Developers: Grinding Gears Games
Released: October 23, 2013
Price: Free to Play
Contributed By: Matthew Wilson
Welcome to free Diablo! Path of Exile is an action RPG developed by Grinding Gears Games that will interest anyone who likes the classic dungeon crawler and the genre’s inherent repeated mouse clicking. This game is almost a Diablo clone, deviating only slightly from its predecessor.
Without a single player campaign option, the game is entirely multiplayer. As such, it supports a partying systems that allow players to conquer monsters and complete dungeons together. If you want to play Diablo and don’t have the money, this is your game.
While the world has plenty of smaller story lines, the main plot centers around you being exiled to an island filled with others who have met a similar fate. While you are being transported to the island, your boat crashes and you wash up on the shore as the only survivor.
You are immediately thrown into combat and a short tutorial mission begins. Unfortunately, the beginning missions are slow. I felt as though I had to trudge my way through the early stages of the game to reach a point where I felt free.
Choosing a class in Path of Exile simply serves as a starting point, after which there are virtually no limits on what direction you take your character. Like any RPG, your character progresses to gain new skills, but this game allows you to customize your abilities like no other.
The skill tree, containing an amazing 1325 skills to chose from, is an overwhelming web of buffs and abilities that in no way limit you by character class. No other game offers the same level of skill customization as Path of Exile, making it one of the game’s main selling points.
As impressive as the skill system is, my favorite aspect of RPGs is not an option: character customization. Fortunately, the lack of character customization is a minimal downside as such features are a luxury.
Graphically Path of Exile is average, but the game is free to play and almost two years old. Despite the title’s free to play packaging, the game features impressive voice acting, level design, monsters and boss battles. Simply put though, the game doesn’stand out in any particular way from other action RPGs aside from its expansive skill tree.
The story was bland, somewhat unoriginal and cliche. “blah blah monsters… blah blah blah war, death, violence…” you get the point. And with the mundane story line came lackluster questing.
There’s not much to say about the questing system, it’s the same as every other classic dungeon run: kill so many monsters or retrieve an item. Nothing original was put into the questing system to help the dull monotony of your average grindy linear quests, an attribute that appropriately describes much of the game.
Path of Exile’s combat system was equally medicore. It involves an extreme amount of clicking and hotbar abilities. Grinding Gear Games did try to prevent exessive clicking by allowing players to click and hold on a single target instead of mashing your mouse incestantly, but even with this tactic the combat system felt like a chore.
Furthermore, early in the game I wasn’t impressed by the weight of the attacks, which felt positively dainty. While it improved slightly as the game progressed, it never got to the point where I felt satisfied. Meanwhile I was looking forward to an impressive loot system, but instead Path of Exile’s only offers simple weapon types with a few modifiers that boost stats and not much else.
Thankfully, Path of Exile’s business model manages to avoid some of the controversy associated with pay-to-win microtransactions commonly seen in free-to-play titles. The market has been spammed with free to play games that can’t keep up with the cost of production and have to default to requiring players to fund the game using a pay-to-win system. In Path of Exile you’ll in no way be forced into a position where you must use real money if you don’t want to. This game possesses one of the fairest business models for a free to play, and seriously deserves credit for it.
This game is not for me, I’m just not looking for what it has to offer. If you want a solid free action RPG, well this game is for you. You can spend countless hours on this game at absolutely no expense. While the game doesn’t stand out from other titles in the genre, it still manages to run with the best of them.
Path of Exile is definitely one of the better action RPGs out there and I highly recommend this game to anyone interested in the genre. Furthermore if you plan to play with friends the game delivers a decent party system, and features one of the best microtransaction systems that I have seen.