In Path of Exile where will Wraeclast take you? To the depths of a watery abyss? A gory blood lake? Jungle riddled with monkeys and bandits? Backstabbing ghost pirates? Strange mansion-like hallways embroidered with gold with... torture devices o.O? Nude statues? Run-down markets? Battlefields?
A new beginning and a new life is where it begins for your character in Path of Exile having been banished off the mainland for an unfortunate misdeed they carried out. (Some of the back stories are just hilarious. I personally like the Witch & Duelist's story.)
As said in the impression article I wrote previously I stated that I definitely wanted to review this soooo...
Wraeclast brought me here today, to write a review.
As usual the TL;DR seciton is way down there.
I've played the game for over 80 hours and can definitely say I'm hooked. The experience was well served. It was filled with laughs, frustrations, learning experiences, re-rolls, close-calls, crazy enemies, brutality, tons of blood, lots of funny effects and builds and most important of all -> fun. All for the price of 0$.
Now before I get further into the review, a little bit about the company behind it all as usual.
Grinding Gear Games is a new found company and is situated in New Zealand that houses 19 employees that has developed Path of Exile for over 6 years! With almost no funding and the only money was coming out of the 19 employees' own pocket. Not to mention they released their game for FREE. And yes ALL CONTENT is unlocked. No the game is NOT Pay to Win. It is their mission statement on their front page blatantly claiming and stating that they are NOT in favor of indulging into Pay to Win systems. The only thing you pay money for is for cosmetic items or stash upgrades which is the only game-changing things about it. They may later on add gender switch for it as well. Other than that you can enjoy Path of Exile for its entirety for a price of 0. And everyone is on an equal level in terms of acquiring any in-game item that revolves around game functionality and not graphics.
Whether or not they stay true to their mission statement of NO Pay to Win is of no concern to me, if they do tread down that path then oh well but I'm happy they are at least giving the effort to not indulge in it or even go near it.
Too good to be true you say?
If you believe you must pay money for a quality product then I don't know what Path of Exile is to you. But for me it's a quality product and game out there up for grabs for 0$. It can't hurt to give it a try, and if you really do like it, then you'd naturally spend money on it, if you have money... or not? I'm just guessing here. :P For me I'm going to definitely throw some money at them for some of the things they offer on their cash shop in the very near future. Anywho...
*******SPOILERS IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE STORY*********
--------Warning the game contains quite some adult themes in it----------
-> And I do mean it ( even I was grossed out at some points in the game it's like R rated stuff... wicked sick!)
The game starts off where you're dumped on the shore of Wraeclast, a no man's land kind of continent, where Exiles are sent and banished forever to "live"(basically survive) on Wraeclast. Your buddy off the survival of the drop-off on Wraeclast mentions that there were about a dozen of you on that boat and only the 2 of you made it, except he's skewered by a tree straight through the chest(ouch...) not to mention his head gets bit off by the undead next to him shortly after(yeah his head literally fell off >_>...)
Among you are others who have been banished and left as well just trying to stay alive and make do or head inland where there's something going on apparently. I didn't follow the story too much, but the first town where Bestel Nessa and Tarkleigh are they are seeking Exiles or brave/foolish people to help them with tasks such as monsters harassing their camp like Hillock but you kill him so you're worth something now to them. Eventually you meet other "Exiles" which are just monster creeps that have lost it like Hailrake god damn ice spears, or screwed up dudes that are completely mutilated like Brutus, and corrupted stuff.
Survived the Arrow storm...
The impression the game left me off with was kind of serene, dreadful, tragic, and hopeless at the beginning with that song for the first town. The way Bestel talks makes it sound like he's been through a lot of sh** and cares much for Nessa who's had it rough. Tarkleigh on the other hand seems a bit of a cock but I don't care too much. But Bestel seems to be the one carrying hope in the midst of all this.
Bestel sang me a song when I opened a passage towards inland in Act 2 so I thought he was pretty cool :P. The voice acting in this game is pretty amazing, it is not at all shabby or poor. It's pretty convincing and fits their overall theme VERY well.
The second town is more of a jungle themed area, Greust is the guard with the spear, I refer to him as a lunkhead because he sounds like one, Yeena's the dreamer girl, and Silk is like a pimp he said some sexual inuendo and was pretty dirty when you rescue a girl and I was like oh my god! and chuckled a bit, Eramir reminds me of Deckard Cain(Yeah diablo 2 reference here) and the story of Act 2 is more of like a test of whether or not you're an enemy or foe to the tribesmen in the Forest Encampment. You also get to make an eclipse happen and the whole world becomes pitch dark until you kill the boss, which hurts like a mother trucker with it's laser beam. YES LASER BEAM.....
