Noperative's Beginner Guide to Path of Exile
PoE (Path of Exile) is such a deep game that after more than a year of play I can confidently say I have yet to know all about it. I only hope that I know enough to be able to show you the ropes. As an MMO-ARPG, PoE focuses heavily on the theoretical and technical aspects of gameplay, creating a rich metagame and the need for such a long beginner's guide. So you'll be in for the long-haul with this game, so drink deep or taste not the fruits of your efforts. In other words, you better read this guide and play for a long time cause it takes awhile for the game to become enjoyable.
(Feel free to contact me by tuning into my stream at twitch.tv/noperative or dropping a PM or whispering me in-game with my IGN "Noperative". I can offer a lot of specific help that I can't do inside a general beginner guide.)
We can start with our basic meta-game customization since key inputs and information display are extremely crucial. A few customizations will greatly improve your quality of life in PoE:
Be familiar with the locations of these keys:
In addition, it is recommended that you examine your various menus when you get into game (Getting used to your Character, Inventory and Map screens will be very useful).
Right off the bat you should notice that the login client will allow you to select your ‘Gateway’. This is in no-way related to any kind of server-based isolation that some other MMOs have, you can freely connect with people across the globe although your ping will be related to your gateway. If you are using the Steam Client, you should already be given authentication while you will need to log-in normally using the regular Client.
After you log-in, you will be brought to your character selection screen. When selecting ‘Create Character’ you will be brought to a selection of different character types and also a selection of ‘League’ at the bottom left.
Your league selection is important because the ‘Gateway’ does not separate characters in PoE, only the 'League' you choose will separate players.
PoE starts with 2 base leagues: Standard (colloquially known as Softcore or SC) and Hardcore (HC). There is no difference in base-mechanics or difficulty between these two leagues. The main difference that separates them is the fact that dying in Hardcore League will transfer your character to Standard League. You also possess a ‘Stash’ in the game that basically acts as your bank and is separated by league. If you die in Hardcore, your character and equipped gear will be transferred to Standard, however future Hardcore characters will retain access to the Hardcore stash, which will not get transferred.
Besides the base leagues, PoE introduces branch leagues every 4 months. These are referred to as the Challenge Leagues. Challenge Leagues are on separate servers and ladders, presenting a fresh economy and ladder for players to play and enjoy .
Each Challenge League is based off the existing permanent leagues, there will be a Standard Challenge and a Hardcore Challenge league during each cycle. When Challenge leagues end, they will merge with their corresponding league. If you had a character on a Challenge League, he will be transferred to the permanent leagues. Your stash tabs will appear as ‘Remove-Only’ tabs in your permanent stash. Nothing will be lost when Challenge Leagues end, so there is no risk in joining the Challenge Leagues. If you die in the Hardcore Challenge League, you will still be sent to the Permanent Standard League.
Local Chat: Applies to all characters currently in your instance
#Global Chat: Applies to all players on the server currently in the channel (type ‘/global #’ to join a channel of that number).
$Trade Chat: Applies to all players on the server currently in the trade channel (type /trade # to join a channel of that number)
%Party Chat: Applies to all players currently in your party
@Whisper Chat: Applies to the account with that character if online, regardless of server (type @name to whisper a character)
&Guild Chat: Applies to all players in your guild, regardless of server
^Twitch Chat: Applies to twitch chat if you are streaming
For more information about the chat console, click here.
Affixes determine the strength of an item. Whether you get bonus damage on your weapon, extra cold resistance on your helmet or movement speed on your boots is determined by what affixes are randomly rolled on your specific gear. Getting well-rolled affixes in good combinations is key to succeeding in PoE.
Affixes are separated in 2 ways:
More detailed information on the affixes can be found here
Equipment is determined through the base item and the number of enchants/mods (known as affixes from here on out) on it.
There are 4 rarity tiers for items:
In addition, quest items are green and only serve to complete quest requirements.
As you can probably figure out, the more valuable in-game equipment will be either Rare or Unique rarity. It is best to pick these ones up whenever possible, though low level items will end up being sold to the NPC vendor usually.
