Path of Exile takes place in a post-apocalyptic grim fantasy world in which the player plays the role of an outcast who has been exiled from their home continent of Oriath (for reasons that vary based on their class selection) to the corrupted continent of Wraeclast. There the player encounters numerous settlements, monsters, and fellow outcasts in their quest to survive in this hostile land, as well as uncover the fate of the abandoned continent.
Path of Exile takes a healthy dose of inspiration from classic action roleplaying games. The name, Path of Exile, is a reference to a piece of Anglo-Saxon poetry entitled “The Wanderer” which was heavily referenced in the manual for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction.
The story takes place across four acts which differ in style, tone, and difficulty. Once Normal difficulty is completed, the game may be replayed on Cruel, and then Merciless difficulty. Each subsequent difficulty tests the player’s resources and ingenuity in character building – many characters who survive Normal and Cruel will not be so lucky in Merciless, a challenging mode designed to expose and capitalize upon the flaws of poorly conceived character builds.
Once the story has been completed, the player gains access to an extensive end-game system referred to as “Mapping”. By placing randomly generated map items into a receptacle found within The Eternal Laboratory, players are granted access to a procedurally generated dungeon which is influenced by a number of modifications. Offering difficult monster combinations, unique bosses, and the promise of ever-better loot, high-level players complete maps in order to gain experience and amass untold wealth.
Maps are treated as items, and may therefore roll a number of random modifications which increase their danger and potential for reward. Common, magic, rare, and unique maps are either crafted or found as loot from monsters. Players must consider the implications of a map’s properties closely. For example, a character who specializes in dealing elemental damage may wish to re-roll a map which grants all monsters the ability to reflect elemental damage.
On February 14th, 2017, Grinding Gear Games announced The Fall of Oriath, a huge content expansion which will launch sometime after the current league ends. This will include the content 3.0.0 update which adds 6 more acts to the game and removes the repetitive difficulty stepping. The game will now include a total of 10 acts. Along with this content update, the game will be released on Xbox One bringing in a whole new audience.
There are seven different classes for the player to choose from. Class selection has no bearing on the equipment or abilities available to the player. Instead, classes dictate the player’s starting position within Path of Exile’s vast passive skill tree. However, each starting point focuses on specific character attributes, including Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. By choosing the Marauder, a brawny class, players will have early access to Strength-based passive nodes. The Ranger grants access to the Dexterity portion of the tree, while the Witch’s starting location is near Intelligence nodes. The remaining classes are considered hybrids; the Duelist begins near Strength and Dexterity nodes, while the Shadow starts near Intelligence and Dexterity. Finally, the Templar has access to both Strength and Intelligence. The Scion, a class added later, is located centrally within the tree and can therefore travel to any of the classes nodes with ease.
On the surface, the game appears to funnel each class down their respective stereotypical roles. In reality, the player has total freedom regarding the specification of their passive points. Able to travel anywhere on the tree as long as they are committed to spending the points necessary to go there, players may pick and choose which passives they desire – leading to many interesting builds which defy the expectations of each class archetype, and using passive effects to unexpected and, occasionally, unintended results.
Path of Exile’s approach to character abilities is similarly flexible. Skills, spells, and abilities are not tied to specific character classes. Instead, all skills are available to any character who meets the prerequisites for equipping that skill.
Skills take the form of gems. An in-game item, these gems may be found as loot or given as quest rewards. Gems are then socketed into pieces of armour, or weapons. Once socketed, a gem’s inherent ability may be used by the player.
Gems are coloured according to their primary stat requirements. Strength-based skill gems are red, Dexterity-based skill gems are green, and Intelligence-based skill gems are blue. Gems may only be socketed into an item socket of the corresponding colour.
Independently of a character, gems earn experience and level up. As they level, the abilities granted by gems grow in power while demanding higher stat requirements of the player.
A separate category of gems, known as Support Gems, exist to augment the abilities provided by standard Skill Gems. On their own, Support Gems are powerless, but when combined with an attack or spell, they serve to greatly enhance their power, or significantly alter how an ability functions. Gems are combined by being socketed within the same piece of equipment, as long as the sockets are physically linked to one another. With a potential maximum of six links on an item depending on its type and level, some particularly effective and deadly combinations can be concocted by players. Examples include abilities which are set to trigger by themselves when the player takes damage, or spells which are significantly modified such as a single fireball becoming a nova of fire, or a flurry of multiple projectiles.
