Official website: https://www.pathofexile.com
Path of Exile (PoE) is an online free-to-play action role-playing game (ARPG) developed and published by Grinding Gear Games (GGG). The game was released for Microsoft Windows in 2013 and Xbox One in 2017. It was named 2013 PC Game of the Year by GameSpot and best PC role-playing game of 2013 by IGN. PoE took inspiration from the Diablo series but by all means, they are two completely different games.
Lens of the Elemental Tetrad
PoE is set in a dark fantasy world where the once mighty empire has crumbled and become a cursed land due to powerful beings fighting each other and trying to take control of the world. The land is now ruled by disorganized descendants of the empire and the wilderness is filled with hostile undead creatures, monsters and rouge exiles.
At the start of the game, the player is exiled from the island of Oriath for some unmentioned reasons and shipwrecked on the coast of Wraeclast. The player must not only fight for his or her own survival in this chaotic world but also restore the order of the world by defeating the powerful beings.
Similar to traditional RPG games, players slay monsters to gain experience points to level up so that they can use more powerful skills and equipment. With myriads of items, skills and passive points available, players are encouraged to create vastly different but equally powerful builds capable of clearing all the contents of the game.
Since PoE is set in a dark fantasy world, the art style is dark, gritty and realistic. The game levels are often castle ruins, cities on fire, dark caves, forests infested by mutated beasts etc., depicting a world plunged into chaos. The slow and mournful music also paints a bleak picture of the world.
PoE is built using in-house game engine developed by Grinding Gear Games (GGG), which is capable of rendering 3D graphics and particle effects. Performance improvements are introduced along with game updates from time to time.
Lens of Essential Experience
Players spend most of the time in PoE slaying monsters and slaying lots of them, ranging from small hostile animals to end-game bosses. Being able to slay an entire monster pack after monster pack and blazing through game levels fast and efficiently let players experience wielding god-like powers. As players venture into higher-level areas, the number of monsters that can be slain increases, further reinforcing the sense of power. Fallen enemies drop loot, allowing players to amass currency and items, which in turn empowers them to fight even stronger foes.
Lens of Problem Solving
PoE presents a large number of options for players to create different builds, i.e. combinations of skills, passive points, and items. Players must plan their build carefully in order to overcome all the challenges that the game can throw at them, otherwise, they will end up with an underpowered character. Some builds are relatively easy to achieve while the others may require certain rare items to function properly. In each playthrough, players must consider how to acquire the rare items, either trading with other players or farming certain areas. As expansions are introduced to the game, the new content opens up new creative builds, waiting for players to discover.
Lens of Endogenous Value
In PoE, powerful builds often require certain rare items or items with very good stats. These valuable items may result in the difference between a deathless boss fight and a long dreadful fight with many retries. Due to randomized item drops and a wide spectrum of stats, valuable items are difficult to obtain. The demand for these valuable items is reflected in their prices. Players are willing to pay large amounts of in-game currency to acquire said items to fit into their builds. However, some valuable items are better suited for certain builds than the others, so players can trade with one another to turn less useful items into items they need.
Lens of Challenge
Every 3-4 months, a challenge league is introduced to PoE, replacing the previous challenge league. Each challenge league provides some additional content to the core game and creates a fresh start for the players. As the name implies, challenge league also provides a list of challenges for players to complete. The challenges include simple tasks like crafting items, killing certain monsters, finding new items etc. as well as very difficult encounters such as slaying certain bosses without being hit or defeating the end-game bosses multiple times. Completion of the challenges awards players with magnificent decorations in their hideout to show off to other players.