Path of Exile is a really complex game with a massive amount of items and skills, the sheer volume of possible interactions is insanely high. Because of this level of deep complexity, game knowledge exists at a premium in this particular ARPG. Being able to understand how different skills and items work together is a long and laborious process, so most players opt instead to develop a set of best practices for leveling a new character.
It’s that time again to update our leveling items guide for the latest league of content. The launch of the console and PC versions of POE 3.11 and Harvest league is underway, and people are excited. The new gardening mechanics added a new layer to the already immense crafting system, making it much more fun to engage with.
What isn’t so fun for all the new players is slogging through leveling. Make sure to read through our beginner’s guide to POE if you’re truly brand new before diving into this though, it will help. Once that’s done, be sure to update your loot filter so you can handle the mountain of items in POE 3.11. After you’re ready to go, check out our Harvest league starter build list for some build recommendations too.
If you’re deeper into the league mechanics already, you might want to check out our Harvest guide, or maybe our perfect garden layout strategy to figure out how to optimize your time with the game these next few months.
The most common form of this idea is in choosing leveling items. And since the most powerful early-game items are Unique in rarity, there will always be an element of meta-game knowledge dedicated to knowing which Unique items work best. And developing that baseline knowledge is exactly what this guide aims to do. So let’s get started.
Spending Currency or Time?
The eternal choice in market-based economies, how much is your time worth? It’s always going to be a hard question to answer, but in POE the problem is a little simpler. Virtually all of the leveling items used in Path of Exile can be obtained for relatively cheap prices in terms of in-game currency. Although there is something to be said about getting lucky with a unique drop.
The decision you make regarding whether to farm or buy your Uniques depends on two things: one is your level of game knowledge, while the other is the availability of items in the league you’re playing in.
If you know enough about the game, you could potentially target farm for certain Uniques. This is really helpful in solo self-found (SSF) leagues where no trading is possible. Farming Uniques like a Tabula Rasa or a Loreweave allow for some really strong build options, but in trading leagues it’s often better to focus on getting the currency together to buy these items for a second character and beyond.
In the end, it’s all personal choice, although I would strongly encourage newer players just to focus on learning the game by following a build guide. You can find some more help with that at the end of the article as well.
So Many Choices, What Should I Use?
It’s always a bit of a problem trying to figure out what items to use due to the huge volume of items in the game. There’s also the issue of figuring out when to replace the items you’ve been leveling with. In most cases, this is where build guides will help new players the most. And a well-written guide will offer item and skill tree recommendations for the leveling process. And in most cases, it’s fine to just follow those.
This guide will try to fill in some gaps though. not all build guides will give you a leveling variant, so that’s where your own game knowledge has to come in. So we’re updating this guide with each league to give Path of Exile players who are newer to the game a chance to figure out what’s going on. We’ll break the guide down into sections to give you a better chance of parsing all of this, because it’s a lot.
The various items that you adorn your avatar with in Path of Exile have a major impact on the viability of your build throughout the massive amount of content in Wraeclast. When it comes to leveling gear, these pieces of gear are typically the highest priority, as they provide the bulk of your offensive and defensive buffs. The DPS potential will vary wildly depending on your gear in these slots, so make your choices wisely. Once again, it’s imperative that new players try to follow a build guide if they have one to be able to understand the kind of gear that works best with their desired play style.
Tabula Rasa – The quintessential leveling chest, and it’s one of the easier ways to get a 6-link early in a league. If you can manage to target farm multiple of them and successfully corrupt on with +# to Level of Socketed Gems or #% Increased Damage, then you’re sitting on an amazing piece of leveling gear. The only problem is that the lack of resistances and life make this a poor choice going past the later story acts.
Ashrend – A great pickup for any elemental build from Act 2 on to Act 6 or so. Getting it 5-linked or even 6-linked offers huge damage potential. And if you’re using a fast-attacking build, the added bonuses to ranged attacks make this a great pair with a leveling bow like Stormcloud.
Thousand Ribbons – Another great choice for bow-based build or anything that needs elemental damage scaling. The early minor buff to resistances and other defensive stats also makes things much easier with this chest piece. It’s imperative that you replace it with a good Rare Armour with resists and life after Act 6 or so to keep up with survivability.
