Shadows Fall On The Path Of Exile

By Adam Smith on May 7th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

From stabby with slight magic, to slight magic with unusual rib harness, through extreme magic and bat-wing chest paint, to the final look of stabby with unusual rib harness.

There’s no reason in the world that anyone reading this would know how much I love dual wielding but let it be known that I’ve just finished eating a bowl of cereal, a spoon in each hand, and immediately afterwards I gripped brushes akimbo as I cleansed my mouth-rocks. Last night was mostly about dual wielding as well, as I prepared myself to share some details about Path of Exile’s soon-to-be just-this-moment revealed sixth class, the Shadow. With the instrument-laden, blood-stained appearance of a man keen on the unanaesthetised study of other fellows’ entrails, he’s often seen surrounded by maiming traps, a metal claw on each hand, although more often he isn’t seen at all.

I’ve been planning to revisit Path of Exile for a while now and it’s usually the sneaky, sinister, sorry excuse for a hero that I hold out for. It’s either that or, being a contrary sort, the holiest of warriors. I either want to smite evil for all the right reasons or be just a little bit evil myself, but acrobatic and stealthy enough to avoid any of that smiting if it happens to be coming my way.

In keeping with Path of Exile’s gruesome and unpleasant world, the Shadow does seem like Quite the Cad. Here’s the official word:

Lurking in the darkness, the malevolent Shadow silently stalks his prey with dagger readied. Grinning with anticipation, he follows his target towards the deadly traps he has planted in advance. Already, his subtle spells work their dark magics, heightening his senses and dulling his targets. The trap springs, and his surprised, mutilated victim barely has time to utter a final, desperate gasp before the blade punctures his lungs, stealing away both breath and life.

This isn’t the hood-wearing assassin of somewhat noble intent, this is a butcher and purveyor of pain who, in his most naked state, could be mistaken for a sadistic surgeon, bristling with cutting and sawing implements, or a butcher, a torturer. He kills more for the pride of a perfect execution and the thrill of bringing about elaborate endings than for money.

That pride has become a sort of arrogance, leading a client to suspect the Shadow may brag about his latest arterial assaulting accomplishments. That’s how he finds himself bundled on a ship and destined for the horrorshow that is Path of Exile’s grim, undeadly setting of Wraeclast.

All well and good, I shall pretend I hear a chorus of voices crying, but what’s it like to be the murderous blighter?

You’ve asked quite a difficult question there, a chorus of imaginary voices, but I’ll try to answer as best I can. Given the mighty galaxy of skills open to Path of Exile’s characters, your Shadow won’t play like Harold Tuppence’s Shadow and Tuppence’s might have very little in common with mine.

I’ll be trying to build a creation of poisonous, two-fisted stabbing, dropping a trail of traps as he retreats, light-footed and armoured, and then returns to put the finishing touches to the ruined remnants of those foolish enough to pursue. This being an ARPG, everyone is foolish enough to pursue so I think he’ll fit right in. So far I’ve been collecting claws and daggers, and then slotting in gems that allow me to slash and stab simultaneously, while also magically burning flesh into bacon. It’s as efficient a method of slaughter as you might imagine.

The traps aren’t working out quite so well as the stabbing yet, which is slightly problematic because he’s a rather flimsy individual. With previous more brutish classes, I’ve spent a good five minutes musing over skill point expenditure before noticing that a couple of cannibals have been chewing on me the whole time. Not a problem for those manly men. The Shadow is pale, slim and heavily into Depeche Mode though. He lacks muscle.

Even if lobbing them into a packed room wasn’t reward enough, traps seem a decent investment to protect that slender frame and they are effective, but there’s so much variety in the way they’re constructed that I’m experimenting rather than settling on efficiency. Any spell can be converted into a trap, with varying sorts of trigger available. I’ve mostly been chucking mines around the place, although that relies on more accurate monster-herding than I seem capable of at times. Maybe I’ll steer away from the trap skills and concentrate on agility and the purer joy of stabbity stabbity.

The way skills work in Path of Exile isn’t quite as simple as choosing a class and working your way up a tree though. Start as a Shadow and it’s entirely possible to work your way across the web of possibilities to the preferred skills of the more hulking Marauder, or concentrate on sorcery rather than sadism. Here are three examples of Shadow builds, mostly shared in order that we can all stare goggle-eyed at the starry sky of possibilities.

If you haven’t played the game, that may look incredibly confusing. What it shows is a character based around speed. He’ll be fragile but later in his career of clawing and gouging, Soul Raker abilities will allow him to leech life from his enemies as he tears them apart, which should counterbalance his physical vulnerabilities. Let’s look at another.

That would be a Shadow more in tune with the arcane arts. He favours spells that freeze his enemies because then he can shatter them into millions of pieces and that’s the kind of thing he loves to do. Skills like Pain Attunement increase the power of his spells when he’s low on life, proving there’s a little M with the S.

The final example is the trap build. Speedy as Usain Bolt, dodgy as a two pound note and trappy as a trap build, this is the most bastardly of the lot. More than discussion of the specifics of the builds though, this is just another excuse to look at the many possible trails and constellations in that gigantic set of skills. It’s still bewildering.

As there are all sorts of exciting hacky, slashy, looty events occurring in the near future, it seems only right that I continue with my Shadow character and return in a week or so with an updated report on the state of the game. I’m particularly interested in seeing how much difference a class makes in a game of so many skills, but there’s more to see. From the trade system to the grim atmospherics and cleverly complex gem manipulation it should be an interesting journey and, really, where else would I be going anyway?

