Free-to-play hack-‘n’-slash RPG Path of Exile from developer Grinding Gear Games has been in open beta for several months now, but the “full” release is still a ways off, according to the developer.
Speaking to Joystiq at GDC 2013, co-founder Chris Wilson said that Path of Exile version 1.0 is still roughly six months out from release.
That doesn’t mean you’ll have to wait that long for more content. Since going into open beta, Grinding Gear Games has been regularly rolling out patches that squash bugs, add in new skills, and occasionally new content. Wilson said that by the time 1.0 comes out, Act 3 should be fully fleshed out.
If you’ve never heard of Path of Exile before, this is perhaps the easiest way to explain it: Path of Exile is the Diablo 2 follow-up that series purists were looking for in Diablo 3.
The somewhat daunting skill systems allow you to heavily customize how your character plays, the atmosphere of the game is dark and moody, and there is no small number of end-game loot to strive for. Path of Exile is about as much of a Diablo 2 clone as one would want it to be, but it does plenty of things to shake things up as well.
Rather than having gold be the players’ currency, the developers opted instead to make an item-based currency system. For instance, you might pick up an item that boosts an armor piece of your choice – or you could use it instead to purchase something from a merchant, or another player.
There’s also the skill system. Players can equip and level up skills by slotting them into armor, allowing you to mix and match the type of skills you want – and how many of them you have – before heading out. The skill tree, however, is a lot more complicated than that.
Each class has access to a giant sphere of passive skills – if you’ve played Final Fantasy X, it’s just like the Sphere Grid. Although it benefits you to stay along the path that is tailored to your class, you can, if you so choose, opt to instead dive into passive skills from another class. Everything is available to you, but you do have a limited number of skill points to spend.
If you’ve been itching for a Diablo-like game to play, Path of Exile is certainly worth a shot from what I’ve played of it. Just be prepared to spend a few minutes reading up on how not to completely screw up your character’s skill tree.
Or don’t. Your choice.