You – Yes, You – Can Play Path Of Exile This Weekend

By Nathan Grayson on July 25th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

This is, of course, only after the enemies spent many hours planning a strategy and smartly taking note of their surroundings en route to calculating the perfect moment to strike.

Weekends are such joyous things – so full of freedom and possibility, and utterly devoid of unpleasant obligations. Unless, of course, you’re an unreleased multiplayer videogame. Then your weekends are all about crushing, senses-overwhelming stress. Well, stress tests, anyway. This time around, it’s Path of Exile‘s turn to see whether or not its servers will groan and creak under the weight of the stampeding masses’ electronic masses. Would you like to scream, stampede, and stab many, many things for a good cause? Then read on.

The test kicks off on Friday, and you need only create an account and download the game client to join in. And, if you choose to do so, it sounds like you’ve got quite a lot to look forward to. For one, Grinding Gear notes that its last test went “really well,” so rickety servers shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Also, this is no Diablo III beta. You won’t be click-click-clicking your way through all its content in, well, three clicks.

“All of the current Closed Beta content [is in the stress test]. This includes two acts repeated over four difficulties (about 69 levels worth of content), our new end-game Maps, Default and Hardcore leagues, six character classes, approximately 70 active skills, 40 support gems and hundreds of types of items. The new Act Two boss fight is included in this patch!”

So basically, it’ll be impossible to get through everything. On top of that, Grinding Gear’s planned a few events with “prizes” (hopefully candy!), so even previous beta players who’ve already spent ludicrous amounts of time hacking and slashing both paths, exiles, and ofs won’t be completely at a lack for things to do.

The long-in-development ARPG seems to be shaping up extremely well, too, so if you’re looking to justify your non-purchase, there are reasons. For instance, the modifiable map system is a brilliant extension of gear-slotting in other games, and the skill tree… web… minotaur labyrinth looks as versatile as it is complex. Long story short, this one shows serious promise, so why not give it a go?

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82 Comments »

  1. bob2099 says:

    Can I play Path of Exile this weekend?

  2. yabonn says:

    I condemn you all to mentally replace the name of this game by its Anime name : “Patho of Egouzailou”.

    No reason I should be alone with this curse.

    • Njordsk says:

      failed on me, I can’t even pronounce it correctly.

      Though I curse you with spice girls songs for the rest of your day.

      • Chris D says:

        I misread that as “for the rest of your days” and now you’ve cursed me with the theme from Fresh Pirnce of Bel-Air.

    • RogB says:

      i suffered that condition for a long time with ‘batoru rowaiaru’ (Battle Royale)

    • MaXimillion says:

      You misspelled ‘offu’

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      No /th/ in Japanese. PĀSU OFU EKKUSĀIRU, wherein Ā is a long vowel A.
      Though it seems they’ve actually just translated the title to 流刑への道.

  3. Teddyman says:

    Beware, the game has always-on DRM.

    • Gnoupi says:

      The game is also playable online only, from what I read on their site, in a persistent world. So that would explain.

      • UncleLou says:

        There’s no persistent world. Always-online is as arbitrary (or not) as in D3. I didn’t mind it in D3, and I don’t mind it here, but the double standards you already see in forums are … amazing. But then you aren’t allowed to say that Guild Wars 1 wasn’t an MMO either, and had always-online DRM.

        • Delusibeta says:

          The difference being this costs £0.00 and has microtransactions while Diablo 3 costs £40 and has macrotransactions. I don’t have any really problem with always-on DRM when I’ve paid nothing for the game.

          • f1x says:

            Thats nonsense, to be honest,
            quality of the game experience is affected by “DRM”, its not related to prices

            I mean, with your logic when Diablo3 goes sale price, then you will mind less about DRM? DRM will be the same no matter the price

            On the other hand besides that, I dont think this or D3 can be really tagged as protected by “DRM”, I accept that both were original created as “online games”, what we can discuss is the quality of the “online” part and the quality of the servers

          • UncleLou says:

            That’s not a valid argument for me, not at all. Games compete for time/enjoyment, not the money it cost me.

