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Path of Exile - A Review

Updated on January 21, 2013

Introduction

Path of Exile is an online-only action role-playing game (ARPG) being developed and published by Grinding Gear Games, a small independent video game company situated in New Zealand. Now, why would I, who dislike most online games, review this particular gem? Well, for starters, it's free. Secondly, I'm a die-hard Diablo and Titan Quest, as they represent the best ARPGs of the last decade or so. Path of Exile takes a good deal of elements from Diablo and adds a lot of uniqueness to the mix, to create its very own game.

So, read on and see why you should play Path of Exile!

Story

Path of Exile is now currently in open beta, and the third act has just been released for players to play in. As the story goes, you have been exiled from your homeland to the land of Wraeclast and must work to better the situation of those people you find. Some of them are exiles such as yourself and others have ended up there by chance. While this is an online game, it is not one modeled after MMO tendencies, so you shouldn't worry about the story being superfluous. For those of you in the crowd who love a good story, Path of Exile will definitely deliver, insofar as an ARPG can weave a story.

Gameplay

This is what separates Path of Exile from established greats such as Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2. I'll start with what is probably the biggest innovation in the genre. Path of Exile does not use gold as a currency. Matter of fact, the concept of grinding bosses or champion packs for a single currency doesn't exist in Path of Exile. Instead, Grinding Gear Games plans to include up to 25 different and distinct items that have their own unique effects, but also serve as currency in a barter system.

Barter system, you may ask. That sounds like Fallout, you may wonder. However, in the time I've participated in the closed beta, the system works better than you'd expect for an ARPG. Basically, items of little worth sell for fragments of Scrolls of Wisdom (used to identify magic items). If you decide to sell a rarer item, you may get fragments of Orbs of Augmentation (which can modify magical items) or something else altogether. Likewise, to purchase items you need to give up some of your hard-earned currency items. It's genius in that it is a self-correcting currency sink. You can use the Orbs of Augmentation to buy items, to trade for items, or for their effect. Gold in most other games just got a bit more boring!

Another thing I really like about Path of Exile is a concept I hadn't seen implemented since Final Fantasy 7, which also means it is the first time I've seen the concept in an ARPG. I'm talking about linked sockets. For those of you in the crowd who have played other ARPGs, the concept of the socket is all-too familiar. However, if you have never played an ARPG before, I'll talk a little about what it's all about, at least within the context of Path of Exile.

Sockets are essentially spaces all pieces of equipment in Path of Exile have that allow you to place a gem within them. In Path of Exile, you have skill gems and you have support gems. Skill gems allow you to use the skill associated with said gem (interesting parallel with the Materia system in FF7) as long as the gem is equipped. Support gems modify a skill, but only if the socket with the skill gem is linked to the socket with the support gem. I can't sing enough praises about this system, because it allows you to customize your character any way you like, without the punishment of a skill tree as implemented in most other ARPGs, where one wrong choice can ruin your entire build. Here, you just switch one gem and you're all set!

The concept of potions in Path of Exile has also been played with. Instead of buying potions at your local vendor, or getting them as monster drops, you acquire empty flasks instead. While you are in town, the flasks fill up instantly. However, when you leave town, the only way to fill them back up is to defeat monsters. So, in one fell swoop, you remove one of the more annoying aspects of a lot of ARPGs (buying/hoarding potions) and prevent potion spam (the flasks can only fit so much healing liquid at one time, after all!).

I could probably mention more things about the gameplay, but you should go see it for yourself!

Graphics

The graphics are decently good. Since I'm not a graphics freak, you'll rarely find me complaining about graphics in a video game. My one gripe (which could be a function of the game's unpolished, beta, state) is that animations look a bit jerky. I'm not the only person to say this, but I'm hopeful that the animations will be polished up between now and when Path of Exile goes gold. I'm sure Grinding Gear Games can pull it off.

Sound

I love the sounds and music in Path of Exile. There's nothing like smashing a monster's skull in with a maul and hearing your Marauder grunt while the maul connects with a thudding noise. The music is a bit dreary at the start, but that is actually a compliment. The music fits the setting you are currently in; lost, alone, and unsure of your own future in the world. I heard about three distinct songs in the time I was playing, and they all added to the atmosphere of their respective areas.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I feel like Path of Exile is going to be an awesome ARPG. It will scratch the itch for those people who loved the first two Diablo games and want a taste of the days of yore in their action roleplaying adventures. The best part is that the game is free, so if you don't like it, you can just uninstall it!

