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Diablo Player's Guide to Path of Exile

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If you've played a lot of Diablo 3 and Diablo 2 (or any other ARPG), here's a quick and dirty guide that will get you playing Path of Exile in no time!

Pay model

Path of Exile is free to play and is supported by microtransactions and supporter packs. Microtransactions do not provide direct in-game advantages. The items available in the store are nearly all cosmetic, the only exceptions being additional/utility stash tabs and character/guild slots. Supporter packs can be considered to be similar to Kickstarter backer tiers, with various tiers offering different rewards, such as microtransaction points, unique pets, the ability to work with the devs to create a unique item, etc.

Skill gems

Skills in Path of Exile take the form of gems to be socketed into items. The skills in PoE aren't class-specific -- any class may use any skill, but a skill gem must be socketed into an equipped item in order to use that skill. Gems are either an active skill gem or a support gem. Active skill gems represent skills you actively use, while support gems augment those active skill gems when linked.

Examples:

  • FireballFireballProjectile, Spell, AoE, Fire
    Radius: 9
    Mana Cost: (6-26)
    Cast Time: 0.75 sec
    Critical Strike Chance: 6.00%
    Damage Effectiveness: 160%
    Projectile Speed: 1040
    Unleashes a ball of fire towards a target which explodes, damaging nearby foes.Per 1% Quality:
    0.5% chance to Ignite enemies
    Deals (7-890) to (10-1335) Fire Damage
    (20-39)% chance to Ignite enemies
    (50-88)% more Damage with Ignite
    +(0-4) to radius
    Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
    Fireball skill icon.png
    linked with Lesser Multiple Projectiles SupportLesser Multiple Projectiles SupportSupport, Projectile
    Icon: l
    Mana Multiplier: 140%
    Requires Level 8Supports projectile skills.Per 1% Quality:
    Supported Skills have 0.5% increased Attack Speed
    Supported Skills have 0.5% increased Cast Speed
    Supported Skills fire 2 additional Projectiles
    Supported Skills deal (25-16)% less Projectile Damage
    This is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    and Increased Area of Effect SupportIncreased Area of Effect SupportSupport, AoE
    Icon: E
    Mana Multiplier: 140%
    Requires Level 38Supports any skill with an area of effect.Per 1% Quality:
    Supported Skills deal 0.5% increased Area Damage
    Supported Skills have (30-49)% increased Area of EffectThis is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    fires multiple fireballs that explode in a larger than normal AoE
  • Link Life Gain on Hit SupportLife Gain on Hit SupportAttack, Support
    Icon: h
    Mana Multiplier: 150%
    Requires Level 8Supports attack skills.Per 1% Quality:
    +0.5 Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks from Supported Skills
    +(6-44) Life gained for each Enemy hit by Attacks from Supported SkillsThis is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    to CleaveCleaveAttack, AoE, Melee
    Radius: 20
    Mana Cost: 6
    Cast Time: 1.00 sec
    Damage Effectiveness: (110%-163%)
    The character swings their weapon (or both weapons if dual wielding) in an arc towards the target. Also does damage to other nearby monsters. Only works with Axes and Swords.Per 1% Quality:
    0.5% increased Attack Speed
    Deals (110-163.2)% of Base Damage
    When Dual Wielding, Deals 60% Damage from each Weapon combined
    +(0-6) to radius
    Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
    Cleave skill icon.png
    gem to regain life for every enemy hit by Cleave.
  • Combine Detonate DeadDetonate DeadSpell, AoE, Fire
    Radius: 22
    Mana Cost: (7-30)
    Cast Time: 0.60 sec
    Critical Strike Chance: 6.00%
    Requires Level 4Targets a corpse, and deals spell damage to enemies around the corpse, as well as causing the corpse to explode, dealing fire damage. The explosion is not affected by modifiers to spell damage and cannot be reflected.Per 1% Quality:
    0.5% increased Cast Speed
    Explosion deals base Fire Damage equal to 6% of the corpse's maximum Life
    Deals (10-823) to (14-1235) Fire Damage
    +(0-4) to radius
    Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
    Detonate Dead skill icon.png
    with Spell Totem SupportSpell Totem SupportSupport, Totem
    Icon: T
    Mana Multiplier: 200%
    Requires Level 8Supports spell skills that are not triggered. Instead of casting that spell, you will summon a totem that casts the spell for you.Per 1% Quality:
    1% increased Totem Placement speed
    Summons a Totem which uses the Supported Skill
    Totem lasts 8 seconds
    Supported Skills deal (35-26)% less Damage
    Spells Cast by Totem have 30% less Cast Speed
    This is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    to have a totem which casts the spell for you so you can focus on other things.
  • Link Ice SpearIce SpearSpell, Projectile, Cold
    Mana Cost: (6-20)
    Cast Time: 0.70 sec
    Critical Strike Chance: 7.00%
    Damage Effectiveness: 80%
    Projectile Speed: 600
    Requires Level 12Launches shards of ice in rapid succession. After travelling a short distance they change to a second form, which moves much faster and pierces through enemies.Per 1% Quality:
    2% increased Projectile Speed
    Deals (14-369) to (21-553) Cold Damage
    Second form has 600% increased Critical Strike Chance
    Second form has 300% more Projectile Speed
    Second form has +(30-49)% to Critical Strike Multiplier
    Fires an additional Projectile
    Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
    Ice Spear skill icon.png
    with Greater Multiple Projectiles SupportGreater Multiple Projectiles SupportSupport, Projectile
    Icon: P
    Mana Multiplier: 165%
    Requires Level 38Supports projectile skills.Per 1% Quality:
    Supported Skills have 0.5% increased Attack Speed
    Supported Skills have 0.5% increased Cast Speed
    Supported Skills fire 4 additional Projectiles
    Supported Skills deal (35-26)% less Projectile Damage
    This is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    and Elemental Proliferation SupportElemental Proliferation SupportCold, Fire, Lightning, Support, AoE
    Icon: S
    Mana Multiplier: 110%
    Supports any skill that hits enemies, or could otherwise apply elemental ailments.Per 1% Quality:
    0.5% increased Duration of Elemental Ailments on Enemies
    Elemental Ailments caused by Supported Skills spread to other enemies in a Radius of (12-15)
    20% chance to Freeze, Shock and Ignite
    (0-19)% increased Duration of Elemental Ailments on Enemies
    This is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
    to fire multiple ice projectiles which freeze enemies and have the freeze effect spread to nearby foes.

