Path of Exile 3.0 – Beginner Guide [Updated for 3.1]
Path of Exile 3.0 or Fall of Oriath launches on August 4, and there are going to be tons of new players that will be lost when they first boot Path of Exile. Don’t worry, we’re here with a helpful beginners guide and some general tips to help you get adjusted to life in Wraeclast.
Note: You’ll see links throughout this guide that will either take you to the POE Wiki or the Forums, click through them to read more about the mechanics and depth in POE. It’s also worth reading the 3.0 Patch Notes if you have time. The newest additions will be at the bottom of the post. We’ve just added some new tips for 3.1, War for the Atlas.
When you start Path of Exile for the first time, you’ll be greeted with your character select screen. Once you click Create Character, you’ll be asked to choose between the three Leagues active at that time. The League that will always be there is Standard, this is default Path of Exile. Standard will feature some mechanics from past Leagues, usually the most popular ones, but will generally be a vanilla experience for new and old players.
Leagues in Path of Exile are the separate servers that players use to experience different mechanics. The base experience in POE is Standard League.
The second set of Leagues are 3-month long Challenge Leagues. These will introduce new mechanics to the game every three months, and are reset at the outset of every new league. This means all of the characters and their items from previous Leagues are merged with your Standard account. It also restarts the economy for each League, so many players opt for the Challenge Leagues for trading and earning currency.
The first Challenge League in 3.0 will be the Harbinger League.
The other major components of League selection are Hardcore versus Softcore, and Solo Self Found versus Normal. Hardcore is a League that you only get one chance to play in per character. When a Hardcore character dies, they’re moved to the Standard Softcore server. Solo Self Found removes the ability to trade with other players. Trading is vital to gearing for many Path of Exile players, so this is only recommended for experienced players.
As for class selection, it’s truly up to you. Any class can theoretically take on any build. It’s just that what class you pick determines your start point on the skill tree. As such, all the classes are balanced around certain archetypes. New players would do well to stick with the simpler classes like Marauder or Witch on their first run.
One thing to be aware of here is the Scion. This is a special class that’s unlocked once you free her in Act 3. So you won’t see this class when you first start the game. The Scion is the “Jack of all Trades” of POE, it’s unique starting point and Ascendancy class make it a great all-around character for some builds.
The most important component of playing POE is the skill tree. A build lives or dies by the choices in the passive skill tree. The bonuses you take will depend on the class and overall build you’re going for. But don’t feel intimidated by the thousands of skills on the tree. There’s a thriving community in POE that publishes thorough build guides for newer players. You can check the POE Classes/Builds Forums or a build tool online for some ideas.
As for what build to pick, newer players will want to pick a build that meshes extremely well with both their class choice and the current meta. What’s the meta you ask? Well, “Meta” is the term most often thrown around when discussing the current balance of the classes and items in the game. For example, Energy Shield builds used to rule the roost until GGG handed them a nerf. They’re still a strong choice, but they require a bit better gear to be viable in end-game mapping.
Generally speaking, builds for new players will be fairly simple in terms of mechanics. Nothing kills new players faster than having to juggle very specific gear setups with flask management and timing abilities and buffs to the second. And yes, builds can be that specific in POE.
Don’t worry too much about not having the best gear or enough currency as a new player. Pretty soon you’ll know what the management struggle feels like. You should focus on finding builds that you think are fun to play as a new player.
Builds themselves focus on three main areas. Offensive buffs, Defensive Buffs and Core Skills. Offensive Buffs will need to work in tandem with the core skill of your build. For example, a Totem Warchief build will likely want Totems that deal a type of Elemental Damage and bonuses from the skill tree that boost Elemental Damage, all while reducing the amount of damage the player takes by buffing Totem life.
Remember to read item stats and skill descriptions of Gems and the Skill Tree thoroughly. Some skills offer flat additive bonuses to damage, while others increase damage in a multiplicative way. Always opt to multiply your damage when possible. Tanking through damage output is often the way to go in POE.
The skills of your build are determined by Active Skill Gems. These gems slot into your gear itself, and can be buffed directly by “Links” to passive skill gems. Once again, you should focus on Skill Gems that are cohesive with your choice of build. For example, if you’re running a projectile-based build, you might want Gems linked to your main damage dealing skill that increase the number and overall damage of those projectiles.