Until the next time, take care and have fun! ;)

-Winterfate

Comments

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    • profile image

      Bettan 5 years ago

      This game is actually blowing my mind a little bit. The production value is through the roof. The aesthetics and music is extremely good, and it really puts you in that great mood that only Diablo 1 and 2 had managed earlier. The game mechanics are very well made, and well thought-out. They bring about a much welcomed flexability, and it's just addictive as hell to look around in your gigantic passive skill tree, and planning for the future. In most indie games, even if good games, there is still a sense of.. "Amateurism" in lack of a better word. But not so here, as I said, the production value is shockingly high. Everything just works. With the small exception the overlay map, which is really bad, but the corner map makes up for it. Also, some voice acting is kinda bad, but since they've already announced new and improved voice acting for an upcoming content patch, I'm not worried.

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      Sounds interesting. Maybe I'll look into it eventually. Voted up!

    • Winterfate profile image
      Author

      Darrin Perez 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Hello there Sofiane! Thank you very much for your input and I'm glad you enjoy the game so much! :)

    • profile image

      Sofiane 5 years ago

      Nice review , i would also add that playing this game with a 3D monitor makes it look way better than diablo , and i love the items effects , i love the way they made it such as more leveling up more action ahead and speed .PVP available 1on1 or 3on 3 , definetly the best ARPG yet

    • Winterfate profile image
      Author

      Darrin Perez 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Hey there Deadblue! Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment as well! :)

    • profile image

      Deadblue 5 years ago

      The music is really awesome. I love the lionwatch's theme and the music when entering brutus' map made me shiver.

    • Winterfate profile image
      Author

      Darrin Perez 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Matter of fact, I just wrote a Path of Exile help hub listing some basic tips and tricks and helpful resources for aspiring PoE players. I'm going to feature it in my profile in the next few minutes, so keep an eye out if you can't find it! :)

      Thanks again for reading to all of you who have commented so far, and even to those of you who haven't! :P

    • Winterfate profile image
      Author

      Darrin Perez 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Thank you for clarifying Stephen! It is much appreciated! :)

      Also, thank you for your feedback and sorry for not getting back to you sooner John! It's good to see you again. I'm thinking (still not sure yet) of writing a hub that lists helpful resources for Path of Exile. If I decide to do it, it should be up within a few days. :)

    • profile image

      Stephen Dickson 5 years ago

      You are right John that sockets and gems/fragments/what-have-you are used in numerous other games. I think what was meant here is that the use of Linked Sockets is an element that has rarely been seen; the most notable example of which that comes to mind being Final Fantasy 7. Where the support gems can alter the structure of the skill provided by the gem it is linked to. and as for a link the main Path of Exile Site is here http://www.pathofexile.com/ and barring load issues they have a download link prominently displayed.

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 5 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      Very nice review, I'm real curious about this game so I'm gonna check it out. My only suggestions would be for a link to download the game, maybe even a Wikipedia link for spec-info and that's about it. Also to clarify, there have been "sockets" in other games than FF7, like in WoW - you can "socket" a "gem", which gives buffs towards stats. It's essential for an extra DPS/Healing output.

      Anyway, voted up, useful, interesting and awesome! I'm gonna check this out right away ^^

    • Winterfate profile image
      Author

      Darrin Perez 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

      @Omnivium: Fallout 1 did. Fallout 2 had some pseudo-legal tender that was essentially coins instead.

      With that said though, you can only use bottle caps to buy items, or receive them from selling items. What Path of Exile lets you do is use their "bottle caps" (for an analogy) to do other things.

      It's a bit hard to explain, but it's not exactly the same thing as just having a regular currency such as gold or what have you.

      Thanks for the comment Omnivium! :)

    • Omnivium profile image

      Omnivium 5 years ago

      Fallout 3 and Vegas used bottle caps as currency. I don't know about the earlier ones, though.

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