The Shadow will be unlocked to those in the beta on Friday, at which point there will also be another public weekend.

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141 Comments »

  1. Ringwraith says:

    Whenever I look at that skill tree I am reminded of Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid.
    There aren’t many things like it.

    • Bhazor says:

      Perhaps for a reason.

      • Kdansky says:

        Yes. It’s the ultimate form of false choice.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Which is why I totally broke things by giving Rikku Auto-Life and Yuna Lancet (which I did that from the beginning, and it was fairly broken, as I never ran out of MP).
          It certainly gave you choice, although more so in the post-game and if you had the PAL version with the ‘expert’ sphere grid which starts everyone off in almost the same place.

        • Amun says:

          SLAVERY IS FREEDOM!

        • mmalove says:

          While I get that strategically there’s still only going to be a handful of “good” builds, I like the visual mapping better than the diablo 2 born talent tree system, even if it’s only cosmetic.

          (I’m sure someone will point out a predecessor to the talent tree before diablo 2, but that’s my earliest recalled experience with said tree system and a lot of RPG systems since have adopted it.)

          • Nevard says:

            I prefer this to the tree system too, though when any of the bonuses are things like “+12% damage” or “+19 elemental resistance” they’re not things I find particularly exciting choices.

      • Premium User Badge

        Muffalopadus says:

        Hey, it was at least more interesting to look at than a vertical line of skills.

        • iunxczvc says:

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    • Malk_Content says:

      I think the main difference here is that this is much more of a web with interlacing sections all over the place, if you stretched it out and dried to make it a line it couldn’t really be done. Where as stretching out FFX sphere grid let you to a rather linear progression with branches that let to dead ends.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Yeah, it’s certainly more of a web than FFX’s was, but not a lot of things seem to go with that approach or anything that resembles it.

    • theoriginaled says:

      Just a note since I see alot of people below getting it wrong: it uses the grid for its passive attribute and skill ENHANCEMENTS not skills themselves. The grid is more of a “perk tree”. Skills are handled with gems that can be slotted into equipment and armor ala ff7 materia. It makes equipment choice a little more engaging than “equip the higher numbers” because even though you may find a piece of equipment with better stats it wont necessarily have the slots you need. It also actively encourages using as many skills as possible instead of forcing you to specialize, as all skills level up as long as they are slotted. Plus since you have a shared stash and can remove skill gems, you can put them on a higher level character to level them then slot them back into a lower level characters equipment. There are a lot of things to like about PoEs systems.

    • Freud says:

      It’s horrible design with a good chunk of it being +10 to strength/+10 to intelligence/+10 to dexterity transportation to what most likely is another passive skill. It’s bloat that I guess impress some who are in awe of the size.

      • PopeJamal says:

        So how much of this “skill tree” grumbling is first hand knowledge, and how much of it is “sour grapes” because it seems like an interesting idea despite all the humbugging.

      • Vorphalack says:

        I think you can say objectively that it is not horrible design. The grid provides a number of fixed perks, allows the player to determine their starting position on the grid, and reach any perk they want through a verity of paths. It does exactly what it sets out to do in an uncomplicated way, which sounds like good design to me.

        You are allowed to say you just don’t like it, you know.

        • Freud says:

          It’s poor design because there is a huge disparity in what each skill point is worth. You have to sacrifice a lot of points in fillers just to get to the unique stuff. It’s useless padding. There are no alternate paths since every ‘transportation’ lane is filled with the same stuff.

          No one is going to get excited when they level up and have to get another +10 to strength.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Again you are confusing poor design with something you don’t like, or possibly don’t fully understand.

            The whole of the skill web is filler, the main meat of leveling and customisation in PoE comes from the choice and development of skill gems, not the next point on the web. With that said it is well designed filler. Think of it as the D2 stat system that actually gives you some interesting milestones to hit alongside adding stat points, as well as a much larger number of viable paths to take.

          • galatapus says:

            Vorpalhack explained it pretty well, but I’ll add my own comments on it. The passive tree in Path of Exile really does add great deal of customization to the normally mundane task of assigning attribute points. In D2, when you gained a level, it was simply a matter of thinking “hmm, I need x more strength to use this sword, guess I’ll plunk 5 more points into strength.” In Path of Exile, the attribute allocation is part of actually building your character, since you pick up specific, cool small buffs along the way. The skills that you use to play the game are totally independent of the passive tree: they’re acquired through gems you socket.

            The attributes you purchase aren’t “filler”, because they’re actually necessary to build your guy correctly, along the lines of what you plan to accomplish in the game. There is so much variety in ways to play, and in skills that effectively synergize, that the options are close to unlimited.

            This is exactly how the system is intended to work, so the idea that it’s “horrible design” or whatever, is just a ridiculous bias. I played hundreds of hours of D2, and Path of Exile has done attribute assigning so much better. It’s awesome to save up a few passive points, and then finally get ahold of a specific “notable” passive, or a “Keystone” passive you’ve been eying.

            I guess if you really don’t like the system, there is always D3, where your attribute points are just handed to you every level. Oh, and your skills too.

        • Bhazor says:

          I think he’s talking about FFX. Where it really was terrible. The system was litered with game breakers and long dull grinds along fixed routes where deviations were prohibitively expensive.

        • UncleLou says:

          It’s not really “uncomplicated” though. It is easy to use of course, but it’s hard to plan on the thing. It manages to make a pretty straightforward matter more convoluted than it should be, and the grid and its limitations seem mostly arbitrary more than anything else. It is rather – ha! – pretentious, really.

          I am also pretty sure that it must be a total nightmare to balance.

