A long look at what could be the next great action-rpg.
Sleepless nights, a complete lack of productivity, its obvious that I’m playing an action-rpg. I can admit that I’ve spent thousands of hours playing Diablo, Phantasy Star Online, and dozens of other similar titles. It’s by far my most-played genre. Lately however, I’ve been a little disappointed. Despite all the years that have passed, I’m still looking for the game. This game; is one that captures every aspect, that makes the genre so addictive. But, even though it’s a long way from a final release, I believe Path of Exile will be that game.
Developed by Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile is a free-to-play game. It is heavily-inspired by Diablo 1 and 2. This is sensible, considering that those two games are the most influential of the genre. The story so far is basic. Criminals are exiled to the island of Wraeclast. As one of these exiles, you must complete quests, become stronger, and destroy everything in your path. There are six playable classes, and three acts to complete. After completing the third act, players move onto the next difficulty, where deadlier creatures and better loot await.
After washing up on a beach, you’ll find your first weapon and skill gem. A tutorial will lead you through the basics of setting up skills. Where things become interesting, is when you level-up and attain your first passive skill-point. The passive skill-tree is what I like to call, the Yggdrasil of skill-trees. The class you choose determines where you start on the skill-tree. There are 1,350 nodes available, but at best you’ll have 111 skill-points to spend. Needless to say, there are tons of possibilities for the build you want to make.
To explain further, I’ll talk about Deathsmiles, my Witch. She uses a combination of lightning spells, and minion summoning. A number of my points were spent on strengthening lightning, as well on having tougher minions. After several levels, I finally unlocked the Minion Instability skill, which causes summoned zombies and skeletons to explode when they’re close to death. After picking up some other passives, that boosted critical chances and shock bonuses for lightning, my build is finally starting to come into its own. Planning and perseverance got me to where I am now, which is half-way through Act 2 on the second difficulty setting. Oh and luck too, a few good drops can make a considerable difference.
If you’re just starting out, it doesn’t hurt to experiment. Path of Exile features a shared storage system, so equipment is easily transferable between your characters. Also if you ever feel like you made a mistake, respec points can be acquired for those minor fixes. If you need advice on a build, the people chatting in-game are very helpful, for the most part.
Next time, I’ll look at aspects such as partying, and go more in-depth on skill-gems. Until then, I highly recommend checking Path of Exile out. Keep in mind though, there are some issues. The servers are being hammered, so if you’re playing at peak times you’re liable to get stuck in a queue. Disconnects can happen, and it’s a heart-breaking occurrence (especially if you just found a unique item). Also as one of the loading screen messages states, there will be bugs. This is an open-beta after all.