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"Cold, dank and reeking of infection. That's how Hope fares in Wraeclast."
— Description from Act 1 town
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Path of Exile is a Free-to-Play Dark Fantasy Action RPG by the New Zealand-based studio Grinding Gear Games, where you play as the eponymous Exile: one of many convicts (rightly or wrongly) exiled to the remote continent of Wraeclast by the authorities of the outside world. After your ship crashes near the shores of Wraeclast, you are hard-pressed to merely survive in this Crapsack World, let alone prosper.

The gameplay and the control scheme is obviously inspired by Diablo II: you control a single character from overhead perspective and engage in massive monster slaughter, occasionally dropping by the newest town to sell loot and pick up/turn in quests. The main difference is the skill system, wherein passive skills form a veritable skill forest based around three core attributes, while the active skills/spells are stored in upgradable magical gems that can be socketed in virtually every piece of equipment (not unlike Materia in Final Fantasy VII).

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The game officially launched on October 23, 2013, after extensive closed and later open beta testing. You can download the game client and play for free after registering on the official website (the same account is used to log into the game). Although the initial closed-beta crowd-funding campaign is over (having collected over $2.2 million in pledges), you can still support the game by purchasing cosmetic and convenience "upgrades" from the in-game shop. That said, GGG strongly oppose Freemium, so they are not going to hand out any exclusive gameplay advantages or content to "paying customers" any time soon.

Following the release of the game, GGG have created frequent updates for cosmetics, performance, and gameplay. Major changes are bundled in Expansion Packs which are a free addition to the game, though you can choose to buy "supporter packs" for exclusive cosmetics.

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    Expansions 
  • Sacrifice of the Vaal (released March 5, 2014) explored the history of the first civilization on Wraeclast, including special Vaal dungeons that pop up randomly throughout the game levels which provides the player specialized loot related to the Vaal, and access to their former Queen as a Bonus Boss. This expansion also introduced PvP modes and seasonal Challenge Leagues, temporary game realms allowing players to start characters within a fresh economy alongside new gameplay content.
  • Forsaken Masters (released August 22, 2014) introduced the titular Forsaken Masters, seven NPCs who were also exiled to Wraeclast but have carved a place for themselves with their unique skills. The Masters offer quests as players travel through the world, and grant access to in-game housing and crafting options.
  • The Awakening (released July 10, 2015) extended the main story with a long-awaited Act 4, where exiles travelled to the heart of Wraeclast to stop an impending cataclysm of Nightmare.
  • Ascendancy (released March 4th, 2016) introduced the Ascendencies for all classes, allowing them to further specialize their abilities. In order to unlock these Ascendencies players must traverse the Lord's Labyrinth, a lengthy dungeon filled with environmental traps that must be cleared without dying.
  • Atlas of Worlds (released September 2, 2016) largely improved on the end-game map experience and introduced the titular Atlas of Worlds, which structured progression though the map content and gave it a backstory involving its mysterious creator, the Shaper.
  • The Fall of Oriath (released August 5, 2017) introduces a massive storyline extension with Act Five situated in the exiles' homeland of Oriath, and Acts 6-10 which revisits the areas of the previous five acts. The Exiles return to Oriath to liberate it from the tyrannical rule of High Templar Avarius, but things take a dark, unexpected turn when the dark god Kitava, freshly reawakened by the death of the Beast, hatches a sinister scheme to consume the souls of all mortal life. Meanwhile, the original gods of Wraeclast are awoken by the death of the Beast and plot to take their vengeance on the mortals who had forgotten them. This streamlines the experience and level progression into a single play-through, incorporating the Cruel and Merciless difficulty levels in the process (Cruel begins after Act 5, Merciless after Act 10). In addition, a new Pantheon system is available that confers swappable passive bonuses for hunting down Wraeclast's enemies and gods.
  • War for the Atlas (released December 8, 2017) adds more content to the Atlas. A new entity called The Elder fights for control over the Shaper's realm, infecting the Atlas with his influence. The player can influence the Shaper's or the Elder's control by clearing a path for them around the Atlas. The expansion adds new maps, bosses, and powerful Shaper and Elder item mods.
  • Betrayal (released December 7, 2018) puts its main focus on the Exiles taking part in Jun Ortoi's investigation of the mysterious organization known as the Immortal Syndicate. The Syndicate investigation tree mechanic is introduced where players have to explore around Wraeclast for Immortal Syndicate encounters that further the investigation up through the Syndicate tree until the identity of the Syndicate boss is revealed. The expansion also adds a new batch of Masters featuring characters from the previous three challenge leagues, a revamp to the Mastercrafting and Hideout mechanics, as well as new Atlas layout, skills, revamped skills, and items.
  • Conquerors of the Atlas (released December 13, 2019) continues the story of War for the Atlas. Zana, with the help of a group of exiles, succeed in defeating the Elder, yet the exiles would return to the Atlas again and again, seeking to totally conquer it. In fear of the exiles' growing power and insanity, Zana sealed them within the Atlas and its way shut, but with the way open once again, it's up to you to slay the Conquerors before they expand their reach outside of the Atlas. The expansion adds a brand new Atlas with new influenced items, new endgame bosses, and even more powerful versions of support gems.
  • Echoes of the Atlas (released January 15, 2021) is another end-game focused expansion. The defeat of the Elder draws attention from entities far beyond the borders of the Atlas, and an Envoy signals the presence of one known as the Maven, who seeks to test the exile's strength. After slaying a number of map bosses under the Maven's presence, she issues a challenge to defeat them all together in her arena, eventually working your way into challenging the Maven herself. Completing the Maven's challenge rewards points to put into the Atlas skill tree which augments Master and challenge league content to maps for greater bonuses. The expansion also introduces craftable Watchstones, new maps and bosses, and the return of Harvest.
  • Siege of the Atlas (releasing February 4, 2022) is another follow-up to the endgame story. The Conquerors of the Atlas are slain, the Maven is placated, Zana goes into self-exile, but Kirac, with the aid of the Maven's Envoy, forms a militia to defend Wraeclast against new horrors that seek a way through the Atlas. The expansion overhauls the end-game mapping experience, reworking the Atlas of Worlds, adding an expansive Atlas passive tree, endgame bosses, and Eldritch implicit modifiers.

On November 15, 2019, during their first ExileCon, GGG announced Path of Exile 2, an upcoming sequel to the game. Set 20 years after the fall of Kitava and the old gods, an exile ventures into Wraeclast to fight the corruption which spreads across the continent once more. Path of Exile 2 features a new seven-act campaign, along with vast improvements to the engine and graphics, along with a revamped skill gem system and new features like shapeshifting skills and new weapon types. Despite its status as a sequel, it aims to overhaul the core game and shares the same gameplay features and endgame content with the original. A mobile version of Path of Exile is also in the works, using the map system as part of its core gameplay loop.

Tropes found in the game:

  • Action Bomb:
    • Some enemies across the game, such as Unstable Spawn late in Act 1 and Alira's bandit Mooks in Act 2, will run at you in an attempt to explode into guts and fire. Other enemies have some sort of on-death effect in addition to usual attacks, most notoriously the porcupines in Act 3.
    • Certain Bloodlines, Nemesis and Delirium modifiers can add this ability to regular enemies.
    • The Minion Instability Keystone causes your minions to explode upon reaching Low Life.
    • Item-only skill Death Wish lets you detonate your minions en masse.
    • While it is rarely used for this purpose and more often for utility spells like Portal, you can turn yourself into one with the Cast on Death support gem. Showcased here.
  • Action RPG
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • Bestel in Lioneye's Watch welcomes the Exile with an alliterative line from his poem, different for every class.
    • Riker Maloney of the Immortal Syndicate often works this into his dialogue.
      A savage slaying, if I say so. I seek to circumvent a similar sentence. Tell me what it is you desire.
  • A God Am I: Dominus, Malachai - Pretty much anyone who works with thaumaturgy and lets it get to their head.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • For all the horrors Piety committed, she does a good job making you feel sorry for her in Act 4.
    • Most of the Conquerors of the Atlas very much get this treatment, as they were canonically Exiles exactly like you, but special mention needs to go out to Sirus, as his selflessness was rewarded with a Fate Worse than Death: In his attempt to subdue The Elder, he fell into the blast radius of the weapon used to seal it away, and ended up stuck in the same place for what seemed to be decades, and is heavily implied to have been possessed by The Elder. He eventually escaped, but was reduced to a broken, emotionless shell of who he used to be, driven to murderous madness from the isolation and possible possession.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Pretty much any crime in the Oriathian Empire is punishable by Exile. One Letter of Exile you can read is for a woman exiled solely for running a tavern without a license. It's eventually revealed that the reason for this is because the main purpose of Exiles is to serve as test subjects in Piety and Dominus' thaumaturgy experiments.
  • All There in the Manual: One of the final pre-full release updates added a "Letters of Exile" notice board to Lioneye' Watch, which details how several of the game's NPCs, unique enemies and bosses wound up on Wraeclast.
  • Always Accurate Attack: The Resolute Strikes passive guarantees you will hit, but you'll no longer deal critical hits. This does not mean enemies with shields and such cannot block your attacks, mind; you simply won't miss them.
  • Alternate Timeline: According to Word of God, each of the different seasonal leagues takes place on a different timeline.
    • Chaos, the entity the Trialmaster serves, is a Random Number God who is able to witness all possibilities. The Trialmaster tells you in one timeline, your exile died in the shore and a different exile took your place. When you kill the Trialmaster, he's replaced with another one from a timeline where you lost to him.
    • The Last to Die traveled from an alternate Wraeclast overrun by the Scourge. She was able to jump between worlds using the Blood Crucible, which was created by a pact with Chaos and the High Priests of Vaal. She mentions that all the different Wraeclasts she's traveled to also fell to the Scourge, with the sole exception being one that was ruled by Venarius (which is apparently not much better).
  • Ambiguously Gay: The ranger, going by some of her battle-quotes. Merveil the Siren creates apparitions in the level before her fight that tempt the player onward. Usually, these apparitions are the opposite gender, but not for the ranger.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Many, many, MANY variants due to sheer flexibility of the game, but some of the notable ones:
    • The Archer: Bows and Wands are the ranged weapons available in this game.
    • The Black Mage: Uses various Elemental Powers to bring down their enemy. Fire, Ice, Lightning, take your pick.
    • Damage Over Time: Some builds utilize damage over time to do most of their damage instead of hits. Various methods include utilizing built-in damage over time spells, Poison builds that stack up as many stacks of Poison as possible, Ignite to deal one big hit followed by large residual damage, and Righteous Fire builds, maximizing their health pool and regeneration and minimizing self-damage.
    • The Minion Master: Summoner builds use Zombies, Spectres, Skeletons, and/or Phantasm to tank and do damage for them. Summon Raging Spirit build is technically a summoner build, but played more like an offensive spellcaster. It is also possible to do this with golems (normally one may only have one golem summoned), but it requires picking a specific Ascendancy class and/or several unique items. Dominating Blow and Herald of Purity are an alternative for players who wants to fight alongside their minions.
    • The Turret Master: Summons totems to do the attacking, healing, tanking, buffing, or other tasks for them.
    • Critical Hit Class: Built to maximize Power charge generation (Power charges increase critical hit chance and extra damage done by them).
    • Support Party Member: Certain builds sacrifice self-sufficiency in favor of investing heavily on aura stacking ("aurabots") or curse effectiveness. There are also various Link skills made with party play in mind, which causes the user to link to another player and give them a buff that scales with the user, with a catch that if the linked player dies the user also dies.
  • And Man Grew Proud: A small-scale example, but Wraeclast used to be the heartland of the Eternal Empire, with Sarn as the capital. It's implied the thaumaturgical fallout from warring against the Karui and other events is what left Wraeclast with hostile wildlife, rogue elementals, and spontaneously-reanimating corpses. In truth, the cataclysm was deliberate, caused by a mad thaumaturgist with delusions of godhood.
    • The Empire isn't the first one to suffer this fate; the Vaal under Atziri collapsed in a similarly spectacular manner.
  • Animate Inanimate Object:
    • Animate Weapon spell turns weapons dropped on the ground into temporary minions under your command.
    • Solaris and Lunaris Temples in Acts 3/8 are guarded by animated ribbon ornaments.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When the Ascendancy expansion was first released, each individual character needed to complete the six Trials of Ascendancy to unlock the Labyrinth on that difficulty, which meant lots and lots of repetition for people who play several characters. The Prophecy update later changed it so that unlocking the Labyrinth on one character would open it up for all other characters on the same account and in the same league.
      • Unlocking the Eternal Labyrinth was a rather RNG-dependent task to the point where there was a channel dedicated to sharing portals to the required trials. This was somewhat alleviated in Version 3.15 by allowing you to open a random trial using an Offering to the Goddess. The next version removed this feature because you no longer need to complete the trials to enter the Eternal Labyrinth; you just have to trade for or find an Offering in a Labyrinth trial in yellow tier maps.
    • When you completed a Master's quest, the Master immediately teleported next to you, so you wouldn't have to backtrack to find them again. In addition, if you found, for example, the lair of a pack of infected animals before you meet Tora, she showed up to give you the quest before you went inside.
