So, does anyone remember the good old days of Diablo II and its expansion, Diablo II: Lord of Destruction for the PC?
I sure do. I spent a majority of my teen years pulling all-night gaming sessions of that game.
D2 is such a nostalgic game for me and at the time, one of my favorite games.
It still remains a very fond memory in my mind of the countless hours spent questing, killing and building characters.
Recently, I was reminded of D2 after watching a few videos of it online.
I was immediately hit with a wave of nostalgia from the music, the sound and the environment the game has.
After, I had a small twitch in my hand to play it again.
But, I have played it so much and while it is an amazing game, I didn’t want to have to reinstall it, with all of the disk-swapping madness.
I had picked up the game for the low price of free all those years ago when it first released, but at the time, I had such a brick for a computer that it would barely run it.
It was fun, but it just didn’t play well on my computer at the time.
I “shelved” it, so to speak and didn’t pick it back up until about a week ago, years later.
Well, I am glad to say I did, because now that I have a computer capable of running it, along with all of the updates they have done, I am completely enthralled.
That itch has been quelled, but I am now obsessed with Path of Exile.
My opinion; if you love D2, get this and play it. No excuse, since the game is free.
There are micro-transactions (don’t run away yet!), but they are mostly cosmetics and storage space.
Onto the meat of the game, it takes place on the island of Wraeclast, an island full of monsters and exiles, hence the game title.
You play one of these exiles and discover a dark plot that you must prevent.
You are given the choice from left to right, Templar, Shadow, Marauder, Ranger, Duelist and Witch.
The woman in blue in the middle is an unlockable, so you have to find her!
Those who are familiar with D2 mechanics might be wondering what abilities and skills each character has.
Well, each exile has their strengths and weaknesses (which isn’t in the usual sense, I will explain later), but there is a unique skill gem system in place, where as long as you have a skill gem, the appropriate stats and you socket it into a piece of equipment with the corresponding color of the skill, you can use that skill!
Think gems and runes from D2, but they offer skills, spells and enhancements, instead of just plain stats.
There are a ton of different skill gems available. Each one is usually associated with a particular stat, which is easy in Path of Exile(PoE).
Red is Strength.
Green is Dexterity.
Blue is Intelligence.
To keep it brief, Strength helps health and physical damage, Dexterity helps evasion and accuracy and Intelligence helps mana and energy shield. (Energy shield is basically a second set of health for spellcasters.)
Skill gems require a certain level, as well as a prerequisite attribute, such as being level 3 and having at least 32 Strength to use them.
But, not all skill gems offer a skill to use. Some offer unique things, such as “Cast when damage taken,” which causes your character to cast the skill gem that skill gem is “linked” with when hit.
It might sound confusing, but really, once you put in a few hours, it starts to click pretty easily.
There are some crazy combos you can get, like using the above mentioned Cast when damage taken with the spell Molten Shell so that you cast a protection spell when you get hit!
You can take it even further and link extra fire damage along with having a higher duration!
This system, I think, is genius and one of the reasons I absolutely love this game.
If you want a fireball to have a bigger area of effect, you can do that.
If you want that same fireball to also deal cold damage, you can do that.
Want to shoot five fireballs instead of one? You can do that too!
Regarding what happens when you level up a character;
Every time you level, you get a skill point to put in a passive skill tree, which is absolutely massive.
Don’t believe me?
That is just a chunk of the tree.
Yeah, it is overwhelming at first, but after playing a few characters, doing some research, it isn’t that bad.
In fact, if you go to their website, you can find the passive skill tree available as a handy-dandy, out of game way to view the tree.
Now this is where the strengths and weaknesses come into play that I mentioned earlier.
Every exile is based of one or more of the stats, so the Ranger for instance is mostly Dexterity, so she has a higher base Dexterity than the other characters.
Or the Shadow is Dexterity and Intelligence.
But beyond that, the biggest factor is actually where on the skill tree the exile starts.
This means that if you choose Witch, like I did for the above picture, you can only start at the Witch starting position of the tree.
There is nothing stopping you from going all over the tree, although this might not benefit you all too much if there is one skill on the other side of the tree that you want.
Since each node costs one skill point and you don’t have an infinite number of skill points, it then becomes a matter of perhaps choosing another exile that starts closer to that skill.
Or maybe choosing a specialty and only picking up passives that help that specialty, like fire damage, for instance.
Every exile’s starting area on the tree usually corresponds to whatever play-style that exile exhibits.
So the aforementioned Witch has a lot of Intelligence, spell and elemental damage, but not a lot of life and Dexterity nodes.
You have to travel a bit further from her starting point (and spending more skill points), to get those, but that is the sacrifice you take to play Witch.
Every exile is like this, offering a broad choice to players on what they want to play.
Plus, with the skill gem system in place, there are thousands of builds you can make with all of the exiles.
Some might be bettered suited to certain builds, yes, but if you can think it, you can probably make it.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an ARPG without loot!
There are a ton of items in the game, as any game like this should have.
There are normal, magical, rare and unique items in the game.
As with D2, most items come with some random and set modifiers.
For instance, most unique items work like set items did in D2, where their stats and modifiers are usually set, but offer great bonuses and even some unique (hence the name), game-changing abilities, although the actual numbers for those modifiers may vary slightly.
With the skill gem system, you also need to keep an eye out for what kinds of sockets are on the item.
If you use a lot of Strength skill gems, you should probably look for gear that has a lot of red sockets in it.
There is so much more to the game, so much, that this article could on forever talking about the intricacies and nuances of the game.
There are community races, to see how far players can get in a short amount of time, there are rewards, drawings and there is going to be a new expansion coming September 2nd!
The only negative I have to say about the game thus far, is that it can be a bit tough for beginner players to understand its mechanics.
What with the huge skill tree, all of the combination of skill gems, how they interact with one another…
But as mentioned previously, a bit of play time under you belt and some research of the Path of Exile Wiki, Reddit and community forums, you can easily get started.
In conclusion, if you love Diablo II and that style of games, check Path of Exile out.
Like, right now.
You can get it on their website or through Steam, for free!