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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Video Game Review: Path of Exile

I've played this little hidden gem on again/off again for a bit. It's a new release that just entered "open beta" from Grinding Gear Games called Path of Exile. It's the latest and greatest in in Action RPG genre.

Gameplay screenshot from Grinding Gear Game's website. 

It captures the feel of Diablo 2/Torchlight for all of the old school ARPG players out there. Same basic concepts exist - grind the same content over and over for random-stat gear to build and develop your character. The basic game story has your character as an exile that gets stranded on an island, and you play through three "acts" of a story to progress your storyline. Once you "beat the game" the first time, you then play through it twice more on progressively harder difficulties. Once that is done, there's a custom map designing system that sadly I don't have any first hand experience with, as I haven't gotten that far!

The new things that Path of Exile has introduced is some neat end-game content, a unique skill system, and a unique currency system.

Looks look at the items and skill system first.

This is a pretty standard item screen for anyone used to these types of games.
Notice the actual wand on the right has two "sockets" in it, that are connected by a link. Skills in the game are not learned - they are gems that you equip in to your gear. So this wand has a green socket and a blue socket that are connected.

These are the gems I put in to the socket. On the right, you'll see a combat oriented spell that I use in the form of a blue gem. On the left, is a support oriented green gem that splits my spell in to three separate projectiles. This allows you to customize how your spells work. Another example I could use would be to link a Fireball to a Chain gem, causing my fireballs to chain from target to target. Or I could link the same Fireball to a Pierce gem, making my fireballs continue through their target and hitting things behind them.

Also taken from the GGG website.

In addition to the skill gems, characters get (over the course of their lifetime) 111 "passive skill points" they can spend to customize their character and create a unique build. This skill tree is MASSIVE - far too large for that picture to show anything. So I'll just leave this link if you'd like to check it out. Note that the only difference between "classes" is where you start on this tree - so if you'd like to make a Witch than runs around with two handed axes, you certainly can.

The last new thing Path of Exile introduces is the currency system. There's no gold or other monetary currency that you can use to purchase things. Everything is based on a bartering system, both between players and NPC vendors. There are items commonly called "currency" items in the game, that allow you to edit the stats of other existing items. Because these items are consumables and used, it helps prevent inflation. This forms the basis of the game's crafting system, and has become the commonly agreed basis for trading. As an example, if I find a magic sword I want to sell, I wouldn't be selling it for gold, but rather perhaps 2 of one type of crafting orb and 4 of another. The system encourages players to actively barter with each other, rather than buying items from a faceless person behind an auction hall.

This is a very low level crafting orb that allows you to turn a basic item into a slightly more advanced item.
While it's certainly no Eve replacement for it, it does herald back to memories of playing Diablo 2 for hours on in end in college, and makes for a great game to play when I've just got 30 minutes or so to kill. And let's not forget it's free, so there's no reason not to check it out!

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