    • Delving is essentially an escort quest, yet the cart you're escorting will wait for you if you take a detour or, if you decide to run in front of it, will speed up to catch up, no matter your movement speed (which can get to rather absurd levels in this game)
    • If you're not willing to take your chances with using Orbs of Fusing on your item (and it's not uncommon for players to spend thousands of them on trying to fully link an item), there's a recipe that guarantees forging as many links as you want by paying a bit over the expected value of orbs needed to link X sockets. Same goes for Jeweller's orbs and, to a limited degree, Chromatic.
    • Stash Affinities were added to the game, which lets you mark a Stash tab for certain types of items so that when you transfer an item to the stash via the hotkey, it will automatically go to the tab you assigned the item's affinity to. It's not a feature exclusive for premium stash tabs either; any regular stash tab can have Affinities assigned to it.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Karui carvings you can find throughout Act 1 detail the downfall of the Karui after their initially successful invasion. The etchings found in the crossroads in Act 2 are a more local, and absolutely horrifying, account of the same cataclysm affecting the citizens of the Empire.
  • Arc Symbol: In Fall of Oriath, the title screen and many of the new enemies prominently feature a jagged red X. This is Kitava's symbol, representing the scars on his face left by Tukohama slashing his eyes out.
  • Arc Words: "Nightmare" is mentioned multiple times in the first half of the game, but its significance is not fully explained until later on.
  • Armor Piercing: Chaos damage bypasses your Energy Shield, making it a threat for those who rely on their Shield. The Chaos Innoculation keystone ability prevents this by giving you complete immunity to any and all Chaos damage but reduces your maximum Life to 1. Shavronne's Wrappings makes chaos damage not bypass Energy Shield without sacrificing your life total, which is mainly used for builds that want to use a Low Life setup or use life to reserve more auras. There's a few other uniques that do the same, but are a lot less practical.
  • April Fools' Day: The game's had a number of April Fools jokes over the years.
    • 2014: Took the phrases "pay to win" and "nickel and diming" a little too literally by charging players 15 cents for Win Fireworks.
    • 2015: All "Cast on/when" trigger support gems were briefly renamed to "Cats on/when [condition]", which functioned nearly identically to the original in addition to summoning harmless black cats when the gem triggered.
    • 2018: The Path of Exile Royale event was held. 20 to 100 players engaged in a fairly bog-standard Battle Royale setup to win Rhoa Dinners hideout decorations (a play on words for "winner winner chicken dinner").
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI is savvy enough to aim for your Totems first, should you deploy one. If enemies can't reach you, e.g. if you're on a ledge above them, they'll run away from you so that you can't shoot at them from complete safety.
  • Ascended Meme: Kuduku, the False God, while normally an underwhelming unique totem enemy in Act 1, gathered pagan worship from players as a Random Number God, who sacrifice crappy unique items in front of him in hope of his favor so they may six-link an item. In the Prophecy league, one of the prophecies requires you to kill Kuduku, who is with the prophecy assisted by Kadaka, the Goddess of Luck, which rewards you with Orbs of Fusing that are used for linking items. The act of sacrificing bad uniques was later given a nod in the Incursion league; one of the modifiable rooms in the Temple of Atzoatl is a Sacrifical Chamber, with has the express purpose of sacrificing uniques to obtain a different unique (with its loot pool getting narrowed down based on the chamber's upgrades).
  • Asteroids Monster:
    • Shield Crab type monsters spawn a Spitter class monster on death. Apparently, the crab is only the carapace, according to the lore. Still doesn't explain how it has a fully-working face pincer...
    • A Rare monster with the "Fractured" modifier will turn into multiple copies of itself (or rather, the same monster type without any mods) when killed. There used to be a map mod that made every monster Fracture.
    • A type of spiders carries spider babies inside, which burst out and attack you after you kill the "parent".
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Vaal Skill Gems give more powerful skills compared to the normal one, but each of them is a Charged Attack (you gain charges, or souls, by killing enemies), so can't be used most of the time. Not only that, but they take up a gem slot that could be used by non-Vaal gems that are usable at any time. As a result, Vaal Skill Gems were almost entirely abandoned by the player base except for Vaal Haste. Three years later, the devs revamped them; Vaal Skill Gems still need to be charged for the Vaal ability to work, but you may use the normal version of the gem's ability freely at the same time, meaning that both versions can benefit from the same support gems. For example, Vaal Summon Skeleton summons a huge army of skeletons lead by a general, but can also be used as a normal Summon Skeleton gem to create skeleton warriors to aid you in combat. In addition, many of the Vaal Skill Gems were reworked to be more powerful and synergistic.
  • Back from the Brink: At the beginning of the game, the few settlements of decent exiles or natives are besieged or close to collapse from outside threats. For example, Lioneye's Watch is little more than a collection of bedraggled exiles with salvaged weapons and wooden clubs. But with the player's help, they slowly start to recover and carve out a place for themselves, driving away bandits, and manage to fight on for another day.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: In the Heist league, after stealing a favorite piece of historical writing from the rival crime gang, the Vox twins, they get revenge for it by kidnapping and killing Administrator Kurai's cat. This act puts them on the top of the Ring's hit list.
  • Bag of Sharing: Your personal stash is carried over across Acts, and all characters on the same account can access its contents.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final showdown with Dominus. His second form has a nasty habit of turning the rain to blood, which deals damage as long as you're standing in it.
  • Battle Royale Game: On April Fools' Day, 2018, the game retooled itself into this genre as a joke, becoming Path of Exile: Royale temporarily. Winners were awarded "Rhoa dinners"note  as trophies to display in their customizable Home Base. It returned in 2021 with enhanced features and rebalancing as a more proper dedicated game mode.
  • Big Bad: High Templar Dominus is the instigator of the plot, being responsible for the player character's exile and the revival of thaumaturgical research. But throughout the game there is talk of a "Nightmare", and its physical representation, The Beast. Talking to Siosa reveals the Vaal knew this being by name. All it needed was someone to control it...
    • In Fall of Oriath, High Templar Avarius seems to be this, only to be replaced by Kitava almost immediately after the former's death.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality:
    • While the people/things you fight are undeniably villainous, the player classes aren't exactly virtuous themselves. The Marauder is a Blood Knight who shows little concern for things unrelated to combat, the Ranger is an openly misandristic poacher, the Shadow is an honorable but cold-blooded Professional Killer, the Duelist is an arrogant, narcissistic Jerkass, the Witch is a child murderer, and the Scion murdered her own husband in cold blood on their wedding night. Even the Templar, the most moral of the classes, used to work for The Empire, and may have been a former Blackguard; it seems likely what caused his exile was that he stopped being evil.
    • Almost every single non-Gemling person in Wraeclast is either a criminal in exile or working for the Empire of Oriath. The few that aren't are descendants of the survivors of past civilizations who are understandably unwelcoming to the exiles. Granted, The Empire is a corrupt theocracy so it's definition of "criminal" is somewhat loose, but there aren't a whole lot of nice people on the continent.
  • Black Knight: The Blackguards, mooks of the High Templar.
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded:
    • In the process of exploring the Vaal Ruins, you accidentally break a seal and release the Vaal Oversoul, which in turn ushers in The Night That Never Ends. Several characters in that act's town call you out for it, saying that you've destroyed the world with your thoughtless actions. That seal is blocking the only path through the ruins, which you have to get through in order to stop Piety and continue the plot.
    • One character calls you out for magically poisoning the giant tree whose roots were blocking the ruins' entrance, when simply chopping your way through is not an option (somehow, despite the many and varied bladed weapons you as an exile have access to).
    • In Fall of Oriath, several characters will chastise your character about killing the Beast in order to defeat Malachai before he reshaped the entire world as if it was something you'd just done on a whim for no reason.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: A few unique items have the property "Extra Gore", guaranteeing messier fights. Microtransaction store has a cosmetic that grants the same effect, as well as a number of gore-themed cosmetics like bloody wings and footprints.
  • Bloody Murder: Corrupted Blood is a stacking Damage Over Time debuff that represents being covered by a creature's toxic blood. This is most commonly used by enemies, but Corrupting Fever skill lets the player inflict it as well - complete with being Cast from Hit Points as you're using your actual blood.
  • Body Horror:
    • Grigor, the misshapen NPC in act 3. The monsters in the Lunaris Temple also count. They are all this way because Piety tried to implant Virtue Gems — the same gems you place in equipment sockets for all of your active skills — in their bodies, likely out of a misguided attempt to construct super-soldiers. The result is people who look like they walked off the set of Dead Space. This isn't the first time such a process has been undertaken either — Emperor Chitus of the Eternal Empire and his thaumaturgist Malachai dabbled in the process about 250 years before the game's campaign storyline, which resulted in the creation of the Undying enemies you find all over Act 3. The process apparently has a detrimental effect on the subject's sanity; everyone who has undergone it, aside from Grigor and Lady Dialla, the Gemling Queen, and even she is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander at best, blindly attack you on sight. The lore implies this wasn't always the case — The implantation of virtue gems seemed to have been common practice in the Eternal Empire among the upper classes, and we know of at least 2 entire legions composed of Gemlings, at least until the Purity Rebellions, but after the cataclysm those who were implanted slowly degenerated into the mad monsters that are the Undying. In act 8, it's implied that Gemlings can recover at least some of their identity, which worries Maramoa, who muses that all this time they've been seen as mindless monsters.
    • Act 4 brings us the slave labourers in Highgate mines and the monsters inhabiting The Beast's innards.
  • Bonus Boss: Due to league content being optional, league bosses are this. Examples include Breachlords, Abyssal liches, First Ones' avatars from Bestiary, underground city bosses from Delve, Syndicate Mastermind from Betrayal, and Cortex from Synthesis.
  • Boring, but Practical: Survivability nodes, in particular increased Health and/or Energy Shield may not be as flashy as the Keystone Passives, but they're downright vital in progression, so much they might as well be One Stat to Rule Them All. The game mechanics are set to discourage Glass Cannon build; you being able to drain 100% of your health in one attack is irrelevant when the enemy oneshots you in the first place.
    • While most of the skills you can find in the first act are generally more straightforward than ones you find later in the game with fancier effects, they're just as viable even all the way to the end of post-game if you build around it. A basic Fireball may not look flashy, but it has powerful ailment scaling and its projectile can be modified to mow down packs of enemies. Even something as mundane as Split Arrow, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, is a good clear skill for bleed-basednote  bow builds.
  • Boss Bonanza: Create your own Boss Bonanza! After gaining the ability to call the Maven to witness you, she will keep a record of the map's boss after you kill them. After doing this enough times, you'll receive an invitation to the Maven's crucible, where she summons copies of the bosses she's witnessed for you to fight in one arena, while she also makes things harder for you by buffing them. This can even include special bosses, so making a combination of something like Breachlords, Shaper/Elder Guardians, or even Uber Elder with other bosses at the same time is possible.
  • Boss Remix:
    • Izaro's theme mixes together both themes of the Labyrinth.
    • "High Templar Avarius" is based on "Chamber of Innocence", theme of the preceding location.
    • Final boss of the Synthesis expansion, Venarius, has a theme based on the Memory Nexus theme.
    • In general, it's common for league bosses to have a theme based on the league's more peaceful theme. In addition to Synthesis above, this applies to Abyss, Bestiary and Delve.
  • Boss Rush:
    • Shaper's Realm makes you go through several randomly chosen Atlas bosses before letting you fight the Shaper.
    • Unique map Hall of the Grandmasters consists of several gauntlets with multiple Wolfpack Bosses each.
    • Each phase of the Cortex boss fight is its own mini-boss you have to take down. These mini-bosses are closely based on lesser Synthesis bosses, potentially making this a Final-Exam Boss as well.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • The microtransaction shop uses the "pay for convenience" kind. The only practical advantages you can gain from spending money are extra tabs for your stash, improvements to your existing stash tabs, extra character slots, and extra guild member slots, none of which will provide any sort of in-combat advantage. The closest the game gets to straight up selling power is the currency stash tab, which can hold up to five thousand of the most common orb types in the gamenote  and this particular purchase is the player base's usual recommendation to the question "What should I spend my money on first?". The other usual recommendation is the premium stash tab, which basically gives players a license to put things up for sale on third-party trading websites (or the in-game Trade Market in the console version).
    • On the first day of April 2014, Grinding Gear Games decided to "nickel and dime" players into purchasing "wins". Apparently, their definition of "winning" is "a firework show" and the term "nickel and diming" meant "charging 15 cents". To their success, a lot of people paid to win.
    • In-universe example: The biggest contributing factor to Chitus passing the Labyrinth and becoming emperor was because he came from the richest family in the Empire and bought every advantage he could.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: The end of Act 5. After weakening Kitava's vessel with the Sign of Purity and beating on him the old fashioned way for a bit, Kitava finally wises up and destroys the Sign. Sin saves you from being obliterated on the spot, but you're left with a "cruel affliction" that permanently lowers your elemental and chaos resistance. Though you defeat him more definitively in Act 10, your resistance stats are lowered again, so presumably something similar happened.
  • The Brute: Both Hillock, the first boss of the game, and Brutus, the mid-Act I boss. Act III has the optional boss Kole, who uses Brutus' abilities and doubles as That One Boss for many people, particularly in the permanent death hardcore leagues.
