect, Removes Freeze and Chill on use.
of Grounding – Immunity to Shock during Flask effect, Removes Shock on use.
All flasks recover charges via monster deaths and returning to town, so it is always good to have a portal around incase you have to make a quick get away and refill flasks. Flasks will also lose all their charges if you remove them from the flask bar and place them in your inventory. When placed back into the Flask bar, they will be empty, unless in a town or hideout. It is important to note that flasks of the same type (life, mana or hybrid) or same base type, will not stack their effects. The most recently pressed flask will overwrite the previous flask effect.
Damage Types, Gear and Defenses
Damage can occur from attacks or spells in 3 main types:
Physical, Elemental and Chaos
Physical damage mainly occurs from attack based offense, but some spells also deal physical damage. The main form of mitigation for physical damage is armour, however many other options can be used or stacked with armour to make it a more effective reduction. Physical damage can be considered one of stronger damage types in the game as most monsters have poor physical damage reduction.
Elemental damage consists of the three elements: Fire, Cold and Lightning. Elemental damage is one of the most abundant damage types among monsters and players and the hardest to mitigate. The main source of elemental mitigation are your elemental resistances, but it can, like armour, be paired with many other types of mitigation to increase its effectiveness.
Chaos damage is the rarest damage type, and hardest to obtain resistance for. The game is balanced around the player having 0 chaos resistance, but most can get away with the default -60% resistance by merciless difficulty. Chaos damage is special, in that it ignores energy shield, and damages life directly, unless unique items are used or the Chaos Inoculation keystone is taken.
Each primary damage type has a secondary damage or status ailment that it can incur:
Physical can inflict Bleed, which is a damage over time that increases its damage output by 5 when the target that is bleeding moves.
Fire can inflict Ignite, which is fire damage over a default period of 4 seconds. Only the strongest ignite is applied at one time.
Cold can inflict Chill and Freeze, which is a disabler, slowing or stopping the target in their path, causing them to shatter upon death if frozen.
Lightning can inflict Shock, which causes the shocked target to take 50% increased damage from all sources.
Chaos (and Physical) can inflict Poison which is chaos damage over a default period of 2 seconds. It is similar to ignite, but it can be applied numerous times, with no stack limit.
Now, many enemies unfortunately have immunities to one or more of these secondary damage types. However, there are no enemies that have immunities to primary damage types, only resistances.
Critical strikes are rolled at the time of action of the attack or spell, thus every time a skill is used it performs normal damage or critical strike.
Attack critical strike chance is based on the local critical strike chance of the weapon being used.
Spell critical strike chance is based on the local critical strike chance of the spell skill gem.
Both can be scaled via % increased critical strike chance from modifiers in the passive tree, support skill gems and gear.
Critical strikes deal increased damage based on the player or enemies critical strike multiplier, and always inflict elemental status ailments of the respective element(s) that are involved in the attack or spell. Characters have a default 150% base critical strike multiplier and can obtain more via % to critical strike multiplier from the passive tree, support gems and gear.
Critical strike damage (CSD) is calculated in the following manner:
CSD = (Base Damage)(Base Critical Strike Multiplier + Additional Critical Strike Multiplier)
General Value Calculation
Important to the understanding of modifiers, both tree and gear alike, are how general calculations are made. In Path of Exile there are increased/reduced and more/less modifiers. These work in different ways and it is important to realize the difference between them.
Increased/reduced modifiers are additive, in that they are added together and then multiplied against the base value.
Say we have a base of 100 and we have three nodes from the passive tree that read 25%, 15% and 15% increased value. Here we will have the following calculation for the final value (FV):
FV = 100 (1+.25+.15+.15) = 100 1.55 = 155
More/less modifiers are multiplicative, in that they are all multiplied together against the base value.
Again, say we have a base of 100 and we have three nodes from the passive tree that read 25%, 15% and 15% more value. Here we will have the following calculation for the final value (FV):
FV = 100(1+.25)(1+.15)(1+.15) = 1001.65 = 165
As we can see, the values from this are larger than the increased values. Now this goes the same way for reduced and less modifiers, where less modifiers will provide a larger reduction than reduced modifiers.
Putting both of the calculations together we would get the following formula:
FV = 100(1+.25+.15+.15)(1+.25)(1+.15)(1+.15) = 1001.551.65 = 255
It is important to differentiate these modifiers when considering damage output or mitigation, as they appear frequently and have very different results.
Gear and Defenses
Gear comes in multiple layers in Path of Exile.
The primary layer comes in 3 main flavours of implicit defenses found on gear:
Armour, Evasion and Energy Shield.
