It’s highly recommended that those reading this guide check out both the New Players Guide to POE, and both the War for the Atlas Guide and the 3.0 Mapping Guide, in order to understand the basics that this new guide will build on. Need help picking a build? Check out our Blight league starter builds.
The Path of Exile 3.8 patch and Legion League goes live later this week. And with it, comes a full rework of the Atlas of Worlds mapping system once again. Map tiers are shuffling, and some mechanical changes to bosses may be in store. Check the Blight patch notes for more details on any of that. For now though, check out our Blight league guide for more details about the league itself.
Also, be sure to check out our other Path of Exile 3.8 Guides:
But let’s get into what you’re really here for, a guide to Mapping in Path of Exile 3.8.
General Mapping Advice
This section will outline some good practices and general tips to observe while mapping to make your experience easier and more efficient.
Basics of Maps
The Atlas of Worlds is the first step on the post-story content in Path of Exile. In addition to all of the other League mechanics, POE introduces an infinitely repeatable end-game via the mapping system.
There are generally 1 to 15 tiers of maps in Path of Exile. There is also technically a 16th tier which involves dealing with the true endgame of POE, the likes of Uber Elder. Each individual map in a Tier has their own associated level, layouts, bosses and other elements. Each map uses it’s base level to compute it’s item level (relative power of drops) as well as the difficulty of enemies, so higher tier maps are meant for higher-level characters.
The Map Tiers each have their own colloquial designation for what Tier they belong to, somewhat used as an indicator of difficulty. This is different from Rarity, which we will look at below.
- Tier 1 to Tier 5 – “White”
- Tier 6 to Tier 10 – “Yellow”
- Tier 11 to Tier 16 – “Red”
Maps also have Rarity, just like other gear:
- White / Common
- Blue / Magic
- Yellow / Rare
- Orange / Unique
Skilled players can also modify the properties of a Map by altering it with currency. The first few tiers of maps should be hit with a Transmute to make them Magic. Later maps should be hit with Alchemy and Chaos spam to get the modifiers you want. Here’s our guide for veteran POE players on crafting maps to farm T16s.
You’ll start seeing map drops in the later areas of the story in Acts 8-10. Once you complete the story and talk to Zana, this will unlock the Atlas of Worlds, your means of tracking your map progression. The Atlas is an expansive and extremely useful gameplay mechanic, so get used to it. GGG makes a habit of shuffling map Tiers around and sometimes introducing new maps and layouts with each expansion, so get used to relearning the layout a bit with each league too. Zana will also hand you a Map device, which is the thing you place your maps into to run them.
As you complete a map, which means killing the boss, it will then be marked as completed on the Atlas and added to the drop pool. Be sure to check the Atlas by hovering over the map to see the needed requirements to complete it. One map completion will increase the percentage of Map Completion bonuses up by 1%. This is important because the higher your Completion Bonus, the higher the chance that the next map dropped will be of a higher Tier than the one you’re in. This is vital for farming map drops.
What maps drop in maps are based on the combination of the current Tier of the map you’re running and what related maps are completed on your Atlas. Map drops have a few different influences on how the next drop is generated. The completion percentage detailed above increases the chances of a map drop being generated one tier above the current map being played. So having above 100% completion guarantees one tier higher of a map drop. Magic and Rare monsters can drop +1, and Bosses up to +2 tiers, so a Tier 9 boss can drop a Tier 11.
Uncompleted Maps that are connected to the current Map on the Atlas have a higher chance of dropping, up to 4 times higher. So the Atlas is helping you get map completion. Once a Map is completed for the first time, it can then drop from any Map, provided it obeys the rules we outlined above.
There are a couple of ways to engineer your map drops and vendor recipes to guarantee that you get certain maps.
If a player has three maps of the same type, these maps may be sold to a vendor to receive one map in exchange. This newly acquired map is one tier higher than the traded map, and follows the chart below. If a map drop is connected to multiple higher tier maps, the outcome will be random among those choices. This vendor process works identically for shaped maps, meaning three shaped maps upgrade into one shaped map that follows the same map progression path as its unshaped counterpart.
