Thursday, October 24, 2013

Path of Exile (Part Five)

Items and Equipments
Although there are quite a few items and equipment types in Path of Exile, they no doubt still adhere to regular MMO convention - i.e. Needs to be at a certain level or have certain amount of Strength, Dexterity and/or Intelligence to equip/use it.

Furthermore, since their usage are pretty much a no-brainer (or can be easily derived from their item descriptions), I am therefore instead going to skip all of those introductions and just straightaway focus on the more subtle, critical aspects.

Item Rarity and Modifiers
Pretty much just about everything that you can see and find in this game can come in four varying rarities, Normal, Magic, Rare and Unique.
Path of Exile - Normal ItemPath of Exile - Magic Item

Path of Exile - Rare ItemPath of Exile - Unique Item
However, instead of the regular increasing of item statistics that you would have come to expect, like damage (for weapons) and defense/evade (for armors), the actual significance of item rarity comes in the form of their "susceptibility" to being modified and amount of modifiers that they may hold.
  • Normal
    Normal rarity items are simply just basic items with no modifiers found on them. However, the redeeming feature about them is that you can use a variety of easily obtainable "tool items" to transform them into the other rarities without changing the "core" of the item (i.e. A Quartz Sceptre will remain as a Quartz Sceptre).

    Orb of Transmutation - Upgrades a normal item into a magic item.
    Orb of Alchemy - Upgrades a normal item into a rare item.
    Orb of Chance - Upgrades a normal item into a random rarity.

  • Magic
    Magic rarity items are simply just one step up from being a normal item. They can hold up to two modifiers.

    Orb of Augmentation - Enchants a magic item with a new random property. (One new modifier will be added so long as it has the space.)
    Orb of Alteration - Reforges a magic item with new random properties. (The modifiers on that item will be rerolled.)
    Regal Orb - Upgrades a magic item into a rare item. (It will retain its current modifiers and one new modifier will be added.)

  • Rare
    More or less functioning in the same way as magic rarity items, the only difference is that rare items can hold up to six modifiers in total.

    Exalted Orb - Enchants a rare item with a new random property. (One new modifier will be added so long as it has the space.)

  • Unique
    Contrary to how normal, magic and rare items work, unique items are considered the most "rigid" of them all. They have specific names, unique artwork and a fixed list of modifiers which cannot be altered, only tweaked...and only for modifiers that are actually coded with a flexible range.

    Path of Exile - Unique ItemPath of Exile - Wanderlust Wool Shoes
For more info:
Path of Exile - Item Modifiers
Path of Exile - List of Unique Items

Path of Exile - Life FlaskPath of Exile - Tower Shield
Just like skill gems, most of the items and equipments found in the game also has a quality factor appended to it. And likewise, the stats that do get affected by the quality factor also differs depending upon the item in question.

For example, weapons would typically have their weapon damage improved by the quality factor while armors would have their defensive stats improved instead. Life and Mana flasks would have the amount of HP or MP they replenish increased by the quality, while on the other hand, utility flasks that offers a temporary buff would have their durations improved by the quality factor.

However, that is not my purpose of mentioning about quality here because those can be easily identified and picked up by you when you start playing the game. And so the actual purpose of this section is to highlight (to you) the various "tool items" that you may obtain and use, to help raise the quality factor of any particularly good item that you may happen to have gotten.

ItemTool ItemAdditional Info
Armor PartsArmourer's ScrapImproves the Quality by:
- 5% for Normal items
- 2% for Magic items
- 1% for Rare and Unique items

Maximum quality is capped at +20% (just like skill gems)
WeaponsBlacksmith's Whetstone
FlasksGlassblower's Bauble
MapsCartographer's Chisel

As I have already mentioned about the uses of sockets and their relationship to skill gems in an earlier part, hence this segment isn't to repeat what we've already touched upon. Instead, what we're going to focus on is actually the "tool items" that we can use to modify these sockets (on equipments) and roughly how they work...which is why this segment is found as a subsection under "Items and Equipments".

Basically, there are a total of three such "tool items", that we must get acquainted with, that has something to do with sockets. They are namely, the "Jeweller's Orb", the "Orb of Fusing" and the "Chromatic Orb".
Path of Exile - Socket Tool Items
  • Jeweller's Orb
    This orb's function is to re-roll the number of sockets on an item (weapon or a piece of armor). And like its description states, if the item has any quality value found on it, it will be consumed to increase your chances of getting more sockets.

