Path of Exile

Path of Exile

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How To Not Suck - An In-Depth Beginner's Guide [3.2 UPDATE IN PROGRESS]
By Wheeshnaw
Do you suck at this game? Basic monsters tearing you limb from limb? Not sure how experienced players manage it? Don't worry, you're not alone. Lots of people suck at this game, harder than you. In this comprehensive guide, I aim to help you understand what in blazes you are doing. No more will you suck, probably.

Note: I did not update for 3.1, but will release a 3.2 update soon.
Latest Update [3.0] Notes
UPDATED 8/2/2017


3.0 is finally here! Obviously, I can't fully reevaluate this guide just yet because the update hasn't dropped yet, but I'll change what I can and what I know is now irrelevant.

The biggest changes seem to be to the meta. As of right now, you should consider ALL energy shield builds to be unusable. ES is getting destroyed this update, so for now you should just steer clear of it. That means that most of the super-popular builds and guides from last patch and before are dead now, so don't get roped into any energy shield-based builds that used to be super good.

So, then, what skills are good? Life-based, non-crit builds, which were often some of the easiest to make in the first place. I'll link a couple good beginner builds that should still work fine in 3.0.

PewPewPew's Firestorm Build --

So this build has basically always been featured here, and for good reason: it's safe, simple, extremely cheap, and very easy for new players. This is a spell caster build, where you rain fire from the sky to kill things. Even if you don't want to do the build, check out the guide. There are some good beginner tips in there and bits of info that can apply to other builds.

Lighty's 2H RT Cyclone --

I believe this is the first time I've put this build here. This build has been around for a long time, but until now it's been eclipsed by better options. This is a melee skill, cyclone, where you whirl around in a tornado and kill stuff as your weapon hits monsters. Very flexible, very cheap, and pretty easy to use as a beginner (my first-ever build was a cyclone, but not nearly as good as this).

Neversink's Tornado Shot and Bow Guide --

Although it's not updated yet, I have no doubt that this guide will be ready for 3.0 within a couple hours. Take a look at the top of the page. Almost 900 pages of comments. This is one of the oldest and most trusted bow guides, and offers a lot of advice for anyone looking to use a bow, beginner or pro. Any time I want to do a bow build, I use this one. You should too.
I'm not kidding when I say that a lot of people suck at this game. It is a difficult game if you're not already an experienced player. If you're an experienced player, it is slightly less difficult (no, other experienced players, dying only once every once in a while does not make it easy. You're still dying). In any case, the dangers and complexities of this game can indeed be mitigated.

In addition to gameplay mechanics and character advice, I'll also provide some insights as to how the economy of this game works. POE has an incredibly advanced and in-depth economy system, surprisingly complex with everything from currency exchange rates, speculative investments, and even gambling.

You can reach me in-game at Wheeshnaw for further questions, add me on Steam, or leave a comment on this guide. I will respond to all of those. Do NOT add me as a friend in game, I will decline the request and not respond to you.

POE is a game that loves you more the more you play it. So I recommend doing just that.

Also look here you little ♥♥♥♥♥ I spent a lot of time on this guide and I recommend you read the whole damn thing if you don't want this game to chew you up and spit you out like your mom and a hot load because this game WILL absolutely destroy you if you don't know what you're doing
The Gameplay Basics
I assume that I don't need to tell you how to pick up a weapon and hit things with it. That is all I am going to assume. Feel free to skip past section headers if you feel you have a firm grasp of the information it pertains to.

Note: 3.0 should be getting new in-game tutorials. I'll need to see them for myself, but they should supplement what's written here.

Setting up Skills
Alright, square one. Skill gems. These are the most important part of POE, around which every character revolves. Without them, you'd be whacking things with a stick forever. That's no fun. Skill gems are powerful objects that when used by an Exile, can cast spells, auras, allow fancy attacks, and improve other skill gems linked to one. You receive a skill gem after you kill your first enemy. Protip: it's probably not going to be the one you end up using. There are dozens of skill gems, and each one is unique (except for Elemental Hit that♥♥♥♥♥♥sucks).

Gems all come in a certain color, and to use them, you need the sockets on your items to have a corresponding color. Armor and Strength are red, Evasion and Dexterity are green, and Energy Shield and Intelligence are blue. You can change the colors on an item with a chromatic orb. Note that some items may be very difficult to get the correct colors on, i.e. getting 5 green sockets on an item that only requires strength.