The third town is fairly well developed as in the town is well developed in terms of technology not the... uh game design/development etc. but that's pretty good too, although there's only 3 acts in the game right now I heard there's a 4th. And also that every year they're going to release a new act(Just rumors I've been hearing, haven't confirmed). I can't wait! The third town has Hargan the blacksmith stereotype but he sounds pretty buff, Maramoa is some strange lady who can apparently gut and kill like a beast(scary), and
Grigor a very interesting character. He's half in the world you're in and half in the world of like the dead. So when you zoom in on Grigor he's actually quite mutilated, I thought he was just hunched over at first but when you zoom in oh, lordy he is disgusting and bleeding all over the place on one half of him....
Clarissa is a thief girl that you rescue and she looks pretty much like a ninja if you ask me(I like female ninjas. :O), and is the jewelry seller of the 3rd town.
Throughout the first 3 Acts you're chasing down some woman named Piety. Unlike Diablo 2 you actually meet the person you're chasing throughout. She also challenges you and goads you to meet her at certain places but she learned some kind of magic to amplify death or something so that's why you're after her. Not to mention Piety is PRETTY messed up when you get to the Lunaris temple... I'll let you all figure that one out when you get there if you're going to play Path of Exile. At the end of that you gain a Tower key that leads to the Sceptre of God to the Twilight Sands. Sounds pretty nifty but that act isn't released yet, so it just brings you to the next difficulty(Normal -> Cruel -> Merciless)
************SPOILER STORY END**************
Path of Exile's gameplay resembles a lot of Diablo-esque type games, but it's an improved step forward from Diablo 2. I mention this because the feel and play of the game feel exactly like it but better on magnitudes. I'm not one for nostalgia here but they've even included Final Fantasy 10's sphere-grid-like system for character development and game altering rules on that passives skill tree. The active skill gems and support gems work like Final Fantasy 7's materia system. These ideas have been rehashed and combined together to build the game from 2 popular structures of 2 popular games. Path of Exile didn't fail at implementing it IMO, and they built that skill tree based off Magic the Gathering, another famous game.
Put them all together and you get Path of Exile character growth system. Confirmed by developers too that they adopted their ideas from the aforementioned games. They are not shy about it and I welcome it and fully approve, and their communication with the community is top notch.
Responsive as much as they can to questions about game mechanics and still be able to deploy huge patches, overhauls, fixes and updates to their game in such a short time frame... 3 weeks already and over a gigabytes worth of changes, not skill balances but visual improvements, bugged mechanics that screw players over, minor tweaks, audio improvements, and the maintenance time almost never exceeded 4 hours. It is unbelievable. Makes me wonder why other games need so much time to perform maintenance.
The passive skill tree hosts 1350 slots all of which you can traverse a total of 111 points for your character. So no you can't max out everything and you SHOULD PLAN your character AHEAD of time, unless you want to re-roll or farm respecs for your character.
If you want your character to do run entirely different setups it's best to just make another char.
This game is not a cakewalk, if you think it's hard on Normal, get ready to get trashed on Cruel, if you find Cruel hard Merciless will make you quit. Or have you coming back due to the challenge and because other players are boasting glory for beating it. :)
After that you have random map dungeons to play aronud with, Yes there is PvP as well.
And I can't wait for CUTT THROAT LEAGUE.(Invading each other's instances and PvP on the field, with no initiation or accepting of PvP just straight out kill each other if you see eachother and take each other's equipment)
Later Act areas are HUGE
The gameplay in Path of Exile may seem slow and clunky at first when you start off... what game isn't? If it started off godlike and stayed godlike from start to finish you'd feel no sense of progression or your character growing at all.
For me the journey from 1-55 on my Ranger has been radically different, from shooting burning arrows that look like rockets to firing candles that light monsters up and blow up, from having armor and an energy shield to nothing but dodge and evasion(2 different things!), and going from massive attack speed built with critical and mana leech thus enabling my character to barely ever require sipping mana from a flask. I know I wanted to make a bow character and did so. However for those undecided going bow isn't the only option the ranger has, you could also roll melee if you prefer, or go way up north and start spell-casting though of course it wouldn't work as well since you're so far into the Dexterity side of the tree.
Examples + Gameplay videos.
