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Path of Exile Quick Start Beginner's Guide - Mechanics, Tips & Tricks

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

Path of Exile Game Mechanics

G'day ZiggyD here and welcome to my quick start guide for Path of Exile. This guide should serve to give absolute beginnner's to the game something to work from, a basic knowledge of the game's mechanics so that they can jump right into the fun stuff.  


Path of Exile is a loot-based action rpg. You control a character from a topdown perspective smashing monsters and getting loot. You can create a character who is one of six classes: Marauder, Witch, Ranger, Templar, Duelist, and the Shadow. The main differences between these classes are their starting stats, their position on the passive skill tree and the skills they will have available to them from quest rewards. In the open beta there 3 acts, and 3 difficulties (normal, cruel, merciless) for you to test your character and your builds against.


Skills in this game are determined by items called skill gems. To us them you place them into sockets in your equipment, and they level up and increase with power as they gain experience from the enemies you kill. Skill gems are classed as either strength, intelligence or dexterity and you are only limited in what you can use by these stats. Skills can be modified and made more powerful by support gems, which can be linked through linked sockets in your gear. These support gems can give a range of effects depending on the support gem and the skill it is linked to.


Every level you gain in path of exile gives you a passive skill point. The passive skill tree, sometimes known as skilldrasil, will determine your character's stats and how they play. It's a very good idea to plan out your character somewhat before getting started as it can be very easy to lose your sense of direction without a bit of a map. The most important thing to remember when it comes to builds in Path of Exile is that it is almost guaranteed you will screw up your first character and have to re-roll a new one. This is how you learn what works and what doesn't so don't let it get you down when it happens.You can plan out your passive build on the skill tree planner, which can be found on the path of exile website.


Because of the massive amount of flexibility in the skill gem system and in the passive skill tree it's possible to build your character in almost any way. Feel free to make a witch into a 2H axe wielding fighter if you feel like a challenge. When it comes to builds you have two options, you can pick some skills and notable passives and to try and create your own or you can look up builds made by high level players in the community. The choice is yours and both options can be very rewarding. For more information on how to plan out your build make sure to check out the video below.

How to Plan Out Your Build in Path of Exile


Flasks are Path of Exile's unique potion system. When you use a flask it doesn't dissappear, instead you only consume charges. Charges are earned back by killing enemies. This means to keep your potions topped up you have to keep killing enemies or revisit town. Potions can have magical modifiers just like normal gear and this is just one more way you can customize your character.


The currency, trading and crafting system in Path of Exile is quite unique. There is no monetary system like gold or dollars, instead everything is traded via barter or item for item trading, even to vendors in town. The most commonly traded item types are currency items, which also represent the game's crafting system. For a more in depth look at the currency and crafting system in path of exile check out the video below.

Currency & Crafting in PoE


Path of Exile features a controls system that should be familiar to anyone who has played an isometric action RPG before. Your character interacts with the world primarily through left clicks, and this includes moving, opening chests and even attacking enemies. From that point onwards skills that are equipped can be used by binding them to the right click, middle mouse button and Q, W, E, R, & T buttons. Potions are used by pressing 1 through 5 keys and your character can be told to stand their ground and attack by holding shift.

Other useful keys to know are tab, which brings up a larger map, and Alt, which will show item labels on the ground. You can also enable item labels to always be shown by pressing Z. Many other things have hotkeys like this, so be sure to explore the tooltips for the different game functions to learn them all.


  • Don't neglect defence and health on the passive tree! It can be tempting to always try to get more damage but you will soon find yourself dying a lot if you neglect your survivability. Dying also carries an experience penalty in the later difficulties and you want to avoid this as much as possible.
  • Building pure evasion to dodge attacks can seem like a good idea, that is until you get surrounded by a lot of smaller enemies. As a beginner, never rely on one form of defence.
  • Resistances are important, especially for certain bosses. Rings are the easiest way to get resistances in the early game.
  • Make sure to touch waypoints to activate them. This serves as a way of saving your progress in Wraeclast.


This is a very beginner oriented guide and it's main purpose was to point you in the right direction. Now your job is to start playing and learning the game in much more detail. If you need more information check the description of this video for more places to look.

  • Path of Exile Website and Forums
  • Path of Exile Reddit
  • Grinding Gear Games YouTube Build of the Week
  • Kripparian's YouTube Channel
  • ZiggyD's YouTube Channel

Remember, Path of Exile is a very deep and difficult game but it is very rewarding! Don't be afraid to fail and approach every death as a new learning experience!



Feb 19, 2013 10:37am
Awesome game and a nicely written guide!
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