Category: Blogs

Path of Exile’s Impressive Debut

Path of Exile’s Impressive Debut

Path of Exile is the newly-announced action-RPG by a new gaming studio, Grinding Gear Games. It’s an MMORPG, playable online by anyone in the world, for free. The game will feature six character classes, an innovative and very feature-rich skill gem system, large communal towns, instanced dungeon areas that are randomly generated (both surface areas and dungeons), a vast variety of randomly-generated items, a balanced PvP system with character rankings, guild support, and every other feature you might want in an MMORPG.

screenshot1

The team is planning to release regular expansions through the Path of Exile website, and they’re committed to supporting and developing the game for the long haul. They all loved Diablo 2, and that game’s long term success did a lot to inspire GGG to try for a similar run with their own. It’s also what caused them to invite me to see and play the game earlier this week, since they’ve been readers of this site since before Diablo II’s launch, and thought our readers would be very interested in their ARPG-styled game. (I think they’re right.)

Path of Exile is a horror-themed game, like the first Diablo. It’s gritty and cruel; the team is fond of calling their world “cut-throat,” and it’s designed with a high level of realism. As you can see from the screenshots and the gameplay movies, it’s not a lot of flash and style over substance. Armor looks like armor, there are no WoWish oversized shoulder pads or chain mail bikinis, and while PoE has plenty of fiery spell effects and magically-glowing weapons, it’s generally old school in appearance. It reminded me a bit of Titan Quest, in terms of the visuals, the size of the units, and the smooth animations.

Their financial model stems from what they’re calling an “ethical” item shop; they’ll sell name changes and realm transfers and such, along with bonus goodies like armor dyes, evil pets, and some graphic shifts. They will not sell any items or abilities that affect the gameplay, though. No super items, no armors, no double experience potions or +magic find abilities, or anything else that players are told are optional, but that turn out to be essentially mandatory in order to properly enjoy or compete on an even footing with others while playing the game.

PoE is well into their friends and family alpha test, and is rapidly approaching the start of a closed beta test. If that goes well, the team hopes to launch the game in early 2011.

From my play time on the demo, and a long conversation with the game creators, I feel confident in predicting that most Diablo 2 fans will want to take a long look at this title. The gameplay is fast and fun, reminiscent of Diablo 2’s, and it’s got surprisingly deep features and design plans. If you’re into RPGs, and you like the Diablo III runestone system and concept, you’ll be fascinated by the much deeper and more varied system of skill gems in Path of Exile. Plus it’s got all the vast item slot machine elements that make the Diablo games so long term addictive, a wide variety of areas and monsters, and detailed long term plans for expansions and added content.

Grinding Gear Games presents, Path of Exile

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a guy named Chris Wilson. He said he’d been a long-time reader of the Diablo site, and that he’d even contributed a guest article, long ago, in the early Diablo 2 days. In more recent years he and some friends had founded a game studio called Grinding Gears Games, and for the past 4 years his small design team had been working on an action-heavy RPG which would be free to download and play online. Chris and the others at the company were all huge Diablo 2 fans, their game was heavily-influenced by the Diablo style of fast action fighting, and since they were about to announce their game, and were going to be in the San Francisco area in late August to meet numerous media outlets, they very much wanted me to come and see it.

Advertisements
Interviews: The Exiled Tribune – Dave Brevik Speaks About His New Role

Interviews: The Exiled Tribune – Dave Brevik Speaks About His New Role

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Path of Exile: The Exiled Tribune. In addition to our regular update about all things development-related and the celebration of community, we had the chance to ask Dave Brevik about his new advisory position with Grinding Gear Games as it prepares to launch Path of Exile in China. See what’s new this week in Path of Exile!

Dave Brevik on the Path of Exile Chinese Launch

MMORPG: What unique perspective can you bring to Path of Exile as it makes the move towards a China release?

Dave Brevik: I have obviously been heavily involved in many Action-RPGs, including globally releasing several of them. The wisdom and experience I gained from going into foreign markets is the guidance I am providing for Grinding Gear Games. The Asian market is different from the western market and hopefully I can help communicate those differences and advise them on avoiding the pitfalls that many developers fall into.

MMORPG: What sort of lessons did you learn from Marvel Heroes and as CEO at Gazillion, which you can apply at GGG?

DB: The biggest lesson I learned at Gazillion was the importance of direct communication with your audience. In today’s gaming society, information between developer and their customers is more direct and important than ever. Listening to that audience and interacting with them is about the most important thing you can do. I already feel that Grinding Gear Games does a great job with this, so all I can do is ask them to continue as the game expands into China.

MMORPG: Aside from the China launch, is there anything else you’re working on within Grinding Gear?

DB: The management of Grinding Gear Games and I have been close for a few years now. I even went out to New Zealand to their GDC and hung out at their offices. I have an ongoing open dialog with the development team and provide feedback about upcoming content.

MMORPG: What do you see as the most important part of an ARPG, and the genre’s future?

DB: The most important parts of an Action-RPG are visceral combat, random levels, random items, character customization and atmosphere. When all of these come together, you can create a superb experience that gamers will enjoy for years. I see all of these as critical parts of the future of ARPGs. The genre has changed a lot in twenty years and I’m sure the future will bring many exciting changes as well as long as people stick to the core tenets I described.