For the undecided it may be best to invest in the survival nodes of evasion, life, resistances because you'll eventually need some of those regardless unless you plan on going complete squish like my ranger and just kite and hope to not die in 1 or 2 shot. My strategy was kill or be killed, I have 0 armor and next to no reduction in anything, only dodge/evasion/spell dodge and enough HP to survive 1 or 2 hits. For the price of such danger though my ranger attacks at about 2.82 attacks per second, it's pretty rapid. If I use my other bow which I lose significant amounts of damage but I gain a tremendous amount of attack speed I can machinegun foes down by planting explosive arrows on them quickly. Here's a video for indulging in the idea. Recorded at full size on screen, caused my system to chug a bit so the framerate here might be a bit choppy.
I call it the birthday cake ranger, plant those candles on your enemy and watch them turn into splattered strawberry cake goodness. As usual 1080p quality is available for full detail.
UNEDITED GAME PLAY:
I decided to make a Duelist with omnislash capabilities trying to be some favorite characters of other games for me like Juggernaught(Dota2) or Cloud Strife(FF7) wannabe with flicker strike. I pumped mainly HP and regen to get blood magic working without killing myself, and moving onwards for attack speed & stun so I can constantly flicker strike an enemy with blood rage on. Blood rage drains 4% of your hp per second as PURE damage meaning it can't be reduced by any resistance or armor and can only be reduced by chaos resistance; a resistance that is extremely hard to roll on gear, let alone find nodes that grant resistance to this type of damage.
Here's another video example of the idea, it was pretty hilarious on both and had lots of fun with either, my ranger build is a lot harder to run through the higher difficulties though due to low hp and low defense, whereas this build is all about HP and defense but low-mediocre damage.
The only reason why I'm one shotting things in the video is because my Duelist is holding a 2hand axe that hits a whalloping 50-107 damage and it's only a level 19 weapon. My ranger wields a bow that hits 36-109 damage, and it's a level 46 bow so, equipment does come into play a bit but doesn't make it necessary, my Witch is holding a level 12 staff and is level 36 in Cruel.
Omnislashing Duelist Video - (Pardon the blurriness I recorded it at half the size so I wouldn't lose framerate and so that you may get a feel for actual game play speed.) Minor Edited video, added 1 limitbreak noise b4 I kill a mass group with Flicker Strike. As always watch in 1080p for max detail goodness :D.
On the other hand I was going to make another Duelist later on doing completely different and be extremely tanky with armor & evasion, I found a crazy shield with like 655 evasion rating on it and it's only level 41 (my ranger has a level 46 tunic and rates only half that amount so that's ridiculous).
But enough about builds, there are many and plenty, ones that you can screw up, ones that are unorthodox and weird, some that are stereotypical and viable, some that are broken but work. My friend runs a spark lightning mage just runs into a room and throws sparks everywhere, it gets all blue and fuzzy on screen and gets kinda seizurish after partying with him for a few hours heh. I have a burning fire witch which I thought was pretty funny due to the lines of always Burn the witch! well I'll burn myself! with Righteous fire!
The game play in Path of Exile is nothing short of excellence. In fact it's astounding. When critical hits happen screen shakes pretty hard depending how hard you decimated a foe with a hit. The crit multiplier is uncapped so yes you can have insane critical hits that do like 900% multiplied damage. AKA 9x the regular damage. Crit chance is on a base range from 5-95%, can't exceed 95%. The way their system rolls chances is very well tuned. It's not some random toss of the coin, they actually calculate Entropy. If you don't know what Entropy is look it up, it's basically chaos. Chaos meaning random or out of order.
------RANDOM OFF TOPIC-------
But random is random right? RNG is RNG fool!
Sure in the real world, but in a computer random rolling of chances is just a programmed occurrence. What do you think proc means? Programmed Random OCcurrence PROC. Some games have these tuned to make chances fit more to the average, in Path of Exile you won't get any bs rolls of like 9 crits in a row on a 20% chance, or like 8 attacks on an enemy with 50% chance crit and get no crits. No in Path of Exile there's an entropy counter that determines and helps make those chances be more accurate.
So for example you have 25% chance to crit strike, that's basically 1/4 attacks will be a crit. If you do not critical strike within 4 attacks your entropy counter will increase or something along those lines and your chance to crit becomes higher because those 4 attacks didn't make a crit, but once you make a crit that counter goes down and your crit goes back to its original chance or if you crit a lot then the counter resets or you have less chance to crit after a while.
Does this seem unfair? No, not to me it's not it's been tested thoroughly by players and developers alike, it's a very complicated but balanced system. This method of entropy calculation is also applied to other mechanics such as dodge, evasion, spell dodge, and other chance-like mechanisms in the game.
