Path of Exile Test: What Diablo 3 Should Have Been

01/29/2014 06:00 am by Anna Radak in TestsDownload GamesAction

Path of Exile

Path of Exile

Have you ever felt like the days of good hack’n’slay titles are over? Were you fed up with how the third installment of the Diablo franchise turned out? If you answered one of these questions with yes, then you know how we here at felt... until we stumbled upon a little indie game called Path of Exile. The free-to-play title has been released for quite some time now, so we decided to see what the fuss was all about and give it a try ourselves. This review is by no means our way of giving the game a final rating, as we are well aware that it is still being worked on and that it is more than likely that it will see a couple of new content updates in its time.

More Than Meets the Eye - 7 Classes, 1350 Talents

We choose you, Witch!

It's time to put on our big girl pants, step inside the online world of Wraeclast and see if Path of Exile holds up to its praise. Before we can pass judgement however, we'll have to create a character. Each and every class seems to have a unique backstory and a reason for being an outcast. We usually tend to go for the most gruesome option available, so we pick the Witch who’s notorious for killing children in a blind rage.

Much to our surprise there’s no lenghty tutorial for us to go through. Once we log in, we’re good to go: We find our very first weapon on the remains of a poor soul that has died on the shores and start killing zombies right away. We’ve heard that Path of Exile was known for its eerie atmosphere, but boy, is it eerie! Everything’s just what we expect from a horror action RPG: We're presented with gloomy caverns, creepy monsters and dangerous quests that feel as if we are actually making the world a better place.

That's one skill tree if we've ever seen one!

The absolute best thing about Path of Exile is leveling up for the very first time. Sure, reaching yet another milestone with your character always feels good - but opening up the game’s infamous "skill tree" for the very first time gave us enough incentive to keep playing. Even though we picked the Witch class, we are free to customize our hero’s skill whichever way we want to. Every level-up not only gives us access to more abilities, but also allows us to put another point into whatever passive attribute we like.

Speaking of abilities: Obtaining certain skills is handled very differently in Path of Exile. For our character to cast things, we need the respective gem and put them into an item that we currently have equipped. Then, they gain experience and level up just like our character. That way, we’re allowed to even use special attacks that would only be available to other class stereotypes in similar games. Melee warriors casting fireballs and freezing  their enemies in place with icy attacks? But of course. A witch duel-wielding two sharp weapons? Yes, please! But enough numbers and theoretical talk; upwards and onwards with the hacking and slashing, we say.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Here We Come!

Slowly rising to the top...

Combat in Path of Exile, like in any other game of the same genre (Torchlight, Diablo), takes quite a toll on your index finger and wrist. Every action requires repeated clicking - whether that’s moving through the map or obliterating every zombie, skeleton or necromancer that crosses our path. Area-of-Effect skill gems such as Rain Arrow, Firestorm or Cleave help us with getting rid of  multiple enemies at once. What sets the free-to-play title apart from other games, is the way the potion system works. The fact that these magical concoctions don’t simply vanish upon use, but recharge as you kill one target after the other, keeps us on our toes and makes us think about who to kill first.

Take a boss fight, for instance: Do we focus on the main target first and only kill the other pesky monsters when we need our elixirs to refresh? That choice is entirely up to us. While the missions offered to us within Act I are not particularly challenging, it doesn’t take long before we seriously need to consider how to go about the task at hand. And that’s a good thing!
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