Hey, Path Of Exile Is Kind of Popular

By Craig Pearson on December 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.


I think that’s an accurate assessment of the situation. Since going live earlier this year, the free-to-play indie action RPG has gobbled up roughly 4 million registered users. And while accounts don’t translate directly to people clicking on things, Grinding Gear Games say that amounts to just over 250,000 daily users. Blimey! I thought it would do well, but that’s an incredibly healthy number for them to build on. Shall we all pop some champagne? No? White wine? Still no? Anyone have fizzy water? How about still water? Okay, so put a hole in the cap and squeeze the water in the air in celebration. Sheesh.

While you’re mopping the water off your monitor (sorry), you should also know that the game’s been rapidly iterated on since launch. Patch 1.02 was only released lat week, bringing new powers, items, microtransaction baubles, and new supporter packs that act a bit like post-release Kickstarter rewards, with a range of cheap-to-expensive rewards.

With that deployed (and hastily withdrawn before being redeployed), notes for 1.03 are already leaking out. The current plan for that is to squeeze it out be December 11th, with a new skill, new uniques, new recipes, and passive skills coming. It’s nice to see a team excited about their game.

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78 Comments »

  1. Commander Gun says:

    I had fun playing PoE for while, but the somewhat clunky combat didn;t work out for me. Too bad, but i love their skillpoint system and their endgame a lot.

    • Baines says:

      I got bored well before reaching the endgame.

      It has some nice ideas. I liked stuff like the spell gems. But everything about the world itself is just boring. Story-wise, it never engaged me enough to even bother listening to any NPC or log entry. Graphically, the world just looks drab and dull. I figure that was intentional, due to the backlash of the D-game (and others like Torchlight) being more colorful and/or cartoonish), but it just looks bad to me. Even with different enemies in different areas, enemy design gets boring too fast.. Combat itself is kind of boring, outside of a few spells. It was even worse when I made non-Witch characters.

      The whole game feels a bit like a made-by-committee project, where the people making it had a more solid idea of what they didn’t want to make than what they did want to make. The end result is a game that has an identity that is as much or more defined by the game that it so adamantly doesn’t want to be as it is the game that it wants to be. And that resulted in a somewhat lifeless game.

      (My issue with combat being boring comes somewhat from the limitations the D-game’s standard mouse+keyboard control scheme places on action.)

      • Erastoinen says:

        > (My issue with combat being boring comes somewhat from the limitations the D-game’s standard mouse+keyboard control scheme places on action.)

        Ain’t that the truth. I really wish the genre would just get rid of mouse movement already. A loot-em-up with more Ys-like combat would be absolutely fantastic.

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          I might not go so far as to say the entire genre should get rid of mouse movement (although for my preferences as well as yours that does sound like an improvement) but I would like it if it was more widely understood that point-and-click Action RPG is only a subgenre. The genre started with games more like Secret of Mana (well, it started a number of years before that but I’m not as familiar with the truly early ARPGs) and took a while before there were any Action RPGs on PC because ARPGs are much more suited to a gamepad than a mouse.

          Di-blo was never the archetype for the genre of Action RPGs.

  2. kerbal says:

    I like the addictive and rewarding grind. Overwhelming passive skilltree and schmoove visuals.
    My favorite in 2013…

  3. eleclipse says:

    I really love the game but i also really don’t have the time to crate a new character everytime i want to try a new build or something.

  4. RuySan says:

    Tried it and found it incredibly boring. Not to say it’s a bad game,13 years ago I would be all over this.

    • UncleLou says:

      Heh. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what I feel these days when I am *not* playing a loot-em-up like PoE. At which point I usually stop playing whatever that other game is and boot up D3 or PoE. :-/

  5. aliksy says:

    Not a big fan of all the dead levels (where you level up and don’t get anything interesting). I think I would enjoy it a lot more if the leveling speed was 2x or 3x the speed it was when I played it.

    Also the core combat was kind of meh and repetitive, but that’s most of the genre.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      I absolutely hate how you often use the same 2-3 skills for 20 levels because you’re specced in a way nothing else works well enough. It makes the combat insanely boring.