And in OTHER News…

In other Path of Exile news from the week that was, content update v2.4.1 officially launched packed with updates to the Atlas, Sextant Mods and bug fixes. In addition, several new Microtransactions were added including Imp Haste, Carnage Vitality, Trinity Purity, Verdant Split Arrow and the pretty dang cute Dragon Totem. Check out each one’s video to see them in action.

The latest update also brought about new versatility for totem skins in that most totem skins now work with all totem types (minus the Ancestrals). To show off the newly updated looks, several microtransaction videos were recorded that you can see here.

To clarify, the Ziggurat, Eagle Guardian, Olmec, Tiki, Green Searing Bond and new Dragon Totem Skins work on every type of totem excluding the Ancestral totems. Ghostflame Flame Totem is the only totem skin that exclusively belongs to one totem type (Flame Totem).

A pair of pretty cool developer videos also went out this week. The first is a community video podcast called The Lioneye’s Watch with several community members chatting it up with Technical Director Jonathan Rogers. Rogers provides some background information about the technical side of game development with regard to Path of Exile and it’s a neat look behind the curtain.

Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds Injects New Challenges Into Hardcore ARPG

Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds Injects New Challenges Into Hardcore ARPG

Nearing its third anniversary, Path of Exile seems to be at the top of its game. With several million active players along with continuous updates, the developers at Grinding Gear Games have kept busy since its launch. But now, they’ve got another big update ready next month with the upcoming Atlas of Worlds expansion, which completely overhauls much of the RPG’s end-game content, as well as adding a brand new questing and dungeon system into the mix.

The developers are implementing a slew of new content and sweeping changes to the game. In addition to performance upgrades to PoE’s engine, allowing for multi-threaded rendering (resulting in a more solid FPS and greater visual fidelity), and the launch of a new three month-long challenge league for seasoned vets, Atlas of Worlds will also include new encounters with brand new bosses, monsters. Moreover, new rare customizations items, map locations, and gear are scattered around the game world for players to uncover.

But it doesn’t stop there. With Atlas of Worlds, the developers have introduced their most ambitious gameplay feature known as, well, the Atlas. For the uninitiated, Path of Exile features items known as Map tiles which are a part of a comprehensive map system. These tiles can be taken to a special device that will create portals to procedurally-generated levels that house new challenges and loot. Similar to the Nephalem Rifts in Diablo III, these are micro dungeons that are high risk, high reward. During our demo, we saw the developers use a brand new map tile which transported us to a level known as Vaal City, a mixture of forest and urban areas that are both of course filled with some bloodthirsty foes.

While these new maps seem neat on their own, they are part of the Atlas. As you create new maps, you’ll uncover portions of the massive map which show a large game world to uncover. The more maps you uncover, the more of the game space you see. After about a full hour of play, we only uncovered a small fraction of the Atlas map. It’s extremely comprehensive, and the variety of areas that you’ll travel across shows off the diversity of locations that are being added to the core game.

asf23q4gafdg43t

Eventually, you’ll be able to work your way to the center of the map, which houses four elite bosses and a brand new area known as the Crucible, which is the most difficult end-boss Path of Exile has to offer (so far). The central Atlas is peak difficulty for PoE, and it’s recommended you come in with a group and some top-class gear. While you can take part in it as early as your mid-thirties in level, it’s recommend you hold off till you have at least finished the latest story Act and have your character be in levelled into the 70s before taking on the Atlas in the first place.

Set for launch on September 2, Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds aims to reinvigorate the player base with its new challenges. Though I have some worries about the Atlas being a bit too difficult for casual play, this sort of content should be very exciting for fans of the game who’ve maybe become a bit burned out. It’s been a while since I played, but seeing the game in its upcoming state has gotten me plenty excited to dive back in.

Path of Exile’s Ascendancy expansion launches March 4

Path of Exile’s Ascendancy expansion launches March 4

If you haven’t played Path of Exile in a while, you might want to reinstall that client soon.

Developer Grinding Gear Games revealed that the fourth expansion for its popular PC action role-playing game comes out on March 4. Path of Exile: Ascendancy will introduce new sub-classes, items, skills, and levels.

pathofexile-930x407

Path of Exile is notable in the action role-playing game space, which includes the heavy-hitter Diablo III, because it’s free-to-play (with only in-game perks like extra stash room and aesthetic upgrades like special spell effects and pets costing real money). Content updates like this expansion are important for keeping Path of Exile’s 13 million players worldwide active, especially as Diablo III developer Blizzard continues to offer free updates for its game (although you still need to pay if you want to start playing Diablo III). Even with Path of Exile being free, Diablo III remains more popular. That game has sold over 30 million copies as of last August. Still, Diablo III has the might and branding of Blizzard behind it, so Path of Exile’s success is still impressive. It’s very much the David to Blizzard’s ogre-sized Goliath.

Ascendancy adds The Lord’s Labyrinth, a new area that features randomly generated areas that change every day, and Trials of Ascendancy, a new area that focuses on puzzle-based rooms. It also includes 19 Ascendancy classes, new sub-classes that can earn you new skills.

Path of Exile originally came out in 2013.