To use these skill gems effectively, you need support gems. These gems are very powerful and will significantly increase damage output for the skill they are linked to. However, they will only affect skills that they are linked to. Links are the little bars between sockets on your gear; if there is a bar between two sockets, they are linked together, along with every other socket connected to each one. Armor and two-handed weapons can have a maximum of six links, but 6-links are rare (as are 5-links, this will be covered later). Be sure to carefully read your guide as to what support gems you should be using with your skill, as this is the most critical part of the build.

The Passive Skill Tree DON'T SKIP THIS PART
Chances are, when the game first prompted you to level up, you opened the massive web that is the Passive Tree and promptly expressed your awe by saying, what the ♥♥♥♥ is this. The passive skill tree is YUUUUGE, with well over 1000 skill nodes contained within. Naturally, you can only allocate less than 10% of them, so you have to make them count.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: Focus on defense defense defense. You want as much life as possible from your skill tree, for Softcore (not Hardcore) characters I recommend 150% increased life total from the skill tree. Yeah. If you are energy shield based, it can vary, but you probably still want at least 100% increased life with 200%+ increased energy shield. Do NOT go for Chaos Innoculation or Eldritch Battery until you know what you are doing.

After ensuring that you have lots-o-life, next comes damage. Depending on your build, you're going to need lots of damage and maybe crit. Your build guide should help you out here.

I strongly recommend reading and following a build guide for your first couple characters. I don't personally agree with many popular "noob builds" and their choices, but they are without doubt better than whatever terrifying skill tree you are planning. A lot of people say screwing up a character is part of learning the game, but I say that's ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥t and dying a lot sucks. I wish I had had someone to tell me how to do it right on my first character.

Gear, and How it Helps You Not Die
Alright, nice job following everything I said above to the letter. You probably didn't, but whatever, you can spend money on orbs of regret later. In any case, good gear should be a bit of a cushion for when your character crashes and burns. If you have high life, maxed out resistances, and a good DPS weapon or spell damage weapon, even if your character kinda sucks balls it probably won't get one shotted. This should be your order of importance on what to have on gear.

  1. REQUIRED uniques (this means items that the build CAN NOT function without)
  2. Resistances (135% total in each element, see the section on game difficulty levels as to why)
  3. As high life as possible
  4. ES if you are running an ES build.
  5. A high DPS weapon or high spell damage wand/sceptre/dagger
  6. Movement speed on boots
  7. A 5-link
  8. Good jewels
  9. A 6-link

I think that about sums it up. For reference, on Gloves and Boots, it is perfectly fine to craft on life at a crafting bench (explained in another section) as the mods obtained there are close to the maximum on those items. Otherwise, look for high life gear or buy it off of the website discussed below.

A 6-link bow

The Website
This website[] may be the single most important tool not in the game itself. It facilitates item searching, trading, currency exchanging, price checking, and much more. I ALWAYS have three tabs of this website open in my browser, even when not playing. It is so influential in trading and finding items for your character that it truly deserves a place in the Basics section. Grinding Gear Games, the developer, officially sanctions and endorses this website, with official integration beginning to happen.

Check the site out, explore what it does, and bookmark the hell out of it. Try to use Online Only and Buyout Only when you are searching for items, it will save you a lot of time. If you have any questions about the site, PM me in-game at Wheeshnaw, leave a comment on this page, or add me on Steam. Please do not add me as a friend in game, I will decline your request.

That about covers it for the true basics. If you're still reading, you should have a marginally better experience now, but you should definitely read on to really get the hang of things. Most sections aren't as long as this one.
Leveling Fast and Safely
If you're reading this guide, you probably are still going through the campaign or just finished it. To many, the campaign is cool, and they honestly enjoy spending 100+ hours in the game before maps. Not me. I like to get through this♥♥♥♥♥♥like an exam that starts 3 hours before my vacation flight to Honolulu. So, here are some tips on how to shorten that sometimes-painful leveling process.

Don't Clear the Area
Biggest mistake noobs make is clearing each entire area. This is entirely unnecessary and just wastes time. Run through the area to your objective or destination, and kill only monsters that are in your way. You will level up at a fine rate doing this, so don't worry about that. This is the biggest time-waster of all, and I'm pretty sure you've seen most of this stuff the first time you went through the campaign (on normal).

