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Game Review: Path of Exile (Video) 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the smashing-monsters-in-the-face dept.
What ever happened to point-and-click action role-playing games? Blizzard set the standard for this genre around the turn of the century, and while a few companies have launched Diablo clones, it's been a pretty quiet market. Several years ago, a group of hardcore gamers decided to change that. They put together an independent game studio and began developing Path of Exile, an ARPG that would update and refine all of the characteristics that made the genre great. On 23 October, after a lengthy open beta period, they launched the game, opting for a free-to-play business model supported by ethical microtransactions. It's dark, freewheeling, unashamedly complex — and a lot of fun. In this video review (with transcript), we take a look at what Path of Exile has to offer.

If you've played any of the Diablo games, Path of Exile will be immediately familiar. In fact, some friends and I have joked that it's the sequel to Diablo 2. That's not to say Diablo 3 was wrong or bad, just that Blizzard took the game and evolved it toward accessibility and stylized art, while Grinding Gear Games refined and improved on the more complex issues But, simply put, it's still a game about smashing evil monsters, picking up loot, and using it to smash evil monsters even harder.

Let's talk a bit about the areas in which you can fight. Path of Exile consists of three Acts containing around 20 different zones apiece. The zones are randomly generated to varying degrees. A few are fairly consistent, but most will have you exploring to find the exit and the waypoint. The environments are quite varied, ranging from open fields to dimly lit crypts to magisterial towers to an honest to goodness hedge maze. I'll add briefly that this game recreates well the dark, claustrophobic feel of Diablo 2's dungeons, even more so because the lit area surrounding your character is tied to your health. As you take damage, the distance you can see shrinks, frequently giving the impression that you're being buried under a horde of monsters.

The monsters themselves are a nice mix of familiar tropes and strange new creations. You have your skeletal archers, goatmen, and giant spiders alongside, giant mutant porcupines, spastic multicolored frogs, and peacocks with machine guns. The most important thing about the monsters is that there are lots of them. This game is not hesitant about filling the screen with bad guys and their spell effects. The monsters also have a very broad mix of strengths and weaknesses. This means, crucially, that you have to build your character with defense in mind. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to surviving, so it makes you face real, meaningful choices when selecting skills and gear.

In fact, when it comes right down to it, games in this genre are about gear, so let's talk about how Path of Exile does items and stats. There are three base stats in the game: Strength, Intelligence, and Dexterity. Your character will have a preference for one or two, but you'll need some amount of the others as well. The base stats provide bonuses -- for example, strength makes you hit harder -- but they're not overwhelmingly important, like they are in Diablo 3. The biggest thing they let you do is equip different types of gear and gems.

I mention gems specifically because they're one of the most important and interesting systems in Path of Exile. Many games have socketed gear, but the gems are usually just basic stat boots -- more strength, more chance to land a critical strike, etc. In this game, gems are your active, castable skills. You can literally loot a new skill of the ground, stick it into a socket on your gear, and immediately start using it. You also get many of the basic ones as quest rewards.

At this point, I should mention that there are seven classes in the game, but your class does not determine what skill gems you can use. You can create a ranger, but that doesn't mean you have to use bows alongside skills like Exploding Arrow and Rain of Arrows. If you want, you can pick up a giant mace and start smashing things, or put on robes and throw Fireballs. So, what's the point in picking a class, then? Well, let me introduce you to the passive skill tree.

Skill trees have been around for ages. They've evolved over the years as many game developers decided that spending a point to get +1% damage on your way down a very linear path just isn't that interesting. The skill tree has infiltrated many other genres, from first-person-shooters to real-time strategy, and they're all trending toward picking different actions your character can perform. But remember that in Path of Exile, your actions, the active skills you can use, come from gems in your gear. So they took the skill tree concept in a completely different, completely insane and interesting direction.

Here it is. There's just one skill tree for all the classes. Picking a class just determines where you begin on the tree. It's hilariously complex, intimidating, and flexible. Now, each minor stat boost is a road toward character development. At the edges and scattered throughout are one-off passives that have major effects on how your character plays. These make great goals to strives for, and finding out the best way from point A to point B is a theorycrafter's dream. Of course, the reverse is also true -- if you hate having to make decisions about your character, you'll probably hate the passive skill tree, too. It's also moderately unforgiving -- if you've decided you made a mistake, you can't just push a button and get all your points back.

You're given a limited number of individual refund points, and there's a moderately rare item that drops in the game that will grant you a refund point. But it's entirely possible to make a terrible, terrible build and end up struggling because of it. This adds to the entertainment of trying to pick correctly, but also adds to the frustration of being unsure and not wanting to pick incorrectly. I think they've struck a good balance between being able to tweak your build to account for mistakes with encouraging alts for completely different builds.

So, back to gems. There are a ton of different damage-dealing abilities, as you might expect. They all have their strengths (well, most of them, anyway), so it's best to just find an ability that looks or sounds cool, and just build your character around that. There are also a number of auras, which buff you in a variety of ways, and curses, which you can put on monsters. But the aspect of gems that really puts them over the top is the concept of linking and support gems.

