.. 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.
While progressing through Act 3, the game wants you to go to the Aspirant’s Plaza through the Statue of the Goddess and complete The Lord’s Labyrinth (usually referred to as ‘Lab’). While you want to do this with the majority of builds as soon as possible, this time you don’t. The build simply doesn’t really benefit from it at this point and it’s not worth the struggle (because you have to kill the boss Izaro who can be challenging, especially for new players).
By default, the quest A Fixture of Fate is optional, but since it provides access to important gems for your build, you want to complete this as soon as possible – at least if this build is your league starter. The Library is a side area (where you will find Siosa, who will give you the quest) and can be found on the left side of The Imperial Gardens.
Note: There’s no need to skip any other campaign quests in order to complete this quest. Just progrees through the campaign normally and keep in mind that once you reach The Imperial Gardens, you should look for The Library and complete the quest.
Did you know? During the quest ‚A Ficture of Fate‘, you are supposed to find the entrance to ‚The Archives‘ – which is hidden. To access the area you must find „a loose candle“ somewhere along the walls. Holding the ALT key (default) will show a text at the location of the candle without the need to actually scroll over it (in case you didn’t activate ‘Always Highlight’ in your UI options as recommended in the ‚Preparation‘ section).
To be able to switch to the (G) Toxic Rain setup later, you need to have a leveling bow (see below) and a 3-linked R-G-G item (see below). In addition, you want to have a quiver. Therefore – if you don’t have these items yet – keep an extra eye on the loot to pick them up eventually (running The Docks can quite help – see task below). Until then, continue to use your current Shattering Steel setup.
This is optional, but can help you with preparing for Act 4 because you can find a lot of helpful items and currency in The Docks and the layout allows you to gain experience very efficiently. For new players, this is recommended.
Did you know? You can run the same area multiple times. In order to do so hold CTRL and left click on the area you want to re-join. Now, a popup window appears where you can open a new instance which resets the area (both the area layout and monsters). This works both via waypoints or directly via the area entrances.
In order to craft your leveling bow, follow these steps:
1. Buy a normal Royal Bow, Grove Bow or Death Bow from the vendor
Whether or not the vendor has a Royal Bow, Grove Bow or Death Bow is random, so just occasionally check the vendor for this item base if nothing has dropped yet. The preset loot filter highlights named bows (red color). Keep in mind: The vendor offers reset each time you gain a level. You don’t have to do this, if you’ve found a bow already, of course.
2. Use Blacksmith’s Whetstones to increase the quality of the bow
A Blacksmith’s Whetstone increases the quality of weapons. Quality does not only increase the base modifiers, but also increases the chance to get the maximum number of sockets when using Jeweller’s Orbs (see 3.) and the maximum number of links when using Orbs of Fusing (see 4.).The default maximum quality of an item is 20%. The amount of quality added to an item per usage of a Blacksmith’s Whetstone depends on the rarity of the item: normal item = +5% quality | magic item = +2% quality | rare/unique item = +1% quality).
3. Use Jeweller’s Orbs to create 3-4 sockets
A Jeweller’s Orb changes the amount of sockets on an item. The amount of sockets you get on usage is random (so you might need to use several of them on an item to get the amount of sockets you want). One-Handed Weapons and Shields can have a maximum of 3 sockets. Gloves, Helmets and Boots can have a maximum of 4 sockets. Two-Handed Weapons and Body Armours can have a maximum of 6 sockets. Note: If you were lucky and you’ve looted an Orb of Binding already, you can use it instead of Jeweller’s Orbs since it has a 100% chance to add 4 sockets and 4 links to the item.
4. Use Orbs of Fusing to get 3-4 linked sockets
An Orb of Fusing changes the links between sockets. The amount of links you get on usage is random (so you might need to use several Orbs of Fusing on an item to get the amount of links you want). Note: If you’ve used an Orb of Binding in the step before, you can skip this one.