A hidden mechanic in PoE that affects the viability of any equipment that you can find, limiting the possible mods and sockets/links available to you. It is not easy or intuitive to discover, but is critical in understanding the item system of PoE.
To check item level, type /itemlevel while you are holding an item on your cursor. If you are in a trade window, holding ALT will reveal itemlevel.
Item level is determined by the level of the area that the item is dropped. Magic monsters will drop +1 to this level, while Rare and Unique monsters will drop +2 to this level.
Item level is independent of the actual shown level of an item.
In general, higher tiers of item mods will not appear unless the item has a high enough item level. In addition, you cannot add more sockets to gear unless there is enough. This means that lower Item Level gear will have much lower potential than high Item Level gear.
To take maximum advantage of item level, you should be farming at the highest level areas possible for the best possible affixes to appear on gear.
More information on itemlevel can be found here.
Sockets and Links
With the exception of accessories, all equipment found in PoE will possess sockets that can hold skill gems. Skill gems will not be usable unless they are socketed into equipped gear. You are also able to link sockets together so that the skill gems in linked sockets are able to interact with each other. More on this later.
Possible socket number is determined by item level, links are only limited by the sockets and are not directly affected by item level.
Sockets are also colored to correspond with particular stat polarities. Red sockets are Strength- and Armor-related, Green sockets are Dexterity- and Evasion-related and Blue sockets are Intelligence and Energy Shield-related. Keep in mind that this means an item with a high Strength requirement will likely roll many Red sockets compared to Green and Blue, for example.
Using a type of currency, it is possible to add up to 20% quality to gear. Quality on Weapons will increase the final physical damage values (it will not affect elemental or spell damage on wands even if that seems intuitive) while Quality on Armour will increase the final armour/evasion/energy-shield values. In addition, Quality can be consumed by an Orb of Fusing or Jeweller's Orb to improve socketing and linking results.
1) Life on Gear
2) Resists on Gear
3) Enough links to use skills
4) Enough damage to kill monsters
5) High Armour/Evasion/Energy-Shield Values
Monster damage is often predictable and manageable with high resistance values and a high life pool. High burst damage usually comes in 2 forms: elemental damage and heavy physical crits. The former is largely solved by maintaining capped (75%) resistance values and both problems can be handled with a large life pool. If you can get both high resistances and high life, you will be golden.
In addition, your skills and flasks are balanced against the mob levels. You should be constantly making sure your skills and flasks are up to date, they give the most value when they are high level.
Your skill tree doesn't confer any specific skills and is actually a passive tree. Your actual skills come from the skill gems that you can socket into your gear.
Skill Gems come with their own colors and stat/level requirements as well so you will need to keep that in mind when using skill gems. Levelling a skill gem will make your skill stronger, but will increase the stat/level requirement and sometimes the mana cost as well. It is important to make sure you can keep up with these requirements so that you can get your skills stronger and stronger.
There are two types of Gems, Skills Gems which confer active skills and Support Gems which augment linked Skills. Support Gems also possess their own colors, costs and requirements so they further complicate the skill system.
It is important to note that you cannot support any skill gem with any support gem, very strict requirements must be met. Generally, you want to make sure that the keywords listed on your gems match up properly, or else the support gems will not be able to support the skill gems.
There's is a lot of flexibility in linking gems. Sometimes you will have a main attacking skill that is heavily linked while other skills will act as supporting skills and only share one or two links between them.
Example of how Skills are Linked
Just like on equipment, you are able to add quality to skill gems. Unlike equipment, quality bonuses are not consistent and will often depend on the gem itself. You would need to look up each gem specifically to learn what quality will improve on each skill gem.
Currency in this game is not handled with gold or anything of that type, but a materials bartering system. Monsters will drop gold/tan-coloured items typically called currency items. Many possess an innate currency value but they also have a use for item crafting. For example the Regal Orb can be worth X amount of Chaos Orbs but also can be used to upgrade an item from magic rarity to rare rarity. Therefore each currency will have different economic values often related to their usage and rarity.
I won't give ratios between the currencies but it is helpful to sort currencies by value and liquidity. A lower-tier of currency may be worth more than a higher tier but you should keep in mind liquidity is an important factor when trading with other players.
