Path of Exile (“PoE”) has been around for about four and a half years now. Despite its age, it still remains a very interesting and captivating free to play online action RPG. The name of the genre is self-explanatory, having all the elements of an RPG, but with the focus shifted in favor of the action, rather than the many other possible focus points of an RPG.
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With its recent port to the Xbox, this game has gained even more fans, especially due to the fact that it remains free to play, with the only monetary options being either cosmetic or inventory oriented.
How did Path of Exile come to be?
In a world of very colorful and approachable RPG games, in which everything seems like it is built out of rainbows and one expects a unicorn at every step, PoE stands alone as a gritty, dark and absorbing RPG. This was a deliberate design choice on the part of the developers, who were tired ofall the blissful and cartoony trends dominating the genre.
Thus, Wraeclast was created: A dark, brutal continent, filled with creatures you would typically encounter only in nightmares and horror movies. Once a glorious empire, now a cursed island filled with monsters awaiting the unaware exiles, it serves as a prison/penal colony to the nearby island of Oriath. Exiles (hence the game’s name), prisoners or unwanted subjects, are all given two options: swim or die.
Those who are able to survive and find their way to shore end up on Wraeclast, only to find out that they might have been better off in a shark’s belly. This is where your path of exile begins. Whether you wish to tackle the single player missions or join up with people on organized “tours” of Wraeclast, all it takes is the press of a button.
Developed by Grinding Gear Studios, a company from New Zealand, PoE has withstood the test of time. The fact that PoE is the company’s only game makes it even more impressive that it exists in a world of big-name online RPGs like Diablo III, World of Warcraft, and The Elder Scrolls.
New players are attracted by the free to play premise, most certainly, but that is not what keeps them glued to their screens. It is the games genuine merit that keeps players interested.
A different approach – A dark in the light
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Some games have tried being original but have failed, and terribly so, but not PoE. This game tried to do something different, and did it so well that it created something entirely new. There are many notable things about PoE, especially if you are a new player, waking up on Wraeclast for the first time.
The game itself borrowed from Diablo, and that is not a bad thing. The combat is relatively simple, requiring you to point and click, while also having the option to map spells to your mouse and keyboard, on the PC version, and to the controller, on the Xbox one, for a quick way to demolish your opponents. Those familiar with Diablo should find the combat familiar and welcoming.
A new currency system
Once you get to a store, however, you realize that the currency isn’t gold or bottle caps, but loot. Yes, loot. PoE currency varies from orbs, scrolls, shards, and other functional and non-functional items you will find in the world around you. These items can be sold to vendors in-game, with prices varying based on what players are willing to pay for a certain item and its rarity in the world. It is a living ecosystem that might seem foreign to new players, but is easy to acclimate to.
A web of skills
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Players have the option of selecting one of 7 available classes in the game, ranging from standard warriors; nimble, dexterity-oriented characters; and mages to hybrids comprised of a combination of other classes, which is an approach most players will find refreshing.
However, new players may also be daunted when opening the skill tree and meeting with a convoluted, web-like construction reminiscent of a TV detective’s interconnected wall of evidence in a case with multiple serial killers. Most of these skills provide passive bonuses and add stats to the player, while shards inserted into weapons account for the active skills. This changes the way the game is played, to something a bit more item oriented than other RPGs.
Path of Exile on the Xbox
The game found its way to Microsoft’s console, the Xbox, on August 24th 2017, and according to many opinions, it is a great port. The combat is very responsive and easy to execute, the only problem being the difficulty of operating caster classes on the controller. But, an indicator solves those issues, making this a fully serviceable port.
The game is free to play on Xbox, as it is on the PC, with no pay-to-win options in the game. There are microtransactions, asin many online games, but PoE offers only cosmetic purchases, such as skins for weapons and armor, and inventory bonuses, such as the ability to carry more loot.
Beware, however, as some third party sites offer PoE items and PoE Orbs for unfair prices. These sites are, of course, unaffiliated with the game or its developer and are used at the player’s own risk.
As a game that is still around and thriving four and a half years after its release, as well as ported to a new platform and pretty well optimized for it, Path of Exile remains a very attractive free to play online action RPG.
If you are drawn to the game but detest sitting at a desk in front of a PC and would rather try it on your Xbox One, then you should know that this port has its pros and cons, with the pros being much the same as they are on the PC:
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- A fantastic, free to play experience
- A captivating, dark world, ready to be explored
- Single player and multi-player missions at your fingertips
- Simple, easy to execute combat
- A new approach to currency, without gold
- A huge skill tree
- The controller makes it a bit difficult for caster classes
- The inventory is difficult to manage once it gets cluttered with loot
If you do not mind missing a few spells and having to be patient with your inventory, then you can expect a rich, story-filled experience, enhanced by interesting combat, and loot! Lots of loot!