Warning: This guide assumes you've read the Atlas Basics Guide. If you haven't already, start there!
Now that you know what the Atlas of Worlds is all about, let's talk about progressing through Path of Exiles huge endgame map system. The Atlas of Worlds is complex and intimidating for new players. It's hard to know where to start or what goals to set. Over time though, you'll love it's depth as you push different endgame milestones.
This article guides you through everything you need to know, from how to craft and complete your first map, to what awaits you in Path of Exile's vast network of endgame areas and bosses.
Preparing your Character for Maps
The Atlas of Worlds is Path of Exiles endgame system and therefore requires you to bring your character's power up to speed.
Your defensive capabilities depend on your build, but there are certain requirements in order to survive in Maps:
- Capped Resistances at 75%
- Armour/Evasion/Energy Shield scaling (depending on build)
- Bleed Removal from your Flask
- Freeze Removal from various sources
- Have a proper Flask setup
Damage scaling varies drastically depending on the build, just be sure to follow your build guides instructions & milestones. It is normal to deal less damage in maps than during the campaign since there is a significant increase in difficulty!
Sockets, Colours & Links
Not only the stats on your items matter. Your Sockets, Colours and Links have to be set up correctly to actually use your skill gems. Don't wait on this one too long and always think about it whenever buying/crafting items, since skill gems only level if they are socketed!
Rolling Your Maps
Maps are items that open portals to endgame layouts. They are filled with monsters to slay and collect loot from. Maps start at the bottom of the Atlas at Tier 1 and end at the top at Tier 16. They are coloured depending on Tier:
The most important skill to progress your Atlas is knowing how to craft (roll) your maps. Maps can be crafted similar to items, you can make them magic with a Orb of Transmutation, rare with a Orb of Alchemy, give them quality with Cartographer's Chisel and even corrupt them with a Vaal Orb. Crafting maps this way grants you positive and negative effects, with the positive ones helping you get more items and maps and the negative ones making that map harder to complete.
- Increased Item Quantity of items found: A multiplier to how many items enemies drop. Note: Item Quantity granted by items does not increase map drops. Only the item quantity that you are granted from the map itself, the Atlas Passive Tree and the fragments used to enhance maps give you more map drops!
- Increased Rarity of Items found: A redundant mod for any early game scenario- don't invest further into this.
- Increased Enemy Packsize: The strongest modifier you can have on maps. Enemy packsize grants you more enemies in maps to kill, meaning not only more loot but also more experience and "on kill"-effects from your items and flasks.
- Detrimental Map Modifiers: These are mods that make your map harder, with "generally annoying" to "niche" downsides. How hard these mods are completely depend on your build. For example "Enemies have a 50% Chance to Avoid Poison, Impale and Bleed" is a completely irrelevant downside for many builds, but absolutely horrible for Poison, Impale and Bleed builds!
These modifiers get numerically harder depending on whether you run a White, Yellow or Red map. The amount of map mods you have increases all the positive traits listed above, meaning the game is balanced around giving you extra loot for more difficulty, with a high amount of freedom in doing so. Always listen to your build guide on what to run and what to avoid!
White Maps (Tier 1-5)
This is where your journey starts. As mentioned above, even in these lower tier maps, never run the map without preparing it or you risk halting your progress down the road.
A map with no modifiers gets no extra quantity of items, meaning less map drops overall. In White maps, use a combination of Orb of Transmutation, Orb of Alteration and Orb of Augmentation.
If you feel like your character is strong enough, use an Orb of Alchemy to make your map even harder and more rewarding, however this is not recommend on your first playthrough!
Yellow Maps (Tier 6-10)
Going into Yellow maps, you want to use a Orb of Alchemy to make your map harder and more rewarding, otherwise you don't receive the Map Completion Bonus of your map (more info on this under "Atlas Goals" down below). This makes maps significantly harder, so do not hesitate to use an Orb of Scouring to reroll the mods if they seem too hard to complete.
Don't use any Cartographer's Chisel or Vaal Orb yet, you need them for higher-tier maps later.
Red Maps (Tier 11-16)
In Red Maps, the enemy difficulty increases drastically. The higher tier maps also have a lower chance to drop from enemies, so you need to craft your maps accordingly.
Whenever you can, use Cartographer's Chisel to give your map 20% quality. Note: You should always apply them to NORMAL MAPS ONLY, since that gives the map 5% quality per Cartographer's Chisel, while magic maps only get 2% and rare maps only 1%.
On top of that, use an Orb of Alchemy and if necessary an Orb of Scouring to reroll the map to your needs.
You are not done however, as you need to also Corrupt your map at the end to get your Map Completion Bonus.
This is done by applying a Vaal Orb to your map, which has 1 of 4 outcomes:
- The Map changes to a different layout and increases 1 Tier in level.
- The Map rerolls randomly into a map with 8 mods, making it incredibly hard and rewarding to run.
- The Map becomes unidentified, which gives the map 30% additional quantity. The hidden mods stay the same though, don't worry!