          • Vorphalack says:

            It’s only complex for the first 5 minutes while you learn the position of the major perks on the web. Once you realise that the layout puts complimentary perks in the same general area, it really isn’t intimidating at all. As for balancing, it’s probably a lot easier than most other ARPGs. The devs can say with a good degree of certainty what a given players stat allocation will be with any given set of perks.

          • Kdansky says:

            “nightmare to balance”

            Or in real-world-terms: It will be horribly broken, because no designer can think of all combinations in advance. Or if they can, it will be horribly pointless.

          • UncleLou says:

            @Vorpalhack I am pretty sure balancing is indeed easy for a while, while every marauder beelines for Resolute Technique, for example. The more levels people gain though, the more it falls apart.

            We’ll have to wait and see, I guess, but having played the beta for several months now (not excessively, but it adds up) I am less than ever convinced the grid is a great idea once you’re over the initial “wow” effect.

        • Balm says:

          It is a horrible design. It suffers from same thing as diablo2, only worse – to do good with it you have to plan out your path from the very begining, focusing it around 1-3 crucial passives. It is very easy to mess up and significally gimp your character and there is no easy way to reset your choices, the only way to do it is by use of some extremly rare potion or scroll that removes only one passive point.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Once again, it does what it wants to do very well. It is good design.

            What you mean……is that you do not like the system.

          • chackosan says:

            There’s an NPC in Act II that just gave me 2 respec points for completing her quest. I found the tree fairly easy to navigate (just needed to take my time and double-check each time I spent a point), so I haven’t needed to use the respecs yet.

          • Phantoon says:

            Actually, if you link your spent skill points on a different branched path, you can refund the old ones that don’t need to be used as the link anymore, and Orbs of Regret become more common as you move through higher difficulties.

          • tetracycloide says:

            Vorpal, explicit implementation of requirements i.e. “it does what it wants to do very well” is not good design unless the requirements themselves were well designed. It can do what it wants to do better than anything else in the world but that’s not going to change whether or not what it wants to do was worth doing or was a good design in the first place. Dismissing every observation of the systems limitations as ‘opinion’ because the limitations were intentional renders any conversation with you pointless and practically everything you say meaningless. You can’t critique the design without questioning what they set out to do but your default position is that if they accomplished what they set out to do it’s ‘good design.’ You’re simply begging the question.

        • tetracycloide says:

          Then you’ve no notion what good design is. Design isn’t efficient and accurate implementation, it comes before implementation. “What it sets out to do” is the design. How and if it does what it sets out to do is not.

    • Crazyfoolgaf says:

      I think Penny Arcade summed it up best when they described as “an infinite, madmans version of the Sphere Grid”.

    • Balm says:

      Funny you should mention it, recently I found an article that offers a straightenned out version of grid and shatters any illusion of choice one might have from the first look of it.
      Makes me wonder how would PoE’s grid look in a propperly laid out manner. I can already tell that it is a tad more complex, vut to what extent?
      http://gameinternals.com/post/3364162387/straightening-out-final-fantasy-xs-sphere-grid

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  2. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    That skill tree looks fascinating!

  3. Spud says:

    Yeeeeeeees! Been waiting for this news for over a year :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Lacero says:

    A link to the passive skill tree:
    http://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/

  5. f1x says:

    Ye, the skill tree is incredibly extense, even tho most of the skills are “add +2 damage” which means its not so complex after all
    but the goodness of it, is that it allows for a wide arrange of different builds, which is nice, rather than just the “cookie-cutter-best-dps”

    On the other hand, when is this game going to be released? I’m looking forward to play a bit more in this next public beta weekend

    • MrMud says:

      There will always be a cookie cutter “best dps” build, no matter how complex the skill tree is.

      • e82 says:

        and your point is?

        This is going to be true of any game that offers customization – there will always be a ‘best build’ – I don’t care if there is one best build, I care if there are many viable builds.

        IMO – It doesn’t matter of a handful of builds make it to the top of the pile in terms of being ‘the best’ – as long as many builds are viable and you are able to enjoy the game with – then that is about the best you can really hope for.

        I’ve been playing PoE for a few weeks now, I’ve leveled a few characters – Lightening Templar to 37, Poison Arrow Ranger to 62 and recently an Elemental Ranger to 45.

        For me, all of the builds have been fun and enjoyable to play, and ‘viable’ so far – although the Elemental ranger is turning out to be aces in terms of DPS (although due to the over-powered and rightfully slated for a nerf Avatar of Fire).

        Let the people who want to follow a cookie-cutter build online do so, but still give me the freedom to make my own choices and mistakes. I often hear ‘well, there are gunna be cookie cutter builds anyways’ as a justification for removing choice – which I think sucks. I often enjoy playing weird builds in games like this and what is ‘fun for me’, not what is ‘the best build possible’.

      • Edradour says:

        This kind of retarded attitude is why we get those stupid talent systems in the new wow/diablo ( ie. no system at all )
        Yes if everyone is using the same “best” build anyways it doesnt matter but whos says everyone does? For WoW that might be true nowadays but diablo?
        I want to select a choice in an arbitrary game mechanic everytime i level up even if that choice isnt really there anymore otherwise they could very well completly remove “levels” ( which is an abitrary game mechanic in of itself ) and make those games entirely equipment based.

        • Nevard says:

          There is an argument for having players gain power from the beginning of a game to show progress, and a stronger one for not dumping every ability in the game on them from the beginning, that means it’s not really comparable to an arbitrary choice that even you, as a proponent, admit is basically not really a choice at all :P

        • MrMud says:

          Why thank you for essentially calling me a retard, I see that the level of commenting on RPS is as strong as always.