Armour implicit gear is the strength based attribute defense. Armour will only mitigate physical damage from attacks or spells. Damage reduction (DR) is calculated by the following formula:
DR =Armour( Armour + 10 Damage)
As we can see, the higher the hit, the less that is mitigated. This is because armor has diminishing returns. Armour is most effective for small to medium hits from general enemies, rather than large hits from bosses, provided they are dealing physical damage.
Evasion implicit gear is the dexterity based attribute defense. Evasion provides a chance to evade enemy attacks, but not spells. This means with evasion you can avoid all damage types and status ailments as long as they are attacks.
Chance to Evade (CE) is calculated by comparing your evasion rating to the enemy’s accuracy rating:
CE = 1-( Attacker’s Accuracy)(Attacker’s Accuracy + (Defender’s Evasion .25).8)
Critical Strikes can also be avoided. An initial hit is rolled against the defender’s evasion rating, if it succeeds, another roll is made to see if the critical strike chance succeeds against the defender’s evasion. If this second roll fails, the resulting hit is non-critical.
Evasion has a low cap of 5% chance to evade and a top end cap of 95% chance to evade. However, evasion is not purely based on chance , it has entropy, where in you will eventually get hit no matter what. Every time an attack is evaded, its chance to evade is added to a counter. Once that counter reaches a value of 100, the player is struck by the incoming attack and the counter is reset. The second roll to critical strike chance is not added to this counter. This means that your lucky streak of avoiding hits will never go on forever.
Energy Shield is the intelligence based attribute defense. This defense resides visually on top of the health pool and protects from all types of damage, aside from chaos (unless uniques are used or Chaos Inoculation is taken). Energy shield offers no form of reductions or evasion, but rather provides the character with a larger effective health pool.
Main mechanics involve:
- Energy shield has has separate mechanics from life, in that life regeneration, recovery, gain and leech will not affect it.
- Energy shield will recharge on its own after 2 seconds of recovery where no damage is taken.
- If damage is taken during recharge, it will be interrupted and the recovery timer will start again.
By taking the Chaos Inoculation keystone in the passive tree, one can convert their life pool to one and become immune to chaos damage. This, in turn, makes your energy shield you main life pool. Other keystones such as Zealot’s Oath and Ghost Reaver can be taken to have Life regeneration and leech apply to the characters energy shield.
Now gear can appear with one or two of these primary defenses on it, which are referred to as hybrid armour pieces. They will have required attributes and socket color affinities of the respective defense types.
Aside from the primary implicit defenses, there are some other major types of defenses:
As mentioned before, elemental and chaos damage are some of the more difficult damage types to mitigate, as there is a hard cap on how much resistance to them you can have. Resistances have a cap of 75%, but can be raised by flasks, such as a ruby flask, the passive tree, and uniques. This is why notables like barbarism, which provide +1 to maximum resistance are powerful. Damage against resistances is calculated in the following manner:
DR = (1 – Resistance)Damage
As we can see it is a linear function, so we aren’t affected by diminishing returns. Resistance is obtained from implicit and explicit properties on gear. It is a necessity to be capped (75%) resistances if you plan on doing end-game content. As you progress through the game difficulties, you will have a resistance penalty imposed on you.
Normal: No penalty
Cruel: -20% resistances
Merciless: -60% resistances
This means you will need to have a total elemental resistance of 135% for each element, to be capped in merciless difficulty. The character defense screen shows your active resistance on the left, while the uncapped resistance is shown in parenthesis. Uncapped resistances are basically your resistance totals.
If you happen to get elemental weakness cursed, it will subtract from your total resistance, that in the parenthesis, rather than from the 75% cap. Curses can be applied by enemies, or as modifiers in end-game maps.
If you however enter a zone that has – max elemental resistances, this will be subtracted from the 75% cap, reducing your maximum elemental resistance. This only occurs in end-game maps.
Dodge is unlike evasion, where the roll is pseudo-random to avoid the hit and is not entropy based, meaning that dodging hits can be chained indefinitely if you are that lucky. Dodge has no lower cap but has an upper cap of 75%. Dodge comes in two different forms: Dodge Attacks and Dodge Spell. Dodge can be acquired from the passive tree via Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics as well as certain Ascendancies. It can also be found on numerous unique items, such as Atziri’s Step or on flasks such as the Quartz Flask.
Block is a means of damage avoidance, like dodge and evasion. Block, like Dodge, is pseudo-random and has no entropy effects. It has no lower cap and an upper cap of 75%, which can be increased via unique items. It comes in two forms: Block Attacks and Block Spells. Block Attacks can be obtained by using a shield, staff or dual wielding weapons (hidden 15% block chance), as well as percentage block chance from the passive tree, ascendancies, and unique items. Block Spells is not provided as an implicit block, like block attacks with shields or weapons and must be obtained by other methods. Block spells can be acquired from the passive tree, ascendancies such as the Gladiator that provides 100% of block applied to spells, and unique items that apply a percentage of block to spells.
