Path of Exile is a complicated game, and there are literally hundreds of possible builds that are viable in the endgame. Guides for these can be found all over the internet. However, many of these builds require specific items, or don't gain their main skills until later in the game. In this section, you'll find Guided Builds, one for each class (except for the Ascendant, who you won't have access to on your first playthrough). Each of them walks you through the basic mechanics of its core skills and guides your gem choices during the main story campaign.
The builds featured here are not fully optimized. You can find better, stronger builds abusing whatever the strongest skill of the day is all over the internet, if that's the sort of thing you're worried about. But they're all playable into the endgame at various levels of power, and have:
- Main skills available before the end of Act 1. That way, if you find that a skill doesn't really suit your style, you'll find out quickly and won't have to replay much to restart as another build. Note that the power level of these builds can vary as you level; focus on the feel of the build and trust that it will be at least playably viable in the late-game.
- No specific items required to function. You won't need to spend any of your currency to buy items, although you will obviously be able to pick up some more powerful pieces if you do.
- A wide range of skills. The skills featured in these builds form a cross-section of the available skills in Path of Exile, covering different playstyles and sections of the tree.
Notes on Using These Builds
The first and foremost note is this: these builds are not perfect and you can absolutely tweak them if you so choose. They are there as guidelines for new players who may be totally lost or intimidated by the skill tree, and will help you avoid common pitfalls made by new players. Because they are built assuming no access to Unique items (besides the one Jewel available from a quest), the items you get - or the items you are willing to purchase - can be major factors in tweaks you make to a build.
The builds are built up to Level 80. If you pass Level 80, you'll have more Passive Points than are shown on the tree, but by that point you should be on your feet enough to have some idea what to do with them. If not, well, more Life never hurt anyone.
Each guide lists when it was last checked for accuracy. If a guide has gone more than six months without a check, it may be unreliable, and you should probably ask an experienced player to give it a once-over for accuracy before committing to it. (In that event I have presumably stopped updating this site for whatever reason, so emailing me is unlikely to help!)
Here are some quick descriptions of the playstyles of each build to help you decide which ones you might want to play. Click on the name of the build in each section to visit that build's guide.
This build is a generic Chaos Damage Over Time setup that can be modified to work with one of four different playstyle options with minimal tweaking, making this a good choice for experimenting with different approaches. Options include:
- Essence Drain + Contagion, which is fully available by the end of Act 1. Essence Drain fires a Projectile that applies a powerful Damage Over Time effect to a single target. Contagion is an Area effect that applies another Damage Over Time to enemies. When an enemy dies while affected by Contagion, it spreads both itself and any active Essence Drain to nearby targets, enabling this build to cause chain reactions that wipe out huge numbers of enemies. An extremely strong and safe trash-clearing option, at the cost of having to actually get the chain reaction going.
- Blight, which is fully available by the end of Act 1. Blight applies a stackable Damage Over Time effect to enemies in front of you repeatedly. Capable of extremely high damage when stacked up, but shorter range and slower damage than the other options. Can be used as a boss-killing skill alongside another choice.
- Soulrend, which fires a piercing Projectile that applies a powerful short-duration Damage Over Time effect to enemies hit. The Projectile homes in on nearby enemies. The suggested variant with this build splits the Projectile into four, each of which seeks out enemies, making it a very long-range build with high clearing potential and simpler playstyle.
- Bane, which applies a powerful Damage Over Time effect to enemies in an area. Curse skills linked to Bane will also be applied and the Damage Over Time effect is stronger for each one applied. Can be used as a primary damage skill or as a convenient way to apply multiple Curses at once.
These playstyles can easily be combined. You could, for example, use Essence Drain + Contagion to clear weak monsters and stack Blight to kill strong ones, or use the Cast While Channelling gem to trigger Soulrends while you channel Blight.
Regardless of your choice of specific skill, this build brings powerful trash clear, scalable single-target dps, and fair defenses. It also offers a large amount of utility by applying multiple Curses, increasing the damage enemies take, and stacking Wither, an effect that increases the Chaos damage taken by enemies.
This is a ranged Spell build that relies on Damage Over Time.
This build is a generic Trap-based build that can be used with almost any spell of your choice. For the purposes of this guide, however, we'll focus on using Arc traps for trash clear and Lightning Spire Trap for bosses.
Traps allow you to load a ranged Attack or Spell onto a throwable object. Once the trap lands on the ground, it arms after a brief delay and will trigger the next time an enemy comes near it, firing whatever skill is loaded onto it at the triggering enemy. This build loads Arc onto the traps; Arc fires a bolt of lightning that chains from one target to another to take out large numbers of enemies. Later on, you'll be able to throw multiple traps at once to rapidly clear areas. Against bosses, this build uses Lightning Spire Trap, which spawns a stationary spire that repeatedly zaps nearby enemies for high amounts of damage.
