Path of Exile (Beta)

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Back when Diablo 2 hit the scene in 2000, it became one of the most popular games that have been released. There was some fleeting success carried over from the Diablo prequel, but Diablo 2 took the ball and ran faster than anyone expected. The action adventure style, overhead viewing RPG, is a fun genre of game that many have tried to copy, but has never had the success as Blizzard has with the Diablo franchise.

Well, this writer says, move over Blizzard. Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile will bring success that you could not fathom, even with Diablo 3.

Gameplay

This game is set in the fantasy world of Wraeclast where you choose between six unique and interesting characters, all with their own back story and specialties. There are three main stats that all characters abide by in this game: Strength (which is depicted with the Red color), Intelligence (which is Blue), and Dexterity (which is Green). You start off in a camp just off of shore and realize soon after that this game has many things different from others you have played.

The currency in this game does not use the standard gold. You use a variety of items that are collected while out destroying your foes. The part that makes this more interesting to me, personally, is that each of your currencies actually have another usage as well. For example, you fight some monsters and get an undiscovered blue magic item and it drops a Scroll of Wisdom, you can either use that scroll to find out what this item is, or keep the scroll to buy that new belt you severely need.

Equipped items are all socketed with colored sockets. Not thinking much of this, you start to zone into your first quest area. You hack and slash through masses of zombies and finally see that you achieve level 2. Although excited about this, you realize that you have not learned a new skill. This will begin to confuse many players because in any other action adventure RPG, a new level equals a new move to annihilate your enemies. Before you decide to give up, you head back to town with your loot, trade away your items and start to build some currency, and turn in your first completed quest. Upon talking to the NPC he gives you a red gem that states “Cleave”. Upon reading this, you realize that your skill is on this gem, and so you frantically look through your gear to find a red socket on your items. You find one, equip your gem, and now you see that you have another move! When questing and mutilating your foes this gem levels up independently from you and it can be transferred to other items!

With each gained level, you receive a skill point to spend, similar to other action adventure RPGs. When opening up your skill menu, your eyes may widen as though you were staring at an oncoming train. There are more skills out there than you can even count, let alone get skill points to fill. The good thing is that the intelligence, dexterity, and strength nodes are all connected and intertwined throughout this massive skill tree. This unique, Passive Skill Tree has many abilities that will aid your hero through his/her journey, while allowing you to completely customize what you play with. Unfortunately, re-specializing is unforgiving as these choices are permanent, unless you have the necessary items to clear them.

Path of Exile Passive Skill Tree Blank

                 Above is a view of the Passive Skill Tree when you first see it.

The Classes and the Characters

 The Basics:

  1. The Marauder is a hulk of a man who specializes in the strength category to pulverize his enemies – dual wielding, behind a massive shield, or using a two-handed weapon.
  2. The Ranger utilizes the skill dexterity for dodging attacks and dealing damage from a distance.
  3. The Witch is your typical glass cannon. She sacrifices health and durability for sheer power and destruction.

 The Hybrids:

  1. The Duelist is a tall, lanky individual who uses a combination of Strength and Dexterity. He is the type of character that can stand in a fight, but has to dodge and parry his way around.
  2. The Templar is an older character that uses strength and intelligence as his weapons. He can be built like a Paladin from Diablo 2, or as a Caster.
  3. The Shadow is a mixture of intelligence and dexterity. He is the evasive, smart guy who sets traps, attacks fast, and dodges in-and-out of combat.

Gameplay Screenshot

Other unique twists

PVP: The developers at Grinding Gear Games have added a PVP experience for those players who are not content with destroying the environment and AI. You are able to kill each other in these modes, and even take items. Although, dying has its penalties.

Leagues and Events: Grinding Gear Games have also instituted many events typical for players to try out and win prizes.

Wraeclast: This game is detailed to look like a horror movie. It’s bloody, it’s gory, and creepily realistic. The world zones also reset themselves every 15 minutes to give you new surroundings which are never the same, and new mobs to kill with random properties. Good items are tough to come by, and you have a stash that is account wide.

I would suggest this game to all people who like action adventure RPGs. Path of Exile has it all: a vastly unique currency system, a completely customizable character passive skill tree, and replayability. I will continue playing this game past launch as the open Beta phase has had problems with bugs and some control issues. Though, in my eyes, this game can only go up from here! Watch out Blizzard, there is a new dog in town, and he is from Wraeclast!

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