As I mentioned earlier, your gear will have sockets. Individual piece of gear can have anywhere from one to six sockets. But Path of Exile adds to this by making it so the sockets can be linked together. You can have a piece of gear with 4 individual sockets, or a piece of gear with 4 sockets that are all linked together. What linking does is let you put an active ability into one socket, and then fill the rest of the linked sockets up with support gems, which alter how the ability performs. Some are straightforward, like a simple damage increase. But even those come with an increase in mana cost, so you have to weigh the positive and the negative.

Other support gems are more complex -- if you're launching a projectile, you can have a support gem split it into multiple projectiles, each of which deal less damage individually, but the total for all of them is higher. You can have a skill cost life instead of mana, or grant you a good status effect some of the time. There are even so-called "trigger" gems -- for example, Cast When Stunned. If you link a spell to this, you can't manually cast that spell, but it will be cast automatically if you get stunned.

It's a fantastically complex system. As I mentioned, you can get up to six sockets on certain items, so it's possible to dramatically alter how your skills perform. The number of permutations here is very large, and you can create some extremely powerful combinations at later levels. In fact, you can do some hilariously overpowered things. One of the great things about this game is that they don't worry about completely perfect balance between abilities. So you can take ideas for crazy builds and make them work, sometimes frighteningly well. There's more to it that I won't get into for this review -- gems can level up, increasing their effect, requirements, and cost, and the gems also have a quality level you can improve for a bonus effect. It's kind of ridiculous how much min-maxing you can do.

Before getting back to the items, I want to mention the currency system. In most games monsters drop gold coins, or some equivalent thereof. In Path of Exile, there's no default currency. Instead, there are over twenty different items that drop in the game whose only purpose is to modify other items. These are the closest thing there is to currency. The value of one of these items is determined by how powerful its effect is, and how rarely it drops. For example, Orb of Alteration drops frequently, and its effect is to reroll the properties on a magical item. Magical items only have a couple properties to begin with -- by the time you've leveled up a bit, you will mainly be using rare items, so Orbs of Alteration will be of limited use. A Chaos Orb, on the other hand, drops much more rarely and rerolls the properties on a rare item. Rare items have up to six properties, so you could get a very strong piece of gear from this. Because it's rarer and far more useful, Chaos Orbs are worth about 20 Orbs of Alteration.

In addition to being currency, these items are also the crafting system. You can modify every aspect of a regular piece of gear with them; add sockets, re-color sockets, re-link sockets, upgrade bonus quality, etc. You can even make a backup or wipe the item clean and start over. As with most of the other systems in Path of Exile, it's quite complex, giving players control over every aspect of their gear. The downside is that many of these items rely in one way or another on the random number generator. You can avoid the gambling aspect to some extent by trading with other players, but if you hate the idea of seeing a bunch of crafting attempts fail, this system will probably annoy you. If you play the game with a few friends and pass around the good gear you can't use, you can get to endgame just fine without actually farming.

What do I mean by that? Well, this game can be unapologetically difficult, sometimes. On the harder difficulties, you will need to gear and spec for defense. You'll need to hang on to gear with resistances on it. It's all quite do-able, and the tools are very much at your disposal, but don't expect a free ride to level 60.

Not that 60 is the level cap. No, you can actually go all the way up to 100. Beating the game on the hardest difficulty should put you somewhere between level 60 and 70. After 70, the experience curve gets a bit ridiculous; it's mainly for people who want to play a lot and participate in the ladder system. But starting around the late 60s, you can play in Path of Exile's endgame system.

Monsters will start dropping items called Maps. When you get one of these, you go to a particular place and put the map in a box, at which point the game spawns a high-level dungeon for you to explore. It'll have hard monsters and a ton of great loot. And remember all those currency items? You can use many of them to modify your maps. For example: you can enchant a map with magical properties, making it, say, a Burning Map of Suffering. The Burning modifier means that all monsters inside the map will deal extra fire damage, and the Suffering modifier will mean that players constantly take Chaos damage while inside. Why would you do that? Well, they also add to the quantity of items dropped. There are a ton of modifiers, including ones that spawn giant hordes of monsters or make the maps bigger. Inside, you'll fairly often get higher-level Map drops, so you gradually ascend to more difficult places. There are over 60 different end-game maps. Once again, it's a complex and well-designed system.

There are a few other things I want to mention briefly. In the past, ARPGs commonly made heavy use of potions for players to manage health and mana in combat. Diablo 3 did away with these in favor of health orbs on the ground. Path of Exile does it somewhat differently. You have 5 potion slots, and each potion has a number of charges. Using the potion consumes charges, and killing enemies recharges it. Thus, you don't have to constantly stop and pick them up off the ground. You can also use many of the item modifications on potions to alter how they work. Also, I mentioned ladders earlier -- there are 4-month-long leagues that let players compete to get to the top. But for people who aren't willing to devote ridiculous amounts of time to the game, there are also "Race" events. These can be as short as an hour or two, and whoever gets the furthest wins. You also get bonus points for clearing areas first or being the first to achieve certain goals. Some races give you a choice of interesting unique items that heavily modify your gameplay. It's a really cool concept, and they fire off fairly often.

