Why Path Of Exile is my favourite action RPG

I’m not sure there’s a more dangerous, time-consuming diversion in gaming than a good ARPG and Path of Exile [official site] is a very good ARPG. It doesn’t have the dynamic world of a Soldak release or the exquisite polish and crunch of Diablo III, but after playing for more hours than I care to mention, I’m still peeling back layers of the character system. In many RPGs, characters become more fixed as they grow but in Exile, a high-level character is a broader foundation for possible builds rather than a specialist.

There’s a major expansion, Fall of Oriath, coming soon, and I’ll be looking into the future of the game shortly, but before I do that, I’m going to explain why this is my favourite modern ARPG.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking every ARPG is pretty much the same, varying in flavour, setting and quality rather than design. Reading guides and reddit discussions about high-level play can be mystifying – a skim across the surface of any of the major players in the genre shows more in common with idle clicker games than complex roleplaying systems. Enemy health bars go down, hero experience levels go up, skills are gained, loot is collected. Through it all, the monsters get bigger and nastier, you’re repeatedly told that the stakes are rising, but there is barely any sense of threat or need for tactical nuance.

None of those observations are innacurate but the real shape of an ARPG only reveals itself late in the game. They’re structurally peculiar, treating the first playthrough as a sort of getting-to-know-you session during which you can figure out how everything works before increasing the difficulty and taking your characters for a proper walk on the wild side.


Path of Exile is a particularly strange entry in the genre. It begins with your character shipwrecked, washed up on a beach, and assaulted by the reanimated corpses of the drowned. You’d think that’d be quite the wake-up call but you can grab a piece of driftwood, tighten the knot on your loincloth, and lazily biff the bloated bligters ’til they fall down for good.

You are, the plot regularly reminds you, an exile in the worst place imaginable, and it certainly looks the part. Anyone who thought Diablo III might be a little too bright and cheery might well find the opening sections of PoE a little too grim and dreary. The beach makes Blackpool’s pungent sands seem appealing and if the lumps of dead flesh attacking aren’t bleak enough for you, a crab-thing will kick sand into your eyes for good measure.

It’s Holidays From Hell with a necromantic twist. Even the weather seems determined to make you glum rather than afraid; no sky-splitting storms to speak of the gods’ wrath, but rather a thin drizzle as if the gods have fallen to sleep and are drooling on the pillow.

‘Glum’ is the word I’d use to describe the first steps on the Path of Exile. It gets brighter though and the moment I fell for the game was mid-way through the first act when a journey through dank caves brought me out to a cliff-top ledge. The next section is beautiful, all the more so for being concealed behind that initial miasmatic veil down on the beach. Birds nest up on the cliffs – the kind of jolly seaside birds that would rather eat leftover chips than your eyes – and there is life and light rather than the constant stream of hungry dead.


I could take you through the entire game like this. As it unfolds, the layers of the world peel back and there are ominous moments, chaotic moments, grotesque moments, and all sorts of other encounters and locations. Push through the opening and you’ll find a surprising amount of variation on the overall grimdark theme, but all of the horrors and haunts are little more than backdrop for the main feast, and that’s the great machine that is the loot system.

What matters isn’t the way that loot drops, but the weirdness of the things that can drop. I’m not referring to weapons and armour, though there’s plenty of stuff to collect, I’m referring to the items that remix the areas you’re playing in, or modify the difficulty on the fly.

You might remember socketed items from Diablo II. That’s certainly the game where I first encountered them. They’re regular items – from daggers to platemail – but they have sockets in which gems can be placed. Those gems modify the item, allowing players to build custom equipment rather than relying on loot drops.

Path of Exile takes this idea and runs with it. Not only will you find many more items with coloured sockets, the items that you can insert in those sockets unlock whole suites of abilities that are then assigned to hotkeys. You can completely change your character build by switching from one weapon to another, or by wearing a new hat with a couple of shiny rocks embedded in it.


Class, you see, is a flexible notion. A big beefy fellow with a giant sword can morph into a fury of elemental magicks if he wears the right set of armour, customised with particular gems. Experience allows you to increase the scope of your character rather than his or her specific abilities, increasing stats rather than unlocking skills. The skills are mostly tied to equipment so as you move through the game, rather than specialising, you broaden possibilities, allowing for all kinds of customisation and skillset switching.

That makes the game far more flexible than many of its genre stablemates, and the customisation runs deeper. Areas of the map can have modifiers placed on them through use of items, which affect the types of enemies that appear and the kind of loot that you might discover. There’s a whole event type called a breach which looks like the most awesome unleashing of cosmic horror, creeping across the screen and bleeding out colour while it spits out hideous alien creatures. In many games it’d be a setpiece; here it’s something you can trigger intentionally for the fun of it.

