In Path of Exile, the player has been exiled from their homeland to the corrupted and deeply hostile continent of Wraeclast. Alone, or with other exiles, they must develop their skills and discover powerful magical artifacts in order to survive the challenges of a cutthroat post-apocalyptic fantasy world.

Skills in Path of Exile take the form of gems, which you socket into items. The active skills operate on an entirely different mechanic, which is actually more similar to the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII. Skills are loot. There are two basic types of skill gems in Path of Exile: active skill gems, and support gems. Active skill gems represent skills you actively use (Fireball, for example). Once a player has a skill gem, it can be inserted into the appropriately colored socket (red, green, or blue) in a piece of gear. When a player has a piece of gear with a skill gem in it equipped, the player can then use that skill.