  6. mouton says:

    Good game, loved some locations and music (like Chamber of Sins, Solaris Temple, Lunaris Temple), but in the end, it is an ARPG and I just can’t play them for long.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      I feel ya. I had fun playing with a friend through normal difficulty, but there’s no way I will grind out hours to hit max level or get elite gear.

      Also, only 2% of PoE’s Steam users have unlocked the Scion endgame achievement, which leads me to believe that a lot of folks barely played it.

      • spr00se says:

        Not quite sure what you mean here? Over 11% of steam users completed the game at least once on Normal difficulty, plus 2%+ on hardcore.

        Hell, 3.5% have killed the final boss as the scion, which requires at least 2 clears of the game ..

        EDIT: ah and “Free the Scion” at 16.3% at time of writing..

  7. reggiep says:

    Awesome. I’m happy for them. So we have 2 always-online ARPGs (D3 and PoE) and one offline, Torchlight 2. Everyone should be able to find one that suits them now. And we can all play in relative harmony…. *cough*

    • fluffy_thedestroyer says:

      You forgot the Van Helsing one

      • reggiep says:

        There’s also Marvel Heroes and whatever. I think I hit the big 3.

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          Well, the big 3 of the point-and-click subgenre of Action RPGs; Action RPG is a much bigger genre than just the Blizzablo-likes (and started before them too, the first ARPGs were on consoles, not PCs).

    • Moraven says:

      And Grim Dawn is in Beta!

      Then there is a few other low budget ones lurking around.

      • jrodman says:

        I should probably play the beta again. I kind of lost interest when they did more power tuning on my character only around 1/3 of the way in.

        It’s too bad my game+beta access isn’t transferrable. I’d rather give it to someone who would play it at this point.

  8. Gothnak says:

    It was worth it in the end ;)

    • Gothnak says:

      That comment made sense when i was replying to someone saying ‘My third attempt at a comment, let’s see if this one works’… Somewhat less sense now…

      I guess his 3rd comment was on a Path to Exile.

      • Skeletor68 says:

        Apparently I have been marked as spam several times now. I’ve made a post in the feedback forum if mod types want a look.

        Well, I think I’m human anyways.

        *Edit that was supposed to be a reply to Gothnak. I think I better retire from commenting for a while…

        Further edit: thanks for the valiant attempt Berzee.

        Note to all El Blizzablo 3 is now like He who should not be named so if you’re having trouble posting avoid using the cursed name.

        • Gothnak says:

          I think replies are broken as i also tried to reply to me… Let’s see if this replies or starts a thread…

        • The Random One says:

          It’s a little known fact that the RPS comments moderator is Consolación, a devout elderly Mexican lady. Every time you try to mention that game she makes the sign of the cross saying “¡Sálvame, Dios!” and promptly deletes your post.

          €: Also, you’ve convinced me to give this a try, and try to bamboozle my half-nerd friend into trying it along with me.

  9. fluffy_thedestroyer says:

    Except for the skill system is which fine and fresh, the rest of the game as been done 15 years ago…nothing is new. the genre is getting repetitive but companies are still trying to make em cause people still like’em

    • Cybert says:

      You’re talking as if that is a bad thing.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      Which genre? Action RPGs or point-and-click ARPGs? Because the former category has finally been growing in strength the last few years and includes games from Dark Souls to Secrets of Grindea.

    • theslap says:

      I’m not sure how you can say nothing else is new and fresh. A barter system based on crafting only certainly hasn’t been done before and is one of the major draws to the game for me.

  10. Lagwolf says:

    Sadly it won’t install on my drive. Bizarrely it worked fine in beta but not now. Sad really, because it was quite the enjoyable game. I just love the skill tree of excess…

    That said PoE is far better than the much touted Grim Dawn… aka Grim Dull.

  11. jaronimoe says:

    how do they make money off of this if its F2P but apparently not pay to win?

    • derbefrier says:

      surprisingly if you make a good game people give you money for it willingly. just to see it expand and not die. The supporter packs are apparently selling very well.