            Besides, at one point, a lot of gamers *will* have invested money in PoE, or they go bust. They depend on people paying, obviously. Do those gamers have a right to complain then? Or is it their own fault that they paid in a F2P game? In fact, I already *have* paid money to support the devs.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            The difference is that Diablo is a singleplayer game with co-op options that then got turned into an game requiring you to always be online(there was no real reason for the core game to require it; you could have simply generated everything locally as with the last 2 ones).

            POE is starting “fresh” and offering itself to the world via the F2P concept from the outset.

            The main and biggest compromise of F2P is that you will have to be online to play it, even if you only play it alone. In exchange, you aren’t charged.
            While looking at it in the “playing it alone” mode, this still is a bit problematic.
            One argument you could make is that they are built around the F2P concept and thus differ from a “pay and get a contained experience”, which would be the tradeoff of giving away offline comfort for cost-freeness of a singleplayerish experience.

            Since they can’t just hand out free 6+ years developed games, you can’t just “be left alone with it”. With a game you paid for up front, you should be able to _expect_ to be able to play it on your own, alone, independently.

            However, once you move on to games like Counterstrike, TF or L4D, none of which have any point to them when played with bots instead of real people, there no longer is a dilemma.
            You can only match up against other people that aren’t living in your area via the internet, so having to use that is fine.
            The only thing you could argue over is that some of those co-op / online games don’t support LAN outright(but some can be cheated via tunggle, hamachi and stuff).
            But given that you always need to rely on something or someone other than you(either your friends or internet connectivity), its fair to say that the basic difference is that unlike a game tailored to SP, you have to live with the compromise to begin with, as that’s what the genre is about.

            Making SP games online only via DRM because fuck you customer that’s why in turn is stupid.

            TL;DR:
            Since they can’t just hand out free 6+ years developed games, you can’t just “be left alone with it” and not benefit them in any way(F2P thus “needs” you being online).
            With a game you paid for up front, you should be able to _expect_ to be able to play it on your own, alone, independently(DRM free).

            This is in no way a judgement over whether F2P is a good approach to all this in the first place(let alone whether you couldn’t also create hybrids, extend the F2P model, etc).

          • zeroskill says:

            ^ this sums it up pretty much.

            All the hate and mindless whine thrown at Path of Exile comes obviously from bitter Blizzard fanboi’s who vent their frustration over the issues Diablo 3 has, and the way RPS dared to criticized both the game and the company responsible for it.

            The only way those people are able to defend Blizzard now, it seems, is to throw dirt at other ARPG’s. Sadly, I expect to see much more of this sort of thing once this game releases, and once Torchlight 2 will come along. Sad really.

            As a fan of the ARPG genre I, for one, am quite happy to see so many of this type of game emerging. I guess I am in the minority.

          • Freud says:

            If I can’t play it while in an ambulance on my way to getting my spleen removed, then it means the game is poorly designed.

        • UncleLou says:

          Are you trying to drag down PoE threads to the level that made D3 threads so embarrassing to read? “Bitter D3 fanboys” are now “whining about PoE”? Where?

          edit:
          Replyfail, @zeroskill, obviously

    • Shezo says:

      Beware, it’s FTP too!

    • apocraphyn says:

      Oh snap!

      It lacks a real money auction house and a price tag for the game, though. Clearly not up to the standard of modern day ARPGs.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      And with that, I lost interest.

    • Didero says:

      Can a F2P game even have DRM? It’s not like you can stop people from pirating the game, since you’re already giving it away.

    • Dominic White says:

      The game has a $0 cost of entry and – so far as I can see – nothing that I’d even want to buy in the cash-shop. You get enough inventory stash and character slots for free, and they’re the only things offered so far. If they were charging $60 and had a real-cash auction house on top of that, I’d be far more inclined to be critical, but so far I’ve played maybe 25 hours total (on remarkably stable servers) and paid $0.

