Path of Exile is getting a lot of attention from new players coming to the game recently. Considering the game is not very newbie-friendly we aim to help new players choose their archetype more easily.
Most of the time players come from other games, be it action RPGs, big MMOs like WoW and even shooters. The variety is big but every one knows if he likes playing a “Mage, Warrior or Rogue”. Path of Exile can be very confusing since every character can be using any skill in the game and in that sense all of them can be “Mages Warriors and Rogues”, so what do you do in that case? The simple difference is that some of the ascendancy classes specializes in niche things, which should navigate you when building a certain character or choose a build in general. We will try to divide builds in different categories to give you a better idea of build play style difference and although all of the archetypes might not be covered it will be more than helpful to help you choose one at least for the beginning of your journey as an exile.
Melee: Melee has been tweaked and balanced over the years and now it is in its finest spot. Choosing an ascendancy class for your melee build can vary a lot based on the purpose of your character. For Bleeds you should go with Gladiator. For Poisons you should be looking at Pathfinder and Assassin. For an Impale-oriented build Champion is your best bet. Elemental-based attack builds should strongly consider the Inquisitor ascendancy class. Other classes that are great for melee are Juggernaut (focuses on being extremely tanky), Berseker (has tons of damage), Slayer (is able to leech great amounts of Life and has great utility) and Raider (which focuses on zooming around very fast).
Bows: For the archer archetype you should mainly be looking at Deadeye. The class will most likely work for any Bow build because it is very versatile overall but it can be outclassed in some cases. Same as Melee, for Bleeds you should go with Gladiator and for Poison-oriented Bow builds you should be looking at Pathfinder and Assassin. Chieftain can be used for Ignite Builds. The Inquisitor is also a great choice for Elemental Attack-based Bow skills.
Traps & Mines: Here Saboteur takes the cake. It is so good for building Trap and Mine characters that you should look no further. You can also go with some niche things with Ascendant, Elementalist and even Trickster but in general Saboteurs will do everything needed for that archetype.
Summoners / Minions: In general Necromancers and Guardian are the only ascendancy classes worth considering. More experienced plays can play many other ascendancy classes as summoners for the purpose of being more tanky (Juggernaut), but in general the Necromancers and Guardian are the winners here.
Totems: For spell-based Totems Hierophant is amazing! Chieftain can also do great things with some Physical-based skills and mainly Ancestral Warchief. With Ballistas being so versatile now and having all these Totem nodes in the bottom and bottom-right of the passive tree you can use many other classes in order to build a Ballista character.
Elemental-based Self Casters: For Critical-based casters Inquisitor and Tricksters are great. Elementalist, Occultist, Hierophant, Ascendant, Necromancer and even some of the Strength and Dexterity based characters can also be used.
DoT builds: When it comes to DoT builds we are mainly talking about Bleeds, Poisons and Ignite. As mentioned earlier Gladiators are great and building a Bleed character, Pathfinder and Assassin are the best for Poisons and for Ignite it really depends on the skill. For non-Crit spell-based Ignite setups you should be looking Trickster and Elementalist. For Crit versions you can easily go with Inquisitor. When it comes to Ignite Attack builds we are mainly talking about Bows. Chieftain, Trickster and Deadeye are most likely your best bet. There are also Essence Drain / Contagion and things like Caustic Arrow, which are best played with Occultists and Tricksters.
Support classes: Supports in Path of Exile should be divided in two categories: Aurabots and Cursers. For Aurabots (character that runs around its “carry”, providing a lot of power via Auras) Guardian, Necromancer and Ascendant are great. For Cursers (weakens the enemy by inflicting very strong Curses) Occultist and Champion are very good choices, although with Curses you can easily use other classes depending on your purpose in the party.
Hopefully this will help some of you get a better understanding of how the game’s class system works and help you choose the right archetype for your own personal play style.