Early on, you'll mainly get active skill gems as quest rewards or as purchases through the accessories vendor (sell page 2) after completing certain quests. You'll also find them as a normal item drop. Even though any class can use any gem, the selection of gems offered to you as a reward or for purchase will depend on your chosen class.

As you fight, both active skill gems and support gems gain experience and can be leveled up to increase the gem's potency. Gems stop gaining experience at level 20, and pushing them higher will require more exceptional means, like Vaal Orbs or Empower SupportEmpower SupportSupport
Icon: +
Mana Multiplier: 125%
Supports any skill gem. Once this gem reaches level 2 or above, will raise the level of supported gems. Cannot support skills that don't come from gems.Per 1% Quality:
This Gem gains 5% increased Experience
+(0-2) to Level of Supported Active Skill GemsThis is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
. Gems must be socketed into an equipped item in order for them to gain experience when you fight.

You may also choose not to level up a gem in some cases:

  • You are not yet able to satisfy the increased stat requirements of the higher gem level.
  • You cannot yet support the increased mana cost of the higher gem level.
  • The active skill gem has a linked support gem with a max supportable gem level requirement.
  • You want to pass it on to another character which might be lower level.

There are three overarching categories, represented by colors, of active skill and support gems: red colored gems, which require mostly strength to use; green colored gems, which require mostly dexterity to use; and blue colored gems, which require mostly intelligence to use. As the gems level up, their respective attribute requirement amounts will increase as well.

Each support gem has a set of conditions associated with it. These conditions are listed in the green text of the gem's description, when you mouse over it. You can use these to determine which support gems are able to affect which active skill gems. For example, Fire Penetration SupportFire Penetration SupportFire, Support
Icon: V
Mana Multiplier: 140%
Requires Level 31Supports any skill that hits enemies, making those hits penetrate enemy fire resistance.Per 1% Quality:
Supported Skills deal 0.5% increased Fire Damage
Supported Skills Penetrate (18-37)% Fire ResistanceThis is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
supports any skill that hits enemies and causes those skills to penetrate enemy resistances. FireballFireballProjectile, Spell, AoE, Fire
Radius: 9
Mana Cost: (6-26)
Cast Time: 0.75 sec
Critical Strike Chance: 6.00%
Damage Effectiveness: 160%
Projectile Speed: 1040
Unleashes a ball of fire towards a target which explodes, damaging nearby foes.Per 1% Quality:
0.5% chance to Ignite enemies
Deals (7-890) to (10-1335) Fire Damage
(20-39)% chance to Ignite enemies
(50-88)% more Damage with Ignite
+(0-4) to radius
Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
Fireball skill icon.png
deals fire damage by hitting enemies. This means that the Fire Penetration support gem will affect the active skill Fireball, and will improve Fireball's fire damage. Support gems do not directly affect other support gems.