    However, you must realize that there is a maximum limit to the number of sockets that can be found on an item. Furthermore, it is dictated, by the system, that this limit is affected by both the "type" of the item as well as its intrinsic "item level"...with the "type" being the dominant factor (i.e. Number of sockets cannot exceed "type" limit regardless of its "item level").

    Number of SocketsUp to 3Up to 4Up to 6
    Item TypeOne-handed Weapons
    Two-handed Weapons

    Number of SocketsUp to 2Up to 3Up to 4Up to 5Up to 6
    Minimum Item Level115283550

    * The color of the sockets obtained is determined randomly and follows the same set of rules as when using a "Chromatic Orb".
    * The links between the sockets obtained is determined randomly and follows the same set of rules as when using an "Orb of Fusing".
    * Exceptions:
    Starting Weapons (has 3 sockets of three different colors even though they are level 1)
    Tabula Rasa (has 6-linked white sockets which can fit any colored skill gem)

  • Orb of Fusing
    This orb's purpose is to re-roll the links between the sockets on an item. And like its description states, if the item has any quality value found on it, it will be consumed to increase your chances of getting more links.

    However, once again, you will have to note that the formation of these links aren't random and actually follows a predetermined pattern of linking like as shown below.
    Path of Exile - Links
    Now if you take a look at the 6-socket item at the top left corner, it is actually a chest armor comprising of two 3-linked sockets even though it has 4 out of 5 of its links activated.

    Just because the link at position 3 had failed to be activated, this item actually falls short of becoming a 6-linked host item for powerful skill gem combos. And even before that, if only one of the links from either position 1 or 5 had moved to position 3 instead, then this item could have been a potential host for a decent 5-linked skill gem can you now appreciate how important the links and their positions are?

    Anyway, as far as I have heard, the chances of activating any of the 5 links isn't merely a simple 50-50 probability. It actually depends upon whether the adjoining links are active or not. If they are, then the chance of activating this particular link would be correspondingly lowered. (I'm not sure by how much though...)

    What's more, every time you use an Orb of Fusing on the item, activated links will not be preserved. All of them will be re-rolled all over again so it is actually that much harder to activate all of the links than you may think.

  • Chromatic Orb
    Now this orb's function is to re-roll the color of the sockets found on an item. And much like when using an Orb of Fusing, none of the sockets' colors will be preserved during the re-roll.

    But perhaps as a source of comfort, it is interesting to note that although the choice of color you may get for a socket is random, their probabilities (of getting a red, green or blue socket) aren't equal. In fact, they are actually highly dependent upon the attributes which the player needs in order to use that item.

    For example, if that item requires the "Strength" attribute to use, the chances of obtaining a red socket is said to be at around 90% while obtaining a green or blue socket would be at around the leftover 10% (5% green, 5% blue perhaps?). Likewise, if it required "Dexterity" or "Intelligence" instead, then the 90% chance would be for a green socket and a blue socket respectively.

    If however the item has two attribute requirements, then the 90% chance would be split between the two attributes' representative colors equally and the last 10% would be for the remaining color (i.e. 45%, 45%, 10%).

Previous: Path of Exile (Part Four)Next: Path of Exile (Part Six)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Path of Exile (Part Four)

Skill Gems
If you are worried about the complexity of the skill system in Path of Exile, then have no is actually pretty simple.
Path of Exile - Skill GemsPath of Exile - Cold Snap
It is first of all categorized into three color types, namely, Red, Green and Blue. The color of the gem not only specifies the sort of colored socket it will fit into but also the primary attribute requirement needed to use the gem.

For example, the Cold Snap gem that you see above. This skill gem can only be fitted into a blue-colored socket and will require a decent amount of "Intelligence" in order to use as well as level it up properly.
Path of Exile - Purity
However, you may have to take note that there also exists skill gems which, despite their color, would have a secondary attribute requirement (amount needed is usually lower than primary's).