Now, a few notes about the game's external considerations. First and foremost: this is an online, multiplayer game. If this bothers you, as it did for so many with Diablo III, skip it. The only real downside I experienced is that the client will occasionally desync from the server, so your character will seem to be in another place than it really is. It doesn't happen too often, but it's an annoyance when it does. There's an in-game command to re-sync yourself, but it will catch itself up before too long. Next: As I mentioned earlier, the game is free to play and supported by microtransactions. Those tend to have negative connotations amongst gamers, who don't want to be forced to spend real money to be competitive. Fortunately, Grinding Gear Games has done this in a really ethical way. The majority of things you can buy are customization and vanity-related. Non-combat pets, sparkly item effects, dance animations, etc. The only quality of life purchases you can make are for extra stash tabs and extra guild slots. But you already start out with four huge stash tabs. Nothing you can buy affects gameplay. I don't typically care about the vanity stuff, so after I'd played for a while and wanted to send some money their way, just to support them, I couldn't find a single thing I wanted to buy. It was kind of a strange feeling, and the developers deserve recognition for doing microtransactions right. Finally: there's no auction house (a feature Blizzard decided was a mistake). You can talk with other players in trade chat and arrange swaps there, if you so desire.

On its face, Path of Exile is a game about smashing monsters. But it hides a collection of incredibly complex systems that will strongly appeal to players who enjoy being able to really dig into the building of a character. The combat is fast, hectic, and a lot of fun, but what will sustain the game is the depth afforded by the gear, skill, and crafting systems. If you'd prefer not to see all the moving parts, this game will entertain you for a while, but you'll hit a brick wall eventually. If you enjoy having control over the tiniest aspects of your character and finding all the myriad ways to make those brick walls crumble, Path of Exile is definitely worth a try.

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Game Review: Path of Exile (Video)

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  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:19PM (#45476235) Homepage Journal

    opting for a free-to-play business model supported by ethical microtransactions.

    Anyone care to expound on that?

    • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:24PM (#45476275) Homepage

      What they mean is that it's not pay-to-win, unlike many other "free" games. Almost all purchasable items are purely cosmetic (skins, special effects, non-fighting pets that follow you) and have no gameplay effect, apart from one: extra stash tab to store items. These are nice to have, but not necessary to roll a successful character.

      • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:45PM (#45476503) Journal

        > Almost all purchasable items are purely cosmetic

        In other realms of our lives we consider the cosmetics manufacturers to be quite unethical.

      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by FileZilla (3434977)

        Sounds like bullshit to me. I occasionally play the original Neverwinter Nights game and still find new and interesting things about it. Why? Because people willingly make, for free, the things that other companies charge for. Skins, weapons, items - with something like CEP (Community Expansion Pack) there are hundreds of high quality thingies that people made and you can outfit your character(s) with.

        Companies have successfully brainwashed the current generation of gamers into believing that cosmetic items

        • by seebs (15766)

          Compared to a Zynga-style model, where players MUST spend money to be able to play successfully, I am totally fine with people selling cosmetics.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by FileZilla (3434977)

            People are allowed to sell cosmetics. Unfortunately it is such a successful business model that it's eliminated any motivation for a developer to incorporate mod support in to their game. Of course who are to blame? Gamers of course. It's the natural progression of a small-time hobby, where modding support is encouraged as part of building a community around a game, to the mainstream hobby we have now, which encourages a game to have a maximum life of a month or two, DLC, and without any need to bother with

            • by Cederic (9623)

              Many PC games have mod support. It's a massive value-add that a lot of developers recognise and are happy to include and happier when the player base participate.

              Shit, ARMA2 was the best selling PC game for a brief period literally years after it was released because everyone wanted it so that they could play a mod.

              I bought multiple copies of Mount & Blade because the base game was fun, but the player created mods turned it into a genuinely fantastic game and I wanted my friends to experience it.

              Steam h

            • by Smauler (915644)

              People are allowed to sell cosmetics. Unfortunately it is such a successful business model that it's eliminated any motivation for a developer to incorporate mod support in to their game. Of course who are to blame? Gamers of course.

              This game is free. There is no advantage to buying cosmetic or other stuff (except for expanded stashes... the free ones are massive, though, more than enough). How can you be angry at that model? What is it, exactly, that angers you?

              You can play it now, for free. The peo

        • by murdocj (543661) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @10:17PM (#45478621)

          So what's the solution? The game maker has to make money somewhere. If they aren't charging for the game, and they aren't charging for "pay to win", then they have to charge for cosmetic stuff. They aren't screwing anyone over. They have to make money SOMEWHERE or the game doesn't exist.

        • by Desler (1608317)

          Did they still tie onions to their belts back then?

        • by ubrgeek (679399)
          > Companies have successfully brainwashed the current generation of gamers into believing that cosmetic items are worth money.

