My various thoughts while playing this game.
Initial thoughts ∞
Procedurally-generated areas give reasonable replayability, and end-game has some very complex map modes with various modifiers and restrictions. Skills and talents play off of one another, and the gear system gives very wide options for complex character ability adjustments.
Gear is not soulbound. It is freely usable and tradable. There is also no auction house, and a thriving trading community supported by several extremely good and convenient websites.
2013-02-25 and earlier ∞
I've been playing a new-old game
Diablo 2.1 Path of Exile. It's a free-to-play .. well it's a Diablo clone. Almost literally. Top-down, a few spells, kill bad guys.
It's definitely a clone of Diablo 2, right down to the areas, mobs and quests.
While beta, it's working quite well. There are some network teething issues.
Melee seems to get shafted for most things, so almost everyone runs around with a blow.
Chaos damage (poison and bleeds) don't have resistance options like other things, so they're unbalancedly-dangerous. I totally made up a new word there.
I'd like to think the following quote was helpful in pushing the game to evolve in a number of key ways. All of the problems which I highlight have been solved.
Increased the base duration of the item allocation timer from 1.6 seconds to 2.6 seconds. There is still a bonus allocation time for characters that are a distance away (travel time +10%).
Items should never expire.
Travel time is a good idea, but items expire basically instantly for melee. Try looting more than one item at ground zero.
People dropping lag bombs during boss fights helps those with underpowered video cards lose loot. Fixing the lag is only one part of the problem, fixing the loot system is the other.
Allocated items no longer show a countdown timer or player name. They are still dimmed out while they are allocated to someone else.
The countdown helped a person see what was theirs. You've made it harder.
These changes were made to reduce the number of allocated items (for readability), increase their allocation duration (for fairness) and to reduce the visual chaos associated with the timer and allocation name appearing and disappearing (for readability). In our testing it is now much easier to see what items bosses drop and to click the items that are allocated to you.
Reducing the number of allocated items isn't enough. Reduce the number of items.
Find a way to at least fit the items on the screen. Having to walk away from the loot to see what dropped because text is off-screen, then walking towards it to maybe pick it up.. is not "cut-throat", it's a failed system.
Was it easier to read what items drop now that fewer are allocated and the size of the item hovers doesn't change?
Fewer allocations has nothing to do with the horrible visual clutter.
The item never changed width, it was fine with the timer. It was easier to see with the timer! A height change was annoying but easy to get used to. Still, try making the bar just a sliver across the bottom of a one-line box instead of creating a two-line box.
Does the increased allocation duration help enough in terms of being able to grab items in time assuming you react quickly?
It's important to us that Path of Exile has a cut-throat feel where players are not only competing against monsters, but also their fellow players.
This view is beyond wrong.
It's important to us that our co-operative games are not actually co-operative, and that instead of building mechanics to help people get along and have fun (the point of a game), we build mechanics to turn everyone into a troll and ninja so that our community is full of jerks.
We want people to hate our game because of the mechanics and our community because of what we've done to them.
Players are forced to create their own cliques which respect loot rules, in a game which has no mechanics which support this.
It's difficult to meet people (the chat system is obnoxious to navigate)
It's difficult to create a friends list (no categorization or notes system, no guild system)
With no social mechanics in place, players are relying on a loot system which isn't actively hostile .. which this one is.
Fast-paced doesn't have to be cut-throat.
I broke the game with Cast on Critical Strike. I reported it thusly, and it was fixed shortly afterward.
- Lightning Arrow
- Cast on Critical Strike
- Power Charge on Critical
- Reduced Mana
From what I can tell, there's an interaction specific to Lightning Arrow, Chain and Firestorm.
I've swapped out both Lightning Arrow and Firestorm to various other skills, and no other combination seems to have the effect.
The effect is that when I crit, and the Cast on Critical Strike procs, I appear to get multiple casts of Firestorm. Perhaps it's associated with the chain, and I get three casts, but it feels like the nearer a group is, the more casts I get. So it's as though the area of effect of the Lightning Arrow is triggering one Firestorm per target in its area.
Like others, I'm built entirely around Cast on Critical Strike, except I have a ludicrous attack speed. I'm able to fill the screen with multiple overlapping Firestorms. This isn't particularly overpowered, but it is hilarious .. and possibly a bug.
I hope not, because this is mad fun.
A fantastically rich free to play "Diablo-style" game, with smooth and intuitive controls and great graphics and sound. Flawless defaults and a clear UI.
Simple on the surface, but extraordinarily complex underneath. Combinations of classes, passives (talents), equipment, skills and passives which modify one's skills all come together to make this an extremely involving game.
Absolutely not for casuals. It's not meant to be and will never be brought down to their level. They can continue to play farmville and candy crush.
There are some truly unfortunate complexities where the community has to gather data and build websites for both information and trading.
