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Video Game: Path Of Exile
Path of Exile
is a Dark Fantasy Action RPG
by the New Zealand-based studio Grinding Gear Games, where you play as the eponymous Exile: one of many convicts (rightly or wrongly) exiled to the remote continent of Wraeclast by the authorities of the outside world. After your ship crashes near the shores of Wraeclast, you are hard-pressed to merely survive in this Crapsack World
, let alone prosper.
The gameplay is obviously inspired by Diablo II
: you control a single character from overhead perspective and engage in massive monster slaughter, occasionally dropping by the town to sell loot and pick up/turn in quests. Even the control scheme is very similar to classic Diablo
titles. The main difference is the skill system, wherein passive skills form a veritable skill forest
based around three core attributes (not unlike the Sphere-Grid system in Final Fantasy X
), while the active skills/spells are stored in upgradable magical gems that can be socketed in virtually every piece of equipment (not unlike Materia in Final Fantasy VII
The game entered open beta on 23 January 2013, so all of its content is now available to anyone for free. You can download the game client after registering on the official website
(the same account is used to log into the game). Although the initial closed-beta crowd-funding campaign is over (having collected over $2.2 million in pledges), you can still support the game by purchasing cosmetic "upgrades" from the devs' shop
. On that note, GGG are very outspoken Freemium
haters, so they are not going to hand out any gameplay advantages or exclusive content to "paying customers" any time soon.
Tropes found in the game:
- Action RPG
- Armor Piercing: Chaos damage bypasses your Energy Shield, making it a threat for those who rely on their Shield. Fortunately, there's a passive skill that grants immunity to it. Unfortunately, it reduces your maximum HP to 1.
- Artificial Brilliance: The AI is savvy enough to aim for your Totems first, should you deploy one.
- Back from the Brink: At the beginning of the game, most of the coastline is overrun by the monsters, with only a single settlement remaining besieged from both sides. It's Up to You to clear a path to the inner continent.
- Badass Grandpa with Badass Beard and Bald of Awesome: The Templar is visibly the oldest playable character, yet packs some serious punch.
- Bag of Sharing: Your personal stash is carried over across Acts, and all characters on the same account can access its contents.
- Barbarian Hero: The Marauder.
- Black Knight: They are mooks of the evil emperor.
- Body Horror: Grigor, the misshapen NPC in act 3. The monsters in the Lunaris Temple also count. They are all this way because Piety tried to implant Virtue Gems—the same gems you place in equipment sockets for all of your active skills—in their bodies, likely out of a misguided attempt to construct super-soldiers. This isn't the first time such a process has been undertaken either—Emperor Chitus of the Eternal Empire and his thaumaturgist Malakai dabbled in the process about two hundred years before the game's campaign storyline, which resulted in the creation of the Undying enemies you find all over Act 3. The process apparently has a detrimental effect on the subject's sanity; everyone who has undergone it, aside from Grigor and Lady Dialla, the Gemling Queen, and even she is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander at best blindly attack you on sight.
- The Brute: Both Hillock, the first boss of the game, and Brutus, the mid-Act I boss.
- Cast from Hit Points: The Blood Magic passive skill removes your mana and uses your life as your mana instead.
- Crapsack World: Justified in that you're on a segment of the wider world horrible enough that the legitimate authorities decided it was a good place to put criminals too dangerous to otherwise hold. The rest of the planet is implied to be a bit better, though there are nasty bits-the Nazi alikes, for one.
- Crippling Overspecialization / Master of None: Because of the huge skill tree, it is very easy to fall in one of those two categories when creating characters before knowing the game well.
- Some players consider the Duelist as a Master of None, as he is polyvalent but less efficient in mêlée fighting than Marauder and Templar, less efficient in ranged combat than the Ranger, less efficient in dodging and stealth than the Shadow, and less efficient in magic use than the Witch and the Templar.