  • Bullfight Boss: A number of bosses have charge or slam attacks that are broadly telegraphed but will ruin you if you don't avoid them, such as Brutus, Kole, the Vaal Oversoul, and Voll.
  • Call-Back: In the Delirium league, the voice that appears when you enter the mirror sometimes uses lines from other characters, though with a dark twist.
    Izaro: Oh, the weary traveler draws close to the end of the path!
    Voice: Oh, the weary traveler draws close to the end of their life!
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • The Blood Magic keystone passive removes your mana and uses your life as your mana instead. Also comes in Skill Gem flavor, but in that case just that one skill costs HP instead of mana.
    • Reap, Exsanguinate, and Corrupting Fever costs life to cast.
    • The Righteous Fire spell will deal 90% of the caster's max health per second, ending when they reach 1 HP, in exchange for dealing 40% of it in damage to any nearby enemies. The Vaal variant of the spell will instead instantly remove a large chunk of life and energy shield to create an extra-powerful burning aura for a short time.
    • Frost Shield creates a protective bubble that powers up by consuming your Energy Shield.
    • Infernal Legion support sets your minions on fire, making them lose life to burn nearby enemies like a miniature Righteous Fire.
  • Charged Attack:
    • Vaal Skill Gems require the user to kill a certain number of enemies in their current zone before they can be used in exchange for substantially greater effects (Spark sends out 3 wandering jolts of lightning, Vaal Spark sends out several dozen).
    • Most channeling skills are of "hold to charge" variety, like Flameblast which gains more damage and area the longer you hold it before detonating. Some of them also have an effect while charging, like Incinerate acting as a continuous flamethrower that ends with a stronger charged blast.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Enemies and items use the same color scheme. White is normal and has only the basic properties for the type of item or enemy, blue has one or two random properties, yellow has a randomized name and three to six random properties, and dark orange is unique, with a preset name and list of traits.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: The game has a color coding similar to the Diablo series: regular items are white, magical ones are blue, rares are yellow, and uniques are orange. Quest items are green (but they aren't equippable). Some players and even the wiki have been known to refer simply to white, blue, gold and orange items.
  • Combat Tentacles:
    • Whipping Miscreations and Tentacle Miscreations, the latter of which uses them as Organitek machineguns.
    • Malachai can summon a portal that lashes out with a mass of tentacles.
    • The Elder spawns clusters of tentacles that slam the ground, both in his influenced maps and in his boss fight.
  • Commonplace Rare: Fishing Rods are weak but extremely rare weapons that can only drop by wearing a specific unique tricorne. Another equally rare item is the bait, an Albino Rhoa Feather you can only acquire from an albino rhoa, which you can find very, very rarely in one specific zone. It is said that these items are required to fish, but very few know how to fish as the developers have relentlessly silenced anyone who would attempt to disclose fishing secrets (supposedly).
  • Cosmetic Award: Completing enough challenges in a challenge league grants your character league-exclusive cosmetics. Also, some race events and lotteries have microtransactions from the shop as rewards.
  • Cosmic Motifs: The Reality Warper known as The Shaper is associated with this motif. His attacks resemble black holes and he summons minions that look like living clusters of stars. Maps on the Atlas of Worlds and items affected by The Shaper's influence also have a starry space background. His lair resembles a patchwork of parchment floating in the void of space.
  • Crapsack World: Justified in that you're on a segment of the wider world horrible enough that the legitimate authorities decided it was a good place to put criminals too dangerous to otherwise hold. The rest of the planet is implied to be a bit better, though there are nasty bits — the Nazi-alikes who sent you to Wraeclast, for one.
  • Creator Cameo: Once in a blue moon, a lucky player may encounter the Master Fisherman, Krillson of Winding Pier fame. He's voiced by Chris Wilson of Grinding Gear Games, the lead developer of Path of Exile. How to complete his mission is another story.
  • Creator Provincialism: As one might expect from a New Zealand-based developer, the game's world takes a lot of cues from the history of the Oceania region; the titular practice of Exile evokes the deportation of criminals to Australia, and the Karui are a clear Fantasy Counterpart Culture for the Maori.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: The paintings in the Haunted Mansion appear innocent from a distance but become horrifying when approached.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Because of the huge skill tree, it is very easy to fall into this category or its opposite extreme. It won't hinder you too much during the main story, but the endgame Atlas farming with various modifiers can be nigh-impossible for certain builds.
  • Cool Down: Some active abilities have cooldowns in addition to consuming mana. The cooldowns of mine-type abilities function slightly differently: preparing a mine (happens without active player participation) takes time and you can only carry a small number of them around, but launching them has no cooldown.
  • Corrupt Church: The primary enemies of the game are an expeditionary force from a theocratic-and very nasty-empire lead by a High Templar.
    • For clarity, Oriath was an island colony of the Eternal Empire. It is traditionally ruled by a High Templar. It gets confusing because the last Emperor of the Eternal Empire was also the High Templar of Oriath before he was crowned.
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Dark Is Not Evil: A recurring theme.
    • Almost every summon is some variation on The Undead, making most Summoners a variation on the Necromancer.
    • The Beast is a monstrous Eldritch Abomination the size of a mountain and responsible for the legions of undead roaming Wraeclast and the reality-warping magical corruption across the continent. It's also completely benevolent and was never made to be hostile; in fact it was made to protect humanity by suppressing the gods. It wasn't until Malachai took it over that the Beast's powers were turned to horrific evil.
    • Sin himself is a jet-black Winged Humanoid who looks like a nightmarish demonic shadow. He's also probably the single most powerful force for good in the entire setting.
  • Death Course: The Labyrinth is one giant series of zones filled with traps, originally made as a way to choose a new emperor.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Being killed will only ever set you back to the town or a "checkpoint" (usually the area entrance) losing none of your items or, until after Part 1, experience. Once Part 2 hits, you suffer a 5% experience penalty every death, but even that will never remove levels. After Part 2 (i.e. once you're in the endgame grind), death instead takes 10% experience, though you still can't lose levels. On most bosses, even your progress in the fight wont reset because your last checkpoint was in the boss arena, or close enough that any number of speed boosting items gets you back to it before they have a chance to heal. The only other consequence of death is on Hardcore mode, where dying once removes that character from Hardcore permanently, though even then nothing stops you from just continuing on in standard mode, with all the bonus items Hardcore gave you up to that point.
    • Averted at high enough character levels, where 10% of your experience progress to the next level can easily be hours or days worth of progress for most builds.
  • Defector from Decadence: Several characters are former Blackguards.
    • The Templar, judging from his comments after defeating General Gravicius, was relatively high up and well-connected in the religious hierarchy.
    • Helena defected after Piety sent her group to die against Fidelitas. She was sceptical of their cause even before that.
    • Petarus fell in love with a captured exile Vanja and they escaped together, later joining a Maraketh community.
  • Deflector Shield: Several armors have an Energy Shield stat, which grants you one of these; your Intelligence improves how strong it is.
  • Demonic Possession: In Fall of Oriath, the gods do this in order to manifest themselves on the physical plane. Innocence uses Avarius, the Brine King uses Nessa, Ralakesh uses Greust, and Kitava uses the giant statue seen on the title screen.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Heist League is extremely detached from the rest of the game in its lightheartedness. The characters do notice some things that happen outside of the Harbour, but apart from some of the side-stories being quite downbeat or outright heartbreaking, most of the story's overtones about corruption, cosmic dread and the struggle to survive are downright missing. In their place are a massive cast of Lovable Rogues, genuinely hilarious dialogue, and a gameplay style and tone that is more akin to the likes of PAYDAY 2 than the dismal world of Wraeclast.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment:
    • Crafting in the game is randomized just like enemy drops, but allows for a great flexibility. Using the orbs, you can upgrade items of any rarity to higher tiers, give magical and rare items additional properties, completely respec an item, change the number of gem slots or the gem slot connectors on it, etc. There are also crafting recipes to add a specific mod to an item or even manipulate what kind of mods it can roll.
    • Skills in this game are highly customizable. Let's say you enjoy using Fireball. Link it to Multiple Projectiles, and you shoot multiple Fireballs in one cast. Link it to Chain, and it turns into Pinball Projectile. Link it to Spell totem, and you instead put down a Totem that shoots Fireballs. Link it to all three, and you put down a Totem that shoots multiple pinballing Fireballs.
  • Developers' Foresight: Some quests may be done out of sequence (finding the Quest Item before actually getting the quest from the Quest Giver, for instance). In this case, the quest giver and related NPCs will say different things regarding the quest status.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Final Boss of the main storyline is Kitava, though you did receive divine assistance in the fight. After that, there are the Shaper and the Elder.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Sister Cassia from Blight league will occasionally hum the league's theme when you approach her.
  • Difficulty Spike:
    • The Vaal Oversoul in Act 2, and then the Lunaris Temple in Act 3, both considerably step up the difficulty from what came before. Then you get to the Scepter of God, where even normal enemies start gaining powerful effects like range-nullifying bubble shields. Of particular note is the level boss who turns the screen into Lightning Trap Bullet Hell. And, of course, Dominus himself is no pushover.
    • Act 4 pretty much turns the difficulty curve into a difficulty wall, with both Daresso's Dream and Kaom's Dream throwing swarms of particularly nasty enemies at you, and every boss fight - particularly Daresso - is likely to either bring your hardcore run to an early end or simply cause your death count to skyrocket.
    • If you enter the Labyrinth right after you unlock it, then you are guaranteed to be underleveled for it (without twinking). Even if you're thorough in earlier acts, the highest level you're likely to be upon reaching the Sarn encampment, from which you can access the Labyrinth, is 28; the Labyrinth itself is 33. (If you haven't done the act 3 trials yet, you will be a little higher, but still.) The game isn't going to hand over those Ascendency Points and Enchantments that easily. On the bright side, if you do have a good build and/or are well-equipped you can level very quickly inside the Labyrinth.
    • Hitting Act 5 in Fall of Oriath sends the difficulty skyrocketing; rare enemies can kill you in a few seconds if you're not on your toes, unique enemies become extremely deadly cases of Boss in Mook's Clothing, and actual bosses become Bullet Hell titans with massive health pools and incredible damage output that can kill even a well-built end-game character in an instant. It's not uncommon for players to remark upon how easy later acts seem.
  • Disk One Nuke: Unique armor Tabula Rasa doesn't provide any protection or stat bonuses, but always has six linked white sockets and no level requirement. This lets you use your primary skill with five supports (which you normally can't do until late endgame) and mix and match supports as you want, allowing you to breeze through early game; however, in the late game it loses to any six-linked and properly colored armor.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Duelist, who was exiled because he thought a noble had insulted him, and promptly stabbed said noble in the gut in return. Also the Witch — depending on your opinion, to a greater or lesser degree. Her house was burnt down, most likely as part of an attempt to kill her, but instead of going after her attackers directly, she murdered their children.
  • Doomed Hometown: In Conquerors of the Atlas, Oriath is destroyed thanks to Sirus, and the rest of Oriathans take refuge in nearby Karui shores. The Oriathans are forced to live with the race they enslaved.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: While High Templar Dominus is clearly marked as the Big Bad, Piety of Theopolis is the one who does most of the Empire's legwork for the majority of the game.
  • Dual Boss:
    • Solaris and Lunaris in Act 8. The boss battle alternates between fighting both of them at once and fighting one while the other assists.
    • Uber Elder encounter puts you against both the Elder and insane Shaper.
    • "Twinned" map modifier and "Deadly Twins" prophecy double the map's unique boss or bosses, making it either a Dual Boss or a Wolf Pack Boss.
    • The Twins, the final bosses of Heist expansion. They wield different elements (fire and ice) and weapons (dual axes and a crossbow), and switch weapons when one of them loses enough life.
  • Dual Wielding: All one-handed weapons can be dual wielded, including two different types (i.e. axe and sword), though this is not advised due to spreading of passives. You also can't dual wield a melee and ranged weapon together.
  • Dump Stat: In terms of items, while almost any build can take advantage of some stat, the most useless mod to roll on any item is increased Item Rarity. Contrary to what the stat may imply, it doesn't increase the odds of actually rare items like Exalted Orbs dropping, it just increases the chance an item drops with a higher Rarity class (as in, Normal/Magic/Rare/Unique).
  • Durable Deathtrap: Mostly played straight by the Labyrinth - the many (many, many) traps you run across are still every bit as deadly now as they were when the labyrinth was first built. Here and there, though, you'll come across wrecked traps, or fallen rubble blocking off tracks.
  • Easily Forgiven: Captain Fairgraves comes back in Act 3 as a ghost chained to an anchor, and begs your forgiveness for trying to murder you. Then he asks you to aid with his resurrection.
  • Eldritch Location: The Atlas itself, as of Conquerors of the Atlas. A seemingly endless universe filled with unique worlds, simply being within the Atlas for any length of time causes one's sanity to slowly erode and their greatest vices and flaws to become amplified to toxic levels. Most notably, while the Corruption in the main world is mostly limited to Wraeclast, it is all over the Atlas, and no one, not even Zana, understands how that's even possible.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Animate Weapon skills lets you raise weapons dropped from enemies or blades created from certain skills into temporary minions. The Dancing Dervish is a unique sword that animates itself while you have a Rampage Kill Streak going. Jack the Axe and Oni-Goroshi are Talking Weapons.
