Path of Exile - Road to Wraeclast
Path of Exile - Road to Wraeclast
We've talked about Path of Exile before on GameArena. Designed by New Zealand developers Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile is an Action RPG in the Diablo and Torchlight vein, with a Guild Wars style MMO flavour. The game entered open beta today and the servers are currently swamped with people attempting to get in, but I've been playing it on and off for the past couple of months - and I thought I'd give you my take on this different, but still familiar entry into the Action RPG genre.
As you can see from the images, Path of Exile has a dark, grimy art style reminiscent of Diablo and Diablo 2. Wraeclast is a damned continent, where life and prosperity have been forsaken and only death remains. You play an exile condemned to die on the continent's shores - or make your way inland and probably die anyway. There are six different character classes to choose from - The Marauder, The Ranger, The Witch, The Duelist, The Templar and The Shadow - not particularly original sure, but what really sets Path of Exile apart is its skill systems.
As Diablo 3's skill system came to the fore in late 2011, Blizzard showed its hand. Limiting of skills and stats was part of a grander plan designed to make the ARPG accessible to everyone. Path of Exile has also eliminated the traditional skill system, but instead of doing this in the name of simplification, POE's skill gems and passive skill systems are instead a testament to the sort of player driven theorycrafting Diablo 2 was loved for.
You don't have skill trees in Path of Exile - instead you have skill gems. Skill gems are items you find throughout the world and attach to your equipment - standard fare is usually given out for completing a quest, but more advanced and intense skill gems only appear in the wild. You can equip any skill gem no matter what your class as long as you have the required attributes - which is where the passive skill tree comes into play.
The people who are best equipped to understand the passive skill tree are those who played Final Fantasy X, with its weird and wonderful sphere grid. Made up of 1350 skills, the passive skill tree is a gigantic web filled with boosts to attributes, attack and defense bonuses and special talents which alter the way you play.
So, say you decide to play a Witch, your first points will go towards boosting your intelligence and increasing the abilities of your minions, making them explode violently when they near death. Then you can work your way down to the Shadow path, adding power and speed, and make your criticals poisonous for good measure. Then you could branch out the other way to build up a solid defense along the Templar path, or move down to the Ranger area and boost your dexterity and ranged attacks. You can check out the entire passive skill tree here - unfortunately we can’t reproduce it because in jpg file format it would be so big it would crash your browser. Seriously.
At no point did I feel like I made an unforgivable mistake when assigning points though, even though the web of skills is far too daunting for me to scope out in its entirety. And while everyone begins playing each class almost exactly the same, as you progress through the game you see plenty of people with incredibly different takes on each class - Path of Exile is tense, but forgiving enough to allow for experimentation.
You can play Path of Exile entirely by yourself (and I mostly did) but it is designed with multiplayer in mind. Each trip out from a safe zone puts you and your party in a new randomly generated instance, while remaining connected to the server for chat and trade.
Everything in the game is item based - along with the skill gems and equipment Grinding Gear have done away with money - instead in a fashion reminiscent of Diablo 2’s economy, certain items have both functional uses and are used as funds - both with in game merchants and with other players.
It feels really strange at first - in fact throughout most of the first act the deliberate lack of money sinks like item repairs makes it feel kind of like there’s nothing to do but slaughter - and this will no doubt put some people off. That’s why, against my usual ‘solo everything’ preference, I preferred to party up in Path of Exile, as you’ll almost always have a better time with others, whether through learning what others know, helping someone out or just the sense of camaraderie. Path of Exile does have its share of dickbags, but it has a much higher ratio of decent people compared to some other games.
Path of Exile isn't perfect - ranged combat can be incredibly finicky, at least 30% of chests you find are completely empty (which is not much of a problem I guess - but it is weird) and the game client suffers from some annoying bugs. Of course, having just hit open beta these things are to be expected - and the game will no doubt be improved upon in the future. While you might have trouble getting in right now due to the current influx of players, it can be done and it’s well worth checking out - you can do so via the official site. Have you played Path of Exile yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
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Thu 24 Jan 13, 7:29pmBAllZ
Posted: Thu 24 Jan 13, 7:29pm
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