Welcome to the beginners guide to Path of Exile. Path of Exile is a huge and massively complex free-to-play online action role-playing game released by Grinding Gear Games in 2013 for PC and now also available on Xbox One and Playstation 4 with a mobile version in the works. The game is online only, players are allowed to explore an isolated area all to themselves or with a party of friends. They can also meet with other players in central encampments and perform actions such as trading if they wish. The setting of the game is dark fantasy and takes place in a world called “Wraeclast”.
At first the game can seem both overwhelming and bewildering, but it is really worth the time and effort to understand how things work and get the most out of the game. Of course rather than read endless guides the best way to do this is just to play, but dipping back into some guides when unsure of how something works is perfectly fine. In this guide I will try and explain the core mechanics and features of POE, whilst not going into too much detail of everything that is possible in order to keep it palatable. This guide was written after the release of the 3.9 expansion known as “Conquerors of the Atlas”, which has a temporary league known as “Metamorph”, and I will explain more about those changes later. I shall cover various different beginner topics, so if you wish to jump ahead to a part you aren't familiar with please do.
What Are Leagues?
Leagues, in the context of POE are defined game worlds that you character will exist within, your character may only belong to one league and there is no interaction of any kind with characters outside that league, including your own characters. Leagues are divided into permanent and temporary. There are four permanent leagues, standard (the standard, base game with no modifiers), hardcore (players who die in this mode are moved to the standard league) and then for both standard and hardcore there are so called “solo-self found” modes or “SSF” which remove the ability to trade or party up with other players, giving a more single-player-esque experience.
Temporary leagues are leagues that last for around three months (sometimes more, sometimes less), they also known as challenge leagues as they offer new and unique game modifiers. Like the permanent leagues there are also standard and hardcore variants of these. Not participating in a current leagues mechanics will not negatively effect your character so don't worry if you don't enjoy them, there is plenty more game content to enjoy. Currently the temporary league is named “Metamorph” which gives players the task to collect various body parts from monsters for an NPC called Tane Octavius, in order to create a create known as a metamorph. Because these leagues are temporary it is is a way for the developers to test out content and see the community response, and whether it is worth implementing into the main game.
Temporary leagues are a good way to start the game as a first time player as everyone starts from scratch. The permanent leagues have been around since the inception of the game and many players have amassed a huge wealth haul, whilst the effect on the in-game economy is hard to fully explain some lower level and less valuable gear is generally cheaper in temporary than in standard. Another key point is that temporary leagues have far more people playing, so more opportunity to trade or party up with. It should be noted that at the end of a temporary league all characters are transferred back over to the standard league, including all items and wealth.
Each time you want to join a new league you will need to create a new character, each character has their own attributes or in some cases a mixture of attributes, however no skills or attributes are locked to any one character class. All of starting character classes have 3 (or 1 for Scion) ascendency classes which can be thought of as a specialisation by that character class into a specific attribute area. The 7 starting characters and their core attributes are as follows: Marauder (strength), Duelist(strength and dexterity), Ranger (dexterity), Shadow(dexterity and intelligence), Witch (intelligence), Templar (strength and intelligence) and Scion (strength, dexterity and intelligence).
Marauder can ascend into either Juggernaut, Berserker or Chieftain. Duelist can ascend into either Slayer, Gladiator or Champion. Ranger can ascend into either Deadeye, Raider or Pathfinder. Shadow can ascend into either Assassin, Saboteur or Trickster. Witch can ascend into either Necromancer, Occultist or Elementalist. Templar can ascend into either Inquisitor, Hierophant or Guardian. Scion has a slight different mechanic, as this character starts off with a balanced set of attributes their ascendency class is known as the as Ascendent, and it can take attributers from other ascendency classes, giving it greater flexibility.
Acts and Quests
Progression through Path of Exile's storyline is divided into sections known as acts. An act will contain it's own unique quests, NPC's, a town and an act boss. More often than not a new act is added to the game on the release of an expansion. Currently there are 10 acts and an epilogue in total. All new players start at act 1 and progress through the acts one by one. The first act “The Shore” is where you will arrive first in Wraeclast. In this act the player will make their way up a beach to find the settlement “Lioneye's Watch” and then progressing further to find other interesting places such as Axiom Prison and Sirens Cove. You will encounter monsters from level 1-13 in this act. As mentioned there will be numerous quests to complete during an act, you do not have to complete all quests but they will all have rewards with many giving passive skill points (the importance of which I shall discuss in the next section).
Passive Skill Tree
It's time to cover one of the most intimidating looking features of Path of Exile, the passive skill tree. But don't be put off, it's quite simple really and fairly intuitive. Unlike in other RPG type games where you level up and you are automatically allocated points or even given allocatable points for different skills for you to choose from a list of skills to use them on, in POE you get passive skills points in which you have full freedom to use in the skill tree as you wish, to build your character in the most flexible way possible. Depending on which character class you chose, you will start off in a different area of the passive skill tree, based on their particular attributes. When you complete the main campaign and are around level 60+ you will still not have completed even 10% of the passive skill tree, showing how much depth there is to it. Online you can find many build guides that will take you through step by step where to place each of your passive skill points to achieve a particular type of build, usually focussed around a specific ascendency class.
Thanks for reading part one to this Path of Exile 2020 beginners guide. In part two I will cover subjects including spells, gems and flasks so please, stay tuned for that, and buy poe items, poe currency from us safe.