My personal point on free to play games is never really positive. Often times when you hear something is going to use the free to play model or is now gravitating to it, its never a good sign for me. When I think of an F2P game I usually think of an iPhone game, just neutered even more. While I have few problems with The Old Republic, its made in such a way that subscribing is the only viable way you'll actually have a decent time with the game. Things like locking you out of using but not obtaining items, go a long way to make me feel alienated by the whole process, so I tend to do my best to stay away from F2P's. And that's really kind of sad, considering most of the games are actually very good. And I think I just found one.
Path of Exile is a dungeon crawler in the F2P section of Steam. It came out fairly recently and I didn't give it much thought until I saw a review that changed my perspective and actually download the game and I must say I haven't regretted it in the slightest.
The game runs very smoothly. I don't know if that's because of the toned down textures or just maybe a design feature. In a dungeon crawler, you're either moving or you're dying so to be able to keep up with combat is a must. Sure there are minor frame rate issues but even GTA V (which is now considered to be the most expensive game in history) has its hiccups now and again.
There's actually no gold in this game. No, not the mineral but the actual currency. In fact, there's not really much of a currency here. The story is that you were on a prison ship. One thing leads to another and now you're stranded on an island with dangerous creatures, along with NPCs and some other players that you may see walking about in towns. So with no gold, how do you buy and sell weapons? You ever played Torchlight? A pretty similar game save that it had gold for currency. Now you would have picked up this item which was very important to the game, an identify scroll. these scrolls would be used to identify certain weapons whose properties were unknown. This game uses the scrolls for their intended use as well, but now it works into a trading system. You'll pick up a few items here and there but instead of getting cash, you'll trade in these items for a bit of paper which turn into scrolls. Certain higher level items will cost a bigger trade and sometimes for different items, and the same can be said for when you trade them. These scrolls are very useful and you'll be wondering whether you should identify this possibly useless item or just trade it in to rack up some more scrolls to buy that nice weapon or armor. Its nice to see currency taking a different angle as well as incorporating the use of it into the story's lore. A nice touch I felt was very appreciated.
So onto the more controversial matter which is classic F2P model of where you are severely limited unless you use actual money. While this game does have its own market place, just about everything is cosmetic. You won't find xp boosters because you won't need them (not really anyway). You won't find that some of your abilities were cut out and now you have to pay an exorbitant price just to be slightly more whole. The whole market place is more of just a thank you to the developers just to say you like and support the game. Its really a relief to see I can play the game without having to feel empty and otherwise incomplete. Personally, I wouldn't mind sinking a few bucks into this game.
This game has a bit of a learning curve, even if you're a veteran dungeon crawler. While just about every key is bindable, you should look over the controls anyway. I is classic inventory, clicking picks up items and attacks (a little frustrating but I've gotten use to it), U opens up the quest log, M is for the Marketplace, O is options, and tab is for the map. Items also won't be inherently visible after a battle since their names disappear unless you hold down Alt or if you switch them on always with Z. Manageable but annoying at first playthrough.
If you don't know how to use the map, prepare to get lost. You can have a mini map and always look into your quest guide, sure. But after all that, it only tells you where you're going next and not how to get there. The map is your best friend in caves and in general.
I know those of us who don't have higher specs on our PCs are happy the frame rate is good but those with the humming beasts are going to be left wanting. Then again, graphics shouldn't really decide on whether or not you play a game unless they are atrocious. And while I'm on the subject, I wish the gear looked a bit different or otherwise cooler. A drop from a boss should look like one and not another generic item I'm just going to pawn.
The skill tree could have been worked better. When you see it, it will be the most daunting thing you've ever seen, and that's coming from a person who plays Dark Souls. Its a bit of a mess and I wish it was reworked so that things could be more visible.
All in all, not a bad game. And since its free, I can focus on wasting my money in other places. You should definitely give it a look.
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- Path of Exile PC Review - 9/10
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