When I first played this game, a week or so after it first launched, I stopped before I even got halfway through the story. It feels so much more like a sequel to Diablo 2 than Diablo 3 ever has, but it simply wasn’t fun.
But, Diablo 3 wasn’t great when it launched, either. It’s gone through so much changes since then that it’s hardly even the same game, so I thought I might as well give Path of Exile a second chance. While it’s been too long for me to be able to explain why it was fun this time around as opposed to before, I played quite a bit of it. Around thirty hours. So, here’s the pros and cons.
Positives first. This game is (as I said) a great spiritual successor to Diablo 2. If you want a newer game that plays like that one specifically, that’s where you should start. It feels sort of retro in that sense, but at the same time the UI isn’t clunky and you can manipulate things pretty intuitively, apart from the specific part of the system that lets you see stuff on the ground.
It’s also extremely diverse. You can do anything you want in this game. Be a guy that sets everyone on fire? Sure! Be somebody that hurts everybody when he sets himself on fire? Yeah, of course. Explode everything with a single punch like the legendary hero we all know and love: One Punch Man? ONE PAAAANCH! I’m telling you you can do anything in this game, and even after thirty hours of content, I haven’t even gotten to the max level to experience the endgame yet. So I can’t even critique that part. (Another great pro to this game is that the developers are constantly working on it, changing and fixing things, updating content, that sort of stuff. I feel the need to mention that because it’s not every day you have such an active dev team working to make the best game they can.)
There are some big flaws though. The biggest one is that this game is pretty hard to get into if you don’t have other people to help you out. It is daunting in every sense of the word. For example, here is the passive skill tree. When you level up you get a point to put somewhere here, and every little dot costs a point to obtain. Even experienced players have to look up where to branch with the characters they are currently playing!
What’s more, even when I knew what I was doing and I had people to help me figure out how to play, I still had no concept of how to quantify the quality of pieces of gear. Is this piece an upgrade? I don’t know, they each have seven stats but none of them are similar. Is a huge sack of assorted fruits better than a huge sack of assorted vegetables? That’s what it feels like. Since there’s so many different types of stats every piece of gear can roll, it’s impossible for somebody new to the game to know which one is really “better”.
All that said, the game is fun. I’ve spent all thirty of those hours playing alone just going through all the difficulties of the story (and I’m still not bored with it). It’s mindless fun, which means its the perfect game for getting a sense of progression as well as listen to audiobooks! But overall, this game is kind of bent towards people that enjoy optimizing, number crunching, and looking up strategies. It’s not meant for anyone you couldn’t easily describe a “gamer”.