          Now get off my lawn.
      • But if you get in a jam you can eat the non-fighting pets, right? OK, maybe with a microtransaction for tortillas or flat bread first...
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        it'll be pay to win in 6 months as they need money to run the servers.

        I read the transcript. this is a fuckin advertisement for a fucking diablo clone, not a review, it just tries to play up how it's better than diablo and how it has something for everyone..

        but.. how about a few paragraphs of the FUCKING PLOT? about the enemies? about the actual gameplay? the screenshot starter for the video could have fooled me for diablo. so is the gameplay part of the review that it is diablo?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No pay-to-win. It's kinda like Valve and the skin/hat/sounds store they run.

      • by Chalnoth (1334923)
        Hmm. I don't think that makes it ethical. If the business model relies upon so-called "whales", it's fundamentally unethical. And cosmetic-only microtransactions can do that just as well as other sorts of microtransactions: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/195806/ [gamasutra.com]
        • by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:46PM (#45476517) Homepage

          I don't think that's an accurate assessment. For one thing, you're sort of comparing the marketplace ethics to the ethics of addiction... any game can be addictive and destructive, does that make it unethical to create? The gamasutra article even mentions addiction, but it points out (even if implicitly) that the addiction is more towards actual game pursuits -- the example of acquiring rarer items by spending more time and money create a spiral. Cosmetic-only purchases may actually minimize that, since they don't affect gameplay, there's no driving reason to purchase them insatiably, other than maybe the same drive that causes someone to collect stamps or my little ponies. In that line of thinking, every "collectible" business model would be unethical... it's a hard argument to make.

          Certainly, though, some of the things that DID make pay-to-win unethical in some people's minds is that it made people with more money more competitive, and advance quicker. The PoE model certainly ameliorates that situation, so it's a move in the right direction.

          I've been playing the game for a while, due to a friend's recommendation, and I like it -- I particularly like the regular events and races -- but I'm also inclined to spend a few dollars customizing my character that I never would have spent in WoW or Diablo or other games, because I know it supports the creators and I feel it doesn't interfere with the economics or the gameplay.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I play Path of Exile and it is like a sort of fractal expression of a slot machine composed entirely of smaller slot machines.

            However... although that hooks people in, the cash input is kind of decoupled. Feeding in cash is neither necessary nor strongly linked to success, especially short term success.

            So I suspect the game has both "time whales" and "cash whales" and in fact the true addicts are probably more "time whales" which might be more palatable depending on your personal ethics.

          • by Chalnoth (1334923)

            What makes the practice unethical is requiring some people to become addicted for the game to be profitable. The reason this is unethical is it provides an incentive to make the game more and more addictive. Not necessarily more fun, mind you, but designed to exploit psychology to promote or enhance addiction.

            Please understand that I'm not accusing the game devs of being unethical here. I do genuinely hope that the game obtains more of its revenue from a broader range of players, instead of relying upon

        • by XaXXon (202882)

          I've heard of something else that lets you buy stuff you don't need at any time.

          It's called a store. There's a lot of them. They're not usually considered to be unethical.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:36PM (#45476423)

      I've played this game for a while. I'm surprised a review is being done so late. Maybe I misread but if you are wondering how
      the ftp system is, then I can enlighten on that. This game did surprisingly well on it's in game purchases setup compared
      to other ftp games i've played that require you to buy items to really progress anywhere. This game is not like that. The item
      drops themselves are the only real currency in the game. Anything you can buy from the cash shop is only for personal preference.
      These include extended storage space and costume/aesthetic items. Nothing you buy in the cash shop will make you any better
      than any other player. You need to actually play the game to get better. You cannot simply buy your way to the top which is very
      nice coming from games like ROM which force you to buy countless items to even reach a moderate endgame level. Just wanted to
      clarify this for people interested in the game as it is a pretty good game. Anyone familiar with diablo will feel right at home
      as it's pretty much the closest thing to a direct diablo clone as you will find. I've heard some people refer to it as
      Diablo 3...done right. That's all I have for now.

    • by Exeunter (1147233)
      Meaning microtransactions that do not give you any gameplay advantage and are mostly cosmetic in nature. This is opposed to the trend in recent years in marketing a game or app as "free-to-play", but once you start playing, you realize there are blatant attempts to handicap the game unless you pay. These are often 1.) in-game contents that are for-purchase only or would take hundreds of hours of gameplay to acquire, and not owning this content puts you at a major disadvantage in the game, and/or 2.) built
    • From the transcript:

      As I mentioned earlier, the game is free to play and supported by microtransactions. Those tend to have negative connotations amongst gamers, who don't want to be forced to spend real money to be competitive. Fortunately, Grinding Gear Games has done this in a really ethical way. The majority of things you can buy are customization and vanity-related. Non-combat pets, sparkly item effects, dance animations, etc. The only quality of life purchases you can make are for extra stash tabs and

    • by r1348 (2567295)

      Basically, you can buy only aesthetical enhancements, but it's not a pay2win.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      There is nothing ethical, this is just called the "we can't get you to pay for the game upfront anymore, so the money is now made on the back." Aka: a lot more money.

