Path of Exile is online free-to-play Action RPG, developed and published by Grinding Gear Games. Even if you are familiar with genre Hack and slash RPG, the game may seem hard and puzzling. And even more confusing for those who haven’t played Diablo-style games. In our Path of Exile Beginners Guide, we will try to help you start your path in unknown and dangerous Wraeclast.
Path of Exile Beginners Guide – Table of contents
If you decide to play default league (the current the time you start) the first thing you will have to do is to pick a class. There are 7 classes available in PoE: Marauder, Ranger, Witch, Duelist, Templar, Shadow and Scion. But as for the last one, you will need to open her at the end of the 3rd act first.
At first glance, it is pretty obvious to see which class is more prone to melee or ranged combat. Which one is good with magic or which depends on his weapon. However, later in the game, there will be an opportunity to complete The Lord’s Labyrinth and get a kind of upgrade to your class (Ascendancy). With the help of Ascendancy, your exile (champion you play for is called like that in Poe) will strengthen his ability to survive in this world and finally form your character’s class.
Therefore before choosing a class and start playing, we recommend learning which one of them is the best for your game style:
Juggernaut – tanky melee class with lots of armour and damage mitigation.
Berserker – offence melee class with lots of damage.
Chieftain – melee builds with fire attack skills and totems.
Deadeye – bow oriented class (also very good for any projectile-based skills).
Raider – swift and deadly gameplay with short combat buffs, equally suitable for ranged and melee style.
Pathfinder – class that heavily relied on his flasks (potions), so you can play with a spell or any melee builds.
Necromancer – best class for minion-based builds.
Elementalist – become master of fire, ice and lightning spells.
Occultist – good for chaos and cold DoT (damage over time) spells.
Slayer – melee-oriented builds with a nice sustain (life leech).
Gladiator – great balance between offence and defence, a good choice for dual-wielding and 1-hand + shield based melee builds.
Champion – supportive tank, that can taunt enemies and protect allies.
Inquisitor – class, that combine elemental spells and melee playstyle.
Hierophant – spellcaster with totems and brands, both deal with damage by themselves, you only need to summon them.
Guardian – tanky support with auras and summons.
Assassin – deadly melee classes with critical strikes and poison.
Saboteur – destroy your foes with traps and mines.
Trickster – specializes in dealing damage over time (DoT) with attacks and spells.
Ascendant – the most flexible among all classes, you can choose two mitigated benefits from all ascendancies (but only one from each base class, for example, you can’t take Slayer and Gladiator class passives, because they both belongs to Duelist).
Later you will see one more innovation in arpg – game modes or they call it in Path of Exile leagues. There are a lot of them in PoE, read further our Path of Exile beginners guide to learn more.
PoE Permanent Leagues
So there 4 permanent leagues: Standard and Hardcore leagues. The main difference between these two is that on Hardcore your exile has only one life (so-called permanent death). However, in Path of Exile if your character dies on Hardcore-based league he won’t become unplayable but relocates on Standard league. There you can continue to play it.
Also, there are Solo Self-Found (aka SSF) Standard and Hardcore leagues. These leagues have specific rules, where players cannot trade with each other. That means you will have to play alone without any help from other players. Nevertheless, the chat is available. Moreover, anytime you can transfer your SSF character and all its progress from Solo Self-Found. For example, SSF Hardcore transfer on Hardcore, but once you so that there is no way back!
PoE Temporary Leagues
Also, there are temporary leagues. In Path of Exile, the most part of players is concentrated on Challenge leagues. Those are special leagues that every time add new mechanics and loot into the game. In average they last for 3 months with one week break. In every new league, all players start from the very beginning. That let’s reset the in-game economy and equalize the odds for all players.
The moment this guide was written current active league was Metamorph. Just as permanent leagues temporary ones have 4 modes: standard and hardcore with SSF features. After the league ends all characters and stash transfer to respective permanent leagues. More about the current league you can learn from in-game league-specific NPC.
