Walking the Path of Exile

I’ve only written about Path of Exile once before (a quick search of my posts revealed as much) and the last time I had mentioned opting in for the closed beta, back in late 2011. At that point in time, I had only read little bits about the game, and hadn’t even played it yet. I never did get selected for that beta. Later in 2012 Grinding Gear Games had a “founder” option or a sort-of “kickstarter” type deal, where if you paid a particular price you would get access to the closed beta along with other perks. I opted to pay $10 and received the equivalent amount in “points” (the currency used for microtransactions in the store). I don’t remember what the other options gave, but I just wanted to see the game in action without having to wait for open beta. I actually just went and checked, and I have 100 points which is 4 more points than you can buy for $10 right now.

I tried out the game, and I liked what I had seen, but being closed beta, the character I was playing would be wiped when they prepared for the open beta, and I didn’t want to get too far along just to have to start over again. I started out as a Duelist, and only played for a few short hours before I shelved the game. Just the other day I was reading about the game, and realized that it is now in open beta, and there will be no more server wipes. So I decided it was time to get back into, starting last night. This time around, I decided that I wanted to play something a little different. In most fantasy-based games, I typically play a tank or a rogue-like class. I rarely play healers or casters, and since there isn’t a true healer class in this game, I went with the glass cannon “Witch.” Keeping with the glass cannon theme, I am building her with light armor a wand, and elemental spells. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game at all, here’s the Open Beta Trailer:

It shows a bit of what the Passive Skill Tree looks like, and man it’s huge. Definitely the largest I’ve seen in an action RPG, and allows for some deep customization. Being the Witch, I am starting off from the Intelligence postion, and branching upwards. Until you see it, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I can’t really describe to you the path in which I am taking. The other part of the game that allows for some awesome customization is the way the gems that socket into your items are actually the spells/abilities that you can cast/use. If you ever played Final Fantasy VII, it works much like materia. Socket a gem, get the ability, and as long as the gem is socketed, it gains experience as you do. There is a lot more to it than that, but I’m just throwing out some of the info in layman’s terms. Take a look at the skill tree here.

The game is completely free to play, and from what I’ve seen there is absolutely no “pay to win” scenario. Everything in the store is something you can go without. The developers even said that they are strictly against microtransactions becoming pay to win. But because it is free to play and open to anyone right now, that means if you’re interested, you can check it out right now. I’m pretty cheap, so when it comes to free games, why not?

Graphically, PoE stands up to its competitors. I can’t speak about Diablo III, because I have yet to play it. I have played Torchlight II however, and it’s cheesy graphics pale in comparison. I don’t have a top end machine, but it runs just fine, and looks pretty to boot. I imagine on a better rig it would look downright beautiful. I prefer the darker tone to the story line and how that is represented graphically. The lore, the systems, everything just makes games like Torchlight seem as if they were made for children. The devs said it best:

We’re sick of the recent trend towards bright, cartoony RPGs. The art style we chose for Path of Exile is dark, gritty and realistic. Wraeclast is terrifying, and we’ve tried hard to do it justice.

I haven’t gotten too far into the game thus far, but already I can tell it’s one that will suck me in. The level of depth still amazes me. More on this game to come in the near future.