When the player levels up, they are granted a single point to allocate on the passive skill tree. This tree is universal, meaning all classes may travel to any point. It is wise to choose a class that starts near a zone you are interested in – otherwise, many levels will be spent simply travelling across the expansive tree. A huge variety of builds depend upon the freedom this tree grants, as characters are free to pick and choose the passive effects they require as long as they plan their “journey” judiciously. Though there is no limit to leveling, a typical player will probably reach no greater than level 90. A number of quests also grant free passive skill points.
Re-speccing your character is possible, though the price of indecision is costly. A number of quests grant “Refund Points” which can be used to reverse allocated passive points. In addition, a currency item known as an Orb of Regret will grant a single refund point when consumed. Because one refund point equates to one point reclaimed, it may take some effort to undo any mistakes made. Ultimately, the freedom to respec is available, but is given an element of gravity that makes committing to your character feel important and worthy of thought.
Often, when a League ends, or a significant update effects the passive skill tree, an optional full respec is made available to all players.
Path of Exile evolves the Ladder concept of Diablo II by regularly hosting limited-duration Leagues in which players begin from scratch with a fresh item economy, separate from those players who stay within the “Standard League”. This standard League can be considered the “vanilla” state of the game, populated by characters who have elected to not participate in the current League.
In addition, Path of Exile’s Leagues always add additional mechanics which last for the duration of that league. This means there is always a reason to return to the next league, as new content or game systems will change various elements of gameplay. Hardcore and Softcore League Variations are available. A character playing in a Softcore-style League will remain in that league when they die, until the League ends and they are reverted to the Standard League. Hardcore-style League characters are demoted to the Standard League if they perish within their League.
Two recent examples include:
The Darkshrine League
In this League, ominous Darkshrines were scattered randomly throughout Wraeclast. Players were able to sacrifice items to the shrines in order to evoke a number of effects. The properties of the item sacrificed was what determined the outcome of the shrine’s usage. For example, sacrificing an item which increases your Global Critical Strike Multiplier would result in a random item in your inventory having its quality stat maximised. There were 195 Darkshrine effects in total, with players discovering effects throughout the course of the league.
In this League, monsters throughout Wraeclast became possessed by ancient Talismans. These talismans made creatures more deadly, but more rewarding to eliminate. When killed, monsters would relinquish the Talisman they possessed. Players could collect the Talisman and wear it in their necklace slot, if they were quick enough – for monsters near the Talisman would also be attempting to collect it, gaining its boons for themselves. Multiple tiers of Talismans existed, and could be combined within stone altars. Doing so would summon a monster in possession of the next tier Talisman. Combining the final tier of Talisman produced a portal to the lair of Rigwald, The Wolven King, a boss created uniquely for the League.
The most effective and popular League mechanics tend to be added to the “standard” game once the League in question is over. One example are the many Tormented Spirits that now randomly haunt Wraeclast. Nimble and vulnerable on their own, these spirits rush to possess nearby monsters when encountered by the player, making it crucial to kill them before they have a chance to create a deadly scenario.
Many more Leagues have taken place since the game was launched. These include:
Onslaught: (Released for Version 0.11.0 on June 5th 2013) A hardcore League created for players who want more of a challenge, all monsters have 20% Movement, Attack and Cast Speed. (When characters die in this league they are moved to Standard)
Anarchy: (Released for Version 0.11.0 on June 5th 2013) A variation on the Standard League, this league brought in new items only available in the Anarchy League, and rogue exiles that roam Wraeclast, these enemies are more powerful then standard enemies and will always drop an armor piece of each type. After the league ended, there is a less frequent chance to find rogue exiles in all existing and new leagues.
Nemesis: (Released on October 23, 2013) Hardcore league that introduces an additional Nemesis-specific affix on all rare monsters. After the league ended, all rare monsters in all existing and new leagues will have a chance to have a Nemesis affix.
Domination: (Released on October 23, 2013) Standard league introducing shrines, which spawn randomly in any zone that increase the monster density around the shrine. Until the shrine has been obtained by a player, all monsters within the area of the shrine are affected by its buff. After the league ended, all existing and new leagues will have a less frequent chance to spawn a shrine in a random zone.
Ambush: (Released for Version 1.1.0 – Sacrifice of the Vaal patch on March 5, 2014) Introduced random Strongboxes that can be found or rolled with different affixes, increasing the difficulty of monster that spawn after opening the box,as well as increasing the loot that drops.