The perfect ARPG is one that occupies me without demanding all of my attention. They’re the games I like to play when I’m listening to a podcast or audiobook, so I’m not against some of that idle clicker mentality. Path of Exile supplies that, happily providing cerebral background noise, but if I want to, I can start digging around under the bonnet and fiddling with its inner workings. It’s a game that lets me play at my own pace, and that lets me dive deep when I choose to but never forces me to engage with its more difficult challenges or most intricate systems.

And, remarkably, it’s free to play. I’ve never spent a penny on it, which seems awful considering how much time I’ve spent playing. There’s a whole microtransaction menu but I’ve never had to use it and suspect it’s where the true high-level players hang out, the ones who want the final piece of that unique armour set they’ve been finding scattered around the world, or really feel the need to respec until everything is just right. You can do all that without spending money, but there might be some grind involved.

For me, Path of Exile is a game of happy accidents. If I find a new ability, I’m delighted, but I don’t tweak all the variables to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. The beauty is that if I wanted to, I could, but as it is I can hack and slash somewhat arbitrarily, only occasionally stopping to fiddle with my sockets.

The same is true of the multiplayer aspect, which I’ve barely touched. I see other characters, when I’m a town hub, but they’re like the ghosts of Dark Souls, weird visions of the kind of person I might have been if I’d gone another route or found myself in a different walk-in wardrobe. I don’t talk to them and they don’t talk to me, and the game isn’t hurt by their absence.

I love Path of Exile because it rewards my time. Even after what feels like a fairly light and mindless two hour session, I can stop, look through my new belongings, and change my character or the world around him. When The Fall of Oriath expansion is nigh, I’ll be back with more thoughts and insights from the developers.


  1. njury says:

    This was such a weird review.
    I feel like the skill tree was mostly untouched and you never really explained what sockets actually do – the way you combine main skills with support gems to customize and completely change the main skills. Like combining a “Lesser Multiple Projectiles” with a Frostbolt to make it split into 3. The goal of most build is to get an item with 6 socket slots that are all linked so you can take your main spell – a fireball, a hammer-smack or whatever and add 5 other gems to change it’s effects. So what was just a single target swing with a hammer is now a fire-enhanced, AoE hammer-swing that will set your enemies ablaze and also detonate slain enemies.

    And the skill tree. The absolutely massive thing that is the skill tree. Most points are spent to get “+8% hp” or “+20 str”, but these are just stepping stones to the build defining key skills such as one that will make you use HP for mana, one that will enable life leech from spell damage on so on.

    And finally – what about the economy? Unlike other arpgs, you don’t use gold. You use gems (not skill gems, other gems). These gems can change the properties of items. So if you found a sweet sword but it has a bonus to mana, you may try to reroll that into something that will benefit you more. Or you may try adding more socket-slots to your armor. Needless to say it requires *a lot* of these gems to get a good result. But they drop all through the game, and since everyone needs them, it never feels like you are as dirt poor as you often feel starting out in arpgs, because you actually do find stuff that is worth something. There are a TON of different gems with different effects: Adding socets, linking sockets, change item properties and so on. Even a fabled Mirror Gem that will actually copy an item!

    Anyway. It’s a fantastic game. And the end-gamers don’t hang out in the microtransaction menu, the only thing you can pay for is cosmetics. End gamers grind :)

    • Faldrath says:

      It’s not a review, it’s more of an impressions piece where he discusses what he likes about the game. I’m hoping a fuller review will show up when the expansion is release.

    • p2mc28 says:

      A correction to what you have there – you use *orbs* for currency, as gems grant skills, and orbs are the item changers. Alteration Orb, Chaos Orb, Exalted Orb, etc.

      • njury says:

        So true. Haven’t played in a good while. It’s to time consuming and I can’t control myself.

        On that note it’s genius with the seasons. You can legitimately play for a few months and feel like you reach some sort of endgame, get a working economy and buy key items and the like. You can fully make most dream build come true without the need for being in the top 10% of hard core games. I never felt that was possible in other item-based games. Hell, even WoW with guaranteed drops require an extreme effort in term of guild and grinding.

  2. CaptainHairy says:

    Man, you really did never take too much of a look at the microtransactions, huh? :D

    There’s no boosters or armour or respecs, just pure cosmetic items (and stashtabs, which I suppose could be considered an advantage I suppose)

    But yeah, it’s the best ARPG out there right now, bar none. Looking forward to the expansion, and trying to avoid playing much of the beta.

    • p2mc28 says:

      The stash tabs are admitted pretty close to Pay2Win. They really offer a lot of power when you finally step into the trading community. And trading drastically increases the power of your character. Selling some junk unique piece of gear for 1 Chaos Orb, then turning around and buying an equally junk, yet useful for you, piece of gear for 1 or 2 Chaos, makes a huge difference.