  • Enemy Civil War:
    • In some parts of Sarn in Act 3, you can see blackguards fighting guardian ribbons from Solaris Temple.
    • In Act 8, also set in Sarn, worshipers of Solaris and Lunaris battle each other on the Harbor Bridge, middle of the road connecting their temples.
    • The theme of Legion league. Five armies from Wraeclast's history are duking it out in an eternal war in another realm, and it's the player's job to bring them out to your realm and kill them for delicious loot.
  • Enemy Mine: Piety helps the player in the final encounter in Act 4.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Defied by Kraityn, one of the Bandit Lords. According to his Letter of Exile, he killed his mother... for money.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Thanks to a letter found lying in his camp base, we learn that Captain Arteri, the Black Knight mini-boss defending the pass between Western Forest and Prisoner Gate, is Piety's lover.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Vastiri Deserts in Act 9 are full of raptor-like creatures called Rhex. There are Maraketh archers using them as mounted cavalry.
  • Evil Is Visceral:
    • Once the the player enters the interior of The Beast in Act 4, this trope hits in full force. If Wraeclast has a hell, its bowels are quite bloody. For bonus points, the final boss's chamber features giant, bleeding hearts.
    • Beyond mechanic manifests as demon-spawning portals of blood and flesh.
  • Evolving Weapon: Invoked with Oni-Goroshi. The normal method of acquiring it involves farming the very first zone for likely hours. Its damage scales with your level, has a powerful double-edged effect that can be optimized in the late game, and comes automatically six-linked. It even has unique dialogue that triggers across all acts, so it was designed to be used from the start to all the way into the endgame.
  • Exact Words:
    • The skill Herald of Thunder, unlike other lightning skills, cannot shock enemies. The unique mask Three Dragons causes lightning damage to freeze enemies instead of shocking them. This includes Herald of Thunder, since the skill doesn't say it can't freeze.
    • The bonuses and stats from gears and the skill tree use tons of these. Make sure you pay attention to, and know what Increased, More, Reduced, Less, Global, Elemental Damage, etc means, and the differences.
  • Exploited Immunity: Possible in character building. There are ways to mitigate certain negative conditions (such as bleeding, poison, or curses), ways to reliably inflict them to yourself, and ways to benefit from them. A common example is the generic Spell Totem build, which includes unique robe Soul Mantle (empowers your totems, but applies a random curse when your totem dies), two Kikazaru rings (greatly reduced effect of curses), and Self-Flagellation jewel (increases your damage per curse on you).
  • Exploding Barrels:
    • Generic barrel containers may randomly explode, damaging you and desroying other nearby containers.
    • One room of the Temple of Atzoatl contains "flashpowder kegs" that you can use to blow up passages between rooms.
    • Sextant mod "area contains mysterious barrels" can create barrels that explode either instantly or after a delay.
  • Expospeak Gag: One of the enemies you can encounter in Act 2 is the "Plummeting Ursa," a fanged koala-like monster that will look oddly familiar to people who know Australian folklore.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Lunaris Temple has some topless women inside - but they're either in the form of Dead Space-like monsters, or cadavers on operating tables missing half their head and shoulders.
    • The Whipping Miscreation concept art is shown during the credits. They're women wearing nothing more than a loincloth and some twine. Their left sides are covered in crystal growths and their right arms are turned into a six-foot long thorny tentacle
    • Doedre Darktongue is, if you look at the art on her divination card or Steam trading card, a well-armored thin blonde witch, probably pretty good-looking. When you fight her, she's naked... and in most of her fights is a bloated, legless purple meatball with tentacle hair who vomits blood at you.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • The Proud Warrior Race Karui are a very obvious one for the Maori; as the game originates from New Zealand, it was likely an obvious inspiration.
    • The Awakening expansion adds the an in-game appearance of the Maraketh, a Japanese-flavored culture, only with a strong matriarchal bent.
  • Field of Blades: The site of Marceus Lioneye's last stand against the Karui hordes features his tattered standard blowing in the wind amidst a textbook example of this trope.
  • Fighting Spirit:
    • Ancestral Call and Fist of War supports summon spirits that lash out at nearby enemies or slam the ground when you attack in melee.
    • Ancestral Protector and Ancestral Warchief totems manifest a similar spirit that attacks independently.
    • Mirage Archer support creates a spectre that attacks random enemies with your bow skills.
    • Conquerors of the Atlas each have a second spiritual body that floats above them and does all the attacking in their boss fights.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The three types of elemental damage, which do not count as physical damage. There's also a fourth "element", chaos, but it's not considered "elemental damage" for game purposes.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Niles the Interrogator, despite formerly working for the Templars, firmly believes that gods have never existed. He'll claim the entire second part of the game (which he wasn't around to witness first-hand) was all a very elaborate hoax. As for you, the one who's slain all the gods, he says you've probably breathed in too much crypt gas.
  • Flash Step:
    • Flame Dash is a short-range teleport that hits enemies you move through with fire damage and leaves burning ground in its path.
    • Frostblink is similar, but instead freezes enemies on your path.
    • Flicker Strike and Consecrated Path teleport you right in front of an enemy to hit with your melee weapon.
  • Flechette Storm:
    • Ethereal Knives spell throws a volley of magic knives, Bladefall rains blades on enemies, and Blade Vortex surrounds the caster with a whirlwind of daggers.
    • "Steel" category of skills (Splitting Steel, Shattering Steel and Lancing Steel) launch metal shards as splitting projectiles, a shotgun blast or a machinegun spray. They use ammo-like Steel Shards and heavily utilize Impale mechanic.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Someone, possibly Malachai, left a note on the map device in the Eternal Laboratory, overjoyed over its completion. At the time they wrote it, they were about to explore the "Dreamlands" inside. They have, quite obviously, not returned. This is the same map device players run end game content, including the revived Queen Atziri, on. With the release of Act 4, this is confirmed: The Nightmare ends up being the force responsible for pretty much everything going wrong in Wraeclast. Towards the end, its revealed that the Nightmare is in fact Malachai of the Eternal Empire, who transformed himself into a monster in order to bring his own twisted version of "purity" to the world.
    • If you look carefully right after defeating Piety in the Lunaris Temple, you'll see a strange portal form, which sucks her body into it. Act 4 reveals that this was Malachai pulling her into the Beast so he could mutate and brainwash her for his own ends.
  • Friendly Ghost: In the Library of Sarn in Act 3, the player comes across a Karui ghost named Siosa Foaga, the only member of Sarn's intelligentsia not to lose their marbles. He can provide a sidequest and and Info Dump regarding the Vaal, the fall of the Eternal Empire, and to an extent, Nightmare itself.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • It's mentioned at one point that Piety used to be a prostitute to pay for her magical studies. After she graduated, so to speak, she found a better paycheck as one of Dominus' Co-Dragons, and become The Dreaded of Wraeclast's inhabitants.
    • The Exile is noted to be this as well by some characters; the implications are that even the Templar and Scion are just a midrank officer and a minor noblewoman noted only for her strange abilities.
  • Full Health Bonus: The Damage on Full Life Support skill gem makes any linked weapon attack skills deal significantly more damage while the skill's user is at full health.
  • Fusion Dance: The boss of Act 9, Unholy Trinity, is a monstrous fusion of Maligaro, Shavronne and Doedre.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, the game's whole skill system is based on socketing "skill gems" into gear, the gems giving characters all the superhuman abilities (shooting fireballs, explosive arrows, ability to teleport-and-stab etc.), and the origin of those gems and their side-effects are pretty much the main plot. Even Ascendancy classes are explained by the story of the Lord's Labyrinth, and the story of that links into the main story of the fall of the Eternal Empire, Malachai's ascension, and so on. But occasionally you get things like Nessa, in Act 1, saying she has no medicines for the ill and wounded, all the while selling a number of health restoring flasks.
    • According to in-game lore, in previous eras Tukohama could push (and smack) Kitava around more or less with impunity. In the game itself, Tukohama is the Warm-Up Boss for part II and Kitava is the big bad who could mop the floor with him.
    • Most bosses, League and otherwise, are explicitly supernatural or thaumaturgically empowered, so their power and toughness makes logical sense. As of Heist League, a bandit leader not fundamentally different from the ones you fought in Act 2, a slave trading boss, a high-ranking naval officer, and two spoiled-brat nobles turned gang leaders can, despite no indication they're anything other than ordinary humans lorewise, both wield powers of a similar visual scope as, and do and take MUCH more damage in in-game combat than, the literal gods you fought earlier. (In fact, they're on a similar level difficultywise with the remaining, not-the-final, league boss, a magitek construct designed to be an ultimate weapon.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The final boss of Act Six, The Brine King.
  • Giant Mook: "Rare" monsters are simply regular monsters with buffs to health and damage and several random extra modifiers, with their appearance and moves unchanged.
  • Glamour Failure: The unique boss Mirage of Bones will spam Blink Arrow and Mirror Arrow to teleport around and fill the screen with copies of itself and keep the player guessing. The fake ones, however, are rooted in place, while the real boss will move around.
  • Glass Cannon: Defied. The way damage is calculated in this game makes sure all offense and no defense simply won't work in higher levels. The closest may be the Necromancer, with more points dedicated to improve their minions, but even they are expected to have plenty of Hit Points to tank a blow or two.
  • Global Currency Exception: There are a few league mechanics which use their own type of currency for purchasing stuff:
    • Perandus Coins are only taken by the the man who's stashed them across the continent, Cadiro Perandus, who offers you a random item in exchange for a sum of coins.
    • Rogue's Markers are used to fund Heists and reveal rooms for Grand Heist blueprints, which can also be physically used to open a portal to the Rogue Harbor.
    • Expedition has four different sets of Kalguuran artifact pieces in four tiers, and each of the NPC from the expedition will let you exchange it for their items and services.
  • Going Native:
    • In Azmeri settlement in act 2 you can meet Eramir, an exiled scholar who now acts as the village's wise man. Helena, a defected Blackguard, joins them midway through the act, and remains there when you revisit in act 7.
    • Petarus and Vanja were welcomed into a Maraketh town and adopted local traditions.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: It's perfectly possible to build around the Unarmed damage type, which requires players to not have any weapons equipped. There's also the Unencumbered status, which further requires the player to not wear gloves. The sole keystone passive available for this status, "Hollow Palm Technique", basically enables Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs as a damage-dealing option.
  • Gorn: The depths of the Lunaris Temple actually outdo the Durance of Hate in bloodiness, with drainage pipes running completely red and entire reservoirs full of blood, not to mention all the torture equipment, corpses impaled on stakes, and piles upon piles of emaciated dead bodies. Even worse, people can be seen trying desperately to stay afloat in some of the larger bodies of blood.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: The third act of the game is set in Sarn, the capital of an empire that was overthrown shortly before the cataclysm that ruined Wraeclast. A lot of areas (especially places like the slums, the docks, and the warehouse district) have graffiti urging the workers to rise up against the emperor. It is implied that this was the work of Victario, a popular poet and member of the Purity Rebellion.
  • Ground Punch:
    • Skills classified as "slams" are Strength-based attacks that involve striking the ground, creating damaging fissures or elemental explosions. They are focused on delivering slow but powerful attacks with a large Area of Effect, have great synergy with warcries, and most of them can be used while unarmed.
    • Doryani's Touch in particular is a slam skill specific to Doryani's Fist unique glove that can only be used without weapons. High Templar Dominus uses both the glove and the skill in his boss fight.
  • Guide Dang It!:One could say the whole game could be considered this mostly due to the sheer number of options it gives players. There are so many mechanics, spell/stat interactions, and strategies to contend with that it can be very easy to get lost and make a terrible build through no fault of your own. The infamously gigantic skill tree doesn't exactly help either. However, as players learn the mechanics, builds, the metagame, and ways to make currency effectively to buy and trade for items, the game opens up and becomes considerably more manageable. Best illustrated by the following Nerf NOW!! comic.
    • Several maps can be very annoying to travel through if you're not aware of the "tells" or "hints" that they have to help players navigate. For a few examples;
      • The Western Forest, Act 2: From the waypoint, the way to get to Alira is the side of the road where the torch is.
      • The Lunaris Temple, Act 3: The correct way to go is always upstairs.
      • The Grain Gate, Act 7: The exit is through the warehouses with the dead Blackguards sitting next to their entrances.
    • Getting proper defenses and knowing which types of defense take priority can often mean the difference between success and frustration. In particular, getting your Fire, Cold, and Lightning elemental resistances to the 75% soft cap is extremely important for surviving (Chaos resistance also to a lesser degree, although very few enemies use Chaos attacks). In contrast, armour and evasion typically doesn't do anywhere near as much to keep you alive.
    • The "% increased damage" modifier is not the same as "% more damage" modifier and has a different effect on damage.
    • Several gems are much, much more useful if they are left unupgraded, because upgrading them also will increase their mana cost/damage threshold to proc. For example, connecting level 1 Cast When Damage Taken with level 1 Immortal Call will result in Immortal Call being procced every single time you are hit, which is extremely useful against spiky enemy damage and oneshots.
