Monsters (along with loot) are the major focus of all Action RPGs out there. You will spend the vast majority of your time in Path of Exile hacking and slashing away at these beasts, so it works to your advantage if you know what you are up against. In this page you will find a detailed overview of everything you need to know about monsters including their rarities, mods, and more.
Monster rarity is something that is found in many Action RPGs and is what categorizes monsters into different power tiers. The upper rarities do not only make the monster stronger, but also increase the quality of the loot that it drops.
Normal is the basic and lowest of the monster rarities. These guys are the most common sight you will see on the battlefield and are considered by many to be fodder, giving you something to do in-between the rares and champions. These monsters have a white name and cannot have any special modifiers, although some do have some properties such as "Undead" or "Resist Cold" that are static for their type. The name used in this rarity is the base monster's name, such as Drowned. Rares and champions are generated from this base type.
Champions are distinguished from the other rarities thanks to their blue name and by the fact that they almost always spawn in packs. Starting from this rarity monsters will receive bonuses to their life and damage, and will have a lesser chance of fleeing during combat. To compensate for this they will give more experience, more flask charges, and will drop better loot. They will also start using mods, which are special properties applied to monsters to make them harder. These mods will also influence how their name is generated such as Murk Runner of Endurance. The "endurance" mod is added because the monster has an endurance charge mod, as seen below:
Rare is the next monster rarity and is identified by the monster's yellow name and glow. These monsters are harder than the previous ones, but give more experience and better loot. Like champions, rares also use mods to boost their powers but they do not derive their name from them (at least not directly); instead they will use random names such as Necridheart. Rares have more mods than champions, and can also employ powerful auras, which is the main reason why they are harder.
Unique is the last rarity available for monsters and as the name suggests, these monsters are unique and only one is found in the game. They can be distinguished from the other monsters due to their orange name and possibly their unique appearance. These type of monsters always appear in the same spot and with the same name, and always pick the same pre-defined combination of mods. Because the mods for these monsters are static, it's not uncommon to find rares with tougher combinations.
Bosses, at their core, are unique monsters, however many people classify these guys under their own category. For the sake of this website, I will consider a unique to be a boss when you are required to kill it to progress in the game.
Mods can come in many forms and sizes and are what make rares and champions difficult to fight. These powers can be anything like increased damage, increased resistances, increased evasion, health regeneration, etc. There is no full list for these mods, but you will get used to them quite fast if you play the game. Monsters are limited to mods from their level range, so a level 5 monster for example will not have the same mods as a level 30 monster. A final note is that mods are split into two categories: suffixes and prefixes. This will define how they are allocated and how they effect champion's names. Champions can have a maximum of two mods (one prefix and one suffix) while Rares can have a maximum of six (three prefixes and three suffixes).
The most powerful of these mods are called auras and are employed by rare monsters. These auras not only provide the actual rare with bonuses, but also any of the surrounding monsters. This can complicate things considerably if there are many monsters around, or if you are unlucky enough to come across two rares with auras at the same time (yes, they stack!). Unlike regular mods, a full list of enemy auras can be found here.
A specific mod I want to talk about is the one called Wealth, which is basically a positive mod that the game frequently teases you with on the loading screens. What I mean by this is that monsters with this mod will actually benefit the player by providing more drops and better item quality. This mod is very rare however; some have never even seen it in their long time playing the game. I am one of those people, but thanks to Google I can still show you what it looks like:
Good luck finding out of these bad boys!
Like everything in Path of Exile, the monsters are aligned with one or two of the three core attributes. While you have no way of knowing which attributes they are aligned with or at what ratio, you can easily tell by fighting them. Strength aligned monsters take many hits to be killed and deal high damage to the player, while dexterity aligned monsters have high evasion and accurate, fast attacks; sometimes even using dual weapons. Finally, intelligence monsters are usually fragile in nature but employ powerful spells that can devastate the player.
While it's usually recommended for people to target multiple monsters at once for the sake of efficiency, one has to be careful when there are rares around as these can have auras that greatly increase the difficulty of even the weakest of normal monsters. It's not the first time I was rounding up some mobs only to get killed when a rare appears out of nowhere with some nasty auras. Playing it safe is especially important in the higher difficulties where death can cost you up to 10% of your hard earned experience. Champions, although they cannot have auras, can also complicate things when more than one are pulled at once, so try your best to avoid this.
Some other tips I can give you for general combat is to always stay in the open, avoid maps that have lots of distractions (unless you can use them to your advantage), and never get cornered.