They have a whole wiki page and developer detailing about it. So if you're skeptical and believe RNG is just RNG, no you should go look it up because here's some actual developers that are willing to explain their mechanics to you so you can build a proper play in their game according to your style. I've studied programming and this is pretty much true, random isn't completely random ever in a computer if it is then your computer might have a virus or defective hardware, really. Your computer is just a spreadsheet or a number cruncher. Not a chance determinant.
Still don't believe me? There's articles and studies about it dated about 6 years back that explain in detail and test this.
If a game is giving you crap drops or crap chances don't believe it's your luck, it's the system.
More about crap drops about Path of Exile below....
So anyways back on topic about game play, the systems in Path of Exile are extensively set up to require a player to actually plan and build as you play, some good things to know ahead of time are the penalties that are assigned on harder difficulties, such as a decrease of 20% resistances in Cruel and 60% decrease in Merciless. Not to mention EXP penalties of 5% in cruel and 15% in merciless on death.
Combat isn't slow in Path of Exile, it ramps up pretty fast. Once you've exceeded about level 40 or 50 I feel the game really picks up in pace exponentially. I'm practically on edge with my Ranger because she gets 1 or 2 shotted but it's not a problem because I'm still able to level just from kiting skills as a player and using everything I've got. If you're just playing Normal and giving the game's judgment there then you haven't experienced very much of what the game has to offer. Some of the skill gems granted later on do some really crazy things and their level requirement is about 31 or higher at gem level 1.
HEADSHOT... look at that highlighted skeleton it's going "OH F*** don't hurt me bro!"
Classes in Path of Exile are more so a question of where you start on the passive skill tree, there really isn't a class or anything it's more so a strategic position of where you start, though their names suggest what kind of stereotype they might be. Obviously the Witch in lore and history of myths and hallowe'en and what not all relate to magic, so instinctively I assume you would think Magic/Intelligence stereotype immediately. And yes the Witch is situated in the Intelligence section of the tree. The Marauder is the Strength, Ranger being the Dexterity. The Duelist Templar and Shadow are the in-betweens they start in the center of where Int/Str or Dex/Str or Dex/Int would cross over. The center of the tree depicts this pattern very well if you look at the nodes on the middle of the passive skill tree.
Crap drops in Path of Exile aren't exactly Crap. In Path of Exile drops are all useful depending on what you're looking for. Yes even white-named items are useful. If you think replacing your gear is upgrading please place that out of your mind they are two different concepts entirely. Statements like finding an upgrade isn't exactly FINDING AN UPGRADE in Path of Exile, you'll find a new piece of equipment that maybe REPLACES your previous equipment but it isn't upgrading your previous equipment.
Yes yes I get the Idiom of "Finding an upgrade" but in Path of Exile this concept is very misrepresented if you think of it in that fashion. You'll have a better chance of getting an upgrade by ACTUALLY upgrading your equipment...
For example you can buy a trash drop for an Orb of Transmutation from a blacksmith or dealer(easily obtainable to get the Orb).
How are these crap drops useful?
Well in Path of Exile YOU are the crafter of your items. That's right. You have full control if you have the resources which aren't difficult or impossible to obtain.
White named items could have for example 5 skill slots on it and are ALL linked(very rare), better yet a 6 slot S-shaped link is the most rare. Getting this set up is very rare on occurrence, sometimes even a 4 linked slot on an item is pretty uncommon but can be useful too.
Increasing Quality on a white item is much easier than increasing a quality on a rare or magic. They increase in increments of 5% compared to magic which is 2% and rare/unique being 1%. Up to a maximum of 20%.
After that you'll want to use an Orb of Transmutation to upgrade it to a Magic item and try and roll a good affix on them.
If it rolls something you didn't want, use an Orb of Alteration it'll re-roll a new affix and remove the old one, if it rolls only 1 stat use an Orb of Augmentation to add another one.
Then when you're finally satisfied with some magic affixes on your item use a Regal Orb and upgrade it into a rare granting it more affixes, if you don't like it use the Divine Orb to re-roll them those are hard to get...
BUT! if you got the ones you want on the Orb of Transmutation step then it won't be entirely crappy so you might not want to use Divine Orb since it'll toss away the affixes that you got during that earlier step.
If the attributes of the stats you rolled were pretty low you could also throw a Chaos Orb on it and it'll re-roll all the affixes' stats.
