My wife and I have been on a hard Diablo 3 kick for the past couple of months. She really enjoys the game a lot and I enjoy killing shit with her. It’s a great way to decompress after a long day of work for both of us. Long day? Well, let’s order some pizza and run some rifts. Although I enjoy playing Diablo 3 with her, I am growing tired of the game. I can feel myself starting to just nod off when we play longer than an hour. It’s just too repetitive for me. We have been playing it off and on for a couple of years and I lose a little more interest every time we dive in. That’s why I was excited for Path of Exile (PoE) to come to the PlayStation 4. It seemed like the same concept but with a new world, some new systems and honestly, it wasn’t Diablo 3. A breath of fresh air. But is Path of Exile on the PS4 any good? Let’s taco ‘bout it.
To start, the game looks solid. I wasn’t expecting a game that came out years ago to impress me visually but the graphics hold up in my opinion. The settings looks really cool, ranging from castle ruins to spooky caverns and everything in between, and each environment is quite different. I never felt like I was ever in the same place which really helps me get immersed into a game. There is a good amount of detail in every area which is nice because each environment is fairly large. I found myself spending a good chunk of time running around each area killing baddies and getting loot. The enemies themselves are top notch in terms of visuals and variations. I know enemy spider models and animations are well done when I get the goosebumps when I see them on the screen. Each act seems to have its own specific enemy type depending on the areas within that act.
The combat is good but repetitive. You run into a large group of enemies and start spamming your abilities to burst everyone down. This is pretty much how my wife and I play Diablo 3 so it was a familiar feeling in PoE. I will say, the feedback from hitting baddies in PoE is a bit better and leaves me a bit more satisfied when I slash them down. There are plenty of abilities to obtain in the game as you progress but I tend to stick to the same abilities to level them up. Which brings me to my next point. Progression.
The progression in Path of Exile can seem overwhelming at first but then once I settled into it, I started to really dig it. The main way to level up your character is through the passive skill tree (or how I like to call it “sphere grid”. Final Fantasy X, anyone?). The passive skill tree is bananas big and can really dig in deep in terms of how you want to play your character. For me, it was focusing on sword and shield as a duelist. So I want to focus on attack speed, block, and physical damage. Well, there are nodes all over the place to increase those attributes. The fun part is mapping out where you want to go next. Am I doing enough damage? Let’s start moving towards the physical damage increases. Am I dying too quickly? Let’s activate some of those blocking nodes. It creates a real sense of customization and individual playstyle.
Another way to grow stronger is to equip skill gems. These are items that grant you abilities to use in battle. Weapons and armor will have sockets available for you to slot your gems. As you use your skill gems they grow stronger, which is a cool way to reward a player for sticking with the same skills. I still have one ability equipped that I got at the very beginning of the game. So it is cool that I can still use it while trying out new skills to see if they mesh well.
Something that is very different coming from Diablo 3 is the inventory system. There you have a set number of slots and each item takes up one slot. In PoE you have, essentially, a set number of slots and each piece of gear can take up more than one slot depending on the size of the item. A ring may just take up one slot but a large two-handed sword can take up to six slots. It is definitely a different way to manage your loot and I found myself only picking up stuff that was either better or rare loot that I could sell. Early on after I had killed a boss or just found myself in front a ton of loot, I would set up a portal to town and go back and forth just picking up stuff then selling it. Eventually, I just started only taking what I thought was worth it and leaving heaps of stuff on the ground.
Overall, I would say that Path of Exile is a refreshing break from Diablo 3. It is not reinventing the wheel, but it is trying out some new spokes. Unfortunately, my wife did not take to Path of Exile too much for one main reason. You get a very healthy amount of loot in this game. Like uh… a VERY HEALTHY amount all of the time. It almost feels like a chore going through loot. But after a while, I just started recognizing what may be worth picking up and what is garbage. My wife was constantly going through each piece while I was off fighting and going through the mission. So she gave it a shot but wound up going back to Diablo 3 (she is doing bounties as I type this).
I would definitely recommend Path of Exile to anyone on the PS4 looking for your hack and slash fix. The areas are cool to look at, the combat is solid, the loot is plentiful and the game can be tough at times. Plus, there is plenty to do as the game launched on PS4 with all up-to-date content from the PC version. And it’s free. You can’t beat that.