Path of Exile is one of the most promising action-RPG’s around, and here’s why

Path of Exile

By on July 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Remember The Butcher? No, not Diablo III’s Saturday morning villain. The Butcher that scared the crap out of you at sweet sixteen. Diablo I–old school.  Playing Path of Exile, an indie action-RPG, brought those memories back. In other words… I died. On the second boss at level three. Twice.

With the game just finished a public weekend in its closed beta state, I dove in again to see how it’s shaping up.

Challenging combat

The aforementioned deaths were caused by a recent overhaul to enemy AI. Rather than come at you in simple waves, enemies will now try to surround you, so you need to watch your back.

Fortunately, players have also received upgrades, with more skills to counter with. Using the new fire traps with my ranger Kellygrrl was great fun, as I’d lure packs of enemies into the fire while shooting them with poison gas. Combat felt more tactical than it did when I played last year.

Low latency

The next big improvement—added this month—is the lower latency. Path of Exile has a server in Singapore for Australians, and I was pulling a steady 170ms latency with no spikes. While not a true local server, it is the next best thing and makes the game more responsive than Diablo III.

This is commendable. The game is privately funded, developed, and published by New Zealand’s Grinding Gear Games. As a self-publisher, Grinding Gear Games has limited funding, and the game is taking some time to release as a result. Yet still they’ve done for us what Blizzivision, with all its excessive means, did not.

Actual multiplayer

Path of Exile also has true multiplayer features to justify its online-only status. Global chat is actually global, and always hopping. Towns are not instanced, so serve well as social hubs, especially with the new looking for group bulletin boards. Both world and arena PvP content is also being tested.

The online leagues are especially integral to the game. The developers run regular competitions, with prizes awarded at the end. A two-week one-life-only hardcore league is running right now, with the winner being the highest, still-alive player at the end. All this together means the game actually feels like an online game, rather than a single player game with online DRM.

Noob friendly

The fourth obvious improvement is the streamlining of the early game. While starting Path of Exile last year was akin to being thrown off a short pier and told to “Have fun!”, these days you’re given tooltips for everything. Levelling up skill gems, for instance, is not the mystical process it once was.

The huge passive skill tree has also been given an overhaul. Now only two paths are given at the start—damage and surviving. This lets you progress quickly towards perks that feel powerful for a set purpose, without worrying about choosing the wrong path and gimping your character. The tree still branches out into a massive number of options, but only once you’ve found your feet and have the basics needed to survive.

Some minor story improvements continue this streamlining. New quests have been added to give the game an actual story now, rather than being a random collection of maps. Even so, however, the story still feels incomplete. Voice acting is still not in, and the entire third act is missing. These will be added when the game goes into open beta later this year.

Endgame

As a genre, action-RPGs are getting long in the tooth. Modernisation was not kind to Diablo III, with Blizzard apologising for the lack of a WoW-esque ‘endgame’.

Arguably, however, Blizzard left out many of the features that made Diablo II’s endgame what it was. Ladders were removed from Diablo III, PvP is non-existent, and boss runs are almost discouraged. At the same time, the addition of mandatory American servers drew criticism. Diablo III, then, was an uneasy—even almost bizarre compromise between the old and the new.

Path of Exile approaches the issue in a completely different fashion—include the old features and don’t fix what ain’t broke. As previously mentioned, the game has ladders in the form of leagues, and world PvP is set to make an entrance soon. Even the inventory is old school, with loot Tetris alive and well.

Path of Exile knows its market, and is a great game if you want to return to the golden age of action-RPGs in a modern online form. It feels just like Diablo I, and makes no apologies here. You can either pay $10 to get access now, or wait until the game goes open beta later this year. It’s well worth a look.

Find out more at the Path of Exile website.

39 comments (Leave your own)

:D…

 

Being a huge Diablo series fan (I like Diablo 3 but see it in no way better then Diablo 2 was) I found it strange to go into this game with its items are currency type system. But once you learn the basics and get your head around the seemingly un-needingly huge passive skill tree, its really really fun, arguably more enjoyable then Diablo 3

 

Great to see this game getting more coverage in the last few weeks. It’s been a long time coming, but hopefully more people choose to purchase the early access supporter packs and help GGG with development costs.

Cheers.