      This all introduces a lot of overhead, trying to learn what is valuable (hint: elemental resistances + HP on armour is a good starting point as you learn gear), but man, once I got a grasp on trading, I felt like a lot of things opened up to me!

      poe.trade and poeprices.info (and of course the wiki) help a ton.

      • Daymare says:

        You’ll be dozens of hours into the game once you need those extra stash tabs (if you’re a new player). Buying 6 extra premium tabs costs about 16€, then you’re set for the rest of your play time. (Or at least I am).

        I don’t think that’s an unreasonable amount to pay once you’ve played an otherwise free game this long.

        • poliovaccine says:

          That actually seems like an eminently fair microtrans system, and one I wouldnt mind seeing emulated, if the damn things have to exist. That is – putting all your microtransactions, or all the appeal/ingame value of them, at the endgame, where players will only be if they’ve played their way through X number of hours already. Stuff that wont matter to the early game, maybe you have to be a certain level either to use it or to get its buff, whatever, there’s a million ways to establish that.
          That seems totally fair, within the scope of microtransactions existing, that is.

          Of course, I’m probably missing some glaring issue that opens such a system up to even more manipulability than usual, or somehow causes world hunger, or some such thing. But at a glance, I really like that idea.

          Well, maybe the fly in the ointment I’m waiting to find is in the fact that different types of games dont have a long, looty endgame to em. But then again-again, I dont see why the new Deus Ex needed microtransactions at all, hidden as they were. But in a free to play game, sticking em at the endgame I think is a solid idea.

          • Premium User Badge

            weregamer says:

            Actually, it’s more than fair, it’s practically a ripoff in the player’s favor. Remember that the game itself is (really, truly, 100% no-gimmicks) free.

            The microtransactions are in essence (and yes with the exception of the stash tabs) a very fancy way of thanking you for donating money. I am always astonished by how much development they can put into this game with absolutely no other revenue.

            I certainly feel morally obligated to plunk down a few bucks every few weeks when I’m playing, in lieu of having to pay to play. But if all the players were like me – play fanatically for a few weeks, put it down for a few months, and give them a few tens of bucks during each play pulse – I doubt they could afford the sheer amount of work (programming, graphics, and testing) that the game manifestly receives.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Sorry to tell you but the vast majority of players don’t pay anything at all. Cheap sons of

    • Unclepauly says:

      Are you saying I can play this at a bar? Called the “Bar None”? Or are you saying that none can be barred? Also saying something is the best, f the rest, doesn’t really sway the average website reading gamer. We need some substance.

  3. programmdude says:

    My biggest complaint is the end game grind, combined with no auction house. Fixing either (or both) would make end game much more pleasurable for me. I’m sure lots of the players like the grinding, but if there was an auction house then it would be much simpler to get the gear you need. You would still need to grind to afford it, but it wouldn’t be as bad.

    Additionally, the store only sells cosmetic stuff. I’ve spend some money on it, and sunk many hundreds of hours into the game. The only non cosmetic thing is inventory space, and that’s more convenience then necessity.

    • njury says:

      link to poe.trade there’s your auction house :)

      And it would be awesome if it had something akin to WoW raiding or at least some more engaging boss fights.
      But there are lots to do end game imo. It all boild down to slaying massive amounts of mobs but hey that is the game right ;)

      • hausser0815 says:

        And you can set a sell price for items in premium stashtabs and it automatically lists them on poe.trade.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      I barely played a dozen hours of PoE and quit Diablo 3 after ”maxing” a Wizard, but I find it absolutely hilarious that an endgame PoE (the self-proclaimed Diablo killer) player wishes for an auction house while Diablo 3 was crucified for having one.

  4. Faldrath says:

    PoE is the best ARPG around, hands down. The only free-to-play game that has made me a “whale” – Grinding Gear Games is such a nice and supportive company (check out reddit and the game’s forums, the devs post often and with very little marketing-speak), a true underdog all the way from New Zealand… I’m happy to throw money at them when I can.

    It’s also a “true” free-to-play game where you can’t buy advantages. I added quotes because there is one small exception – you can buy premium stash tabs that make participating in the economy easier, but they’re not mandatory. Either way, I’d recommend anyone’s first purchase to be a few stash tabs, at least one premium and one currency one to add a little quality-of-life.

    Anyway, an excellent game that is as deep as you want it to be – and those depths can be quite abyssal ones, so take care!

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’ve never played an F2P game and don’t like the business model, seeing as I’m a completionist who’d rather wait for the GotY edition to get cheap. However, PoE would be my first choice if I ever felt like playing an F2P game. I have enough on my plate already, though, without adding another game that includes something I dislike on principle.

      Still haven’t found an ARPG that’s as fun and well designed as Diablo 2. Some games have made improvements and fun additions to its formula, but don’t have the whole package like D2 has.