    • Siosa's sidequest in the Library in Act 3 requires you to recover four Golden Pages. What neither the quest nor Siosa himself tells you is that the Golden Pages are in a separate area that you have to access via finding a single Loose Candle switch in the Library to open up the Archives. You'll have to scour a lot of the area to find the out-of-place candle, and even then might miss it.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: All three Strength- and thus melee-oriented characters are male, while the two females are a Squishy Wizard and an archer. Still, since the skill tree allows any class to be anything, it just takes more skill points to get to the skills the character was not intended to use.
    • That said, rapiers and bucklers are purely Dexterity-based, so the Ranger can avert this if you decide to have her wield those instead of a bow. It's not entirely recommended due to the nature of Evasion in this game, but it's certainly possible, especially since the skill tree path you'll go down offers additional health and evasion.
    • Subverted with the Sixth Ranger class Scion, whoe starts in the exact center of the skill tree with perfectly balanced stats, allowing her to do any build with care; her first skill gem even combines smashing and shooting — it allows her to throw a spectral copy of a melee weapon at enemies.
    • The Karui culture forbids its men to use any kind of missile weapon. King Kaom's victory over Marceus Lioneye came by realizing that this prohibition didn't apply to women, surprising Lioneye by instituting the second half of this trope.
  • Hailfire Peaks:
    • Mostly averted in the main game, with logical environmental transitions, discrete environments in different areas, and neither snowy mountains nor volcanic areas particularly common (two areas of each).
    • The Azurite Mine's randomly generated biomes can, and often will, place an icy Frozen Hollow biome near a Magma Fissure or Sulphur Vents, with passages connecting them, meaning an ice cave separated from molten magma or boiling water by a few feet of rock. The Azurite Mine is implied to be an Eldritch Location, though.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear:
    • Yeena, the magic accessories saleswoman from Act 2, wears nothing but a bear skin.
    • Oshabi from the Harvest league has half of her chest bare, resorting to Godiva Hair.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Scourge league introduced some "Pinnacle/Uber Endgame" challenges for past league content, which take the hardest content from the leagues and juice up their difficulty way harder, for a chance at some extremely rewarding haul:
    • Blight-Ravaged Maps are absolutely packed to the brim with blight lanes with enemies with maxed out monster level. You can anoint three times the amount of oils for even more reward opportunities if you're confident.
    • Flawless Breachstones add three extra random map modifiers and jacks up enemy life and pack size.
    • Unrelenting Emblems make each monster from that faction stronger and more rewarding every time they respawn.
    • Simulacrium originally ended at wave 20, but now there are 10 additional waves past that. They're exponentially harder than the first 20 waves, but are exponentially more rewarding.
    • Version 3.19 added keystone Atlas passives that upgrade an endgame boss into a brutally hard version of them. The Shaper, Uber Elder, Sirus, the Maven, Venarius, the Searing Exarch, and the Eater of Worlds have these extra-hard versions that give better drops and exclusive rewards.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Several areas and enemies make plenty of creepy sounds, but special mention goes to a certain cave ambiance, which features incomprehensible whispering and a realistic cat's cry.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Nessa warns the player of this at the end of Act 1.
    Nessa: But please, keep one thing in mind for me. What have you become when even nightmares fear you?
    • The Conquerors were once exiles who defeated the Elder, but continued to run through the Atlas countless more times and became too powerful and too insane for their own good. In essence, they are the player characters who spent thousands of hours grinding the endgame.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Kinda. The Duelist wears a bright-red shirt under the armor, as if tempting the enemy to try and hit him. Given how his defenses are based on Evasion, this is not as suicidal as it seems...
  • Hollywood Darkness: At a certain point in the game, a magical darkness descends upon the world. Said darkness is represented by a ghastly bluish tint and swirling eldritch shadows in the sky.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Vaal Empire was one of the most powerful empires ever to exist, exploiting virtue gems and holding massive blood sacrifices. Through Incursions into the past, your single exile manages to intimidate them enough for them to raise entire armies and stockpile armors and weapons, just to defend themselves against you.
  • Identity Amnesia: In the Synthesis league, you're assisted by an old, almost senile spirit called Cavas and you dive into fragments of memories scattered about the world to find them. Most of them aren't his. His real identity is High Templar Venarius, the same guy who tried to hold Zana for ransom years ago and directly responsible for freeing the Elder. Once he remembers who he was, he also remembers he was going to rewrite everyone's memory to unite everyone under his order in a fight against the Elder.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: From easier to harder: Normal, Cruel, Merciless. These have since been down away with with the addition of part 2 of the story, but are still used to describe the different difficulties of the Lord's Labyrinth, in addition with a fourth difficulty, Eternal.
  • Impossible Item Drop: In addition to the usual trope of non-humanoid enemies dropping various equipment, in Metamorph league the player has to collect organs of random monsters, even when the monster couldn't logically have any organs.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: Ranger's Tactician ascendancy from PoE 2 lets you use sword and axe melee skills with your bow.
  • Injured Vulnerability: Weapons or skills with the "Culling Strikes" property will instantly kill any enemy that is below 10% of their max health. This comes in handy against Rare or Unique monsters, for whom 10% of their health is still a lot of damage.
  • Jerkass: A number of characters, but the standout is probably Greust in Act 2. Even after you save his tribe from the Bandit Lords and the Vaal Oversoul, the best he gives you is a very grudging thanks and a warning that he's watching you. Kira in act 4 is similar, but more passive-aggressive — complaining that she could have done it if her leader hadn't forbidden her from making the attempt.
    • Played with in the 2nd half of the campaign. Greust falls in love with Helena and sacrifices himself inspecting a cursed artifact that washed up near the village, becoming the host for one of the gods while Kira kidnaps her leader and sacrifices her to the gods for power.
  • King Mook: Each area has a unique Mini-Boss monster. When they are not involved in any quests, they are just stronger and fancier versions of regular monsters.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: A sidequest in Act 9 turns into one of these: you're sent to rescue the Maraketh's leader, Oyun, from rebels led by her former lieutenant. You fail to save her, but recover her proof of leadership, and are left deciding whether Oyun should be succeeded by the traditionalist Irasha or the progressive-but-eccentric Tasuni. Your choice doesn't affect anything but some dialogue, though.
  • Leaked Experience: Each member of the party receives a portion of the XP for every enemy killed on the location, even if they don't actively participate in the fighting. "XP leeching" is a common player service: players stay in a map solely for the purpose of increasing item drops while they gain XP from whatever the host kills.
  • Light Is Not Good: Piety, the villain for a large portion of the game. She looks like a paladin from a High Fantasy universe... who is actually an utterly amoral Evil Sorceress and is a leader in this world's equivalent to the SS.
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: Path of Exile follows the Diablo II model and has only two types of scrolls, Scroll of Wisdom (Identify) and Portal Scroll, but with a few twists. First, both types serve as Practical Currency, since in-game vendors don't accept gold as payment. Secondly, early game enemies rarely drop whole Scrolls of Wisdom, so you'll have to put them together from five Scroll Fragments (which are most commonly acquired by selling common items). Lastly, you can skip Portal Scrolls entirely if you find the colorless Portal gem, which takes up one active skill slot but frees up some inventory space.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Killing a frozen enemy may cause them to shatter.
  • Literal Maneater: Arakaali, Spinner of Shadows, is a Vaal goddess of fertility whose true form is that of a giant spider. The myths indicate that she would take a form of an attractive woman, seduce and dominate a man (or woman), then suck the life and blood out of them to sate her hunger and use their dessicated husk to decorate her temple. Poor Silk becomes one of her victims when she returns.
  • Living Doll Collector: This is what the Maven uses you for. After observing you slay a powerful enemy (boss), she replicates it and adds it to her collection, then pits them against you in her realm for her unending desire for amusement. She treats her collection like toys, and eventually, she'll want to collect you.
  • Loot Boxes: Downplayed. "Mystery boxes" are available in the MTX shop for a relatively small price and contain cosmetics from a box-specific list.
  • Loot-Making Attack: In a general sense, stacking the "Increased Item Quantity" modifier on equipment essentially turns every attack into a Loot Making Attack to a degree. The (long-discontinued) aptly named "Item Quantity Support" passive skill gem turns any skill gems linked to it into a more powerful version of this trope at its maximum gem level.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Anyone "blessed" by Nightmare, via human experimentation or otherwise, gains incredible abilities and particularly nasty Body Horror. Double subverted with Shavronne, who was obsessed with beauty — she got all the superpowers and none of the Body Horror, but then inflicted it on herself mechanically to make herself "perfect". (That said, of all of such characters, she is probably the least horrifying...)
  • Ludicrous Gibs: There are some skill which, if you kill enemies with them, result into the enemies exploding into bloody chunks.
  • Mad Doctor: Malachai, Doryani, Piety, Shavronne, and Maligaro all have an enthusiasm for human experimentation and a disdain for such things as medical ethics and informed consent. You actually encounter Piety in the Prison and the Chamber of Sins because she is trying to study the work of the latter two.
  • Magic Knight: All characters share the same skill tree, but different classes start in different areas; so it's completely possible to teach your witch to swing your sword-sword or your marauder to chuck fireballs and thunderbolts. The latter is even easier, since anybody can use any skill gem if they meet the stat requirements. Using both physical attack and spells at the same time can be done with trigger support gems such as Cast on Critical Strike and the Wandslinger gem, which causes the supported spell to fire whenever you attack with a wand. The Inquisitor Ascendancy class for Templars has some skills that encourages mixing attacks and spells together.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Sticking with a basic spell and laying on Support gems and passives can turn that skill gem you find on the beach at level one into a powerhouse able to One-Hit Kill certain enemies, even through energy shields and resistances.
    • Unique items with bonuses that scale based on attributes, such as The Whispering Ice, start out fairly weak but can be some of the strongest items in the game with the proper build.
    • Some unique items scale with the player's level. The most notable example is Oni-Goroshi. You can find it at early as the first zone (if you intentionally grind for it for several hours). It comes with 6 linked sockets and its abilities scale with your level, making it able to be used all the way from the beginning to the end of the game.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Path of Exile 2's character screen features all the classes lined up in the gallows. Your character of choice survives the hanging from a lucky rope break.
  • Marathon Level: The Lord's Labyrinth must be fully completed in one run - there are no waypoints, and dying or portaling out forces you to start from the beginning.
  • Master of None: Another easy trap to fall into when designing your character.
    • In earlier versions, some players considered the Duelist as a Master of None, as he is well-rounded in physical combat but not as hard-hitting or tanky as the Marauder, less efficient in ranged combat than the Ranger, not nearly as effective with crits as the Shadow, and ultimately not as versatile as the Scion. Some skill tree rebalancing has fixed his inefficiencies and Duelists now have good survivability on top of damage across all three Ascendancy classes.
    • After Ascendancy, the Scion became one of these. Ascendancy classes allowed every other class to focus on their specialty and access to powerful passives. The Scion has only one Ascendancy class (other classes get three options), the Ascendant, whose notable passives give a little bit of everything from another Ascendancy class, but not the best parts of them. They also got the short end of the stick when the final Labyrinth was introduced. Every other class got to pick up another major passive, and while Ascendants don't have to sacrifice an Ascendancy class passive for a second skill tree starting point, they are still limited to two of them. This issue was addressed by just making the Ascendant's passives a lot stronger.
    • For Heists, Huck is the only Rogue who doesn't have a skill that's maxed out at level 5 and his perks provide zero economic bonuses, so there's basically no reason to use him over a Rogue who is specialized for a particular job. He does at least have a use for XP farming.
  • Metal Slime: As of The Awakening, sometimes you may run into ghosts named "Tormented (something)". These ghosts tend to flee on sight while buffing other enemies they pass by, and if not defeated quickly they will escape the map, depriving you of their drops. As they are considered Unique enemies based on their names' color (gold), they tend to drop good stuff. However, if their path takes them across a rare monster, they will possess it, buffing it, making their presence permanent until the map resets or the rare is killed, and increasing the rewards they give further still.
    • Essence league's essence-bearing rare monsters are tough to kill even by rare monster standards and have to be found and specifically released to fight them.
  • Me's a Crowd: The Blink Arrow and Mirror Arrow skills create a duplicate of the character with their bow and quiver. Normally the cooldown time for the skill is the same as the duration, meaning that you can only have one of each. Since there is no actual cap on the duplicates (unlike other minion skills), with the proper build it's possible to deploy a lot of clones.
  • The Minion Master: Anyone using Minion-oriented skills, but especially the Necromancer Ascendancy Class. Minion types can include undead like zombies, skeletons, and spectres, to illusions, phantasms, animated guardians, and golems. There's even Strength and Dexterity-based minions that can summon divine Heralds of Purity, animate weaponry on the ground, raise enemies slain by supported skills as ghosts. Multiple gears and passives can turn these into Elite Mooks and beyond, and there are dedicated skill gems and supports to further alter or buff minions.
  • Misplaced Retribution: In the Witch's backstory. Her house was burnt down, and instead of killing the people who did it, she killed their children.
  • More Criminals Than Targets: In Act 2, the Forest Encampment is supposedly being preyed upon and harassed by the three bandit lords. Each of them leads a gang of at least a hundred or so. The Forest Encampment has five named characters (and one of them is only brought to town partway through the Act) and a few extras. And it's not like there are many travelers for the bandits to prey upon, since Piety blocked off the roads and the forest is swarming with homicidal wildlife. However, these groups are also unaffiliated with the others, so it's likely a 3-way battle for control as well.