          All I said was that there will always be a build that is mathematically superior to other builds for certain circumstances. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

          And the new talent systems in wow/d3 are not retarded, they are different. You may like or not like them but what they add compared to the old system (at least for wow) is choice in regards to viable builds.

          WoW is a great example because it has more maths and theory backing it up than any other game. In this game currently there is essentially only one way to spec each class. The way to do it is not always apparent by looking at the skill tree but years of maths and simulation has lead to a clear baseline of what is “best”.

          PoE will ultimately be the same, there may be many “viable” builds but there will probably only be one that is “the best”. If the system is tuned well enough the secondary builds may be as close to the primary build so that there are effectively no difference and in that case, mission accomplished, good for them. I hope they succeed.

    • f1x says:

      Obviously yes, but there is different approaches, so I correct myself, there will be 3 or 4 different cookie-cutter builds

      as said, since most of the “talents” are related to effects like “+2 damage” or “+1% haste” it will relay heavily on calculations in the end, instead of play styles

      • Koshinator says:

        Been playing the beta for a while now.. and while cookie cutter builds still occur, some of the most interesting characters to play are weird hybrid builds – basically there’s many ways to do things and you can specialise in certain traits no matter what ‘class’ you choose.

      • galatapus says:

        Completely wrong. The game has close to 100 skills in it now, with many more to come. The skills synergize in many interesting ways, and there are dozens of different, effective ways to play the game.

        The buffs in the passive tree vary tremendously in purpose and power, with some of them affording massive improvements to the player. There are single “notable” nodes in the tree that buff 2-handed damage by almost 20%, for example.

        People are discovering and posting new, effective ways to build characters all the time.

  6. rocketman71 says:

    I was much more interested in this when it wasn’t online-only.

    • Stepout says:

      It was built from the ground up as a f2p game that will be funded by microtransactions. It was always online-only.

    • f1x says:

      Fool! That complain is only valid for Diablo 3, ;)

      • Dominic White says:

        Diablo 3 is a boxed retail game with a $60 price-tag, online-only DRM and THEN have a cash-shop on top of it – that’s a pretty damn good reason to complain. Path of Exile gets away with being online-only because it’s completely free.

        • f1x says:

          I was being sarcastic,

          But now that you bring the point,
          -Both have exactly the same “DRM”, which is that you need to log in your account and be “online”, there is no difference regarding that between Path of Exile and D3

          -Remember that Path of Exile (as much as I love it) its F2P, and that will mean in the end that it is not absolutely free. Of course nobody forces you to pay, but they will need to generate money aswell as developers need to earn some you know.

          • Koozer says:

            As a side note, the developers have said they will be charging real money for things such as pets and different spell effects, not equipment or skills. Just thought I’d nip that in the bud before someone complains about buying advantages.

        • Kdansky says:

          D3 is an MMO without a monthly fee. Like Guild Wars.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I think you are stretching the definition of MMO a bit too far when you try and include 4 player co-op…….massively it certainly aint.

          • salejemaster says:

            D3 is just a really bad mmo compared to GW2 :p

          • Bhazor says:

            Guildwars also has large hub cities and is heavily designed around PvP.
            Two things of which you can’t say for D3.

          • derbefrier says:

            i wish people would stop this. Its no more an MMO than D2 was. hell PoE is more MMO like with its hub towns.

          • UncleLou says:

            I neved understood why people let Guild Wars (1) get away with the “MMO” tag. It had glorified chat channels in the form of hubs, but that was it.

            So, if GW1 is an MMO, so is Diablo 3. Although I’d argue they both aren’t.

          • Kdansky says:

            Diablo 3 has 4-player coop instances. WoW and D&D have 5 players, GW has 8 players. I fail to see a relevant difference. Starcraft doesn’t allow 32 players per game, and it’s still just as much multiplayer as Quake.

            GW’s hub cities are about as relevant as the chat channels that Diablo 2 had. You stand around, you chat. Arguably Stormwind is prettier than IRC.

            PVP in D3? Nothing much has been revealed, but wasn’t there talk about Arenas of some kind? In any case, the absence of PVP does not make or break the MMO-tag.

            As soon as the majority of the content is single-player and/or instanced, the “MMO”-tag stands on shaky ground. That leaves us with EVE. Anything else? MMO because you can ask for 15$ a month.

          • Vorphalack says:

            @Kdansky

            WoW has a persistent open world and GW1 wasn’t really an MMO either. You cannot seriously put the ”Massively” tag on a 4 player co-op game.

          • f1x says:

            Imo, MMOs must have a persistent OPEN world, somehow that was the standard established definition, but with games like SWTOR that divided the playable world(s) into 700 small set pieces that definition started to blurry

            at this point, something tagged as an MMO could be simply a disguised multiplayer game with a global chat interface, same as you mentioned
            so basically things are evolving, or maybe revolving, or maybe repulsing, thats why we are having this discussion, its not clear anymore where the frontiers are

          • Kdansky says:

            WoW has a persistent open world? Really? Such as when I kill Nefarian, he’s dead? Or when I complete the escort quest, then the escortee is in the village afterwards, and not in the dungeon? Or when I murder some mob, then he stays dead? And doesn’t magically respawn mere seconds later?

            The world of WoW has exactly as much persistence as a game of Team Fortress 2: None.

            If GW1 isn’t an MMO, then DDO isn’t either, and suddenly, we’re on a very slippery slope.

