Path of Exile
- Release Date: 03/30/2012
- Publisher: Grinding Gear Games
- Developer: Grinding Gear Games
- Genre: RPG
Being exiled to a hostile continent of Wraeclast, you are forced to embark on your unimaginable adventures in Path of Exile, an action RPG from Grinding Gear Games.
Similar to Diablo series, Path of Exile belongs to the genre of point-and-click games. If you are a veteran at playing those games, you will feel instantly at home about its game mechanics. Path of Exile is planning to provide you with six options of classes, such as Witch, Ranger and Marauder, but what sets it apart from other games is that you are free from any class-bounded restrictions and limits. In another word, you have access to the whole package of skills, regardless of your profession. This unique feature must sound superb for you, huh?
In the post-apocalyptic world, you must keep alert all the time because confrontations and conflicts may explode at any time and at any place. You can choose to fight in solo or team up with your friends, and I always recommend the second option in such dangerous circumstances. Both PvE and PvP combat modes are provided. You can choose whatever you want.
Speaking of the art style, Path of Exile boasts good 3D graphics, awesome combat effects and imaginative images of characters. I should probably warn you in advance of not getting panic when confronted with swarms of giant yet creepy monsters!
“Good copy is half the battle.” This is not a principle written in the good Bible, but it still remains true in this world. It is quiet common to be inspired sometimes, and there is really no need to get indignant. Imitation is the highest form of recognition, which attests to the upcoming Hack’n’Slash Path of Exile.
The only question is whether the fledging company from New Zealand has what it takes to compete against the Diablo series from Blizzard. After all, some candidates have already tried in vain to throw the hell prince from the throne because of lack of innovation, but Grinding Gear Games comes up with something different. The small development team behind Path of Exile has obviously gutted Diablo 2 with a new skill level and a rebuilt system. Consequently, Path of Exile can easily remind us of the best dungeon crawlers, like Titan Quest, Dungeon Siege and Torchlight. The game may look simple and accessible after a brief overview, but we soon realize that it also has an amazing complexity.
In Path of Exile, you have access to five characters, including Marauder, Ranger, Witch, Duelist and Templar. But you will soon realize that you are provided with only limited choices in avatar creation because you can not change any of its attributes, let alone to determine the gender of the five different classes. Each character outshines somewhere in its three attributes, including strength, skill and intelligence. Basically, the characters are divided into short-distance and long-distance fighters.
After making up your mind, you can plunge into flames of war along with your hero. But in the initial phase, your avatar will still be weak to face the monster-infested beach where zombies and cancer-like creatures are hostile to unwelcome guests. Don’t worry! Pick up a stick, a bow, a hammer or a rod and venture into the flames of war. Pretty soon, you can pave your path with dead bodies, while the experience points gush and the inventory fills. Even before you reach the safe haven, you will run across the first batch of bosses along your way, which are considerably stronger than the rest of the riff-raff.
As you delve deeper, you will have tougher quests to complete, new areas to explore, stronger opponents to defeat and advanced equipment to unlock. With increasing playing time, you will come to realize that Path of Exile is based on a highly dynamic system which enables you to customize your hero according to your taste. As in Diablo 2, you advance along a given path and continue to upgrade your skills in Path of Exile. And as a consequence, the conditions of your character will be altered greatly in quick succession, including its passive skill points, other forms of skill crystals as well as avant-garde equipment.
That may sound complicated, but it is rapidly internalized and ultimately gives you a high degree of freedom. Your character can unlock one skill point after each successful level-up. The earned points can be used to boost up your passive skills or purchase other skills, thus making all characters connected with each other. The extra skills may belong to a class that you are not playing, which means that you can have access to other professions’ abilities by using a corresponding number of points. Besides, you can also use them to strengthen their basic attributes, such as life, mana, attack speed, critical damage, as well as intelligence, skill and strength. This will in return affect the use of the items and the crystal skills.
You may choose skill crystals as your quest rewards. Additionally, they can also be found easily at the scene of a massacre, if you have a little luck. They come in red (physical attacks), green (traps) and blue (magic), which can be used to improve your equipment. Therefore, you must enhance your worn items with the best status values that you can possibly lay hands on. But those are still not enough. There are support crystals which are like other crystals but affect only the skills which are systematically related to them. The working mechanics are more like socket connections. For example, you wear a suit of armor with four slots, of which three are related to your skill crystals. Each of them is represented by one color, and all you need is to choose the right color for them respectively. As for the support crystals, you can use them to enhance an active skill, add lightning effects or increase critical damages. The fourth slot of the armor is not deeply influenced by the support runes in this case.
The aim is, therefore, to find things with good status values that can be used to enhance the power of your avatar. Since the skill crystals can only be found little by little, so you also need to pay attention to level differences. And you must decide whether to make other arrangements about a skill crystal or not. For example, if you play as a sorceress, you can make her skills much more interesting by adding some special crystal, like firestorm. This enables you to possess a particular type of power which can help you optimize your character’s strength. With this trick, you can try all possible combinations in Path of Exile without the need to reestablish a new character from the outset.
Typical of beta tests, you will run into one or the other problem. For example, you may find that some combinations are not effective as they should. When you think it is possible to summon four zombies, you will be suddenly disappointed because you can only summon two of them. Or you may find that the support crystals may prove to be stubborn when you try to boost up the same effect on a skill. But generally speaking, I am optimistic that the team will get the bugs under control.
The game world is divided into several individual sections, each of which can be entered alone or together with your teammates. Currently, you can watch two episodes of its full acts which feature many different venues, from sunny, bright forests to twisty, dark caves. And of course, there are also traditional arenas, like indoor dungeons. As is usual in the genre, you can start at a higher level of difficulty from the beginning and attain a corresponding progress in the game with recycled content. The game mechanics may also cater to hardcore players because you don’t need to start from beginning after the so-called permanent death in other games. You will only be downgraded to the normal league if you are defeated in a round of battle.
The video of Path of Exile indeed fails to keep up with Diablo 3, but anyway, it is not bad. You can clearly identify what contributes your character possesses; the spells look very effective, but above all, there is a certain plastic shroud, which makes the surface very reflective.
In addition to all euphoria for its complex customization options, Path of Exile also integrates many convenient features, like compelling quests where you need to decide whom you are helping. Probably Path of Exile does have the power to be one of the major competitors of Diablo 3. Though the production still leaves much to be desired, the game still has great potential to be a free-to-play alternative to Diablo 3 and to gather up a loyal group of followers.
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