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Jan
23
2013

PREVIEW: Path of Exile (Closed Beta)

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Path of Exile is a labor of love, and just pure labor with it being in development for over six years now. It’s also enjoyable and very deep. Path of Exile is as if Diablo III and Dark Souls had a baby. It’s dark, grim, and very brutal. Today is the Open Beta, free to download and try out. But want to learn more about it, come inside…

Each character you choose, whether it be the Templar, the Shadow, the Marauder, the Ranger, the Duelist, or the Witch. They all start off washed up on the beaches of Twilight Strand. It’s as unfamiliar and foreign to you as it is them, and from there is where your questing begins. You see, you’ve been exiled to these islands. It seems that every one of these types were framed to be put here. And you’ll slowly uncover the mystery while slaying hundreds of thousands of undead. There isn’t an official tutorial or anything explaining….anything really. And that’s okay, it’s a simple enough concept to grasp.

Path of Exile eschews two major elements of the action RPG: Health potions you have to stock up on at vendors, and gold. Both technically don’t exist. But rather, you have a flask that regenerates based on enemy deaths and buying and selling items is done with items themselves. It’s more of a barter system, and gold has no place here. Should you not have the material necessary to make your purchases, you can use the microtransactions tab to do so. The constant chat of this online world makes it fun to go to a notice board and pickup friends or strangers to go on public quests for loot and fun. Everyone thus far has been nothing but helpful. You can trade with other players, a system that works surprisingly well and makes all parties involved, happy.

Combat is as you’d expect, click or hold the left mouse button to attack, and so on. Leveling up has you earning a single, solitary point to spend into hundreds of options. They all use the same passive skill map, but depending on the class you’ll start in a different location and can branch out. It seems with every skill point investment, it’s nothing but minuscule. It’ll quickly start adding up, making you increasingly powerful. Skill gems provide the active skills you are used to, skill gems found in loot drops or trade that are socketed into items give you different abilities, allowing you to mix-n-match with disastrous and surprising results.

From moment one, Wraeclast is the last place you want to be. The dead rule the land, there’s thunderstorms raging and fires burning that signal your death is imminent. Everything is heavily shadowed, and the rain that hits your body makes the material wet and drips with each movement. Melee attacks hit hard and you see the blood fly out from the body it made contact with. This is a vicious game. It isn’t always the prettiest, but that’s kind of the point.

Path of Exile hasn’t reinvented the wheel. The combat is very similar to that of Diablo III or Torchlight II. The changes to the traditional potion system and removal of gold are bold, yet welcome changes in this action RPG. There’s a character for you to shape and mold to your liking. Going into Open Beta will now allow for the game to become better and more refined. Path of the Exile at launch will be free, and the microtransactions are promised never to be a way to purchase shortcuts. The future of Path of Exile looks bright, opposite that of its dark, volatile world.

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