      • UncleLou says:

        “and – so far as I can see – nothing that I’d even want to buy in the cash-shop.”

        They say they will never add anything that gives you any advantage in gameplay, just convenience stuff (like character slots etc. which yu mentioned) and things that allow you to do cosmetic changes to your character.

        I do wonder how this works out for them, though, I guess they will have to rely on people liking the game enough to spend money on it just to support it even if, as you say, there’s nothing they *want* to buy.

        Might end well, might end in the servers being turned off in a few months.

        • Dominic White says:

          Never underestimate how much people want to look fancy in their videogames. The rather deliberately drab and worn-down look of PoE characters is an ideal starting point, as any kind of clean-up or bling will be hugely visible.

          Personally, I’d never pay for dress-up items. Just not my style.

          • UncleLou says:

            Neither would I, but like I said, I would pay money just to support it, because I like it enough that I don’t want it to fail.

            If it means I can wear shinier armour, I’ll take it as a bonus. Grudgingly. :)

    • derbefrier says:

      its not DRM if the game is completely free quit being ridiculous. DRM cant exist in a FREE game because the purpose of DRM is not compatible with a FREE game.

      • alundra says:

        Agreed, if the game is free there can be no drm, nevertheless, if I can’t play it in SP mode while I, for whatever the reason, don’t have access to the net, I’m not interested.

      • Freud says:

        It’s still as restrictive as the DRM in D3. I thought the whole issue was about the player experience and being able to play a game that can be played in single player mode offline?

      • Kaira- says:

        “its not DRM if the game is completely free”

        Wat. Being free doesn’t exclude DRM.

    • Xuebei says:

      The “DRM” is because the town zones have other players but zones are instanced if you are alone, there is also a global chat function which means that you can trade with other players or get given items for free from others. The economy without a currency and the “DRM” allows for strangers to give away things out of consideration as well as partying up with people you don’t even know. This is one of the most beneficial uses of “DRM” I have seen.
      You have the option for different servers if a 30 ping is that detrimental to the game.

    • Kitsunin says:

      I will say this in regards to always needing to be online.

      How do you suggest they make the game work, with a free to play business model (A VERY consumer friendly one if one believes its creators, I might add) and a heavy online component, without requiring you to be always online? Hmm? It’s still DRM obviously, but there hasn’t been an offline free to play game yet, and it’s not like they haven’t actually designed the game to be played online…unlike some other game, which uses a lobby system and has no interaction at all with players outside of one’s room.

  4. Kitsunin says:

    Just a few days ago got into the closed beta. Played a little bit and was VERY pleased with what I saw. Specifically, the difficulty felt really well done, just tough enough to keep you on edge, and to make taking bosses down feel really satisfying, but not enough to make you die more than occasionally. I really do want to play more, but I won’t as I’m worried if I do I won’t wish to continue once the beta ends and characters get wiped.

  5. Jon Tetrino says:

    For anyone trying to work out how the skill system works: It’s basically the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy 10 (which in my opinion is one of the greatest skill systems in the RPG genre).

    I’ve yet to play it proper;y – just quick goes when I visit friends. Pretty good game, really.

    • Calabi says:

      Its not the skill system though its the passive abilities. The skill system is by slotting gems you find into your items.

    • Vorphalack says:

      It’s no where near as linear as the FF10 sphere grid. That sentence sounds stupid, but the ”grid” was more or less a straight line disguised as a web, giving you the impression of more choice than you actually had. At least with the PoE passive grid there are multiple routes to an end point.

      • Jon Tetrino says:

        I dunno, the “advanced” option was reasonably open.

