Welcome to part two of the Path Of Exile beginners guide 2020, in the last part we covered the basics of the game including, leagues, character classes and a brief look at the passive skill tree. I will continue delving into the basics of POE in this section, starting with active skills and the various skill gems and then going onto cover the uses of flasks.
Active Skills and Skill Gems
In Path of Exile active skills are one of the two main types of skills, they are different from the passive skills we covered in the first section in that they have to be directly cast/ operated by the player themselves. The skill bar is the section of the players user interface that allows mapping individual skills to keys. It appears in the bottom right of the screen, just next to the blue mana orb. You are able to hold 13 skills at once in the skill bar and the default controls for accessing them are as follows: the top row which can hold 3 skills and is accessible by the mouse 1, mouse 2 and mouse 3 buttons, the second row has 5 skills, accessible via the keys q, w, e, r, t. The bottom row has an additional 5 but you must press the ctrl key in order to bring them up and use them. All the keys are modifiable from the input tab via the options menu (with the exception of mouse 1). When you left click on a skill item you will see a list of all the active skills that are available to the character, in addition you can also see the three default actions, which are: “default action”, “move only” and “clear this slot”, when you then left or right click on a different skill it will set that skill to the slot you have selected. When you have a skill in your alternate weapon slot these will not appear until you swap between weapons. When you swap the weapon the skills will take up any available slot unless the “clear this slot” option has previously been selected.
There are two types of skill gem, active skill gems and support skill gems, to be used they must be placed in an item socket of their corresponding colour. You can obtain gems in several ways such as: as a reward from a quest, purchased from town vendors once a particular quest is completed, using the vendor recipe system and a random drop from monsters. There are some other ways to receive skill gems but I will explain those in a more relevant section. Active skill gems allow the player to utilise an active skill. Some active skills are obtained just from the use of an item and don't require active skill gems to be put into item sockets, for example the Moonbender's Wing which grants the level 1 lightning warp movement spell.
Support skill gems are placed in item sockets in the same way as active skill gems, however, rather than giving access to another active skill they instead support or augment the effect of an existing active skill in a connecting item socket. In most cases the support skill gem will increase the mana cost of the active skill as it increases its power. You can link multiple skill gems to one support gem and vice versa, this has the behaviour of modifying all that are connected to and from it. One exception to this is if two copies of a support gem are linked to an active skill gem, then the support gem with the higher level will be used, and if they are the same level then only one will be used. If you have a body armour with two distinct support skill gems but two copies of the same active skill gem then two versions of the same skill will be available at your disposal, this is useful as you may wish to modify the same active skill in different ways, for example one skill could be modified for single target damage whilst the other could have an area of effect damage modifier, making it useful for varying combat situations.
Attack and Spells
As you gain experience your gems also gain experience and will level up. When you level up gems their damage modifiers will increase, as well as the level and attribute requirements of their respective gem. Although your character will lose experience upon death the gems you possess will not lose experience. gems in your alternate weapons will also gain experience so it is not a bad idea putting some there in case you want to use other gems or maybe trade the gems on in the future when they have become more valuable.
There are two main types of offensive skill gem, they are attack based gems and spell based gems. Attack gems perform attack based damage and the damage is modified based on the unique properties of your weapon, this includes the physical, critical, elemental and attack speed modifiers on the weapon. The other offensive skill gems are spell gems, these have base critical strike stats, base cast speed stats and base damage stats that are tied to its skill gem, only the damage increases with levels, spell gems do not benefit from weapon implicit stats but are effected by global modifiers to those spells, in the properties of a weapon. Spells are useful as they scale well with a character whilst not requiring the best weapons in order to be effective.
Another gem type that is useful for all characters and builds are movement skill gems. These have many different properties, including allowing your player to traverse areas quickly or manoeuvre specific terrain types with ease. You can pair movement skill gems up with attack or spell casting support gems to give a fast attack method, this is very useful in combat and is recommended for you to set up at some point.
Flasks are rechargeable potions and are an important role of any successful character. Your character will start with some flasks already. Each time a flask is consumed a portion of it will be lost and you will receive a restorative amount of life or mana, it may also grant a temporary bonus that lasts as long as the flask effect. In total there are 5 different types of flasks in POE, they are: life flasks, mana flasks, hybrid flasks, utility flasks and critical utility flasks. Life and mana flasks do as the name suggests, hybrid flasks have both a mana and life restorative property, utility flasks give a specific buff effect, for example the quicksilver flask gives 40% increased movement speed and the last type is the critical utility flask.
All characters have space for five flasks and are assigned to the keys: 1,2,3,4,5. All flasks are automatically fully replenished whenever you enter a town or a hideout. There are no rare flasks, they are all categorised as either normal, magic or unique. Flasks store different amounts of charges (available uses), these parameters can be changed by the use of modifiers and passive skills. Aside from different charge amounts, they also vary in duration and capacity.
Thanks for reading part two of the Path of Exile 2020 beginners guide, I hope the tips have been useful for you (Path of Exile Beginners Guide 2020 Part One). Keep an eye out for more guides that will soon be released, I will cover important and interesting subjects such as currency, end game mechanics and go into more depth on subjects we have already covered, such as character builds, and more cheap poe currency here.