Path of Exile – Console Review

Posted September 5, 2017 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Grinding Gear Games

Publisher: Grinding Gear Games

Release Date: August 24, 2017

Platforms: Xbox One, PC

As an exile of Oriath, you have been sent to the land of Wraeclast for your crimes. After washing up on its shores, it becomes an immediate fight for survival as your only companion is devoured by an undead creature. As you make your way across the sands, killing what already seems to be a legion of undead beings and eventually stumble upon a small haven of the living in need, it just might seem seem like the Diablo replacement you’ve been looking for.

Fans of Diablo 2 will rejoice in the fact that Path of Exile shares many similarities. As you progress across the procedurally generated world, completing quests for your allies and leveling up your characters while conquering the forces of evil, it’s difficult not to feel those familiar vibes. Each section of the story is divided into Acts, and many of the areas are home to way points so you can easily travel between locations once discovered. While wading through seas of lesser enemies, you’ll come across plenty of powerful foes who offer better loot and large bosses who exist to challenge you in the dungeons scattered throughout the game. You’ll also find bits and pieces dotting the landscape to give you more background into the strange place that is Wraeclast. Even enemies seem to change with different playthroughs. My Ranger encountered an entirely different set of enemies at The Ledge in Act 1 where my Witch encountered Goatmen.

The Passive Skill Tree is massive.

Unlike Diablo, Path of Exile boasts impressively deep customization. While all the classes have a set appearance gender, Path of Exile offers up an enormous passive skill tree to build upon your characters’ strengths and abilities. Eventually you’ll be able to dip your toes into the Ascendancy classes which aside from the Scion, expands your character’s classes The skill gem system will also encourage you to try new skills without having to worry about committing to skills you may not like. You simply need to affix the gems to a piece of armor with the correct socket color and you can unsocket them later on down the road for access to new abilities. Skill gems can earn experience points and level up while they’re equipped and enhanced with support gems provided the sockets are linked together on a piece of armor or weapon. This however, while fun and exciting can also be quite daunting for new comers to the game. The passive skill tree is absolutely huge and the first time I tried to browse though the tree on my ranger I got lost and it took me a second to figure out what I had done. Intimidating as it may be, it is the biggest and most important detail that sets the game apart from Diablo as there is a build for just about every occasion provided you put in the work to get there.

Once upon a time, Michael Scott from “The Office” said that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take while quoting the great Wayne Gretsky, and it seems a bit obvious neither of these great men played Path of Exile. I have two characters, the Witch and the Ranger and at times I question their ability to hit the broadside of a barn. There are times where both of them seem to just…. fire right past the enemy. Other times, they’ll just turn into a random direction and shoot into the darkness without any intervention from my end. Its very frustrating, especially when the enemies you want to kill are waltzing around the battlefield raising armies of the undead. I did not make a melee class, but would guess that these issues are less apparent when you’re up close and personal.

One aspect where Path of the Exile absolutely fails is the loot system. Whereas in Diablo my characters are rolling around their fallen enemies picking up loot like a Katamari game, I find myself avoiding almost all of it in Path of Exile due to the games ridiculously small inventory space, aiming only for the loot that benefits my build. Thankfully there’s a lot of small items that work towards the players advantage like the Orb of Transmutation or Chance which can upgrade items to magical ones or the Jeweler’s Orb which can reforge links between sockets so while the inventory system is small, there always seems to be way to keep forging onward.

All that loot and nowhere to put it…

If I closed my eyes real tight and just listened to the sounds and characters, I would again think I was playing Diablo. With all the screaming forces of evil, downtrodden people asking for help and the depressing way characters from times forgotten recount their tales in the lore books, Path of Exile feels right at home. I can’t say the game is pretty though. If it weren’t for the green, white and red outlines around other players, NPC’s and enemies, I would spend a lot of time being confused about what exactly I was looking at. In Act 1, your safe haven is a dark, depressing beach “fort” known as Lioneye’s Watch and the muddy textures kind of blend everything together. Act 2 gets a little brighter as you enter a lush jungle area with rushing rivers and tall trees that are also home to evil monkeys who can climb down and swarm you.

Path of Exile is a Free-to-Play game so that means micro-transactions and boy, they are quite a doozy with one pack costing up to $400. Thankfully, there’s no reason to worry as everything in the store is cosmetic. Want to have ghostly footprints and a cloak? Then feel free to drop the cash and support Grinding Gear Games. However, that’s where they end as you can play the whole game without dropping a dime. If you’re hoarder, you may want to consider buying stash tabs but I had six tabs before buying two more and have yet to even fill one.

I think it’s best to say that Path of Exile is an open love letter to the Diablo franchise. As a free-to-play title, it is probably one the best ones on the market right now. I’m absolutely addicted to it to myself even though I feel a little jilted in the loot department. If you’re itching to replace that Diablo sized hole in your life, then Path of Exile will gladly fill that void in your heart.

About the Author

Kyle Simcox