The rarest and highest value currency item in the game. It eclipses the networth of most of the playerbase.
Very high value in the end-game. Used extremely often for trading high- and mid-end items. Recommended to save and use for trading.
Moderate value in large amounts. Used often for low- and mid-end items. It is recommended to save them in large amounts to trade in bulk. Using small amounts for personal crafting is not bad.
Currency that is rarely used for trading, usually people will try to buy these by the hundreds rather than accepting one or two due to how easy they are to get. A lot of people will just keep a few stacks of these currencies to use on their own items rather than going through the effort of selling them.
Currency has the dual purpose of being used directly in the crafting system. There is no NPC required Your currency is used directly on the item in the crafting process. It is highly recommended that you do not attempt crafting. It is a very difficult and RNG-based process.
Crafting with low-level currencies is fairly safe, provided that you do not need to use large amounts of currencies to achieve your results. Practices often include:
Loot is probably the biggest calling card for PoE. It is exhilarating to find and incredibly valuable item at the end of a long day and you feel a rush to play more, find more, loot more. However at the same time it is confusing and intricate, leaving many confused of what to pick up and what to keep.
By selling specific items to an NPC, you are able to receive specific currencies and items. This is known as a vendor recipe and is the main way to acquire currency by selling gear to an NPC.
A list of vendor recipes can be found here.
List of Popular and Efficient Vendor Recipes
General Looting Tips
Path of Exile follows a typical ARPG style story progression, if you are familiar with the likes of the Diablo and Torchlight series. You progress through zones split into Acts (Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 ... so on) and after finishing the story you will move up in difficulty (Normal, Cruel Merciless) and repeat the story a few more times.
Note: There is 1 town per act. Players will often refer to the towns in shorthand like "a1n" (Act 1 Normal Difficulty's Town) for example.
Aside from the main storyline, you will see a variety of side areas that include optional quests that will reward you with extra gear/gems and respec points.
Quests and Quest Rewards
You can retroactively complete quests in PoE if you have already met the requirements prior to talking to a quest NPC. For example, if you have slain a quest monster before you were requested to kill it, the NPC will give you the quest reward anyway. Therefore you are safe progressing at whatever speed you wish since you can return to town and complete your quests at any time you want.
Quests do not reward EXP.
Quest Rewards can range from extra skill gems, equipment, skill points and a few miscellaneous items. For more information, click here.
PoE can be broken up into 2 parts: the Main Storyline required for plot progression and the side areas that can be completed for bonus rewards and achievements.
The main storyline offers enough EXP to progress without any additional sidezones. Completing sidezones will offer extra EXP and benefits that may prove useful, but you do not need to do any of them.
The sufficient EXP for progression can be gained from killing large packs and elite mobs only. It is not recommended to kill small packs that are more trouble than they are worth or full-clear zones.
Elite packs consist of:
Elite monsters give extra items, exp and are considerably stronger than regular mobs. It is always recommended to kill them to keep up in drops and exp but they may warrant skipping if they are too strong.
Later on the the game it is required to repeat zones in order to keep up. Resetting zones to farm them can be done by holding CTRL while entering the zone and creating a new instance.
Things to watch out for:
Things to watch out for:
Things to watch out for:
Things to watch out for:
Handy Levelling Vendor Recipes
While the results do not shine end-game, there are a couple of very convenient recipes that can produce good magic items for levelling.
A vendor recipe can be activated by selling the items to any NPC vendor, instead of getting regular items you will instead get whatever the recipe creates.
Trading, despite being a crucial part of the game, is a pretty big pain in the ass. There are a few important limitations for trading that you need to know about:
So early on you will not be trading at all (not that you should need to at such a low level) and later on you will need to do a lot of bush-beating to actually get a trade going. You will often need to whisper a potential buyer or seller and haggle prices before inviting them to a party and joining their hideout. Only then can you actually conduct the trade.
Most of the time people will opt to buy skill gems early on for an Orb of Alchemy or a few Orbs of Alteration. This should be the extent of your early-game trading. Other than that, most items are not worth selling nor buying below the 60s, so just vendor items until then.