          • f1x says:

            Of course you are right, what you “do” does not “persist”, but if everything stayed dead after someone killed it, it would be a piss game dont you think, even tho it would be a cool new concept for a MMO

            But the term persistent open world regarding MMOs its refering to the fact that the game dosn’t stop when you log off, the rest of players stay there doing their things, npcs keep moving and mobs keep respawning

            Of course its an illusion of persistence, thats why I say your point is right, but its definitely persistent when compared to a Diablo-type of game, you will create a game and people will join, when the players leave the game disappears

          • Ragnar says:

            D3 has 4 player co-op instances. WoW has 25 player (down from 40) co-op instances, along with outdoor areas that support many more players. I participated in PvE and PvP encounters that had 50-100+ people involved . I think that’s a significant difference. D3 isn’t an MMO, it’s just a MO.

        • UncleLou says:

          I won’t let PoE get away with anything because it’s free, quite on the contrary. I’d happily buy it, but it being free raises a lot of questions, for starters:

          1. How will the game nag me with microtransactions/DLC? They*need* to make money with it, so I imagine it will be pretty obtrusive. Personally, I absolutely hate it when games do that.

          2. Is there any guarantee how long the game will be online? With Blizzard, the servers being online for anything less than 10 to 15 years would surprise me. With a free game based on (allegedly) only cosmetic DLC? I am not sure it’s worth investing time in a character when the game could sink like a stone.

          In the end, sorry, I don’t care all that much for the money I spend on a game. I want the *time* I spend with a game to be enjoyable, the rest is completely secondary.

          • f1x says:

            Thats exactly my point,
            Path of Exile is a fine game, and of course they have to make profit from it

            But when Stalker 2 after financial troubles morphed into a F2P thing, everybody went “WTF F2P NO BUY” before even knowing the details, same for Diablo3 regarding the always online thing,

            But then Path of Exile has always online and a f2p business model and nobody seems to care, hum, it just surprises me

          • fish99 says:

            Pretty sure it was the MMO element of Survarium which people objected to, not the F2P.

          • f1x says:

            fish99

            You are right it was about being an MMO mostly, sorry, my mind was playing tricks

        • Azradesh says:

          There is no cash “shop” Dom. Blizzard is not selling you anything, other players are, and you know it.

          • Phantoon says:

            Blizzard takes a cut, and it IS a shop in which you can buy items for real money.

            Even if it’s not Blizzard directly providing it, it’s still there and endorsed.

  7. wuwul says:

    In other words, they copied Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid for their skill system.

    Which seems to go fully against Blizzard’s R&D on the topic, and thus means they are probably doing it wrong.

    • Bhazor says:

      “In other words, they copied Final Fantasy X’s sphere grid for their skill system.”
      About to say exactly that

      To be fair the D3 skill system is basically the same as the Guild Wars system so giving Blizzard’s R&D credit for that is a bit much.

      • ain says:

        Not sure what you’re on to here, but neither of the guild wars games have a skill system like diablo 3.

        Regarding the Sphere grid, it seems to work just fine for what GGG wanted to achieve. A variety of options to play your character. Considering there’s carebear and PvP leagues this is a good approach in my book, and from my short experience from playing in the beta it seems to work.

        • Bhazor says:

          Both systems provide a large pool of skills and are built around the ability to swap out skills at any time with the intent of preventing optimum builds and encouraging experimentation.

    • undu says:

      Huh, because there’s only one way of doing videogames, your way or the highway?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I’m sorry, but when did Blizzard become synonymous with “perfect game design” and “always right”. Anyone that’s played either WoW or SC2 will tell you that is not the case. D3 is not made by the same guys who made D2, Blizzard is little but a name at this point. Blizzard is more than capable of being wrong and they frequently are.

      • Jonith says:

        Also not forgetting the fact that he seems to say that copying something goes against Blizzards R&D which is obviously not the case.

        There are so much things that can be said about Blizzard copying things, such as even the whole concept of Warcraft, as that was originally a Warhammer game which when Games Workshop cancelled there deal with them, they turned into there own IP.

        Not forgetting the fact that many of WoW’s mechanics were completely stripped from earlier MMO’s. Yes they can make good games as shown in the past (not perfect, but good) but pretending they don’t copy from other games is ridiculous for the OP.

        • wuwul says:

          No, I meant that D2->FFX is the complete opposite direction of the D2->D3 and Cataclysm->MoP skill/talent design changes.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Except that the PoE system isn’t really anything like FFX, it just has a similar looking web. Mechanically PoE is more like Diablo 2 stats (on the web), Fallout style perks (on the web), and FF7 materia skills (socketed into armour).

          • Jonith says:

            Yeah it took me a while to work out what you mean, but after posting that I kind of do now.

  8. Bhazor says:

    WEAR MORE CLOTHES
    PAINTING YOUR NIPPLES A FUNNY COLOUR DOES NOT COUNT AS CLOTHING

    • JackShandy says:

      Maybe they thought people would be happy to see some oversexualized dudes for once.

      • f1x says:

        He looks more like “undersexualized”

        I mean, its that supposed to be the male version of a “busty brunette necromancer wearing barely any clothes”?

      • glix says:

        they weren’t wrong.

      • Premium User Badge

        lowprices says:

        This is the best kind of equality.

    • Phantoon says:

      Actually he’s one of two characters to have pants.

      Pants make you invincible.

  9. Inigo says:

    That’s a man?

  10. caddyB says:

    Damn that title had me worried there for a second.

  11. Hendar23 says:

    Dual Wielding? You’ll love Pirates: Band of Misfits then.

