Chances are you know about my love of all things Diablo 3 from reading my reviews of the games to books based off of them. So when it’s best clone title came along, Path of Exile, I knew I had to check out the beta. While it’s also coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One players who were lucky enough to sign up for the beta and be chosen are the ones who get a sneak peek of what’s to come. After putting some time into it, I can tell it has the makings of a good time for those who love isometric RPG’s, but not without touching up some things first.
Path of Exile was pretty much a PC exclusive for the longest, but now it’s finally making it’s way to couch co-op fans everywhere. One of the sweetest things about the game is that it’s free-to-play and one of the best examples of this genre. There isn’t any locked paywall or pay-to-win mechanics in place, so anyone can pick it up and play without restrictions. Of course there’s stuff you can buy with real money like cosmetic items and such, but nothing that will upset the balance of gameplay. I’ve never experienced the series before, but fans will be happy to know the console edition includes all of the content of the previous expansions, including the newest one titled The Fall of Oriath that adds six new acts for a total of ten. Just like Blizzard did with Diablo 3 when they brought it to consoles, Grinding Gear Games has revamped the user interface to make things simple yet effective for players. I’m also happy to admit the graphics here are very well done and even tend to offer more detail than Diablo 3 does, which is something you’ll notice as soon as you start playing. I also love the fact that this game runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, which is always a plus in my book.
Once you’ve selected a character that’s tied to class, such as the female ranger or male duelist, you find yourself washed up on a shore thanks to being exiled for crimes you’ve committed. It falls on you to make amends and survive the various enemies, traps, and puzzles to prove yourself worthy to re-enter the world as a champion. As with old-school RPG’s, you can kill, loot and level your way to success, but your bags can only hold so much loot thanks to the items taking up a number of square blocks in your bag. While I understand the concept, loot-whores such as myself will be irked to no end as they’ll find themselves returning to town every few minutes to sell. If you have Xbox Live, you can team up with some friends or random people online in co-op to make things more fun and interesting.
While I loved the game for the most part, the biggest gripe I faced was the constant server lag that plagued me to no end as I tried to make my way through. It would be one thing if it lagged every fifteen to thirty minutes or so, but I encountered the kind of lag every minute or two that dates back to the late 90’s/early 2000’s where the game will pause for a second then speed up to ten times the gameplay speed for a few seconds as it tries to play catch up to what lagged. If they can fix this before launch or give players an option for an offline mode, that would be great as this lag is a major gamebreaker.
Hopefully you’ve signed up and were chosen to play this beta, but if not and you love Diablo 3 as I do, you’ll want to check out the Path of Exile beta on Xbox One. Here’s hoping they’ll fix the lag issue and tweak some of the gameplay mechanics, but from what I’ve played, it has the makings of a fun couch co-op RPG that any can get into and for free on top of that.