And since these gems need two stat attributes instead of one to use, they are more often thought of to be meant for the hybrid character classes rather than the pure classes.
Path of Exile - FireballPath of Exile - Casting Fireball
The skill gems are then further classified as either an Active-type skill gem or a Support-type skill gem. If its an "Active" type, like "Fireball", this means that upon placing the gem into an appropriate socket on an equipment that you wear, you will gain a cast-able skill, "Fireball" in this case.

After gaining the skill, you will just need to assign the skill to a hotkey slot at the bottom right corner of your HUD (right beside your Mana Pool) and then press the corresponding hotkey to use the skill. Do note that depending on the skill, you may need to use your mouse cursor as a guide to the location/direction where the skill is targeted. (Projectile skills will fire in the direction of the cursor while AoE skills will be casted upon an area with the cursor position as its center.)
Path of Exile - Support Gem in Connected SocketsPath of Exile - Modified Rejuvenation Totem
If its a "Support" type, then the skill gem simply cannot be used on its own. It can only be used in a combination with an Active-type skill gem where its function is to "modify" the active skill that it supports. But in order to do that, you will need to place both the "Active" skill gem and its "Support" into two separate sockets that are connected to each other.

When pushed to the highest level of usage, this Active, Support and Socket system actually allows for high-end combos such as the dual spark spewing spell totems that I've talked about much earlier...which, if I'm not wrong, is made up of one Active skill gem with multiple Support skill gems augmenting it. Like for example, a "Spark" skill gem (Active), a "Spell Totem" skill gem (Support), "Greater" and/or "Lesser Multiple Projectiles" (Support) and perhaps maybe a "Fork" skill gem (Support).

And while the possibilities may be endless with such a system, please take note that the system dictates that you may not use multiple copies of the same Support skill gem to augment the same active skill. Furthermore, such high-end combos would require an item to have multiple, connected sockets of the right colors as a host...which might be very rare or hard to come across, like a 5- or 6-linked socket item.
Additional Need to Knows
  • Leveling Skill Gems Up
    Each skill gem apparently has its own experience bar as well as skill level which can be seen via its item description when you hover your mouse cursor over the skill gem.
    Path of Exile - Skill Gem Level Up
    Upon gaining enough experience points to fill up the experience bar, you can then rank the skill gem up to its next level by clicking on the "+" icon as shown in the screenshot above. However, you must meet its next level's requirements first before this can be done or else the icon would be greyed out instead.

    As far as I know, a skill gem need not have to be "used" by the player for it to gain experience points. So long as the skill gem is placed into one of the sockets of an equipped item, it will automatically gain experience whenever the player kills a monster. And what's more, this gain of experience points is separate for each skill gem and does not get diminished by the number of skill gems you have equipped upon yourself. Neither is it leeched off your character's potential experience gained so you need not worry about them slowing down your leveling speed.

    Oh and if you were planning on using items to temporarily boost your stats in order to circumvent the requirements and "forcibly" rank up the skill gem, then I would recommend that you perish that thought lest you end up with an unusable gem that would even make its host item (along with all the other skill gems inhabiting that item) unusable until you remove that "offending" skill gem (right click to remove gem from its socket).
  • Mana Reserving? Mana Multiplier?
    Whilst looking at some of the skill gems' item descriptions, I am sure you would have spotted these two weird and unfamiliar terms, "Mana Reserved" and "Mana Multiplier".
    Path of Exile - Mana Reserved
    Well...from what I can tell, this "Mana Reserved" thingy is most usually found on aura-based active skill gems. And what it does is that after you toggle the aura on, it will "reserve" a portion of your mana pool, sealing it up and preventing you from touching/using that portion. You can kind of think of it as a trade-off to sustain or maintain the aura skill I guess...but effectively, the end-result is that you will be left with less mana for actual combat usage.

    As for "Mana Multiplier", it is a term that is more often found on support-type skill gems. What it does is to literally multiply the costs (in mana) of using a particular active skill once it is augmented by the said support skill gem.

    Like for example, if a regular active skill costs 29 mana points to use and you add in a support gem with a mana multiplier of 140% to augment that active skill, then usage of the augmented active skill would now cost 40 mana points instead (29 x 1.4).
  • Gem Quality
    Apart from leveling up a skill gem to increase its potency, one can actually find that there is some other factor called the gem's quality which also plays a part in improving the skill gem's "power" so as to speak. For instance, the two "Raise Zombie" skill gems that you see below.
    Path of Exile - Raise Zombie Gem 1Path of Exile - Raise Zombie Gem 2
    The first one is a regular "Raise Zombie" skill gem while the second one is of +15% quality. And essentially, what this quality difference does is that if both gems were of the same skill level, you will notice that a zombie raised from the second gem would have 15% more HP and movement speed than compared to one that is raised from the first gem.