Run Past Stuff
So this is an extension of the last point. Remember how I said to kill only monster packs that are in the way? I didn't mean all of them. If it's a small pack (like 5-6 enemies or less) just run past it. If it's bigger, kill it maybe, if it doesn't take too much time. This will feel weird at first, but in the end, you level a lot faster if you skip stuff. Weird, right? Just try it, you'll see.

Only do Quests that Give Skill Points
On your first run-through you should probably do all quests just to understand the story and experience the full game. After that, work to remember which quests give skill points or are required to progress in the story, and which ones do neither. This may take a couple run-throughs, but once you know what to do and what not to do, you'll get through the campaign much faster. (Hint: the Fetid Pool quest is an example of one you should NOT do, as it only gives respec points, but the Dweller of the Deep quest you SHOULD do, as that one gives a skill point).

Also, get a pair of boots with movement speed as soon as you can. A pair of Wanderlust[] is always an excellent choice, and they are cheap.
Finding a Build
Alright, so here's the thing. This game is not like a Bob Ross painting-- that is to say, there is a wrong way to play it. Having major mistakes in your passive tree will basically make the game terrible for you, so you're going to want to play a build made by someone who already knows what they are doing. Most builds are located in the POE Forums [].

This section will be filled in further once I can see what's good in 3.0.
Trading and Crafting
As they often go hand in hand, I am merging trading and crafting into one supersection. Deal with it, nerd. In any case, POE has one of the most advanced systems of crafting and trading I've ever seen in a video game, and you can do most things in POE as you can in real life in regards to money.

Orbs: The Currency of This Game
There is no gold in Path of Exile (well except in Perandus league but that's different). Instead, the Orbs are used as currency, with Chaos Orbs and Exalted Orbs being the primary baseline currencies. You can view current exchange rates at's currency listing section[]. Do NOT use the website "" as this is an illegal website and profits off of new players who use its glaringly incorrect rates. Note also that RMT services, through which players can buy in game currency with real money, are absolutely, permanently, and strictly prohibited and using such a service even once WILL result in a permanent ban on your account and the loss of all purchased items. Note that this also includes things such as CSGO skins or Steam keys.

Back to the orbs. POE has an ingenious economic system in that it manages to curb inflation by providing a purpose and use for each and every type of orb. A chaos orb will randomly alter a rare item. An exalted orb will add a mod to a rare item. A jeweller's orb changes the number of sockets on an item. Each type of orb does something different, and so inflation is kept contained. However, that isn't to say that the market doesn't fluctuate. As of writing, the value of exalted orbs are steadily declining, and new horizons are opening up in regards to trades with them. The most expensive currency item is and always will be the Mirror of Kalandra, and if you find one add me and I'll buy it from you for lots of moneys (in game of course).

Orbs will tell you what they do when you hover over them. As a new player, I recommend you save your currency: one chaos will buy you a lot more than using it on an item will get you.

Path of Exile has a fairly in-depth crafting system. In addition to the orbs, there are also the Forsaken Masters, who provide a variety of crafting tables for you to make delicious new items on. You'll need to have a good item to begin with, however, as you'll only be able to add one mod at a time from these tables. The exception to this is through Elreon, Loremaster, when he is level 8 (takes a really long time to get this), when he allows you to craft on multiple mods for a hefty fee. Using this mod is rare.

Eventually, once you have a good character and have saved up some currency, you can purchase crafting materials and an item and go to town craftin an item from scratch, for profit. The easiest way to do this is with weapons, particularly Harbinger Bows and Ambushers. These will need to be item level 83 if you want to max out crafting potential. The video below is very in-depth about crafting for profit, and if you would like to start making a bit of extra currency, this is a good way to start. I remember my first crafted harbinger, got very lucky and made about 7 exalt profit. That's a lot of money for a new player.

Selling Stuff
Check out the Basics section for information about the website Can not stress enough how important it is. You're going to need a custom URL and the program Acquisition (just Google it too lazy to get Github link) to be able to sell stuff effectively. The website has a link at the bottom titled "forum post" and that post details what you need to do to get a custom URL, and also this page[].