Once you reach higher levels, you will begin to utilize the forums (where you are reading this) as a shopping medium for both buying and selling.
Poe.trade: the Current Forum Trading Site
How to Trade via Poe.trade
How to Set-Up a Shop via Procurement
Partying and Instances
Instances in PoE last anywhere from 8-15 minutes. This is primarily to conserve processing power on the servers.
It has been said before, but if you hold CTRL while clicking on an entrance, you will open an instance selection screen where you can join existing instances or create a new instance. The ctrl+click is also useful for partying and trading, as it will show you existing zones of that area that contain your party members.
By checking the town NPC or pressing S to bring up your social tab, you should be able to see a party bulletin with public parties available. Usually the main purpose is just to kill a particular boss or dungeon in the safety of a group so if you want to rush acts it will be a good idea to hop between parties to progress.
If you have any friends, you can invite them to your party through your friend list (also accessed through the social tab 'S').
The Guild system is essentially a permanent party system. You can gather friends that you party with together often to speed up the inviting process as well as share a chat channel that spans across the servers. In addition, you can use microtransactions to add a Guild Stash, a server-wide stash that is shared by all guild members.
Last edited by Noperative on Jul 13, 2015, 2:45:52 PM
on Oct 24, 2013, 11:28:20 PM
It is going to be impossible to teach you the intricacies of character building within the scope of a beginner guide, unfortunately. For now you should just be satisfied with copying another player's build from the forums. I am also trying to make progress into a second guide about character builds, however this will be very long and complicated and much more technical than this guide.
If you look through the various class sections on the forums, there are a lot of up-to-date guides for the current patch version. The builds listed here follow some loose criteria:
Low Scaling with High Performance Builds:
(For players that are looking to farm with low cost with the intention to eventually make a different, stronger build)
Dual Flame Totems A very manly build where the main playstyle is to cower behind two bundles of wood that somehow shoot huge gouts of fire without burning themselves. The damage is very high without needing any specific items or investment, but the totems do not know how to get any stronger because they have no brains.
Facebreaker Melee While it requires a unique glove known as Facebreakers, this particular item is very low level and is often given away for free due to being a common drop. It should be very easy to acquire one, and it performs well from the get-go. Because you have no weapon, you can't scale it, see.
Summoner (another guide link) if you want to be the boss of unfeeling data algorithms, this may be the build for you. Your feeble body will not matter as much as the undead wall of meat covering your skinny ass. The minions are easy enough to scale but there are limited sources that can scale them so you will reach a softcap early on.
Summon Raging Spirits it is like a company with a high turnover rate! A little more active than a vanilla summoner. Perhaps it will add more meaning and excitement to your life.
Poison Arrow completely fart your enemies to death with tenuously politically safe gas clouds. Revel in the fact that you can make even rock golems and skeletons choke to death. That's just how much you stink.
Strong Scaling Builds:
(For players who are looking for a decent starting build that is responsive to continued investment)
2H Cyclone Ice Crash Blender you enemy into meat soup or pulverize them into meant chunks. This build is perfect for chefs. Kind of straddles the line between the two categories of builds here, it takes a decent weapon to make it work but reaches high damage quickly and consistent upgrades can boost the damage (there is a bit of drop-off because it doesn't scale very quickly once you reach a certain point).
Tornado Shot You shoot tornadoes.. that shoot arrows. Anyway this is a fairly strong ranged build that deals very high damage with a good bow. Very receptive to gear investment as the damage can become incredibly high very fast as long as you keep upgrading.
NOTE STILL LOOKING FOR NEW BUILDS TO INCLUDE, MAKE SOME BUILDS PLEASE
Alternatively, shooting me a PM or dropping by my stream will get you some 1on1 help for this type of thing. I can refine a build for you or make one up on the spot.
ANARCHY and ONSLAUGHT
June 8, 2013 - October 8, 2013
Anarchy: Rogue Exile Encounter Added. These exiles are unique-level mobs that randomly appear in the field. They are stronger than regular mobs but drop a full set of gear and extra items on death.
