Platforms: Microsoft Windows
Release Date: TBA
Genre(s): Action RPG
Publisher(s): Grinding Gear Games
Developer: Grinding Gear Games
An online action Role-Playing Game, following a Free-to-play, with optional micro-transactions, developed and published by Grinding Gear Games.
Path of exile is the legacy child of diablo 2 that the fans always wanted but never got. Set in a dark fantasy world, it’s violent, gory, hardcore, and refused to hold your hand no matter how much you scream, shout or cry.
Players find themselves in the world (of Wraeclast), where we encounter thousands of mindless species of opponents filled with loot and mysterious artifacts as if it was made on the island of the show Lost. Path of Exile takes on the framework of Diablo 2 and modernized it with some touches to the mix. There is a decent Story that ties together all of your action and quests with voice work that really creates a dampening mood for the entire setting. As it goes you have been exiled and now are on an exile island with other exiles and they have created some factions and groups and you help with the local monster problems. Although a little more complex in details but that’s about the shortest description I could give apart from — Left click, kill stuff, loot, rinse & repeat.
The Graphics are good, don’t expect top of the line money burning budgets that can buy small countries and still end up with error 37’s. They may not be fancy but they work. It was made by an independent New Zealand studio, but although it may not look pretty with eye candy and rainbow coloured unicorns it’s not ugly either. The animations do look a bit jerky but that’s polish witch can be applied during the beta or on release. The atmosphere on the other hand nails the setting you are currently in; lost, alone, and unsure and works perfectly well with the tone of the game. The environment covers open deserts to ship harbours to standard church dungeons and caves.
Gameplay is what sets Path of Exile and allows me to overlook some of its flaws as it is bloody brilliant. I mean really bloody for eg: you can get an item that uses fists instead of weapons and in return you can explode mobs head with extra gore. This is an Online only game, it is because of how the party and trading works. You will lookout for public parties to kill those end bosses and race to pick up loot in your very limiting inventory in an free for all loot system.
All the starting classes are alike and there is no restriction whatsoever on how you want to make your character. Such kind of freedom was never really found since the Section 66A of the IT Act was passed. Let me highlight some of the key gameplay elements: make char with base stats, equip weapon, kill stuff, get gear, wear gear, find skill gem (this is how the game gives you spells or abilities, these can be socketed into gem slots in your gear to be ready to use), skill gem level up along with character, assign passive in character skill tree, kills monsters and fine orbs (these are the currency used in the game that can have various uses like increasing quality or respecting items etc.), join party (up to 6) and kill mobs, trade loot.
Since the game does not use a single currency like gold it a lot difficult to trade as you have to spend a lot of time on the trade channel looking for sales and selling your items as if shouting on the top of your voice in a crowded fish market. Grinding Gear Games plans to include up to 25 different items that have their own unique effects, also serving as currency in a barter system where the price of goods is not fixed and it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for it. A special mention to the most fair micro transaction system I have seen so far where there is no pay to win system. All items are cosmetic and for novelty like Halos, crowns, dance animations and cockroaches pets that don’t provide any benefits.
About the Passive Skill System the game uses a single huge skill tree common for all classes, with the difference being where you start in the tree, and after the first 10 sec of watching the skill forest and picking your jaw of the floor it gets a bit easier to navigate than apple’s maps after you spend some time with it. These are very dynamic and powerful single passives have the ability to change your entire gameplay. With skill that leave healing pots useless for lifesteal OR damage resistance in exchange for changing your health to 1 OR to removing mana and use health to cast spells. And if you wish you can get all any skill provided you have enough points. Also there is no full repec. You can get some high currency to reset a few points but it’s easier to roll a new char rather than correcting your dual axe wielding witch with 1 health who dies every time she casts a spell.
Sounds and music in Path of Exile is alright and feels decent at best. I do hear a lot more variety in music and voice acting coming up with development but apart from a few outstanding Voice work performances nothing grabbed my attention much.
In Conclusion, Path of Exile is going to be an hardcore Action-RPG, although the difficulty and the lack of hand holding with permanence in choice maybe off-putting to more casual players, but for those of us who play, these will be the very reasons we decide to do so. The open beta started on the 23rd of Jan, 2013 and the developers promised no further character wipes. So you keep what you find.
Disclaimer: This game was tested in its Open Beta state and is subject to change.
True hardcore experience
Unique and bold moves on economy and crafting
Dark and gory theme
Fair cash shop
Involves a lot of grinding after the main quest
Steep learning curve
Gameplay Progression: 8/10
Unique Selling Proposition: 9/10