August 4, 2017

Preparing for Path of Exile 3.0: The Fall of Oriath

Path of Exile's largest and craziest expansion, The Fall of Oriath, launches tomorrow (August 4th), bringing the game from 4 acts repeated across 3 difficulties to a single 10 act playthrough. There are of course many other changes in the patch, including a new tutorial/help screen, new items, skills, and support gems, numerous balance adjustments, and the new Harbinger League. While preparing for the launch myself and preparing to help some friends who will be playing Path of Exile for the first time, I've collected a bunch of useful programs, guides, and videos.

Since Path of Exile can be overwhelming and complex, especially for new players, I'm going to split these up into two parts. Part 1, below, will cover just the basics I recommend to start playing. In part 2, I'll include a list of websites and tools I use for most advanced aspects of the game, like trading, crafting, and developing your character.

Getting Started

Download Path of Exile (Steam).

Choose either the official client or the Steam client. The official client has a somewhat better patching process, while Steam offers the usual community features, achievements, Steam Wallet, etc. I play via Steam, but both options are good.

Choose a Loot Filter

Loot filters allow players to customize the display of the vast amounts of loot that drops in Path of Exile. Poor items can be hidden while important items can be highlighted with unique backgrounds, borders, colors, sizes, or even sounds. Some of the more advanced loot filters are adapted to the leveling process, the trade economy, and/or specific builds or playstyles. At this point in Path of Exile, I would consider a good loot filter to be essentially required, though they are technically optional.

There are many great filters to choose from, or you can try creating your own (mostly for experienced players). I personally use and recommend NeverSink's Loot Filter (generally semi-strict) plus his FilterBlade website where you can easily customize the filter according to your own specific needs. FilterBlade also has a fun "loot simulator" to test out how the filter will look in-game.

You can browse for other loot filters on the official forums or through FilterBlast (not to be confused with FilterBlade). FilterBlast also includes filter customization. There is also an older program, Filtration, which can be used to edit loot filters. The truly brave can use text editors but I don't recommend that.

Install a Loot Filter

All good loot filters should include installation instructions, but even if they don't, the process is simple. Place the filter in /Documents/My Games/Path of Exile, making sure it has the extension .filter. You can also open this folder from the interface options in-game if you have trouble finding the correct location. Once the filter is in that folder, you should see your filter available in a drop-down menu near the bottom of interface options. Select it, hit "reload" if needed, and that's it. You can have multiple filters available to switch between, though I usually just stick with one.

Choosing a League, Character, and Build

Choose a League

Before creating a character, you will need to choose which "league" you want that character to participate in. The permanent leagues are Standard and Hardcore, where dead characters are kicked out into Standard. There are also temporary, or challenge leagues, which last approximately 3 months, and come in Standard or Hardcore variants. You will also see a "Solo Self-Found" (SSF) option, which is a completely optional challenge that restricts you from interacting with other players in any way. No trading and no partying (you can still chat). There are no rewards for SSF mode except personal satisfaction.

The league that will be launching with The Fall of Oriath is the Harbinger League. These leagues have unique mechanics, usually, with some form of risk vs. reward, that may or may not be integrated into the standard game after the league is over. While playing you will encounter rogue exiles, strongboxes, prophecies, Nemesis monsters, etc. These are all examples of past league mechanics that are now part of the game.

These temporary leagues draw a lot of players in for the fresh economy, new mechanics, and challenge rewards (free cosmetics, given out for achieving certain amounts of objectives). I certainly recommend playing in the temporary league if you have the time to commit. You can certainly choose a permanent league if you don't feel you would make enough progress in a temporary league. Permanent Hardcore can be unpopulated relative to the other leagues, but Standard maintains a decent population, even during temporary leagues.

Choose a Character

There are 7 different character classes available in Path of Exile (one must be unlocked partially into the game), and a crazy number of potential builds with different combinations of passive trees, skill/support gems, and gear. All classes but the unlockable Scion have 3 "ascendancy" subclasses to choose from too (Scion has only one ascendancy). I am not going to go into too much detail because this post would never end.

In general, Marauder is good for melee/armor, Witch is good for spellcasting/energy shield, and Ranger is good for...ranged/evasion. The Templar falls between Marauder and Witch, the Shadow is between Witch and Ranger, the Duelist is between Ranger and Marauder, and the Scion is in the center of all of them. But these are not hard rules at all; there are successful spellcasting Marauders, melee Rangers, etc. Similarly, some ascendancy classes point towards certain build archetypes, but not exclusively. The Witch's Necromancer ascendancy implies traditional minion builds, but can also support other players, or provide defensive options for the Witch that may not otherwise be available.

You can definitely go in blind, pick a character, choose a skill that looks fun, and dive right in. For new players, your first character using this method will probably end up petering out somewhere along the way. That doesn't mean this method is wrong; as long as you enjoy the character and know that it may possibly "fail." Path of Exile does not offer true "respecs," and the limited respecs can be very expensive, especially for new players.

Choose a Build

If you don't have the time, stamina, or desire to go through that process, I recommend following a build guide. The official subforums for each class have many great guides available (example: Marauder), with the best guides giving a full breakdown of the passive tree, the leveling process, gems, gear, etc. Just make sure you are viewing guides updated for 3.0 (or whatever the current patch may be). You can also use the PoE Build Browser to search for forum guides, or PoE Builds to look directly at what the top players in each league are playing.

If you prefer video, many Path of Exile streamers have great video guides available on YouTube and elsewhere. Many of them also have guides covering game mechanics, leveling strategies, crafting, trading, etc. Some popular creators that I recommend are ZiggyD (probably the best beginner guides), Engineering Eternity (very beginner focused), LiftingNerdBro, Zizaran, and Mathil. Guides with keywords like starter, beginner, or budget are great for new players. ZiggyD and Zizaran also have Exiled, a joint podcast/video specifically about preparing for 3.0.

Many of these guides, especially newer guides, will include exported "Path of Building" info. Path of Building is an offline character planner with extreme amounts of detail, and you can import builds into it if you choose. All of the available data can be overwhelming, but the program allows you to very easily see how changing passives or items will affect your character. If the data is too much at first, you can just use the skill tree planner to guide your leveling.

I currently plan to start Harbinger League with some sort of life-based Righteous Fire (RF) character, probably a Berserker (Marauder ascendancy). Righteous Fire is a very old skill, but I have never actually used it in a full build. I am also looking at the three new skills coming in 3.0: Dark Pact, Storm Burst, and Charged Dash, as they each look unique, fun, and potentially powerful.

If you want to see more information about the tools I use to help me advance through the league, check out my list of useful Path of Exile websites and programs.