Races and Private Leagues
But that’s not all! There are also short-time leagues, so-called Races in Path of Exile. They last from several minutes to weeks, each of them has specific rules and aims. Players who get to the highest positions in the ladder achieve Season Reward Points. At the end of every Race Season, those players who got specific points get prises! Read more information about the current PoE season and event timetable here.
If you want to make the game harder or customize the league for yourself and your friends you can create custom Private League. However, to do that you will need to pay with real money as shop points. More details about private custom leagues you can learn by clicking the link.
After you get to the first city you will have to choose one of the gems as a reward for killing Hillock. Such gems replace skills in Path of Exile. Each class can use any skill, all you need is to get the required character level and stats. You will get an enormous number of skill gems to choose from the rewards for completing quests. So you can experiment and check what gems and skills fit you the most!
One of the main peculiarities of active skill gems is an ability to enhance them or even modify with the help of support skill gems. When you hover over any gem you will see its gem tags above its name. Those tags categorize skills into groups. So if you see in such list tag ‘Support’ it means that this gem doesn’t have active skill. But if you add it to the linked item with an active skill gem it will strengthen it and grant you new opportunities.
For example, if you link Frostbolt gem with Spell Totem Support instead of hitting mobs with frostbolt yourself you will summon a totem that will use the linked spell. There is an uncountable number of combinations of active and support gems. But keep in mind that not all support gems can interact with active ones. You can understand that by reading tags. But also there is a better way to check it. Just hover over support gem and you will see a list of active gems in your equip with checkmarks. If the checkmark is on gems interact with each other. And the red cross means they won’t work together.
Path of Exile gem tags
There are dozens of gem tags in PoE. Among all of them, we can highlight the main:
- Attack (a skill that uses a weapon) and Spell (does not require weapons to be used) tags
- Totem (stationary summons that uses their own or linked skills) and Brand (spells that attach themselves to an enemy) tags
- Trap (trigger when an enemy walks over it) and Mine (same as traps, but you need to remotely detonate them) tags
- Minion (raise minions to fight for you) and Golem (minions that buff their summoner) tags
- Aura (grant area buff at cost of reservation player’s mana) tags
- Movement and Travel (allow a player to dash or blink to another location) tags
- Trigger (can’t be activated manually, and activates automatically when specific conditions are met) tags
- Vaal (the more powerful version of the skill, but need to be charged in order to use them) tags
In each city, you can buy skill gems for your class from the vendor after completing storyline quests. So don’t forget to check what new gems are available for purchase. Moreover, in The Library in act 3 you will find NPC Siosa, who sells almost all skill gems. In addition, in the cities in Acts 6 and 9, you will find Lilly Roth, she sells all gems that are in the game.
When you level up to the second level you get your first skill point. After that when you open a skill ‘tree’ you might have terrified. But everything is not that confusing. In Path of Exile is one skill tree for all classes. The main difference between them is where they start their way in this skill tree.
First of all, we’d like to highlight the types of passive skill points:
- Basic (the smallest and the commonest icons in the tree) – they give minor improvements to your champion, for instance, +10 to Intelligence
- Notable (bigger icons with a noticeable rim) – those are the main source of upgrade fro your character because of giving a significant increase to characteristics, e.g. “Adder’s Touch”
- Keystone (the biggest icons with thick rim) – those passive skills change your character by adding new abilities, e.g. “Mind Over Matter” – 30% of Damage is taken from Mana before Life
- Jewel sockets (“empty” icons) – there you can put specific jewels that give bonuses. Those bonuses you can read on a jewel. If these sockets remain empty, even if you learnt them, they won’t give you any bonuses.
Tips to choose optimal passive skill tree road
So we done with passive skills types, but how to choose them correctly? It is hard to give a certain answer to this question as each player choose passive skills the way he likes. Nevertheless, all players try to follow the main rules while building their passive skills tree road. Those are:
- Don’t ignore “defence” passives with life, energy shield or evasion. As you walk through the game monsters become stronger and survival will become more prior, than extra damage boost.