Items and Equipment in POE are your lifeblood. The items you equip and their bonuses exist in a tiered structure. All monsters, strongboxes and most of the items come in one of four different rarities. The common rarity is normal, followed by magic, rare and unique. Higher rarity means things are higher valued but occur less frequently in the game.
Normal items (also called base items) are basic items without any explicit modifiers added by affixes. Nevertheless depending on base type some items can have implicit modifiers that can be rerolled using a Blessed Orb if they have a range.
Magic items have the same base statistics as a normal item of the same type, but have magical modifiers on them given by affixes, up to one prefix and one suffix. The types of modifiers that can be found or added to an item depend on its item level.
Rare items function the same as magic items, except they have at most six affixes – three prefixes, and three suffixes. Found rare items or items made rare with an Orb of Chance or an Orb of Alchemy will always have at least 4 affixes, but it is possible to get only 2 or 3 by using a Regal Orb. A rare item with less than six affixes can gain an additional affix with an Exalted Orb or through Master crafting. Chaos Orbs completely reroll a rare item’s affixes.
Unique items have the same base stats as a normal item of the same type, but have specific names, unique artwork and set lists of modifiers instead of affixes. While the three preceding rarities are strictly better than the one before (e.g. rare items are always more powerful than magic items), this is not the case with unique items. They usually provide different and particular modifiers (sometimes thematically grouped) that can’t be found on other items. Therefore they are considered to be more build-defining, granting effects that can be built around, but generally grant less pure stats than rare items.
Sockets and Links
Items can have anywhere from a single Socket to as many as six Sockets. With a randomized combination of links as well, it can be quite difficult or expensive to find good endgame gear. 6-link items are the most valuable, that is to say items with six sockets all linked together in order. Item Sockets and Links can be reforged with Crafting.
Sockets are a mechanism on equipment into which active and support skill gems with a matching colour can be placed. Individual sockets can be linked to each other which is required for support skill gems to provide benefits to any linked active skill gem.
The higher a zones level, the higher the item level of the base items that drop in that zone. Path of Exile uses massive loot tables with randomized odds of dropping different item rarities. Generally speaking weak non-Magic or non-Rare enemies only drop white items. These items are the bulk of what you’ll see in Path of Exile.
Crafting is the process of using Currency to modify the properties, values, Sockets and Links of a target item. Crafting an item also relies on the Hideout system. As the masters you place there allow you to unlock crafting tables that modify certain types of gear with certain bonuses in exchange for Currency. Check out the Currency Wiki Page and familiarize yourself with the various crafting items.
The primary inventory system in POE, aside from your character inventory is the Stash. The inventory stash is divided into tabs. Each stash tab is 12×12, for a total of 144 grid spaces. By default, the stash has four tabs.
Items in the stash are separated by League, meaning a character in the standard league can’t access the stash from the hardcore league and so on. Effectively, players start with four separate tabs in each league, including events such as Races. The player’s stash on any permanent league will retain its contents, even if there are no characters on that league (e.g. if a player’s only hardcore league character dies, the hardcore stash content will be available again when a new hardcore character is created).
Be aware that when a League ends, your Stash tabs are merged with Standard, but they become Remove-Only. This means the items stored there cannot be put back once they’re taken out, and no new items can be added. So be careful when sorting stash tabs in standard.
All players get basic stash tabs that they can use to store items in, but GGG sells various premium tabs that can allow you to use custom colors and names on your tabs, as well as special Premium Tabs for sorting things like Divination Cards, Currency or Essences. These tabs are a huge help because by the end of a League you may well have hundreds of each currency item or other drop. Not to mention all the items you hung onto.
The economy in Path of Exile is somewhat unique in that all of the Currency in the game derives it’s value from it’s effect. For example the least valuable Scrolls create portals or identify items. While the most valuable items allow you to reroll the properties of Rare items or duplicate existing items.
We mentioned a few of the different types of currency when talking about item rarity, those usually come into play when crafting though. For trading, POETrade makes it easy to transfer currency between types and to assess the relative value of Currency.
Leveling in POE is simple, even more so than it used to be. Now that the various difficulties have been removed and replaced with 10 Acts as opposed the same four on different difficulties. The new leveling system in POE differs slightly from the old one in a few key ways.