  12. derbefrier says:

    I bought a beta key after the last public weekend and this game is pretty cool. The passive sphere grid tree mixed with final fantasy 7′s materia system is pretty fun to play with and can make for some interesting characters. But D3 is the only arpg that matters right now, though I will come back to this game in a year or so when I get bored of D3.

  13. Riddicules says:

    That skill tree is very depressive. After playing D3 beta with all classes, I gotta say I quiet like that you dont have to choose which skill to level up. Being able to use all the skills at any moment felt very good and intuitive. If you have a big boss to fight, use a high damage skill, if you have lots of small enemies, use an area damage skill. I think they found the best way to do it.

    • Kdansky says:

      In a few years’ time, everyone will copy D3, just as they now all copy WoW (which took its system from D2).

      As for “switch around before fights”: Sure, you can do that. But in the end-game, you lose a +magic find buff everytime you do so, to encourage you to not switch more than once per session. Which is genius design.

      • Vorphalack says:

        I think you are stretching the definition of genius. With one hand they provide players with a fully customisable and accessible skill system, and with the other they slap a penalty on anyone who wants to experiment……

        Now that sounds like conflicting mechanics to me, not a mark of genius level design.

        • JackShandy says:

          That only happens at level 60. I think you get the buff when you defeat certain boss monsters, or something like that? It’s there to encourage you to go through a whole bunch of fights in one go with a single set of skills, instead of farming one fight over and over or resetting your skills every five minutes.

          • Vorphalack says:

            They could add a rolling MF buff without penalising you for changing skills. After all, that was supposed to be the point of the open skill system; pick what you want for each fight based on your preferences and the strengths of the skills. I can appreciate why they want players to fight through more of the game and not just default to whatever the equivalent of Baal running will be, but locking you into a fixed build doesn’t seem to have a good logical explanation.

          • Kdansky says:

            No, switching your skill set every three seconds would be incredibly tedious. If that was ideal, they should just give everyone access to everything at once. But that is not a good game, because good games are about hard decisions, and there are none to make if you do that. Instead, the game encourages you to experiment, but stick with one skill selection for a while. Note that you also lose that buff when you start a new game.

            If that buff doesn’t exist, the best way to play at max level is to have N specific specs to boss-rush a specific area with M bosses, then create a new game. Which means you spend a lot of time in the skill-selection dialog, only to breeze through a certain bit of the game, while having no actual disadvantage. See Mephisto-runs in D2: It was (one of) the best ways to grind items because there are many bosses, but you don’t need top-tier AoE (such as a Boltress or Novasorc) for anything.

            But Nephalem Valor makes the ideal game into this: Choose a rounded selection of skills, then play through a large part of the game in one go. Don’t focus on a certain boss or level exclusively, because that will hamper your chances of finding awesome stuff. Not having access to all skills at all times allows for relevant weaknesses in builds, which allows for hard choices.

            It’s genius, because most people don’t even understand it.

          • Vorphalack says:

            ”No, switching your skill set every three seconds would be incredibly tedious.”

            I couldn’t be bothered to read past that bit, honestly. It should be the players decision to choose how often to swap skills in and out, given that you have the freedom to do so, without feeling that you are being penalised for it. Unless they remove the MF penalty, they still have conflicting game design decisions, and that is not genius.

          • JackShandy says:

            Vorphalack – it’s a decision centered on hardcore players. Hardcore players are those who are going to play optimally, no matter how boring it is to do so. This buff means it is no longer optimal to re-spec your stats every five seconds for each new encounter, so the optimal way to play is now also the most fun. That’s the genius.

          • Vorphalack says:

            @JackShandy

            Saying the MF penalty is targeted at ”the hardcore” is a strawman. Blizzard have never said that, and regardless of what your definition of ”hardcore” is, the penalty will affect everyone who reaches level 60.

            The fact remains that the MF penalty for skill swapping directly contradicts giving players every skill and allowing skills to be swapped at will. It just doesn’t need to exist. If someone really does want to swap skills for each boss, why stop them? Who exactly is being disadvantaged by allowing a player to pick what he wants from his skill set? By encouraging players to stick to one set of skills, you simply encourage the cookie cutter style of Diablo 2. A handful of the best skills will get picked every time and everything else will be bloat on the character sheet.

          • JackShandy says:

            That’s not what strawman means.

            I’m getting my info on Diablo 3 from this article: http://www.sirlin.net/blog/2012/5/3/diablo-3s-ability-system.html

            If there are a handful of skills that work the best for every situation, then yes, they’ll be chosen every time. I’m hoping Blizzard is good enough at balancing that there won’t be.

    • e82 says:

      To me, that is a reason why ‘respec on the fly is bad’. I think that building a character should require some choices, thought and consequences. Some builds should have an easier time in some areas, and a harder time in others – is it worth going all out Fire Damage, knowing you’ll have an issue when you run into groups of Fire Resistant enemies, or do you balance things out to spread out your damage across a few types.

      An example from PoE (although this skill is getting removed, I think it still proves a point). – I built an Avatar of Fire ranger, which by most accounts is one of the most over-powered builds in the game. They have one weak-spot – they can’t resist cold damage.

      I get to a boss that is heavy in cold-damage-dealing power – despite being OP in about 99.9% of the rest of the game – I keep getting killed in about two shots. So, I use up an orb of regret – unspec Avatar of Fire, kill the boss, then re-spec it back.

      In terms of the active skills you can use – PoE is very flexible, and you can swap those out at any time – and even the supporting skills for them. This allows for a great deal of ‘on the fly’ customization . But in terms of the passives – I like how they are going with the ‘respeccing is going to be difficult and rare to do’

  14. Ravelle says:

    I do miss allocating my own stats though.