Attack skills take weapon damage into consideration. Spells, traps, spell-casting totems, and mine skills do not, (like D2).

There are many skill and support gems, and more are added periodically!

The maximum number of possible linked sockets is six. This means one active skill gem can normally be supported by a maximum of five support gems. Six-linked items are expensive and hard to come by. Most support gems raise the mana cost or mana reservation of the active skill(s) they are linked with.

For future reference: some keystone passive skills are also available as support gems if you want their effect for only some of your skills, for example, Blood Magic SupportBlood Magic SupportSupport
Icon: B
Mana Multiplier: (245%-196%)
Requires Level 31Supports any skill.Per 1% Quality:
Supported Skills have 0.5% reduced Mana Cost
Supported Skills Spend Life instead of ManaThis is a Support Gem. It does not grant a bonus to your character, but to skills in sockets connected to it. Place into an item socket connected to a socket containing the Active Skill Gem you wish to augment. Right click to remove from a socket.
.

Classes

There are currently seven base classes to choose from.

The biggest difference between classes are their Ascendancy class choices. In later acts, completing The Labyrinth will allow you to choose one of three Ascendancy sub-classes (or just one for the Scion). Each of these classes grant access to powerful and unique passives to ultimately specialize your characters. While the given choices are still versatile enough for any build to take advantage of, it's advisable to take a look a them first if you have a certain type of build in mind.

Besides Ascendancy classes, the only differences are: how your hero looks, what their starting attributes are and their position in the passive skill tree (more on that next up).

For now:

Type Name STR DEX INT
INT Witch 14 14 32
STR Marauder 32 14 14
DEX Ranger 14 32 14
STR/INT Templar 23 14 23
DEX/INT Shadow 14 23 23
STR/DEX Duelist 23 23 14
STR/DEX/INT Scion 20 20 20

That said, there's little guidance on the "best" way to play a class (many people have posted their builds on the Path of Exile forums, however, and it's a good place to start). However, it is recommended to first try a "pure" class (Witch, Ranger, Marauder). Starting a "hybrid" (one of the other four) can be a bit daunting for new players. The Scion must be unlocked in Act 3 in order to select her during character creation.

Starting (HP, Mana, Evasion Rating) = (50, 40, 53) for all classes. Each level up gives a passive skill point but also

The level cap is 100, but a maximum of 122 Passive skill points can be obtained. However, most builds are made using between 90 and 100 skill points, and making a build hinging on using all 122 points is not a good idea. Leveling past the storyline content is arduous, and your character will need to be more or less complete to navigate the endgame.

Passive skill tree

Check out the passive skill tree

Every class has a specific starting area on the skill tree. Starting at the top and working clockwise, there's the Witch, the Shadow, the Ranger, the Duelist, the Marauder, the Templar, and finally the Scion at the center.

The tree may seem a little intimidating at first, but it may make things easier to realize that you can group the nodes into four categories.

  • Starting Areas: These areas are where you'll be starting your character. The nodes where you begin are often very powerful, and there's absolutely nothing keeping you from heading toward another class's nodes! It's not a bad idea to scan your neighbors' starting nodes to see if they'll be useful for your build.
  • Paths: Approximately 30% of the skill tree is composed of nodes that grant +10 to one of the three base stats. Find efficient paths around the tree to reach Clusters and Keystones.
  • Clusters: Groups of nodes with a common theme, frequently represented by a small icon in the center. As an example, the cluster focusing on lightning spell damage has an image of a lightning bolt in the center. Many clusters also have a notable passive, a special node rimmed in gold that is more powerful than normal nodes.

Plan ahead, for there are no full respecs in Path of Exile (except when a major patch changes the skill tree). Respec points are available through completing quests and spending Orb of RegretOrb of RegretStack Size: 40Grants a passive skill refund pointRight click on this item to use it.
Shift click to unstack.
currency items, but these are pricey. If you find yourself built in a corner, it's often best to reroll (start over).