    However, I will have to state beforehand that this is only for the case of a "Raise Zombie" skill gem. What the quality factor does to a skill gem and how it affects its stats will of course be different for every skill gem. But anyway, now that you know what the gem quality does, I think its time to explain to you on the ways to "obtain" these skill gems of better quality.

    Now apart from looting them yourselves, which is both inefficient and random (since it may not be an easy feat to loot skill gems...let alone getting one that you would want and is of high quality), there is a more surefire and direct way where you will be guaranteed to have a high quality skill gem that you would want. That is, through the use of something called a "Gemcutter's Prism".
    Path of Exile - Gemcutter's Prism
    Basically, what this Gemcutter's Prism does is to improve your desired skill gem's quality factor 1% at a time...up to the maximum quality attainable (which is 20%). But since these prisms aren't exactly easy to come by, such a method may be too costly and you won't be able to do it to all your skill gems. Thus we then come to the second alternative method which is much more feasible but nonetheless still requires the Gemcutter's Prism...though only 1 is needed.

    With this second method, all you need to do is to level the skill gem, that you want to improve, up to level 20 and then sell it off to an NPC together with the Gemcutter's Prism. In exchange, the NPC will offer you a level 1 version of this skill gem but it will be of 20% maximum quality.

Previous: Path of Exile (Part Three)Next: Path of Exile (Part Five)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Path of Exile (Part Three)

Stats and Passives
Do you remember that I've mentioned that all classes have access to the same Passive Skill Tree web but their starting positions are different? Well, the following screenshot roughly depicts what I've meant at that time.
Path of Exile - Passive Skill Tree
As you can see, the whole web can be essentially divided into three sectors, color-coded as red, green and blue. And if you further take note of the starting position of the various classes, you should ought to notice that the three "pure" classes (Marauder, Ranger, Witch) start within their own sectors while the "hybrid" classes (Duelist, Shadow, Templar) start at the borders in between two sectors.

So therefore, if you still have not guessed it, these three "sectors" that I've drawn out are exactly what you would reckon as the "Strength", "Dexterity" and "Intelligence" sectors. But what does all of this have to do with stats and passives?
Path of Exile - Nodes
Basically, if you zoomed in closer (at lets say the center where all three sectors meet), you will start to realize that this intricate web that you see before you is actually made up of many tiny circular thingys called "Nodes". And the way these nodes work is such that they can be either a "Stat" node or a "Passive" node.

If its a "Stat" node, it will offer a boost to one of your primary stat, like for example +10 Strength, +10 Dexterity or +10 Intelligence. If its a "Passive" node, then it would offer bonuses that improves your proficiency with a particular weapon type or equipment, ability to use certain skill gems to their full potential and/or other whatnots like for example +40% mana regeneration, +10% spell damage, +6% attack speed, +3% movement speed, +10% armor, +8% projectile damage and +12% physical damage with Axes...etc...etc.

So the rough idea is that nodes that are typically associated with "Strength" would be colored in red and found mostly in the "Strength" sector. Nodes associated with "Dexterity" would be green in color and found in the "Dexterity" sector while the "Intelligence" nodes would be colored blue and found in the "Intelligence" sector.
Path of Exile - Witch Skill Path
Whenever you level up, instead of being awarded with a couple of stat points for you to directly allocate to the primary stats (Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence) plus some skill points for you to spend on some fixed skill tree like in regular RPG MMOs, you will be only getting 1 "passive skill point" for every one level gained. (Note that you may also get some of these passive skill points when you complete certain quests as you progress in the story.)

You will then need to use those passive skill points to "unlock" or "activate" nodes at a cost of 1 point per node and slowly work your way out from your class's starting position...forging a path kind of like the one shown above. The only rule that you will need to observe here is that you may only activate nodes that are adjacent to those that you've already activated.

Anyway, depending on what sort of equipment and build you have in mind for your character, the nodes that you would choose to unlock will be vastly different from what I have done. That is the freedom and flexibility that this game has to offer.