      So now, instead of being forced to pay up front, you're being "encouraged" to pay from the back, constantly.

  • I play this game (Score:4, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:26PM (#45476313) Homepage Journal

    and it's a fun game, far better than D2
    Obviously you need to like lick and kill games.

    • by lordofthechia (598872) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:29PM (#45476351)

      you need to like lick and kill games.

      Man, these next gen control schemes are getting out of hand.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I mean D3. For a moment I got Blizzard and Valve(Can't count to 3) confused.

    • Re:I play this game (Score:5, Informative)

      by master_kaos (1027308) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:46PM (#45476523)
      Coincedentially I just started playing this game this past weekend
      I do enjoy it but there are a few things that concern me

      No full respecs -- As a new player with no idea on how different skills work I find the 1300+ point skill tree extremely daunting. I don't know the best (or even a mediocre) path to take for my character. I realize you can get respec points, but I have no idea how rare/easy they are to get, and if I screw up something early my character could be heavily penalized. I don't want to have to fill out a giant spreadsheet before I even get level 2 to decide how my character should be built. Now some people enjoy this system, but I do not. You also have limited character slots (not sure how many) so if I get to level 50 and don't like my build I would be forced to delete him.

      No option to hide white items. Annoying to see the screeen filled up with 80% white items and accidentally clicking on a few...

      No floating names on other players. Hard sometimes to spot my group members when there name isn't shown, also hard to spot them when in a town and 40 other players there as well

      Only the first item is a major concern for me, other 2 are minor things.
      • by igny (716218)
        There is nothing in developing your character that could go so wrong that deleting the character and re-creating it would not be able to fix.
      • by ADRA (37398)

        I don't see white items or even blues at all unless I hit ALT, so maybe you should check the options... it may also affected based on the level you're at.

      • by qwe4rty (2599703)
        You don't want an option to hide white items since they can be used in crafting. You get more quality per armourer scrap/whetstone which is kept when you upgrade to a blue or yellow item. It's also cheaper to start your crafting on white items to get a couple of magic qualities you want on item before you upgrade to rare and use the more expensive currency. Lastly, 5 linked and 6 linked socketed items are really important later on. If you are only looking for rares, you are missing out on a lot of potential
      • by geekoid (135745)

        a) respec points are uncommon, but not rare. At least not for me so far
        B) It's actually hard to misspend points at first. I suggest looking at the tree a deciding what you ar going to to. I went dual wield, and if you look for the dual wield icon on the skill tree, you can find the optimal path to get there.
        C) Getting a few wrong specs won't kill your game play. Don't sweat it.

        "No option to hide white items. Annoying to see the screeen filled up with 80% white items and accidentally clicking on a few..."

        exc

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hi. I've gotten five different characters to at least level 20. I've learned a bit along the way. Some of this you may already know. Sorry for the redundant information.

        You get at least five character slots.

        You can easily get to the start of Act 2 without spending any Passive points. Passive points (what you call skill points) *enhance* your play style. That's why when I play a new class, I like waiting until Act 2 to spend them... I'm still figuring out how I want to play the class. Actual skills (fireball

      • No full respecs -- As a new player with no idea on how different skills work I find the 1300+ point skill tree extremely daunting...

        There's a skill tree build tester on the GG site. I lets you test combinations to make sure you get the various stats you need. Doesn't let you demo play, but it does help.
        My advice? Don't spread your skill points too thin. Concentrate on a few key elements that reflect your character's strengths, and how you like to play.

      • by pooh666 (624584)
        Am important point, white items can be turned into rare items and very good ones. High base specs and items with extra quality are esp good. It makes things interesting because you do have to pay some attention to everything that drops or you could loose an oppertunity to make something great.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        By level 30 you DO NOT WANT to hide white items. Some of my best gear was hand crafted myself from awesome 5-6 full linked slot items, a few blacksmith's whetstones, and a really lucky orb of chance.

        Also, you can sell three linked slot prismatic gear (one red, one blue, one green slot, all linked) for a chromatic orb to any vendor. There is actually a REALLY complex value table to what certain item mods, link and color discrepancies, etc will sell for to vendors.

      • Its not the lack of respec that is Path of Exiles problem: Its the lack of any tools to map your path inside the game. The website sure is nice, for mapping out skills (http://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree/), but you can not use "shortest path" or "search" in the client sadly. And that is a large problem.

    • by Salgat (1098063)
      My issue is that it's not as fast paced as Diablo 2. Perhaps I'm not far enough in the game to get to that point. I just remember how exciting Diablo 2 was with crazy skills like multi-shot with Faster attack speed filling the entire screen with arrows, or Frozen Orb that filled the screen with hundreds of shards of ice while teleporting around extremely fast.
  • What ever happened (Score:3, Informative)

    by Grisstle (2798631) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:28PM (#45476335)
    to point and click RPGs? You mean like Torch Light and Torch Light II?
    • by rgbscan (321794)

      Or the whole Neverwinter Nights series?