  6. Caiman says:

    I really don’t like this. I click to move my character, he pauses for half a second, then moves. I click to attack a monster, my character pauses for half a second, then attacks. I click to open my backpack, the game pauses for half a second before it opens. Why is my local copy of the game waiting until the server gets back to me before showing a visual response to my action, rather than giving me feedback immediately like most normal online games while it’s talking to the server calculating the result? I know what a ping time is, just most games do a much better job of hiding the fact there is one. Right now it’s like playing Crusader: No Remorse on a 386.

    • Dominic White says:

      Erm.. There might be something wrong with your PC if you’ve seeing visible lag, as the actual gameplay is all client-side, and it only actively double-checks with the master server when you’re picking up loot. There’s a fractional delay on grabbing stuff, but there should be absolutely none on walking around and hitting monsters.

      • singateco says:

        This is not true.
        This game was unplayable for me due to delay until a new Singaporean gateway was added.

  7. Sc0r says:

    been playing it for about a month now.
    All I can say is, this is what I hoped for D3 to be like.

  8. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    This just looks like grind, repetitive combat, crappy story… I want this. NOW. GIMME MY SKINNER BOX. GIMME GIMME.
    And I was hoping to somehow regain my social life…

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s actually much more involved in terms of combat and story than most games in the genre. The atmosphere is very much like the original Diablo, where you’re an unfortunate nobody who just fell into an incredibly shitty situation. It’s a really good game.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        Oh look, an RPS denizen who cannot detect sarcasm… I`ve seen the half-billion gameplay vids and signed up a while back, I quite like this game, thank you very much.

        • UncleLou says:

          I like the game a lot as well, but crappy story, repetitive combat and grinding are all characteristics of the genre, and PoE is no exception. :p

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Oh, look… a snarky dickwad with a chip on their shoulder. Shouldn’t you be out talking about how faggy emos are with your buddies, URpwnzedLOLz and Dr. Awesomesausosaur?

    • zeroskill says:

      “This just looks like grind, repetitive combat, crappy story”

      You mean just like Diablo 2? =]

      Yes, looking forward to it too.

  9. Zanchito says:

    I played the previous open weekend and while the game was lacking a lot of dynamism, it had very good ideas and a very right atmospehere if you want a spiritual successor to Diablo 1. It needs music and more “filling” in the maps (monsters, events or something, they just feel empty). Combat is enjoyable, mechanics are cool, and for 0€, it’s a no-brainer decision.

    • wu wei says:

      It needs music

      It actually does have music, are you sure you didn’t disable it by mistake? :) The music in the Church is especially comment worthy.

      and more “filling” in the maps (monsters, events or something, they just feel empty)

      That was a common complaint after the last open weekend, so mob numbers & sizes were boosted. Non-rare mobs have more varied attacks now too, throwing firebombs, exploding into sticky tar etc.

  10. fish99 says:

    I will definitely give it a try, but from the videos I’ve seen the indoor environments look a little cramped (i.e. the rooms are small and right next to each other), and the gameplay looks slower and less varied than D3, with less movement options (maybe it was just the particular class/build I was watching I dunno).

  11. Flint says:

    Do you always share your game with other players, or does this have some sort of full singleplayer mode with no one else around as well?

    • UncleLou says:

      You see other players in hubs, where you can also join groups, but the levels themselves are instanced, and you can play the game completely solo if you want without ever seeing anyone else except in the hubs/towns.

  12. SonicTitan says:

    The thing about Path of Exile is that it’s complex. I mean, really really complex, even for a numbers-heavy genre like arpgs. There’s nothing wrong with this – in fact, I find it refreshing after D3, which sort of treated me like a farm animal bleating in the grass – except for the fact that by necessity it slows down combat. In the case of comparison between it and D3, it slows down combat ALOT. When you’re contending with eight active skills and five potentially different potion effects in a game that requires repositioning to keep your characters alive, there’s very little room for that fluid WHIM BANG BOOM that Diablo 3 does very well. It comes down to a matter of taste I suppose. I enjoy both games for different reasons, but while I have a feeling I’ll be sticking with PoE for much longer than D3, right now the actual mechanics of combat feel sluggish.

