The Positive

Over the last few days, I’ve invested several hours into Path of Exile. Biljeznica, my Witch, got close to level 20 and finished Act I as well as several quests in Act II. For now, the game is still quite fun and I’m greatly enjoying it.  I got a few more respec points, so I completely shifted focus from minions towards fire spells. Once I get more, I intend to also drop focus from mana regeneration, since I’m really not lacking mana at all, thanks to my Clarity aura.

Path of Exile - UI

This “sword” basically doubled my DPS. It dropped from one of the unique bosses.

The Fireball seems to be getting less useful, with Firestorm doing more damage even against single enemies.  As for the Fire Run, thanks to a +Dexterity amulet, I’m still using and leveling it, but it’s becoming more and more obvious it’s really meant to be  Dexterity skill.

I also found a couple of gems belonging to a new type – the support gem. Instead of giving you a new skill, support gems add special bonuses to the skills they are connected to via a socket. For instance, there’s a support gem that increases the life of minions summoned by the summon gem it’s connected to. It’s a bit limiting and I actually think I’d prefer if they didn’t have to be connected to another gem via socket connections, but it’s still an interesting feature to mess around with.

 The Negative

The more I play, the more obvious it becomes that the complexity and the amount of choices are all just an illusion. There’s a couple of paths I can pick from on the skill grid, but once I pick one, that’s it – 90% of the skill  grid becomes off-limits.

Path of Exile - Story

The story is told in the style of Diablo 2, but it doesn’t really capture me.

The same goes for active skills and equipment. The game is old school both in a good and a bad way. Right now, I’m still looking forward to the next level, but I can see myself not seeing the point of it as soon as I realize my improvised build is not good enough, which will probably happen eventually, since I’m not a theorycrafter and I haven’t done any research in advance.

Diablo 3 and it’s “change builds as you please” approach isn’t the perfect solution, but neither is this. I’m not even sure that there is a perfect solution at this point, but the way it is now, I probably won’t play for a lot longer.

Path of Exile - Title Screen

The acclaimed Diablo-killer, Path of Exile, finally got into open beta a few days ago, so I decided to succumb to the hype and install it. Almost everyone praises the game and the annoying part of the fans also keeps comparing it to Diablo 3 and saying how much better than Diablo 3 it is, so guess what? I’m going to do the same,  kind off.

Is it a Diablo killer? That’s really a question not very bright people usually ask so I’m going to skip answering it, because my audience isn’t dumb. Is it a good game? Well, the first couple of hours are good, which says a lot.

Path of Exile - Start

I started out with the Witch. She seems fun.

I like the skill system, and I like the passive system. I also like the weirdly skewed isometric camera perspective and graphics which use modern effects but somehow, in a way I can’t exactly explain, they feel old school, more akin to the late 90’s ARPGs like Diablo 2.

There’s no money in the game, which I also kind of like, but I’m not sure how it will work later in the game. For now, you basically trade items for materials, which you can then trade for different items, skill gems or different materials.

Skill Gems?

Yup, skill gems. The classes are exclusively defined by the passive skills they have available, of which you can learn one per level by activating them on a huge skill grid, similar to the sphere grid of Final Fantasy X.  As for the active skills, you use them by equipping skill gems which drop randomly from monsters. You place these skill gems into slots on your equipment, but you can easily remove them and put them into another item, so you aren’t limiting your gear in any way.

Path of Exile - Town

The voice acting is actually pretty good, especially if you consider it’s a relatively low-budget game.

The more you use a skill, the more experience it gains and the faster it gains levels. An increase in the level of the skill means more damage, more life for summons or some other increase in power which fits the skill. I might be lying here, but I don’t think the skills get bound to your character, so it’s possible you can trade these highly leveled skill gems between your characters as well as with other players. Overall, it seems like a very fun system with a lot of things to explore. For now, it’s extremely fun, but as I said, I have no way of knowing how much fun it will be later.

As for the passive skill grid, there’s no option to respec directly, but you do get a couple of respec points from quests throughout the game, which allow you to reallocate a few skill points you’ve previously spent. You can also earn these respec points from Orbs of Regret, but I’m not sure how you get those. They probably become available later in the game or something. In any case, this to feels like it’ll be a lot of fun to experiment with.

Path of Exile is a Great Game

There! I’ve said it. Heck, I’ll even compare it. At this point, I’d rather play Path of Exile than Diablo 3. That might be because I played Diablo 3 for a long time, or it might be that it actually is a better game overall. I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do know is that I’m having fun with Path of Exile right now.

But What About the Game

I actually didn’t say anything about what I did. I picked the witch as my starting character. I went for extra mana and mana regeneration with the passives first, then switched to summoning bonuses, and recently decided to drop those via the two respec points I got from an early quest and switch to damage and cast speed. As for my spells, I’m mostly fire focused. I use Fireball as my left mouse button attack, Fire Trap on my right mouse and Firestorm as my first extra skill. On my middle mouse button, I use Summon Zombie, purely to have some meat between myself and the enemies.

Path of Exile - Cave

The caves are nice and dark, though it’s a bit hard to target the enemies.

I’m having a lot of fun, but it’s getting sort of obvious you can’t just invest points at random, since respecing isn’t as easy as with Diablo 3. It means I get to experiment less, but it also means I need to think more every time I gain a level. Fun, but different fun!