Path of Exile is an action RPG (think Diablo) currently in beta testing. PoE will be “completely free to download and play, and be supported by ethical microtransactions.” I was told about the game only a few days ago by a friend, and I decided to buy myself into the beta via their Kickstarter-like ‘support’ packages. Essentially, you pay $10 and you get some points to use in their cash shop and a beta key.
I’m allowed to give my general impressions of the game and talk about features already announced. Since I’ve been having a lot of fun for the past few days, I want to give you all my quick thoughts and spread the word about what is, thus far, an enjoyable game.
PoE is obviously like Diablo, and as a result it feels similar to a lot of other games. Occasionally a Diablo-clone will really stand out. TitanQuest comes to mind as a truly fantastic example, and PoE is going to be added to my list because of the polish (or “good feel” of the game), the combat, and several features which I may not be able to discuss.
The basics are all there: Smooth combat with fantastic hotkey and ability-use functionality, solid loot system that keeps you wanting to kill that next monster in case it drops phat loot, good graphics, multiplayer, a very nice gem/skill system, etc.
The multiplayer is the first point I want to address in detail. Think Guild Wars. You have a quasi-persistent world in the sense that your towns are shared. When you leave town, you instance yourself or your group. Imagine if Tristram in Diablo were a public town for everyone playing.
You get to play with others in your League. Leagues are like Ladders and you choose which League you want to play in when you create your character. I am in the hardcore league which means if I die I can’t participate in that league anymore. This system will allow for a LOT of cool features like custom/private leagues, paid leagues, rewards for players who top the charts, etc.
The Passive Skill Tree (Pictured on the left) is another awesome feature in PoE. Each of those circles is a passive skill. When you level up you get points to spend. At first you may think this is really overwhelming, but when you spend five minutes thinking about what path you want to take you’ll realize it becomes intuitive. I play a Duelist and I want him to dual wield. Since Dualists need avoidance, dex is important, but I also need strength to deal damage. I mapped out a path that will allow me to take dex and strength and ultimately web together the two.
Abilities that are not passive (actively used) are gained through gems that you socket into items. Keeping with my dualist theme, I may find a gem that grants me a special dual wield attack. I simply socket that gem into any color appropriate socket and I have instantly gained that ability which can be mapped to a key. The more I use that ability, the more I can level it up to make it stronger. This gem system takes things further by adding linked sockets and support gems. If I socket a fireball gem into an item with support sockets, I might be able to add an additional projective gem and make that fireball shoot three at a time.
I’ll stop there as not to reveal more than I am allowed, but there are still several other near features that I haven’t seen used in action RPG’s that make Path of Exile unique.
I highly recommend the $10 investment which gets you into beta and supports Grinding Gear Games. I don’t know what “ethical microtransactions” means, but I’m hoping that once they launch as a free-to-play game the quality will not diminish as a result of their business model. Keep your eye on this one.