- Try to level up your character by taking skill for your build in clusters (passive skills in a specific area, usually it is in the round) – that will help you to maximise your bonuses.
- Outline a few clusters with appropriate skills for you. They should be close to you to minimize the number of basic passive skills you take to get where you need. As basic skills give the lowest increase.
- Use the search in the passive skill tree! You can find what you need identical to skill gems by keywords. For example, “Cold damage”, “Physical Attack Damage” or “Critical Strike Chance”.
- If on one point you realize that some of the skill points you took don’t work for you, don’t get upset! In the game, you get respec points as a reward for quests. Also, there are orbs that increase the number of respec points. So you can fix all the mistakes you did.
- On Path of Exile official website, you can find an online passive skill tree calculator. It will help you experiment with your character build.
We hope for the time being everything is clear for you. If not please, let us know in comments and we will make our Path of Exile Beginners Guide better with your help!
There are three main attributes in Path of Exile: Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. With every new level, these attributes don’t increase automatically! So you will need to find good equipment or to take nodes in the skill tree that increase these stats. Each attribute provides certain bonuses for every 10 points you obtain:
- Strength: 5 maximum life and 2% melee physical damage;
- Dexterity: 20 accuracy rating and 2% increased evasion rating;
- Intelligence: 5 maximum mana and 2% increased maximum energy shield.
It is very important to increase the attributes you need in time. Because your ability to use skill gems and equipment depends on them and your level.
Which stats you need depends on the build you choose. But we can highlight the main groups:
Attack (melee and ranged) builds
The damage you deal depends directly on your weapon. So except pure damage stats (physical or elemental, specific weapon type, etc), you should also pay attention to Accuracy (chance-to-hit your target with attack skills), Attack speed (how fast you can attack) and Critical strike (both chance and multiplier).
All characters have a base critical strike multiplier of 150%. But if you have a great critical chance it is very important to increase critical strike multiplier to make your critical hit deadlier.
Spell (casters, totems and traps) builds
Your damage will directly depend on spell modifiers, including modifiers that affect totems and traps. Damage stats can be Elemental (affect all types of elemental damage, such as Fire, Cold and Lightning), Physical (skill example “Ethereal Knives”) and Chaos damage types.
Cast speed (how quickly you can repeat your spells) and Resistance penetration (reduces the target’s resistance to the specific element). Critical strike chance and multiplier are also important.
Summoner (minions) builds: minions do not benefit from your stats
Here your damage depends only on the stats that specifically state “Minions”, for example, “minions deal x% increased damage”.
Depending on your damage source, you should pay a lot of attention to your defensive stats. Life (Health or Hit Points) stats is one of the most important in the game because the moment you have 0HP your exile dies.
Moreover, you should enhance such stats as Armour (physical damage mitigation), Energy shield (additional hp on top of life, but chaos damage bypasses it) and Evasion (chance to avoid attacks). Also, there is Dodge (chance to dodge attacks, it works separately with evasion) and Block (chance to prevent incoming damage) while using shield, staff or dual-wielded weapons.
There is no need to improve all of these statistics simultaneously. Choose one or several (for example, Armour and Block chance) is enough.
One of the most important defensive stats after Life if Elemental (and chaos) resistances. Each resistance capped at 75%. At the start or even in the middle of the game it would be hard to collect these numbers/ So it will be enough to maintain them on the level of 50%+. But it doesn’t apply to chaos resistance as it is very hard to find equipment with chaos resistances. In addition, there are a lot of monsters that deal chaos damage.
Every five acts a character get -30% to all resistances he’s got. That will occur at the end of 5th and 10th acts as follows. And that means that if you ignore defensive stats your character will get -60% resistance to any damage type. That will cause him to die all the time.
If you are having difficulty choosing a build or you want to make this part of the game easier we recommend you pick one of the ready ones. Visit Path of Exile forum, there you will see Classes / Builds category. In this category, you can ask any question related to your character or even choose an appropriate build for you. Many of these guides have a special section with tips for beginners.