Minor Keystones and Major Keystones
Path of Exile - Minor KeystonePath of Exile - Major Keystone
Next, I reckon that I would have to point out to you that not all of the nodes are "equivalent". In a sense, some of the nodes are more important and highly sought after than compared to others. And the way these nodes are reflected in the skill web is via their size, literally (with the major ones found towards the outer edges of the skill web while the minor ones are littered all over the place).

These so-called, "Keystones", often play a pivotal part in the formation of some decent/powerful build for your character class. And frankly-speaking, part of the gameplay (in my opinion) is for you to plan ahead and find a cost-effective path for you to reach and acquire your intended keystones.

Finally, if you ever decide that you've gone wrong somewhere along the way in the choices made for your current skilling path, then there's always something called "Passive Respec Points" to salvage the situation. However, these respec points aren't really easy to come by and so are primarily used for minor alterations.

If there is a major screwup in your build where you would require a lot of these respec points to make things right, then the proper course of action would probably be to create a brand new character instead. But that does not stop you from opting to slowly respec yourself one node at a time if your patient enough though...
Path of Exile - Book of RegretsPath of Exile - Orb of Regret
To obtain these respec points, all you have to do is acquire one of these items, like a "Book of Regrets" (which you can get as a quest reward, but is limited in supply) or an "Orb of Regret" (which you can purchase from NPCs like Yeena at the Forest Encampment at a hefty price, but is unlimited in supply).
Path of Exile - Apply Refunds
After that, right click on the items to gain the respec points and then enter your "Skills" web. You may then respec yourself via clicking on "Refund Passives", select the unwanted nodes to deactivate and then apply the changes like as shown.

Just remember that each of these respec points may only deactivate one node and thus redeem one passive skill point. Furthermore, at no point in time should the to-be deactivated node cause a break in the link between the rest of the activated nodes such that there's no way back to your class's starting position.

To start planning for your character's build or just to get more ideas on what sort of nodes exists, please visit Path of Exile - Passive Skill Tree Planner.

Previous: Path of Exile (Part Two)Next: Path of Exile (Part Four)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Path of Exile (Part Two)

Character Creation
Path of Exile - Character CreationPath of Exile - Leagues
For this part of the game, there isn't much to talk about. Essentially, all you have to do is to choose what sort of character you wish to play as and which "league" your character would reside in and that's about it. However, I do wish to babble a little further on this subject (as there's not much information provided within the game), so please bear with me for a while.

There are a total of six different classes for you to choose in Path of Exile. And even though there is an insane amount of flexibility and freedom offered to you by the game system (like how your selection of armors, weapons and skills aren't restricted by your class choice), there are still some built-in mechanics that make the individual classes somewhat distinct, and with each attuned towards certain stats, equipment and skill sets (or so it is generally spoken of or rumored to be the case).

Path of Exile - MarauderPath of Exile - RangerPath of Exile - Witch
- Pure Strength class
- Typically uses strength-based items like Maces, Casques, Plate Mail, Gauntlets, Greaves and Tower Shields.
- Pure Dexterity class
- Typically uses dexterity-based items like Bows, Caps/Hoods, Leather/Garbs/Tunics, Hide Gloves, Hide Boots and Bucklers.
- Pure Intelligence class
- Typically uses intelligence-based items like Wands, Circlets, Robes, Fabric Gloves, Slippers/Boots and Spirit Shields.

Path of Exile - DuelistPath of Exile - ShadowPath of Exile - Templar
- Strength/Dexterity hybrid
- Typically uses strength and/or dexterity-based items like Swords, Axes, Helmets, Scale/Brigandine/Doublet/Lamellar, Scale Gauntlets, Scale Boots and Round Shields.
- Dexterity/Intelligence hybrid
- Typically uses dexterity and/or intelligence-based items like Daggers, Claws, Masks, Jackets/Coats/Raiments/Garbs, Mitts, Boots and Spiked Shields.
- Strength/Intelligence hybrid
- Typically uses strength and/or intelligence-based items like Staves, Coifs, Chainmail/Ringmail, Metal Gloves, Metal Boots and Kite Shields.

