Act 1

Before creating a character, you have to decide which type of league you want play.

You can choose the following league types:

  • Standard league
    • All characters created here are permanently available in Standard
    • All content, but the current challenge league content (see below), is available
  • Challenge league
    • A challenge league offers special content which is only available in that specific league
    • All characters created here are available as long as the challenge league is running (normally ~3-4 months)
    • Once the challenge league is finished, all characters will be transfered to the Standard league

Additionally, you can choose the following game modes:

  • Default (also known as Trade)
    • You can trade (almost) all items you’ve found with other players
    • You can group up with other players
  • Solo Self-Found (also known as SSF)
    • You play completely alone without any possibility to interact with other players (including trading)
  • Ruthless
    • This is pretty much a masochist version of the default game mode with a lot of changes which make it significantly harder to progress
    • Ruthless can be played as a trade league or as an SSF league

Last but not least, you can choose an additional difficulty:

  • Hardcore
    • A character’s death is permanent, any items they were wearing are lost and the character becomes a standard league character.

Which type, mode and difficulty you play depends on your personal preferences.

I personally recommend any new player to play the default Challenge League with trade enabled (on the league selection screen, this would be the option in the middle without any other options selected). It’s less punishing and gives you more options in terms of item aquisition.

The class you pick at the beginning of the game determines which specialization (from here: Ascendancy class) you can choose later on. This build guide is designed for a Champion which is one of three possible Ascendancy classes you can choose as a Duelist class.

Once you start a new campaign, the game asks you if you want to hide all tutorials. I highly recommend not doing that if you are a new player since the tutorials will teach you a lot of basic stuff.

You either want to equip or sell blue or yellow items you don’t need to a vendor since you will get useful currency items by doing so (unlike in many other ARPGs where you just get gold).

If you sell a magic or an identified rare item to a vendor, you will receive one or more Alteration Shards (20 Alteration Shards will transform into 1 Orb of Alteration). If you sell an unidentified rare item to a vendor, you will get one or more Transmutation Shards (20 Transmutation Shards will transform into 1 Orb of Transmutation).

You will need several of those Orbs to buy gems during the campaign (but they will also drop from enemies). You can also buy some of them from vendors, but it’s not worth it most of the time during the campaign.

This is a highly recommended quality of life improvement. This way you won’t accidentally attack an enemy when you actually just want to move past him. This is a common reason why new players die.

There are a lot of currencies in Path of Exile and each of them has its own purpose. Going into details now, wouldn’t be helpful so just keep the following in mind: For the campaign and the first part of the endgame, you especially want to stockpile Orbs of Transmutation, Orbs of Alteration and Orbs of Chance. The preset loot filter highlights all named currencies (red color). Just make sure to pick them up.

.. I recommend following this skill tree path which was explicitly designed to make the gaming experience as pleasant as possible for new players. That being said, it focuses more on survivability and comfort than damage since these are way more important at the beginning, but the guide will elaborate on options to adjust the skill tree in order to be more damage centric for the endgame later.

If you’ve followed the tutorial notifications, you already should’ve placed (G) Double Strike into your weapon. Take it out and put in (G) Splitting Steel instead. I also recommend reading the description of the Splitting Steel gem to get an idea of how it functions.

You can increase the power of gems by connecting them with support gems. In order to connect two or more gems, they have to be placed in sockets of the same item whereby the respective sockets need to be connected (visibly indicated by a string between sockets). Connected gems/sockets are referred to as ‘linked’.

At this point, you have a weapon with two sockets [one (G) green socket and one (R) red socket] and one link. This is where you want to put both your (G) Splitting Steel and (R) Chance to Bleed Support (if you’ve followed the tutorial help notifications, you already should’ve placed Chance to Bleed Support into your weapon).

You can do this by left-clicking on your skills in your bottom right skill bar and choosing the respective option (at the top). If you don’t do this, the skill will be used where your cursor is at that specific moment. As a result, it often happens that you move to the position of the cursor instead of attacking monsters. In order to prevent that from happening, activate ‘Always Attack Without Moving”. This is basically recommended for almost all skills you use in this build, but (G) Dash (if you activate this for Dash you will dash backwards instead of forwards).

What does G-G-R mean? It indicates an item with two (G) green sockets and one (R) red socket which are all linked. If no 3-linked G-G-R item drops, just occasionally check the vendor in town. The preset loot filter also highlights G-G-R items (red color).

You get a Quicksilver Flask for completing the quest Mercy Mission. This flask allows you to move faster and should be an integral part of your flask setup for pretty much any build.

If you don’t have a 3-link item yet, just level it in your second weapon set until you can do so.If you don’t have a second weapon set yet, just put the next weapon you find in there. You can select the weapon set by clicking on the II on the top of your inventory.

Use (R) Ancestral Protector as soon as possible. Otherwise just level it in your second weapon set until you can do so. You get this gem for completing the quest Breaking Some Eggs.

You get (G) Dash for completing the quest Breaking Some Eggs. Use this gem for better movement as soon as possible. Otherwise just level it in your second weapon set until you can do so.

You can buy (R) War Banner from Nessa in Lioneye’s Watch after completing the quest Breaking Some Eggs. Use this gem as soon as possible. It’s an aura, therefore you have to activate it once (you don’t have to use the active part of this gem).

Link (R) Maim Support with (R) Ancestral Protector as soon as possible. Otherwise just level it in your second weapon set until you can do so.

You get (R) Vitality for completing the quest The Caged Brute (Part 2). Vitality is a permanent aura so you have to activate it.

Important note: With increased gem level, Vitality requires increased mana reservation. While Vitality can be benefitial, it’s not as important as having other auras active. Therefore – in case you struggle with not having enough mana to cast skills or to activate other auras named by this guide – don’t hesitate to get rid of Vitality. It’s not that crucial.

You can buy (R) Steelskin from Nessa in Lioneye’s Watch after completing the quest Breaking Some Eggs. Use this gem as soon as possible. Make sure to use it in dangerous situations.

For now, this is optional. You can do this later as well. Trials of Ascendancy are mazes within specific areas of the campaign – in this case, The Lower Prison.