There is also another very useful source PoE Builds. There you will find all builds from the official forum. But on PoE Builds they are conveniently sorted by various parameters, such as class, skill gems, etc. In addition, you might have heard such a thing as “PoB”, “POB” or “Path of Building”. It’s a special utility that you can download here from Github. It helps to plan your build, gems and equipment. Moreover, it has a calculator that can show you the real DPS of your character taking into account all factors.
So if you find in a guide link on the build in POB you can simply copy it and open in Path of Building. In the top left menu in POB click Import/Export Build and add the copied link. You will see the passive skill tree, recommended gems and items for this build in one place. In some time you will be able to experiment with your own builds with ease!
There is a great number of items in PoE and new players find it hard to sort them out. In Path of Exile beginners guide, we will give you a general understanding of them.
So equipment is divided into 4 groups: Weapons, Armour, Accessories (rings, amulets, belts and quivers) and Flasks. The last ones work as potions, they won’t disappear after you use them, but they have specific conditions. Every character has a separate belt with flasks.
In the inventory menu under all equipped items, you will see this belt. Note that you can use only the flasks that are equipped into that belt with 5 slots. Moreover, flasks have charges and when you use them one of the charges will spend. You can refill your flasks by killing monsters or by visiting any town.
In Path of Exile items (and monsters) are also grouped by rarity: (white), magic (blue), rare (yellow) and unique (dark orange).
- Normal items don’t have extra modifiers.
- Magic items are a bit better than normal type as they can have up to two modifiers.
- Rare items can have up to six modifiers.
- Unique items have their own unique sets of characteristics, which you cannot get on the items of magic and rare quality.
Most of the players use 2-3 pieces of unique equipment because usually rare equipment with 5-6 good modifiers is much better.
The moment you exit the town you will find dozens of different items. To make it easier to understand what items you should pay special attention to and take and which ones you can skip there is a loot filter in the game. It will help you filter items of high quality or equipment with linked sockets (as it is a must to have 3+ linked sockets to add more support gems for your active skill). You can manage it yourself or you can also download the ready one from Github, for example, NeverSink Item Filter. Or you can choose and download the most appropriate for you loot filter on FireBLAST.
Currency – Path of Exile Beginners Guide
Currency is a group of special items (mostly orbs and scrolls), which serve for crafting and enhancement items. In addition, players use the currency for trading between each other as there is no gold in PoE or any other equivalents of in-game money.
Walking through the game you will see a great number of different currency items, but as for a beginner, most common and important currency items you find are:
- Scroll of Wisdom – identifies items;
- Portal Scroll – opens a portal to town;
- Orb of Transmutation – upgrades a normal item to a magic item;
- Alteration orb – changes all the modifiers of a magic item randomly;
- Orb of Augmentation – adds a random modifier to a magic item (if it has only 1);
- Alchemy orb – upgrades a normal item to a rare item;
- Orb of Chance – upgrades a normal item to a random rarity – magic, rare, or even unique;
- Chromatic Orb – changes the colour of sockets randomly;
- Jeweller’s Orb – changes the number of sockets randomly;
- Orb of Fusing – changes the links between the current sockets randomly.
- Chaos Orbs & Exalted Orbs – usually if you get lucky to obtain them it is wiser to collect them and use for trade, rather than for crafting items.
In any town, you will have access to your personal Stash. There you can put everything you need, but don’t want to carry with you all the time. Stash is accessible by all your characters in the same league! That will allow you to exchange items between your characters.
Vendor recipe system
All items of any quality that you don’t need you can sell to any vendor in town. In exchange, you will get currency items. Usually, you can get Scroll Fragments. Five such fragments will give you one Scroll of Wisdom. Also, you can get other shards, such as Transmutation Shard or Alteration Shard. If you collect a specific number of those you will get a corresponding orb.
Besides, there is also a specific Vendor recipe system. When you sell some particular items or a combination of them you get particular currency and items for them. For instance, if you sell a vendor an item with three linked sockets all of the different colour (one red, one blue and one green) you will get a Chromatic Orb. And if you sell a 6 sockets item you will get 7 Jeweller’s Orbs at once! More such recipes you can learn here.