Jewels

There are some nodes in the passive tree that can socket Jewels once allocated. They generally won't be a major part of your build early on. They can provide both ordinary and jewel-only passives. Some unique jewels affect or are affected by nearby passive nodes within a specified radius. There are also threshold jewels that can augment specific skills, for example Overwhelming OddsOverwhelming Odds
Crimson Jewel
Limited to: 2
Radius: Medium (1200)
(10-15)% increased Global Physical Damage
With at least 40 Strength in Radius, Cleave grants Fortify on Hit
With at least 40 Strength in Radius, Cleave has 3% increased Area of
Effect per Nearby Enemy
Even as the tide turned, and victory swiftly became impossible,
The legionnaires of Lioneye's Watch stood their ground and fought on,
Every last man dying a brutal but honourable death.
Place into an allocated Jewel Socket on the Passive Skill Tree. Right click to remove from the Socket.
improves CleaveCleaveAttack, AoE, Melee
Radius: 20
Mana Cost: 6
Cast Time: 1.00 sec
Damage Effectiveness: (110%-163%)
The character swings their weapon (or both weapons if dual wielding) in an arc towards the target. Also does damage to other nearby monsters. Only works with Axes and Swords.Per 1% Quality:
0.5% increased Attack Speed
Deals (110-163.2)% of Base Damage
When Dual Wielding, Deals 60% Damage from each Weapon combined
+(0-6) to radius
Place into an item socket of the right colour to gain this skill. Right click to remove from a socket.
Cleave skill icon.png
.

Resource management

Flasks are refillable potions which can be "sipped" from a few times (depending on the charge count). They come in a variety of types and sizes, and have their own special affixes (e.g. double armor during the base effect). They refill on killing non-summoned enemies, or when a town or hideout is visited.

There's also regular mana and life regeneration, life on hit, life on kill, life leech, mana leech, etc.

Each character starts with 1.75% of Mana Regenerated per second and no life regeneration. Life and mana leech has a maximum rate cap, which prevents healing more than 20% of your maximum life/mana per second without upgrades.

There is also energy shields that act as a health buffer that regenerates after not taking damage for a short time. Energy shield is the preferred method of defense for Intelligence-based characters. Chaos damage will bypass energy shields, however.

Currency items

There's no gold in PoE. Items are sold to and bought from players and NPCs by trading for a variety of currency items.

Any loot you find but have no use for can be sold to a vendor. Vendors will trade you Scroll FragmentsScroll FragmentStack Size: 5A stack of 5 fragments becomes a Scroll of Wisdom.
Shift click to unstack.
, Transmutation ShardsTransmutation ShardStack Size: 20A stack of 20 shards becomes an Orb of Transmutation.
Shift click to unstack.
, Alteration ShardsAlteration ShardStack Size: 20A stack of 20 shards becomes an Orb of Alteration.
Shift click to unstack.
or Alchemy ShardsAlchemy ShardStack Size: 20A stack of 20 shards becomes an Orb of Alchemy.
Shift click to unstack.
for it, depending on the rarity of the sold loot. These shards and fragments are of low value, but can be combined into orbs and scrolls that have a use in crafting items. See the vendor recipe system for more information.

These are the most important currency items for beginners to know about:

Scroll of WisdomScroll of WisdomStack Size: 40Identifies an itemRight click this item then left click an unidentified item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Identifies an unidentified item
Portal ScrollPortal ScrollStack Size: 40Creates a portal to townRight click on this item to use it.
Shift click to unstack.
Opens a portal to town
Orb of TransmutationOrb of TransmutationStack Size: 40Upgrades a normal item to a magic itemRight click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Upgrades a normal item to a magic item
Orb of AlterationOrb of AlterationStack Size: 20Reforges a magic item with new random modifiersRight click this item then left click a magic item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Changes all the affixes of a magic item randomly
Orb of AugmentationOrb of AugmentationStack Size: 30Enchants a magic item with a new random modifierRight click this item then left click a magic item to apply it. Magic items can have up to two random modifiers.
Shift click to unstack.
Adds a random affix to a magic item without a prefix or suffix
Orb of AlchemyOrb of AlchemyStack Size: 10Upgrades a normal item to a rare itemRight click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Upgrades a normal item to a rare item
Orb of ChanceOrb of ChanceStack Size: 20Upgrades a normal item to a random rarityRight click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Upgrades a normal item to a random rarity, (magic, rare, or unique)
Chromatic OrbChromatic OrbStack Size: 20Reforges the colour of sockets on an itemRight click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
Changes the color of sockets randomly
Jeweller's OrbJeweller's OrbStack Size: 20Reforges the number of sockets on an itemRight click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it. The item's quality increases the chances of obtaining more sockets.
Shift click to unstack.
Changes the number of sockets randomly
Orb of FusingOrb of FusingStack Size: 20Reforges the links between sockets on an itemRight click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it. The item's quality increases the chances of obtaining more links.
Shift click to unstack.
Changes the links between the current sockets randomly

