Path of Exile: Clicking in the dark


On my “to try” pile for a while has been Path of Exile. Oddly enough, it was a Guild Wars 2 subreddit thread that convinced me to give it a go. The thread was talking about developer communication and a bunch of folks were extolling the efforts of Grinding Gear Games. In my mind, if a dev team is so good at fostering strong community relations that the players testify about it in foreign lands, then it’s worth checking out.

Path of Exile is a free-to-play MMO/ARPG that took Diablo and said, “Hey, let’s make it a little darker!” And I don’t just mean the actual brightness (although this game isn’t really bursting with color and gamma), but the gore and tone. You start out as an exile that was kicked off a prison ship en route and have to make your way in a hostile land.

I fiddled around with two classes last night — the magic-using Witch and the nimble Ranger. I was speccing the Ranger to be heavy on evasion and to use melee weapons, which was oddly satisfying. But I’ll probably go back to the Witch and work on a summoner build if I can.


Of course, there’s this — Path of Exile’s notorious passive skill tree. If this thing doesn’t make your brain stutter the first time you pull it up, then you’re a better gamer than I. Considering that full respecs don’t exist in this game (or so I heard), choosing a path to pursue can almost be paralyzing.

I briefly browsed through beginner guides, enough to know that this is a fairly deep game with a lot to learn. It’s not exactly in lockstep with Diablo — for instance, there’s no gold, so the only currency I see is trading in gear for consumables. But I did rather enjoy my couple of hours in it. The flask system is pretty neat; you have five flask slots (health, mana, speed were the ones I found) and those flasks fill up as you kill monsters. It makes using health potions less of an issue — I don’t need to horde them, since I can refill them in the next fight anyway. And skills apparently come from gems, which means that any class can equip any gem if you have gear and the prerequisites to socket it.

The one down point was that global chat was less than helpful in doling out advice when I asked. Perhaps they’re sick of newbies asking after several years of operation, but hey, I’m not going to be afraid to put out questions. The inventory is also extremely, extremely limited in size — probably one of the smallest I’ve seen in a Diablo-esque game.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back in! Going to need to read a few guides first, however.

6 thoughts on “Path of Exile: Clicking in the dark

  1. PoE is a really great game. It gives me all kinds of Diablo II nostalgia all the time – something that other modern ARPGs like for example Marvel Heroes don’t.

    I totally recommend giving the witch summoner build a shot. It’s my main character at level 86 (I don’t play as hardcore as many PoE players do), and she’s a blast to play.

    Should you consider buying some extra Stash Tabs (which you probably will if you continue playing), I suggest waiting till they are on sale. Stash Tabs are usually on sale on the weekends, every three to four weeks. These sales are what makes the cash shop actually good, imho, since the normal prices are really high, but if you can wait for a bit you can get everything you want for a good bit off eventually. And, it’s really truly not P2W (unless you count stash tabs, which I don’t).

    Another thing that one should know about the game: it’s really hard, compared to other games today. There are lots of folks who claim it’s still not hard enough (of course there are), but most “normal” gamers agree that it’s much harder than every other ARPG there is. If you’re not heavily built for survivability (and sometimes even then), you can be oneshot pretty much without warning, from an enemy at the edge of your screen or even beyond. You lose XP when you die in the second and third difficulty, just like in Diablo II (the difference being that you can’t get half of it back by recovering your body), so there is a death penalty that can really hurt at higher levels. But I actually like that, for that makes it the only game I’ve played for years that has me on the edge of my seat sometimes.

    I’d gladly supply you with some skill gems and a bit of currency, but since I play on the european realm I don’t think I can, unfortunately.

  2. You can earn respec points with quests in the game. Some bulids are designed to take some skills during leveling, and then respec out of them later on. For bigger respecs, you can find or trade with other players for Orbs of Regret. Although like early Diablo II, huge build changes are meant to be re-rolled.

  3. The housing Mailvaltar mentions is quite interesting. Like with some of the best systems out there, you can gather all sorts of pieces and props for building, then put them together to make some incredible areas.
    Recent video showing off some player hideouts (if the link does not post, just look up the Grinding Gear Games channel on youtube):

  4. I have enjoyed tinkering with PoE several times. One thing I would say, though, is that you probably *should* be afraid to ask questions in map chat — or at least you shouldn’t trust the answers you get. Some people in the game seem to enjoy elaborate, destructive, trolling of people in chat — and in this game decisions based on bad advice can be pretty costly.

  5. I love PoE. Wish I had the time to play it more often these days.

    As you say, the dev communication is fantastic between their Reddit and the copious patch notes and announcements of what’s coming up in the pipeline on their forums. Their microtransaction model is cosmetics and storage only and seems to be working out pretty well for them between some very loyal whales and more ordinary player packrats (like moi) who crave more storage space in lieu of actually tidying up old storage.

    Couple things I learned the hard way: If it’s really too dark visually for you to click on things, play around with the settings and possibly turn shadows off, there was a period when I felt it made things clearer and easier to cope with the mob swarms.

    You can generally get by messing around with a weird build on the easiest difficulty, but once you near the end boss and in later difficulties, any poor builds will be mercilessly torn apart by the mobs. One lil clue that this is happening is if you get insta-gibbed.

    To stave this off, stacking elemental resistances on your gear is SUPER important (especially since higher difficulties give you a negative resistance debuff) and chaos resistance is a nice-to-have.

    The other common newbie mistake is focusing on all-out damage and completing ignoring one’s hitpoint reservoir. Don’t. I think folks say to at least get +150-250% Life in your build.

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