Corruption

Vaals of Steel

Alright, you've waited long enough. Let's talk about the most dangerous and wild currency item in Path of Exile: the Vaal Orb. Before we continue, though, I want to stress this again: Vaal Orbs, improperly used, are a great way to lose a ton of money, and can effectively ruin the item they're used on if you're unlucky. Use with extreme caution, and do not use on an item you're actively using and could not easily replace.

The Basics

The long and short of a Vaal orb is that it does two things:

  • One, it applies the Corrupted effect to the item. Corrupted means that the item can never have currency used on it again in any way. There are a handful of ways in which Corrupted items can still be modified, but for all intents and purposes, once you Vaal an item, it's going to stay like that forever.
  • Two, it applies one of a variety of effects at random. It can do nothing, apply a beneficial effect, or apply a detrimental effect. No matter what effect it applies, the Corrupted modifier will still apply, meaning you will not get a second chance at a better result.

Vaal Orbs are pretty much used on items of one of two types. You can Vaal a good, but cheap, item in the hopes of rolling a very rare effect from the Vaal Orb and thus converting your cheap item into a potentially valuable one with little loss in the worst-case scenario. Or you can Vaal a valuable item, taking the chance at losing a substantial amount of value for the shot at a truly spectacular item worth many Exalts.

Okay, But What Does It Actually Do?

The possible effects of Vaal corruption depend on the exact item in question, and are as follows:

Equipment (Weapons and Armour)

Corrupting weapons and armour can:

  • Do nothing at all, aside from applying the Corrupted modifier.
  • Reroll the item entirely into a random rare of the same base type. This rare has a high chance of having a high number of linked sockets, but has random affixes (and is therefore usually bad).
  • Replace the Implicit modifier (if the item has one) or add a new Implicit modifier (if it doesn't) from a special Vaal implicit pool. These Implicits are unique to Corruption, and vary by item type. For example, a melee weapon's implicit might be replaced by a boost to Attack Speed or by an effect granting the Resolute Technique Keystone Passive.
  • Change one or more of the sockets on the item into white sockets, which fit any gem.

Equipment (Jewellery)

As above, except that Jewellery cannot usually have sockets, so the last effect usually does nothing.

Skill Gems

Corrupting a Skill Gem can:

  • Add or subtract 1 Level from the gem. This ignores the normal maximum level of 20, making this the only way to obtain a Level 21 skill gem. This is usually much more valuable on Spells than it is on Attacks, since the former scale much more strongly with level.
  • Increase or reduce its Quality, up to a maximum of 23%. This ignores the normal Quality cap of 20, making this the only way to obtain a 21, 22, or 23% Quality skill gem. This tends to be valuable on Support gems and Curses, which scale very well with Quality.
  • Convert the gem into its Vaal equivalent. Since Vaal gems that drop are inherently Corrupted, and therefore cannot have their quality modified, this is the most common way to obtain 20% quality Vaal gems.
  • Do nothing.

In general, you want a skill gem to have both its Level and its Quality at 20 (a so called 20/20 gem) before you Corrupt it.

Strongboxes

Yep, you can corrupt these. Corrupting a Strongbox individually corrupts every item inside it, as though you had corrupted each one individually (and can roll different effects on each item). This isn't a terrible use of Vaal Orbs when the box is set to drop a large number of items, as random corruption occasionally results in very high-value outcomes.

Maps

Corrupting a Map can:

  • Upgrade its tier by 1. We'll discuss what this means later in the guide, but this is usually good. In particular, it is the only way to get the special Vaal Temple Map.
  • Turn a Magic or Rare map Unidentified without changing its modifiers, meaning that you can predict what the map will do and get the bonuses for running an unidentified map.
  • Turn the map into a special map with 8 Affixes. These tend to be pretty dangerous from all the added mods, but drop extreme amounts of loot and are usually necessary for one of the Challenges each League.
  • Do nothing.

In addition, a corrupted map's boss has a chance to drop a Sacrifice Fragment (used to access one of the early endgame bosses) or a Vaal Skill Gem.

Section Header: Main Story (Acts 5-10)

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