There are many more currency items, see the currency page for a full list. It is advised not use any currency until you know its value, since the more valuable currencies can be traded to other players in exchange for items. Trading with players is done most commonly with the valuable Chaos OrbChaos OrbStack Size: 10Reforges a rare item with new random modifiersRight click this item then left click a rare item to apply it.
Shift click to unstack.
s and Exalted OrbExalted OrbStack Size: 10Enchants a rare item with a new random modifierRight click this item then left click a rare item to apply it. Rare items can have up to six random modifiers.
Shift click to unstack.
s.

The best items in the game are often crafted with the use of currency. The most valuable/rare piece of currency in the game is a Mirror of KalandraMirror of KalandraStack Size: 10Creates a mirrored copy of an itemRight click this item then left click an equipable non-unique item to apply it. Mirrored copies cannot be modified.
Shift click to unstack.
.

Attributes and stats

Attributes (STR, INT, DEX) are gained only from item affixes and passive nodes. Leveling up gives no stat bonuses.

Each additional 10 attribute points give:

10 strength = +5 HP, +2% Melee Physical Dmg
10 intelligence = +5 Mana, +2% Energy Shield
10 dexterity = +20 Accuracy, +2% Evasion

The defensive stats are:

Evasion, which is a chance to avoid a damaging hit from attacks, it is entropy-based to avoid streaky results. It is also affected by accuracy.
Energy shield, which grants extra hit points that rapidly regenerate after not taking any damage for a short time.
Dodge, which is a chance to avoid a damaging hit, it is not entropy-based like evasion.
Block, which is a chance to block a damaging hit.
Armour, which mitigates incoming physical damage from a damaging hit, proportional to how much Armour you have compared to damage taken.
Resistances, which mitigates incoming elemental and chaos damage.

The offensive stats are:

Accuracy, which is a measure of your chance-to-hit your target(s) with attacks.
Damage, which indicates how much damage you will inflict with each attack/spell, on your target(s), if your attack/spell is successful.
Attack speed, which is how quickly you can repeat each attack.
Cast Speed, which is how quickly you can repeat each spell cast.
Critical strike chance, which is how high your chance is to perform a critical strike


Body armour and shields can have movement penalties (typically the heavier ones).

Dual wielding grants:

Maximum block chance is normally capped at 75%, but this cap can be overcome to a certain extent, with certain items. If you would've been stunned, there's a blocking animation, otherwise the block is "free". Only Attacks can be blocked or evaded, unless you have Spell Block from passives or an item - for example, Saffell's FrameSaffell's Frame
Branded Kite Shield
Quality: +20%
Chance to Block: 24%
Armour: 223
Energy Shield: 43
Requires Level 59, 76 Str, 76 Int+4% to all Elemental Resistances
3% reduced Movement Speed (Hidden)
(15-20)% Chance to Block Spell Damage
(20-30)% increased Spell Damage
+10% to all Elemental Resistances
+4% to all maximum Resistances
Cannot Block Attacks
A swift mind solves problems before they occur.
.

Buffs & debuffs

There are various types of status effects in Path of Exile:

Charges

Charges grant stackable bonuses. By default, a character can have three of each charge, but the maximum number of charges can be increased. There are also certain skills that consume charges and skills that gain additional bonuses to charges.

Ailments

Ailments are a secondary effect that is applied on hit and has its effect scales with the type of damage associated with it. Damaging ailments have a separate damage modifier and critical strike multiplier and scale off the base damage of the hit.

Fire, cold, and lightning damage each have an element ailment associated with them. The non-damaging ailments have their effect proportional to the percentage of life the elemental damage did. There are passives and items that grant a chance to apply these efects, and will always be applied on critical strike.