      • LexW1 says:

        Path of Exile has the entire D2 package, and then some, at least as far as I can see. I mean, I played the hell out of D2, in pretty much every possible way, and for me, Path of Exile is the only game, really the only one, which seems like a successor to D2. Every other ARPG has gone a bit of a different route, for better and worse.

        If you want to take a completionist approach, pay once never again, you could just get it, but one “set” of normal stash slots, one set of premium ones, and the currency stash, and you could then happily never look at the shop again.

        • ludde says:

          Haven’t played PoE in a few years, but back then it lacked a lot in its setting and atmosphere compared to Diablo 2, as in memorable villains, dialogue, FMVs and so on.

        • jonahcutter says:

          It’s also kind of the right-thing-to-do approach. Play a game a lot and you should kick its creators some scratch for their hard work that you’ve enjoyed so much.

  5. LexW1 says:

    I fairly recently got Diablo III on PC, played the hell out of it, farming TXIII, smashing through those GRifts and so on, and it’s a lot of fun, really a lot. There’s some truly brilliant skill and item design, and the play-reward loop is exceptionally well-tuned.

    But Path of Exile is something else. Something really bizarre and wonderful and creepy. Something much more subtle and strange and, in the end, I feel much more excited about the Fall of Oriath and the new PoE season than I do the upcoming D3 season, despite its cool additions and how fun the Necromancer is (and it is!). PoE may not be as clean or as brilliantly, precisely, designed in terms of gameplay, but the gameplay it does have is so diverse and continually entertaining and surprising, and the atmosphere, good god, the atmosphere. The music and speech is rather wonderful too.

    • njury says:

    • Daymare says:

      I like the aesthetic design of PoE far, far more than D3’s. The grotesque enemies, the twisted world. The fact that it’s not as clean is probably also why I like it more.
      Though I wish they’d finally implement an actual trading system, and not force players into websites.

      Caved in and bought Necro in D3, too. Not played in about 2 years. And while Necro’s fun, the core gameplay and world are already starting to bore me after about a dozen hours.

  6. Daymare says:

    >> “There’s a whole microtransaction menu but I’ve never had to use it and suspect it’s where the true high-level players hang out, the ones who want the final piece of that unique armour set […]” (I don’t know how to cite)

    No, you can’t buy items or level with MTX. Mostly skins for items and skills.

    I buy about 1 AAA game’s worth of MTX per year to support the devs and leave it at that.

    • heretikeen says:


      The article’s writer SHOULD take a look at that whole microtransaction stuff. It’s how you reward the game’s makers.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    I really liked waking up on a grim, miserable beach, and fighting my way onward with scavenged garbage instead of a proper kit.

    But then I walked into the flimsy, improvised driftwood camp, and saw ten guys standing around in glowy magic armor from the tenth mega-universe, and all that cool misery was shattered.

    Why can’t I just play singleplayer, and not have to see all these people standing around?

    • Daymare says:

      You can play the whole game singleplayer. Other players are only in towns, which you’ll spend an insignificant amount of time in, since you’ll be out slaying monsters. Your hideout (your personal hangout) belongs only to you, too.
      I like that there’s actual players in towns even if I go solo, makes the world feel more alive.

      • Unclepauly says:

        Lol you didn’t answer his question and basically just repeated what he said.

        • Daymare says:

          Are you serious?

          Because he posted a rhetoric question. So obviously I didn’t answer it directly.

          Because the obvious answer to his question would be: Because the game hasn’t got singleplayer offline. It was designed as an always-online server-based game instead.

          But everyone who knows the game knows this already. So the answer would be useless. The answer would be useless even if he didn’t know this particular game, because that’s just how some games are designed.

          Btw, you didn’t answer his question either, came in to lecture me instead. Funny guy.

    • LexW1 says:

      Just keep going until you get a hideout and you’ll barely have to visit town ever again. Those guys in their glowy armour can’t get you there!

  8. Donkeyfumbler says:

    I tried playing this a while back and while it looke quite nice, for some reason I just couldn’t get over the fact that the camera was just too close to the action and a little bit too ‘overhead’ (having played plenty of ARPGs over the years). I know it sounds odd but it just really grated until I had to stop playing. Is it still the same or have they changed the options?

    • Daymare says:

      They zoomed it a little farther out about 1,5 – 2 years ago? Also played lots of other ARPGs and didn’t feel it was a problem before though, so maybe I’m not the best to judge. I like it better now, anyway.

      (I should stop responding to every post here, btw)

    • gou says:

      i had exactly the same reaction, got neck ache from trying to move back. that and getting ganked by things just off screeen

  9. Herzog says:

    Not really on topic, but does anyone know what the makers of Torchlight are doing? Was hoping for a part 3,but I guess that will never happen?