Skin of the Loyal – The bonuses to defensive layering and the increased damage potential from skill gems on the built-in 6-link make this a better base choice compared to a stock Tabula Rasa, but it’s much harder to get one of these, so it’s restricted to players who can either get lucky enough to farm one or have enough currency to buy one for another character.
Wanderlust – The first choice many POE players would recommend. Wanderlust also provide a 20% Movement Speed roll. This is more than sufficient for most of the leveling process, even working until you replace it with a 30% movement speed Rare going into Maps.
Victario’s Flight – This is much more situational and a secondary choice due to the potential mana issues. It offers decent attributes and movement speed though, so it’s up to you.
Wake of Destruction – This is excellent for Act 2 and beyond due to the insane amount of damage potential. Spellcaster builds that can use this should seriously consider getting it if they can.
Sadima’s Touch – This is one of the more deceptive choices on this list due to it’s usability for specific builds. Magic Find builds almost always use this. So even after every other build has out-leveled the DPS this offers, it can still be worth something.
Hrimsorrow – This and/or its fated version, Hrimburn can be really helpful for builds like Blade Vortex. Pairing it with any cold build works too, Winter Orb for example.
Lochtonial Caress – This one is a bit more situational due to the mana issues you may encounter. The bonuses to attack and defense stats are really useful though.
Goldrim – A pretty good general choice regardless of your build. If you’re looking for easy early-game resists, this is an easy choice.
Heatshiver – Another great general choice due to the bonuses to resistances and the great buff to mana regen, which a lot of builds struggle with. Combining it’s elemental damage scaling is a great way to buff damage if you can manage the rotation. For example, pair a Frost Bomb with a Flameblast build and you’ve got easy bonus DPS.
The Baron – An item geared more towards those wishing to level a Summoner type build. With the nerfs to Zombies and the like in POE 3.10 though, this may be even more vital than before.
Lycosidae – One of the best shields in the game. The increased damage is surprisingly useful, and the defensive block chance offers a fair bit of survivability. If you don’t use this, it can still sell for quite a few Chaos Orbs, funding your other gear.
In most cases, your offense will hinge on the weapon choices you make. Weapons are a special case, as they are not as clear cut as the Armor and Accessories. The huge variance in usability and power in levels is deceptive, because you cannot always rely on looking at their level and attribute requirements to figure out which one to use.
This is one of those areas where you must have at least basic understanding of your build and the types of play style you’re going for. A spellcaster who deals in a specific damage type must go for weapons that either scale that directly or indirectly. A melee character will usually target either direct or indirect damage. In essence, it’s the difference in play style between a Cyclone build and an Ancestral Warchief build. Both are melee, but vary wildly in their needs and gear choices.
Axiom Perpetuum – The added elemental damage makes this a great choice for some melee classes, and the bonuses to spell damage work really well with the buffs to selfcasting in Synthesis League.
Quecholli – Added attributes make this really great for melee builds lacking in Intelligence or Dexterity. The explosion effect and added physical damage are surprisingly potent for leech builds too. The life recovery of the fated version of this, Panquetzaliztli, is also extremely useful for leech builds with the 3.6 nerf to leech.
Geofri’s Baptism – This can be used as early as level 27, and fits perfectly into any builds that utilize Resolute Technique.
Hrimnor’s Hymn – A good pickup for the end of Act 1, giving good bonuses to elemental damage and a mild leech effect.
Redbeak – This item is only really useful for a few levels in Act 1, but if you manage to get it in a drop, go ahead and use it.
Aurumvorax – This provides fair damage and a huge helping of Resistances, which can make it a useful choice.
Shiversting – The lowest level two-handed sword available, and can be equipped from level 14 onwards. It is equal parts Physical and Elemental damage, and the Cannot be Frozen buff can be a great advantage if you are not already using a pair of Wanderlust Wanderlust boots.
Hitless – This is a phenomenal item for Slayers with the Headsman Ascendancy, as they cannot take reflected Physical damage. Grab this to finish out the last few parts after Act 8 or so.
The Screaming Eagle – The added bonuses to movement speed combined with the life-based defensive bonuses make this a great early choice. Damage will be quickly outclassed past Act 2 or so though.
Relentless Fury – The attack speed and over clear speed from the Culling Strike effect make this a great melee pickup. It’s actually surprisingly useful, although a bit niche in it’s appeal.
Wideswing – Primarily focused on AoE skills, this is a decent pickup for Sunder, Cyclone or other build archetypes.