In Path of Exile craft takes a specific place. During all the game you will use it to make an item suitable for your gear better. Or you can even create a new item by crafting it from the Normal base item. At the beginning of the game, we recommend you use for craft currency items that we mentioned above or Essences.
In the second act, you will get access to Crafting Bench. It is a special device that helps you simplify crafting by minimizing the percentage of randomness. With the help of it, you can add a modifier to your equipment or modify sockets (quantity, links and colours). Some of the recipes are opened at once, but the most part of them you will have to open yourself. While playing you will see tables with a note: “Crafting recipe” click them to open the recipe. Some of them you will find during questlines others you will find in the end-game content. All recipes require currency items. So you should collect them before you start crafting.
There are a lot of crafting techniques, but they require an understanding of game mechanics and knowledge of which modifiers that implicit on an item. As this is Path of Exile beginners guide we didn’t want to write all the specifics of crafting. So if you want to learn more about crafting techniques and create end-game items, here is a list of resources that will help you with that:
- Basic fundamentals of crafting
- What’s an item level
- Modifiers mechanics overview
- List of available modifiers in Path of Exile
Trade is one of the key factors of the game (if you don’t play on SSF league, of course). There are no automatic ways of trade, such as auction, in Path of Exile. So all trades happen directly between players. There is also a Trade Channel, but usually, players trade via shop indexers on the official website or via previously popular Poe Trade website. The difference between these two is only in the interface as they show absolutely the same trading items, so pick the one you like the most.
In the search line, you pick the right parameter (for example, search by name of the item or characteristics) and you see the list items with a name of the player who sells it. Next to the item, you want to buy click “Whisper”(this will add to your clipboard message with the player’s name and full details about trade). After that open chat in the game and paste (Ctrl+V) this message there. This player will send you an invite to a group, accept it. Then right0click on his portrait and click “Visit Hideout”. There you can trade by right-clicking on the portrait and choosing “Trade”.
Other resources for trading
One more useful resource is poe.ninja. It helps to track the dynamics of the cost of various items that players trade with each other, such as currency, maps and unique items.
For fast checking the item or orb price we recommend you choose POE-TradeMacro. It is a special script that makes it possible to see the price of the item by hovering over it by pressing a specific combination of keys.
How to sell an item in PoE
It is a bit harder to sell an item or currency. To do that you will need to go to the official forum to the category “Trading” and choose a subcategory with the league you are interested in and the operation you a looking for. For example, to sell something on Standard League you need to choose the subcategory “Standart Trading – Selling”. There you need to create a new topic, with link to your in-game item and price. To learn the rules and guidelines on how to do that correctly you can read this.
Also, you might find it useful to learn how the shop indexers work. That will make you sure that other players see the items you are selling. In addition, there is an easier way to trade your in-game items with the help of premium stash tabs. We will tell you more about them in the next part of our Path of Exile beginners guide.
Path of Exile is a Free-to-play game, without pay-to-win elements. Real money in-game shop will let you customize the looks of your character, skills and Hideout.
However, there are a lot of useful extra elements that you can buy to make your game process more organized and simple. If you really like the game and plan to play it further, we recommend you buy Stash Tabs in the first place. Special tabs, such as Currency Stash Tab and Map Stash Tab will help you to sort your items. Besides, regular extra tabs you should buy or upgrade one of your Tabs to Premium. This will help you put items on trade in this tab. You just need to right-click on this tab and make it Public. After that right-click on the item, you put there for trade and set the price. It makes all the trading process much better and handy.
If you still have any questions after reading Expert Game Reviews Path of Exile Beginners Guide don’t hesitate to ask them! And don’t forget to check the following links for more information: official PoE forum, Path of Exile Wiki, and also in the official Reddit group.
We’ve put a lot of effort into this guide, so we’d appreciate if you share it with your friends on Social media pages. Thanks for reading and stay sane, Exile!
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- January 29, 2020