By Kirbydunker85 1 Comments
I must clap my hands, bravo. What a great game for such a low price-point (it's F2P). It plays truly like an HD version of Diablo 2, with all of the fluidity that Diablo 2 lacked, due to software limitations.
The beginning of the game starts like any Diablo series game, adventurers are grouped together, and you're able to choose one of them, name them, and then the game starts. However, I like the attention to detail they've put into the class selection screen. All 5 classes (they are adding a 6th at some point in time), are grouped together, in the underbelly of a wooden ship. It's trying to give the feeling that you're a prisoner, and the ship is on a path, of exile... The classes are all doing something unique, the Witch class is kneeling down, the Marauder, standing tall and proud, the Templar, I cannot really remember too well, he's doing something holy I bet, the Duelist, I can't remember either, but he's probably spinning around, because he's a Strength, Dex hybrid, and the Ranger, well, she's being a Ranger.
There is a lack of cinematic to let you know about the story, and this is one of the downfalls of the game right now. It throws you into the game with your class, and doesn't really give you any kind of background, besides the visual display I've described. You wake up on the shore of some beach, and talk to some guy (I admit, I didn't read what he said), but then he turns into a zombie, or some sort of undead, and you may now freely bash his skull in with the wooden club you pick up (I'm guessing it will be a different weapon for each class, I was the Marauder). You then don't have any real direction, I think they give you a quest to find the town, and on the way, I was bashing more undead, crustaceans, and various other beach-inhabiting beings into oblivion with my dense club. Eventually I leveled up, and let me tell you, I never once, thought of spending my skills in the game, and a no-brainer.
The skill tree is more like a skill treasure map, allowing you to take many paths, of exile (yes, I will be saying that a lot), to reach the proverbial 'x marks the spot'. I could describe the skill tree to the Final Fantasy X system, where you can take different orbs, to give your characters different abilities, instead of a mage choosing mage-type skills, you could theoretically take more tanky style skills. This is also true in Path of Exile, each class has a unique starting point on the skill map, which gives an advantage for the class to naturally choose skills in his/her most comfortable path, of exile. The beauty of this skill map though is, you don't have to choose the path of least resistance. If you want to role a Marauder (the pure strength, melee class), into a bows-slinging magic user, you have the complete freedom to do so. A dual axe-weilding Witch (pure intellect Caster class), you can. It is suggested on the website, that to maximize potential of certain classes, you probably want to just build them in a traditional style, but even the more traditional routes of playing characters has so much variation, due to this skill map. I've played a Marauder up to about level 25, and the amount of paths, of exile, I can go on, is absurd. Just some of specializations I want to take is ridiculous. I could be a sword-and-board WoW style tank, with lots of hp, and armor. I could be a dual-wielding berserker, jumping right into battle (reminiscent of a frenzy Barbarian from the Diablo 2 series,). I can be a two-handed whirlwind barb (and THANK YOU DEVELOPERS FOR GIVING EVERY CLASS SWEEPING STRIKES, aka. Whirlwind), and then all of the off-shoots of that, such as a two-hand axe, mace, sword, etc. Heck, I could even be a Bowbarian, made popular in some high-end Diablo 2 duels. I could even be a dual wielding wand Marauder, who does that? Someone did, they posted their build on the POE Marauder forums, outlining the advantages of being one. The possibilities are for numerical accuracy, not infinite, but for the purposes of having enough time in your life to try them all, I think it's safe to say that you'll never try every possible combination of skills with every class.
Now, lets talk about the gameplay, I'll keep this subject's material short and concise. The gameplay is Diablo 2, in High Definition, with the Fluidity of Titan Quest. The visuals are amazing, especially for an Indie game, and company that has a staff of ten people. The production quality is top-knotch, and in my opinion, dwarfs the cartoony, low-poly style of Diablo 3. The mood is always realistic, I haven't seen one ridiculous concept for a monster yet, however I've only gotten to act 2. All of the monster models are reminiscent of the classic Tolkien lore, and you can even get some Greek Mythology thrown in there. Also, Robin hood, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons. All of those classic, timeless themes are in the game; unlike Diablo 3, which has European monks doing Shaolin-style moves, which is thematically confusing. The themes stay constant, and in act two, the human bandits that you are sent on a quest to destroy, actually are just human bandits! Nothing special. To me, there is something about this simplicity, but elegance to staying true to those classic themes, that I keep coming back to; and the lack-there-of, in Diablo 3, that is making me question whether or not, I really want to invest my time into a world that I loved in the first and second games, but has changed so drastically in the 3rd game of the series.
My final thoughts on the game so far are, awesome. If you'd like to try the game, you can actually purchase a closed Beta Key here https://www.pathofexile.com/purchase. You'll be able to play the open beta soon, but I was just dying to play this game, so I gave them my $10, and I don't regret one penny. I've already got my monies worth, and I've only invested about 7 or 8 hours into the game. You can wait also, and when the open beta hits, it will be in soft release fashion, which means that your characters in open beta, will persist into the official release.
Oh, and did I mention, it's FREE TO PLAY?