Limbsplit – This offers a decent dose of stats and a useful bonus to gem levels. Any Slayer build not using this is missing out.
Reaper’s Pursuit – An excellent choice for builds that don’t make use of the Resolute Technique passive. The Culling Strike and movement speed bonuses also make it awesome for clear speed.
Goredrill – The only viable choice from early game onward in terms of an easily accessible leveling unique for a dagger. The scaling phsyical damage and pairing with bleeding make it somewhat appealing, but it will quickly fall behind after the first few Acts in terms of damage.
Ungil’s Gauche – Not a bad choice as an upgrade to Goredrill. The added elemental damage and other stats make it somewhat appealing as a stopgap measure in the Act 3-5 areas. Pair with plenty of buffs to Critical Strikes for best results.
Last Resort – This surprisingly easy-to-use weapon has relatively strong damage despite the low requirement.
Hand of Thought and Motion – This is an excellent elemental damage weapon. A good mid-story choice around Act 3 onward in particular.
Stormcloud – This and the fated version, The Tempest, offer great attack speed and plenty of elemental damage, making them amazing for progressing through much of the story, only needing to be repalced with a strong Rare around Act 7 or so.
Silverbranch – The defacto goto leveling bow. This is the one that most build guides will recommend starting with.
Roth’s Reach – Pair this with another unique chest that scales elemental damage, and you’re golden for much of the story.
Craghead – This and it’s fated version Cragfall can be used at level 5. They’re not super OP, but still useful as a stopgap.
Asphyxia’s Wrath – For a cold-based bow build, this literally cannot be beat in the early game. And with the right damage scaling, it can even work all the way through to Act 7 and beyond.
Lifesprig – Any caster build that doesn’t use this is missing out an easy first few Acts. And since it’s pretty cheap, even at the start of a league, it’s easy to find if you don’t get lucky with a drop.
Storm Prison – A more targeted choice for any elemental spellcaster, the damage potential will give you a decent amount of DPS until the tail end of Act 2 or so, although with other good gear, it can last longer before needing to be replaced.
Poet’s Pen – This particular Unique is useful as more a build-defining weapon than a leveling item. It also got nerfed in 3.6, although it still sees some use. So even if you don’t use it yourself, it can sell for a bit of currency you can use to finance other gear.
Some of the most crucial choices in POE for filling resistance holes and scaling damage are going to be your rings, amulet and belt.
Typically the most desired leveling Uniques in this category cost at least several Chaos Orbs, which makes them slightly more expensive than standard leveling Armor and Weapons. This means getting best ones might be out of reach on the first character you level in a league, as you don’t have the currency to afford them. Also, target farming for these
Astramentis – This one is a great choice for certain classes and builds, such as the Ascendant which struggle with stats. The bonus from this offers plenty of attribute flexibility. It can be used beginning at level 20.
Daresso’s Salute and Carnage Heart – Both great choices for Slayer builds using the famed “overleech” Ascendancy node.
Stone of Lazhwar – Spellcaster bulds will get a good buff from this. It’s also exceedingly common and really cheap to trade for.
Sidhebreath – An option for Summoner builds that offers plenty of different buffs to help with the leveling process. The Mana sustain alone is worth it for many builds, especially when combined with the 6-link Tabula Rasa.
Perandus Signet – This will be pretty expensive to obtain if you trade, and farming it will rely on getting multiple Divination Card sets. Despite that hurdle, it’s an extremely powerful item for builds that need the help with mana regen.
Blackheart – This will be a great addition to any melee build, although it will quickly be outclassed by Rares later in the story.
Berek’s Grip – A solid choice if you can get it. The damage scaling potential with elemental builds, and especially in 3.6 with the buffs to various spells, make this a great choice for those that have it.
Le Heup of All – A somewhat situational choice based on the build, although it should work with pretty much anything thanks to the added DPS, resistances and other layers this ring provides.
Wurm’s Molt – The extra resistance and leech effects are super important for survivability for many melee builds. And with the 3.6 nerfs to leeching, it’s going be even more important to stack as much leeching effect as possible as quickly as possible.
Belt of the Deceiver – An amazing choice for physical damage builds and it’s fairly common.
Darkness Enthroned – A somewhat niche choice, but the extremely flexible choices from the Abyss Socket make it a great choice for a secondary character, assuming you can get the expensive Abyss Jewels you’ll need for your build.