    • theoriginaled says:

      You allocate stats through the grid, where is the disconnect here?

  15. trjp says:

    I really enjoyed PoE’s free weekend BUT I’ve really no desire to play a game where my characters will be deleted so I’m holding-off until they release it properly.

    Which, given the imminent arrival of D3 and TL2 and GW2 and – erm – when will we find the time!!

    • glix says:

      i haven’t seen anything saying they were deleting the characters… where’d you find that?

      • Koshinator says:

        There will be a full character/stash wipe when it reaches open beta (sometime in june is what they’re aiming at). This is standard procedure with many online closed betas, and should be expected with any closed beta.

        • trjp says:

          It’s also possible Open Beta characters will be wiped before ‘live’ – but we won’t know if that’s going to happen until much later-on.

          I’ll just hang-fire until it’s “done” I guess

          • e82 says:

            There have been a few dev posts saying that there will be no character/item wipes after open beta starts. Depending on skill-balance changes they might give full skill-point resets – but there won’t be any character wipes.

      • Nesetalis says:

        I’ve had 7 characters deleted or wiped so far.. :p its in beta… its ever changing and they have to clear out the database repeatedly.

        • PetroOmg says:

          Why do you lie? There are no character deletes in PoE, all that happens is that your character moves to a different league and skills get reset. I have played through PoE 6 times already and during all this time I have not lost a single character.

  16. Charan says:

    “This isn’t the hood-wearing assassin of somewhat noble intent, this is a butcher and purveyor of pain who, in his most naked state, could be mistaken for a sadistic surgeon, bristling with cutting and sawing implements, or a butcher, a torturer. He kills more for the pride of a perfect execution and the thrill of bringing about elaborate endings than for money.

    That pride has become a sort of arrogance, leading a client to suspect the Shadow may brag about his latest arterial assaulting accomplishments. That’s how he finds himself bundled on a ship and destined for the horrorshow that is Path of Exile’s grim, undeadly setting of Wraeclast.”

    This is really, really well written. Nice little Clockwork Orange bit at the end, too. You should be very proud to have produced that passage.

  17. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I’m all for broody, shirtless twinks in my games, but do we really need a weird harness to get that? Will this class be moving a lot of pianos or something?

  18. Fiwer says:

    I get that some people have to hate Diablo 3 because it’s popular and popular things are bad, but that doesn’t mean you have to hype up a shitty game. Torchlight 2 might just be a Diablo 2 clone, but it’s also probably going to be pretty good, so get excited about that instead.

    • Mordsung says:

      I think people hate on Blizzard/Diablo more because Blizzard hasn’t done anything innovative or exciting since Warcraft 3.

      Basically, once the mass exodus took place after they were bought by Vivendi the Blizzard we all knew and loved died.

      What we have now is Activision Blizzard, which is more of a reanimated corpse than a game developer.

      SC2 is the best example.

      WC and SC were one line of RTS games, each one taking the innovations of the one before it.

      WC2 was an innovation of WC, SC1 was an innovation on WC2, WC3 was an innovation on SC1… but here’s where the line ends as SC2 was a devolution of the genre. A step backward instead of forward.

      And that point, right there, is where the true nature of “new Blizzard” became apparent.

      • derbefrier says:

        Ecept D3 negates all that. its nice step forward from D2. I haven’t played SC2 but I would bet it being an esport has more to do with it being more of the same than the blizz/activision merge. Just look at counterstrike the games been pretty much the same since 1.6 for a reason. because the esport crowd don’t want big changes. Diablo is not an esport so I bet its easier to be a little more creative

        • Mordsung says:

          And when you make game design decisions that amount to Esport-viability being more important than innovation, you’ve become a bad company in my books.

          The art is always more important than the sales. Once you begin making decisions that put sales above art, you cease being an artist and become something different.

          And I played D3 beta. There’s no innovation, they just ripped off GW’s skill system and combined it with Glyphs from WoW.

          Look at WC3 for the last time Blizzard did innovation.

          Not surprisingly, it’s also one of the best RTS, if not best games, of all time.

          Blizzard is golden when they’re on the ball, but they’re mediocre at best when they’re not and they haven’t been on the ball for almost a decade now.

      • NathanH says:

        You do realize that the Wings of Liberty campaign is by far the most interesting and imaginative single-player RTS campaign ever made?

        • Mordsung says:

          RTS are like FPS. MP games with SP options, sometimes good SP options, sometimes bad SP options, but the SP is rarely ever the focus of an RTS or FPS game.

          I also didn’t find SC2′s SP that good when you compare it to DoW2′s SP. DoW2 did it first and, imo, better.

          • NathanH says:

            Oh, so it’s not “SC2 did nothing new” it’s “SC2 did nothing new apart from all the stuff I’ve decided I’m not going to count”. I don’t play multiplayer games, so I don’t care about their multiplayer. SC2′s single player campaign is good enough that you don’t have to play any multiplayer to get value out of the game. Also from the very limited experience I have had, WC3 didn’t really advance multiplayer very much and was worse in some ways than SC1, but that is very limited experience so I don’t want to stand too firmly on that point.

            Dawn of War 2 isn’t really an RTS in the traditional sense. I like what it did too. But ti didn’t have the “every level is really different” approach of SC2, which I think is really innovative and important. If someone is making a traditional RTS game, I’d say that it is vital that they played the SC2 campaign, but the DoW2 campaign not so vital.

            Also some of the highest-rated FPS games ever made are so highly rated because of their single player components, so I’m rather dubious about your assertion on that front.

