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Beginner's Guide to Path of Exile

Path of Exile is a very familiar game in many ways but also has a few surprises tucked away. Here are five tips for beginners.

Earlier this week, the trailer for Grinding Gear Games' stunning Path of Exile's third expansion was revealed, and the expansion itself is coming next week. Since I encouraged gamers everywhere to take this opportunity to give this free-to-play gem a try for the first time, I thought it only fair that I give a few tips for first time players.

Path of Exile is a dungeon-crawling roleplaying game that will look and feel very familiar to anybody who has ever played Diablo. There is, of course, far more to grasp than what I will list here, but there are a few things that I wished I had known a bit earlier than I did. 

The Basics (What to Bring)

The more unique mechanics and ideas include potions that fill up by slaying enemies. You can have up to five of these equipped from the start of the game. The bottles come in various sizes and replenish various stats, such as health. Equip the biggest and best bottles you find and enjoy the fact that they fill back up as you dispatch your foes.

Scrolls of wisdom are also required in order to learn about a new item that you find. Make sure you have an abundant supply. That new seemingly dull weapon may actually be your new best friend. You just don't know it yet.

Familiar yet different

That Skill Tree

One of the biggest defining characteristics of Path of Exile is its skill tree. It is enormous, it is intimidating, and it is definitely possible to mess up your character. It is possible to undo a used point, but you will not be able to undo all that much of what you choose. So for all intents and purposes, once you pick something, it is permanent. This means that you need to plan! 

Decide your class at the start based on your preferred play style and know the route you want to take. (Although it would actually be a good idea to play the first part of the game multiple times with different classes and weapons in order to find your preferred style, weapon type and so on.) Once you are comfortable and confident in how you want to play, the skill tree won't be as intimidating anymore.

It will start to become apparent to you which slots will help your commonly used strategies and which will be wasted. Make sure you look through the whole tree and plot out a long-term route. You don't want to pick a bunch of decent upgrades only to end the chain on a useless ability. Much better to pick an initially less attractive route to end at a game-breaking power.

If all else fails, upgrading really basic things like your health and defense is never a bad thing for any character. A great idea is to head over to the section of the Path of Exile website where you can pick a class and then plot out a path through the skill tree all the way to maximum level before you even play.

Gem Slots

Gem slots are a very cool feature in Path of Exile. As long as you meet the requirements, you can slot a gem into an item or weapon in order to access its ability. This is basically how you get magic and other powers in the game.The great thing is, unlike the skill tree, these decisions are not permanent.

You can experiment all you want. Try magic attacks, passive abilities, or my personal favorite, summoning creatures to do your bidding. You can dabble in many types or specialize in one ability type.

The important thing to know is that if you switch armor or weapon, it could affect what gems you can utilize. That favorite blue gem of yours is great now, but if you use this much better melee weapon, suddenly you have no blue gem slot.

Of course you can have two weapon loadouts equipped at a time and switch between them on the fly, so with a little fiddling you may still be able to get that perfect combination that you want.

Gems may only be placed in slots of a matching colour

Things Start Off Very Easy...

As is so often the case with this style of game, things start off almost insultingly easy, but the difficulty ramps up later. So definitely use the beginning of the game to try out weapons, strategies and playstyles. Explore everywhere, kill every enemy, and search for every treasure.

Not only will this help train and condition you for the late game, but it will also give you the best possible start when it comes to experience and items. Hit the ground running, get into that habit, and things will be much easier later on.

....But It Get Harder Later
Like I already said, it doesn't stay insultingly easy. Some general tips for overcoming the challenges of the game seem like a good idea. First of all, although Path of Exile is still a huge amount of fun to play solo (and perfectly possible), it is a lot easier with a friend or two. Not only are there simply more of you, but you can also plan out your characters together to best compliment each other.You can also trade gems with each other to best optimize your damage output. It is just generally good to have someone watching your back.

There can be a lot of enemies in Path of Exile, so another good tip is to use choke points (the age old Spartan strategy never fails us) and take them out one or two at a time. This also goes hand in hand with another strategy that appears in many games - area of effect. Get yourself a powerful AoE as soon as you can and once you have those guys in a choke point... well you know what to do.

Really though, it's all about that skill tree

Will you be checking out Path of Exile when its expansion arrives? Or will you return to play Act IV? Let us know below.

Published Jul. 4th 2015
  • Chai Chien Liang
    Contributor
    Wow, that is one complex skill tree, will go download the game and see what's it all about this month!
  • OrganisedDinosaur
    Correspondent
    Definitely check it out. It is on a long list of mine to play again.

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