This article is about the basic game mechanic. For lists of skills, see Category:Skills.
The use of skills is crucial to surviving in the world of Wraeclast. Skills in Path of Exile fall into two main categories: active skills and passive skills. There are no class restrictions on what skills can be used so any class can use any skill (passive and active). Each skill is linked to one of the three attributes, however, meaning that different character classes will favor skills associated with that class's dominant attribute(s).
Passive skills require no special action from the player to provide a benefit. They may inlude effects such as always-on buffs, or enhancements to various types of actions that occur automatically.
Passive skills are acquired by spending skill points. When a point is spent on a skill, the character also receives a permanent bonus to that skill's attribute. The amount of this attribute bonus depends on the character's class. As described by Chris from Grinding Gear Games:
- "Different classes get different amounts of attribute from the skill. For example, earlier today I was playing on a Marauder and had to choose between one of several strength skills (they'd give me 7 strength each and help me reach the requirements for the Maul I wanted to use). In the end I picked an intelligence skill, which only gave me 3 intelligence because it's off-class."
What looks like the skill "tree" appears briefly in the background of the PC Gamer Trailer. It is arranged like a web, where each skill can be reached from multiple different paths. Path of Exile is planned to be released with over one thousand passive skills available.
Active skills must be used or cast to have an effect, such as spells and special attacks or maneuvers. Characters gain access to active skills by equiping items socketed with skill gems. These skill gems gain experience while equipped, becoming more powerful as they level up. Active skills may be assigned to the right and center mouse buttons as well as the Q, W, E, R, and T keys.
Skill gems may be augmented by support gems, which change their behaviour or add additional functionality, such as increasing the speed of projectiles launched by the skill, or increasing its area of effect.