  • Mortality Phobia:
    • Many of the most notorious thaumaturgists' ultimate goal was to achieve immortality, including Malachai.
    • Inverted with the Witch, whom several characters note seems to have something of a fondness for death.
  • Multi-Stage Battle:
    • Malachai retreats deeper into the Beast's core after his first phase, gaining additional mechanics in his second phase.
    • Syndicate Mastermind greets you with a short and simple fight when you enter her hideout, then leaves you to fight your way through her Mooks before confronting her for real in the inner garden.
    • The Elder intervenes in his Guardians' fights whenever you take off enough of their health, and sends you both into a different arena. While all arenas have generally the same size and layout, they have different hazards to take your attention.
  • Mythology Gag: Given the game's status as a spiritual successor to Diablo II, several areas and enemies will look familiar.
    • The Cannibal enemies of Act I release their spirit when they die; similar to the Corrupt Rogue enemies of Diablo II. A special unique cannibal in one early location has an extended spirit-releasing animation, just like Blood Raven, a unique Corrupt Rogue.
    • Path of Exile has its own Den of Evil (an early dungeon in Diablo II's first area) in the form of the Fetid Pool, with an NPC's quest requiring that you completely cleanse it of enemies. Both areas even have a type of enemy that will resurrect fallen allies of a certain type.
    • Touching the Ancient Seal in the Vaal Ruins of Act II causes a magical darkness to fall on the entire area, reminiscent of the Tainted Sun quest.
    • The Durance of Hate, Mephisto's dungeon in Act III, features copious blood and gorn. The Lunaris Temple, also in Act III, has more than its share of the same.
    • The fiery lakes, houses and skull mounds in Kaom's Fortress resemble the River of Flame and Chaos Sanctuary areas.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Brutus, Lord Incarcerator; The Vaal Oversoul; The Chamber of Sins. Honorable mentions to many unique monsters, such Kadavrus the Defiler and Fleshrend, Grand Inquisitor.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Piety and her master, Dominus. Let's count the ways: Dictatorial rule and suppression of dissent, check. Soldiers in intimidating black uniforms, check. Horrific experiments on human subjects, check. Lots and lots of Cold-Blooded Torture, check. Attempts to create a master race and/or super soldiers, check. Implied goal of re-creating an 'eternal empire', check. Piles of emaciated corpses eerily reminiscent of those found in concentration camps, check. And the design and uniforms of the Oriath Templars don't even attempt to be subtle.
    • The Fall of Oriath expansion features red banners with the black imperial emblem in a white circle in the middle, as well as that same emblem inside a wreath clutched by an eagle with outstretched wings, drawn in an angular style clearly inspired by the iconography of the Third Reich. As in, it takes side-by-side comparison to find the differences.
  • Necessary Drawback:
    • Most Keystone Passive skills have either a drawback or a strict condition to balance their advantages. You can get perfect accuracy at the cost of unable to deal a Critical Hit, immunity to stun at the cost of not being able to evade attacks, immunity to Chaos damage at the cost of having your maximum HP reduced to 1, etc.
    • Similarly, some Unique items have drawbacks in exchange for their unique attributes. Entire builds have been built around these items to provide truly unique playing experience.
    • Support gems with the highest damage bonuses have downsides, such as Brutality (no elemental or chaos damage) and Elemental Focus (can't apply ailments).
    • On the other hand, supports that improve area coverage or add some sort of autonomous use, like Multiple Projectiles and Spell Totem, usually give a damage penalty.
  • Necromancer:
    • Most summon skills are based on necromancy. Several skills are based around making your zombies, spectres, and skeletons stronger, including a Keystone Passive that transfers your energy shield buffs to them.
    • Necromancer is one of Ascendancy classes for the Witch. Most of its abilities revolve around minions or corpses.
  • Nerf: The Awakening patch brought a few very significant nerfs: Life/Mana Leech was significantly reduced and requires passives to increase its normally poor leech rate (with only instances of leech stacking when hitting multiple enemies to compensate). The Reduced Mana support gem was changed to not lower Mana Reservation, reducing the number of auras a player can have overall (Enlighten was changed to lower Mana Costs including Reservation, but at a much lower percentage regardless), and Multiple Projectile gems no longer stack on the same attack ("shotgunning"), making those gems less essential for projectile skills. Blood Rage was also changed to not guarantee generating a Frenzy Charge on kill, which was a major setback to Flicker Strike builds.
    • For Fall of Oriath, damage-over-time effects that scaled with damage (Ignite, Poison, Bleed) had to be reworked from the ground up to remove double dipping abuse. Previously, these effects scaled off of the final damage of the hit that applied it, so it caused them to not only scale off of modifiers that normally wouldn't affect it (for example, if you increase the area damage of an AoE skill, the DoT also indirectly increases off of it), if a modifier applies to both the hit and the DoT, the DoT would gain increased damage on top of the increased damage of the hit, which meant its damage increased twofold. Now these effects are classified as "Ailments", which scale off only from the base damage of the hit (before any damage modifiers are applied) and have its own category for Ailment damage modifiers and critical strike multiplier.
    • One of GGG Forums Manifestos is titled "Path of Nerfs", written by GGG's lead developer. It's almost as though the company's own vision of the game meta has intentionally become about boom or bust gameplay patching...
    • Version 3.15 (the Expedition league patch) is one massive nerf-centric patch that downscales the Power Creep that's been ramping up for the past 9 years. Of them, major changes include making flasks dramatically weaker in both the strength of their effects and ailment immunity uptime, nerfing the damage values of pure damage support gems, making triggered skills pay their skill costs, and reducing the effectiveness of some movement skills that were too good with zero investment. All these major downgrades are made in an effort to make the main content more challenging and to not make new content exponentially harder to compensate.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Act II, the only way to reach the exit of a plot-critical underground passage is to trigger an altar. It makes darkness fall on the land and releases a monster which is the Act II final boss.
    • "The Fall of Oriath" expansion has this two fold, stinging even more since the actions that cause them were entirely heroic. First, killing Dominus is revealed to have engulfed Oriath in chaos as a brutal war wages between the revolting Karui slaves and the legions of the new High Templar, with the city's innocent civilians caught in the middle. Second, the deaths of Malachai and the Beast end up causing the original gods of Wraeclast to return, and it quickly becomes clear that they are not friendly.
    • Act 9 reveals that when the Exile killed Malachai and subsequently the Beast, its blood began to flow into the Aqueduct, severely damaging Highgate's ecosystem.
    • Fall of Oriath also turns this trope on Sin, for creating the Beast. He intended the Beast to simply suppress the gods, but he also designed the Beast to be gentle and to not have any ambition or aggression. As a result, it was entirely powerless to stop an ambitious human from breaching inside it and taking over it's body, and using its Reality Warper powers to corrupt Wraeclast.
    • Your character using a new Map Device basically undid Zana's plan to seal the Atlas and prevent the Conquerors from escaping the Atlas, so now you're tasked to fix this by taking down the Conquerors instead.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Your mooks, if you want. There are also Necromancer enemies who send undead at you.
  • No-Harm Requirement: Back when Vorici was a Forsaken Master, he would sometimes give out missions that imposed these sorts of restrictions on you - such as killing a boss enemy while keeping at least one of their guards alive or wiping out the boss's guards without killing the boss themselves. Just as long as they don't die. One of the missions was even keeping them at low health for a couple of seconds. The faster clear speeds became, the more Vorici's missions became the Scrappy Mechanic.
    • Removed as of the Betrayal patch. There's no more Master Assassin missions and even catching beasts has been changed so you catch them by "killing" them.
  • Nostalgia Level: Starting location of PoE 2 looks and plays very similar to the beginning of the original campaign. You Wake Up on a Beach, pick up your first weapon and skill gem, fight your way through zombies and crabs, and take down a giant zombie before entering the first town.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Warden's Quarters are completely devoid of enemies... right up to when you run into Brutus.
  • Not the Intended Use:
    • The "Offering" skills (Flesh Offering, Bone Offering, and Spirit Offering) destroy enemy corpses to temporarily buff any minions you might have. However, even if your chosen build doesn't make use of minions, they're quite handy on Necromancer heavy maps, to ensure that what you kill stays that way.
    • Temporal Chains curse slows the target, and makes temporary effects on it to expire slower too. For that secondary effect, some esoteric builds apply the curse to themselves to achieve permanent uptime of certain buffs that otherwise have very limited duration.
    • Several unique items increase your damage, but also increase mana cost of your skills. While that's meant to be a Necessary Drawback, introduction of Archmage supportnote  turned them into incredibly potent damage boosters. After a build utilizing that to ludicrous extent became popular, those items were severely nerfed.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Chaos Inoculation passive skill sets the player's health to 1 and makes them immune to the only damage type that can bypass energy shields, meaning that if their energy shield ever runs out, they will die in one hit to anything. They can combine this with Eldritch Battery, which causes energy shield to protect mana instead of life, or The Agnostic, which sets your energy shield to 0, fully becoming this trope (they shouldn't, but they can).
  • Organ Drops: In the Metamorph league, you collect the organs of your fallen enemies to give to Tane Octavius for him stick into his machine to build a Metamorph enemy.
  • Penal Colony: The entire continent of Wraeclast. What do you mean, it's not inspired by the Land Down Under?
  • Place Worse Than Death: Oriath itself has become this as of Siege. Between the one-two punch of Kitava's invasion and Sirus' attack, the surviving populace decided to cut their losses and abandon the island entirely, relocating to a spot of land in Ngamakanui. Talking to Helena and Kirac will have them say that many have begun to suspect that, between the tyranny of the Templars and everything that happened in the campaign, the island itself may be cursed.
  • Plague Doctor: One can get that look going with a Waxed Jacket/Garb armor and Plague Mask hat.
  • Player Party: You can complete the game on your own but you can also form parties with up to five other players. Doing so increases difficulty so that multiple players don't buzzsaw through content balanced for one player, but also rewards them with more XP and better loot.
  • Power Crystal: Skill gems.
  • Practical Currency: The loot you sell is traded for Scrolls of Wisdom (identification) or various Orbs that are used to improve your equipment. This actually makes the currency both not worthless at higher levels, and also makes selling regular (non-magical) loot not a waste, since you get scrolls to identify your magical loot (but you don't from selling magical items). That said you can also trade orbs (which you get from selling magical items) for scrolls.
  • Prestige Class:
    • The Scion is the first class to be introduced that requires playing through most of the campaign with a basic class to unlock her.
    • The Ascendancy expansion adds Ascendancy Classes, giving each class a choice of three sets (or just one big set for the Scion) of powerful passive skills to suit their specialties, and even within its own small tree there are multiple options to choose from. For example, the Occultist class for Witches have options for curse enhancements, energy shield bonuses, chaos resistance and life regen reduction, and power charge generation.
  • Power Creep: The average clearspeed in Path of Exile in its early days is at a snail's pace compared to today's. The game's gradual increase in damage can be attributed to not just buffs to numbers and passive skill tree changes, including large additions like jewel sockets and Ascendancy classes, but also crafting. New leagues and expansions added ways to modify items to give them more powerful modifiers and easier ways to acquire them. While the devs do acknowledge the jump in power in the highest end of item crafting over time, it's also compensated by the fact the method of acquiring the best crafting options have increased with it.
  • Pun: The Arcmage is not The Archmage, but an enemy who casts Arc.
  • Purposefully Overpowered: There are some uniques referred to as "chase uniques", which have unique effects that are incredibly powerful even without building around it, and GGG has intentionally kept them powerful and exceptionally rare. The most well-known of these is the Headhunter belt, which gives you a modifier from a Rare monster temporarily when you kill one.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The wood etchings in Act 2 tell the story of a village woman losing her family to The Cataclysm. As her husband and daughters are turned to zombies and actively hunt her, she first seeks solace in the Moon, thought to be a manifestation of God, then she seeks shelter in a temple, and then declares that God has forsaken them and she shall "rejoin her family..."
  • Rain of Arrows: The Rain of Arrows skills does exactly what you would expect it to do. Blast Rain and Toxic Rain also do this, but fire a barrage of explosive arrows or poisonous pods instead.
  • Random Effect Spell:
    • Elemental Hit is a skill that strikes the target with a blast of a random element.
    • Wild Strike skill works the same way, but also delivers a completely different effect based on the element: Fire creates an explosion, Cold releases a wave, and Lightning releases an arcing bolt.
    • Vaal Orb impredictably modifies an item, including adding a special extra mod, completely rerolling all its mods, or doing nothing. No matter the result, the items becomes impossible to modify, meaning It Only Works Once (per item). Altar of Corruption takes it even further, with the worst result being complete destruction of the item.
  • Randomly Generated Levels:
    • Not only are they random but each location rearranges itself (respawning all enemies) 8 to 16 minutes after you have left it. Thankfully, the general orientation of the maps (the positions of the exits and waypoints relative to the map center and edges) is always roughly the same, which makes finding one's bearings much easier.
    • The game also has endgame maps which are treated like any other item, complete with random attributes and quality ratings all the way up to Unique. Using one will take you to a map with special challenges and a chance for better rewards.