Onslaught: Onslaught Buff added. Onslaught gives 20% move/cast/attack speed. During the league, monsters gain onslaught.
DOMINATION and NEMESIS
Oct 23, 2013 - Feb 23, 2014
Domination: Shrines added to the game. These shrines appear with a large pack of monsters and will either confer buffs to their followers or attack the player. If you manage to claim the shrine, you will gain their effects.
Nemesis: Nemesis mods added to the game. Rare monsters will now sometimes spawn with added Nemesis modifiers that confer special characteristics such berserking, cursing, lightning attacks, exploding on death, etc.
Scion: This new character is a tri-attribute character situated in the middle of the skill tree. Unlocked upon clearing Normal Difficulty in any league.
AMBUSH and INVASION
March 5, 2014 - July 5, 2014
Sacrifice of the Vaal: A new expansion to the game. The changes to the game would include new Corrupted Areas that appear in the world and contain strong Bosses protecting treasures, Vaal Skill Gems that would require the souls of slain enemies to release powerful effects and Vaal Orbs that could corrupt items for powerful effects or ruin them for eternity. In addition, a challenging boss encounter, Queen Atziri, was created to challenge high-level players to see who could take her down.
Ambush: Strongboxes appear all over the world. These boxes summon packs of monsters when activated and can be modified by currency items. Upon clearing the summoned monsters, the box releases it’s rewards to the player.
Invasion: Invasion Bosses appear all over the world, bringing in new mob types to areas as well. While the bosses no longer spawn, the invading mob types still appear.
RAMPAGE and BEYOND
Aug 20, 2014 - Nov 20, 2014
Forsaken Masters: A new expansion to the game that adds Masters encounters. These masters appear throughout the world and offer you missions to increase your reputation with them. High levels of reputation allow you to create your own personalized hideout, craft affixes onto items using a master’s crafting bench or get randomized items from a master’s personal shop.
Rampage: Killing monsters within a certain time allows you to ramp up kill streaks, which confer special bonuses. Was not added to the main game.
Beyond: Killing monsters spawns portals to an otherworldly dimension, if enough of these portals gather they will spawn powerful Beyond monsters. Added to the main game as a map modifier.
TORMENT and BLOODLINES
Dec 12, 2014 - Mar 12, 2015
Torment: Tormented Spirits appear in the world. These spirits will run from the player while strengthening any monsters they come across. They will possess Rare Monsters and Bosses for added effect. The ghosts will drop items on death and increase the drop rate of any monsters it buffs or possesses.
Bloodlines: Bloodline mods can appear on magic monsters, increasing their damage or survivability or threatening the player summoned dangers when they are killed.
WARBANDS and TEMPEST
July 10, 2015 -
Awakening: Act 4 has been released with a large amount of new content. New bosses, new items, new skills and a rebalanced passive tree utilizing the Jewels (a craftable item that can be slotted into your passive tree). A large amount of the core game has been completely reworked as well.
Warbands: Bands of exiles will gather in factions and will fight against the player. The movements and types of the warbands will dictate which location they are currently in and what types of items they can drop.
Tempests: Magical Tempests appear in certain areas. Areas affected by a tempest will have storms spawning randomly throughout the area that confer effects to anything inside the area.
Please refer here for another thread with more FAQ available
It acts as a ladder reset for players since for these types of games the economy and ladder become fairly stale after too long.
In addition I feel like it gives GGG excuses to do some balancing changes in the child leagues that would not work as well in a parent league since there will be old items and builds from before the balancing that muddles the results.
Summoner is your best bet.
The lower currencies are more common than the higher tiers. Usually if you identify and sell every yellow (rare) item you don't use to the NPC vendors and pick up every currency drop you come by, you will have enough currency by the end of the story (merciless act 3, around level 65) to buy cheap gear for mapping (something like endgame dungeons).
Generally before level 50 none of the rare (yellow) drops are worth selling due to the fact that the item rolls are higher at higher levels, so it is probably safe to vendor anything you are not using. Most uniques are also very common and low level so they are usually safe to vendor too.
