Items & Mods
PoE's Item System
(Veterans of the Diablo games or similar ARPGs will probably find this section familiar - but I would still recommend reading it even if you are such a veteran, as PoE's systems are sometimes slightly different in non-obvious ways.)
Path of Exile's reward system is built around dropped items, so it's probably a good idea to know how they work.
In PoE, items come in a few main types:
- Weapons: either 1-handed or 2-handed, of various types. Attacks with a weapon use its damage as a base; caster builds generally use a weapon with stats that boost their Spells' damage indirectly. Spells never use your weapon damage in any way.
- Armour: Helms, Boots, Gloves, Chestpieces, and Shields. Typically grant defensive bonuses, although there are offensive armour items as well.
- Jewellery: Belts, Rings, and Amulets. Offers a wider array of modifiers, both offensive and defensive, including some stats that are difficult to obtain on other pieces of equipment.
- Flasks: The equivalent of potions in most similar games. Flasks are not themselves consumable, but they have a limited number of charges that refill as you kill enemies.
- Currency Items: used to modify other items and to trade with other players. See the "Currency" section for more on these.
- Maps: Consumed to open endgame zones for players that have completed the storyline. You won't see these early on. See "Maps", included in the section on the endgame, for more on these.
- Jewels: can be slotted into special slots on the passive tree to provide bonuses.
- Gems: provide skills, or modify other skills, when socketed into equipment and equipped.
- Divination Cards: turned in in sets of a pre-determined number for specific pre-determined rewards. See "Divination Cards", included in the section on the midgame, for more on these.
Of these, weapons, armour, jewellery, jewels, flasks, and maps can come with Affixes that affect what stats they grant to you or (in the case of maps) what kinds of zones they open.
The rest of this page is mostly about these five item types.
Weapons, armour, jewellery, jewels, and maps come in four possible rarities:
- Normal (white text): Has no Affixes or special effects beyond what is typical for the base item.
- Magic (blue text): Has 1 or 2 random Affixes.
- Rare (yellow text): Has 3-6 random Affixes.
- Unique (orange text): Has a special pre-determined list of effects.
The wand on the left has Normal quality, and no affixes. The "11% Increased Spell Damage" is something called an Implicit Modifier - we'll get to that in a moment. It's essentially just a bonus attached to all Goat's Horn wands inherent to being a Goat's Horn wand at all. Other items (say, Maces) would have different implicits.
The wand on the right, on the other hand, has a Prefix: "Cobalt", which happens to grant some extra mana. Notice how the effect of the affix is listed at the bottom, below a line separating it from the Implicit Modifier.
The Rare wand on the left now has three affixes. A different Rare wand might have the "Increased Critical Strike Chance For Spells" mod as well, but might mix it with other mods - say, "Increased Fire Damage".
The unique wand on the right, however, has a pre-determined list of modifiers. All copies of an Abberath's Horn will have the same list of modifiers, although the exact numbers might vary.
Note that Uniques are not strictly better than Rares: uniques tend to give special effects that can enable new builds or powerful offensive bonuses, but rares tend to have more Life and Resistances. Most builds use rares in most slots, with a few build-specific uniques slotted in.
In general, you will usually be interested in picking up only Rare and Unique items, with a few exceptions. Normal and Magic items are usually only used as bases for crafting.
Many, although not all, item types have something called an Implicit Modifier (or "implicit", for short). This is a bonus related to the particular type of item it is, and not given by affixes as on a Magic or Rare item. Wands, for example, usually have an "Increased Spell Damage" implicit, and Swords usually have an Accuracy-boosting implicit.
These effects do not count towards the affix limit, discussed below, because they are not affixes.
Implicits can be changed in various ways. When this is done - for example, through a Vaal Orb's effect - the new implicit replaces any implicit the item already had (although you can still use these effects on items with no native Implicit modifier).
Magic (blue) and Rare (yellow) items roll Affixes (sometimes called Explicit Modifiers by contrast with the Implicit modifiers discussed a moment ago), which grant modifiers (usually only one, though sometimes more) to the item. Affixes are divided into Prefixes and Suffixes: a Magic item can have up to 1 of each, and a Rare item can have up to 3 of each. Different affixes have different effects, and some affixes are simply better or worse versions of others. The affixes on an item can be seen by mousing over the item and holding [Alt], once you've enabled a UI setting that absolutely everyone does enable (we'll cover this setting later).
Jewels are an exception, and rare jewels are limited to only 2 prefixes and 2 suffixes.
The very best items in the game usually have three good prefixes and three good suffixes that are compatible with one another. As a very broad rule of thumb, a decent leveling item will have something like three decent affixes in total, a decent starter-endgame item will have four decent or three very good affixes, a solid piece of sellable gear will have five decent or four very good affixes, and an exceptional find will have six decent or five very good affixes.
Affixes can be modified in various ways, most notably by Currency items.
Most items of Magic or better quality drop "Unidentified", with their possible affixes unknown. You'll need to use a Scroll of Wisdom (an extremely common item) to "identify" the item and reveal its mods. You'll start with a few of these Scrolls, and can find more as drops anywhere in the game.