On The Beta Track: Path Of Exile

We last wrote about online-only, free-to-play ARPG Path of Exile in April and it was already looking like an interesting proposition. It’s in closed beta now and there’s a terribly agonising countdown clock on the website to inform the world of when another lucky player will be allowed in. It’s like a cruel competition that I never win. Has anyone had any luck and if so can you bring back any reports from the entirely lootable dark and gritty world (that’s the official description) in which you have found yourself? There’s several feature length films worth of beta footage after the jump as well as a trailer for the Templar class.

It looks a lot like Diablo the first in 3D. Unlike Blizzard’s new offering and Torchlight, wherein puppies and unicorns are the order of the day, Path of Exile is set in the kind of world where a rainbow would probably be covered in spikes and blood. And it would growl at you and actually be an angry yet multihued demon-faced skybastard, not a rainbow at all.

Despite having a PVP element, the developers have repeatedly stated that though free-to-play this will not be a pay-to-win game. Instead, it’s a pay-to-be-pretty game, with a raft of aesthetic options available for a bit of coin. This is particularly impressive given the apparent depth and customisation offered through the skill tree. It would have been easy to lock off pathways and combinations behind a wall penetrated only by a credit card, but that’s not the case. The whole twisted skill tree, which is more web than tree, is available to everyone. There’s a picture of it here. I don’t know whether to be impressed or intimidated. Both, most likely. Intimipressed. Or terrifroused.

Although there is a class system, with six to pick from, every character can unlock the skills of his or her choosing. Different classes are more suited to certain paths (of exile) but they’re not locked down. The level cap is currently set at 100, which sounds like a lot. Obviously, it’s not necessarily a lot. It’s an arbitrary number and if it takes two minutes to earn a level, 100 is suddenly an exceedingly rubbishy arbitrary number. But fear not. Grinding Gear claim that it’d be possible to improve a single character “for years on end”.

If you sign up for the beta now, you could still get in before it opens up to everyone in the near future. The people picked for the closed beta are being randomly selected from all those who signed up. No first come first served here.

Oh, and here’s that beta footage. I’m not going to pretend I’ve watched it all so hopefully it doesn’t contradict everything I’ve written.


  1. Frapple says:

    Putting aside a couple fivers a month to spend on this, love the Action RPG genre – will support it anyway I can!

    • Nesetalis says:

      yes! with the sadness that is diablo III… i was kinda depressed… excited for torchlight II, but still… then when I saw this, I squeeed for joy, I can’t wait for either a beta key or to get it released!

      and all those folks who are saying “yeah D3 has always online, this always online is way better!”:
      A) I don’t have to pay up front for it.
      B) Diablo was mostly multiplayer for me after I got an internet connection, but diablo II i played mostly local lan or offline.
      C) It is not the diablo I loved, its not even made by the same people, just the brand name cashing in on the franchise. This is new IP, this is something different and a bettering (i think) of the genra. And hey, there is something nearly sexual about those little pearls of materia from FF7, i was a teen when i spent 3 months on that game… this game brings back that same feeling of joy.

  2. DevilSShadoW says:

    RPS friend and general tophat awesomeguy TotalBiscuit did a “WTF is” a couple of days ago. Check it out?

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      A good video.

      What happened to TB’s videos being featured now and again on RPS?

    • Askeladd says:

      You are right ReV_VAdAUL, I can remember something like that too.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      We want Spotlight on Biscuit! Was it Quinns who did that series? I miss it very much, I never heard about TB before that, now I’m checking YouTube every 10 minutes to check for new videos.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      I’ll add my voice to the general “yer, what’s up with that?”

    • westyfield says:

      With DevilSShadoW posting the video, and Adam Smith writing about the game, we could chat about biscuits here and have our own Spotlight on Biscuit.
      Jammy Dodgers: go!

    • Nick says:

      You know where to find the videos, don’t need to be here.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I’m rather partial to chocolate hobnobs.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      @ Nick

      Fair point I guess.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      But I don’t know where to find the biscuits! (Honestly, wasn’t that what most people were interested in? Who cares about some electronic lights and beeps when you can have COOKIES!)

    • Koozer says:

      In complete seriousness I preferred the biscuit discussions to the videos. Bring them back!

  3. Text_Fish says:

    Looks more “Light and Gritty” to me.

  4. Abundant_Suede says:

    This is an “online only” ARPG I will be playing instead of Diablo 3, to protest D3’s “always online” requirement.

  5. Dakia says:

    Looks a hell of a lot like what I expected D3 to look like: dark, bloody, and scary as hell.

    I’m sold.

  6. Askeladd says:

    Longest gameplay footage yet: link to youtube.com
    He plays like a sissy but thats probably just his style of making his videos more interesting.

    I’m somewhere around part 7

  7. Abundant_Suede says:

    Anyone else think “Grinding Gear” is a rather unfortunate name for a developer trying to sell you on their action RPG being fun?

    Maybe “Potion Spam”, “Spawn Camping”, and “Repetitive Quests” were taken.

  8. Freud says:

    I shy away from F2P games because I always assume they will be more or less unplayable unless you turn into a cash cow. So basically I never even give them a chance because I assume some devious mechanic will kick in when I am 20 hours in.

    • Bremze says:

      Do you also never leave home in fear of being smitten by an angry deity of your choosing?

    • Freud says:

      My concern isn’t completely without basis in reality. Many of these games start out with the mantra that only cosmetics will be charged for and then they realize sooner rather than later that they can’t support the game that way and start charging for gameplay advantages.

      And with all these sales on games I’ll never run out of stuff to play as it is without having to wade into the F2P swamp and gambling on them being able to support themselves with hats.

