The Path of Exile began Open Beta yesterday on January 23, 2013. The may be news to some but definitely something awaited by many action-oriented RPG fans of the genre.
Path of Exile takes place in Wraeclast. From what I gathered through my first few hours in Path of Exile, it is a forsaken land where people have been out cast in to like a wilderness or no man's land kind of atmosphere.
Note: This impression might be a bit lop-sided since I enjoyed the game quite a lot, so I don't think I will be highlighting very many negatives.
The game takes place off shore for me, I don't know if it's different for others but I started out as a Witch. (Burn her!). I like playing spellcasters mainly but what really left a taste for more for me in the game was the skill gems that could level up. (A little off topic here but this is what I expected Diablo 3 to do until they decided to trash that system. Oh well). Not only that but the skill tree for passives was enormous.
It was nostalgia coming back. But a good nostalgia, and one that's being implemented in a very cruel, mean, horror typed game. The only time I've seen something similar was Final Fantasy X on PlayStation 2. I've longed for a skill tree as big as this, I know you can't max out everything but the amount of traversal and diversity between players here is on unfathomable amounts. It'll also take some time for people to discover their "optimal efficient build" but I doubt it, this game seems to be optimal in any path you go and still be difficult.
Now I don't want to mislead and say that the game is cruel mean and horrorful, it's just that's how the game seems to represent my character. In an Exiled status. Thrown out from society and left on a land where survival is key. The theme of the game is really captured with lighting and its environments. Your character looks like a homeless at start like they've had nothing to go on for days. Mix in undead and skeletons and big monsters right at the start and you have something fairly dark-themed just to set an impressionable mood. Not to mention broken down barricades and ship wreckages and planks and barrels and things all over the place. It's just a broken mess.
Those who say lighting doesn't matter in a game, I'll tell you that it really drives for horror when your visibility is down or forced to minimal distances by the game. If that pisses you off then don't play horror games, what you can't see is basically what you're scared of or not scared of right? It's basically the sense that you have 0 information about your surroundings if you can only see so far.
Path of Exile brings visibility in dungeons down to a minimum, why other games thrusting for horror-themed genres don't use a light radius or lighting and darkness is beyond me. It is absolutely horridly dark apart from a circle around your character, and corners and walls obstructing view make it that much worse. I didn't have any problem fighting baddies in obstructed views either so if I can do it so can you!
The graphics really aren't that bad from compared to what I've heard have a look yourself :/
The story in Path of Exile is also fairly decent, it seems to be just about exploration for now and getting deeper into the main land as well as clearing out areas as tasks for some of the NPCs. I'm only on Act 1 after all. Everyone in town at Lioneye's town seems to be a bit crazed except Tarkleigh, who may be crazed more than the others for being so calm. I know most don't give a crap about story but I like to pay attention to any kind of lore or tale some developer wants to present to me. So far it's pretty good, for a free to play game, this is nothing near crap. The world map seems really nice too, It's a node chart and you can travel between them if a waypoint exists and you've discovered it. And guess what the maps are randomly generated too! The LOCAL map system is very similar to that of Diablo 2. Those who've played will definitely know what I mean here.
In terms of graphics they're not bad, sure they may be a bit on the low-end but overall the theme and combination of graphics & skills and models it all ties in very well. I think it'll work very well on low-spec systems also and the load times on my powerful CPU don't even feel like there's any load time, when I travel in between maps the load is practically instant. I wait at most 2-3 seconds and have 0 graphic lag in game. The only lag I experience is the internet connection and random disconnects(Probably due to the influx of players and people playing the open beta). Not at all a problem for having 0$ being the entry fee to play it and all its content.
My experience so far: Excellent.
Passive Skill Tree <- Lots and lots of things to look through, I think I spent a good whole hour just staring at the thing and looking at all the passive abilities you can get on the tree and where each class starts on the tree.
Skill Gems <- Very interesting something I was looking forward to on a previous ARPG title that didn't do so well, but in PoE they seem to have delivered. These go into certain colored slots on your equipment.
Game doesn't run on gold <- Hah this is a funny one, when I noticed I have no gold currency or any kind of in game money this hit me as a surprise. THE GAME RUNS ON ITEM TRADE. You sell stuff to NPCs they give you scroll fragments and things rather than money. Way to go for going away from Gold, Grinding Gear Games. (I approve immensely.)
Voice acting <- The NPC voice acting and story telling is very well done. Coming from an indie company and having voice acting for all the dialogue in the game works very well. The bosses and monsters I've come across are also portrayed well along its theme. Your own character has their own voice too upon levelling or entering certain areas and the like. No one's laughing in the game unless they're insane or lost their mind in some way in terms of in-game characters, a very serious tone. Works well to drive the dark theme further in.
Theme <- The final highlight I have to mention here is theme, I've said it many times, this includes graphics, overall presentation, story and monsters and characters and models. They all fit one theme and it's basically horror or dark. Whichever you like I know some consider horror as something else but I mean horror in terms of something like Amnesia, or Dark Souls/Demon's Souls or Diablo 2 or DeadSpace, Resident Evil 1 for examples.
I've never played the closed beta and I didn't attend any hype meetings either or checked out very much regarding the game until open beta came.
EDIT: Screenshots to add in later.
EDIT: Review to come later(when I've reached more than 72 hours, I definitely want to review this game)
And here my impressions of the game after playing it for a short 4 hour session.
Non-existant, Weak, Average, Strong, Overwhelming; Fulfilled/ Letdown
Crashbomb bad, Poor, Same old, Good, Excellent, Impressive
Impression - Impressive levels. The game is fun, I can't wait to level up each time to traverse further down that huge skill tree which has me addicted. The game is pretty fun so far I'm having fun dropping traps and watching it blow up and icing enemies in a fire puddle and trying to snipe enemies far away with an ice spear so it explodes rather than pierce the enemy. The skills are pretty cool some are generic across other games others are fairly unique. Nonetheless it has me playing and wanting to play more. The gem levelling has me really addicted to see the later effects of a high level skill gem.
Hype: Overwhelming and Fulfilled - I've been awaiting this game but not eagerly after the mass disappointment from ... another game not going to mention it ..... uhh down here(I mentioned it up above), and I expected more of this rather than that. It's overwhelming because it seems everyone who's played Diablo 2 knows about this game and I don't see ravings of mad fans going "this is a letdown", and me having played the Diablo series feels this is very much a Diablo-esque game, but an improvement of it in every way.
Signs of Fail: None really, it didn't take me long to figure out how to disable global chat which could get annoying. I can't see any bot spams for gold selling considering the game doesn't even run on gold lol, you'd just be ridiculed for trying. Only fail I might see is probably the item mall turning into pay 2 win even though it isn't currently. I'll definitely throw some money at GGG(Grinding Gear Games) if the game doesn't turn out to be that way a month or two in.
End comments: For a game that's free to play it's definitely worth checking out, you won't be disappointed... unless you hate ARPG games then stay away. The systems are pretty cool, if you're going to judge Path of Exile and its entirety just based on graphics you should just exile yourself from playing games :) Games aren't about graphics, it's about how much fun you're having.(Or I could be wrong about this. :P)
As always comments are welcome, please keep them civil among each other thanks!