          • Mordsung says:

            I would whole-heartedly disagree about WC3 being worse than SC.

            In my opinion, WC3 is one of the best RTS games ever made. I’d probably put it at tied with DoW1. (my personal list being CoH>DoW1/WC3>DoW2>SupCom1/SupCom2>Then stuff like TA and what not that just didn’t age as well)

            Being good at WC3 is like being good at SC and DoTA at the same time. It’s just such a deeper game because you have to macro and micro all the stuff of a normal RTS AND creep with your hero, ensure your item build is optimal, and then micro three heroes with 4 abilities each while also microing your units.

            Yes, SC does have the more complex macro, but I find battles are the fun part of an RTS and SC fights are sterile. WC3 fights were more visceral and chaotic, and CoH/DoW games turn that up to 10.

            There is nothing cool in SC2 like driving a King Tiger tank through a barn to flank an enemies tank line. The bloody tank shows up as a building on the minimap. Similarly, there’s nothing like a necro minion army or a nelf army backed up by walking trees. The only really cool aspects of SC2 are all zerg units and abilities, like creep tumors or other quirky abilities.

            SC1/SC2 just doesn’t have that same feeling of epic warfare.

            I think the reason why it’s more popular is because being “competant” in SC2 isn’t too hard. You can kick it around the low leagues and do okay without much skill.

            Being even competent at WC3 or CoH requires the same skills it would take to get to mid-high leagues in SC2.

            *In case it’s unclear, CoH = Company of Heroes. So psyched for CoH2.

    • e82 says:

      Eh, PoE isn’t a ‘shitty game’ — it’s not going to take the crown of ARPG-King from Diablo 3 – but it’s a very solid game.

    • chackosan says:

      Unfortunately, some people will end up thinking for themselves and somehow forming somewhat objective opinions, instead of following instructions on a comments thread. Such is life. I’ll probably end up getting D3 (didn’t connect with Torchlight’s art style), but I’m having quite some fun with PoE for now.

  19. JFS says:

    No other news today than this?

  20. Lacessit says:

    Oh that subtitle to the feature! What delicious-punnery/marxism! Will you marry me and have my babies good sir Smith?

  21. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    A free open beta weekend?
    And just now when I spent 10$ on this to feel like an elitist bastard.

  22. Chubzdoomer says:

    This game beats the pants off Diablo 3, I don’t care what anyone says. It looks better, has more interesting elements (skill tree, flask system, no gold — just bartering), and will be completely free.

    • UncleLou says:

      It doesn’t look better, but that’s admittedly subjective. It does look a lot like Titan Quest though, which is a good thing.

      I just wish they’d zoom out a bit further and would shift the camera a little bit. As it is, you’re basically staring at your helmet, top-down, from pretty close.

    • chackosan says:

      I hear ya. I like D3′s art style as well, but my colleague VASTLY prefers the visuals in Path of Exile, since he cannot abide what he considers to be garishly tinted paint jobs. Other games that have peeved him off in this regard include Torchlight and Red Alert.

      But yeah, great looking game.

  23. Arglebargle says:

    I kinda dislike the grinding through the areas 4, 5, 6 times per character. While apparantly a trope of the genre, it’s a corner cutting move that gets boring. Diablo has no special place in my memory, so comparing the two (Path of Exile and Diablo 3), I liked PoE better.

    Oh, and as I understand it, there were different camera angles or shifts available very early in the Beta, but they locked it down before I got there.

    • UncleLou says:

      “Corner cutting move” is a bit unfair – games can’t be infinitely long. There’s just two things they can do:

      1) Make the game work as a fun game that you play just once for people who don’t like the repetitive grind (which I am sure is how most people played Diablo 2, or TQ), so it needs to be long enough and at least somewhat challenging;

      2) Vary as much as possible. Random maps, mob placement, quests, etc.

      There’s really no alternative unless someone develops awesomely fun, well balanced procedurally generated landscapes, monsters and items. :)

  24. Kamen Rider says:

    My only beef so far in this game is that the hits don’t really feel beefy. It’s like they’re lifting the weapons above the enemies head and just letting the weapon fall down upon the enemy on its own. There’s no meaty swing with a BOOF sound effect or design spark or the like. The enemies don’t reel back in agony from the force of the blow they just endured. It’s just kinda like….this is what I’m supposed to look like when I deal damage so I’m gonna imitate it the best I can!

    • galatapus says:

      Wow, really? I have a totally different impression. I feel like the special moves are very aggressive and violent, with a satisfying meaty smack to them. The particle effects of spells are awesome too, as are the general sounds. Are you sure you’re not talking about a much earlier build of the game?

      • Kamen Rider says:

        I felt this way after watching staff guys video. And I hate to be one of THOSE guys, but it’s honestly what stopped me from buying my way into the beta.

    • chackosan says:

      My problem is lag, so swings and hits are often a second apart. In that state, it’s not easy to judge how meaty the attacks actually feel.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Rikard Peterson says:

    There ain’t no sanity claws? Let’s tear the contract apart. :)

    • Lacessit says:

      You can’t-a fool me!

    • Rustkill says:

      Wait, wait. Is the party of the first part going to be known in this contract as the party of the first part?

  26. kwokkang says:

    I know it’s worth it to try to date someone online, for you can meet so many people who can potentially become the one for you. Meeting the right one was not an easy job, but I found the one for me on sugarmommydate.℃0M, a place where you can meet people who are serious about starting a relationship. You can check it out, it’s a great site for ones seeking a partner online.

  27. LaserTurkey says:

    Is this man wearing a bro?
    He seems not to need it, all things considered.