    • orionite says:

      I second that it feels a little sluggish and it took a few points in attack speed to get to where I wanted my Marauder to be :) The most compelling reason for me to enjoy PoE is the complex skill tree and the really innovative itemization. Magical health potions? Upgradeable gear, Skill Gem combination and leveling. I think there is some real potential there. My main concerns for people trying to get into the game are the initially quite punishing difficulty and the sheer amount of skill options.
      Personally, I also have my concerns about the loot satisfaction. By that I mean, that because you are hunting for item types with the right number of sockets, knowing that you can just upgrade the item to a rare (using an orb) item, the satisfaction of actually finding a rare outright is somewhat diminished. Just my opinion of course

    • Hematite says:

      The regular movement is definitely on the slow side, but I think it works for the game. Once you realise there’s a dirty great meteor storm falling on you it’s too late to dodge it so you have to plan to keep on the move without waiting for signposted attacks. It’s fairly tactical because you’ll have to move differently depending on what you’re fighting. Also, walking is for chumps :) get a movement skill like leap, charge or the shadow walk thing at the first opportunity.

  13. Namey says:

    I’ve tried this before, and frankly, I haven’t been a huge fan. Pre or post D3. While it has some excellent ideas, the core gameplay isn’t satisfying enough for me. Especially the movement and combat feels slow and sluggish compared to modern ARPG’s. This probably isn’t a problem if you really enjoyed D1′s pace, but I personally can’t enjoy it in this decade anymore. Other issues are things like the camera being far too close for my liking, and the overtly large and complex stat/skill tree. And yes, it suffers from the exact same always-on DRM as Diablo 3 did, with all the related issues. (Except probably less downtime due to millions of people trying to log in at once.)

    • UncleLou says:

      I don’t know when you have last played it, but the camera has been moved quite a bit away some time ago. Just saying, if you want to give it another try.

      The combat problem you describe remains though, but SonicTitan above has raised a few good points why it is the way it is.

    • Vorphalack says:

      > ”And yes, it suffers from the exact same always-on DRM as Diablo 3 did, ”

      Not really true. It does require a persistent internet connection, but it pulls far less data from the servers than D3 during game play. That’s where most of D3s problems come from with rubber banding and disconnects, things that might never improve unless they move most of the data to the local installation.

      • fish99 says:

        That maybe true but it doesn’t make any difference to the end user experience. As soon as the servers have any issues you get instantly pulled from the game.

  14. derbefrier says:

    I bought into PoEs closed beta after their first free weekend(which was shortly before D3 was released)
    Its a great game. I have been pretty impressed with it and the Dev interaction with the community. If your an ARPG fan you should give it a try i am willing to bet you will become a fan. Just be warned if your coming from D3 the combat is not as fast and fluid as D3′s combat. Its a lot slower and some of the animations are not that great(this is something they are working on from what i understand though)
    I only mention this because coming back to PoE after i got bored with D3 the difference was huge in the combat and can give a bad first impression, especially since the game starts out rather slow in my opinion but it does get better and the combat gets pretty fun in higher levels.

  15. jealouspirate says:

    Not particularly interested in this one.

    The skill system seems to be full of bloat, complexity for its own sake, false choice and boring passive +% to whatever.

    • orionite says:

      The skill paths are only one aspect of the skill variety. They only have passive effects like increased weapon speed, health regen, critical, etc. Additionally, there are more iconic (for lack of a better word) skills on the passive skill page that have significant impact on how your char plays, e.g. Your char always hits, but never crits.
      In addition to the passive skills, you have skill gems, which are socketed into your gear and level up as you gain experience. They can be augmented by support gems in connected sockets. There are a number of combinations available just staying within the class’ natural skill range. You are free to create a Witch with passive or active skills more naturally found on a melee class. There are a lot of interesting builds the community has experimented with.
      You may be able to tell: I like this game! :)

  16. aliksy says:

    The lack of easy respec is the main thing I didn’t like about the game. People say “Plan out your build ahead of time!” but a. that’s not actually a lot of fun for me and b. often something sounds good in theory but isn’t fun/viable in practice.