- The Map does not change at all.
For endgame, there are additional ways to enhance your maps. Check out this article for more information.
The Atlas is vast and intimidating. Knowing what to focus and prioritize has a huge impact on your endgame experience and long term enjoyment of the game!
Map Completion Bonus
Whenever you kill the boss of a map that you haven't completed yet, you get its "Map Completion Bonus", if one of the following applies:
- White maps have to be magic when killing the boss
- Yellow maps have to be rare when killing the boss
- Red maps have to be Corrupted rare when killing the boss
Whenever you clear the map completion bonus of a map, you are rewarded with an Atlas Passive Point, which unlocks permanenent bonuses for your Atlas rewards. You can tell whether you got the map completion bonus of a map by hovering over it on the Atlas directly, by pressing alt while selecting the map or by looking at it in the map stash tab (if you purchased one).
After progressing towards Yellow maps, certain questlines start to appear on the right side of your screen under the minimap, and eventually unlock the three Beacons on your map device. There are 3 overarching questlines that are relevant to the Atlas and all of them end in an epic bossfight:
- The Maven
- The Searing Exarch
- The Eater of Worlds
The beacon you select before opening a map determines which storyline you progress. Follow the instructions on your quest log on the right side of the screen to learn you which tier of map you have to complete. These quest lines usually start around Tier 6 maps and go all the way to Tier 14-16. Find out everything to know about Atlas Questlines here.
Voidstones are quest reward items for defeating certain endgame bosses and are socketed in on the bottom of your Atlas. They raise the map tier of all maps on the Atlas, ending at 4 Voidstones which transforms all your Maps to Tier 16. The 4 Bosses you have to kill to unlock Voidstones are:
- The Searing Exarch (Omniscient Voidstone)
- The Eater of Worlds (Grasping Voidstone)
- Uber Elder (Decayed Voidstone)
- The Maven (Ceremonial Voidstone)
Each Voidstone gives you: "Maps dropped in Areas have 25% chance to be 1 Tier higher" for a total of 100% once you unlock all of them. This bonus is incredibly important to ensure that you don't drop lower tier maps.
In the endgame, Sextants can be applied to Voidstones. Sextants are a currency which gives you random rewards towards the next 3 Maps you run.
To find out more about Sextants, read our guide here.
Unlocking Favoured Slots
Favoured Slots let you customize which maps drop from enemies. They are located on the left side of the Atlas. For endgame farming where you usually want to run a specific map repeatedly, these are invaluable and should be heavily prioritized. For more information on how to unlock them, check out this article.
Meta Farming Strategies
In our Meta section, you can access a ton of crazy currency-making strategies. Almost all of them need you to unlock these Atlas Goals first. Having everything unlocked is vital to get the most out of those strategies and can make or break them! At this point, you can start making huge amounts of Exalted Orbs, which gives you the ability to push your build even further beyond.
The Atlas Passive Tree
This is a web of passive bonuses, similar to the passive skill tree, but this time around it affects the monsters, loot and league mechanics you encounter while mapping!
You can get a total of 132 points on the Atlas Passive Tree by completing the following content:
- 115 Points from Map Completion Bonuses
- 5 Passive Points from the Maven Questline
- 6 Passive Points from Kirac after completing one of the Pinnacles Bosses for the first time
- 6 Passive Points for completing Endgame Invitations for the first time
If you aren't sure which Atlas Passives you are missing, type "/atlaspassives" in your chatbox for more information! Atlas Passives Clusters are distinguished by league content, which lets you customize your mapping experience. If you like a certain mechanic or find it especially rewarding, you can focus on those passive bonuses to get more out of it during your maps.
One annoying thing with the Atlas Passive Tree is that you get very few chances to undo points while progressing the questlines. Otherwise, you can only use an Orb of Unmaking to undo 1 Atlas Skill Point, which can get expensive quickly. If you want to go in-depth on the Atlas Passives, click here.
How to get Maps?
While you shouldn't ever run out of maps to do, you might run out of new maps to unlock. Here are ways to avoid that:
- Kirac missions (randomly unlocked by completing Maps).
- Kirac's trading inventory, which sells Maps. Resets whenever you open a Kirac mission.
- Buying Maps on the trading website.
- Orb of Horizons can turn a map you already unlocked into a new one.
- Rolling your Maps well so you don't run out of them in the first place!
Since this is an important topic, we made a full article about it, check it out here:
- Progressing through the Atlas requires knowledge of a lot of different endgame systems!
- You start at Map Tier 1 and progress all the way to Tier 16, slaying increasingly more challenging mobs.
- Along the way, you unlock the Atlas Passive Tree, Map Completion Bonuses, Favoured Slots, Voidstones and opportunities to follow meta currency-making strategies!
- Depending on how prepared you are, this can either go extremely well or be a nightmare.
This means that following up with some of the other more specialized articles whenever you feel like you are stuck can prove incredibly valuable!
Written by Palsteron.
Reviewed by Raxxanterax.