Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Path of Exile: My Time with this Free to Play Dungeon Crawler

Thanks to the good folks over at developer Grinding Gear Games, I was able to spend some time with their upcoming free to play Action RPG: Path of Exile.  I spent a few hours exploring the first areas of this game and it’s clear, it’s a Diablo clone that enhances on certain areas and lacks in others.  The game is currently in beta and the following thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt as they are subject to change. 

Focusing on the differences to start, Path of Exile has an intense Passive skill tree that you’ll be putting points into after a few minutes of play.  The amount of customization the player is allowed to do is impressive while at the same time borderline overwhelming.  Here’s a link to the passive tree in it’s current state over at the official Path of Exile site.  Take a moment, poke around and see for yourself.   The game does not utilize gold or any money system.  Instead it utilizes a system of breaking down objects into raw materials which can then be combined to make new equipment or gems. The game really throws you in and introduces a lot in the first 10 minutes. It can be slightly overwhelming especially if you’re not a hardened Action RPG player.  This could just be for the beta however. 

Path of Exile, unlike Diablo and Torchlight, is free to play and supported by ethical, non game play affecting micro-transactions.  There are currently six playable classes and I spent some time with two of these classes: the Ranger and the Maurader.  Like any other RPG, staying out of the fire is important!

I began my journey with the Ranger and enjoyed it.  The bow felt a little sticky, you need to click to shoot and unlike Diablo 3 you cannot just hold down the left mouse click.  I found the Ranger easy to maneuver and quick to get a hang of the skills.  Dexterity, Strength, and Stamina, the usual, are all in this game and work as expected.  The graphics of the game feel slightly dated but are sufficient for a free to play game.

My second play through was with the Maurader. I found the melee character to have a noticeable difficulty increase which I am not sure is intended.   Expect to have to use health pots early and often when playing this character.  I almost died and did die multiple times when I never got close to dying on the ranger.  Duel wielding was fun and the abilities were sufficient. 

As we began our Diablo journey here at the Gaming Nook two nostalgic parts of the game were noticeably missing.  The tabbed permanent map that was available in Diablo 2 ceased to exist as well as identify scrolls.  However, Path of Exile utilizes both of these game features and I smiled when discovering this.  Very early on in the game tiered loot makes an appearance as well as sockets.  Unlike Diablo were it was hours in before gems are used, you get gems after the first quest and are able to upgrade your gear. 

Path of Exile is currently due to enter Open Beta in August.   According to the developers, from day one development has been focused around a strong and balanced PVP gametype as well.  However I did not participate in this.  This is a small studio who can use all the support they can get. Head on over to their site and take a look around. They have a kickstarter program with access to beta and some other goodies if you feel so inclined.  Path of Exile Kickstarter

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