      • NWN is turn based, TFA is talking about ARPG's even though NWN (and others) have mouse based interfaces.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        Neverwinter went F2P (dunno about P2W, but might give it a look see.)

        I wished they could have done another NWN iteration allowing for persistant worlds and private servers. It sort of was a nice combination of the MUDs of yore with original stuff, coupled with (for the day) modern graphics.

        Maybe it would be something that would succeed on Kickstarter, if someone proposed a NWN/NWN2 successor that was a single/multiplayer game, not a MMO.

    • PoE and Torchlight 2 are what Diablo 3 should have been. I happen to like PoE better than TL2 because PoE has more depth. I did spend $10 to get more stash space, but the other eye candy I don't care too much for. Its effectively an awesome game for $10!
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      And Diablo 3? And Titan Quest or whatever that one was?

      I get you need a hook for your article, but maybe not choose a hook that's 100% blatantly false.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Torchlight 2 had dreadfully broken multi-player. I tried with 3 friends several times to much comical and pathetic consequences. They talk about sync in this game, TL2 was Always out of sync (even game hosts were out of sync!)

  • by Macgrrl (762836) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:28PM (#45476341)

    Windows only, so not going to happen in my house. Pity, it looked kinda cool.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Thanks for telling us. It allowed for some real insight into the game~

      • by Macgrrl (762836) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @09:31PM (#45478435)

        If you don't have a Windows computer, it IS insight - that you won't be supported at this time. At least they address the Mac client in the FAQ, Linux doesn't even get mentioned, so that suggests they have no intention to go there.

        One of the reasons I still play WOW and D3 is they have cross platform support on day of release. They actively support he Mac client on their tech support forums, as opposed to plenty of other MacOS games which are poorly supported ports that come out months or years after the PC version has been released and everyone has already finished them and gotten bored and deleted them from their computer. That's really a killer when it come to multi-player games.

        While you may consider the non-Windows market to small to worry about, it exists, and there are plenty of Mac users that hang out on /., I'm letting them know this game - while it looks really neat - won't be taking up space on their HDA any time soon.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:52PM (#45476577)

      No Mac client, but it appears to work satisfactorily [winehq.org] in Wine.

    • Didn't you read the stub?
      It was created by "a group of hardcore gamers."
      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        Define 'hardcore gamers'. Are you saying that the only valid form of gaming is on Windows? I've been a gamer for nearly 30 years, playing on consoles, Macs, PCs mobile & handheld platforms, tabletop, LARP, card games, board games and whatever else pops up from time to time.

        • Define 'hardcore gamers'.

          But have you ever put a monopoly board in a blender, racked up the dust and snorted it? That's hardcore. So is free basing army men - melting them down in a spoon first of course.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Torchlight?
    Torchlight 2?
    Titan Quest?

    There have been plenty of good action RPG's. I didn't see anything that made me want this above the awesomeness that is TL2.

    • Re:Torchlight 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rakhar (2731433) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:42PM (#45476475)

      I have TL1 and 2, Titan Quest, D2 (and even that other abomination). PoE has a lot more variables in item stats, and you have a lot more influence on your items due to the "currency items". The game also seems to be a lot harder than most hack and slash games I've played before. High level monsters don't mess around, and there are bosses that will pretty much one-shot you. Reflect mobs remind me of the old iron maiden mobs in D2.

      Overall the game feels very different than any of the other games listed. Whether the differences are good or bad is up to each individual. I do agree that the spin of the summary seems forced and comes off as pure marketing, but the game is worth trying.

    • Don't forget Fate, designed by the same guy who later did the Torchlights.

      Being a console guy, sad to say, neither Fate or the two Torchlight's have hit the PS3. But the consoles have had their own such games over the years.

      Darkstone
      Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance I and II
      Champions of Norrath (and the Return to ARms sequel)
      X-Men Legends I and II
      Justice League Heroes
      The Bards Tale (the recent one, not the old 80's classic, has Diablo style gameplay)
      Hunter the Reckoning
      Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
      Dungeon Hunte

    • by seebs (15766)

      I got this one because it was free. TL2 has DRM of some sort, and can't be gotten through GOG or whatever. Admittedly, server-based is sort of DRM-ish, but there's also the fact that this gets constant updates and fixes and improvements.

  • Faithful to Diablo 2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duckgod (2664193) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:36PM (#45476419)
    The thing that I enjoyed about Diablo 2 that Diablo 3 completely eliminated was my desire to create a new character build that no one thought of and make it the ultimate character. It is that pursuit of perfection that drained hundreds of hours away of my life for Diablo 2. I would get a character power leveled up to around 70. Try out a build. If it didn't work I had the punishment of having to do another series of power levels to try again.

    Diablo 3 not only failed to replicate this excitement, but they took every possible step to ensure that I wouldn't. I got a few of the characters up to max level in a month. Then there is no reason to ever create another character of that class because there are infinite skill respec. Ok fine, Let me pursue the ultimate equipment. Oh wait I can spend a 100 hours grinding or dump $100 in RMAH and get it. There is no point. I might as well be playing Cookie Clicker.