 

Woot , POE gets the front page cred it deserves
This is what D3 should’ve been but with prettier gfx

But its awesome all my D3 mates have finally shifted when i sent then MULTIPLE screenshots of the skill tree……. Yeah its that big cat get it in one shot :)

I got supporter months ago, POE deserved it.
I haven’t played much lately but i reckon i’ve put more hours into POE then D3 just to try different builds, and i haven’t even scratched the surface of possible builds.

 
Patrick Vuleta

Yeah, I was the same azza. Enjoyed the game, but felt I did everything possible last year and was waiting for new features to be added this year for open beta. I was really impressed with how far it has come since then. I’ll probably give it a few more weeks till they release the third act, then get back into it. :)

 

Beautiful.
Damn right azza. It’s the game D3 should’ve been. Happy silver supporter here.

I’ve made 3 level 50+ toons and another 3x 30+. So much fun trying out new builds and the orb system is simply fantastic for crafting items.

 

I smiled whilst playing! Didn’t do that with D3

 

I was hoping this had an offline mode but it looks like Torchlight 2 is what I’ll need to hold out for. PoE looks good though.

 
Patrick Vuleta

TBH, playing it offline would take away a great deal of the experience.

The community is quite friendly, and global chat is about 100 times more active than in Diablo 3. The developers also frequent the chat.

Every time you go back to town, you enter a global instance filled with everyone in town at that moment.

The trade system is quite interesting, with all the trades being barter item based.

And the leagues are good fun.

Playing Path of Exile single player would like playing Battlefield with bots. Could do it, but would be missing out on the entire point of the game. There are certainly single player FPS games though. ;)

 

I dunno there Pat
D3 global chat was 1000X more active its was just full of kids with epeen, homophobia and scammers

POE = You can have a convo without being flooded by spam and trolling , and the bonus the people are helpful and awesome.

 
Patrick Vuleta

Really? I rarely saw anyone in D3 chat when I played. Does D3 still sign you in automatically (or out?)?

I do remember quite a few instances of the PoE devs actively banning troublemakers from the chat, though. :)

 

It changed towards the end “Auto in” worst ever lol

 
Patrick Vuleta

One thing I like about the PoE community, though it’s a personal like, is the hardcore-mode community is actually actively discussing what they’re doing. Every time someone dies they lament it in chat, and there’s a subsequent flood of “RIP :(” messages. :)

 

asked Samantha the CM in chat why there arent AUS/NZ servers, answer was their funding doesnt allow for it.
if it takes off i have doubt there’ll be a local server for us all, and its why i got my sub early q:)

 
Patrick Vuleta

“No doubt” I assume. ;)

Aus server hosting is kinda expensive. Plus, companies usually have to deal with Telstra. :P

Singapore’s usually chosen as the next-best alternative as servers there are cheap and the ping is OK.

 

Bloody telstra i’m not even a direct customer and they still prove to be a proverbial pain in the …….

Will this change once the NBN fully rolls out ?

 
Patrick Vuleta

Oh, I have no data to back my statement up, it’s just the in-thing to pick on Telstra. :P

The expensive server hosting is real, though. I dunno what causes it, though. I certainly hope that once our network comes into the 20th century (not a typo), it will get cheaper.

 

Nobody needs “data” to bash on telstra
Just call techinical support
Telstra 1 1/2hrs on hold …… Hang up
Internode ( I cant vouch on this since the new IInet overlords took over ) 10mins leave number they call you back within 30mins WOW now that’s support
:) will have to do, don’t know the thumbs up smiley code lol

 

Yeah they have mentioned that the reason that there isnt a Australia or New Zealand server is because the bandwidth is literally 200 times more expensive than the alternatives.

I play PoE a lot, so just a few points:
- The website does say that PoE will enter open beta in late August but the 9.11 patch (the version that ran during the beta weekend) was released a month behind schedule so open beta will most definitely be later. Currently, there are 2 more major patches scheduled before open beta.
- You only saw the devs talking in the global chat because it was an open weekend. They are normally much less active as they are *of course* making the game.
- During the weekend the chats were area segregated (because of the larger amount of people). Most likely when PoE enters open beta the chats will run the same way so that they dont get heavily spammed.

 
Patrick Vuleta

Oh, I wasn’t referring to the past weekend in my comment there. I’ve seen devs at other times. ;)

True, it’s possible that the open beta will be delayed, but that’s what’s on their website. They’ve made a public commitment to that schedule. :P

If they slip though, I think everyone will be understanding.

 
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