Path of Exile – What diablo 3 should have been

You may have heard of the popular game known as “Path of Exile” which has recently been released from closed beta, it’s an online MMORPG game with a gameplay style very similar to the diablo franchise. The most intriguing thing about this game though is that it’s free to play, so read on below to see what I have to say about the game!

There’s a youtube video at the bottom of the page with the game’s music which you can listen to while reading through the review, feel free to press play then scroll back up.

Path of Exile, created by “Grinding Gear Games” is a start-up indie company with their eye set on a true sequel to the diablo franchise after it’s cousin “diablo 3” was a giant flop. It seems they have taken everything good from the franchise and made it even better as well as having their own take on how it should be, most notably through their perk and skill setups. You start the game with a choice of 6 characters each with their own style of attacking, spells and skills.

I chose the witch mainly because I love the animations that are usually coupled with mage characters such as the firestorm, electrical and freezing spells. I was very surprised at the quality of the graphics and animations, especially since this is an indie company and they usually don’t go straight for the high end look initially, although this is just another reason why this company looks so promising.


 

Surprisingly the game is actually free to play forever, although there are a few microtransactions you’re able to buy to make your weapons look more epic or buy extra tab slots in your stash. One of the main reasons why I love the game so much is that there’s no pay to win therefore everyone has an even starting ground and you can’t get ahead the more you spend on the game. Then where do they make their money you may ask? Well before the beta release you could buy supporter packs for varying amounts of money which gave you a bunch of real and in-game goodies depending on how much you spent ranging from $5 to $1000. This supported the company and helped them get on their feet, however now you can support them by purchasing the in-game items mentioned above to keep them working on this fantastic game.

Now to the actual review, as I mentioned above the graphics are very well done, with a special note to the lighting effects which were spectacular all through the game but especially when you were walking on the beach in act 1 as the sun was setting and your shadow stretched across the beach. The textures are very detailed as well, and suit the game nicely, although comparing them to diablo 3 they seemed to lack consistency sometimes. Another gripe was sometimes the models have obvious sharp edges which made them look pretty bad if the camera was focused on them, an example being the legs on the left of the below picture.


 

I love how the gems represent your skills and that you have to find them before you’re able to use them, even though it’s sometimes hard to find them and you can get frustrated when looking for one in particular. However this can be easily solved by trading another player for what you need. Another surprising fact when playing through the game is that there’s no currency in the game, it’s all based around trading “orbs” you find randomly through the game, this is essentially “buying” and trading items and skills is known as “trading”. You may see people in the trade chat saying something like “WTB arc” or “WTS clarity” this means either “Want to buy arc” or “Want to sell clarity” which is something I was confused about for some time. I find this bartering system refreshing and a nice change from the use of money, mainly because it gives the sensation you can buy practically anything with what you have in your stash.

Where do I start about the skill tree, there’s literally over 300 possible skills you can invest into and practically unlimited combinations between all the classes and the number of skills there are. The most impressive fact however is that any class can level into a certain skill, therefore you could build a tanky witch or a glass cannon marauder, although glass cannons are highly ineffective in this game, it’s still a possibility. I’m happy to say that at level 30 chances are you have a completely unique character that no-one else in the game currently has, and the fact that I can shape my witch any way I like is fantastic and many others would agree, nobody likes being pidgeon-holed into a certain end-game build purely because everything is too tanky.


 

The AI is actually fairly intelligent, seeking you out if you’re hiding although somehow knowing where you are sometimes which can be a pain. They tend to group up though if you run around them making it easy to cause and AoE spell and kill them fairly simply so they could be a bit smarter in that regard. The bosses are pretty tough as well, which is good as I like a challenge although if it’s too easy people would be getting multitudes of rare items. If you die on a higher difficulty you’re subjected to a penalty of xp which I find is a real pain for bosses in the higher acts, however you can’t drop down a level which gives a little breathing space when fighting bosses after leveling up.

There’s a wide variety of enemies in the game, from beetles to snake creatures to derpy demented people that have four arms and shoot, which gives the game some diversity and requires you to think about what tactics you will use on a certain enemy, because they each have different stats and resistances to elements.

I love the music throughout the game! It fades into the background and immerses me further into the game because it suits the landscape so well, a calming melody when at spawn, a drum jungle theme when running for your life through the jungles of act 2 and an intense dark yet epic theme when fighting bosses. The sound effects are just as good too, from hitting the ghostly pirates to when an enemy drops a ring on the ground they are all customized perfectly to their relative sounds.


 

A few things I didn’t like in the game was the high loss rate of xp when you die in higher difficulties, it makes levelling a real pain especially when fighting bosses, not to mention i’m usually getting a fair amount of lag from the server between 200-400ms and this sometimes results in me dying instantly for no reason. Especially considering the creators reside in New Zealand and i’m in Australia there should be next to no lag if they had a server nearby.

Another thing I wasn’t quite fond of was the extremely short duration your items stay yours in a party, it’s sometime like 5 seconds which after that time anyone can pick it up. I believe it should be more like a minute, because i’ve had to run to pick up items almost instantly after they drop and take a lot of damage from the enemies nearby.

It’s a fantastic (and free) game overall which I recommend everyone downloads and plays as this is the true diablo 3, it looks fantastic and runs fast and the game play is everything people wanted as well as introducing new concepts just as level up gems instead of the traditional skill choice system.


 

Here’s the final score out of 100%:

Story: 85%
Game-play: 100%
Graphics: 90%
Sound/Music: 98%
Fun Rating: 95%
Addict-ability: 95%

Total: 93.8%
(Colors are matched to the Legend below)
The bluer the better.

Legend:
0% – 24% = Hopeless Game, Definitely not worth buying! if you have it sell it now while its worth something!
25% – 49% = Terrible Game, This game will not prove to be very enjoyable, and may only be played once and forgotten.
50% – 59% = Average Game, A very mediocre game that you may play occasionally to pass time but doesn’t prove to be very enjoyable.
60% – 69% = Nice Game, A game you would play once or twice to see how it is, but ultimately lacks replay-ability and immersion.
70% – 79% = Brilliant Game, This game would satisfy your gaming needs for a very long time but would eventually be forgotten over time.
80% – 89% = Fantastic Game, A very fun game that proves time and time again to be enjoyable and addictive.
90% – 99% = Amazing Game, Extremely Enjoyable and has lots of replay-ability content, as well as pushing the boundaries for future games.
100% = Epic Game, Go and buy 20 copies right now! (In-case there’s a nuclear war and they get destroyed)

About fluidicice

Queensland, Australia.
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