  • Randomly Generated Loot: Follows the Diablo model of basic templates with numerous prefixes and suffixes denoting special enchantments, plus multiple tiers of rarity/power.
  • Recollection Sidequest:
    • The old endgame quest (between Atlas of Worlds and Conquerors of the Atlas) involved collecting memory fragments of The Shaper, which tell the story of how he progressed from an ordinary man into a Reality Warper and his battle with The Elder for control of the Atlas of Worlds.
    • Cavas is a spirit who has forgotten almost everything, including his identity as High Templar Venarius. He asks the Exile to enter scatted memory fragments, which manifest as small additions to the current map, and stabilize them.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • You fight Piety three times, after several more non-combat encounters.
    • Shavronne, Maligaro and Doedre first appear as mini-bosses in act 4, then as regular bosses in acts 6-8 (one in each act), then again as minibosses in act 9, and finally you fight all three of them together (in a Fusion Dance) as the final boss of act 9.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • "Solaris theme" appears in several music tracks in Acts 3 and 8 - Sarn's Encampment, Battlefront, Solaris Temple, and Solaris/Lunaris boss fight.
    • "Atlas theme" first appeared in Shaper's Realm theme, and later in the Elder and the Maven's battle themes.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Unlike mana, health does not regenerate by itself (without regenerating items or specific passives), but the energy shield, added on top of health by various armors, does. This is the preferred option of magic-heavy classes, since the shields are tied to the Intelligence score. Fittingly, the energy shield only regenerates after not taking damage for a time, so if you want it to come back you have to be smart about avoiding combat.
  • Religion Is Magic: Chitus' uncle Cadiro, despite being centuries old, still remains after "striking a deal" with the ancient Azmerian god of souls and treasure, Prospero. It's also implied this is the secret to Zerphi's youth, who Atziri tried to copy through another means disastrously, was worshiping a god of death. Might also apply to Izaro as well, his devotion to the goddess of justice seeming to keep him alive for centuries.
    • New story from The Fall of Oriath confirms this: turns out in humans ancient times could ascend to godhood through reverence and the Beast, the source of all thaumaturgy, was created to suppress the old gods. The Pantheon system lets you slay these gods and take some of their power for yourself in the form of passive bonuses.
  • Remixed Level:
    • After a certain point in Act 5, Oriath Square and Templar Courts become Ruined Square and Torched Courts, covered in flames, rubble and corpses.
    • Acts 6-10 take you to the same general areas as Acts 1-5, resulting in this on a wider scale.
    • Some areas get a complete makeover. For example, the early side area Fetid Pool is completely cleaned up and becomes Karui Fortress; Lunaris Temple recovers from Scenery Gorn of Piety's experiments and is pure blue again; and Belly of the Beast turns green and rotten.
    • Some look more or less the same, but have completely new inhabitants. For example, Blood Aqueduct (formerly just Aqueduct) now hosts fleshy nightmares who escaped from the Beast's dead body; and most of Act 7 is home to cultists instead of bandits.
    • Some area connections are gone, meaning that some areas can't be visited at all and you have to find new paths.
  • The Republic: Conquerers of the Atlas reveals that Oriath becomes this after Kitava's death and the shattering of the Templar Order. Instead of a fundamentalist theocracy where the High Templar holds absolute power, Oriath is now ruled jointly by a council of magisters democratically elected by the people.
  • Retcon:
    • Zana plays a major role in the post-game since the Atlas of Worlds expansion, and her backstory was changed with it. Pre-Atlas, Zana's backstory was that her father, a sea captain, discovered her talents for cartography at a young age and raised her to hone her talents, and Zana discovered the nature of Maps after her exile. Her new backstory is that she lost both her parents at a young age and studied her father's research on the Map Device and reconstructed it to find its secrets and to find out what happened to her father after she saw him fall into the Atlas many years ago. She also lost her thick Russian accent.
    • When the Betrayal expansion introduced the Immortal Syndicate, Forsaken Masters (except for Zana) were repurposed as its members while new Masters took their place.
    • The details of Emperor Chitus' assassination had some of its details silently changed. What was originally written was that Ondar lethally stabbed Chitus and managed to escape through the sewers, but was assassinated by the Silent Brotherhood two weeks later. The rewritten text says Ondar did stab Chitus, except Chitus was a hulking brute of a man and chopped Ondar in half with his axe before succumbing to the poison in the blade.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Izaro comes from a long line of Royal Inbreeding, which might explain why he thought the Labyrinth was a good idea (not to mention his sterility). One of the members of his lineage was a cannibal. To celebrate the opening of the Labyrinth he also had the spine of its first victim gilded and made into a sceptre. Played with in that he doesn't seem to have been a bad emperor - his intentions were noble, crazy as he may have been.
  • Rule of Three: The game system runs on it. There are three character attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence), three core classes (Marauder, Ranger, Witch), three mixed ones (Duelist, Templar, Shadow), three types of defense (armor, evasion, energy shields), three colors of ability gems (red, green, blue), etc.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: What any given Animated Guardian will almost inevitably end up looking like. It's true that you could invest the time into getting your guardian a decent rare set, but they're incredibly fragile even with good armor, so it's usually more sensical to just give them a decent magic weapon you don't need and then whatever's lying around for the remainder of their equipment. Players playing solo self-found characters will also inevitably look like this.
  • Sacred Flames: There are a couple of holy-themed fire skills that create a white flame. They're also different from regular flame skills in that they deal physical damage with part of the damage converted to fire. Innocence mainly uses these for his attacks.
    • The first Kalgurran expedition brought with them on their journey to Wraeclast the Triskelion Flame, a sacred artifact that was essential for their survival not only for fending off evil, but also to purify their food and water. As a descendent of the Knights of the Sun, Dannig is tasked to discover the fate of the Flame and bring it back to his homeland if possible.
  • Scenery Gorn:
    • The whole third Act is set in the ruined city of Sarn. Of particular and gruesome note is the Lunaris Temple, home to Piety's horrific experiments, which is practically covered in corpses on spikes and on the floor, and which is filled with her hideous Miscreations.
    • The Ruined Square in Act 5 and The Ravaged Square in Act 10 are filled with rubble, flames and piles of corpses.
    • Inside The Beast and The Slave Pens are literally this in two different ways.
  • Scenery Porn: At the same time the Solaris Temple is actually rather pretty with its marble flooring, red carpets, and rich furnishings. It helps that none of the enemies there can bleed.
  • Screaming Warrior: Warcry skills taunt nearby enemies and all but one Warcry exerts your next few attacks, adding a bonus effect to them, making them a better fit for slow but strong attack skills. Warcries are also more powerful the more enemies are around and if you taunted a strong enemy.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: You can get Prophecies by paying a Silver Coin to Navali, and sometimes you need to run a certain map a few times until a certain monster type spawns as Rare, and kill that. Thus, the prophecy actually makes you try to spawn a certain monster, and kill that.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: This turns out to be the primary motivation for Sirus, the Big Bad of Conquerers of the Atlas. After years of fighting and dying within the Atlas, Sirus has become utterly desensitized to pretty much everything, and all his evil is done out of a desire to finally feel some semblance of emotion again. In his final moments, he dies content that his final battle with the Exile finally made him feel something again.
  • Skills, Scores, and Perks: With over 1300 nodes available to all classes and sprawling in every direction, the game's skill tree is more comparable to a "skill Pando". As if that wasn't enough, there are also cluster jewels that can further extend the skill tree at its edges, either adding passives that are exclusively available to cluster jewels or adding even more cluster jewel sockets.
  • Shoot the Builder: Implied - in the Labyrinth, you can encounter packs of generic skeletons called "Undead Engineers", suggesting that a good number of people involved in building the Labyrinth were killed and left there to protect Izaro's secrets. There's also the unique item Xirgil's Crank, which has a flavor text which Xirgil the trapmaker says he knew how the Labyrinth's traps worked.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few can be found among the unique items.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Simple mobility skills such as Leap Slam and Shield Charge can be gained as early as lvl 1, yet their effect can either be very convenient or downright vital. A ledge or chasm blocks your path? Leap Slam. Boss using That One Attack and you're surrounded by enemies? Shield Charge. They can even be kept at lvl 1 forever, adding to their simplicity. Theres a reason Leap Slam and Shield Charge is among the most used Skill Gems in the game. This wasn't left unnoticed by the devs, and for version 3.7, they added a whole slew of early game mobility skills like Dash and Frostblink.
  • Skill Point Reset: It is possible to reset some of the points allocated to passive skills, either by completing quests or using an Orb of Regret, which is a currency item. Plus the occasional full resets that come with major patches.
  • Smoke Out: Possible with the Smoke Mine skill gem, which allows you to place up to five 'remote mines'. Upon detonation/activation, you're teleported to one of the mines you placed - the smoke clouds blind enemies both at your original position and near the mine itself, and you get a short boost to your run speed.
  • Socketed Equipment: Virtually all of the equipment items a player can find can have ability gems socketed into them. Even the skill tree can be socketed.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Different item types have different drop sounds, so you will easily notice something like currency or a map (usually worth picking up). Custom loot filters often take this further, adding loud notifications to especially valuable items.
    • Lightning Mirage and Volatile Flameblood are fairly common and very deadly effects that need to be carefully dodged. As such, they have unique and loud sounds that immediately take the player's attention.
  • Spam Attack:
    • Multistrike support makes melee skills repeat several times with increased speed but reduced damage.
    • Barrage support makes you bow skills fire volleys instead of single shots.
    • Spell Echo and Unleash supports make you repeat your spell casts.
  • Spectral Weapon Copy:
    • Spectral Throw, Spectral Helix and a few other skills throw copies of your weapon.
    • Spectral Shield Throw does the same with your shield.
  • Spin Attack:
    • Cyclone is a continuous spinning attack that repeatedly hits enemies in a radius.
    • Sweep swings your weapon in a circle around you.
    • Bladestorm is a single spin that leaves a damaging whirlwind.
  • Spread Shot:
    • Split Arrow skill fires a spread of regular arrows, gaining more arrows as it levels up.
    • Lesser and Greater Multiple Projectiles supports add projectiles to any projectile skill, with a damage penalty to compensate.
    • Pinpoint support is similar, but with the added bonus of losing projectiles and gaining damage as you use the skill continuously.
  • Spy Speak: Of a sort. Witches seem to know most other witches, but as being a witch is generally illegal in Oriath they call each other 'sister.' This habit stays true on Wraeclast even though it's not needed.
  • Stance System: Version 3.7 introduced Blood and Sand stances for melee fighters. Certain attack and buff skills change their effects depending on your stance, making you stronger against bosses (Blood) or crowds of enemies (Sand).
  • Stat Sticks:
    • Spellcasters use wands, daggers, scepters and staves for their spell-related properties.
    • Builds that attack with a shield use melee weapons with global offensive bonuses.
    • Before this was fixed, it was possible to Dual Wield weapons of different categories with a skill that can only be used with one of those weapons, which made your character attack with one weapon while getting any applicable bonuses from the other.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: Lore objects and NPC dialogues gradually reveal the backstory of Wraeclast, but don't immediately explain why Everything Is Trying to Kill You. You'll figure that part out slowly as you approach the end of the main story campaign.
  • String Theory: Jun's investigation chart for the Immortal Syndicate has this style, although in practice it's more of a relationship graph.
  • Take That!: During an Einhar mission, Einhar has a rare line where he asks "Do you not have nets, exile?" Considering this line was added a month after the Diablo Immortal announcement...
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • Conquerors of the Atlas is all about hunting down Rogue Exiles who after defeating the Elder have kept running maps over and over again for the sole purpose of acquiring loot and power. Sound familiar?
    • The Echoes of the Atlas trailer not so subtly reinforces the same point:
      The Envoy: What drives you, Exile? Justice? Revenge? Honor? No... it is power.
    • Chris Wilson himself even lampshades it on the Scourge league reveal livestream:
      Chris Wilson: So why enter an alternate reality to fight a horde of ravenous demons? The answer to that question is exactly what you'd expect from Path of Exile: You're not there to save the world, you're there to find cool items!
  • Talking Weapon: Unique swords Oni-Goroshi and its predecessor The Goddess Unleashed play voiced lines when you kill enemies or reach certain points of the story. Jack the Axe is limited to "kill enemies" part.
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
    • Just like in Diablo II, there are static waypoints on every other location that have to be found and activated before you can use them to teleport from any one to any other.
    • Portal Scrolls and Portal skill gem create single-use portals to nearby town.
    • In Fall of Oriath you take a special portal from the Ascent over Highgate to the Slave Pens of Oriath, with a Terminator-esque spherical burn-mark on arrival.
  • Temporary Online Content:
    • Averted with most temporary leagues. Most early leagues' content, such as Rogue Exiles and the Prophecy system, was added to the core game after their leagues ended, and later league content can be occasionally found in endgame maps.
    • Played straight for most mechanics of Synthesis league. Player feedback was so negative due to the lackluster rewards and repetitive gameplay that the entire league was scrapped with the sole exception of its endgame boss fights. Some other league content can drop fractured or synthesised items, but the memory fragments, the Memory Nexus, and the actual synthesising mechanic are gone.
    • Also played straight with Talisman, again due to negative player feedback. Talismans themselves can be found through various means and the boss exists in some maps, but talisman upgrade mechanics and boss lore are gone.