      • mouton says:

        I bought some minor support thingy and I don’t even like ARPGs much. They simply deserved it.

    • povu says:

      I hope this game does well. It would be a shame if a developer with a fantastic free to play model would be punished for making it too good.

      We need these kind of games to be examples of free to play games that are not only fair but also profitable.

  12. kalirion says:

    I played it, got my first character through the three difficulties, and enjoyed it a lot though some bosses took me way too many deaths to defeat. The final boss on the final difficulty – at least 30 deaths to whittle his HP down to 0. Had to buy more portal scrolls in the middle. Probably lack of the right equipment, tactics, and skill choices :)

    Now I’ve moved on the working through the rest of my backlog, but I’ll probably be back someday to try some other classes. But I don’t see myself trying the Hardcore option in this one… Hell, I wasn’t even able to beat Torchlight 2 on Normal Hardcore (another game I’ll return to … someday.)

    • dE says:

      Depending on when you played, I agree. That’s the reason I stopped. The bosses ended up as gearchecks. Did you bring at least xyz of lightning res? No? Onehit. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. And you are dead. And you too. And all of you, dead.

      • kalirion says:

        I had 75% elemental (though not chaos) res for most of the late to end game. The problem was likely relatively low armor & evasion.

      • derbefrier says:

        yeah some bosses are hard gear checks not all though Vaal Oversoul comes to mind(act 2 boss) people have killed him at level 1. A cool thing about PoE is you can actually dodge attacks, even after the animation has started(unlike other like D3) which means positioning and knowing the fights are as equally important as having the gear to not get oneshot. It is an arpg so gear checks are inevitable to an extent but I can now regularly get into act 3 merciless without dying. Knowledge is very powerful in this game and is more important than any piece of gear.

        • theslap says:

          well put! I agree entirely. Knowledge is everything in the game. Good gear is really only “required” when you hit the end-game maps and such. I can regularly get into Act 3 merciless on hardcore (currently Nemesis) without dying even with a few inefficient builds and junky equipment.

      • Snakejuice says:

        I wouldn’t call them so much gear checks but build checks. There are builds that are very gear dependant and builds that are not very gear dependant.

    • drinniol says:

      Did you pick up any health nodes on the passive tree? It’s more of a HP check than a gear check.

      Or you can always start a party which is ez mode.

  13. Loque says:

    It’s a pretty good FREE game, where you don’t need to spend money for it. I supported the devs by buying the $15 pack but I honestly got bord after I finished it the first time. There is something that I really don’t dig, I don’t know what. Also, the chat system is a spam feast and finding/trading stuff requires a LOT of dedication.

    • Fattsanta says:

      The thing that urks me about this game is how lifeless it feels, the world feels boring as hell and the lore and story were shit, which is not important in an arpg like the one they are trying to market, but for me.. I need that feel even if its a little bit, I just remember fighting a bunch of enemy sprites that looked the EXACT same, no different just a bunch of bald barbarians all surrounding me making the same attack animation, and from that point I decided that I would never play the game again.

      • Borodin says:

        lol @ “urks” :)

      • The Least Fun Human Being On Earth says:

        The lore’s actually pretty interesting if you actually take the time to look up everything in the game. The wiki has a summary though it’s missing a few things from Act 3X. There probably would be a better way to deliver some of the lore, but GGG don’t have the budget Blizzard do for awesome CGI cutscenes.

  14. Faldrath says:

    We do have a RPS guild in there, by the way: Rock, Paper, Exile. If you want in, whisper me (Faldrath) or TreasureGoblin in game!

    And PoE is definitely my 2013 game of the year. Amazing work by a small company from New Zealand. RPS still should do a WIT!

    • khomotso says:

      Do you all play Nemesis?

      • Procrastination Giant says:

        Regarding guild invites: whispering treasuregoblin might not work since that’s my account name rather than my character name. So if Faldrath isn’t online and you want an invite it’s probably ‘easiest’ to temporarily add me to your friendlist via ‘treasuregoblin’ and whisper whichever character i’m on at the time and tell me that RPS sent you.
        Regarding Nemesis: I do play HC/Nemesis religiously, but i’m the minority in the guild – Most of us play standard or domination right now.