5. Use Chromatic Orbs to get 3-4 green sockets
A Chromatic Orb changes the colors of sockets. Socket colors you get on usage are partly random. Which colors are more likely to appear is determined by the item base type and its associated modifiers. Here, the rule of thumb is: Armour/Strength is related to red sockets; Evasion/Dexterity is related to green sockets; Energy Shield / Intelligence is related to blue sockets. (For example: An item with Energy Shield / armour and a stat requirement of 10 Intelligence and 5 Strength has a higher chance to get blue sockets rather than red socket and green sockets are quite rare. Getting two or even more green sockets on this item base by using Chromatic Orbs is very unlikely to happen). That being said, you might need to use several Chromatic Orbs on an item to get the colors you want.
6. Use your Crafting Bench to craft attack speed on the bow (if possible)
The Crafting Bench lets you craft a modifier onto items or modify sockets and links at the cost of currency. It can be found in your hideout which is unlocked after freeing Helena in Act 2 (you’ve completed this quest already).
7. Use an Essence to add elemental damage or attack speed to the bow (optional)
In case you can’t craft attack speed on your bow, you can use an Essence on the bow. Essences allow you to upgrade a normal item (white) to rare rarity (yellow) while guaranteeing the item has one specific modifier. The type of modifier added is based on the type of Essence used. For example: Using a Muttering Essence of Hatred on a normal bow would guarantee you a rare bow with ‚Adds (7-9) to (14-16) Cold Damage‘ modifier.
Trade League players can also check the PoE trade website for a decent bow (but note that these items will most likely be overpriced at league start):
Did you know? From here, you won’t need Blacksmith’s Whetstones for quite some time. Therefore, don’t hesitate to sell them to any vendor if you need Scrolls of Wisdom and when you have no Armourer’s Scraps left.
It’s recommended to not level Flame Dash due to its increasing intelligence requirement – at least for now. In order to not level the gem, you can just right click the „+“ on the right side if it has reached the needed experience to level up.
You should already have Steelskin. If not, from Nessa in Lioneye’s Watch in Act 1 after completing the quest Breaking Some Eggs. Make sure to set this skill as your default left click (to autocast it).
Did you know? As of now, the only modifiers on items you should care about are +# to Maximum Life as well as Cold, Fire and Lightning Resistance. Beyond that, modifiers like „#% increased Attack Speed“ or any form of increased Chaos damage are beneficial, BUT you should not put any focus on these at this time due to the fact that they’re simply not important at the moment.
Determination is an aura, so you have to activate it once. Use it as soon as possible BUT ONLY if you already have picked up small node on your skill tree next to ‘Charisma’ which proves ‚8% increased Mana Reservation Efficiency‘ …
… AND if you have an Enduring Mana Flask (Reminder: ‚Enduring Mana Flask‘ means that the flask has the modifier ‚Flask effect is not removed when Unreserved Mana is Filled‘). Otherwise level the gem until you fulfill both requirements. The reason: If you use Determination without fulfilling mentioned requirements, you will suffer a lot from not having mana to use skills!
If you don’t have enough mana to activate (R) Determination, pick up the ‚Charisma‚ node on the skill tree.
If you need strength to use (R) Determination don’t hesitate to pick up the ‚Prowess‚ node on the skill tree.
Additionally, make sure to set (R) Molten Shell as your default left click (to autocast it). If you don’t use (R) Determination yet, store (R) Molten Shell in your stash or level it in your second weapon set.
This is optional, but adds an additional defensive layer since Granite Flasks provide additional armour [which scales with (R) Determination]. You can choose a Granite Flask as a quest reward for completing the quest The Key to Freedom later in Act 5 , but it can also drop from enemies earlier.
Did you know? In case you’ve used Iron Rings up to here, make sure to switch them with other ring bases (e.g. Coral Ring, Sapphire Ring, Topaz Ring, Ruby Ring or Two-Stone Ring) as soon as possible. Why? Iron Rings provide the ‚Adds 1 to 4 Physical Damage to Attacks‘ implicit modifier and (G) Toxic Rain doesn’t really benefit from this mod – instead, get some rings which provide life or elemental resistances.
You can do this by left-clicking on your skills in your bottom right skill bar and choosing the respective option. 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).