Once upon a time, I was a Diablo 2 fan boy (I say once upon a time… it’s still the game of gods…) I played it for years after it was relevant, and spent countless hours farming for sick rare items, runes for rune words and camping uber bosses.
I did everything there was to do in that game, and it never got stale for me as I could just run with a new character/build and do it again. Or go Hardcore for the high challenge…
Diablo 3 was announced and my fanboy squee was everywhere. I was privileged to get into the Closed beta when only Act 1 was available, I enjoyed every part and could not wait till it actually came out. For those who missed the launch. The game was very different. It had a real-money auction house, no torment modes, no rifts. I enjoyed the first run through, and when I reached the hardest difficulty… Christ… everything one shot. Which was great because I abused the Wizard passives and was the only person of my friends who could do the upper content. The only concern with Diablo 3, was it’s longevity, felt… lackluster. Build Diversity became apparent that only a few builds were worth it. Only certain legendary items were worth it. My enthusiasm began to drop for Diablo 3 as the things I found enjoyable in 2 were not there. My eyes began to wander and I found the game that is… Path of Exile.
Grinding Gear Games, a relatively small studio, have created what most of the Path of Exile community feel is the true successor to Diablo 2.
It’s come a long way from launch, and it appears to be gaining steam in creativity, diversity and content. When you first load up you will have to create a character. Each character has a small bit of Lore and start with set items. Ranger will start with a Bow, Witch will start with a wand. When you start, you kill your first enemy and it drops a “skill gem” based on your character. You can then do the ARPG thing of roaming/looting/grinding.
It’s Free (With Micro-transactions)
It’s currently on Steam as a free download. No strings/subs/pay to win. It’s got cosmetic bonuses which are purchased to help support GGG. This is all.
Spells are not the traditional “you’ve learned fireball” but spells are equipped via “Skill Gems” they are then augmented by Support Gems. This allows you to change your build to a huge variation. For the ranger, you get Burning Arrow. You could add a support gem to fire 3 instead of one. You can make it chain so when it hits someone it jumps to someone nearby, or both? Travel further/faster/slower. Do more damage at close range. With over 100 Active abilities augmented by almost as many support skills you can really experiment, best of all if you don’t like it you can just change the skills. They aren’t permanently fixed.
One things that is super important to mention: anyone can equip any skill, as long as they have the Int/Dex/Str for them. Start as a Marauder (traditionally Str) give him a load of Int and now he’s a spellcaster. Each spell will need to be placed in a “socket” armor and weapons will have a number of sockets to them. Sockets can be linked and if you want a support gem to effect a skill gem will need to be linked.
Immense Passive Skill Tree
Each time you level up you will gain 1 skill point, this will be used on a rather large and overwhelming passive tree. If you reach level 100 and do all quests you have 123 points to use, however you want. You will need to think about your build and plan what you want to do to make the most of the tree as overall this is where a lot of your power can come from. When you reach mid game you will have reached several “keystones” these will change how your build works, or it will enable certain builds.
“Iron Grip” will make any str contribution apply to ranged attacks. This means that your tanky Marauder can now wield wands or bows. Or “Chaos Inoculation” – you are immune to Chaos damage in game, but your HP is 1. This means you need to plan your defenses around having no HP. There are so many game changing Keystones that it really does allow for a remarkable amount of longevity to the game.
When creating your character you also will have options to join different “leagues” Standard, Hardcore, Challenge League, Hardcore Challenge League.
Standard league is persistent. You will not have your character wiped, all items will stay. Death is not permanent.
Hardcore League is persistent. You will not have your character wiped, however death will cause your character to move to “Standard League” Along with all equipped/held items
Challenge League is not persistent. A Challenge league, usually, lasts 3 months. It has set challenges, a unique effect (such as new mobs/skills/items/dangers) challenges to be completed before the league ends. Death is not permanent.
Hardcore Challenge League is not persistent, it is the same as above with new challenges and effects and challenges to be completed before the league ends. These leagues sometimes have different effects. Death will cause your character to move to Standard League.
Several weeks into the challenge leagues they will put up temporary races. This is for the competitive people. They will only be active for a certain duration, 1/2/3 hour, days, weeks or even month-long. Usually hardcore so once you die that’s you out of the race (feel free to try again) They will have an agenda to them usually (20 minute Act 1 final boss) and first to reach that gets the top points. When you first play through the game, thinking about getting to the Act 1 boss in 20 minute is just mind boggling. Once you get into PoE you will learn all the beautiful nuances that allow it to be possible. At the end of races, points are allocated out and your standard league characters will be gifted with rare items with alternative art work.
There is no true currency in PoE. Instead currency has been decided to be certain items (similar to Diablo 2 Pgems/Runes) These consumable items are usually used to craft better items. However most people will use them to trade for other items. 1 Exalted Orb for 1 Unique item. An exalted Orb can be used by any player to add a new Random affix to an item. So if you have an amazing Rare item. You might be able to make it better if you use one of these. Just a note, over 1000 hours of play. ONE has dropped for me… So yeah. GG, GGG. This does mean that what each item is worth will fluctuate based on supply and demand. Popular builds and demand for craft can mean that currency items become worth more or less. A player driven economy which can be monitored on sites such as http://poe.trade/
Like Diablo 2. It’s got common/magic/rare/unique. A Unique is like a Legendary in Diablo 3, however they are usually more build enabling or risk/reward than Diablo 3’s rather stale “more damage” style of legendary. They offer a great benefit, but sometimes at a cost. For Example, Kaom’s Heart, has 0 sockets, body armors can have up to 6 so you do lose a lot. However it provides +500 health. Flat health is huge in PoE because it will scale off of all of your usually %hp increase nodes from your skill tree. so 500 hp will very quickly scale up to an added 2000 hp. This is very, very important for regen builds that will gear towards %health regen per second. (you can see how each build works with certain items)
Sockets as explained earlier is an important part of PoE as each skill can be supported by up to 5 additional sockets (maximum) A 6 linked item is super rare, but incredibly powerful. It can allow you to fully maximize the potential of one skill.
Common items are still useful. A recently exposed secret of PoE was how the top 1% craft in PoE and this has educated the rest to start crafting. If you find the correct “base” item you can turn a white item into an amazingly powerful Rare item with the correct currency.
There is so much to PoE that I could literally go on, the aesthetic is dark and gritty. The skill animations are well done. The story is evolving. The creature design is grim. I love PoE and it keeps pulling me back each time new stuff is added. When it’s free, you really can’t lose out. Try it and let me know what you think, for me PoE Is a solid 9/10 and I wish more people could enjoy it. Some people are put off by the complexity and challenge. For those, Diablo 3’s over-rewarding “Here’s 100 Legendaries an hour” is unfortunately what they are after. I can only hope that GGG grow and their next venture is as well thought out as their first.