For something you feel could be good, you can search for similar items on http://poe.trade/ with "buyout only" checked to get an estimate on how much your item is actually worth. It is easy to reverse search uniques this way specifically.
There is no difference between a dropped item and crafted item. This means that if you craft an item with Orbs of Alchemy and Chaos Orbs, it is the same as finding a rare item from a mob. As such, Magic Find (MF) is a very popular farming mechanic in PoE. Stacking large amounts of Increased Item Rarity and Increased Item Quantity will improve your drops and therefore the chances of finding good gear. These stats can usually be found as item mods on gear and on a few uniques.
Using Chance Orbs on items that have a unique version will give you a small chance to turn them into uniques. This is very rare but chancing is still the most reliable way to find some of the endgame uniques that only drop in maps.
You can do cheap crafting by using Orbs of Alchemy on a single base item, then vendoring 5 rares into 1 rerolled rare using vendor recipes. The result is the same as turning 5 Alchemy Orbs into 6 Chaos Orbs in terms of how many rolls you got on a rare item. Of course this assumes itemlevel is constant and you can guarantee a supply of whatever base item you are looking to craft.
Turn Orbs of Alteration into Orbs of Fusing at the vendor (purchase Jewellers Orbs, then purchase Orbs of Fusing). Fusings are a staple trading medium for the average joe.
Use the Permanent Allocation option when partying, it will save a lot of headache worrying about loot.
Seething is a very valuable mod on flasks, giving you the chance to recover a lot of HP instantly in a bad situation. Usually people opt to have at least 1 seething flask in their endgame setups for this reason.
Holding CTRL while in trade windows/stash window will allow you to quickly transfer items between your inventory and the window. Useful for quickly buying bulk orbs or selling a bunch of things quickly.
Holding SHIFT while applying a currency orb allows you to constantly reapply it, which is useful if you are trying to jeweller or fuse or quality or chromatic an item.
CTRL+Enter will set-up a reply to the last person that whispered you.
2/27/2014 - New version of guide is being worked on
3/1/2014 - Finishing touches on guide v2
7/12/2014 - guide version 3.0 being shipped
3/28/2015 - preparing of new section - Encounters/Changelog
4/22/2015 - fixing up a few things pointed out, adding to FAQ
4/24/2015 - added list of beginner builds to the builds section
7/13/2015 - 2.0 Awakening updates
Last edited by Noperative on Jul 13, 2015, 3:35:45 PM
on Oct 24, 2013, 11:32:28 PM
IGN = Dearest (Warbands)
on Oct 24, 2013, 11:34:42 PM
Looks really good, I love it. Regards the guide on how to build a character though, already got one posted, since quite a while ago. I feel a bit left by the wayside =(
One point about the flasks, they aren't really a good gauge after merc, hp wise. They're never a good gauge if you're going for ES. And mana flasks are just not a good gauge ever. Like I have characters with 300 total mana doing maps.
How to make a build: http://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/510084
Current guides: N/A
on Oct 25, 2013, 3:13:43 AM
I wished i would have had it when i started the game - i wouldn't have died as often as i died.
on Oct 25, 2013, 11:13:56 PM
I am a veteran player, but this is the best beginner guide I have ever seen. Thanks for the great work!
on Oct 25, 2013, 11:40:30 PM
Hey thanks for the tip I'll try to fix that up.
Also I checked out your build guide but I've got much more planned so I won't satisfied until there's a guide at least a few pages long. Heck, I feel there's still more to explain on my own guide!
on Oct 26, 2013, 1:43:33 AM
You put in what you need to know and left out what you don't, something a lot of guides fail at. Well done.
on Oct 26, 2013, 1:20:21 PM
Once this develops further, it should be stickied
Domination IGN: The_Bloody_Fist and Aurora_Temptus
http://poexplorer.com/ - Forum Item Search
http://exilestats.com/ex/ - Approximate currency exchange rate.
http://www.poebuilder.com/ - Advanced skill tree builder.
on Oct 26, 2013, 2:02:37 PM
Can you expand on what items should be picked up / skipped? I hear a lot of differing opinions when it comes to rares, especially.
on Oct 26, 2013, 3:45:43 PM