After that, you can check prices on and list your stuff accordingly, or ask Global for easy but potentially inaccurate information. Don't you dare PM me in game asking for price checks or I swear I will block you both there and on Steam. If you want to sell me something underpriced, then we can talk. See above for how to reach me.

Also, you can sell high-dollar items by creating public parties in Act 3 and 4 Merciless, and someone interested may join or buy your items. I typically do this with things that are hard to sell otherwise, such as Sacrifice sets. Act 3 gets more traffic, but you can play in Dried Lake in Act 4 while you wait. Up to you.
After you have progressed through the storyline three times (yeah, it sucks, but they've said they're gonna shorten it a bit) you will unlock maps. Map content is very different from the main story areas, as they are items, and like other items, can be crafted with orbs. This means that although maps are significantly more dangerous than other areas, and higher level, they drop much more items and much better items in general.

The Atlas
New in 2.4 Atlas of Worlds is the Atlas, a map of maps. Yo dawg I heard you like maps so we made a map to map out the map of maps that you need to map in maps to map out. Basically, you now have to unlock maps in a form of progression, working your way towards the center. You "unlock" a map by running it, and locked maps can be traded for or can be dropped from maps linked to it on the Atlas. You get a bonus for completing map bosses at varying map rarity levels, which I highly recommend completing.

UPDATE 19 SEPTEMBER: It has become very clear at this point that completing the Atlas is very important for keeping up a solid pool of high tier maps. Try to complete the Atlas ASAP. I usually avoid buying maps, but I'm doing it this league. It's worth it.

As you get more experienced, you can begin to build your Atlas strategically, but until you can achieve incredibly high clear speeds your best bet is to just fill everything in.

Starter Maps
Your first maps will be Tier 1 maps that you find late in the campaign. These are fairly tame, simple maps that will be your first landing platform for higher tiers. Alternatively, you could buy yourself a bunch of lower maps, as tier 1-5 maps are very cheap (like 1 alt each at most probably).

Coming from the main areas, these shouldn't be too much harder. You will need to run them in the Eternal Laboratory, an area that is only unlocked after you help Dialla (that weird grazy cockroach lady) for the third time in Merciless difficulty. Evenntually, you will encounter Zana in a map, and after completing one of her missions you should be able to get the Map Device in your hideout (you want this, makes running maps faster and less clunky).

All Tier 1 maps will work, but the ones with the easiest bosses are definitely Grotto and Tropical Island. NOTE: In 2.4, the maps have changed tiers and difficulties. The easiest tier 1 map is now Arcade, but the best and easiest ones overall are Oasis and Beach (both tier 2). Jungle Valley is pretty good for clearing and running quickly, but the boss can be tough for some builds.

Higher Tiers
Starting around Tier 7-8 maps start getting rarer, and you should alch and maybe use chaos on these. At Tier 11 and higher maps are difficult to sustain, and require many chaos spent on the map and use of Chisels to get more quantity on the map. Don't worry about these for now, you can do just about everything in lower tier maps as higher ones.

The Dried Lake
The Dried Lake is unfortunately no longer a viable farm spot with the removal of Cruel and Merciless. I do hope there will be a comparable area in Act 10, though.
Guilds and Parties
Path of Exile is a PvE game at heart, and has strong co-op features. This includes an in-depth guild system to help and share with others, and public or private parties so you can play co-op with people.

Guilds primarily function to promote doing maps together, sharing items, and providing a close community for players. Most guilds will have a TeamSpeak or equivalent server for voice chat, but all can chat with a special, private guild chat channel. There are many guilds open to new players and willing to help them out, take a look through them here[].

Some guilds, such as mine, may not allow newer players. However, you'll do just fine in one of the larger or more accepting guilds out there. There are plenty.

Public Parties
I do not like public parties. I generally avoid them whenever possible. That said, they do have some merit and my distaste for them is merely personal preference.

Public parties can be found at the town notice boards in every difficulty, and typically include people going through the main story or farming an area such as the Dried Lake. If your character or build is lacking, these people may help carry you. However, you should be careful about which parties you join. I refuse to join parties that do not use Permanent Allocation, which when enabled means that all loot that drops for you is only accessible by you, until you portal out of the area. If you're going to join a public party and are concerned about keeping stuff that drops for you, I would only join exclusively Permanent Allocation parties if I were you (denoted by a green hand icon on the town board).

