Review: Path of Exile

Path of Exile logoSo recently Jassi posted a preview of Path of Exile and now after sufficient hours of playtime I am prepared to do a fairly in depth review of the game after the break!

For those of you who do not want to read a long review I will give you a short summary right now. Path of Exile is what Diablo 3 should have been story/game play wise with Diablo 3’s graphics. It is an intense ARPG and it will bring back the days of yore for those of you who are original Diablo players.

Path of Exile is a great addition the genre of ARPG’s, it offers a great story backed by addicting game play, but what makes Path of Exile such an interesting game isn’t it’s story; no what makes it an interesting game is the game play. I am primarily referring to the massive skill tree, I asked the Lead Devolper Chris Wilson

Knash: “There are obviously many, many builds that a player could create for their specific character. If you had too guess how many customized builds do you think there are for one class?”

Chris Wilson: “I’ve seen dozens of completely different builds for each class. Combinatorially there are billions (if not some other absurdly high sounding number) of possible builds, but in terms of ones that practically play different, we’re seen a few dozen archetypes so far per class. It’ll probably grow to be many more as players work them out and we add more gems for them to play with.”

That is quite a large number, around one billion possible unique skill builds. Wondering how that’s possible? Well the skill tree for Path of Exile is no ordinary skill tree, and rather than try to explain it we will show you a picture.PoE Skill Tree

(This tree is somewhat out of date and our backend won’t allow us to upload the full image from the forums but here is a link to it)

That’s not even the whole skill tree! For that I had to record this video for you guys

The skill tree in this game isn’t actually a skill tree for active abilities, it only has passive abilities as opposed to other skill tree based games which have active abilities for combat, such as spells for attacking and recovery as well as passives. Instead you get your abilities from skill gems, which are interchangeable and fall into the following categories:

Strength – Red
Intelligence – Blue
Dexterity – Green

The following are the basic attributes for each class. They are entirely at your discretion to change.

Templar – Strength and Intelligence (Red and Blue gems)
Ranger – Dexterity (Green gems)
Shadow – Dexterity and Intelligence (Green and Blue gems)
Marauder – Strength (Red gems)
Witch – Intelligence (Blue gems)
Duelist – Strength and Dexterity (Red and Green gems)

Path of Exile allows for full customization of your characters skills and attributes, through the very open Passive Skill Tree and Skill Gems which are interchangeable. Gems level with you so the skills they allow you to use become stronger. A few examples of gems are:

Split Arrow – A Green(Dex) gem that fires multiple arrows at different targets. It requires level 1 to equip and each time you level up the gem it raises the required level to use, and the amount of Dexterity you need.

Cleave – A Red(Strength) gem that deals damage with all equipped weapons to enemies in a 180 degree arc in front of the player. When dual wielding, equipment requirement applies to both weapons, and each weapon does reduced damage. It requires level 1 to equip and each time you level up the gem it raises the required level to use, and the amount of Strength you need. With this gem once you hit Gem level 5 it also requires increasing amounts of Dexterity.

Fireball – A Blue(Int) gem that unleashes a burning ball of fire towards a target which explodes, damaging nearby foes. It requires level 1 to equip and each time you level the gem it raises the required level to use, and the amount of Intelligence you need.

The game has three difficulty levels,
Normal
Cruel
Merciless

There is also of course a Hardcore difficulty setting which one could consider a fourth difficulty level. Unlike most other games with Hardcore difficulties you do not have your character deleted when you die in HC instead they are returned to Normal difficulty.

Upon beating the boss in Act Three(City of Sarn) you can then play in Cruel mode, and once you beat Cruel you get access to Merciless. Each time you die in Cruel or Merciless there is of course a penalty, which is you lose XP. You won’t regres in levels but if you die you lose XP and therefore you will have to gain that XP again, you don’t reset your progress towards the next level thankfully, it’s only a subtraction.

Grinding Gear Games has taken a drastically different approach to this games economy, instead of being gold based it is a barter system with items.

This game is entirely free to play, and will remain that way even after release, the dev’s do not believe in Pay To Play games. The only micro-transactions available for purchase are cosmetic weapon auras, different looks for your spells/abilities, pets, and for $1000 you can design your own custom item in the game.

The game has been in closed beta for several months and just entered open beta on January, 23 but there are already some great FAQ’s for players and a lot of them are by players.

Currency Values(This is widely regarded as the accurate source for PoE curreny value information)
A More Visual Version Of Currency Values
Pricing Sheet for Skill Gems and Currency(The creator of this has specified that this is still a work in progress so it may be lacking/not up to date)
Unoffcial Path of Exile Wiki
Mods Compendium(Mods are the random properties that spawn on items)
Accuracy Table
Quest Rewards
Official Subreddit

I sent the lead developer Chris Wilson a couple questions and he happily responded(His replies are in bold):
Q: While players are engaged in combat with enemies items drop and sometimes they have a loot timer on them. From my perspective and the perspective of players I have seen in the game many people feel that it is not a long enough timer. What are your thoughts on this? And specifically how long is the timer?
A: The goal of the timer is to provide a bit of fairness regarding latency, reaction time and distance (for ranged characters who are not near the monster when it dies). We want item drops to be high-tension events, with players scrambling to get the items. We’ve tested longer timer values but find that they cause players to treat the items as an entitlement rather than a reward. We’re still playing with settings and may remove the timer, make it longer or change the system entirely. (It’s currently just over a second plus some travel time).
Q: Are there any plans to implement a guild system? It could possibly make grouping with players more enjoyable and could potentially help with harder difficulty levels and quests later in the games story-line.
A: Yes, though it’s probably not in the immediate future. We have some early stability issues and bug fixes to get out of the way first. People really want guild/clan chat channels and storage.
Q: How is the loot determined of who it goes to? Is it randomly assigned or does the player who lands the final blow on the enemy get assigned the loot?
A: It’s randomly assigned based on nearby party members.

Great job Grinding Gear Games! Path of Exile is My Geek Review approved!

Path of Exile Approved

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