If you completely flopped it and hate the rolls altogether and want to start over toss in an Orb of Scouring and it'll remove ALL it's magic affixes/rare affixes and be a white weapon again with your 20% quality.
That's just one process of creating an upgrade for yourself. I've heard some other strategies to get good items but I'll let you all discover that as you play!
Other orbs that skip some steps are like Orbs of Alchemy changes a Normal(white) directly to a Rare. Orb of Chance can roll a magic or a rare on the item... sometimes even a Unique. Chromatic orbs change the skill slot color. Orbs of Fusing re-arranges the links between skill slots on the item, Jeweller's Orb changes how many skill slots are on an item.
It's pretty intense and the choices you can make are vast.
Trading is another big thing in Path of Exile.
What do I mean by that? I mean that NPCs don't just spew you gold for every item you sell to them.
WHAT NO GOLD?
Yes Path of Exile runs on 0 gold. There's no such thing as a currency in Path of Exile. It's a wonderful difference that most games( don't even take an effort to try to apply something such as this. Obviously rare orbs or like stuff like gemcutter prism's are hard to get and are used for trade between players.
But you can trade things with NPCs too, they don't just give you crap back all the time it just depends on what you give them.
A triple linked multi-color item will grant you a chromatic orb.
A 6 slotted item will give you 7 Jeweller Orbs.
7 iron rings and 1 rare paua ring/coral ring will get you a rare paua/amulet unid'ed in return.
5 Magic Prismatic rings will give you a prismatic ring back unid'ed magic/rare.
Combined 40%+ quality of weapons given to NPC returns you a blacksmith whetstone
OR 1 20% quality weapon will give you a blacksmith whetstone.
Same for armor
A rare of many types of different equip can get you a Regal Orb or Orb of Alchemy
Certain affixes on equipment will get you shards for rare orbs.
There are tons of recipes to trade equipment to NPCs so it's pretty interesting and takes a while to get used to. I definitely prefer it over garbage gold that you have grind for millions for hours on end.
Path of Exile does away with gold in the sense of barter trade. Sure you could trade for 800,000 wisdom scrolls which would equate to 1 Orb of Regret or something OR you could be smarter and transmutation an item and hope it rolls something cool get a shard or orb that's worth like 2000 wisdom scrolls instead which costs next to nothing. Just for those who are doing the math.
If that system is too hard to understand then I suggest you play a different game. This game is quite complicated and in-depth, and takes some time to discover and learn its systems, it's not a game you pick up and know everything within a few hours.
But the game has the illusion of customization and skill trees and what not everyone's just going to build the same thing anyways!
I don't think so, I haven't exactly seen people run the same thing, everyone's doing something crazy. I've seen a full resist templar blasting spells out and someone doing massive stunlock, shield charging fools, my omnislashing duelist, my machinegun ranger, someone's dagger witch, tank witch, ice spear crit witch, lightning witch. There's a LOT of builds, viable, useless, broken, well thought out, ridiculous, funny crafted characters from all players, bow shooting shadow, magic melee shadow, duelist with crazy high defense and evasion. Some funny ones are like the invulnerable endurance charge suicider of molten shell, basically run into a huge mob with molten shield yell and taunt at all your enemies hope the shield explodes before your invuln runs out, along with righteous fire burn.
Skill gems and support gems on skills modify the skills in many different ways, you could have a prismatic hit if you'd like even. I saw someone run the build with where you hit elemental damage of a certain type the enemy gains 50% in that element but loses -25% in the rest, so if you have all elements it's basically a boost in 25% in 2 elements and 1 that gets decreases and cycles around that, match it with curses to further reduce resistances of certain types and you get a crazy boost in elemental damage and grab elemental damage increase on weapons or overall nodes on the skill tree.
That's just a bit about Game play, over all there's a LOT of material to cover and that's all I've got for it, in terms of rating I'm rating it a 9.5/10, 0.5 missing being the only thing that bugs me is de-syncing of the server when too much stuff happens too fast, but apart from that I haven't had very poor experiences with lag or disconnects and overall the game has me fairly addicted. Really good for a Free To Play.
The Visuals of Path of Exile presents a very dreadful, horrorful mood. The theme of the graphics utilize color and light very well. With a recent patch upgrade of a lot of artistic assets and overhaul of audio and some effects the game has improved quite a substantial amount in just under 3 weeks. This game is colorful but not bright and rainbowy. It's dark, it's lonely, it's gruesome, and as you get further into the game it gets extremely gory and seems like a nightmare. It becomes creepy as you traverse to the Gemling Queen, it gets extremely nasty when you start going through the Lunaris temple.