The top party is short allocation, the middle is Free for All, and the bottom is Permanent (denoted by the icon).
Making Money
Chances are you are poor and need some chaos to get your character working right. Fear not, because there are multiple ezpz ways of farming up currency to get that nifty thing you want. Expect to do it a lot though, as after all the developers are called "Grinding [for] Gear Games"

Also, check out this guide which is a nifty way to start understanding what is valuable in the game. At my hours it's just intuition so I'm not much good at explaining it.

Dried Lake Farming
No longer viable in 3.0. We'll see if another location takes its place.

Map Farming
Running maps is good. You get free item quantity (well not free but ez to get quantity) and rarity, and often better drops than simple Dried Lake farming. However, unless you're running them back-to-back and not stopping, you're probably not going to get as much as in the Dried Lake.

Shaper, Atziri, Chayula, etc Farming
There are some bosses in the game that can be continuously farmed for certain items and profit. I'd recommend against going for these as a new player, as it is not cheap to do these runs and they can be easily failed with a poor build or little experience.

The Chaos Recipe and 6-Socket Items DON'T SKIP THIS PART
It honestly surprises me and most experienced players how many people know about neither the chaos recipe nor the jeweller's orb trade-in. These are key to making money, and might end up being the bulk of your farming profit

Basically, the chaos recipe is as follows: you collect a chest armor, a pair of gloves, boots, a helmet, two rings, an amulet, a belt, and either a two-handed weapon or two one-handers. All of these must be rare and unidentified (no wisdom scroll used on them). All items must be item level 60 or above (press alt while hovering over an item to see ilvl). Trade all of those in to the vendor and you will receive two chaos orbs. Now that may seem like a lot for two chaos but think about it: you could get all ingredients in one or two Dried Lake runs, and those items would probably be utter garbage anyways. This is how experienced players make money. Well, among other things, this is a big part of it. If you like, you can do this recipe with items ilvl 75 and above for two regal orbs, but I don't recommend this because regals are worth less than chaos at this point. You can also use identified rare items, but you will only get 1 chaos for those sets.

Additionally, the second most important recipe to know about is the 6-socket recipe. This one is simple: find a 6-socket item, sell it to a vendor. You now have 7 jewellers orbs. That is over 1 chaos for a single ♥♥♥♥♥♥ white item. Works with weapons and body armor, no links required. Always always ALWAYS pick them up.

The Chisel Recipe
Almost forgot about this recipe, it's pretty simple. Just take any normal rarity (white) Gavel, Rock Breaker, or Stone Hammer (the grey hammer things), give it 20 quality (4 whetstones) and trade it to vendor with any map. Vendor gives you a chisel, which is roughly 1/3 of a chaos. This can be a nice way to make some extra chaos as a starting player.

Loot Filters DON'T SKIP THIS
With one of the more recent updates, GGG added Loot Filters to the game. These are the only permitted outside mods/scripts to alter the game. Basically, they help you see stuff better, like currency, 6-sockets, maps, and rare jewelry (for chaos recipe). In my opinion, the best, most well-balanced, and most versatile filter comes from Neversink, and it is located here[]. Install it, use it, and watch and be amazed as all the ugly, bad items are never seen again.
The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth is a new area and challenge introduced in update 2.2. You will run it 4 times, at different points in the 10-act campaign and then after completing a set of trials in maps.

The Trials of Ascendancy
To complete the Labyrinth on each difficulty, you'll first need to do the Trials of Ascendancy. These are found in the less-used areas of the main story, and each one focuses on one of the types of trap you will encounter in the Labyrinth. I'm not sure where the Trials will be from Act 5 onwards, but for the first Labyrinth run they are located in:
  • The Lower Prison (Act 1)
  • The Crypt Level 1 (Act 2)
  • The Chamber of Sins Level 2 (Act 2)
  • The Crematorium (Act 3)
  • The Catacombs (Act 3)
  • The Hedge Maze (Act 3)

You can do them as you reach them, or come back and do them later. I prefer the latter option but it is up to you.