Previously, the game was split into three difficulties that repeated the same four acts. And various penalties were added at higher difficulties. The Cruel and Merciless resistance penalties have been moved to the completion of Act 5 and the completion of Act 10 respectively. Once either act has been completed, these penalties affect your character in all game areas.
There is a 5% experience penalty for deaths in Acts 6 through 10, level 5 and 6 Forsaken Master mission areas, and the Cruel and Merciless Labyrinths. There is a 10% experience penalty for deaths in areas reached through the Map device, level 7 and 8 Forsaken Master mission areas, and the Endgame Labyrinth. These replace the old Cruel and Merciless experience penalties, and are only active in those specific areas. Dying in any Act 5 area (or lower) after completion of Act 5 (or higher) will not incur an experience penalty. The average experience per monster has been slightly reduced at high levels as well. So this makes leveling to max even more of a challenge.
Questing is very simple in POE. Like in all RPGs, quest givers have noticeable icons over their heads; but unlike other games, not all quests need to even be picked up from a NPC to be completed. Simply killing boss mobs in the various areas is often enough to satisfy quests. As you play more POE, you’ll learn which sidequests can be skipped entirely to speed up leveling. Be aware that some quests have a direct impact on your build, like the Bandit Lords, so these are a must.
Vendor Recipes are special sets of items that can traded to vendors in the hub towns of the various Acts for item upgrades or Currency. One such recipe involves trading Flasks for a Currency item called a Glassblower’s Bauble. The various recipes all have specific conditions and item classes that they utilize so check out the list here.
Loot Filters are scripts that interact with Path of Exile to filter out items that the player doesn’t want to see when dropped. Without Loot filters, lots of players struggle to see rare item drops, especially when a shower of items is all over the ground after a boss fight. Loot Filters help reduce the appearance of worthless or low-level items as the player increases in level.
I would recommend new players stick to using an established Loot Filter and try multiple until you find the one you like. Most Loot filters can be found on the forums here. A good guide for installing one can be found here. Shout out to ZiggyD who made the great guide, and makes a killer Loot Filter.
For those who wish to use a customized filter, I highly recommend checking out FilterBlade. This online tool user NeverSink’s popular loot filter as a base and allows you to fully customize every single rule within the filter to your liking. It allows multiple filters to be saved and even has a loot simulator to test out your changes. And for the best part, it’s entirely free.
As you progress through the Acts of Path of Exile, you’ll see Quests popping up that mention Trials of Ascendancy. These are a series of dangerous mazes spread throughout the game’s Acts that need to be completed to access The Labyrinth. In 3.0, access to The Lord’s Labyrinth has been reworked. Once unlocked, each Labyrinth can be accessed from the Aspirants’ Plaza. Each of the four Labyrinths are named after the old difficulties: The Normal Labyrinth, the Cruel Labyrinth, the Merciless Labyrinth and the Endgame Labyrinth. The Cruel and Merciless Labyrinths now each require the completion of three trials, as well as the earlier Labyrinths. Access to the Endgame Labyrinth now requires completion of the three earlier Labyrinths. The Labyrinth itself is an immensely challenging series of randomized mazes that if you manage to complete, which includes killing the badass Izaro, you’ll be granted the boon of a powerful enchantment and a mountain of loot.
But the real reason to brave the terrifying depths of the Lord’s Labyrinth is that after defeating Izaro, players enter the final room of the Labyrinth, the Ascendancy Chamber. This room contains the Altar of Ascendancy, a Divine Font, and ten chests of Izaro’s Treasure. The Ascendancy class is unlocked here, and will grant powerful boosts to your class.
In addition, every time the player completes the Labyrinth, he may use the Divine Font to imbue one piece of equipment with an enchantment. Some temporary boosts exist that will grant you two uses of the Divine Font, but these are very expensive to obtain nowadays.
The final reward comes from the Treasure Keys you saw Izaro, and the side-bosses if you fought them, drop. These keys will vary in number depending on how hard the fights are. The basic rule of thumb is that during the Izaro fights he’ll have various buffs on himself that need to be deactivated, usually by touching a series of nodes or killing adds. If you leave these buffs intact through to the third and final time you fight Izaro, he’ll drop multiple Keys.
Make no mistake, The Labyrinth is not easy. The traps, monsters and changing rooms are a challenge for even seasoned players. And if you die in a Lab run, you have to start all over at the beginning. And don’t think you can memorize the layout either, because the Labyrinth resets every 24 hours. Luckily, a tool exists online that will constantly refresh with the layout for each new Lab. You’ll learn to love POELab.
