Path of Exile
Path of Exile is a free to play online action roleplaying game that draws clear inspiration from Diablo but charts a path all its own.
- Six starting classes and a seventh that unlocks upon campaign completion
- Multiple difficulty modes
- Robust multiplayer features that emphasize both competitive and cooperative methods of play
- Entirely free to play and refreshingly devoid of pay to win gating
- Simple but addictive combat systems that emphasize the acquisition of loot
- Continually supported with updates and adjustments from the development team
- Walks the well worn path of the genre rather than innovating in the gameplay department
- Online requirements sometimes create hiccups and disconnections during play
Path of Exile wears its influences on its sleeve. From its deep fantasy setting to its loot based progression system to its selection of classes, the fingerprints of Blizzard's Diablo series can be seen clearly. But Path of Exile distances itself from the packaged software model by establishing itself as an online free to play game. In a business where loot boxes and pay to win models reign king, Path of Exile sets itself apart. It's exceedingly generous with players, offering the full breadth of gameplay options and loot without having to spend a dime. There's a story underpinning Path of Exile, but it's mostly a vehicle for the addictive clickbait nature of the gameplay. Players start by picking a class and start their journey as the shipwrecked sole survivor of a prison ship. From here, it's your job to make a name for yourself on an island populated almost entirely by criminals of various stripes. The quest givers serve merely as an excuse to plunge deeper into the forests, dungeons, and caverns that populate the island's vast map, but that's not to say the developers neglected the aesthetics of the game. The voice acting is top notch, even if the story the dialogue is tethered to is nothing to write home about, and the setting is clean and crisply rendered, if a bit generic. There's little in the way of innovations here. Diablo players will feel right at home with a combat system that places an emphasis on clicking monsters as quickly as possible and regularly updating your character with a never ending onslaught of prettier and more elaborate armor and weapons. The starter classes fall into the familiar mold of tank, DPS, healer, and magic user, but it's a formula that works as well today as it did when the formula was first developed. If there's one place where the formula breaks from the mold, it's with how abilities interact with equipment. Instead of having a stock set of powers that grow as your character levels, abilities are doled out in the form of gems. Each gem is assigned a different color, and the abilities available to you are limited by the sockets available in your equipment. This allows a greater level of customization over the type of character you build and often requires a layer of strategy where one must decide between sacrificing stronger weapons for more robust skill sets. These are further supplemented by passive skills, linked to class and displayed in a frankly massive skill tree, that unlock as your character gains levels. Path of Exile's campaign is long, but as is often the case with persistent multiplayer games, much of the meat of the experience is hidden behind postgame content. League leaderboards add a competitive aspect to the game, and they regularly rotate in the form of seasons. A number of additional maps are available to extend the play experience as well.