Some images for your eyes.
The game does not hold back on R rated stuff and this clearly isn't a game for kids if you ask me. If I had a kid I'd be like wtf are you playing.
The models and monsters are fairly low in detail but they fit the overall theme, rather raggedy looking, like a hobo in the wilderness, the feel is very medieval, stuff isn't fully developed in technology, lots of magic and sorcery. Prisons and dungeons are very well placed in terms of light and darkness.
Even at the warehouses when you go inside a warehouse in the same map the light radius just drops, you can see stuff outside but there's still stuff hidden inside, and doesn't bleed through, very cool.
If you think Light Radius is a crappy feature and doesn't add anything to a dark/horror-themed game I don't know what does then. As far as I know what you can't see is a loss of power or information meaning you don't know your enemy or where they're coming from. So light does play a lot into horror or dark-themed game. To not make use of it is basically making your game less of that theme.
The characters and their stance pose and what not definitely fit their title(Duelist, pretty cocky etc. Witch, burn her, takes your children kind of thing lol).
The NPCs at the shore fit in with the town, the theme in the 2nd town really feels like a tribal village-like place. The third town feels like a minor fortress and is pretty huge. Zombies and dead things on the shore on Act 1 are like dead Exiles that didn't make it and placement of monsters in the environments are very well put together. The maps are fairly random although I'm getting to memorize some of them but some are huge as heck and can never figure out where to go. (Ancient Pyramid, Lunaris Temple to name some.) Some maps are set in stone like the Fetid Pool. But at end-game there's random map generation for players to do something.
Gems recently changed with their icons now all depict the ability they represent in a golden art that's wrapped around the gem. Monsters aren't recycled between all 3 acts except maybe the skeletons.
Skill effects are awesome. I like fire storm. Spark spam makes me dizzy. Arc is a sick giant beam of lightning that bounces around, explosive arrows my favorite to light a monster up like a birthday cake. Leap Slam looks hilariously broken depending on what weapon you're wielding. Ice spear looks pretty cool as it morphs while it travels.
Overall I believe the Visuals deserve a 9/10. The way some of their environments are put together just look stunning. I especially loved the Cavern of Wrath and the watery flooded look on the rocks was really spot on combined with the lighting and darkness of the caves. Ship graveyard too. Lunaris temple disgusted me out so it definitely got something right there, Solaris Temple creeped the crap out of me as like some kind of rich person's weird idea of keeping naked statues everywhere. Mixed with audio it was pretty surreal. The 0.5 missing from the visual score is that some of the animations don't look too impressive or are somewhat unpolished, and some areas are a bit recycled but differently lit. But mainly it's some of the animations but it's not too big of a deal but it's not perfect either.
Subjectively for me the core of the visuals are good and aren't an eye-sore, nor are they bright flashes of color that burn the eyes. Playing the game at night in the dark makes the atmosphere of the game intensify quite a bit especially when you're in a dungeon. The game is catered more towards a realistic look rather than a cartoony look. Visuals, the presentation of the material.
In terms of Originality, Path of Exile has wonderfully combined many good ideas from different games together all into one.The crafting system is definitely original and crazily modifiable for all items in the game. the passive skill tree is fun to traverse and strategize around during game play. I generally feel pretty accomplished when a build works out when I get an idea of how I wanted to build a character into a certain play style. The story is fairly original, and the abilities are somewhat stereotypical on some but the support gems and skill gems utilizing the links and everything is very original, I'm not too familiar with FF7's materia system but I suppose it's likely similar on a smaller scale. The music and some monsters are pretty original. The alteration of entire stats and systems are original for sure in the passive skill tree. The Keystones.
In terms of world traversal I like the path-node exploration type of map for travelling the world. It's pretty neat to have things mapped out and see where you're going and how far you've gone into the game area by area. I can't wait until more acts are added in. The only thing that isn't original is the ARPG aspect although that's pretty much what all of it is. The only negative I can point out is that I wish there a bit more choices in terms of the story branching, the Deal with the Bandits quest was a nice differentiation of a permanent choice granted to your character that can never be undone and is different through each difficulty for the bonus it provides. Something more along the lines of that would've been nice.
For an overall Originality score I'm giving it a 8.5/10. Being entirely original for a 9+ would have to be innovating something extremely new and never before seen which is rare these days. But nonetheless Path of Exile's originality on the MMO market and free to play market is definitely there. The combination of 2 old systems into one with the mechanics and evolution theory building of a character via Magic The Gathering, Path of Exile has achieved something that caters to many players looking for some RPG building. There's no other F2P online game that utilizes a passive skill tree system such as Path of Exile nor the skill-support gem system that they've implemented.
