No matter how much you know you never truly know everything. This is why I suggest you read the following tips even if you have been playing the game for some time as you may still learn something.
Better Safe Than Sorry
I put this up top because it is very important: open regular portals! Portal Scrolls are so easy to come by you should never even think twice about this. Trust me you don't want to die to an unexpected hit or de-sync and have to start all the way back from the waypoint. I generally create a portal as soon as I enter a new area if that area does not have a waypoint, and I also do the same thing when fighting Uniques or Bosses. If you find yourself running short on Portal Scrolls (unlikely) you might want to consider the Portal gem. I just found out about this gem recently and it's a great addition to your arsenal if you have some spare sockets.
A Cheap Way To Win
Unless an instance has expired you can keep going back and the monsters will remain in the same state. This may sound like a minor thing but you can use it to your advantage when fighting bosses. You can literally "continue" a boss fight a million times if you have to, but remember that dying takes away experience at the higher difficulties. Not the most manly of things to do, but hey it works!
Manage Dem Instances
There is no clear button or indication in-game that there exists an instance manager, but luckily you found this site! All you have to do is ctrl+click on an entrance to an area (can also be a waypoint) and the manager window will pop up. From here you can see all of the current instances as well as create a new one. This is useful if you are farming a specific area and don't want to wait around for it to expire because you killed all the monsters.
Chat: I Command Thee!
Learning the chat commands and how chat works can be a great tool in your arsenal. There are the basic commands and then there are the not so basic ones. Let's look at the basic first:
There are five chat domains in this game: local, global, trade, whisper, and party. You can switch between these chat domains by using the drop down menu, by appending a special character, or by hitting a specific key combination. Here is a full list:
- Local - This is the default domain and is accessed when you don't type an identifier. There is no key combination for this domain, but since it is the default domain you will broadcast to it when enter is pressed unless you changed the domain before. Only players physically near you can see your messages.
- Global - This domain is accessed by appending the # identifier to the message. The key combination is shift+enter. This domain is used for general communication and is usually the most populated.
- Trade - Access to this domain is achieved by appending the $ identifier. This domain doesn't have a key combination. Use this domain to sell or buy items.
- Party - Using the % identifier and the ctrl+shift+enter combination, this domain will allow you to chat with all of your party members at once.
- Whisper - Allows you to talk to a player directly. The identifier for this channel is @ plus the character name, like so: @Duncan, assuming your target is a character called Duncan. The key combination here is ctrl+enter. Hitting this key combination after having received a whisper from someone will automatically put his name in the identifier, allowing easy replies.
- Twitch - There is also a Twitch domain in-game that uses the ^ identifier, although I have no idea how this works.
The "big" domains (Global and Trade) are split into different chat channels as to avoid clutter. You can see which chat channel you are currently in by looking at the chat interface:
To go to a different chat channel type /global or /trade followed by the channel number, such as /global 1. You can opt out of the global and the trade domains by unticking their respective button from the chat interface or from the options menu, which is something I recommend you do to avoid unnecessary spam. Note that these channels are league-specific, so typing in global while playing in the hardcore league means that only hardcore characters can see your messages.
You can use the up key to bring up your last written message. This is very useful when you want to advertise a specific item in trade but don't want to carry that item around with you, as you can link it once and then use the shortcut to bring up the same message. Items can be linked in chat by ctrl+alt+left clicking on them.
Those are the basics but you should see these too:
- /deaths - Shows you how many times you have died on the current character.
- /age - How long ago the current character was created.
- /played - Shows playtime for the current character.
- /pvp - Displays win/lose/draw statistics for 1v1 and 3v3 PvP matches.
- /itemlevel - A very important command to know as this will show you the item level of the currently selected item. Note that the item has to be on the cursor for this to work, ie. left clicking it. This is the only way to see an item's level.
- /oos - While not a magic bullet, this little command can prevent many frustrating occurrences caused by de-sync. Type this command when you feel you are not synched correctly and the game will be forced to re-sync. You can tell you are not synched properly when you see monsters teleporting around or when monsters appear next to you but don't hit you and you can't hit them.
- /invite and /kick - Invites or kicks a character to or from the party respectively. These commands must be followed by a player name.
- /ignore and /squelch - Both commands do the same thing: prevent an account from sending any messages to you. This must be followed by a player name.
- /dnd - Do Not Disturb; prevents all whispers from reaching your character.
- /remaining - Displays how many monsters are left in the current instance. If more than 20 monsters are left the displayed message will say "More than 20 monsters remain".
Typing /help in the chat window will display many (if not all) of the available chat commands.
It took me some time to figure out this shortcut but it has since prevented me from having to manually drag items from one window to the other. By ctrl+left clicking on an item, it will cause it to instantly move to the other window such as a stash or a vendor. A very handy thing to know!
Your character's build is the most important thing in this game, and this is why I highly discourage you from experimenting directly in-game. If you want to make your own build I suggest you use the passive skill tree builder which will allow you to get a better overview of all the nodes. This tool also comes with several handy features such as "search" and "related nodes". After you assign the points you can then save your build and mimic it in-game. Another way to get a build is to use one made by another player. You can find loads of these on the class-specific sub-forums and even on YouTube. Using a pre-made build has an added advantage because most of these builds have already been tested in Cruel and Merciless.
Remember that although it is possible to reset your skill points it is very hard to do so, and some things cannot be reset (such as the bandit rewards).
Stack Them High, Break Them Low
Many items in Path of Exile thankfully stack on top of each other allowing you to save space, but there are cases where you want to split stacks. This is done by shift+left clicking on a stack, at which point you will be presented with the following screen:
Simply select the size of the new stack (shown on the right) and hit "ok" to create it. This is useful when you want to trade with another player.