No in-game auction house exists and that will probably never exist either. Gathering gear or crafting one's own gear is a pointless gamble. Like "that other game" which had an auction house which was subsequently removed, Path of Exile's concept of "self-found" gear is a complete waste of time. Instead, trade with other players. Nothing is soulbound, you can trade anything freely even after trying things out for a while.
This problem is significantly mitigated by the various "races" where a player makes a new character from scratch and must rely entirely on self-found to race to the goal. Additionally, every three months the game both has a new "from scratch" realm created, and any from the previous such realm are brought back into a general dumping ground realm where everyone can continue to play their characters in an ever-polluted environment. That realm has more and more items thrown at it and its economy generally continues to tank. Still, it's difficult to get a character or two "just right" even in such an old economy.
On the plus side, every three months is a *significant* content update and so far has always come with a character wipe of a sort which lets you reset your character and set it up again to try out some new stuff without having to level a new character.
But the best part.. probably the single best development team in history. These kiwi are awesome. From their drive to their ideas, their communication and philosophies. They've gone above and beyond and have impressed even me, and I'm bitter and easily disappointed.
Can't move things in the inventory while at a trade window. This is annoying as hell.
2014? - Are there any fun builds? ∞
I'm guessing that sometime in late 2014 I was going to post this, but it never got posted, and was saved by their forum such that I only found it when I went to post feedback.
As a game designed to frustrate players, PoE is extremely successful.
A lot of mechanics were put in so that players won't have fun.
- Being frozen isn't fun.
- Being stun-locked isn't fun.
- Being chilled isn't fun.
- Being slow because of armour isn't fun. Even in town? Seriously?
- Running out of mana isn't fun.
- Missing isn't fun.
- Slow attacks aren't fun.
- Evasion is a ludicrously stupid mechanic.
- Chaos damage is a rediculous mechanic.
- Damage reflection isn't fun.
- Thorns isn't fun.
- It's not realistic to have an off-set of weapons/shield/etc, because pressing that button is too laggy. It would be great if I could press it, and after whatever hidden cooldown from my present cast it would get around to switching over. Nope, just does nothing if you don't first let go of your keyboard, wait for everything to be happy, then press the hotkey. Totally fast-paced.
- Not enough hotkeys to do everything you want. Remind me.. how many buttons do mice have again?
- Can't move with wasd.
- My friend didn't bother playing because the game's too damned dark to see anything.
- Have to re-cast everything if you die or fiddle with gear. Seriously, just have a list of the auras with some checkboxes.
- "Permanent" allocation, unless you leave the instance or died of course. Then you lose xp and that exalted orb.
- Permanent allocation doesn't work properly. If the idiot host sets it after starting an instance, it'll say it's permanent but won't actually be permanent. Even when set up correctly, some items magically aren't permanently allocated. What the hell?
- Loot isn't instanced.
- It's not possible to be tanky, you'll die anyways.
- You can't do any damage.
- You can't find good gear.
- You can't craft good gear.
- You can't afford good gear.
- The gear you have can't be upgraded.
- Trading is obnoxious.
- Desync isn't fun.
- Being disconnected transitioning areas isn't fun. What, used a town portal to escape? *disconnect* .. there goes the instance.
- Screwed up your passives, screw you.. reroll! Did it six times? Hahaha, do it again!
- No recipes to get rid of these cockroach-common uniques.
- Can't filter item drops.
Can't find anything in the item drops.
Am I missing anything?
-140 physical damage per hit, 50-65% damage reduction from armour. Still die in seconds. Crits? I need 6000 health and the ability to regen that in seconds? I just need to buy a 7-link legacy Foobar's Widget, right?
Cast on Crit is a way around some of the stupidity, but it requires a 5-link item. Good luck!
Some critical keystones exist to avoid some mechanics:
- Blood Magic to avoid some issues, but you sacrifice auras and now need regen and are even more vulnerable to chaos damage.
- Chaos Innoculation to avoid chaos damage, but now you need energy shield, which has its own set of obnoxious mechanics. Work around them with leech and regen to shields! Sure, but you'll still get nuked in under two seconds.
- Energy shield requires you to run away then afk for a half hour for your shields to come back. Good luck when soloing. Good luck on a boss fight. Good luck with AoE.
- Iron Reflexes to get rid of evasion. Any class starting out over there must either go energy shield or go way wayyyyyyyy down there to get that keystone.
- Resolute Technique to stop missing. Or be a caster, but then you have mana issues. Accuracy on all your gear? You'll still miss.
- Regeneration is all over the place, but that's okay.. you'll still die.
- Lots of defensive nodes all over, but you sacrifice damage so you'll die anyways. Of boredom at least.
- Lots of offensive nodes all over, but you sacrifice damage so you'll die anyways. Hi desync! Hi reflect, thorns, stunlocks, slow, freeze!
