Path of Exile is the king of ARPGs, but only if you can learn to love its complexity
  • Path of Exile is the king of ARPGs, but only if you can learn to love its complexity

    There is a darkness that enshrouds Buy Path of Exile items. No, I'm not talking about the dank crypts and black mausoleums I stalk through, clicking madly on my never ending quest for loot. I'm talking about the seemingly impenetrable shadow of complexity that hangs over it, that feeling of total confusion as yet another esoteric system is introduced without any idea what it's for or how it will help my character become more powerful.

    In the four years since Path of Exile was first released, I have tried to play it countless times. I start a new character and, before long, abandon them because I feel overwhelmed by the sheer intricacy—the commodity-based economy, freeform character progression, and the always nagging feeling that I'm playing it the wrong way. But with the release of its massive Fall of Oriath expansion a month ago, I decided to try once more, and I have finally seen the light. Path of Exile isn't an easy game to get into, but if you stick with it, you'll discover the most richly rewarding ARPG out there.
    Path of Exile is a theory crafter's dream come true, the kind of game with seemingly endless ways to build and optimize your ideal character. On top of a standard leveling system is a passive skill tree that makes Final Fantasy 10's Sphere Grid look like a 'connect the dots' puzzle book for toddlers—and that's just the beginning. There's an Ascension system for further specializing your character, a Pantheon system which gives you more passive bonuses for killing various gods and trapping their souls, the skill gems which lets you essentially spellcraft—the list goes on. And on. And on.
    Oh, and I haven't even mentioned loot. Good lord, the loot. Never have I been so haunted by an inventory full of obscure knick-knacks and gizmos that I know do something but have no clue if that something is even worth doing. If you're someone who likes understanding the fundamental concepts of a game right away, Path of Exile can feel impossible.
    To be clear, The Fall of Oriath, the latest expansion, fixes none of this. Not directly, anyway. The biggest feature is the addition of six excellent new acts, but you'll need to have persevered through the original four to even experience them. A new in-game tutorial will walk you through some of the basics in more detail, but I felt like it more often told me how to interact with a system without telling me how I should use it. As someone who recently returned to Diablo 3 to play as a Necromancer, the contrast couldn't have been more stark. And yet I've sunk about 40 hours into Path of Exile this month while Diablo 3 is, again, gathering dust. Buy Now

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