      • boyspud says:

        Boyspud, one of the guild regulars. Currently I’m playing pretty much exclusively standard. There are a good few others playing standard too, as TreasureGoblin says, the majority of us are in standard or Domination.

        • theslap says:

          I’m looking for a guild but for Nemesis/hardcore primarily.

  15. vecordae says:

    I feel that Path of Exile is, in many ways, what Devil (number three) should have been. It shares D2′s dark, gritty atmosphere without relying on the overwrought, angsty melodrama Blizzco saturates their games with. The skill gem system is, mechanically, very interesting and the passive skill tree gives you a lot of freedom to build your character as you see fit. They also manage to avoid the problem of “dead levels” entirely by making skill acquisition and improvement largely independent of your actual level. There are still periods of time where you don’t feel like you’ve improved your character much, but they aren’t typically the result of waiting for the next level up. I also felt that the move from “gold” to usable “currency items” was pretty inspired. Plus, “Free” is hard to argue with.

  16. hoverpope says:

    I’ve been really loving this game; like a few of the earlier comments the bosses can be very spiky and frustrating but aside from that it’s a gem if you like arpgs. And the dialogue is so appallingly bad that it rises to comedy, which D3 never managed. The races are – if unwinnable by mortals – a neat way to get you changing builds and more fun than the usual end-game grind.

  17. Freud says:

    There are some good ideas in there, but the actual gameplay is miles behind D3. The combat and movement is slow and wooden. With Reaper of Souls having addressed pretty much every flaw of D3 I think I’ll wait for that.

  18. Shezo says:

    Just like D3 was jokingly called as Auction house 3, some call PoE as Path of trading.
    Loot drops and currency are balanced around overall economy and trading, so after cruel, somewhere in the middle or at the end of merciless, if you prefer to play solo-selffound, get ready for some disappointment.

    • jacobvandy says:

      I disagree wholeheartedly. I’ve found way, way more badass legendary items in the past six weeks playing PoE (little over 200 hours) than I did in triple the amount of time playing D3 since that was released. It’s literally a matter of dozens versus a handful. The nice thing about playing solo and not trading, is that you really have no explicit need for currency items — they’re just more of a luxury thing you can spend frivolously however you like.

      Not to mention the fact that PoE uniques actually are unique and often worthy of building an entire character around. I still don’t know how Blizzard screwed that up so badly.

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      While the approach that some people take to acquiring gear or even the way they look at gear is frighteningly similar to the ah in that other game (as in asking what unique xyz is worth first and foremost instead of wondering what it might be useful for, etc.) i do have to disagree aswell.

      I got more than one character into maps/endgame in hc/onslaught/nemesis while playing completely solo self-found/self-crafted and it’s really just a matter of patience and making smart compromises or simply being conscious of the particular challenges that a zone might present. And one needs far, far less patience than one might need to get gear for endgame in “that other game” – You usually only need to trade if you have something very, very specific in mind, buildwise.

    • theslap says:

      I’ve beaten the game twice all the way through all three difficulties on hardcore with solo, self-found gear with less than optimal builds. Sure, I died a few times along the way but each time I came back a little stronger, smarter, and with more currency to craft items along the way.

  19. khomotso says:

    I think it’s more of a character strategy game than anything else. You can spend hours spreadsheeting out new build ideas without ever logging in to kill stuff, and if that sort of meticulous planning appeals to you, PoE will reward.

    I don’t even think I’m much of an ARPG fan, but this one has had me hooked.

    ‘Path of Excel’ I heard someone call it. Wouldn’t have thought I could find it this entertaining, but it has been.

    • Erastoinen says:

      Basically, the only way to enjoy Path of Exile is to not actually play it.

  20. Biaxident says:

    Was fun for a while but ultimately unplayable for me because of the desync, Though the whole ARPG carpal tunnel thing was never that appealing.