  • Ignite - Deals a damage over time that deals 200% of Fire damage dealt from the hit that applied it over 4 seconds. Comes from Fire damage.
  • Chill - Slows down animation speed. Chill is always applied with Cold damage.
  • Frozen - Effectively a stun. Frozen enemies shatter when they die, leaving no corpse behind. Comes from Cold damage.
  • Shock - Target takes increased damage. Comes from Lightning damage.

These ailments aren't automatically applies on critical strike, only certain skills and item bonuses will apply these.

  • Bleed - Deals damage over time equal to 70% of the Physical damage dealt from the attack that applied it per second for 5 seconds. While moving, bleed deals triple the damage per second.
  • Poison - Deals 40% of the damage dealt from Physical and Chaos damage that applied it over 2 seconds in Chaos Damage. Poison can stack multiple times, and each stack has a separate 2 second timer.

Curses

Curses are powerful debuffs with varying effects, such as reduced elemental resistances, granting the attacker life and mana leech, and so on. However, only one Curse can be applied at a time, but this can be increased through a notable passive and some unique items.

Stuns

Stuns are handled differently from other ARPGs. Instead of applying it for a set time, its length depends on the stun duration modifier.

When you play you’ll notice that your attacks interrupt enemies (or vice versa), which is actually considered a stun; the default duration is 350 ms.

Check out the stun page for more information.

Instances

All areas in Path of Exile are instanced. When you enter an area, a new instance is created. Once you leave the area, the instance will remain in its current state for 15 minutes for main areas - if 15 minutes passes with no players entering the instance, it will be closed. Entering the same area again will create a new instance with a new randomly generated map. Areas without side areas attached (any area with two or fewer exits) has a shorter timer and will only last 8 minutes while empty.

Instances you create are private and cannot be entered by other players unless they join your party. However, once a player has entered an instance, that instance remains associated with the player even if they leave the party. So it is possible to share an instance with non-party members in some circumstances. The exception to this is towns, which are always public, and cut-throat leagues, where all instances are public - meaning anyone can enter your instances at any time.

Those 15m/8m timers are subject to technical limitations. Those times may be lower on open weekends when the servers are rushed by more players than usual.

You can force the creation of a new instance by Ctrl+clicking on the entrance, or map waypoint, while interacting with a waypoint.

Game modes

There are currently 10 acts of increasing difficulty in the game. Acts are split into two parts, with Part II revisiting Wraeclast in a changed environment.

Whenever you create a new character, you specify what league you want them to join, which is essentially the game type.

Currently there are four permanent leagues: Standard and Hardcore plus the Solo Self Found variants.

A new 'challenge' league split into 4 leagues will be created every three months or so. One challenge league always follows standard death rules, the other always follows hardcore death rules and the last two are the same as the two before but with no partying and trading (Called Solo Self Found, or SSF). These challenge leagues always have their own unique rule sets on top of the standard or hardcore death rules. When these challenge leagues end (usually after three months), the characters in these challenge leagues always return to their respective 'base' league type (standard, hardcore or the SSF variants) - along with all their inventory and stash items. Characters in the hardcore challenge league are moved to the basic standard league when they die (just like in normal hardcore). Characters in the standard challenge league remain in that challenge league after they die (they are not moved to the regular standard league until the current standard challenge league ends).

Solo Self Found characters can be transferred to their base league by a click of a button.

Characters can be moved between leagues (usually towards the Standard league) when certain events happen. Usually at the end of a ladder race/reset, characters are moved back to Standard so they can keep being played after the event. There are prizes for events, usually in-game currency or items with alternate art/model and higher item levels.

Masters

There are five Master NPCs: Einhar, Niko, Alva, Jun, and Zana. Sometimes zone can contain master-related content, which has you perform a task for rewards.

Einhar's mission will have you hunting special beasts. Einhar will assist you in combat and capture weakened beasts. Captured beasts are taken to the Menagerie, where they can be used for special crafting recipes via beastcrafting.

Niko's mission will have you finding and harvesting caches of Voltaxic Sulphite. Sulphite is used to delve in the Azurite Mine, an infinitely scaling dungeon. The Mines can contain special loot like fossils and resonators for modifiable crafting.

Alva's mission will have you go into an incursion into the Temple of Atzoatl in the past. Incursions have a short time limit which is extended by killing enemies. You can find Stones of Passage to open paths and kill architects to change or enhance a room. After 11 incursions, you can enter the Temple of Atzoatl in present time to loot it.