However, that does not have to be the strict case for one to follow. Even though it might be more efficient to have the player invest in stats that are more appropriate to their character class, one still has the freedom to do as he or she pleases.

For example, due to my peculiar playing style, I tend to like being able to use any and all items that I come test and try out various combinations that I may fancy or find useful. And so, what I did was to make my character's strength, dexterity and intelligence as evenly distributed as possible (a case you were wondering).

Thus, when I found myself unable to survive too many hits, I had the choice/opportunity to try out all sorts of armors (more defense or evade) to salvage the situation. I even went on to use a Discipline skill gem (gain X additional Energy Shield) to further boost my survivability...since some of my passive skill points were spent upon enhancing my energy shield.

When I found that my minions were dying too fast, unable to sustain themselves and there were times I couldn't find corpses lying around, I ended up using a Rejuvenation Totem skill gem to somewhat cover up that weakness.

Then there were also times when I find myself running out of mana fast (due to spamming of firestorm and/or fire traps). And so I just patched that hole up with a Clarity aura.

Well...though it may not have been the best of builds for a "Witch" class, but it was certainly fun being able to improvise and try out all sorts of weird, silly combinations or merely adapting one's character to whatever we happen to have picked up, just because we can. would be a "sin" not to utilize all of that freedom we have bestowed upon us by the game system.

As far as I know, leagues are sort of like individual, enclosed game worlds that are separate from each other and have their own set of rules, inhabitants as well as economy (of items).

However, there exists certain exceptions which makes it possible to bring characters and items from one league to another, so as to preserve character progress, but it is a one way trip and only for certain league types.
  • Standard League - The default league with no modifiers applied and no strings attached.
  • Hardcore League - In this league, characters only have "one" life. Upon dying, the character will be automatically shifted into the Standard League, permanently.
  • Challenge Leagues - These are four-month long, limited time only leagues with new sorts of modifiers and some rare new items that can only be found in those leagues (if your fortunate enough to loot them).
    Path of Exile - Challenge 1Path of Exile - Challenge 2
    In these challenge leagues, players are also tasked with completing various sorts of difficult challenges where upon clearing all of the challenges, the player will win some sort of prize, like for example an exclusive t-shirt.

    Anarchy League - Characters made in this league will have a random chance of encountering AI rogue exiles whilst exploring in this game world. These rogue exiles may be of any of the six classes and can use a range of player skills and combos. Upon the end of the league, the character will be automatically shifted into the Standard League, permanently.

    Onslaught League - Characters made in this league are on "Hardcore" mode (only have "one" life). And on top of that, all monsters found in this game world have a 20% increase in movement, attack and cast speed. Upon dying, the character will be automatically shifted into the Standard League, permanently. If you survive till the end of the league, your character will be moved into the Hardcore League instead.

Anyway, regardless of whichever league type that you choose, know that all characters made in a particular league may only see and interact with other characters in the same league. Additionally, characters made in that league, under the same account, would have access to the same storage and therefore you can easily transfer items in between characters that you play that is within the same league.

However, do note that this transference of items will not be possible between characters of different leagues as they would not be accessing the same storage...which is how the game is keeping the economy of items between leagues separate (except for the one way flow into the Standard League).

Path of Exile - Events
Events are kind of like non-permanent leagues that only lasts for a specific amount of time and are created with special rules put in place.
Path of Exile - Event Info 1Path of Exile - Event Info 2
In these events, players need to create a brand new character and start from scratch to try and progress as far as possible within that "world" until either someone completes the criteria of the event or time runs out.

Basically, the purpose of these events is to put a player's skill and mastery of the game to the test...against other players in a competitive and demanding environment. You can sorta think of it as an alternative avenue of "PVP" gameplay.
Path of Exile - Event Rewards
The rewards of participating in these events come in the form of reward points (which are season-based and do not get carried forward). Upon racking up sufficient reward points (via participating in the events for that season), the player will be awarded with various kinds of prizes like as shown above.

* Note that the game world for these events will adhere to the same set of rules just like the leagues...which means that they will have their own separate stash and economy as well. At the end of the event, characters and all their items will be moved to the parent league (possibly standard or hardcore depending on the event rules).

For more info on the various types of modifiers, please visit Path of Exile - Event/League Modifiers.

Previous: Path of Exile (Part One)Next: Path of Exile (Part Three)