Invasion: (Released for Version 1.1.0 – Sacrifice of the Vaal patch on March 5, 2014) Introduced unique Invasion bosses in each zone. Progressing through higher difficulty adds increase monster variety and invading bosses with more abilities.
Rampage: (Released for Version 1.2.0 – Forsaken Masters patch on August 20, 2014) Introduced a kill streak system by which killing monsters in rapid succession of a fixed period of time granted the player additional short period buffs as well as damage attacks.
Beyond: (Released for Version 1.2.0 – Forsaken Masters patch on August 20, 2014) Introduced increasingly large portals ( increased in size by monster killed in the area) that would summon monsters from a different realm, these monsters would accompanied by a rare type monsters, killing these additional monsters would allow the portals to grow allowing you to eventually summon a Beyond Boss Monster.
Torment: (Released for Version 1.3.0 on December 12, 2014) introduced tormented spirits that has a chance to spawn in every zone. When the spirits notice the player they run away from the player buffing enemies and possessing bosses, making them tougher to kill but also increases the amount of loot that drops. There are many sorts of different spirits that have different effects when possessing enemies. Torments parent league is the Standard League.
Bloodlines: (Released for Version 1.3.0 on December 12, 2014) introduced additional bloodlines specific-affixes that spawns on all magic monsters. Much like the Nemesis league but with the affixes spawning on magic monsters instead.
Paid Leagues: It is currently planned to allow guilds or clans to purchase their own leagues with specific rule sets that they desire, that can only be joined by those they choose to invite. In this way guilds that wish to have their own play area with their own rules may do so for a fee.
Like Leagues, Races are temporary leagues which alter the standard gameplay of Path of Exile. However, their duration is typically much shorter, and gameplay is focused on a very particular challenge. For example, the purpose of a race may be to attain the highest level possible within 24 hours, with top-level players being awarded accordingly.
Players who place highly in the race rankings will receive rewards, usually in the form of rare and coveted unique items as well as a pre-determined amount of reward points. These points can be redeemed at the end of the “Race Season” for items. These items are typically alternate-art versions of existing uniques, with the best possible stats.
Types of Races: Path of Exile features many kinds of Race events. Some of these include:
- No Projectile (Player Projectiles do no damage)
- Blood Magic (Spells use Life instead of Mana)
- Party (A race that can be completed in a group)
- Solo (Races that can only be run Solo)
- Turbo (Monsters move, cast, and attack 60% faster)
- Descent (Players descend through a pre-determined level, meaning each player experiences the same distribution of monsters and levels. Pre-determined gear is available through chests at set stages, meaning every player has the same opportunities and must combine the items they find to the best possible effect.)
There is no gold for the player to buy items with or get in return for selling items. Instead, Path of Exile features an item-based economy. Within this bartering system, players trade items with each other or NPCs in order to receive the items or materials they need. As a result, the value of an item is evaluated by both its rarity and player demand.
A number of “Vendor Recipes” exist. For example, offering an item with a set of red, blue, and green linked sockets will yield a Chromatic Orb, used to re-roll the colors of an item’s socket. Selling a full set of unidentified rare gear to a vendor will result in 2 Chaos Orbs. Many more recipes, including secret and undiscovered ones, exist.
The bartering between players is typically not item-for-item. Special consumable items referred to as “Currency items” form the basis of the economy. These items have the ability to modify, corrupt, and enhance gear. As a result, they are inherently valuable and many items are priced according to how many of these currency items they are worth. It is not uncommon to see players selling unique items for upwards of 60 Chaos Orbs, or a number of rare Exalted Orbs.
There are two main types of scrolls the player comes across throughout the game; Portal scrolls and Wisdom scrolls. Portal scrolls allow the player to return to town from anywhere on the map, while wisdom scrolls let you identify the properties of unidentified items.