Endurance charges supplement armour in physical reduction. Charges are temporary stackable buffs that are represented by glowing orbs that circle the character. Endurance charges are orange and are associated with strength. Each endurance charge provides 4% flat physical reduction as well as 4% to all elemental resistances. This reduction is very strong, as the 4% is always a 4% reductions regardless of the hit size, helping physical reduction against large hits.
Endurance charges are mainly gained through the use of the skill Enduring Cry, but can also be gained in many other ways via curses or ascendancies.
By default, every character has a maximum charge limit of 3 for each charge type. More charges can be acquired via the passive tree, unique items such as Death’s Door, or as a quest reward.
Fortify, like endurance charges, is a temporary buff that is gained through the use of a skill that provides 20% mitigation of all incoming damage. This makes is one of the most valuable buffs to maintain on a character. Fortify can be acquired via use of the support on an attack based skill gem or by ascendancies like The Champion who has permanent fortify. One of the best ways to keep fortify up is to attach it to an attack based movement skill. In this way, you consistently hit enemies while moving from pack to pack.
Curses are simply area of effect (AoE) skill gems which weaken enemies. These can be self cast, supported by a cast when damage is taken or supported by a blasphemy gem that turns the curse into an AoE aura. There are many offensive and defensive curses, but the main defensive ones to look out for are:
- Enfeeble – reduces enemies chance to hit, enemies deal less damage and critical strike chance and multiplier is reduced.
- Temporal Chains – Slows enemy movement and attack speed down, also increasing duration based ailments on them.
Characters, by default, can only apply one curse at a time, unless Whispers of Doom is taken from the passive tree, unique items or certain corrupted items are used. Curses are less effective on bosses, making them a weaker solution for boss damage, but greatly increase your defensive layer on regular monsters.
A good leveling curse is Warlord’s Mark, as it provides both Life and Mana leech as well as the chance to gain endurance charges on kill.
Mind Over Matter
This defense is more of a build specific and must be built around. Mind Over Matter is a keystone taken in the passive tree, or acquired by certain unique items, in which the character takes 30% of incoming damage from mana before it is taken from life. If the character does not have enough mana, the remaining damage will be deducted from life.
Here we get a clean 30% damage reduction and effective life increase, similar to energy shield. But we must be careful in that if we run out of mana from taking damage, we could be in trouble for performing offensive attacks. That is why Mind Over Matter must be built around to make effective use of the mechanic.
As mentioned previously, flasks are one of the most important portions of a successful character. In Path of Exile, flasks provide not only resource recovery (Life and Mana), but offensive and defensive options. Important flasks to look for and work into most builds are the defensive utility flasks. These can be thought of as powerful cooldown skills, or even permanent buffs if you are recharging them quick enough.
Great defensive flask bases include:
- Granite – provides +3000 base armour, very powerful for early game mitigations.
- Jade – provides +3000 evasion, very powerful for stacking evasion for evasion based builds.
- Basalt – provides 20% flat physical reduction, it is like having another 5 endurance charges.
- Quartz – provides 10% Attack and Spell Dodge, as well as phasing allowing you to pass through enemies to reposition.
- Stibnite – provides 100% increased evasion, as well as a smoke cloud that reduces enemy’s accuracy, very powerful for evasion based builds.
- Quicksilver – provides 40% increased movement speed, allowing for quick movement and repositioning.
Life Leech and Gain on Hit
A slightly complicated defence and sustain mechanic is life leech. I will not go into the specifics on this one, but I will give the broad overview.
Life leech works like it does in most other games, where you hit an enemy and recover a portion of that damage as life. In its current state, life leech has a leech rate cap. That is, leeched life can only recover at a certain rate determined by your maximum life and some other data. So as your damage output increases, your total leeched life exceeds the recovery rate of your leech cap. This is what makes ascendancies such as the duelist’s Slayer (grants double the life leech cap and leech does not stop once life is full) and key stones such as Vaal Pact (life leech is applied instantly, but you have no life regeneration) very strong. Life leech can also be applied to energy shield via the keystone Ghost Reaver.
Another form of life leech, is life gain on hit. This can be gained in small amounts from the passive tree, support gems or implicit properties on weapons. It is considered much weaker than leech, as it requires heavy investment and many fast hits to reach the same life return.
Of course, mentioned last, as it is the last buffer between your character and death is life. Life is visualized as the red orb at the bottom left of the UI. Main sources of base life, this is the number that is modified by percentage modifiers, include gear affixes (+x to maximum life), the strength attribute (+5 maximum life per 10 strength), and unique items, such as Kaom’s Heart. Percentage modifiers to life can be acquired from the passive tree and unique gear, such as Belly of the Beast. It is always best to try and get as much life as possible, that is of course as long as you are not running a Chaos Inoculation character.