Traps avoid reflection. Fire traps aren't bad, I'm not sure why anything else exists though.
OH MAH GAWD SO MUCH CHOICE! Choice overload. With all that choice, the only option is to use a cookie-cutter build someone else made. Providing so much choice delivers the exact opposite experience. Well played!
So far I haven't tried a minion build or a pure-defensive cast on stunned/damaged/bored build. That one I expect to be nerfed.
Minion died? No problem. Exit your map and.. Oh wait. Replace it with something random? Well, I suppose.
Newcomers need to be told to not try to experiment, and to just use a cookie-cutter build.
I suspect that there would be much more player retention if this were done. People having to learn things the hard way again and again with character after character being completely ruined.. is just evil.
Why not give a free respec several times while levelling?
Also, turn up the damned brightness.
I'll relay my friend's first impressions:
Moving with just clicking is annoying. Why not have WASD?
Everything is too dark. As soon as they got to the caves in act one, they uninstalled.
Attack speed is important to change.
I am forced to make specific builds relying on faster if smaller responses from my character, so I can not feel like I'm sitting around waiting to interact with the game. This is my personality and play style, but I can empathize with new players' reactions to slow speed. It is for this reason I won't use 2h melee weapons. (slow attacks that can miss and requite an additional swing are frustrating)
Another thing that frustrated me to no end is that I was fully capable of appreciating the depth, but I neither had socket/link combinations to work with, nor had skill gems. I was forced to grind through the boring bits to the higher levels when "proper" items would drop, and I might accidentally get a skill gem that would work with my chosen/available skills.
A fuller depth of the game needs to be brought down *very* quickly to the lower levels. Like right away. Players having options to, say, add fire damage and see the mana cost increase will immediately see depth in skill modification.
Making skills more various and available and lower level, and providing more 2L 4S-capable-items, and 3L 6L-capable-items would be a help, I think.
Resource regeneration was also a serious annoyance. It's not fun to blow things up spectacularly and then return to occasionally whacking something ineffectively. And missing a lot. Get rid of hit mechanics.
None of this addresses how utterly worthless self-found and crafting is to new players.
I stopped playing because, well, it's too hard! It's extremely difficult, time consuming and complex. While I have one spectacular character, the difficulty in building other characters is so high that my multiple failures feel disastrous. Resets every three months are a big help, but .. well I just seem to suck. I'd need a guild and some solid friends to really make the most out of this game if I get back into it.
I'm installing it again. I see a new expansion is out. This time I'm going to join a large(r) guild and reroll a new character in the new season and take my play more seriously.
I've been getting major disconnection issues when I got to act 2.
- The best I could figure is that switching gateways would help, but no luck.
- This turns out to be an issue with my setup. If I have BitTorrent going, this disconnect is predictable. I'll troubleshoot this one day later.
Holy shit I can arbitrarily resize the window (in windowed mode) and it just figures its shit out. It doesn't keep an aspect ratio or zoom out, I can make my viewable area as wide or tall as I want.
- It also remembers my odd window resizing.
2016-03-06 - (goodbye) Failed to connect to achievement server ∞
I briefly played this new expansion, Ascendancy, and really like where it's going. The maze concept is interesting like a map, and the traps are sufficiently nerve-wracking to be fun.
My problem is that, by way of a reward during my labyrinth, I was given an achievement. An achievement which tried to communicate to your server. Your server which was down.
And I disconnected. I was "rewarded" by being disconnected.
Failed to connect to achievement server
I was two stages through the labyrinth and I see no way to continue my progress. I assumed there were checkpoints, and that I had already gone through two of them. I would have muttered under my breath and continued from my last checkpoint, if I could. But there are no checkpoints. Instead, I'm required to start from scratch.
I will not.
Like an 8-bit console game, with no checkpoints and no save codes, I'd be forced to do the same thing again.
I could wait a day and be re-engaged with a unique play-through, but I'm still nervous about being disconnected. It's like having a bad power cable for your 8-bit console.. and having a cat.
I'm going to walk away, again, from Path of Exile.
Maybe in a few months I'll be reminded of this game. Maybe it'll take six again. Maybe I won't return.
I hope the underlying server issue is remedied, and that checkpoints are added.
I do want to say just how much I love this game and most especially its developers. You have renewed my faith in game developers, and believe me that is no small feat.
I'll say that again. I've given more money to this game than to any other. This month I'll be eating poorly because I gave money instead of buying groceries.
I wish your team the best of luck, and may the homely, blue-haired, problem glasses-wearing Marxists never bother you.
2018-03-04 - Bestiary league ∞
On day one I had crash issues. They became rare a couple of days later.
The concept is amusing, but ultimately not fun. The interface to deal with making items is terrible.
I started getting literally-impossible fights. Boo.