Trading is a very lucrative, but time-consuming aspect of POE. Don’t bother with Trade chat unless you want to promote a rare item you have for sale. And even then, it’s better just to work with a site like poe.trade.
OOG tools like POETrade work with the Path of Exile API and the Inventory Stash system to automatically list items in Public stash tabs for sale. Players make huge sums of Currency by just buying and selling on POETrade. But as a new player, you’ll be focused on getting better gear more than anything else.
POENinja is also an amazing tool for price-checking items in the game. It pulls from the same datasets as POETrade, so you know you’re getting a good economic snapshot when using it.
At the start, you’ll be using mostly Gear you pick up or craft until you hit the end of your build. Most builds reach an efficient “end” in the range of 80-90. Very few players grind their characters up to the max level of 100, so you really don’t have to do that. Once you’ve reached the end of your build and feel comfortable with your class and skill mechanics, it’s time to gear for endgame content.
This generally means targeting items on POETrade with the right stats to boost your defenses and offenses. Luckily, most good build guides will have example gear and stat breakdowns, so use these examples as a guide for what kind of gear to trade for. Some build guides will also list prices for these items. They’ll usually list them as C or Chaos. This is the number of Chaos Orbs one would have to pay for that item. Chaos Orbs are the cornerstone currency of the POE economy. Expect most things to be traded relative to their C value. Only the most expensive will be traded in higher-tier Currency. These extremely valuable items will often be traded in terms of Exalted Orbs, one of which is about 70-90 Chaos depending on market conditions.
Be aware that some people will try to scam new players with bogus or spammed trades. This is the main reason to use POETrade over trade chat. Also, shop around for that expensive item, some items on POETrade are ludicrously overpriced. With time, you’ll learn how to spot a scam trade as you learn the ebb and flow of the market.
You could also really get into trading and deal with external tools to manage your trades and the updating of Store threads, but that’s a bit too advanced for this guide.
The Atlas and Mapping
“Mapping” refers to the true Endgame of POE. Primarily this involves using the Map Device in your hideout to run Maps. This device can be obtained after completing enough Master Missions for Zana that you can invite her to your Hideout. Maps will begin to drop in normal story zones around level 65-70. Most loot filters highlight these maps, so it’s recommended to use one. By placing them in a map device, maps can be consumed to create a randomized instance in which monsters can be fought. Like equipment, they come in normal, magic, rare, and unique rarities and have their own special affixes.
Modifying Maps using Currency is a huge part of mapping. Rolling maps by modifying them with Chaos Orbs or other such currency can have huge returns. Generally speaking, save your higher value currency for more valuable higher tier maps. As at higher levels the lowest tier maps become trivial to run and offer little value in loot. It’s best to save the magic or rare low-tier (Tier 5 and below) so that you can sell them for a few Orbs of Alchemy later. Lots of players build their map pools when they new characters through buying bulk low-end maps.
And don’t feel bad about dying to map bosses or mechanics. Learn to watch for ground and AOE effects and learn the patterns of the various bosses, that way you’ll eventually get comfortable with fighting bosses. The XP loss on death can be kind of annoying, but just learn to live with it.
And be aware that XP rewards for killing mobs scale with character level. So you only get a tiny amount of XP for killing mobs too far above or below your level.
There are multiple tiers of maps, as well as map rarities. Below you’ll find a table that reflects map tiers and the relative monster level and item level of each tier set.
|Low tier maps||1 – 5||68 – 72|
|Mid tier maps||6 – 10||73 – 77|
|Top tier maps||11 – 16||78 – 83|
The Atlas of Worlds is Path of Exiles end-game map system. The Atlas is a series of linked maps that players can progress through after completing a quest for Zana, Master Cartographer. In addition, the Atlas of Worlds also has specific “thematic” zones which enable specific base item type drops. In the center of the Atlas, there are four tier 16 maps with special bosses (the Guardians of the Void) which grant a single attempt at defeating the Shaper after clearing the maps.
There are several types of Currency relating to Maps:
Shaper’s Orbs allow you to “Shape” a map turning future drops of that map into higher tier versions. 5 Tiers higher specifically.