The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth itself can be tricky, but with a good enough build you should be able to do it. Avoid the traps, and you generally want to only go through rooms that you have to in order to reach the next Aspirant's Trial. The Labyrinth is discussed daily at the POE Reddit, and there is also the website

In the Aspirant's Trials, you will face off against Izaro, who can be pretty hard. Can't really say much here other than that you should probably run in circles to mitigate how many times he hits you. The form where he dual-wields swords is particularly dangerous.

The Endgame "Uber" Labyrinth
Once you start doing maps, you will begin seeing a new set of Trials of Ascendancy. These Trials are much harder but you now only need to do them once per account per league. At the end, it should drop you an Offering to the Goddess, which when put in the map device will open up the Uber Labyrinth. Be careful, as this fight is very difficult and you should probably be running Tier 10-11 maps easily to even hope to complete it solo.

Farming the Labyrinth
Farming the Uber Labyrinth can actually make you some pretty great money. If you bring an item such as a Rat's Nest or a similarly well-used unique helmet, and enchant it at the end of every run, you'll eventually hit a sought after one that can be really valuable. For example, a friend recently told me he bought a Rat's Nest with Tornado Shot Critical Strike Chance for 17 exalt. Rat's nest is a couple exalt at most even for top-tier rolls. If you like the labyrinth and can do it fast, some serious money can be made this way.
In 2.3, the Hardcore and Softcore leagues were both the Prophecy leagues, which featured a new system of "prophecies" whereby you could trade in silver coins (a new type of orb) to the character Navali in order to receive a prophecy. In 2.4, this system has been transferred to the main game.

You will find silver coins naturally, but I recommend you don't spend them until you have reached maps. Some prophecies are very rare and powerful, such as ones that give instant 6 and 5 links, or a guaranteed unique when using an orb of chance (if you get one that use it on a pair of Sorcerer boots or sell it for a few dozen exalts).
This guide is still pretty new -- I need feedback! Comment what you still don't understand or would like to see added, add me on Steam, or send me a message in-game at Wheeshnaw to get more help. Do not add me as a friend in game with that tag, I will refuse it. Please do give the guide a thumbs-up rating, it will help it to be more visible to those who need it.

Make Wraeclast Great Again!
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fuego.banciu Dec 3, 2017 @ 10:11am 
Hello, I am a new PoE player and I don't really have a lot of time to play games, so my question is :is 1 to 2 hours enough for me to enjoy the game or will I suck forever with that time investment?
Wheeshnaw  [author] Nov 7, 2017 @ 11:00am 
Have you been following guides? Remember that until you understand the game mechanics better, it's best to go for life and survivability first.
GTFO before it's too late Nov 7, 2017 @ 10:12am 
350+ hours into the game, I still have no idea what I'm doing. I've never reached proper end-game. My builds always fizzle out towards the uber-lab / tier 10+ maps, and just end up in a halt with no possible progress.
Vertigo Aug 11, 2017 @ 12:47am 
i keep reading guides and this is one of the best ones even if u have some hours in game u can still learn few tricks and boost your gaming and looting.
very useful even for players who know what they are doing
darwin-1402 Aug 10, 2017 @ 4:08pm 
wow... an actually guide... well done
DrShepherdLIVE Aug 7, 2017 @ 1:22am 
Dude you are insane. This guide is just awesome. One day I will do one like this too just for another game ;)
Wheeshnaw  [author] Aug 3, 2017 @ 2:55pm 
Thanks @Seneca, forgot to update that.
Seneca Aug 3, 2017 @ 2:43pm 
well, Dried Lake stays in ACT 4, probably not worth to farm above level 45 due rarity and exp penalty
hpcf28 Mar 23, 2017 @ 4:18pm 
favorited it and gave it a rate
Brawno,Now.withmoremolecules Feb 15, 2017 @ 3:20pm 
@Results atypical and Kesochodar

You guys just need to do one thing:

Stop crying like little babies.

Where are your games at? The games that have a better currency system? The games that don't allow you to simply BUY in-game MONEY with REAL money and ACTUALLY destroy the game?
Sounds like you two are just a little too salty to me. Maybe crying about not getting blue sockets on that piece of armor with dexterity base? Or maybe not getting the socket number / socket links on that unique?

Go play those "end game" only games that simply allow you to buy those nice things you think you have to have to enjoy the game. You know? Those games that glamorously show off what you can look like at lvl 30 or lvl 99. Yeah go play some of those you cry babies.