- Cool Down: Some active abilities have cooldowns in addition to consuming mana. The cooldowns of mine-type abilities function slightly differently: preparing a mine (happens without active player participation) takes time and you can only carry a small number of them around, but launching them has no cooldown.
- Dark Fantasy
- Dark Is Not Evil: All the summons are The Undead, making all the summoners Necromancers. Even the relatively good-two-shoes Templar and the honorable Shadow.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: When you are killed on Normal difficulty, you are simply resurrected in the town with all the gear and items you had at the moment of death. The only penalty you incur is that the location may reset before you get back to where you were killed last time. On higher difficulties, however, you lose XP and on Hardcore, dying kicks your character back to the Default league.
- Defector from Decadence: The Templar is heavily implied to be a former member of Piety's cult. In fact, judging from his comments after defeating General Gravicius, he was relatively high up/well-connected in the religious hierarchy as well.
- Design-It-Yourself Equipment: Crafting in the game is randomized just like enemy drops, but allows for a great flexibility. Using the orbs, you can upgrade items of any rarity to higher tiers, give magical and rare items additional properties, completely respec an item, change the number of gem slots or the gem slot connectors on it, etc.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Some quests may be done out of sequence (finding the Quest Item before actually getting the quest from the Quest Giver, for instance). In this case, the quest giver and related NPCs will say different things regarding the quest status.
- Dual Wielding: All one-handed weapons can be dual wielded, including two different types, though this is not advised due to spreading of passives
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Thank to a letter found lying in his camp base, we learn that the Black Knight mini-boss defending the pass between Western Forest and Prisoner Gate is Piety's lover.
- Fantasy Character Classes
- Marauder is the Fighter.
- Ranger is the Rogue.
- Witch is the Sorceress.
- Duelist is the Swashbuckler (Fighter / Rogue hybrid).
- Templar is the Magic Knight (Fighter / Sorcerer hybrid).
- Shadow is the Shadow (duh) (Rogue / Sorcerer hybrid).
- Five-Man Band: The player characters can be interpreted as such, if put in a single party:
- Gorn: The depths of the Lunaris Temple almost rival the Durance of Hate in bloodiness, with drainage pipes running completely red and pools full of blood, not to mention all the torture equipment, corpses impaled on stakes, and piles on piles of emaciated dead bodies. Even worse, people can be seen writhing inside the pools of blood.
- Ground Punch: Ground punch is a Strength-based active ability, which has a chance of stunning the surrounding enemies.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: All three Strength- and thus melee-oriented characters are male, while the two females are a Squishy Wizard and an archer. Still, since the skill tree allows any class to be anything, it just takes more skill points to get to the skills the character was not intended to use.
- Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Kinda. The Duelist wears a bright-red shirt under the armor, as if tempting the enemy to try and hit him. Given how his defenses are based on Evasion, this is not as suicidal as it seems...
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: From easier to harder: Normal, Cruel, Merciless.
- Infant Immortality: Averted in the Witch's backstory. Her house was burnt down, and instead of killing the people who did it, she killed their children.
- Jerkass: The Duelist, who was exiled because he thought a noble had insulted him, and promptly stabbed said noble in the gut in return. Also the Witch, to a (slightly) lesser degree - her house was burnt down, most likely as part of an attempt to kill her, but instead of killing her attackers she killed their children.
- Leaked Experience: Each member of the party receives a portion of the XP for every enemy killed on the location, even if they don't actively participate in the fighting.
- Light Is Not Good: Piety, the final boss of the game. She looks like a paladin from a High Fantasy universe...who is actually an utterly amoral Evil Sorceress who is a leader this world's equivalent to the SS.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Brutus, Lord Incarcerator.
- Necessary Drawback / Power at a Price: Most of the high-end Passive skills (called 'Keystone Passives') have a drawback to balance their advantages. You can get perfect accuracy at the cost of unable to deal Critical Hit, immunity to stun at the cost of not being able to evade attacks, immunity to Chaos damage at the cost of having your maximum HP reduced to 1, etc., etc., etc...