Cartographer’s Sextants allow applying a special modifier to map, which applies its stats in a radius to other nearby maps. Those stats can be stacked, but a mod is used up after 5 uses.
Unshaping Orbs can be used to unshape a map.
Cartographer’s Seals “uncomplete” a map if you wish to modify your Atlas progression.
The Gods have returned to Wraeclast. And The Pantheon system is how you’re going to kill them and steal their power. No, I’m not kidding.
The Pantheon is an upcoming system of divine powers that players can activate for themselves. These powers grant defensive bonuses and become available when players defeat certain gods in part two of the storyline.These new bosses are quite tough, likely much tougher than the old Act 4 boss Malachai.
You’ll encounter your first bit of the Pantheon system in Act 5 when Sin shows up. He’ll introduce you to the system and act as your main guide for the second part of the game. You’ll want to find Sin in each Act, as he’ll give you quests to kill each god in the Pantheon.
There are twelve gods that each grant a power; four major gods and eight minor gods. A player can only have one major and one minor power activated at a time. The bonuses can be freely swapped with no extra cost, as long as the player is in a town. The Pantheon system will act as a precursor to mapping, but unlike Act 4 in previous versions, you don’t want to skip it and jump straight to mapping at level 65.
Stick with the Pantheon system and earn the bonuses that work best for your build. You’ll generally be looking for damage reduction boosts from the Pantheon, but there are also effects that make you immune to certain status ailments. The complex mechanics of the Pantheon boss fights will also help prepare you for the Endgame map bosses. The events of act four awoke the gods of Path of Exile’s world, and now you have the opportunity to battle them to unlock a sliver of their power. There are four major gods and seven minor gods, and you’ll be able to equip one power from each type of deity, swapping them for free in any town by talking to Sin.
New in War For The Atlas
These items are an exclusive addition to the new 3.1 Abyss Leagues.
The league mechanics are Abysses, which can spawn in almost all areas of the game. Abysses are marked with a green dot on the minimap. They are triggered by walking over the green, glowing area. This opens a crack in the ground that can be followed to a gaping pit. Enemies spawn along the crack, and a rare enemy spawns from the pit. If enough enemies are defeated in a short time – particularly, but not necessarily, the rare enemy – a second crack opens and the process repeats once or twice. From the last pit, an Abyssal Trove may spawn, which usually contains one to three Abyss items. At higher levels, a portal to the Abyssal Depths may open instead.
These Abyss items are either a piece of equipment with an Abyss Socket, or some Abyssal Jewels. The first Abyssal Equipment is basically a Rare that has added affixes. The Abyssal Jewels will then further modify the properties of these Items depending on what Jewel you slot in.
You’ll want to aim for highly mobile builds with good clear speed if you plan on farming Abysses for Items. Ancestral Warchief Champion is my league starter this time around, and it seems to do OK as long as I keep moving. But you choose the build that works for you.
Shaper/Elder Rare Items
These new Rare items spawn with a new set of mods that add a variety of new affixes. These items can only be obtained in areas where the Shaper or the Elder holds influence, or by defeating the Shaper or Elder themselves. Shaped and Elder items can obtain mods not found elsewhere, as well as higher-tier versions of some existing mods. It’s possible to get item mods that function as added high-level skill gems for example. In theory, you could create an item 7 or more links on it due to these mods.
ZiggyD has once again been a lifesaver for the POE community. This time he walks his viewers through using POETrade and POEDB to search for Elder and Shaper Rares, check it out:
Elemental and Physical damage reflection has long been the bane of many a POE player. Previously to 3.1, these mods would apply to either entire maps or individual mobs. Certain bosses also cast spells that cause damage to reflect back to the player. The short version of the mechanic is that you should AVOID mobs and maps with the specific mod that affects your build. So a pure Physical damage build should be avoid Physical Reflect.
In War for The Atlas, the system has changed.
Now mobs will have the mod, but instead of reflecting all damage, they’ll fire a slow-moving projectile that reflects DPS back onto the player when it hits. This might sound a lot easier, as you just have to dodge these projectiles, but there’s another mod to watch out for now. Multi-Projectile mods on maps and mobs will now “shotgun” several of these reflect balls at the player when you hit the mob. Getting hit by multiple projectiles from a Reflect mobs is a recipe for death. So in short, avoid anything with Multiple Projectiles and Reflect.