    That being said Path of Exile does a good job at giving this experience. Lots of skill combinations combined with deep leveling system works well. I feel like there is still a perfect build out there I can pursue.
    • by dkf (304284)

      I might as well be playing Cookie Clicker.

      PoE got me off the CC addiction....

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        PoE got me off the CC addiction

        But can PoE run while you're at work, collecting trillions and trillions of cookies? Wonderfully moist, delicious, tasty... sorry where was I?

    • by synapse7 (1075571)

      Diablo 3 not only failed to replicate this excitement, but they took every possible step to ensure that I wouldn't.

      Wow strung a chord with me, that is exactly how I grew to feel about WoW. Maybe the natural evolution of blizzard games? I'm not sure RMAH was ever implemented in wow, but basically "ultimate equipment" was removed when 10man gear = 25man gear.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        The closest I got to being able to find tune exactly -my- DPS style was the soul system in Rift. It was fun to actually fine-tune one specification just to excel at a raid boss.

        Now that you can buy raid gear for real life money ($300 or so per item), I just threw in the towel, surrendered, and went back to EQ2, with all its foibles [1]. At least there is some custom tuning one can do with EQ2's AA specs, although not as much as in the past.

        WoW used to have some customizability. Now, you get one class, th

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      Yep. Well said. Path of Exile is a brilliant game.

  • Sounds a lot like support materia in FF7.
  • Desync get worse. (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:44PM (#45476495)

    The only real downside I experienced is that the client will occasionally desync from the server, so your character will seem to be in another place than it really is. It doesn't happen too often, but it's an annoyance when it does

    Early on, I had the same thoughts regarding the desync issues ("it's so rare, doesn't seem too bad"). However, as I progressed to higher difficulties with a lot more enemies on screen with a lot more going on, it got really bad. It's nice that there's a workaround if you suspect it's happening ('/oos' in the chat window), but on more than one occasion a boss/mob has murdered me while I was elsewhere in the map.

    • I was of the same opinion as you in this. I think it is somewhat related to skill usage, in the early stages you are meleeing or using 2-3 skills and everything seems fine. When you have faster attacks and multistrike linked with say dual strike and are putting out 12-15 attacks a second, then it begins to desync pretty badly. This gets extremely compounded if you are using Blood rage for frenzy charges and link multistrike to flicker strike and are now teleporting all around the screen.

      The real problem for

      • by pooh666 (624584)
        #1 for me, gem colors, it seemed like a great idea, but I find that it is hard as hell to get the combo you want in an item you NEED. The links are easy to move around, but the gem colors seem limited by the type of item, so you can easily waste chances with dups several times before you get what you want. I find that very frusterating and not adding anything to the game.
        • The socket colors are influenced by the stat requirements of the item. Higher dex requirements produce more green socket. Str for red, int for blue. This means that as you get higher level, if you're running pure evasion gear, getting anything but green sockets becomes progressively more difficult. You can use a couple of off-color gems, as getting other socket colors isn't impossible, but if you're planning a build almost exclusively around blue and red gems while building for evasion your life is goin

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @04:45PM (#45476509)

    It is excellent if you like Diablo and can tolerate (thrive in!) a fairly complex ruleset.

    The user interface is simple and slick. The graphics are nice looking. The gameplay is solid.

    One thing I appreciate is that, although complex, the rules are very consistent and sensible. When I got "increased projectile damage" it worked on every single projectile I used, regardless or source (spell, bow, thrown 2H sword).

    The character generation lets you pick'n' mix from potentially every class, but not without cost. It is easy to build a bad character, so for long term success you have to "win" the character building as well as the combat. It really delivers on multiclassing, but it is up to you to build a good character.

    The microtransactions are all cosmetics and UI convenience. I consider myself quite discriminating about this sort of thing, and it doesn't bother me any. You have a limited inventory shared between all your characters, and it is possible to purchase more inventory. You could argue that this is a kind of pay to win, based on the statistical nature of the loot drops and the fact that a larger inventory could give an advantage in terms of retaining potentially valuable items. FWIW I dropped $20 and got max inventory and a cosmetic.

    Probably the only downside to this game is a "feature" called desync, which is exactly what it sounds like: client and server worlds diverge, then the client gets suddenly and spectacularly corrected. IMHO this issue is neither frequent nor annoying. It seems to affect some powers more than others. If you are playing hardcore (one life) you might rage quit.

    • by bunkymag (1567407)

      Re: desync - it definitely affects some powers more than others (typically those that result in your character moving position: whirling blades, leap slam, etc). it's not an excuse per se but you do get used to it and start to avoid doing things that will trigger it, or be more wary in those sorts of situations.

      Hardcore deaths certainly do hurt - however it's important to note if you die in hardcore you do keep your character and all gear / etc - you just get transferred to softcore instead.

      The race leagues

    • by Raenex (947668)

      The microtransactions are all cosmetics and UI convenience. I consider myself quite discriminating about this sort of thing, and it doesn't bother me any. You have a limited inventory shared between all your characters, and it is possible to purchase more inventory. You could argue that this is a kind of pay to win, based on the statistical nature of the loot drops and the fact that a larger inventory could give an advantage in terms of retaining potentially valuable items. FWIW I dropped $20 and got max inventory and a cosmetic.

