A few years ago a little company known as Grinding Gear Games set off on a journey to recreate the magic (and sweet, sweet loot amassing) they found whilst whittling away the wee hours of the night playing Diablo 2 during its heyday. The magical vessel on which this journey has been taken is known as Path of Exile.
Path of Exile officially launched on October 23, 2013. Within a matter of hours it had reached over 100k players via Steam and was lauded wholly by critics. Here are five reasons why you should be ignoring your family, financial responsibilities, hell… even your own well-being in favor of playing this amazing action role-playing game.
5. The Passive Tree and Skill System
The best way I can summarize these two gloriously implemented systems: think Final Fantasy X‘s Sphere Grid combined with Final Fantasy VII‘s Materia system.
Mind = Blown, right? I know. It’s the second greatest combination of things I can currently think of, the first being bacon and damn near anything else.
The Skill System is based on essentially finding or acquiring skill gems as quest rewards that you can freely plug in or remove from your gear sockets. These provide you with abilities, spells, or cool-downs usable by your character.
The Passive Tree is chock-full of nodes that basically enhance these abilities or grant you passive skills that further empower your character. The spectrum ranges from increased physical damage to spell damage, casting speed, health and/or mana, stat increases, or even increased damage by an elemental type.
4. The Loot
I don’t think I even really need to say more than that. If you’re an old school Diablo 2 fan and find these newer ARPGs didn’t quite scratch that itch for you, fear not item-junkies: this game has more drops than Michael J. Fox eating rice.
With a laundry list of unique bosses in most, if-not-all of the areas of the game (all of which are easily farmable) this game will have you filling up your inventory hundreds of times over.
Each place is also inhabited by the a-typical rare and champion packs of mobs who are usually modified with dangerous auras and/or buffs to increase the panic levels in most would-be adventurers. To further attest to the loot factor, GGG was implementing about 5 unique items and often times a new skill gem fairly regularly during the beta.
All of this culminates into a very bloody and fulfilling luck-based scavenger hunt of sorts that will literally have you screaming “GATTACA!” more often than others will like.
3. The League(s)
No, not the show, The League. (Even though it’s probably one of the funniest I’ve ever seen).
GGG has taken the best of what we and they remember from the D2 ladder system and improved upon it. They have your typical standard(softcore) and hardcore leagues. Prior to release they implemented four month leagues differentiated in name and ruleset based off of the two default types. The current iteration of these leagues are Domination and Nemesis.
Domination is the softcore version where players traipse through monster-infested areas only to happen upon magical shrines that will imbue them with temporary power.
Nemesis is the hardcore league that allows rare monsters to pull from a Nemesis List for added buffs. This includes: a guaranteed unique on kill, splitting into smaller versions upon death, spectral resurrection and many other potentially nasty buffs (when combined with their already randomly generated modifiers can lead to one hell of a fight for the player).
There are also Race Seasons where one can accrue points based on how well they did in the particular races; this is to earn unique item rewards and other various things that are proven to elongate the virtual peen. Numerous races are scheduled throughout the week and have a completely different set of rules dependent on the type of race it is.
One notable difference in the hardcore leagues here in contrast to Diablo 2: when your characters die they end up going to the softcore version of that ladder or league. They will still be playable in their new league but will remain forever unclean.
2. It’s Free to Play and Definitely NOT Pay to Win.
Yep, you read that correctly. Free. To. Play.
The most common problem with the F2P format is that in certain games you can essentially pay to make your character more powerful.
GGG has respect for themselves and has yet to allow any microtransactions to give a person one single iota of power over another. A few of the various microtransactions that are available are extra storage (in my opinion a must have –they put them on sale a lot — I grabbed 6 extra storage tabs for $20), cosmetic effects for weapons and armor and graphical changes for abilities. You can also purchase the opportunity to help design/create your very own unique item.
1. Because I Said So
I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not your real dad either. Unlike your father though, I won’t leave you at six years of age, while mommy’s working at the local stri… look, I have a staunch disdain for many micro transaction based games or micro transactions on the whole. I think they’re complete and utter bullshit for the most part and try to avoid them like an ex.
However, I have spent more than the $20 already on PoE than I had previously mentioned. Why? Because it’s worth every penny of it. I didn’t have to pay an up front price to enjoy this wonderful game and it’s the very least I can do to continue to support these crazy Kiwis. I also really enjoy that the developers regularly post on their Official Forums, Reddit, Twitter and are typically not shy about conversing with the player-base in any of the aforementioned mediums. This really resonates with me as a gamer, as it should anyone else who cares deeply for the games that hook them.
Personally I’ve been longing for a game that could even remotely hold a candle to what Diablo 2 means to me. Some of my fondest nerd-related teenage memories are tied to that game; for GGG to want to recreate that magic that not only they felt, but millions of others felt when they played D2… well, that’s a damn fine investment of time and money to me.
So grab some buddies, put on your robe and wizard hat, give in to those genocidal tendencies your therapist has been warning you about and have some loot-filled fun while you forge your own Path of Exile.