Filters in General
Item Filters (or "Loot Filters", as the playerbase tends to call them) are a powerful feature that allow you to change how items on the ground are displayed. You can change their size and color, cause sounds to play when certain items drop, or even hide items entirely.
Loot Filters are practically required for endgame play. Without them, you'll see a whole sea of un-distinguished loot and easily miss valuable items in the giant pile of junk loot. Until now, we've just used the default filter built in to the game to avoid having to introduce a million mechanics at a time, but it's a good idea to upgrade to a better one sooner rather than later.
Above: The aftermath of a short run without a Loot Filter. Can you spot the extremely valuable currency in the pile of random useless garbage? Below: The same area with Neversink's Loot Filter.
In practice, you will probably not be making your own Loot Filter. Instead, you'll be using one made by one of a few experts who build filters for others to use. For a new player, and for the purposes of this guide, I recommend Neversink's loot filter, which can be found (and customized) at his website. (Yes, I know .xyz sounds a bit sketchy - I promise it's legitimate! I use this filter myself, with some modifications.) It's a good filter in its own right, and it's one that a large percentage of players use, meaning that you can easily ask questions if you have them.
"Installing" a Loot Filter
Filters, strictly speaking, are just text files that instruct the game how to display certain items. But you'll probably download one as a file with a .filter extension (instead of, say, the .txt extension for a text file). Once you have the file, you'll need to put it in the folder <Your Computer Username>/Documents/My Games/Path of Exile/ - for example, if my user account on my computer was misterrogers, it would go in /misterrogers/Documents/My Games/Path of Exile.
Once you have the filter downloaded and placed in the correct folder, start up the game, and go to Options -> UI -> List of Item Filters and select the filter you want. Once selected, you'll see "Item Filter Loaded Successfully" in the chat pane; if you don't, you've downloaded a filter that is invalid in some way.
A Very Brief Neversink Primer
Neversink's filter is quite involved and you'll mostly get to know it by using it. Still, it seems wrong to send you off to it without telling you at least a little about it. So, as of this writing (in December 2018), Neversink's filter uses the following conventions for its default color scheme:
- Better items have brighter backgrounds and are larger.
- Extremely high-value items are shown with a bright white background and colored text. Any such item is likely worth a considerable amount - don't miss these!
- Currency items are shown in browns, blacks, and oranges. Valuable currencies are mostly in orange.
- Rare-rarity (yellow) equipment is shown with a background color to indicate the quality of its base item type: brighter greens are better than duller ones.
- Vendor recipe items, discussed in the next section, have a grey background.
- Items with four linked sockets are shown with a blue border during the levelling process, which can help you find items to use temporarily.
- Other items tend to use colors similar to those normal for the game. For example, quest items are shown in green text.
You can edit these on the Filterblade site, if you so choose, and there are a few color variants offered. You can also edit which items appear and how, although you are not really ready to do that just yet.