Sound in Path of Exile I find is addicting in terms of skill effects and destruction. Leap Slam is satisfyingly destructive. Burning Arrow sounds like mini rockets exploding on impact. Explosive arrows sound vicious when they crit and blow up an entire group. Lightning has that shocky noise. Frozen enemies shattering are depicted very well with the sound that's assigned to it. Flicker strike sounds sick, especially when you start spamming it.
Voice acting is superb in the game. Most NPCs and characters in the game are pretty good with their voice acting and fit their personality and their current location they reside in.
For example, Nessa sounds rather distraught and busted whereas Bestel is that jolly kind of fellow trying to cheer people up who've arrived at Wraeclast at Lioneye's Watch. Tarkleigh is more like a taskmaster kind of guy who gives you... stuff to do rather than whacking you with a stick or something. All three of them tell you to travel inwards to the center of Wraeclast, but many dangers have stopped them from being able to do so. Act 2 Greust is like the guard of the tribes village in the forest encampment. He sounds like a lunkhead if you ask me, I sell stuff to him a lot and he's always goin "WOT...". Yeena sounds like a hippy, and silk seems like a pimp. Eramir reminds me of Deckard Cain from Diablo 2.
In Act 3 you get Hargan who seems to have an accent for a blacksmith, Maramoa sounds pretty butch, Clarissa is some hot girl with an english accent o.O I think..., Grigor is an interesting one, he speaks like a ghoul or something. Piety talks with pride and authority, or someone to be feared. People aren't speaking useless nonsense most of the time and even the Bandits all had their personality. Kraityn literally sounded like a rat, Alira like a whore as both described by Oak who rather sounds wise(and hated fighting him EVERYTIME leap slam spammer jesus).
Even sounds like the Vaal Overlord's laser beam sounds devastating, the first time I heard it I was pretty much thinking OH SH** that has to hit REAL hard. and yeah it does -_- I got one shotted on Normal, should've just ran circles around it when it was doing that attack *facepalm*.
Music in the game is very eerie at times, fits the atmosphere very well, it gets pretty creepy in Act 3 in some areas, in the battle front it sounds like espionage music, but it doesn't get annoying for me, it's alright, it doesn't make me want to turn it off and turn my own music on. At certain areas like the jungles or Act 2 it doesn't even sound eerie it just sounds like the wilds.
Monsters are pretty well depicted too with sound, those damn monkeys are so annoying to kill, same with goats hopping all over the place, and those miscreations in the Lunaris temple are omg weird/freaky stuff. Golems rollin around.
Overall I'd give sound an easy 9.5/10, there's really nothing that's off beat or just doesn't revolve around their game in terms of sound. Or I can't think of any. Each area seems very specific and consistent with that area.
Story - The beginning of the story was explained above a bit earlier at the beginning, you get dumped off on Wraeclast.
I'll just summarize it here, you basically got sent off to Wraeclast for a wrongful deed, you're trying to survive, some woman named Piety is taking up dark magic and amplifying death and what not and releasing stuff, you're trying to make it inland where civilization is more evolved, and mutilated creeps are in your way, or screwed up cults, ghosts and sirens, strange tortured creatures, undead, wild animals, savage monsters in a jungle.
As one NPC said Snake eats frog, frog get angry and frog eat snake. Jungle all confused don't know what's what! I Lol'ed.
The story is okay, it's nothing too different, once again follows the same as TL2 and D2 and D3, not sure why so many ARPGs like to chase one villain down but this one did some branching, as in you can do your quests in any order during each Act, or without having to talk to someone to progress. (E.g. find Allflame kill Fairgreaves, talk to fairgreaves find allflame kill fairgreaves etc.). Some of the quests are pretty cool, I especially loved the Deal with the Bandits one in a public party... for certain reasons :D. Also the boss fights weren't exactly dull either, I hate snap damage(attacks that spawn on you and are impossible to dodge).
To give Story a rating based on everything they presented, it is hella high for a Free to Play game; 8.0/10. Not to mention that it isn't even fully done yet and more Acts are coming.
Here I'll be explaining some of the games negatives or turnoffs. It didn't detract me or made me want to quit but I'll try and take it in the perspective of an incoming player. Some things players may dislike are...