      Serious case of cognitive dissonance going on here. You managed to contradict yourself in one paragraph. Inventory increase is not a cosmetic or a UI convenience. You admit picking up loot is a big part of the game, and you also admit you spent money on this capability!

      Yeah, the developer has to make money, but I don't see how this is fundamentally any different than other schemes that in some way level you faster, either in stats or gear.

      • by Smauler (915644)

        I don't see how this is fundamentally any different than other schemes that in some way level you faster, either in stats or gear.

        It doesn't let you level faster, it lets you hoard more junk. Path of Exile has a pretty generous shared stash for your characters for free... I've filled it up already, with all kinds of crap. Buying extra space is tempting, because I hate throwing out stuff I may need later (I know I'm never going to need it, honestly).

        Everything that is worth something can be stored very

        • by Raenex (947668)

          Buying extra space is tempting, because I hate throwing out stuff I may need later (I know I'm never going to need it, honestly).

          Yeah, but you never know if you may need it later. I've already seen a post by a person on this story that was trashing stuff that turned out he could make a use of. Extra inventory is neither UI nor cosmetic. Maybe it won't give you a big advantage, but it weighs heavy on the gameplay by forcing you to make decisions about what you carry.

  • Sometime over the past year, I've found that grind-y games like Path of Exile leave me feeling unwell. I enjoy them, and they will just consume time and attention like few other entertainment activities, but when I'm done playing, I feel a little bit sick. I don't know why or where this feeling comes from.

    I noticed it most strongly playing the very enjoyable Drox Operative. I would start the game and a couple of hours would just fly by and then I'd feel physically ill. That doesn't happen with other typ

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      Is it the camera POV? I notice in racing games with flying or water craft levels it can sometimes trigger my motion sickness from the mismatch between the on screen movement in 3 dimensions vs. sitting in a chair.

  • by wulfhere (94308) <timNO@SPAMhuffmans.org> on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @07:47PM (#45477929) Homepage

    Yes, I know you can click the transcript, but making us wade through a 2 minute video ad (with horribly choppy sound for me) seems pretty obnoxious. I doubt anybody from Slashdot or Dice is actually in here reading these comments, but if you are, I thought you should know that I'll be avoiding these kinds of articles from now on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2013 @08:09PM (#45478077)

    I love the fact that this game has no gold. Maybe there are other RPG games out there that do something the same, but this is certainly the first I've played where this was done.

    In Diablo 3 and Diablo 2, I often found myself wanting a piece of gear that was outside what I could actually afford. You don't have the gold? You don't have the gold. Everything is assigned a fixed monetary value and that was that.

    Since there is no gold in PoE, everything gets bartered for using in-game items (that are genuinely useful) as currency instead. What I've found is that this makes the trading industry a hell of a lot more flexible and open if you don't have the exact amount of money that someone wants. For example, I'd often see stuff that I "couldn't afford" (in whatever item the person wanted for trade, ie, orbs of fusing, chromatic orbs, etc). I'd still contact that player anyways, and 9 times out of 10 we could hash out some kind of deal for a bunch of stuff in my inventory that I didn't need but was otherwise considered valuable enough to trade with.

    Combined with the decent drop rates and the so-called "ethical" micro transactions (I never once felt the need to give them money- but I did anyways because I loved the game and felt they deserved my money), it's a very smooth RPG experience. The story is a bit convoluted and thin, but the gameplay is excellent and the guys behind it (GGG) have some pretty amazing technical support (you'll actually get a human if you email them, and it'll be a totally personalized response- not some canned robot thing that completely misses the point of your entire query).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you didn't watch the video because that was described in detail.

    • Also, they do not need any kind of artificial kind of gold-sinks. Everything used as currency only has value because of it's use as an item modifier. They always find their way out of the system in time, and ultimately the value of all currency gets reset (if it inflates too much) when the league ends and a new one begins.

      Standard is the only place where the economy is somewhat out of whack.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No Mac or Linux port? Fuck it then!

  • If PoE interests you (and it should, if ARPG is your thing), also check out Grim Dawn, made by Crate. I've been part of the Kickstarter process and even their "rough" betas have blown Diablo 3 away. Ok, that sets the bar too low... Even their betas are fun, stable, immersive and have good content.

  • OK, I'm a little disappointed. I'm running XP, and run by default in non-admin mode. The install MSI package required admin rights to install, and now, after waiting about 2 hours for the 4 gig download, it appears the game by default also requires admin access?????

    Come on, in the 21st century games running on Microsoft operating systems should *not* require admin privileges. Please fix.
    • by cpm99352 (939350)
      Hmm, following up to my own post. Running as admin under XP, I now get the message "Could not find any compatible Direct3D devices."

      Guess it is back to FreeCiv...
  • Oh, wait, I just bought myself a second hand PC with Win7, LOOOOL~!!!

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