    Other than that, the game was adequate. I’ll play it when it comes out.

    • Vorphalack says:

      By the time this game launches there will be viable builds plastered all over the internet, tested all the way up to max level. If you don’t like to experiment or make mistakes, google.

      • aliksy says:

        Unfortunately, I also don’t like just copying other people’s builds.

        I want to be able to experiment but I also want the option revert decisions that I end up not liking. Without starting over from scratch, that is.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          I kinda agree, although I don’t remember an instance where I’ve really used that.
          The question becomes how punishing the game is towards “unoptimized” builds, I’d say.

          Sure wouldn’t mind at least 2 free “redos” for any char I build though. Not infinite, just enough to feel safe enough to experiment a bit.

          • Vorphalack says:

            I suppose that depends how unoptimised your build is. Lets say you build a claw focused Witch, take a few Ice spells as your skills and dump all of your passives into health and regen…….i’d expect you to fail fairly hard. If however you build something more intuitive, such as a minion Witch with frost support spells, it’s pretty easy to spot useful passives to pick up. The game wont care if you put 5 points into an agility branch instead if an intellect branch. Most of the variation in characters comes from skill choices which can be hot swapped at will, so i’d say it’s harder to screw up than you might think.

  17. SkittleDiddler says:

    I got weekend access a few months back and was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it enough to play a character through to around level 25.

    I got permanent beta access after that and decided I wanted to roll a new character. That’s when I started noticing the flaws the game has — the environments are blah, the skill web is deceptively complex (i.e. it’s actually very linear), the combat is sluggish, and lag is a lot more common than it should be. I played my new character up to level six or so, and I haven’t bothered to log in since.

    But it’s a beta, so who knows where the devs are ultimately going to take it? At least they seem to be listening to the players, unlike some other company I won’t name.

    • trjp says:

      They’re completely revamped the skill map in the latest update – videos explaining why are on their site.

      Basically you can still do weird things with it BUT it’s harder for new players to screw themselves up.

  18. Freud says:

    The game has some interesting ideas, especially when it comes to endgame.

    But the zoomed in camera combined with the very slow and wooden combat means this will have a very hard time competing in a market where combat is supposed to be fast and kinetic. It does look ok for an indie game but you never feel the satisfaction of combat. I think they are talking about selling better animations and graphic effects for attacks for money in their shop, which is a bit bizarre. Those are the things that attract players in the first place.

    The skill tree combined with equippable skills with support skills linked to them, probably means you can minmax break the game quite easily. Which will either lead to nerfs when players have invested a lot of time in a permanent build or massively overpowered builds that are too good. I’m pretty ok with games allowing themselves to be broken because it makes for some interesting things to happen early in the game. The disadvantage is that it leads to a few builds dominating after that. Players always roll dominant classes/specs.

    • Vorphalack says:

      About the camera. A dev in one of the past beta events did mention they were planning to zoom the camera further out before launch. Hopefully they will stick to that promise.

    • Arglebargle says:

      For at least the last month, the camera has had adjustable zoom. At least for me…

  19. trjp says:

    I was a bit disappointed to see they’re talking about being in closed beta for “a few more months” – by then we’ll be post GW2 – close to the next WOW Expansion – entering ‘silly season’ – they’ll get lost in all that lot…

    I do like what they’re doing tho – if you want a hardcore dungeon trudger which requires actual skill to play – this is the one for sure.

  20. Arglebargle says:

    I thought PoE’s demo was superior to D3′s, though not quite as fun as T2. Some very cool ideas though. Given my dislike for grinding the same areas over and over (with multiple alts no less), my enjoyment of the game is impressive. To me anyway.

  21. fish99 says:

    nvm