I'll start by saying that I played Diablo 1 and 2 as some of my first dungeons crawlers and I played them for years and years and think they are some of the best games made to date. I was there for D3 day one, foaming at the mouth, maxing my level and playing non stop.
I didn't have a massive issue with D3 like many others did. I thought it was a great game, just with lack luster replayability. I still feel I got my moneys worth, but have no desire to go back to it.
I had heard of Path of Exile months ago, maybe even a year ago. I ignored it as it was still in closed beta and I tend to not care to play a game where my progress is going to get cleared. Not to mention I like being fresh in a game, learning along with the community and just being right out of the gate with everyone, it's a great feeling. I got an email a few days ago that the game was having an open beta and I figured I'd try it out. I didn't realize the game was free to play until this morning.
I logged in and was immediately reminded of Diablo 2, in the best ways possible. I'm only a few hours in, but after not having much interest in this game, I must say it's really made me change my tune.
They have made small changes but with smart twists, where D3 had you picking up globes to keep the action going, this game has your potions refills by killing monsters. It's the same idea but this way is slightly better as you tend to have more control over when you use the potion refill you've earned instead of the globes from D3 being used whether you needed the healing or not.
There aren't skills you learn through a skill tree, it's all done through gems you can socket into items with color-coded slots. The gems level up, making those skills better as they go. You can also unsocket gems from items at any time and put them into another socket with no penalty. It's great and really encourages different combinations.
The skill tree is immense to say the least. It seems to be filled with nothing but passive skills and it spiderwebs out to a massive degree, it's a lot to take in at first, but you start to see the idea behind it and it's smartly made.
Lastly, the feel of the game. It seems to have D2s heart mixed with todays graphics. Going into a cave is appropriately dark and everything looks to be made with care.
In one of the first areas I came across I didn't realize the game had a map so I just ran around lost in this swampish area not exactly knowing what to do, but having fun anyway. I ended up coming across a quest which I figured out on my own without any quest giver or dialog telling me exactly what to do. I was just exploring, on my own, having a blast. It did turn out later that there is a quest giver and he does tell you what to do, but none of that was in your face or needed. The area wasn't locked just because I needed to go talk to some generic NPC, it felt good to go back to town and already have done it all on my own. It's something you don't get much (if at all) in games today, and if you do it's just you being lost and getting frustrated. The areas in the game aren't big enough to be lost for hours, but they're also not small enough to feel cramped or linear.
Also, because it is a F2P game there are things you can buy for real money. I checked out all of the items they have, it's completely trivial stuff with no affect on the game. It looks to be all cosmetic.
So that's my story, it's a cool game, you should try it.