    • LexW1 says:

      Main dev moved on, I think others have too. Main dev’s most recent game is Rebel Galaxy, which is a sort of “ARPG with spaceships”.

      • Sargonite says:

        Yeah, the founders of Runic left the company and made Rebel Galaxy.

        Runic itself is still around, working on a game called Hob that’s progressing regularly but doesn’t quite have an announced release date yet.

        • aepervius says:

          I *LOVE* rebel galaxy ! The music is really also well adapted to the game.

          I wish there was a rebel galaxy 2….

          • that_guy_strife says:

            It was a nice little game, worth buying for the soundtrack alone if one enjoys blues rock. So nice of the devs to have included it with the base game.

            Btw, they’re working on their next project – not quite Rebel Galaxy 2, more like Elite from what I’ve seen (FPS and multiplane),

  10. nimbulan says:

    Path of Exile is my least favorite modern dungeon crawler for one big reason: the gameplay is really really dull. All of the aspects that go into the combat (animations, sound effects, graphical effects, etc) are really poorly executed, completely unimmersive, and make the game play like it’s from the Diablo 1 era. None of the other game mechanics (and sure, it has some interesting ones) really matter when the moment to moment gameplay is so poor. I was REALLY excited for this game when I first read about it and so very disappointed when I finally got to play.

    It really makes me sad how popular it is because it makes these weaknesses (maybe they don’t even see it as a weakness!) acceptable to both developers and the community at large. We should have higher standards.

    • LexW1 says:

      Wow, it sounds like you either haven’t played the game since early beta, or have some spectacularly “hot take”-ish opinions, because there’s no legitimate way to claim that the game has really poor animations, graphics, etc., let alone “completely unimmersive”, and this is easy to refute by y’know, just going to Youtube and looking up recent PoE footage.

    • njury says:

      Or maybe you just think it’s boring but lots of other people don’t?
      It’s not like your opinion of something determines its actual worth or should be seen a standard for the game industry.

    • UncleLou says:

      Bit condescending, what with the higher standards, no? I think I can safely say that I’ve played pretty much every game under the sun in this genre, and PoE is probably the best.

      Hard to reply to your comment otherwise because I don’t recognise PoE from your post at all.

    • macaronies says:

      It took me a long time to get into PoE. When you’re starting out and you don’t know how to spec your skills or how to spot good gear vs. trash, you end up running around with a boring looking fireball that doesn’t seem to do a whole lot or look that good. I took me a few years of dropping in, messing around, and giving up before I got past that. Once you do get past that, and there are tons of good build guides and community video to help you along, it gets a lot more fun. Low level skills in a 3-link set up never feel great, builds tend to start feeling good once you get a tabula rasa or a 5-link. I quit D3 a long time ago, but I don’t remember any skills from that game that felt as good as Infernal Blow linked with Melee Splash, or dual-Obliteration Kinetic Blast, or just about any CoC build (even after the nerf!). Normal difficulty in PoE is probably too easy, you can completely ignore resistances and breeze through it in most builds with barely any gear changes, and its all a bit boring. The game gets brilliant once you’re around level 60 (which only takes a day or two if you know what you’re doing) and you can start hunting for early late game gear.

    • Truemas says:

      How far did you play into the game? Combat may seems clunky at first, but every build needs attack speed or cast speed and as you progress your character, combat gets more fluid.

      • zind says:

        This is the thing that really makes the game suffer for me. I’ve been trying to get into PoE off and on since it was in beta and I think the highest level character I’ve ever gotten was only in the 30s. In ARPGs in general I like trying different builds and I like playing hardcore, both of which lead to a lot of time spent in the early game, which in PoE is so boring and so clunky that I can hardly stand it.

        I feel like the meat of the game is something I could really truly enjoy, but needing to be well-geared and well-built just to make my character stop feeling like it’s immersed in molasses is enough to make me bounce off every time.

        • LexW1 says:

          Zind, I’d say give Fall of Oriath a go when it comes out (likely August).

          The game isn’t anywhere near as hard to engage with as it used to be. They’ve specifically and repeatedly tightened up the early game, made it more playable and rewarding, and you can certainly have an effective, smooth, even slightly OP-seeming character just with the skills/gear you will naturally get playing it now, and Fall of Oriath aims to improve on that, even.

  11. Lacero says:

    My (uninformed and wrong) list of recent arpgs in order of goodness.

    PoE. But the network problems kill it for me :( one d/c and your hardcore.character is dead.

    Grim dawn. I’m not a huge fan of the mastery system, and I think relying on legendary designed loot over rng loot is a weakness.

    Torchlight. It’s fun but maybe not enough builds?

    Diablo 3, I only played the demo but it was boring and seemed too sanded down and smooth.

    Torchlight 2. Really really hated this for some reason.

    • Truemas says:

      The network problems were the reason why i had a long Poe break, too. But they are gone. Really. I maybe had one rubberband in 200 hours of playtime.