    • Barnaby says:

      But, it’s not really gambling if it’s free, right? If they start charging money for non-aesthetic stuff then stop playing. :)

    • Koozer says:

      I shy away from reading books because Dan Brown and Andy McNab exist.

      (PS. that was a joke.)

  9. elfbarf says:

    I’ve been in beta for roughly a month and they’re currently working on quite a bit though I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be posting too much info about it outside of the beta forums. I can tell you however that most of the gameplay videos you’ve seen are most likely a bit out-dated as they’ve completely revamped the UI a few weeks ago (it looks significantly better now).

    They’re currently giving out random keys to people who are in beta so I’ll be sure to hook RPS up with a key if I ever get one.

    edit: TotalBiscuit’s video is fairly recent and was posted above.

  10. Teronfel says:

    Looks goooood

  11. squareking says:

    Undoubtedly the brightest dungeon room floor in existence.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      I can’t tell if the people on the tables are torture victims, or they just forgot to wear sufficient SPF.

  12. sirtoggle says:

    I wonder if at the end you trap the bad guy in a crystal and shove him in your forehead.

  13. JohnnyMaverik says:

    “It’s like a cruel competition that I never win.”

    I know exactly how you feel :'(

    Edit: It’s especially annoying how they tell you the next person to be given access. It’s like it’s saying “the last person to be granted beta access wasn’t you, and in 10 minutes it still won’t be you!”

  14. promenad says:

    I’m in this since day one of closed beta and so far it’s everything I’d like D3 to be. There’s no auction house, I can (and have) mess up characters and it doesn’t look like Deathspank. There are a few kinks and a few acts left to work out, but I’m really looking forward to the finished product.

  15. pakoito says:

    I’m not intimidated by the skill tree, most skills are duplicated all over it so instead of leveling More Mana 1/10 for the first ten levels you go More Mana-> Faster Casting-> More Mana-> Extra Perk-> More Mana following the branch you want until that final killer passive.

    Loving the “active skills on gems, modifiers to active in other gems and level up by use” system.

  16. icupnimpn2 says:

    Can’t get enough naked, mutilated corpses! Thanks for the heads up, RPS!

  17. cliffski says:

    Am i the only person unable to watch that? More than 2 scene-cuts per second and my brain switches off. It’s like a blipvert. More and more TV and movie trailers are going this way too :(

    • icupnimpn2 says:

      Even worse, it looks like the characters are directly controlled by the player.

  18. Jason Moyer says:

    Looks like Grim Dawn, but less awesome.

  19. Stormbane says:

    Grinding Gear is one of the few kiwi game makers. I very much doubt they have any sort of marketing budget and as such articles like this must be immensely helpful for them. I hope they make a but-load of money! :)

  20. Karol says:

    I’m glad to see Lumin is getting some attention – Lumin is the guy playing in the video – he also has nice news videos coming out weekly about the Starcraft, Diablo and Warcraft scene, not to mention the fact that he’s an all-around cool guy.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Are you Lumin?

    • empfeix says:

      Yes!! I was also so excited that Lumin’s video was linked. He is hilarious and his commentary while playing is often great. He is the most excitable gamer ever its so awesome.

      More people need to know about all the hard work he does putting out content.

  21. BathroomCitizen says:

    Diablo 1, is that you?!

    When the character slammed the zombies with his stick I kind of felt like being thrown back in the Tristram monastery.

    Now all we need is the cool music guy that made Diablo’s score.

  22. Eynonz says:

    Wow that screenshot with the giant pool of blood looked deliciously dark! …. Now to get my refreshments for tonight’s entertainment, The beta timer! XD (Im sad)

  23. Psyphe says:

    Long time reader but a first time poster :D
    This is looking to be a mighty fine game in the works, don’t know if anyone’s played FFX but the skill system looked similar to the sphere grid system which I know I’ll lose countless hours just staring at :P.

    All in all, G’day from Australia everyone :D

  24. Davie says:

    Well, shit, Blizzard, now absolutely no one who has any problem with Diablo 3, up to and including it costing money, has any reason to buy your game! That puts you in an unfortunate position and me in an excellent one.

    My point is that this looks rather great. I’m sold.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      The major complaints against D3 are that it’s online-only, and the cash shop. This is another online-only ARPG… with a cash shop.

      People may enjoy this game on its own merits, but I doubt they’ll be looking at it as a Diablo 3 alternative for any reason other than the F2P angle, which we know is pretty dicey, and they’ll have a lot to prove. Say what you want about Blizzard, but everyone is pretty confident they’ll deliver a polished game.

      There are far better ARPGs coming down the pipe to choose over D3 based on their comparative lack of alienating features, by proven developers.

  25. etusa says:

    ForceSC2strategy is a great commentator on youtube who has done like 10 parts of beta footage of this game. If someone’s interested, he has also plenty of videos about D3 and obviously SC2. And some other games too.

    • empfeix says:

      good call, that channel and Lumin (guy from last video) are my two favourite blizzard related youtube channels

  26. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    That voice acting is terrible

  27. Vexing Vision says:

    In love with the skill-tree. SO sold.

  28. Batman64 says:

    It’s a shame that pretty, white marble floor is not in the Beta.

    They say that the Clvl cap is 100, but there are some Clvl 51+ characters around. This is impressive when you consider that there are only two acts in the Beta, and they are not complete yet.
    Also, there is another character class coming soon. This is not a “Blizzard” soon, this has a real timeline!!

    And another thing, that passive skill tree isn’t finished yet…………….

    The Path of Exile Beta Manifesto is a good read:-
    link to pathofexile.com

  29. Comptess says:

    I got lucky & got a key. I’ve put a first impressions post up here Path of Exile First Impressions. Will post some screenshots and further notes as I get the time.