First Thoughts: Path of Exile – or, What Diablo 3 Should Have Been.

PRELUDE

To start things off, I feel that giving a little background on why I’m writing this article is necessary:

I, probably like many of you reading this blog, was completely and utterly unsatisfied with Diablo 3.  The reasons why are endless, boundless, and honestly are too many to list, but I’ll just hit the main points.

1)  Repetitiveness can be good, but this was awful.  Like, fucking awful.  Imagine you’re playing an ARPG game, and every area is the same, every time, with no variation whatsoever.  Add the fact that the enemies spawn in roughly the same spot every time, the “special areas” that pop up every once in a blue moon are just as lackluster as the story areas, and that you can sleep while playing the game and eventually make it to the end mostly unscathed, and you have what it feels like to play Diablo 3.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

mario wtf is this shit

“You mean to tell me there’s more things wrong with Diablo 3 than playing the same shitty map over and over?”

2) Yes, there’s one more glaring thing wrong with Diablo 3, and that’s that it’s so goddamned streamlined that even a LeapFrog looks like fun in comparison.  What do I mean by streamlined?  Well, here’s what I mean:  I mean that unless a player has an IQ of lower than 90, there is no possible way you can screw up the gameplay.  All you have to do is look for four basic stats on your gear, and then “to hell with all the rest.”  That’s just shitty game design.  It’s essentially calling the player a retard that can’t figure out how to allocate character growth points (in this case “skill points”) or search for the correct gear for their character.  Not only did Blizzard do this, but they made it so that these four desired stats (one of them is variable depending on one’s class) appear on ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ITEM IN THE GAME.  There is no point to grind out for the best gear, other than to have the highest stats and therefor be the biggest badass ever.  I tried to do this when the game came out, and I just got bored about three months in.

Now then, I’m aware that Diablo 3 is old news, and you’re probably scratching your head, thinking “why am I reading this article?  I thought it was supposed to be about that game I’ve heard about – Path of Exile?  Well, dear reader, keep reading…

I CAN CUSTOMIZE?!?!?

Yes.  Yes, you can.  This is the biggest and best thing about Path of Exile; you can play it the way you want to play it.  If you want to be like me and play a Templar that makes people explode when they die, you can do it.  Say you want to make a battle-mage out of the Witch class?  Guess what?  You can!  Grinding Gear Games (the makers of Path of Exile, from here on “GGG”) decided that they were going to implement skill points through a system that I can only describe as similar to Final Fantasy X’s “sphere grid,” and there are so many branches and paths that you can take that it will make your HEAD SPIN.  Need proof?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You see that?  That’s a company NOT dumbing down a game.  And, it is awesome.  Well, sort of; the only caveat to giving players this much freedom is, just like in Diablo 2, if you make a mistake yer kinda boned.  Note that I only said “kinda,” because there are items that will allow you to un-do selections in the passive skill tree to sort of “soft respec” your character, but these items are a little on the rare side.  My recommendation?  Take a look at your character class’s starting point on the skill tree, and figure out where you want to branch out to beforehand.  If you really don’t care, and just want to power through the game, that’s okay, too!

RANDOM MAPS? FOR ME?

Yes, that’s right:  the best thing about Diablo 2 and other games like it (e.g. Torchlight) came to the world of Path of Exile.  In fact, if you don’t like the layout of a certain area that you’re in, or you want to go to a new instance of the area you’re headed to, you can always just reset the area via the waypoint system via using the command CTRL + Left Click, and voila!  You’ll be in a new version of the area.  Much like the customization, there is a caveat to this:  Every time you use a portal scroll, you have anywhere between 8 to 15 minutes to go back through it before your progress in the current instance of the map is lost, and you have to go through it again.  It’s a small pain in the ass, but it’s not all bad; you can get more experience and item/orb drops this way, so it all kind of balances out!

THE WORLD OF ITEMS.

Remember a time before Auction Houses and other such nonsense, when you had to trade people items and/or currency in order to obtain other items?  Well, that system is back, and it feels great.  There’s an actual purpose to go out and hunt for items and currency in this game, making the somewhat monotonous grind somewhat of a gamble – it’s fun, it’s lucrative (sometimes), and it’s a good way to waste a day.  Honestly, in the time I’ve played this game (and it hasn’t really been all that much) I’ve had SO MUCH FUN.  I’ve had more fun with this than the 3-ish months I played Diablo 3, because the game is actually fun.  I feel that the abilities on rares and unique items are especially fun sometimes, and that there are times where the gods of the game dislike you for a while and then reward you with some SUPER FAT LOOT.  The item system from Diablo 2 and Torchlight is what the system in PoE is akin to, and PoE’s is my favorite so far.  As with everything else, there are caveats to the items, but they’re so few and far between that I’ll just save it for a later post which will cover more specific areas of the game.

CONCLUSION

By no means is Path of Exile a “perfect game,” but it’s pretty damn good.  The cons of the game include the dreaded “always online” aspect of the game, the fact that Chinese Gold Farmers (CGFs) have migrated in to the game, and the irritation of de-synchronization with the game’s server happens from time to time (resulting in angering deaths).  However, as this game is only in Open Beta, and is COMPLETELY FREE (and makes its money through microtransactions), I’d say I can ignore most of the cons… for now.  If you’re looking for a fix, and can’t stand Diablo 3, this game might just be for you.

Here’s a link to the game’s website, and I’m outta here for now!  http://www.pathofexile.com/

Brotagonist is an avid gamer and fan of anime that is striving to make the most monsters explode as possible, because watching things explode is awesome.

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