Jun's missions will have you dispatch a member from the Immortal Syndicate. The encounter depends on the member's division. Once defeated, Syndicate members can be interrogated for intelligence of their safehouse's location, bargained for a reward, have them betray another member, or killed to raise their rank. Raise their ranks and shuffle their division to maximize the reward you can get from raiding their safehouse. Syndicate member also drop Veiled items which contain a mystery modifier that can be unveiled to unlock crafting recipes. Jun is currently only available in the Betrayal league.

Zana's mission will have you enter another map of your choosing and perform a task in it. Zana is an important NPC in the post-game, who will help you obtain maps, progress in the Atlas, and give access to previous challenge league content.

Endgame content

Towards the end of the game, you may find maps. Maps are used in a Map Device to open randomly generated high-level areas. Maps can also be modded like you can any other item in PoE, making it more difficult and more rewarding.

After completing Act 10, players will meet Zana, Master Cartographer, who will give an introduction of maps, and the Map Device in the The Templar Laboratory. After completing your first map, she will introduce you the Atlas of Worlds. The Atlas visualizes the player's progress through the map content, with paths leading to undiscovered, tougher maps. Players are encouraged exploring the Atlas as each map you complete adds a permanent bonus to map drops. You can also modify the Atlas, adding temporary mods to maps in a radius or upgrade lower tier maps into higher leveled ones.

There are a few endgame challenges to face as well. Exploring corrupted zones or maps could let you find map pieces that open a realm to Queen Atziri, an optional, challenging boss. Defeating Atziri opens up a chance to face an even tougher version of Atziri. There are a few unique items that exclusively drop from Atziri, with the Uber version dropping some of the most powerful unique items in the game.

There is also the fourth difficulty of the Lord's Labyrinth. Unlike the first three Labyrinths, the trials for the endgame version are found in maps. Completing a trial once grants you one admission to the Eternal Labyrinth, with a tougher and deadlier layout and an even stronger Izaro. Completing this version of the Labyrinth grants two additional Ascendancy skill points, as well as valuable treasure and the most powerful enchantments.

The Atlas will mark areas of two different influences of control surrounding maps. These zones can drop Shaper or Elder equipment, which can contain extremely powerful item modifiers not found anywhere else. These zones can be expanded by clearing maps adjacent to the border while both influences border each other. When the tentacled zone grows large enough, it will spawn The Elder and his guardians, with items drops unique to them.

The Shaper lies in the heart of the Atlas. To gain access to his realm, you must obtain the four key fragments, guarded by the bosses of the highest tiered maps. To those who are truly dedicated, you can shift the Elder's influence into his realm and fight both the Shaper and the Elder in a double boss battle for the ultimate challenge and legendary uniques.

Hotkeys and GUI tips

Ctrl+click to move an item into the selling window or stash. (does not work with guild stash)
Ctrl+Alt+click to post an item into chat. (Open chat window by pressing enter to mouse over linked items)
Shift+click on a stack of items to open the split stack interface.
Get a minimap in the options menu. (map transparency adjustable)
Shift+enter or a “#” for global chat.
Ctrl+enter for a whisper reply.
Ctrl+Shift+enter or a “%” for party chat.
“@” followed by a character name for whisper.
"$" for trade chat.
"&" for guild chat.
You can hide global, trade or guild chat by unchecking the corresponding option box at the top of the chat window.
/help displays a complete list of commands and a short description of each one.
/itemlevel will show the item level of the item you’re holding in your mouse pointer.
/oos will make the client try to resyncronise with the server (use when you are desynced).
/remaining displays a message on how many monsters remain in the current instance.
/hideout will take you to your hideout, provided that you are in a city instance and you already gained a hideout.
/passives will display all skill points acquired on the current character and where/how they were acquired.
Holding Control and clicking on an instance will give you the option to reset the zone. Use this sparingly as it increases the server load.
Holding Alt while mousing over an item in chat will display its corresponding item level.
Hold shift to attack in place.
Press X to switch between two weapon presets.
Press Z to show/hide item labels.
/afk [message] Autoreply to whispers that you are AFK with the text [message]. Performing any action, including chatting, will cancel AFK mode.
/dnd [message] Autoreply to whispers that you are DND with the text [message] and ignore all incoming messages.

See also