Most of you will already know about this if you played virtually any other ARPG, but for the unfortunate few here is a key you should definitely know about. That key is the shift key and its importance stems from the fact that it allows you to attack while standing still. Use this key when you want to attack but don't want to risk moving.
Every character in this game comes with secondary weapon slots. You can alternate between these slots by pressing the x key, but the point I want to make is that you should use these slots even if you don't plan on having two weapon configurations. Weapons currently in your secondary slot will not benefit you in terms of stats, but the gems inserted inside them will still gain experience. You can potentially be leveling six other gems at no extra effort just by placing them in your secondary weapon slot.
There is no Blacksmith or Jeweler here but crafting is still possible! You make use of the various vendors encountered throughout the game to do this and the process is actually quite simple. Crafting is done by selling a specific pattern of items which will cause the vendor to give you back the "result". There are many recipes in the game and some have not even been discovered yet, but I suggest you learn the basic ones. A full listing of the currently known recipes can be found here.
Setting It Up
How you setup your game is totally up to you but I suggest you enable all of the following options:
- Show Corner Map - Enables the mini-map display. This is very useful as it allows you see where you are without having to open the actual map.
- Always Highlight - Makes drops and certain environmental objects, such as chests, easier to see. Rocks, barrels, and similar items are not highlighted.
- Always Show Sockets - I don't know why anyone would want to turn off this option. When enabled sockets will be visible by default, whereas when it is not you have to hover over an item to see them.
- Show Full Descriptions - Shows you the full tooltip when you hover over an item on the ground. Without this you won't know what stats an item has unless you pick it up.
- Show Mini Life Bars On Allies/Enemies - I love this option. Just like the name suggests it puts a life bar on allies and enemies, which is very useful as otherwise you would have to hover over them to see their health. This is very practical for summoners who want to keep track of their minion's life.
- Key Pickup - I don't personally use this option but I know many people that do. When this is enabled you can only pick up items once the item highlight key is down (alt by default), stopping you from accidentally picking up worthless items or from accidentally clicking on an item in the middle of a fight.
Effect That Area
While it is perfectly possible to play the game without using AOE skills, it is highly un-recommended to do so. Skills that effect an area and not a single monster will allow you to kill enemies at a much faster rate, giving you more items and more experience.
White items are mostly junk in other ARPGs but here they can be very useful. An item that drops with increased quality, a good base stat roll, or a good number of sockets/links is very valuable because it can be upgraded into a Rare using an Orb of Alchemy. Always look out for white items especially in the higher levels.
Resist or Die
Another very common aspect amongst ARPGs is the importance of resistances. I can't stress this enough but you NEED resistances in this game. Even if you have loads of evasion you will still take hits every now and then which will instantly kill you unless you are properly protected. The easiest way to get resistances is from rings but there are also passive skill nodes and mods that grant them. I suggest you keep different sets of resistance rings for different situations. Also remember that Cruel and Merciless will give you a resistance penalty making it even more important to stack them up.
You Need Bandages
One of the most nasty status aliments in the game is called bleed. This debuff will cause you to take physical damage over time, but the thing is that the damage is greatly increased when you move. On a fragile character this can instantly kill you so I suggest you either don't move or you utilize a flask with the "bleed removal" mod. You can apply bleed yourself using Puncture or The Blood Reaper. Check this wiki page for more information.
You will inevitably encounter these guys during the game so here is one very important thing to know about them: kill them first! Necromancers aren't really strong and they don't deal a lot of damage, but they resurrect dead monsters almost instantly. Considering how these guys are usually found surrounded by other enemies you could end up spending ages trying to fight the never ending horde of summons. This may sound like a good idea since you are killing monsters, but it's actually a waste of time because summoned monsters don't give any experience or drops. The best way I have found to dispatch them quickly is to use chaos damage and bypass their energy shield, usually in the form of Poison Arrow. If for some reason you just cannot get to the necro (due to a cramped environment for example) you can deny him of his summons either by shattering them (cold damage) or by resurrecting them yourself.
This is something I stumbled upon completely by accident. If you press F1 while in-game (not on the menu screen) it will enable the performances gauges. These gauges show your frame time,and your fps (frames per second), and your latency. I don't really enable this feature while playing because I think it is too obstructive, but it's a handy thing to know about.
Movement speed is a very important thing to stack in Path of Exile, especially if you play an evasion-based character. The slower you move the harder it will be to catch monsters, to physically avoid attacks, and to maneuver around battles. There are many ways to increase your movement speed:
- Passive Nodes - Some passive skill tree nodes will increase your movement speed, but they aren't in abundance.
- Mods - Magic, Rare, and Unique items sometimes have mods that increase your movement speed.
- Quicksilver Flask - Will give you a 40% movement speed boost for the duration. Not a permanent benefit but still useful in certain situations.
- Flask Mods - Last but not least, some Magic flasks have a mod that increases your movement speed while they are active.
If you have no movement speed bonuses you may notice how your final speed is actually in the negative. This is because body armour and shields have a built-in movement speed penalty. The penalty varies according to the armour affiliation, with strength armour having the biggest deduction. This penalty can be ignored thanks to the Leather and Steel passive node. More information can be found on this wiki page.
It Feels Good To Leech!
Having a steady supply of health and mana is important in this game which is why life leech and mana leech play such a big role. Leeching comes from three sources: support gems, mods, and passive nodes. Be aware that many of the leeches only apply to physical damage; only the support gems utilize elemental and chaos values.