This build offers very high clear speed, high damage even without much gear, and huge bursts against bosses that take time to become active. It isn't very durable, however, and it won't take volleys from enemy ranged attackers well.
This build is a ranged Spell build that deals damage via Traps.
This build focuses on Rain of Arrows, a skill that fires numerous arrows into the air that pelt enemies near a target location, doing damage with each impact and potentially overlapping multiple times on an enemy. It uses a generic Physical Bow passive tree, so it's easily adapted to use with most Bow skills that scale off of Physical weapon damage. This leaves it open to experimentation for builds around skills like Tornado Shot, Barrage, or the like.
Deadeyes are, by nature, focused on fast trash clearing and speed. This build is, like most Deadeyes, relatively weak against bosses, but can wipe out very large areas of relatively weak enemies. (You can try to make variants using either of the other two Ranger Ascendancy choices if you feel adventurous: Raiders shore up its relative weakness against bosses and gain a lot of speed at the cost of recovery, while Pathfinders trade in gear independence for longevity and survivability.)
Relative to the other builds presented here, this build is also highly scalable - adding five or ten more Passive points to its tree can increase its damage by a third or more, and small improvements to the weak gear it's designed for will provide similar results. A level 90 character with good gear can do five or ten times the damage of the level 80 character with weak gear presented here as an example.
This build is a ranged Projectile Attack build.
This build is a generic Physical/Bleed core built around the Gladiator's ability to cause bleeding enemies to explode. It works with a number of major skills, but we focus on Lacerate, which fires two slicing waves of force that deal Melee damage at range. It offers easy in-combat tradeoffs, giving it more flexibility than most builds. You can choose between damage and safety by deciding how close to stay to enemies: you can hit from long range but will do more damage up close. You can also swap between single targets and packs by switching between Blood Stance (which reduces the width of your slashes but raises your damage) and Sand Stance (which widens your slashes but reduces your damage).
This build can clear extremely quickly or deal high single target damage, although it is weaker at doing both at once because it has to make explicit trade-offs between the two. It requires more attention and micromanagement than most builds do, but the reward is a very flexible build able to do most content without trouble. Adventurous players can also try using other skills that interact well with Bleeding, like Double Strike.
This build uses Melee Attacks, but deals damage at moderate range.
This build uses Infernal Blow, which causes enemies you kill to explode for Fire damage based on their maximum life (and further scaled by your increases to Fire damage). Like most Chieftain builds, this one works by converting all of its Physical damage to Fire. It supports Infernal Blow with Ancestral totems, which are stationary allies that, when placed, will attack enemies that come near.
This build focuses on single target damage, though a more AoE-friendly variant is available. Although it has some clearing power - especially with some alternate choices of Support gem for its main attack skill - it will clear general packs more slowly than most of the other builds listed here. However, it deals extremely high single-target damage, and is by far the tankiest of these Guided Builds. It can even turn additional small mobs in boss fights into extra damage against the main boss by killing them nearby to cause their on-death explosions to hit the boss.
The Passive Tree for this build is fairly generic for a Physical to Fire conversion build. Variants will work with most Attacks that deal Physical damage and don't convert it to some other element. For example, it would not be difficult to make a Ground Slam or Sunder variant of this build.
This build is a Melee attacker that supplements its single-target damage with Totems.
Unlike the other builds, this one has to wait a little longer - mid Act 2 - to get its first main skill, but I'm breaking my normal rule of making skills available in Act 1 because this is by far the strongest newbie Minion build available.
This build focuses on minions, but it has to get up close and personal to summon them. It uses Herald of Purity and Dominating Blow, two skills that cause your hits to summon powerful Sentinel minions to fight for you. Dominating Blow can even copy modifiers from Magic and Rare enemy monsters, allowing you to benefit from effects that are normally monster-only. For example, a rare monster might come with an "Allies Deal Substantial Extra Physical Damage" aura; creating a Sentinel from them would preserve this modifier to apply to you and your minions.
This build has astronomical damage potential if you can go into boss fights with good Rare Sentinels from Dominating Blow active, and is still quite high damage output even if you can't. This comes at the cost of mediocre clear speed, a lack of active Life recovery for you, and the need to get up close in fights. Your personal damage will fall off by the late-game, but you'll still be engaging enemies from the front lines rather than playing a more passive minion-master.
Note that this build's Passive Tree is not a generic Minion core and is not easily adapted to use with other Minions. For example, a Zombie, Skeleton, or Spectre summoner would need to pick up Passive nodes that ignored by this build to improve their maximum counts of those minions.
This is a Minion-based build that has to engage with melee attacks for full effect.