Here’s a helpful graphic showing the upgrade path of Maps in Blight:
The drops of maps are determined by what other Tiers you have completed, as well as what mobs you kill. Magic mobs can drop maps one tier higher than the current map Tier you’re in. Rare and Unique mobs have a +2 bonus to Tier drops. Using this, you can game the system by only completing certain maps on the Atlas. Say you want to farm a certain T3 map, do this:
- Complete maps on the Atlas to the point that you have above 110% Completion Bonus
- Delete all other Tier 3 maps on the Atlas, marking them uncompleted. Do this by trading one Scouring Orb and three Apprentice Cartographer’s Sextants to a vendor to receive an Apprentice Seal. Apply this to a completed map to mark it as uncompleted. Use higher Tier Sextants (Yellow for Yellow Maps. Red for Red Maps)
- Repeat the deletion with all Tier 4 maps, except for the one directly connected to your Tier 3 of choice.
- Shape the Tier 4 map(s) connected to your desired map, making sure to also uncomplete any maps you had to unshape to do this.
The goal here is to have 100%+ Atlas completion and only your desired map in the pool of available drops. This setup allows you to essentially force the game to drop your desired map by running the desired map over and over.
These special markers on the Atlas represent the presence of the new Masters introduced in the 3.5 patch. Seeing these icons on a map on the Atlas will guarantee the presence of the associated Master on that map for one run. Atlas Objectives also represent the special Elder and Shaper influences.
What Maps to Shape
What is Shaping
Shaping involves using a special item called a Shaper Orb on maps in your Atlas. you unlock these Orbs after completing a certain tier of maps. I won’t spoil the story, but for the sake of clarity, prepare to face much tougher versions of Maps and their Bosses when they are influenced by the Shaper, or later, the Elder.
Influence is a mechanic introduced in the War for The Atlas expansion which introduced a new boss, The Elder.
These two big boys, Elder and Shaper, are the true endgame challenge in POE. Many builds are geared towards speedrunning these bosses, but getting to them isn’t easy. The process of spawning the bosses involves letting them “take over” maps with their associated influence. The next phase involves spawning and defeating the powerful Guardians. Once a certain number of maps have been completed, the Shaper/Elder Guardians will spawn on the Atlas. Shaper’s Guardians are always in the same place behind T15 maps, whereas Elder Guardians are random.
Many players will target spawn these influence to anchor Elder and Shaper influence in a strategy called “ping-ponging” influence. This allows for farming of the powerful Elder/Shaper rares with increased velocity. Check out this great video guide for more details on this. The reason this is important is because you have to complete influence setup to properly apply most Shaping strategies.
There are advanced strategies for farming powerful items from these influenced maps, go over to another of our mapping guides for that, but for this guide we will stick to just identifying the influence.
Let’s talk about a very important part of the actual shaping, choosing what maps to Shape, and how to setup the Shaping process.
Clearing regular Maps up to Tier 5 will unlock your first Shaper Orb, and the rest will unlock once you complete more Tiers. It’s at this point that you’ll need to make a choice about which map to apply the Shaper Orb to in your Atlas. Shaping a map upgrades it’s associated Tier by 5. So a Tier 1 turns into a Shaped variant of that map that’s equivalent to a Tier 6. This means that the Shaped variant will now replace the original version of that Tier in your drop pool.
Shaping Maps in POE is usually a cost analysis of finding the most efficient maps to farm as quickly as possible. Many POE players will consider their farming goals when talking about what maps to shape. For example, I targeted farmed Ancient City maps in Legion for the Arrogance of the Vaal Divination Cards. For most though, the best maps to Shape are ones in each tier that are the simplest to run for your build. You could also Shape maps that you like running in order to increase the challenge in that map. It’s all entirely up to you. I would recommend determining based on how certain map layouts work best for your build as the best general guideline. This means going for a linear and easy-to-run layout.
- Tier 1 – Arcade, Jungle Valley (Linear)
- Tier 2 – Alleyways, Mesa (Linear)
- Tier 3 – Strand, Desert (Linear), Fungal Hollow (Farming)
- Tier 4 – Fields, Arid Lake (Linear) Burial Chambers (Farming)
- Tier 5 – Beach, Glacier (Linear), Peninsula, Relic Chambers (Farming)
- Tier 6 – Racecourse, Estuary (Linear), Ghetto, Vault (Farming)
- Tier 7 – Bazaar, Ancient City (Linear), Underground Sea (Farming)
- Tier 8 – Graveyard, Shore (Linear), Temple (Farming)
- Tier 9 – Waterways (Linear), Courtyard (Farming)
- Tier 10 – Iceberg, Bog (Linear) Academy (Farming)