Just know, regardless of all the defenses you stack, you will still get one shot at some point.
Weapons, similar to armour types, come in a few different forms. All weapons have implicit properties and can always be used with attack based skill gems. Not all weapons will benefit spell based gems, since certain weapons cannot roll spell based explicit mods. Weapon classes include:
Quivers – Unlike two-handed melee, two-handed range with a bow can also wear a quiver,
that provide more implicit and explicit properties.
Maces / Sceptres
It is important to note, if you are an attack based build, you will have to worry about accuracy. Aim for around 85%+ accuracy rating once you reach the endgame. Attack based builds can also take Resolute Technique from the passive tree, so that their attacks never miss, but they can never deal critical strikes.
Another note is that dual wield builds gain a hidden 10% more attack speed, 15% additional block chance and 20% more attack physical damage.
Again, the biggest thing to note is what weapon types your skill gem can use. This will determine the base types of weapons you are going to be looking for. If you are instead using a spell, you will generally want to be using a dagger, sceptre or wand with spell explicit properties.
Story and Leveling
Path of Exile currently has 4 acts, with a 5th releasing in the 3.0 expansion. As mentioned before, it also has 3 difficulties: Normal, Cruel and Merciless (subject to change with 3.0), where you play through the 4 acts again with harder and higher level enemies and character resistance penalty, for a total of 12 Acts. During this leveling process, you will complete quests that can reward you with gear, passive or refund points, and even character bonuses.
In each of these acts, there is a main town, where you receive and turn in quests, buy and sell items to vendors or other players and store items in your stash. As you will notice there is a waypoint in the town, which allows teleportation to other waypoints regardless of act or difficulty. Waypoints are found in zones outside of the town, but not all zones have a waypoint. The map legend denotes which zones have waypoints. Before you can use a waypoint, you must activate it first by clicking on it in the zone.
Now all zones, aside from towns, are instanced to the player or party the player is in, so only you or your party members will be able to interact in zones outside of town. New zones can be created by ctrl+clicking on the zone entrance, and zones will disappear after 8-15 minutes of no player inhabitants.
Monster Base Types
Each zone will have different monster types based on its zone type, as well as normal, magic, rare and unique versions of those monster types. Magic, rare and unique monsters provide higher experience per kill, as well as more quantity and rarity of drops. Every zone will also have one or more unique mini bosses in it.
Now here are some special encounter types you will face:
Bloodline and Nemesis Monsters
Be sure to watch out for purple magic and orange rare monsters, these are bloodline and nemesis monster types respectively. They can have special modifiers that can be deadly. For example, bloodline monsters with the ‘Bearers’ affix will drop timed elemental explosions on the ground upon death. These explosions do massive damage and can instantly kill a character if not paying attention to the ground. A deadly Nemesis affix is ‘Corrupting Blood’. Every time you hit a corrupting blood nemesis monster, you will gain a stack of corrupting blood, which is visualized as a red orb around the character and in the buff bar. This effect is stacked as fast as you attack and does damage based on the damage output of the monster. This means some corrupting blood stacks can kill your character very fast. Luckily, this debuff can be removed with a bleed immunity and removal flask.
Another common enemy type that is faced are Rogue Exiles. These are unique npc exiles that use player style skills, can do a lot of damage and be evasive. However, all exiles drop a full set of gear on death, so it is always worth killing them for the chance of getting a good gear piece.
Shrines appear in zones randomly, and provide a very powerful buff to the monsters around it, until the player touches it and takes the buff for themselves. This buff will last for 45 seconds and can be stacked with other shrine buffs if there are numerous in the area.
Tormented spirits are green ghosts that can infest rare and unique monsters, while passing through and empowering all other monsters. They will run from the player in fear, letting the player guide them in the direction they wish to go. Letting a ghost empower or infest a monster will grant the monster special powers depending on the ghost type. They are generally only worth the hassle to infest rare or unique monsters if they are nearby.
Corrupted zones are encountered randomly in zones, and have modifiers, similar to maps, making them more difficult. At the end of the zone you will encounter a boss specific to that corrupted zone, and upon killing him, you will be able to open the vessel. This vessel can contain Vaal skill gems, which are more powerful versions of their base type, that are used like cool down spells. These require monster souls, like flasks, to charge. Vaal skills useful to all build types include: Vaal Haste, Vaal Discipline and Vaal Clarity.
Vessels can also drop fragments: Dawn, Noon, Dusk and Midnight. These fragments can be used together in the map device to open the Atziri end game boss encounter. They can also be used in the Map device to spawn more corrupted zones, so you can farm fragments or skills you are missing.