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Act II, the only way to reach the exit of a plot-critical underground passage is to trigger an altar. It makes darkness fall on the land and releases a monster which is Act II final boss.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Warden's Quarters are completely devoid of enemies... right up to when you run into Brutus.
- Penal Colony: The entire continent of Wraeclast. What do you mean, it's not inspired by the Land Down Under?
- Player Party: You can complete the game on your own but you can also form parties with up to five other players. Doing so increases difficulty but also rewards you with more XP and better loot.
- Practical Currency / Weird Currency: The loot you sell is traded for Scrolls of Wisdom (identification) or Orbs, which actually makes selling regular (non-magical) loot sensible, since you get scrolls to identify your magical loot. Or you can just sell Orbs for scrolls.
- Randomly Generated Levels:
- Not only are they random but each location rearranges itself (respawning all enemies) 8 to 16 minutes after you have left it. Thankfully, the general orientation of the maps (the positions of the exits and waypoints relative to the map center and edges) is always roughly the same, which makes finding one's bearings much easier.
- The game also has endgame maps which are treated like any other item, complete with random attributes and quality ratings. Using one will take you to a map with special challenges and a chance for better rewards.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The Witch.
- Reconstruction: Of the Hack And Slash. Grinding Gear Games challenged some fundamental notions underlying Diablo-like games to create a new take on the sub-genre that is both familiar and incredibly fresh. Some mainstays like money have been done away with entirely, while other like stats, skill trees, active skills have been smashed into a million pieces and put back together in interesting new forms.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Unlike mana, health does not regenerate by itself (without regenerating items or specific passives), but the energy shield, added on top of health by various armors, does. This is the preferred option of magic-heavy classes, since the shields are tied to the Intelligence score.
- Rule of Three: The game system runs on it. There are three character attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence), three core classes (Marauder, Ranger, Witch), three mixed ones (Duelist, Templar, Shadow), three types of defense (armor, evasion, energy shields) three colors of ability gems (red, green, blue), etc.
- Scenery Gorn: The whole third Act is set in the ruined city of Sarn.
- Skill Forest: With 1300 nodes available to all classes, it's not so much a "skill tree" as "skill Pando".
- Skill Point Reset: It is possible to reset some of the points allocated to passive skills.
- Shout Out: Quite a few can be found among the unique items.
- Bronn's Lithe, named in honor of Tyrion's mercenary companion in A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Terminus Est, named after the protagonist's BFS from Book Of The New Sun—which, coincidentally, is also the name of an infamous Chaos spaceship in Warhammer 40,000.
- Pillar of the Caged God, a staff inspired by Sun Wukong's magic weapon from Journey to the West.
- Chernobog's Pillar, named after a deity of the old Slavic Mythology.
- Moonsorrow, whose flavor text haiku references Nightmare Moon's thousand-year banishment in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Infractem, whose name is an anagram of Minecraft, was designed by none other than Notch himself, who even managed to work both his first name and his nickname into the flavor text couplet:
Mark us with mercy, then press on with care,
Execute us steadily, notch away at our despair
- Socketed Equipment: Virtually all of the equipment items a player can find can have ability gems socketed into them.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Just like in Diablo II, there are static waypoints on every other location that have to be found and activated before you can use them to teleport from any one to any other. Also, the Portal Scrolls create single-use portals from anywhere to the town. Finally, there is also a skill gem that allows you to make town portals without using any portal scrolls.
- Token Religious Teammate: The Templar, who makes a point of praising the Almighty after every level up.
- Treacherous Quest Giver: Captain Fairgraves calls his ghostly flunkies and tries to kill you after you complete his Fetch Quest.
- Two Girls to a Team: The Witch and the Ranger.
- The Unfought: Emperor Dominus
- Underground Monkey: With crabs, spiders, apes... including literal underground monkeys.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Shadow's intro shows that his employers sold him out after his last kill to save themselves, leading to him becoming an Exile.
- You Will Not Evade Me: Brutus uses a hook to reel in players.