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With over 1000 passives to choose from, builds in PoE cover a pretty wide range of options.

Normally, when I come into a game like this, I tend to do a lot of research and planning, both theory-crafting my own build ideas, and reading up on what other people use, and what is and is not successful at end-game levels.

However, I was contemplating doing something different with PoE. For once, I was thinking it might be interesting to just wing it, and pick what sounds good as I go along.

I don't intend to just completely pick random passives; rather, I want to pick a couple of themes, and stick with those, while avoiding passives that are unrelated to those themes. For example, on my level 19 marauder, I've been planning on sticking with 1 hand weapons and a shield, so I've avoided any passive relating to 2 hand weapons, or even any that are specific to a particular weapon type (i.e. no increased sword damage, etc.). I'm also sticking roughly to Str only, picking up only a couple of skills that spill over into dex or int territory.

However... as a result of my "no research" policy (one which I'm having some trouble sticking to), I don't know much about the end game.

Given that PoE offers very limited respeccing options, I'm getting concerned that I'll get up to high levels of play, and find that my character is permanently unable to participate in end-game content (and by end-game, I'm not even talking about competition like PvP, ladders, or special events, but simply being able to perform effectively in basic story progression encounters).

How likely is this to occur? How much of a discrepancy exists between a well-built character and a haphazardly-built character, assuming similar levels of general gear and skill? Are some classes more or less forgiving?

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You can always stash your equipment and start a new character, assigning passives based on what you've learned :) –  Tacroy Feb 1 '13 at 19:42
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2 Answers

It is very possible to create a character that cannot proceed past a certain point. It's even expected that you'll eventually reach that ceiling. Path of Exile focuses more on reaching the end-game than surviving it. As of this writing, the highest level player is only level 84.

Class ultimately doesn't matter, but there have been numerous reports of melee being less viable than ranged classes in the 60+ level range.

Don't worry too much about your first character, mistakes are almost inevitable. Just take notes of what seems to work and what doesn't, and you'll have a greater understanding of the passive skill tree in no time.

Just remember that PoE is designed to be unforgiving, and roll with the punches. Above all, have fun!

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If you're playing in the standard league you don't need to worry so much about the build because if you die you can easily try again.

Now if you're playing in hardcore league, then yes you really should plan your build ahead. Since you get only 1 skill point per level (and from some quests) every point counts. You need to focus on survivabilty more then on damage, lets take your marauder class for example; you should focus on getting all HP nodes you can and other defensive passive skills over the offensive ones.

But yeah, plan it out before you start building it, because like i already said you really want to make every point count, you don't want to waste even 1 point on something you can do without and that's quite easy to do if you don't plan ahead.

Furthermore you can always ask for opinion of other players via global chat, if you're in hardcore league where community is better you will often get some nice replies that will help you make up your mind and avoid screwing things up.

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If you're playing in the standard league you don't need to worry so much about the build because if you die you can easily try again. This is not good advice. Once you place skills in your tree, they are there forever, no matter how many times you "die". So yes, you need to worry about your build, even in softcore. Also, you should focus on HP nodes, regardless of your character class. Unless you are building a CI build, you need to get every HP node possible to survive in Merciless. –  user41604 Feb 12 '13 at 13:44
    
@MarcoLeblanc I haven't said he can go full-retard and put points randomly into stuff. I just said people that are in standard league don't need to worry too much about build, by that i meant if they waste only a point or two, or maybe even 3 or 4, it wont be end of the world, they can just revive, level up a bit or get better gear, unlike HC players who when die, it's game over. –  ChrisHateZ Feb 19 '13 at 9:18
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