Strongboxes house 3 packs of monsters, waiting to ambush anyone who opens it, as well as loot. Strongboxes, like gear, can be crafted with currency to alter or improve the contained monsters and loot. There are many different strongbox bases:
|Artisan’s||Currency that affect quality|
|Arcanist’s||Currency that does not affect quality|
|Jeweller’s||Amulets, Rings, Belts, Jewels|
|Large||Assorted Items (Increased Quantity)|
|Ornate||Assorted Items (Increased Rarity)|
|Unique||Unique affixes and drops|
Arcanist’s, Cartographer’s and Diviner’s boxes are quite rare and always worth stopping to roll properly.
For Arcanist and Diviner strongboxes, it is generally worth rolling the box with orbs of alteration and orbs of augmentation to get the suffix ‘Contains # additional items’ or ‘% increased Quantity of Contained Items’ and then augmenting the prefix and regaling on another mod. You can also gamble by rolling with Alchemy Orbs and Orbs of Scouring or Chaos to hopefully get both suffixes in one try, but the contents generally do not pay back for the input when using those currencies.
Cartographer’s strongboxes are really rare, generally only spawning in low tier maps and very rarely in high tier maps. It is generally worth rolling the box in similar manner to the previous boxes, only looking for the suffix ‘+# to chest level’ first, and then trying to get the quantity rolls. This will increase the drop level of the chest, increasing the tier of map that can drop from it.
For all other boxes, it is generally worth at least making them magic with two mods, if they are of normal quality, before opening them. If you are in high tier maps, it is worth, like with cartographer’s boxes, to roll the ‘+# to chest level’ in hopes of higher tier gear or map drops.
Ensure to watch out for certain affixes like, freezes you upon opening, detonates nearby corpses upon opening, explodes upon opening and casts ice nova upon opening. These mods can quickly kill characters of any level. So make sure to have your freeze flasks ready and your movement skills ready to escape the box after opening.
Essences, as mentioned before, are a newer type of crafting currency that was introduced with the Essence league. I won’t be able to explain all the functions of essences in this guide, but in essence, they function like orbs of alchemy or chaos orbs, depending on their tier, and roll an item with one guaranteed affix, while leaving the remaining random.
Essences are obtained from frozen essence monsters that are randomly spawned in zones. These monsters will have a nameplate above them denoting which essence(s) they contain. Each essence empowers the monster with special powers, so the more essences the monster has, the more life and attack types it has. Monsters can contain up to 4 essences, each up to tier 5.
Essences can come between tiers 1-5 naturally, and upgraded all the way to tier 7. The number of fingers the essence has denotes its tier. They can be upgraded by vendoring 3 of the same tier, giving 1 of the next tier. As the tier increases, the power of the affixes increase. These are best used for crafting items you may need while leveling or at end game.
Prophecies are like a second quest system with various rewards for leveling and endgame alike. Prophecies can be gained after you save Navali in The Climb zone. She can then be found in towns or invited to player hideouts. Prophecies can be purchased from Navali with silver coins, which are found the same as regular currency through drops. Each prophecy costs 1 silver coin and you can have a maximum of 7 prophecies active at a time. Prophecies are also tied to the difficulty they are purchased in.
Once you trigger a prophecy in a zone or complete one, it will be removed from your prophecy page. You can also remove a prophecy manually from your prophecy page by sealing it with Navali. This will cost more silver coins to do, and will turn the prophecy into an item that can be traded and used to place back into a prophecy page.
When starting a league, it is worth using your coins as you get them in normal difficulty, in hopes of useful rewards. As the league goes on, it is worth saving your silver coins to use in merciless difficulty only, if you are making new characters.
Some prophecies that carry high value and are generally worth sealing and selling are:
|The Jeweller’s Touch||Item will become five sockets and five links with a single Jeweller’s Orb|
|Fated Connections||Item will become six sockets and six links with a single Jeweller’s Orb|
|Trash to Treasure||Normal item will turn into unique with a single Orb of Chance|
|Cleanser of Sins||Tabula Rasa Unique (6L, white sockets, no defenses or level req.)|
|From the Void||Voidheart Unique Ring|
|Vaal Winds||Corrupting Tempest|
One quest you will have to complete in Act II is ‘Dealing With the Bandits’. This quest is special as you can chose a permanent stat buff for your character. These can be changed later in the game, but at a heavy cost. You can either help one of the bandits or help the quest giver, Eramir. The bandits are Kraityn, in the Broken Bridge, Alira in the Western Forest, and Oak in the Wetlands. Helping the Eramir will always provide you with 1 passive skill point, while helping the bandits will provide you with the following rewards:
Kraityn – 10% all elemental resistances
Alira – +60 to maximum mana
Oak – +40 to maximum life
Kraityn – 8% increased attack speed
Alira – 5% increased cast speed
Oak – 16% increased physical damage
Kraityn – +1 maximum frenzy charges
Alira – +1 maximum power charges
Oak – +1 maximum endurance charges
It is always recommended to help oak in normal difficulty if you are a life build. Otherwise, pick the reward that is most efficient for your build. These rewards won’t be make or break your build, so don’t worry if you pick the wrong one.
