As I said on the most recent episode of the official iNintendo Podcast, I like to try out a bunch of different MMO games in the hopes that one breaks away from the World of Warcraft mold. They very rarely do -- I've tried everything from Regnum Online to RIFT to Perfect World Online, and each has failed to hook me in a way that other genres do. I came to the realization that, perhaps, all MMO games are a waste of time. Then I discovered Path of Exile.
Path of Exile is in development by Grinding Gear Games, a small, New Zealand based indie developer with plenty of creative force. In their game, players choose between six different classes (Ranger, Duelist, Witch, Marauder, Templar, and Shadow), each of which have their own abilities -- which I'll go into a little bit later. Path of Exile takes place on Wraeclast, a secluded continent that houses exiled criminals. The game's atmosphere is incredibly dark and gritty, as opposed to the more light hearted nature of most MMO games.
Taking many cues from the Diablo series and Guild Wars, Path of Exile makes use of a persistent online world made up of towns that act as hub areas and private areas for questing and monster slaying. Players can team up with one another and form parties in these towns, and if they do so, the enemies they fight grow in strength (and the loot becomes far more lucrative). The combat is very reminiscent of Diablo II, where the camera is in a fixed position overhead and players fight enemies in real time. For people like me that are absolutely tired of the MMO formula copied over and over again from WoW, Path of Exile is a huge breath of fresh air.
Unlike Diablo, though, Path of Exile's graphics engine is pretty gorgeous. The areas in the game vary greatly and make use of excellent shading and lighting techniques, right from the get-go in the game's first area. Players can either zoom out to get a better aerial view of the map, or they can zoom in and admire the finer details of their character.
One of the most appealing aspects to Path of Exile are the characters. There's no initial customization as far as looks and gender is concerned (i.e, all Rangers are female), but players are able to collect many different types of weapons and armor, as well as level up their skills through an insanely deep skill tree. The game is based off of three different base stats -- Strength, Intelligence, and Dexterity -- and each of the character types specializes in one of those stats, or a hybrid of two of them. Each time a character levels up, players are able to unlock a skill on the tree, and as shown below, players are able to customize their character in a very deep and rewarding way.
Path of Exile is currently in closed beta, with open beta starting sometime later this year. It's definitely worth checking out for those that are looking for something a little bit different -- and darker -- in their MMO experience. Grinding Gear Games also does the occasional public stress test, which is how we at iNintendo were able to try out the game for ourselves. Check out their website by following this link.