Passive Skill Tree - Can be intimidating and a waste of time on that first character you make because you don't know what's going on or what you're doing. By the time you hit Cruel it all seems pretty useless and hopeless that you have to restart or re-roll entirely. But that may not be the case for everyone, and wasn't for me.
Skill Gem and Support Gems - Sometimes can be ambiguous between whether or not the support gem will grant the designated effect to the skill you're linking it with. However the developers are very clear and concise with most things in the game and have provided LOTS of transparency to help with an ambiguities of the game. Again the combination and thought building with the passive skill tree can be overwhelming to any newcomer.
Death Penalty in Cruel & Merciless - As stated in the loading screen tips there is a 5%/10% death penalty in Cruel/Merciless, at later levels, levelling becomes rather slow and long, a death of such a drop might get annoying but then again, you shouldn't be dying a lot either unless you're running a really squishy build.
De-syncing - The servers aren't exactly top of the line seamless lagless optic fibre injected internet connection servers, they do have the tendency to de-sync out of game sometimes. What I mean is sometimes you attack something and your attack is delayed or the monster isn't where they actually are. It doesn't feel like lag though because stuff is still happening to that monster, they're just not drawn in the right location. Rather frustrating during some obstructed areas.
Dungeon view obstruction - Okay this one got to me, sometimes in dungeons on doorways or walls blocking view of monsters it's just really frustrating at times especially if you get a de-sync midway in. Monsters don't highlight too well behind an obstructed wall when you mouse over and can actually see them. (Like you're in the same room and it can see you, shoots fireballs at you etc. not x-ray vision).
Crafting - Sometimes this can get ridiculous, you get an item with 3 skill slots and you Orb of Fusing it, it connects 1 then disconnects 1, connects 2. But they are all chance rolls really. Just frustrating sometimes, but there are only so many things it can roll and they all seem evenly distributed in chances.
Timed loot grabbing in Parties - Most people you party with in public I'm guessing are all equipment hoarders and item hoarders, anything of rare value people will try to ninja loot it rather than fight overwhelming hordes of mobs destroying the party. Makes no sense but sure, and they probably don't even need it. I party with a friend, barely ever in a public party(only once) and when I party with a friend it's cool the looting system is perfect for private parties, but for public it needs to be re-worked, or adjusted in my opinion. Everyone's too busy trying to ninja loot stuff over anything else the moment something of value drops on screen. Lol. For those who play public parties a lot or lik to party with strangers this could be a big turnoff.
Gameplay - 9.5/10 (Haven't had so much character planning/building in a while in a game)
Visuals - 9/10 (Visuals, The presentation. Not about how smoothed and hi-res their models are.)
Sound - 9.5/10 (Does the sound fit the game, did it make me remember?)
Originality - 8.5/10 (Convince me of another f2p game in the last year or two that has the passive skill tree & skill/supportgem system and I won't believe this isn't as original any more)
Story - 8.0/10 (It's free, and it was a fair amount for something I didn't have to pay anything for.)
Overall - 44.5/50 >> 89/100
End Comments: The game is fun, I had fun re-rolling new characters, using respec points to fix one of my partially broken chars using Orbs of Regret(lol what a name.) and played intensively for quite a bit. Every time I level I end up staring at the skill tree considering where I should traverse to next to accomodate my build & for what's upcoming in the difficulty I'm in and the area I'm at.
I even used respec points in a strategic manner to actually build my character by losing stats and gaining other ones, as they gained more points.
Crafting in this game is also fun although it can be frustrating at times or even most of the time, when you do get that item you need it's pretty awesome, however not everything is crap in this game, some might just be for another character you might prefer to roll later. I'm a pretty curious guy playing this game, I've made already 3 chars in default league and 1 in hardcore. My stash is getting pretty full from items held for others.
All things considered for anyone playing the game I suggest you stick to your guns and don't switch your build halfway or you'll just be swallowing Orbs of Regret like no tomorrow heh. Might be better to re-roll if you do go like 30-40 levels in and decide something else all of a sudden. For me I prefer to just build it into a certain type; Tank? Priest? SpellCaster? Hybrid? Dodger? Birthdaycake Ranger?(Lol), etc.
After all the journey of your character doesn't just suddenly do a flipside halfway in... You actually get to see your character start with crap attacks and speed and whatnot and everything into some beast of a character if you stuck with your build all the way through. Mid game(50+) it gets insanely fast/hard and pace picks up exponentially and doesn't take long to get there, maybe about 20 hours worth of playing or less? That's my only tip.
As always comments are welcome please keep them civil among each other thanks!