Now after seeing all these encounter types while leveling, it is important to keep your gear and flasks up to character level. As the Acts and difficulties increase, there are massive damage increases, mainly in the forms of physical damage. As mentioned before, it is very important to have well rolled defensive utility flasks, such as a granite, as well as freeze and bleed removal flasks for leveling. Recall that you can lose experience in higher difficulties: -5% in cruel and -10% in merciless (you cannot de-level however)
Players can also receive experience penalties, which are dictated by their level range safe zone, on both sides of their level. Killing monsters within this level range will incur no experience penalties. The players safe zone is determined by the following formula:
SZ = 3 + Player Level16 ← (rounded down)
This means while leveling, you will have a 3-6 level safe zone where you incur no experience penalties. This penalty removes the ability to be rushed to maximum level by a high level friend and encourages playing zones around your level, so ensure that you are within 3-6 levels of the zone on either side. Speaking of high level friends, it is also important to note that experience in parties is scaled so that it is equal for all members as if they were still playing solo, as long as they are close to each other in level. Higher level members will take a higher percentage share of the experience gained, over the lower level player, leaving them even further behind. So as a rule of thumb, ensure that your are within 1-5 levels of your party members while leveling.
Once you are completed the all the acts (roughly around level 65-70, you do not have to complete Act IV Merciless, only performing the Indomitable Spirit for the final quest skill point will suffice) you gain access to the mapping system at the Eternal Laboratory in Act III, which allows you to customize the content you are going to put your character through, increasing the difficulty as well as the rewards. I will touch on mapping later in this section.
As mentioned before, each character class has a set of ascendancies it can specialize in. To ascend, you must complete the labyrinth in normal difficulty (or any other difficulty), gaining an ascendancy and 2 points to spend in it. You can than gain up to 6 more points, 2 per difficulty, by completing the remaining labyrinths in cruel and merciless, while the final labyrinth, Uber, is completed through the mapping system. While leveling you will come across ascendancy trials, specifically in the following zones (these can be done at any level):
The Lower Prison
The Crypt, Level 1
The Chamber of Sins, Level 2
The Imperial Gardens
Each one of these trials demonstrates a trap type that is within the labyrinth. Traps deal physical damage and deal damage based on a percentage of your maximum life. They can be mitigated by any defences that mitigate physical damage. Completing all of these trials allows you to enter the labyrinth in that respective difficulty. These trials only need to be completed once per account and league, but the labyrinth must be completed on every character that wishes to ascend.
Now the difficulty of the Labyrinth, is that you have one try, or life, to complete it. If you die within the labyrinth, you have to spawn back in town and restart it.
The entrance to the labyrinth can be found in the Act III, The Sarn Encampment. In the Labyrinth, you will encounter many traps, puzzles, mini bosses, gold and silver doors, as well as the main boss, Izaro, in which you face 3 times. Before each encounter with him, you will have access to a stash before the fight, but beware the zone does not act as a town and you will not gain flask charges if you swap flasks. In each fight, you will have to remove 33% of his health. In each encounter, he will have a buff enabled on him via the 3 pedestals that rise in the arena. Killing or disabling these will remove the buffs from izaro and make him easier, if untouched, they will remain on Izaro for the remaining fights. The final encounter with Izaro will include a dual set of traps and all of the previous buffs that he gained. Beware of Izaro’s telegraphed slashes and leaps, as they do a lot of damage.
Once killed, you will gain treasure keys (1 base key, plus 1 key per full buff left on him for a total of 3. A 4th key can be gained from killing his pet, Argus whom is hidden in a zone around the labyrinth). Entering the final room, you will be able to open the treasure chests with the keys you gained, enchant a gear piece (gloves, boots or helmet) with powerful implicit properties and ascend via the plaque at the top of the zone. Once you leave the zone, you cannot return, so make sure to get everything you wanted from it!
Each lab can be completed at any level, so it is wise to over level before attempting the lab. Lab layouts are reset once every day, changing the zone layouts and Izaro buffs.
A useful resource for the labryinth is: http://www.poelab.com/ which is a community driven site that provides detailed information on each day’s labyrinth layouts.
Masters Crafting and Hideouts
Another encounter you will come across while leveling or in maps are the forsaken masters. They will request you perform a mission for them within the current zone, and you will be rewarded with reputation towards them increasing their level (maximum of 8).
