Path of Exile [BETA] Impressions

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.

My Duelist in the first town.

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.

Passive Skill Tree allows you to really customize your progression.

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.

  • Sounds pretty interesting! Think we can get a link to the page to pay the ten bucks and try this out? I could really use a distraction while waiting for GW2 and D3. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

  • I am in the hardcore league which means IF I DIE I can’t participate in that league anymore. (FTFY) 🙂

    Very fun game! Easily worth the $10 for beta (haven’t noticed any bugs yet). I’m a level 17 or 18 Witch specializing in frost magic and zombie minions. The passive skill system is awesome!

    Feel free to add me (Snafzg) and pls save any Firestorm (blue), Elemental Weakness (blue), or Hatred (green) gems you might come across! Willing to trade/buy.

  • I’m installing now. Looks like I’ll try and join you all on the hardcore league. Think I am going witch or ranger. I love ranged classes. Can’t wait to get in WOOT

  • This looks like a really promising title, and seems to be doing a lot of interesting and clever things. Unfortunately I don’t really like ARPGs, so I’m not certain I’d have much fun with PoE…

    I will keep an eye on it, however. Certainly appeals to me more than D3, but that’s not hard to do.

  • I’ve been in this beta for a few months and was absolutely blown away by the level of polish. Because the Path of Exile website.. well.. it does look kind of amateurish. Given how much a barrier graphics and especially animation is to an indy game, I expected the game itself to look similarly amateurish. No no no. It is absolutely gorgeous, and plays delightfully.

    This is more of a spiritual successor to Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 is. No slam against Diablo 3 intended, because I’m in that beta too and love it also. But it has moved away from D2 in various directions whilst PoE has stayed very loyal to D2’s concepts.

  • If I can get my video editor working I can show you in game footage of this from PAX East.

  • That skill tree looks fantastic. I know I’m not the only gamer who is counter to WoW’s simpler is better approach…I want the most complicated brain bending eye bleeding skill tree possible!

    Anyways, never heard of this one. Nice find guys and it is now on my radar.

  • Keen you ever think of simply talking on youtube about some of your views? It just seems like an element that you are missing out on and we all like hearing your views. Not saying to be a TB but could be a great opportunity for you.

  • You might reach a bigger audience on YouTube also; that is how I first heard of your blog via your AoC gameplay vids…

  • I also agree that Keen should do some Youtube vids. I’ve been a passive reader since the DAoC days. 🙂

  • Not saying that this is where it will end, but took this concerning microtransactions from their website:

    Path of Exile is completely free to play – no upfront costs or monthly fees are required to enjoy 100% of the game content.

    To fund the development and maintenance costs of the project, we plan to let players purchase aesthetic perks for their characters such as:

    Additional character animations (for example, taunts or PvP victory animations)
    Dyes and item skins
    Alternate spell effects
    Social pets
    We will also offer some optional paid services such as:

    Inter-realm/inter-account character transfers
    Character renaming
    You’ll notice nothing in the list above confers an actual gameplay advantage.

    Sounds good!

  • I’ll make some videos then since you guys seem to want them. I’m not going to be trying to transition at all to videos, though, and I certainly lack the radio voice. I’ll do them as a supplement to the blog.

  • Awesome find Keen, thanks for the heads up!

    As to the YouTube stuff…. what if Keen has a face made for blogging? 😛

    In all seriousness it could be a fun addition for your site though, not a complete overhaul to video, but just as an addition, the occasional videocast.

  • Have you ever watched the Colbycheeze gaming podcast? It’s pretty cool and you might like to try something like that to supplement your blog posts. Then again, it’s quite a bit of work to produce I’m sure, and college students tend to be short on free time (if they’re actually studying :p).

  • I’ve been having a ton of fun with PoE and I’m hoping this might actually become my long-term game once they add more content (I was hoping for GW2, but I can’t buy it due to the cash shop). Time will tell on that one, but it is looking really good at the moment, the past few weeks have been reminiscent of the time I started in Diablo 2. To me PoE looks like what D3 should have been. 🙂

  • PoE grabbed my attention when it was first announced, but i’ve let it drop off the radar. Thanks for this post, I think I might jump in and have a look too.

    I (like Gankatron) found out about your blog after watching your AoC PvP vids on youtube. I completely support the idea of more vids!

  • I (like Gankatron & scargrim) found out about your blog after watching your AoC PvP vids on youtube. I completely support the idea of more vids!