  12. Epimer says:

    I played a lot of Path of Exile in open beta, but ultimately gave up on it because the end game grind was just too much for me. I felt I didn’t have the hours to spend on getting my main character to where I wanted to be, and as for alts? No chance!

    So I play Diablo 3 once every couple of seasons and miss the infinitely more satisfying systems of Path of Exile, but not enough to give up all my other gaming time for it. It’s a shame, it’s a fantastically deep ARPG.

  13. Bing_oh says:

    I played alot of PoE, both beta and post-release, and really enjoyed my time in Cairn. I don’t play anymore, and the reason really isn’t the game but the developers…particularly a specific choice of the developers : respecs connected to dramatic changes to the (massive) skill tree.

    See, I had a character I was building specifically based around using my own life as “mana.” That meant that my attacks had to be alot of life leech and aoe to keep me alive later in the game. The problem is, that character survived at least TWO major skill tree changes (post-release) where I had to essentially rebuild him from the ground up. With a skill tree (more aptly described as a “skill forest,” IMHO) that massive, rebuilding from the ground up when you’re working from a higher-level character is a huge undertaking. It came to the point that I simply didn’t want to take all the time to re-build a character I had been working on for months to try to get him back to where he had been.

    So, I’ve moved on from PoE. It was a bittersweet breakup, but it had to happen…I felt I was being abused. I’ve found another (Grim Dawn) who treats me better. Sorry, Grinding Gear, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    • LexW1 says:

      To be fair, I think dealing with that kind of thing is more or less inevitable with a game that’s still, essentially, “in Early Access”, even if it was technically released. Playing in beta and after release means you were playing through eras of what you surely knew must be great change?

      But yeah, with the way the skill trees work, and gear works, rebuilding a character could be a big problem, if maintaining one character is your thing. I think we’ve seen a lot less skill-tree redesign in the last year or two, to the point where I’ve almost been disappointed. They also changed how they do skill-tree respecs so it’s less “Hahaha we took away all your skill points, good luck working out how to re-spend them!”.

  14. Solrax says:

    I love POE and recommend it to people over Diablo III. Especially since it is free-to-play so they can see if they like it for themselves.

    After playing it for months, I ponied up enough cash as the equivalent AAA title would have gotten, because I really felt like I had more than gotten my money’s worth.

  15. Ravensbane says:

    I like a lot about it but some things I dont. Mainly how zoomed in it is compared to most if not all other ARPGs and also the currency system and the silly amount of orbs, shards etc etc.

    • UncleLou says:

      If you use a 16:10 monitor, it is zoomed in further than on a 16:9 monitor. Instead of filling the extra space, the camera zooms further in. I am playing in a 16:9 resolution on a 16:10 monitor – I have black bars at the top an bottom, but I am zoomed out further.

      Just an idea.

  16. BaronKreight says:

    It is a great game and Ive soent my shaemre of hrs in it. But. I prefer Grim Dawn. The biggest gripe I have with PoE is tgat in a ARPG in a game about loot there is so little visual gear options. You wanna play a character with a bucket on your head? POE is for u. Buying a few armor sets from the shop for a price of AAA game each is ninsense.

    • UncleLou says:

      Actually that was one of my disappointments with Grim Dawn – after the absolutely insane amount of unique gear in Titan Quest, Grim Dawn feels like several steps back.

      PoE is pretty generous with visually different loot, though, no? I am sure there are more than 100 different helmets, for example. And I am not counting cosmetic gear you can buy, just stuff you can find.

      >60 standard models: link to pathofexile.gamepedia.com

      50 uniques, the vast majority of which have their own graphics: link to pathofexile.gamepedia.com

      That’s not so bad by any loot-em-up’s standard.

      • Lacero says:

        Every legendary in grim dawn has a unique appearance doesn’t it? And the random items have different appearances, modified by magic stats for glows etc.

        I think the problem with grim dawn is almost everything is kind of gritty. You end up looking like a person on a tin suit 90% of the time either way.

        Neither of them are guild wars 2 or city of heroes.

        • Sound says:

          I think that’s a perpetual weak point for all of these ARPG’s, in their present form: It’s all so zoomed out, typically, that your character’s look can rarely be appreciated. They can modify the armors all they want, but it doesn’t amount to much. We have to zoom out.

          I suspect the only way to get past this are wildly stylized options that extend beyond just the small character model. And further, to make cosmetics separated from gearing.

          Frankly, I’m shocked that so few developers have learned what City of Heroes could’ve taught: people get an immense amount of enjoyment through deep, un-subtle, and vibrant visual customization. I always find it so disappointing when games allow you sculpt cheekbones, rather than focusing on big-picture style, like decals and props, auras and effects.

          In ARPG’s, those large-scale customizations are pretty much the only way to go.