|Armourer’s Scrap||40||Improves the quality of an armour. Right click this item then left click an armour to apply it. Has greater effect on lower rarity armours. The maximum quality is 20%.|
|Blacksmith Whetstone||20||Improves the quality of a weapon. Right click this item then left click a weapon to apply it. Has greater effect on lower rarity weapons. The maximum quality is 20%.|
|Blessed Orb||20||Randomize the numeric values of the implicit properties of an item. Right click this item then left click another item to apply it.|
|Cartographer’s Chisel||20||Improves the quality of a map. Right click this item then left click a map to apply it. Has greater effect on lower rarity maps. The maximum quality is 20%.|
|Chaos Orb||10||Reforges a rare item with new random properties. Right click this item then left click a rare item to apply it.|
|Chromatic Orb||20||Reforges the colour of sockets on an item. Right click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it.|
|Divine Orb||10||Randomize the numeric values of the random properties on an item. Right click this item then left click a magic, rare or unique item to apply it.|
|Eternal Orb||10||Creates an imprint of an item for later restoration. Right click this item then left click on an item to create an imprint. This imprint can later be used to restore this specific item to that imprinted state.(Eternal Orbs will no longer drop after Awakening expansion)|
|Exalted Orb||10||Enchants a rare item with a new random property. Right click this item then left click a rare item to apply it. Rare items can have up to six random properties.|
|Gemcutter’s Prism||20||Improves the quality of a gem. Right click this item then left click a gem to apply it. The maximum quality is 20%.|
|Glassblower’s Bauble||20||Improves the quality of a flask. Right click this item then left click a flask to apply it. Has greater effect on lower rarity flasks. The maximum quality is 20%.|
|Jeweller’s Orb||20||Reforges the number of sockets on an item. Right click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it.|
|Mirror of Kalandra||10||Creates a mirrored copy of an item. Right click this item then left click an equipable non-unique item to apply it. Mirrored copies cannot be modified.|
|Orb of Alchemy||10||Upgrades a normal item to a rare item. Right click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.|
|Orb of Alteration||20||Reforges a magic item with new random properties. Right click this item then left click a magic item to apply it.|
|Orb of Augmentation||30||Enchants a magic item with a new random property. Right click this item then left click a magic item to apply it. Magic items can have up to two random properties.|
|Orb of Chance||20||Upgrades a normal item to a random rarity. Right click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.|
|Orb of Fusing||20||Reforges the links between sockets on an item. Right click this item then left click a socketed item to apply it.|
|Orb of Regret||40||Grants a passive skill refund point. Right click on this item to use it.|
|Orb of Scouring||30||Removes all properties from an item. Right click this item then left click on a magic or rare item to apply it.|
|Orb of Transmutation||40||Upgrades a normal item to a magic item. Right click this item then left click a normal item to apply it.|
|Portal Scroll||40||Creates a portal to town. Right click on this item to use it.|
|Regal Orb||10||Upgrades a magic item to a rare item. Right click this item then left click a magic item to apply it. Current properties are retained and a new one is added.|
|Scroll of Wisdom||40||Identifies an item. Right click this item then left click an unidentified item to apply it.|
|Vaal Orb||10||Corrupts an item, modifying it unpredictably.|
The store which is located on the games website offers mostly cosmetic enhancements, and convenience items in the form of capacity upgrades for your personal and guild stashes. The game can be played and finished without spending a dime, without worry of time restrictions, or other “pay-to-win” trappings. Grinding Gear Games takes a staunch anti-pay-to-win approach to their monetisation strategy; a notable of example of this is their refusal to give players who paid $1000 to help design their own unique item a free copy of said item – those players still had to find the item in question by playing the game.
Like many action role playing games, Path of Exile revolves around the acquisition and imaginative use of a great many varied items. There are 10 slots into which gear can be equipped. (2 rings, an amulet, a belt, gloves, boots, a chest piece, helmet, and up to 2 weapons). Certain types of armor will have different implicit means of defense ranging from pure armor rating, to hybrid gear consisting of evasion/energy Shield. Chest armor pieces carry a penalty to movement speed, plate-type armor being the slowest. (3-5%). Shields also carry a movement speed penalty while equipped. (3%) Chests and 2-handed weapons share the capacity to roll up to 6 sockets, while smaller armor pieces (helm, gloves, boots) can only roll up to 4 sockets. 1-handed weapons and shields can only roll up to 3 sockets. There are 4 different types of rarity that gear can roll:
- Normal (white) – Easily the most common pieces of gear to find. No stats other than implicit mods will be found these items, but they have the ability to drop with sockets and links, making them still quite valuable to craft into a better item.
- Magic (blue) – At most can only contain two affixes. Desirable early game with two solid rolls to ease the levelling progression (+life, +% resistance is most sought after on armor)
- Rare (yellow) – Can range from 3 to 6 affixes. Because of the large discrepancy between a rare item’s stats being randomized, finding something that fits a players’ build perfectly can take quite some time.
- Unique (orange) – A special item that will always roll the same affixes, but the range between how well they roll will differ. These are the rarest items. Many unique items have special affixes that unlock build defining traits which can alter that way a character can be played significantly.