  21. Yosharian says:

    If you enjoy ‘building’ characters then this game is great. Also the game is very satisfying when you kill things, much more so than El Blizzablo 3. Otherwise it’s just your standard ARPG clicker loot fest.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      I miss the days when “standard ARPG” had nothing to do with a clickfest. Action RPG means an action game crossed with an RPG; off the top of my head I can’t think of many action games where you move and attack by clicking.

  22. wodin says:

    Not normally my thing but I did enjoy and complete Torchlight 2. So may give it whirl if i has a single player mode.

    • kalirion says:

      It’s online-only, though you can play “single player” by not partying up with anyone. All the areas are instanced, so you won’t just happen to run into people outside of towns.

  23. Slabs says:

    Couldn’t get into it in beta. Gave it another go when it launched and it hooked me.

    I think the major hurdle they face is solving the desync issues, as the difficulty scales it becomes increasingly frustrating when you’re praying that the server agrees you are where you think you are.

  24. angrym0b says:

    I’ve been playing since Closed Beta. Still in love with the game. I’ve spent the last two evenings theorycrafting a build, and haven’t even rolled the character yet! My Cast On Crit monster will be started this evening.

    I play exclusively in a hardcore league (so Nemesis right now). I work, but my free time is being poured into this game.

    I really enjoy it. If you haven’t played it, try it (it is free!) and if you have played it in the past, check it out again. They added a lot of cool stuff in 1.0 and onwards.

  25. cdx00 says:

    I am disappointed by the fact that I had more fun theorizing a build for my friend who plays this game actively(and utilized it, successfully) than I did actually playing it myself. Solid game, though. Just not my thing this-day-in-age.

  26. Nenjin says:

    Currently got my second character in Merciless. I’m typically not the kind of player to do max level difficulties in ARPGs (couldn’t stomach it in D3.) But PoE is compelling enough I’ve got like 6 characters across all difficulties.

    The combat actually gets a bit better in higher difficulties, because you have to be much, more more mobile than in Normal.

    What really gets me about PoE is that it managed to do with skills what D3 tried to do and end up giving us lame ass runes instead. In PoE. you can mod abilities six ways from Sunday and change many properties of how they work. It’s not as flashy as D3 but I think that’s the problem: D3 was so obsessed with visuals it hamstrung their ability to do interesting mechanical things. PoE does that, and it’s why I’m still playing it.

    The game is in a good place and I look forward to what it’s extended future holds. Part of me still feels like the game hasn’t really reached the “epic” scale yet and I’m curious to see what that looks like.

  27. hery8us says:

    Abby. although Denise`s story is flabbergasting… on wednesday I got themselves a Land Rover Defender from bringing in $9333 this last month an would you believe ten-grand this past month. it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I’ve ever had. I started this 9-months ago and pretty much straight away startad earning over $87… p/h. try here http://goo.gl/f6e95V

  28. glix says:

    I liked the game enough to spend money on it even though I didn’t have to. That should say something.

    Though that was when they had premium stash tabs on sale and wow I hoard equipment a lot and having 6 extra tabs was definitely worth it when I have 5 characters.

    • Horg says:

      Even if you only have one character, the extra tabs are a good investment. A lot of the most useful crafting recipes require you to simultaneously vend a specific combination of items, such as full set of rare gear, or multiple 20% quality items of the same class. Hoarding gear to make those recipes work will quickly fill up the default tabs.

  29. khomotso says:

    Or, better put, the play is bigger than the playing.

  30. lili says:

    Warning: OCD crisis.

  31. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It has some interesting aspects, but I can’t shake off its slightly clunky, samey feel. I also wonder if we’re hitting some kind of saturation point with these mana/health-lootgathering-ARPGs, I’m not sure.

    It doesn’t have a smidgen of the character & soul of Torchlight 2. It’s just a by-the-numbers mechanical system, with a couple of admittedly decent features buried within. No charm or finesse at all.

  32. Frank says:

    This game wins the prize for least memorable name. I always get it mixed up with Depths of Peril….so ridiculously generic.

  33. UncleLou says:

    My theory is that RPS bought a cheap spam and profanity filter from the Mexican Catholic Church.