          • poliovaccine says:

            That brings up a point I think of sometimes – does anyone else find the camera can make or break your ability to enjoy a topdown/isometric game like this?

            If I’m not able to pull back far enough, it feels incredibly cramped and trapped, and I realize my not-insignificant claustrophobia plays into that sense severely, but still, I might not be the only one..? If you cant zoom in close enough, I feel frustrated in a different way – like when your eyes refuse to focus, ditto with a camera, or like trying to read fine print from too far away. It’s frustrating to me.

            My favorite solution to that is simpy letting me zoom way far in and out. I dont need to be able to rotate the scene in full 3D or anything, but like… if I cant pull back far enough to be looking down at buildings, I feel oddly trapped and uncomfortable, and if I cant zoom in enough, I just end up straining my eyes inadvertently.

            What’s weird is there’s no specific, set way I like the camera to be, beyond allowing a lot of zoom in each direction. As far as the actual distance of the camera, or its movement, it depends a lot on the individual game what feels right or not. I guess it prob has to do w the “feng shui” of ingame scale of models, characters, objects – assets. Company of Heroes requires a different view than a Total War game.

            But ultimately, what I mean is like, a good ARPG or RTS camera, a good topdown/isometric camera, can have a good or bad “feel” to it, and good ones remind me a lot of the way a good *FPS* just “feels” nice to move through. I know for a fact I’ve played way more of The Guild 2 than the game itself or my meager understanding of it warrants, and it’s because I love the camera’s movement system. It’s even got a “sprint” functiom for your camera, straight up pressing Shift to speed up your camera’s spanning/scrolling speed. Feels like zipping around on the back of a bumblebee or something, kinda stupid amounts of satisfying.

            For myself, I feel like the camera thing is a huge, if difficult to articulate factor in the success or failure of games with this perspective. But I’m curious if other people feel the same or not, and to what degree? I think maybe my aversion to feeling cramped in is a little idiosyncratic in its intensity, but is it totally novel altogether?

            Just curious about other folks’ feelings on that.

  17. Mungrul says:

    I like it; I like it a lot. But it has one problem all ARPGs fail to address in a post-Diablo 3 world, and Diablo 3 is still the only one that properly sorts the issue.

    And that’s mobility.

    Every class in Diablo 3 has a mobility skill that’s used to get into and out of combat, and prevents combat from simply devolving to stand-and-tank or run-away-while-dealing-no-damage.

    After getting used to this in Diablo 3, playing PoE or Grim Dawn and not having easy access to a mobility skill seems like a massive step backwards.

    • Truemas says:

      And this is why you always have a mobility skill in one of your gear in poe, like whirling blades. There are many options for mobility skills (also teleport for example) , and they are important for dodging in boss-fights or fast-clearing an area.

      • Mungrul says:

        Ah, I must never have come across them on the skill tree. I reinstalled the game last night off the back of this article, and I’ve got a couple of skill refunds left, so I’ll see if there are any movement skills close to my part of the tree.

        • Faldrath says:

          No no no, movement skills are active skills, i.e., skill gems, that you get as quest rewards or buying from vendors (all female vendors have a second tab that sells skills!). They’re not on the tree. The most popular ones are Whirling Blades, Shield Charge and Leap Slam. There are also some situational ones like Blink Arrow, Flame Dash and Lightning Warp.

          In the tree you can find some boosts to movement speed, but you won’t find actual skills.

  18. Truemas says:

    There just simply is no other game like poe. The dark aesthetic, the huge amount of content and the insane build varieties through the skill tree and unique items. It is also not THAT hard to get into if you pick a build of another player that seems appealing to you and just learn the mechanics by playing and observing what makes your build strong. This game has really many surprises for you , because of its content it accumulated over time and every league feels fresh with its new features. ( the only surprise/feature you don’t want to experience are the explosive “volatile” mobs in the absolute late game that serve as a anti-bot tool, but i heard they want to change some stuff in that regard).

  19. Kala says:

    It’s fine, but I was kind of nonplussed when encountering the skills system that everyone raves about. don’t get me wrong, the flexibility and customisation are positives. It’s just for me it was like… oh yeah, it’s the ffx sphere grid… I am familiar with this :p

  20. Ivan says:

    When Diablo III came out, I loved it. Even in its rough, untuned, Error 37, blah blah blah stage, I loved it. I played a lot of D3. I wasn’t grinding, but instead I was using a random number generator to select my character and skills, grabbing gear from my stash that worked well with them, and then going out to biff heads.

