Path of Exile: My Newbie Adventure Begins

Did you know that I haven’t played Path of Exile? Well, that might not be entirely true. I originally played Path of Exile during its earliest phases of … beta, I think? I played back when Act 1 was the only act available, and act 2 had just come out. It’s been a while.

I thought it would be fun to present my opinions on the game from a complete newbie’s perspective. Patch 3.0 just came out which apparently added a ton to the game and revamped a whole lot. As a newbie, I’ll have no idea what changed… but I will be able to judge the game for what it is right now.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea what the classes even do. I just learned 30 seconds ago from a friend what a chromatic is and why I should start picking them up.

As a Diablo 3 veteran — one that actually does like the game and currently played a Necromancer in Torment 12 — I think I can provide an interesting perspective. From all the Twitch streams and general consensus out there in the PoE community, D3 sucks and PoE is so much better. I’ll be the judge of that.

I’m a few hours in now, and my opinions are already starting to form.

PoE is much more complicated

Where D3 streamlines and polishes that user experience to the point of being almost too straight forward, PoE goes the other direction. As a newbie, there’s so much they don’t teach you. Like I said, I didn’t know what a chromatic was (3 sockets (1 of each color) linked together on a single item). There’s also a tree of passive skills that will blow your mind.

Passive skill tree necromancer PoE 3.0

Compared to Diablo 3, the PoE passive tree is way closer to D2 — and dwarfs it 10 fold.

Passive skill choices are permanent, which is both awesome and horrible. You can respect your passives using respect points the game sends your way, but you really shouldn’t make too many mistakes otherwise you’ll be living with them.

The story is a little dry so far

I’m not enthralled by the story. I don’t know that I necessarily should be at this point. This is an ARPG, so I don’t expect the story to do much more than pretend to give me a reason to go on the the next fight.

I get the gist of what’s going on. We’ve been exiled to this island off the mainland where an empire lives (Oriath?). We’re helping the people who settled here get inland more because there’s probably food there and other people.

I guess that’s as far as I’ve gone? I’m sort of figuring out this gem stuff and think it’s experimental or something. We’ll see.

Playing a Witch as a pet class

I’m going the route of a witch that summons lots of pets. I got a tip to use something called “SRS” which I discovered means “Summon Raging Spirit.” It’s not actually as good as my frost gem I picked up that sends of a pulse of frost (that might actually be its name).

Speaking of gems, I also learned about gem linking. There are support gems that augment a gem they are linked to. Linking is when the sockets in an item are linked by a path — it’s not enough to just have socked on an item; They must be linked.

Nicely tuned difficulty

The difficulty is obviously pretty balanced right now. Compared to D3, it’s hard. I feel like as a newbie in D3 I can still melt everything. PoE makes me kite some harder mobs. Though at level 12’ish right now I feel like I’m getting closer to being safe. Interestingly, no deaths yet.

I want the game to feel hard–ish. I don’t want to ever feel frustrated by the difficulty, but it’ll be nice to hopefully have some challenge. This is all ignorant prediction. It may very well turn into lasers pew pew melt everything like D3.

I can’t do the meta min/maxer powergamer crap

I caught a glimpse of some streamers I watch playing PoE. Shout out to Shortyy, Lirik, and Waffle. They’re occasionally fun to watch. These guys are using something like “Builder” which is program that somehow tells them their builds and exactly what to get and what to do. That feels so… bleh. Why bother?

I think the most I’m willing to do right now is download a loot filter and read a guide on how to generally play my build (which I did.) The loot filter takes the crap in the game and helps highlight stuff that isn’t garbage. My guide is basically helping me understand my stats and which passives are generally good for a pet build.

Casual play goooo

I don’t know what I’m getting myself into. Is this a long game? Is it short but turns into a grind like D3? ::shrug:: I’m here for the casual adventure. I’d like to keep you guys updated on my thoughts as I continue. Not a bad time to start PoE since this is also only day 7 my 31 days of blogging!

  • Proximo says:

    I love PoE, it’s more D3 than D3 imo.
    I to play it casually, trying to maximise my build etc just pushed me away from the game, ombudsmen I started not caring about making and just picked what sounds fun I actually started having fun instead of it being a chore.

    • Keen says:

      There’s this weird line I sometimes have to walk between freedom of choice and freedom from choice. I want the choices, but I don’t want the shore of the choice. I think I do have fun when I don’t care, but at the same time I want to have the fun of knowing my character doesn’t suck. 😛

  • Jeromai says:

    “I don’t know what I’m getting myself into.”

    Yep. That applies to pretty much everybody that picks up PoE.

    Just take it as it comes and don’t expect the first build to be perfect.

    At some point, you will start exploding into little giblets when the mobs look at you funny, and that would be the time to figuring out what -not- to do for the subsequent builds/characters so that they can progress beyond where you got to the first go around.

    The good news is, I think they managed to smooth the difficulty curve/cliff out in 3.0 to the point where an ordinary player can probably finish Act 10 and hit the maps endgame before hitting a wall.

    My current casual character is in Act 5, often 2-3 levels overleveled for the map, and progress is fairly smooth. I should be hitting the -20% resistances old Cruel difficulty in Part 2 – Acts 6-10 soon, but don’t anticipate too much trouble as yet.

    The -60% resistances of the old Merciless difficulty were a really big hurdle to overcome for new players and I heard that doesn’t happen until Act 10 is over now.

    • Keen says:

      The concept of having multiple characters is what I think ultimately pushed me into the arms of a guide. I don’t want to burn out too much, and I think messing up a character and reaching the end just to find out I have to start over because of a mistake would probably be enough for me to go on to the next game. Remaking a new character would, of course, not matter as long as I like the game. Since I don’t know what I think yet, I played it safe.

  • Kerazi says:

    I understand your attitude towards using pre-defined builds. If you have to follow a guide, why play a game? Why not just press “Win”?

    But given how complex the game can be, and the amount of interacting mechanics sometimes its nice to find a decent path to a good build that blows everything up.

    One of the problems with open skill systems (like D2, early WoW, Rift, and PoE) there are a near infinite number of skills/gear combinations, many of which are have serious short comings, and realize you have to start over (like PoE and early D2) or just follow “The Cookie Cutter Guide”. Rift’s choice was to add cookie cutter templates right into the game. WoW and D3 chose to eliminate trees altogether. PoE depends on its community. Between its trading website, wiki, external tools, forums, reddit, Twitch, Youtube etc, you can usually find the information you need, but only if you want it.

    To me, guides can be used like training wheels. Letting me make a more viable builds instead of flailing around late games and maps with an anemic build. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to understand how gear, and crafting (including currency Orbs and Master Crafting) and (optionally) trading works.

    Also PoE leveling doesn’t always match your end-game builds. Some key skills or supports aren’t available until much later. So you can play around with different gear and skill setups. The one thing I tend to follow closely is the skill tree. But when to pivot, and move into my “end-game” skills is up to me, well and RNG. Still lots of choice. The early game is easy enough to ease you into it.

    • Keen says:

      Very good points! I agree that the guides can be training wheels. That’s where I’m trying to go for now. Of course that opens up another set of questions for me, such as “okay, which guide?” I find myself now torn between multiple builds. Hah.

  • Kerazi says:

    I should have read your post more closely. You are using a guide to help out with your passives, but mostly doing the rest yourself, which I think is a great compromise for a game this complex.

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