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OPINION: Path of Exile Is Bloody Brilliant

Poorna Shankar Posted:
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I have to admit, I’ve never really played Path of Exile in earnest. I remember playing it briefly when it first released all those years ago, but at the time, I wasn’t terribly interested in games like that. And soon, Path of Exile became a legend, then legend became myth. But now, with whispers of a nameless fear in Path of Exile 2 on the horizon (read our hands-on here), I figured I’d hop back in and check it out. It’s absolutely brilliant.       

I started playing a couple weeks ago during our live stream for MMORPG with Managing Editor, Joseph Bradford, and our audio-challenged friend, Brian. They both are playing Witches, but because I love bows, I chose the Ranger.

I had no clue what I was doing. Getting to Lioneye's Watch was easy enough, but once I got there, everything seemed so overwhelming. This was compounded after I took a glance at the passive skills tree.

What does Strength do? What does Dexterity do? What does Intelligence do? I had absolutely no idea. I didn’t know how skills worked. I didn’t know how armor worked. Nothing. And so, I did what I do best. I reverted to type and panicked.

Fortunately, Bradford explained that in Path of Exile, skills aren’t handled like they are in most other ARPGs or RPGs for that matter. Skills are given through gems, with green, red, and blue gems corresponding with skills geared towards dexterity, strength, and intelligence, respectively.

These gems, I found out, slotted into their corresponding slots in your gear. And those skill gems can be supported, tweaked, or amplified with support gems. These skills can then level up with you. I’ve played a lot more since this original stream, so now I’m starting to get the feel for how to build my character.

At present, I’m focusing on building an Ice Shot Ranger. I also have Dash equipped as a movement skill, and a Totem skill for some good AOE when necessary. But this has all been a great learning process for me, as each hour I play, I learn more and more.

I am absolutely loving the Ice Shot build I have going right now. I’ve specced my passives to prioritize increasing my fire rate and bow damage. Though to be honest, I’d love for some experienced people here to take a look at my skills below and let me know if I’m on the right path. In short, I want to just deal a lot of damage and move quickly.

I’m still in Act 1, and am currently on the shipwreck graveyard making my way north. I am loving virtually everything about Path of Exile right now. I love the level design. I love how dark everything looks from a visual design standpoint. You get the feeling that the world is this distraught place filled with nastiness.

I love the combat. Of course, I suspect that if I didn’t like the combat, I wouldn’t really like Path of Exile given how central combat is to the core gameplay. It’s so versatile and Grinding Gears Games does a phenomenal job keeping the pressure on you when the situation calls for it, such as boss fights and Sister Cassia’s Purification Pumps.

I love how me and my friends each bring something to the table, as it were, with respect to specialties. I never once felt that one class was better than the other when we were playing co-op, and that we genuinely had to work together to take out more difficult enemies.

I love how insanely customizable it is, despite my initial apprehension. I feel like I can truly build my character given the constant stream of loot. The loot is Path of Exile’s party piece, in my opinion. Even though much of it is vendor trash, a decent chunk of it is not. This might change as I progress, but right now in the early game, I feel like I can keep tweaking my character with the generous loot drops. And the Purification Pumps are absolutely worth doing, as I’ve found out, because of the awesome gear they tend to drop. I’ve learned to prioritize those in new zones.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time in Path of Exile thus far. It’s an awesome ARPG wrapped in great visual design, great gameplay, and outstanding combat. The current Blight League is ending soon, but I cannot wait to see what Conquerors of the Atlas brings on December 9.

And of course, if you guys have any tips for me (remember, I want to build an Ice Shot-focused Ranger with high DPS and good movement), I would absolutely love your suggestions. For instance, are there any skills I should focus on apart from Ice Shot? Are there any good support skills I can buy from Nessa? What types of armor should I look out for? I feel like I’m just on the beach while the ocean that is Path of Exile lays before my feet. I’m pretty damn excited to jump in and play!


Poorna Shankar