    When the Diablo III expansion came out, I did the same — bolstered by Adventure Mode. But then, Diablo III became completely ridiculous. The entire game began to be centered around speedruns (Greater Rifts), and gear started to be handed out to you for free, which isn’t terrible in and of itself, but since every high-end gear set is oriented around using specific skills, rather than random skills (which was what I actually found fun about the game), I automatically lost interest. The power creep was also insane: before the free gear, it took me months to move up an Inferno difficulty tier (like from 3 to 4). I tried playing once recently, and I was able to go up to like Greater Rift 40 and Inferno-highest-level-ever within about 8 hours of play time. And it was so, so boring.

    Why do I bring this up here? To show that I am not predisposed to like PoE. I don’t like being locked into a build. I don’t like grinding. I like the combat mechanics and fluidity of Diablo III, which are not really present in PoE.

    And yet, I am very eagerly anticipating the PoE expansion, and will dump a fair bit of hours into it. In a vacuum, I don’t think I really like or enjoy many of PoE’s design decisions. The labyrinth thing is an abomination, for example. But, in the absence of an ARPG that actually encourages variety, the incremental progression of POE is more satisfying than anything else on the market.

    • LexW1 says:

      I didn’t play Diablo 3 properly on PC until recently and I have to say, it was kind of shocking how fast and hard they started throwing gear at me at 70. I tediously went through the story, and was almost too bored to play that character any more, so I went through adventure mode with a second character (much more fun). Then I hit 70, and it’s Rifts and GRifts (or bounties, but they become boring terribly fast), and suddenly I’m doing T6 Rifts and 30+ GRifts and then it’s line on jumpcut later and I’m doing TXI to TXIII GRifts (depending on how hard I feel like working!) and 60+ GRifts and I have all four sets of gear for my character and now I’m just leveling other people to 70 and I’m able to get the sets for them too… and I’m not saying it’s too easy, but it’s like, the path is so clearly, neatly, precisely laid out, and enemies and levels and upgrades to utterly predictable and undebatable, that it’s somehow unexciting despite the fluid gameplay.

      So whilst I am impressed with a lot of aspects of D3, I will definitely be going back to PoE, and actually rather disappointed that it’s likely not out until next month.

    • dr.denton says:

      I totally agree with you. Played PoE in Beta waaaay back and was put off by the rough art design (quality, not style) and overall clunky feel of the core game mechanics.

      Still, nothing made me feel like I was playing D2 again like Act 2 of PoE. At least in terms of atmosphere, world building, pacing the lot at GGG seem to understand Diablo much, much better than anyone at Blizzard.

      • Truemas says:

        If your last hands-on experience comes from the beta, you maybe want to consider trying it again with the expansion. A lot of things have happened to smoothen out the play-experience.

        • dr.denton says:

          Funny you should say that. Reinstalled the game last week and got my Witch from 12 to 40. I really like the world building, atmosphere, musical score, characters, even some of the writing (though, not being a native speaker, I can’t really say if it’s “good” writing).

          PoE’s world, at least on this first playthrough, feels large and mysterious and dangerous. Exactly what you expect from the Fantasy genre. Something D3 completely ditched in favour of camp and mass appeal.

          Something that bothers me however, and what might be a game breaker in the long run is that PoE commits the mortal sin of ARPGS: cast and attack animations get you stuck into place for far too long. This makes gameplay feel clunky and unresponsive, and it will kill you in harder fights.

    • Truemas says:

      I really know what you mean. Diablo 3 feels really polished on a mechanical level. And it profits a great deal from the idea that they dropped stuff like Hit% because the server needs less informations (if an attack hit or not) and “just” can roll down damage numbers (of course more than that happens).
      But if you liked a bit of the Belial fight in D3, you will find a ton of movement based boss fights in PoE. i really like this about the game.

  21. MushyWaffle says:

    I know this is heresy around these parts, but… I’m waiting for the console version of this game. I need controller support.

    This is a great game, one of my fave ARPGs, and played for 100+ hours. However, that was a few years ago and now I can’t play clickity-click-click games anymore. I have medical issue with wrist that doesn’t allow me to constantly be clicking. I only wish they would allow the PC to use controller, especially since it’s out in a couple months on Console but they already said that won’t happen… so I’ll play the console version.

    • SabreCat says:

      There are some quite playable community-made Steam Controller mappings for the game, if you happen to have one of those!

  22. nottorp says:

    Anyone happens to know if it’s now playable on Macs or Linux with Wine?
    I tried it on launch but it was going into slide show mode in more effect intensive areas. Has it improved?

    • Faldrath says:

      If you google “path exile wine” or “path exile mac” you’ll arrive at two huge threads on the PoE forums with lots of info. I don’t use Linux nor a Mac, though, so it looks like Greek to me (although I think Mac players have better results than Linux ones).

  23. LexW1 says:

    @Ludde – Yeah a few years ago, when PoE was new, it only had sort of shreds of a story/atmosphere, but that profoundly changed over the last two years or so, and it looks like Fall of Oriath is only going to continue that and in fact expand on it significantly.