Path of Exile Preview and Beta First Impressions
If you’ve followed Path of Exile at all, you know that it’s almost impossible to mention the game without making a reference to the Diablo series. However, after spending a few hours with PoE, even trying to keep a journalistic frame of mind, the comparisons to Diablo fade and I realize that I’m simply having a great time and getting completely engulfed in a new dungeon crawler action RPG in the same way that I did with Diablo 2 when I was 17 years old. PoE takes place in the fantasy world of Wraeclast, a dark world which is obviously influenced by Diablo 2 (which I’ve heard all of the guys at Grinding Gears are huge fans of) but still feels fresh and is beautifully detailed.
The first thing that I would like to point out about Path of Exile is how accessible it is for all PC gamers, whereas Diablo 3 requires a top of the line PC simply to run it, PoE runs on anything from your everyday laptop to a top of the line gaming rig. Obviously, the visuals are dulled down on older machines, but PoE is a game that offers such quality in the gameplay that you can have an amazing time and throw hours and hours on the game even on the lowest setting because the heart of this game lies immensely in the gameplay experience.
The point-and-click action RPG is fully intact in Path of Exile, and offers all of the amazing aspects that all of your favorite games of the genre have in the past such as Diablo and Torchlight. The core of this formula remains unchanged, but as they say “If it aint broke, don’t fix it.” PoE isn’t all just rehash of successful franchises in the genre however, for one thing, Path of Exile offers one of the most extensive passive skill trees that I have ever seen and offers endless possibilities for the progression of your character. There are six characters/classes to choose from (the Marauder, the Ranger, the Witch, the Duelist, the Templar and the Shadow), following the traditional action RPG classes, but there are notable differences within Path of Exile.
Gameplay mechanics will come as nothing new to veterans of Diablo or Torchlight, whereas left click tells your character where to move, interacts with objects within the game, and executes your primary attack. Loot is, of course, an enormous part of the gameplay experience in Path of Exile. As you progress, you will obviously gain more powerful items such as armor, weapons, and more of the norm. Instead of having gold, PoE utilizes scraps of items which can be used as a sort of currency in the game or to create items such as wisdom scrolls (which identify items), and gems which are used to augment magical properties of slotted items.
Action RPGs have always been about two things: devastating skills and valuable items. Skills in Path of Exile are items – gems that grant abilities when socketed into equipment. A wide range of support gems allow the behaviour of skills to be modified. You can augment your Fireball to chain from enemy to enemy or split into multiple flaming projectiles. Up to five support gems can affect a skill at any time. Because gems level up independently and some are hard to find, they can be very valuable in trade.
Path of Exile has already pulled me in and I’ve already spent way too much time on it than I rightfully should with other more pressing matters at hand, but I just can’t help myself. The thing about Path of Exile is that not only is it turning out to be a fantastic experience, but it’s 100% free to play, leaving you absolutely no reason to not dive into this awesome ARPG. I’m still in the first act, but I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me in Path of Exile.