Damage Reduction and Mitigation
Health: Primary form of defense. Most builds will want as much life as possible, boosted through both the skill tree and having gear with as much +life as possible. A large health pool will reduce the duration that status effects have on the player.
Energy Shield: Acts as an additional layer to your health pool. Damage will only apply to your life once your Energy Shield has been fully depleted. The exception to this is Chaos damage, which bypasses energy shield. While you have any amount of energy shield, your character has a 50% chance to avoid being stunned. Like health, there is both gear and passives in the skill tree that affect Energy Shields total, and regeneration rate. Energy shield will start recharging after not taking damage over a period of time, while health regeneration is consistent, but much slower.
Armor: Mitigates strictly any physical damage that may affect the player. This damage reduction can cap out at 90%
Evasion: Allows the player to avoid taking any kind of ranged or melee physical damage. Chance to evade can never go lower than 5% or higher than 95%. Evasion is also modified by how much Dexterity the character has. Every 5 points of Dexterity increases the chance to evade by 1%.
Dodge: Follows a similar structure to Evasion, but is harder to obtain. Only special passives in the skill tree and unique gear grant % chance to dodge. This is rolled separately than evasion, allowing an additional chance to evade ranged or melee physical attacks. One passive allows players to dodge spells, completely nullifying the damage and/or status effects that may occur with it. Dodge and spell dodge cap out at 75%.
Block: Blocking an attack mitigates all damage taken, and any status effects that may happen with the hit. If the attack would have caused the player to become stunned, a block animation plays, stunning the character for a certain amount of time which can be reduced by specific mods that can be found on gear. (Reduced stun and block recovery) An implicit amount of block can be found while having a shield equipped (24-32%), wearing a staff (8-18%), or dual wielding (15%). Like dodge, unique gear and passives allow the player to block spells. Block and spell block cap out at 75%.
Resistance: There are 4 types of resistances in the game: Fire, Lightning, Cold, and Chaos. Each element has a unique effect that applies to monsters and players.
- Fire damage: Landing a critical strike with a fire spell, or attack that deals fire damage will also burn the target for a % of the damage that was dealt over time.
- Lightning damage: Landing a critical strike with a lightning spell or attack that deals lightning damage will shock the mob. Shock is a debuff that stacks up to 3 times and increases the amount of damage they take by 10% per stack. The more damage that is taken affects the length of the debuff.
- Cold damage: Landing a critical strike with a cold spell or attack that deals cold damage can freeze. This is a crowd control effect that renders the target frozen, unable to attack or move.
- Chaos damage: Deals damage through Energy Shield. Many monsters do not have high chaos resistance making spells or attacks that deal chaos damage particularly deadly. Most chaos damage is avoidable, either dealing damage through a degenerating aura, area of effect damage over time, or single target damage over time.
All resistances have a baseline cap at 75%. This can be increased through passives, flasks, gear and auras. Fire, lightning and Cold are considered elemental resistances, which are the most important to reach to 75%. As the difficulty between leagues increase, a penalty is placed reducing the base amount of resistances you have. ( Normal: 0% , Cruel: -20%, Merciless: -40%). For chaos damage, the game is balanced around a player having 0% Chaos resistance, as most damage done by Chaos is avoidable.
Path of Exile 3.0 Beta and Patch
During the Summer of 2017 Path of exile started it’s Open beta for Path of Exile 3.0, within this patch there would be the addition of Act 5,6 and 7 with 8 and 9 to release after a mid-beta wipe in late June. The 3.0 patch introduced the above acts and slew on new unique weapons, and the removal of the the “Difficulty” system (Normal, Nightmare, Hell) ( Normal, Cruel, Merciless) that has been a staple a staple in many Action RPGs since their inception. That system has been tossed to the side in favor of storytelling across Acts 1-10 and story line implications that increase the difficulty as you play through the content.
The Pantheon System was a new tree added in the 3.0 patch for Path of exile, allowing players to customize their character as they play through the new story by defeating Sub-Bosses and Act Ending Bosses upon defeat you will be granted a Passive Buff that will remain on your character for the rest of the game.
|OS: Windows XP SP3/Vista/Windows 7/8|
|CPU: x86-compatible 1.4GHz or faster processor|
|RAM: 2 GB|
|GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GT or ATI Radeon™ X1950 Pro or better|
|DirectX: Version 9.0c|
|Network: Broadband Internet connection|
|Free Disk Space: 5 GB|