Once a master reaches level 3, you can claim a hideout from them and begin using master crafting benches. To get to your claimed hideout, simply use a waypoint and click on the hideout icon in the bottom right. Hideouts are customizable player housing that can expand in size. They begin as a small hideout, expand to a medium at level 5 and a large at level 7. The larger the hideout, the more masters that can be invited to your hideout (4 total masters at medium, 7 total at large). Inviting a master to your hideout allows you to perform their daily missions and receive more reputation, as well as resetting their shop. Each master sells items related to their crafting benches, as well as items with signature mods. These mods cannot be obtained in any other way and using a orb of scouring, alteration or chaos will remove the mods.
Each master specializes in crafting of certain base items and provides a crafting bench for these items at level 2. At each crafting bench, you can place a magic or rare item of the appropriate base in with an open affix, and craft a desired affix on for a small fee. This serves the same purpose as an exalted orb without the randomness and at a fraction of the cost! But of course, is restricted to low values of the affix as to not make this crafting overpowered. This lets you fill out resistance, stat or damage potentials of items while leveling or that may just be missing that one affix you wanted at the end game.
As the master’s level increases, so does the pool and power of affixes that you can craft on items. Items can only have one crafted mod on it at a time, unless meta mod crafting is used at master level 8, allowing multiple mods to be crafted on a single item. This is a very costly craft and is only recommended for those that are serious at crafting.
A simple trick to claim all of your crafting benches is to type: “/claim_crafting_benches”. This will place all available crafting benches into your hideout stash, where you can pick and place them in your hideout.
Maps are simply items that can be used with a map device, located at the eternal laboratory, or in your hideout after you claimed the crafting bench from the forsaken master, Zana. They open up 6 portals to a randomly generated instance based on the tileset of the map that was placed in the device. You will have 6 entries into the map, each portal disappearing after use (the portal inside the map stays open wherever you place it). Maps work on a tier system that dictates the difficulty of the map. There are 17 tiers in total, tier 1 starting a level 68 and tier 17 ending at level 84. The easiest way to determine the map zone level is to add its number to 67, or once inside, look at the map overlay.
Every map has the general packs monsters inside of it, plus a unique boss at the end. These bosses are generally based on unique bosses from the story, but some are unique to maps only in their mechanics. Every monster in the map has a chance of dropping a map, while magic and rare enemy types can drop up to a +1 tier, while the boss can drop up to a +2 tier.
Maps can be crafted like all other items in the game, into magic, rare and unique varieties. Adding more affixes to the map will result in larger quantity, rarity and pack size bonus. I will not go into the specifics of crafting maps, as it changes frequently, but you will want to aim for high quantity and packsize bonus to better your chances at currency, gear and map drops.
In the mapping system, you have an atlas. This atlas determines what maps can drop and which do not. Maps in which the boss has been killed, or completed, are considered unlocked on your atlas. It is these maps that will drop when killing monsters, or connected maps on the atlas to the current map. The only way to unlock new maps, is to get them to drop from adjacent maps, purchase from Zana or other players.
If you complete a maps bonus objective, you will gain 1% to your atlas bonus. The atlas bonus is a percentage chance that your map drops will roll +1 tier to what they would have been originally. Once this number exceeds 100%, your map drops will always +1 tier, and numbers over 100% will be a second roll to the maps rolling +2 tiers.
Now, the final thing I would like to mention for end-game leveling is the experience penalties. As discussed in the leveling portion, you incur experience penalties if you are out of the safe zone of your level. In between level 70-90, you will have around a 7 level safe zone where you will not have an experience penalty. One you start running maps that are outside of this zone, you will begin to have experience penalties, not receiving the full amount of experience. The experience penalties are shown in the chart below:
So make sure to run maps that are within this range and appropriate for your level and build to maximize your experience and loot gains.
Trade chat exists in Path of Exile, but I do not recommend using it. It is full of spam and very hard to understand. The easiest way to purchase items is to unfortunately, use a third party site: http://poe.trade/
Here we can browse for any item we would like in a straightforward way. Say we want a pair of armour gloves with some resistances and life on them. We can simply set the base type to ‘Gloves’, type in 1 for min armour and 0 for max evasion and Shield. Scroll down to mods and select ‘+# to Maximum Life’, and then add another mod and select the ‘pseudo +#% Total Elemental Resistance’ (The pseudo total will find all items with any elemental resistance that at least adds up to the minimum). This will then show all available gloves for sale with those desired stats. Of course we can tighten up the search by putting in more strict minimum life and resistance values.
To purchase an item we simply click the ‘Whisper’ text, which copies a generic buy request to our clipboard. We can now switch back into game, paste the whisper into the chat and hit enter to request the purchase. Of course, since this system is non-automated like an auction house, the seller must be online, non-afk or willing to sell. The trade api is not perfect and some accounts for listed items are not online or are afk, resulting in having to wait or find a new item.
