Early Act 1
First Steps in Wraeclast
At this point, you're ready to actually get started, and should be able to work within the in-game tutorials without much trouble. Make sure you're following the "Act 1" section of the Guided Build if you're following one of those, since different builds need to acquire skills at different points in Act 1.
You'll find your first Skill Gem right next to where you started from the first zombie you fight, then your first Support gem not far up the coast of The Twilight Strand (the zone you first start in). If you miss these, don't worry; they'll be available later.
For the most part, I'll avoid any major spoilers in this guide, aside from perhaps the names of a few NPCs, so you can use it without being too worried about losing the story experience.
Your First Few Quests
Act 1 takes place on the coast of Wraeclast, a continent once host to the grand Eternal Empire - but some form of cataclysm wiped the Empire out decades ago, leaving the island nation of Oriath as its only remnant. Wraeclast is now essentially a penal colony, insofar as it counts as imprisonment when you're likely to be dead in short order.
All the character classes, except the Marauder, are from Oriath (the Marauder is a Karui, a tribal people partially enslaved by the Oriathans). All of them have been exiled by Oriath's theocratic ruler, High Templar Dominus, with the expectation that they'll be dead soon enough.
The early quests are fairly self-explanatory, and can be played without the help of a guide.
Some quests are flagged (Optional) in game, but as of now this is not a reliable guide to which quests you should do. Some "Optional" quests give Passive Skill Points as a reward and therefore are very much not optional.
- Enemy at the Gate (Mandatory): Progress through the Twilight Strand and kill Hillock, a boss found at the end of it. You'll be rewarded with a choice of a few possible Skill Gems once you enter town and talk to Tarkleigh, an NPC there.
- Mercy Mission (Optional, but Recommended): Continue on from the first town, Lioneye's Watch, and head up The Coast. Near the Coast's waypoint, you'll find a side area called The Tidal Island. A boss in the Tidal Island drops the quest item. This quest is entirely optional on later characters, but it rewards a Flask (and you should chose the Quicksilver Flask, which speeds you up) and a Support gem and is therefore recommended for a new player.
- Breaking Some Eggs (Mandatory): Find the three Glyph quest items located throughout The Mud Flats, and use them on the Glyphed Wall to open the path to the next area. You'll be rewarded with another possible Skill Gem for doing so. You can also pick up a Movement skill from Nessa as a secondary quest reward unless you're playing a Marauder (in which case you'll have to buy it from Nessa's vendor window instead).
- A Dirty Job (Optional, Not Recommended): Entirely unnecessary quest from a character-progression standpoint. If you chose to do it, however, you'll find it in The Fetid Pool, a side area located off of The Mud Flats. It rewards Passive Respec Points, which you might find useful if making your own build (the Guided Builds featured here are designed not to require them).
- The Dweller of the Deep (Effectively Mandatory): Find the Flooded Depths, located in The Submerged Passage, and kill the boss ("The Deep Dweller") found there. Not necessary for story progression, but rewards a a Skill Point and thus effectively mandatory.
- The Way Forward (Can't Be Completed Yet): Find a way into the Forest. You won't need to do anything specifically for this quest yet, and it won't yield a reward until much later.
- The Caged Brute (Mandatory): Find The Prison and kill Brutus, the first real boss in the game.
FAQ, Part 1
These are common questions asked by most new players that you'll probably encounter in some form within the first few quests of the game. All FAQs can be found on the main FAQ page, but are included here within the guide at the rough points where you might encounter them.
- How do I get more Scrolls of Wisdom? Scrolls drop on the ground, but an easy way to pick up a few extras in the early game is to sell an Armourer's Scrap, a Blacksmith's Whetstone, or an Orb of Transmutation to a vendor. You can also sell white-rarity items for a Scroll Fragment, five of which will combine themselves into a Scroll of Wisdom.
- Where's the Tidal Island? It's a side area of its own located off The Coast, the third area you'll find (just after Lioneye's Watch, the first town).
- Is there a Waypoint in [Insert Zone Here]? Check your Map by pressing 'U'. Zones that have a Waypoint will show a light blue dot that is small if you have not yet found their Waypoint, or larger if you have found it.
- What's this Corrupted item I found? "Corrupted" is a mod you'll find on certain items. It means that you can't use currency items, or most other means, to further modify an item. In and of itself, Corruption is a negative effect in that you cannot improve an item, but the process of Corrupting an item can apply potentially very powerful bonuses to it. You should not Corrupt items yourself with a Vaal Orb currency item until you know what you're doing, but you may find items pre-corrupted and you won't hurt yourself by using them if they're good equipment.
- Can I get other Skills besides the ones from quests? Yes, you can, to a point. Nessa, an NPC in Lioneye's Watch, sells Skill Gems based on the quests you've completed in Act 1 so far. Eventually you'll be able to buy most skills from a vendor, but Nessa only sells a few.
- Can I see why I died? Not directly. Path of Exile does not have a "death log" that shows why you died, but often asking chat why and giving a description of the situation you were in is enough for veteran players to recognize common situations.
- What's a Trial of Ascendancy? We'll cover these Trials later in the guide. For now, your goal is just to get to the end of each one that you find - you won't get any upfront reward; that comes later.
The guide pauses here: go check the 'Early Act 1' section of your Guided Build before moving on. Make sure you're reading the text on the items you find, and feel free to ask questions in Global chat if they're not covered here. Return to this guide and continue on after you've defeated Brutus in the Prison.