Well now, here's a pleasant surprise. Diablo-but-possibly-better ARPG Path of Exile's been trapped deep in the dungeons of closed beta since the year 1483 - occasionally poking its head out for stress test weekends - but now it's finally on the path to real completion. Naturally, then, an open beta's right around the corner, and Grinding Gear's even gone so far as to give it an exact date. Unfortunately, that means it's going to miss 2012 - but only by the narrowest of margins.
Grinding Gear etched January 23, 2013 into the Internet's immutable archives, noting that it's only ever promised one other concrete date - closed beta launch - and that went off without a hitch. To coincide, there'll also be one final character wipe. Oh, and the long-awaited launch of the grim hack 'n' slash's entire third Act. Make no mistake, however: Path of Exile will hardly be finished at that point.
"We want the first few months of Open Beta to set the precedent that we react quickly to feedback on the game and add features/content that players want. We do not want everyone’s first experience with the game to be that nothing changes for a month. If any unexpected problems arose or the game became very popular in December, the support team wouldn't be at full strength to service the needs of all players. In the meantime, we’ll ramp up the number of alpha testers, community events and beta keys given away."
Which is probably a good plan, given impending holiday vacations and all that. Plus, the holidays are a time for avoiding your family by holing yourself up in your old bedroom with your entire gaming backlog. I doubt a new 60-or-so-hour ARPG behemoth would aid that process very much. If, however, you've yet to have a go at the closed beta and need to dive headlong into Path of Exile right now, you can always peruse Adam's impressions from a few months ago. Or you can ask Santa.