Now to sell items, it is very easy if you have premium stash tabs, not so easy if you do not. I will just describe how to sell items with premium tabs, as selling otherwise requires a lot more investment and understanding of how items are indexed.
Once you have a premium tab, you can right click the tab and set it to be public. This will allow the Path of Exile Trade API to show any items in this tab to indexers such as poe.trade. You can then set the tab to have a buyout price for all items that are placed inside of it, or set each item to be priced individually. If set individually, you will then have to right click the item and set its desired price and currency type.
To find the price of items you have, you can make use of poe.trade again to get a price reference on similar items. Searching for uniques are easy, as you can simply browse their names and find the common price. Other items you will have to browse for items that are similar to yours by entering similar the stats into the search feature. You can also crtl+c on your item in game and import that data into poe.trade by using the ‘Import item data’, to get an exact search of your item setup. You will, however, have to clean up the modifiers to be less strict so that other items can be found, as no two items in path of exile are identical, unless they are mirrored or uniques.
Any of you that are savvy with AutoHotKey, can also get the PoE Trade Macro script that allows you to quickly check prices of uniques and perform custom item searches from within the game screen. That script can be found at: https://github.com/PoE-TradeMacro/POE-TradeMacro/releases
Vendor Recipes, Tips and Tricks
Here I will mention some useful vendor recipes and tricks that you can use daily in path of exile.
The recipe system allows players to sell items to any vendor in exchange for a variety of currencies or items.
- 1x Chromatic Orb
- Any item with a red, green and blue linked socket set. Can have other unlinked sockets.
- 7x Jeweler’s Orb
- Any item with 6 sockets.
- 1x Gemcutter’s Prism
- A single gem with 20% quality, or a sum of qualities from numerous gems that equals 40%
- 1x Glassblower’s Bauble
- A single flask with 20% quality, or a sum of qualities from numerous flasks that equals 40%.
- Chaos Orbs can be generated by trading a full set of rare gear to a vendor. A full set includes:
- One of the following weapon(s):
- Two-Handed (1)
- One-Handed (2)
- One-Handed (1) and Shield (1)
- Body Armour
- Rings (2)
- One of the following weapon(s):
- 1 Chaos Orb – If any gear piece is identified and item levels between 60-74.
- 2 Chaos Orbs – All gear pieces are unidentified and item levels between 60-74.
As long as all the item levels are above 60 and at least one of the item levels is in the range, chaos orbs will be generated.
- Cartographer’s Chisel
- 1x Stone Hammer/ Rock Breaker / Gavel at 20% quality, any rarity
- 1x any Map
- Life or Mana Flask of the next tier:
- 3 of the previous tier of that flask type.
- Weapon with ‘(40 to 69%) increased physical damage’:
- Weapon (can be normal, magic, rare – It will be stripped of all existing affixes)
- Magic or Rare Rustic Sash belt
- Blacksmith’s Whetstone
Skill gem recipes
- Decrease level of gem by 1:
- 1x Orb of Scouring
- Decrease level of skill gem to 1:
- 1x Orb of Regret
- 20% Quality Gem:
- Level 20 Gem
- 1x Gemcutter’s Prism
Tips and Tricks
Here are some simple shortcuts that will make a lot of interactions much easier:
- Holding Alt over an item will display its item level.
- Ctrl+Left clicking an item while you have a trade, crafting or stash interface up will immediate transfer the item to the interface or vis versa. When done with currency, it will transfer the maximum stack size of that currency per Ctrl+Left click.
- Shift+Left clicking a stacked item will allow you to split the stack into two stacks. This cannot be performed when a trade interface is up.
- Ctrl+Left clicking a zone entrance or waypoint will bring up the zone manager interface. Allowing you to select the zone you wish to enter, or create a new one.
- Ctrl+Left clicking a passive point will immediately allocate it.
- Pressing ctrl+c while hovering over an item will copy all of its data to your clipboard, allowing you to paste it into sites, such as poe.trade, weapon dps calculators, or chats outside of Path of Exile.
- Holding Shift after a currency item is clicked will allow you to use the currency item numerous times.
- Crtl+enter will respond to the last whisper made.
Well, that just about covers everything I wanted to talk about. If you were on the fence or just starting in Path of Exile, but were unsure of how to continue, I hope that this guide series has shed some light on how to get started and advance your character. If you have tried Path of Exile before, but stopped playing for one reason or another, I would definitely say give it another shot. The game really picks up as you get further into it. Give it a fair shot through all the difficulties, maybe on a few different character builds, as it really takes getting the build fleshed out before you realize it’s power.
Again, there are many topics I did not discuss in full (which I hope to make more in depth guides for), but there are many other resources and people who have created Path of Exile game guides and build guide alike. I have gone ahead and linked some youtube channels that have some great content in the description.
I hope you all enjoyed. Again my name is Brian, and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.