    • Bestiary and Harvest league mechanics were both received rather poorly and took extra time to be added to the main game before being reworked. Beast hunting was changed so Einhar throws the nets for you and the beasts were made unkillable, while greatly simplying Beastcrafting components. Harvest was greatly streamlined by removing the need to plant or grow any seeds and just taking you to the Sacred Grove with plants already grown, but now has you have to choose between which one of the plant patches you want to harvest from.
    • Ultimatum is the longest league to not be added to the main game since Bestiary. The developers stated they were dissatisfied with the Trial of Chaos encounters feeling too chaotic and not tactical enough and actual rewards from them not being rewarding enough.
    • Starting in 2021, the game started retiring old league content that was deemed outdated and not rewarding enough to engage with. Perandus league was the first to go, then Prophecy league was retired right after.
    • Played straight with seasonal cosmetic microtransactions. Supporter packs and league-specific "brimmed hats" are completely unavailable after they leave the store, and challenge league rewards cannot be received after the league ends.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: One of the Masters is an explorer named Alva Valai, who offers you a business proposal: she opens a Portal to the Past 2000 years ago to an ancient Vaal temple that's been lost in today's history during its construction, you kill some architects to determine what kind of treasure room gets made in there and unlock pathways between rooms, repeat 11 more times until she can pinpoint the temple's location in the present, loot it, then reset the timeline of the temple and repeat.
    • Lampshaded in-game. Helena mentions that Alva's obsession with looting a lost temple, rather than trying to change Wraeclast's history, keeps her from wrecking havoc on the timeline.
  • Time Skip: Siege of the Atlas skips a year between Kitava's defeat and the beginning of the epilogue story. During that time, events of War for the Atlas and Conquerors of the Atlas happen offscreen without the Exile's involvement and Oriath is destroyed.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Most aura skills are named after emotions and other states of mind, such as Anger (adds fire damage), Discipline (grants extra energy shield) and Pride (increased physical damage taken by nearby enemies).
    • Utility flasks are named after gems, rocks and metals, such as Ruby (fire resistance), Granite (extra armor) and Quicksilver (movement speed).
    • Mini-bosses that can appear from Perandus chests are named after various precious metals.
  • Thieves' Guild: You get to work for one in the Heist league.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Zana's missions usually have a timer, either fixed or extendable by various means.
    • The Breachlord's domain is one giant Breach that you have to expand all the way to the boss arena. If you can't kill enemies fast enough, you lose the Breachstone even if you still had portals remaining.
    • Temporal incursions put you on a strict time limit, which you can extend by slaying enemies within it.
    • Abysses will close if you spend too long clearing them, although there's no visible timer.
    • In Syndicate laboratories, you have to reach and defeat the officers before Mooks destroy the evidence in the lab. You can also take your time to kill the mooks, effectively removing the timer.
  • Three-Stat System: The game system is based around Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence, and the six core classes are mapped either to one or to two of these. The secret Scion class, being located in the very center of the skill board, has access to all three.
  • Tower Defence: Blight league has this as the league mechanic, mixed with traditional combat. You have to protect the purifying device while Blight-afflicted monsters are approaching it, and you construct towers to assist you.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver:
    • Captain Fairgraves calls his ghostly flunkies and tries to kill you after you complete his Fetch Quest.
    • In Fall of Oriath, Utula, one of your main allies in Act 5, turns out to be a Kitava zealot, and only wanted you to kill Avarius so he could summon his dark god and unleash his minions onto the weakened Theopolis.
  • True Final Boss: Starting with Atlas of Worlds, the game has had multiple new end-game bosses found after an extensive time spent on maps.
    • The Shaper was the first post-game boss to be added to the game. He's guarded by the four Guardians of the Void located in the highest-tier maps, who needed to be slain for their four fragments used to open a poral to the boss fight.
    • War for the Atlas added the Elder, a wandering enemy opposing the Shaper. Once his influence in the Atlas spreads wide enough, the Elder and his Guardians occupy random influenced maps. The patch after that added a new final boss: a Dual Boss between the Elder and the corrupted Shaper (now referred to as Uber Elder).
    • Conquerors of the Atlas replaced the Shaper and Elder fights with the titular Conquerors, who invaded the Atlas by occupying regions, then can be tracked down and slain for their Watchstones used to improve map tiers. Nearing the highest level map encounters, defeating the Conquerors opens up a way to Sirus, Awakener of Worlds.
    • Echoes of the Atlas added a secondary final boss: the Maven. To challenge the Maven, you need to accept her highest-level Invitations, defeat all the bosses she presents and collect Crescent Splinters, which open a way to fight the Maven herself.
    • Siege of the Atlas replaced the Conquerors with two new end-game bosses: The Searing Exarch and the Eater of Worlds. To challenge them, you need to draw out their influence and challenge their second-in-command first, then draw further influence to them in the highest tier maps to receive and Invitation to challenge them.
    • While the Shaper, Elder, and the Conquerors are no longer part of the Atlas storyline, you can still fight them by collecting fragments from rare maps containing their influence.
  • Trap Master: Most spells and ranged attacks can be linked to a Remote Mine or Trap support them. Traps are thrown and activate the skill when an enemy gets close enough to trigger it, while remote mines are manually detonated and often reward stacking or chain detonating as many of them as possible. They excel at dealing burst damage by stacking several of them and avoiding damage reflection, but have a downside of being unable to leech for you. Shadows are the most effective trap and mine users, and their Ascendancy Class Saboteur gives utility bonuses to them.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The Witch and the Ranger. Ultimately subverted by the later addition of the Scion.
  • Underground Monkey: With crabs, spiders, apes... including literal underground monkeys.
  • The Unfought:
    • Until the full release, High Templar Dominus and Malachai.
    • You never personally fight Venarius in Synthesis and The Strange Voice in Delirium. Instead, they throw several mini-bosses or waves of minions at you, and retreat if you win.
  • Unholy Ground:
    • The entire continent of Wraeclast is, according to the lore, an unhallowed ground where the dead refuse to stay down, handily explaining the hordes of undead roaming the levels.
    • You can create a more concentrated version with the Desecrate skill, which spawns desecrated ground that deals chaos damage over time to any enemy above it, and also dredges up a few corpses that you can animate or explode.
  • Unidentified Items: Scrolls of Identification double as Practical Currency.
  • Unmoving Plaid:
    • Several things related to the Shaper feature an unmoving space pattern, including his minions, influenced items, and ground effects in influenced maps.
    • A few sets of cosmetic MTX, especially anything called "Celestial", have this too.
  • Unscaled Merfolk: Sirens are based off the Scylla from Greek mythology; female upper body with a betentacled lower half.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Rage is a status effect granted by certain skills, most commonly used by the Berserker ascendancy class. It builds up over time as you hit enemies at a set rate, and rapidly drains after not gaining Rage for a while. Rage grants attack damage and speed for each point of Rage. Berserk is an active skill which drains your Rage to give yourself a substantial attack, speed, and defense boost.
  • Vain Sorceress:
    • After discovering a serial killer was rumored to be 168 years old but looking young, Queen Atziri had her thaumaturgist Doryani do whatever it takes to find his secret. Not only were countless numbers of her people slaughtered, it's heavily implied it led to the destruction of her civilization.
    • Shavronne of Umbra was known for her vanity as much as much as she is known for her skill in thaumaturgy. If you take a look at her closer, you can see that the crown she's wearing is keeping her entire face stretched.
  • Vestigial Empire: See that little island on the map of Act 1? That's Oriath, the last remnant of the Eternal Empire that once ruled Wraeclast.
  • Villainous BSoD: In "Conquerors of the Atlas", the remnants of Kitava's army have fallen into a near-catatonic stupor following his death, wandering aimlessly and standing in place, only turning aggressive if you get too close or attack first.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Path of Exile 2 will add skills that transform your character into beasts of various kinds, granting some passive bonuses and switching your fighting style.
  • Vortex Barrier: A perpetual sandstorm blocks the Oasis side area in act 9. The sandstorm conceals Shakari, Queen of the Sands, a goddess who is trying to build an army of giant scorpions in secret. To enter the Oasis, you must retrieve the Storm Blade in the nearby Vastiri Desert, have two people in Highgate separate the storm from it, and use the now bottled storm to dispel it.
  • Warrior Poet: There are poems scattered around the Labyrinth, written by one of its contenders. You'll find his body and his final poem just before the final fight.
  • Was Once a Man: With the exception of the Beast itself, all of the various gods in Wraeclast were, at one point, human beings. According to Sin, they became that way by accumulating power and followers, but their ambitions to become gods caused them to slowly lose their humanity. Some, like Sin and Innocence, remained humanlike, but others, like the Brine King, were mutated into horrific, inhuman monsters.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each type of weapon requires different attributes and most have an inherent modifier.
    • Archer Archetype: Bows require dexterity and can be used with quiver accessories, which add different effects depending on the type of arrow (which you never run out of but may only use one of).
    • An Axe to Grind: Axes require strength and small amounts of dexterity, are one or two-handed, and are one of the few categories without an inherent mod (inherent mods being things like swords providing an accuracy bonus), with a higher base damage to compensate.
    • Cool Sword: Swords other than rapiers require equal amounts of strength and dexterity and have increased accuracy.
    • Drop the Hammer: Maces are one or two-handed, require only strength, and increase the length of time enemies are stunned or the damage required to stun them. Scepters are always one-handed, require strength and intelligence, and increase the amount of elemental damage done by skills and weapon properties.
    • Knife Nut: Daggers are always one-handed, require intelligence and dexterity, and increase the chance of getting a Critical Hit.
    • Magic Wand: Wands are intelligence-based and the only ranged weapons other than bows. They always have an increased spell damage mod. They can be used for spellcasting, attacks, or even both at the same time.
    • Royal Rapier: Rapiers require only dexterity, are always one-handed, and increase the damage of Critical Hits.
    • Simple Staff: Staves require strength and intelligence, are always two-handed, and are the only two-handed weapons with a chance to block.
    • Wolverine Claws: Claw weapons require dexterity and intelligence, are always one-handed, and have an inherent Life Drain mod.
    • Shields: Shield Charge, Shield Crush, and Spectral Shield Throw uses your shield's armour and evasion ratings to scale its damage.
    • Bare-Fisted Monk: Unarmed combat is an option with certain unique gloves that give you a huge damage boost while unarmed, although very few attack skills work without a weapon. For a truly unarmed experience, Hollow Palm Technique forbids wearing gloves as well, and you're rewarded with a massive attack speed boost and Dexterity-based scaling for damage.
    • Concoctions: An unusual form of unarmed ranged attacks, Explosive Concoction and Poisonous Concoction tosses explosive bottles that use your flask charges to deal additional damage.
  • Weird Currency: Wraeclast runs on a barter system, where consumables like town portals scrolls and orbs that alter an item's properties are used to buy items and are received for selling them. The currencies themselves are fairly varied — the core series of orbs alone range from mundane tools like whetstones and metal scrap, colorful stones like the Chromatic Orb, to bizarre-looking face-themed sculptures on the rare side of the scale, like the Chaos Orb and Exalted Orb.
  • We Used to Be Friends: After you complete the sidequest "Map to Tsoatha", Lilly Roth mentions that she and three of her accomplices attempted to steal the map from the templars but only Lilly managed to escape when they encountered the guards. Apparently her accomplices were Kraityn, Alira, and Oak, who were presumably exiled for their crime.
  • Wolfpack Boss:
    • The Pale Council consists of the four Prophecy bosses you've fought before to unlock the fight. Only one of them is vulnerable at a time, forcing you to constantly switch targets.
    • Some maps have three bosses instead of the usual one or two, including a literal wolf pack in the unique map Caer Blaidd.
    • "Atziri's Trio" is a gang of bosses that serve as a midway fight in Atziri's encounters. Killing one of them heals and enrages the remaining ones.
    • Maven's invitations put you against up to ten map bosses you've previously collected. Special invitations like "The Hidden" involve four endgame bosses, culminating with "The Feared", a five-way with Bonus Boss level opponents like the Shaper.
  • Womb Level: The inside of the Beast, in both bloody and sickly green variations.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Frequently in dungeons a player will come across huge piles of gold and jewels, only to discover they're part of the background. Occasionally in the middle of these opulent piles there will be a giant treasure chest full of items. This ties the lore in with the gameplay — gold being a currency has been entirely done away with on Wraeclast, which instead uses a form of barter. The concept of money is not of much use in a Death World where everything's trying to kill you. Somewhat played with due to the fact that orbs relating to modifying rare equipment are gold or gold-plated, fitting the "yellow rocks" part, and the most "worthless" of them, the Alchemy Orb, still holds decent value in some parts of the player market. There's also two forms of coins that players can loot, namely the prophecy-related Silver Coins and Perandus Coins, used by the thousands to buy things from the endgame Intrepid Merchant.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • The Shadow's intro shows that his employers sold him out after his last kill to save themselves, leading to him becoming an Exile.
    • As mentioned above, Captain Fairgraves betrays you the moment you hand him his magic lantern.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Brutus uses a hook to reel in players. The Chain Hook skill also does this, but in the opposite way.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The wood etchings found in the Act 2 Crossroads are a description of this, following shortly after the Cataclysm.

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