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Gaming

Being honest about Path of Exile

To resolve a problem, one has to be honest. What’s my problem with Path of Exile?

Path of Exile has a new league starting September 18, 2020.

Watching the trailer, I slowly smiled. The heist mechanic sounds cool. Graphically, it looks great. I began thinking about what kind of build would properly suit a heist theme. There are countless options. When I “click” with a new league mechanic, I tell myself I am going to progress further than I did before! You see, and I’m being bluntly honest (transparent): I created my profile in Path of Exile during beta and I’ve never made it to end game since they added the 10th chapter.

That is pathetically sad. I hang my head in shame (that I’ve gotten over because what’s the point in wallowing in shame, right?). At first, I thought it was the skill tree. Okay, at first it might have been the skill tree because OMG.

Path of Exile skill tree

It is often recommended, especially for new players, to use a premade build. There are tons of good ones made by the community. I would pick one and inevitably stop playing. Yet, I like the game, watch streams of the game and I follow what’s going on with the game. I thought I might be like my friends with sports. Most of my friends don’t play football but many are fanatical about watching it. I thought I was like that.

Nope.

Next, I thought it might be the core function of the game. I’ve said many times, I don’t like losing progression in games. In Path of Exile, every quarter there is a new league and everything starts from scratch. I’ve been through the beginning zones a zillion times. I’m looking forward to Path of Exile 2, so I can explore new zones. The repetitiveness of the game is a common turn-off for many people, one of the reasons why people take a break. Even though the areas are somewhat randomized and a new mechanic is added each quarter, seeing the same zones with the same stories is tedious to me. The thought of going through those zones again doesn’t make me happy.

There is an option to keep progression in the standard league. When a new league starts, all characters are placed in this league. While players get to keep everything, standard lags behind the current league, the economy is inflated (there is no point trying to balance it) and a player can miss a league mechanic entirely if it is not added to the main game. Does losing progression and repetitive zones explain why I lose interest?

Partially.

Yo, Those Choices!

Path of Exile Heist

Path of Exile is a flexible game when it comes to character customization. There are several base characters to pick from. Players have options on weapons, gear, the gems to put in weapons and gear, what skills to pick on the tree, etc. Creative players have come up with interesting builds, pushing the game engine to its limit. Usually, I would pick a build but lost enthusiasm as I played. Why?

Looking at the Heist trailer, I realized something. With all the options available, for me, there are only two viable choices.

  • A build that performs the “best” or optimally; meaning a player can clear maps. The build doesn’t have a power problem.
  • A build that is fun to play.

Realistically, it would be great if the build were both viable and fun to play. I mean, that’s the goal right? I found I was focused more on picking a build that seemed fun (in theory) but was “powerful”. For example, since I tend to play pet classes and prefer ranged game play, I almost always rolled a witch to summon stuff and blast mobs from afar. I ended up feeling under powered if mobs targeted my character and not the summoned mobs. Yes, there are options to fix that but it might not be easy. The developers and players want the challenge of picking the correct character, skills, gear, gems, etc. to be meaningful so changing (respecing) those items is not necessarily an “easy” task. In many games, you can wipe your choices clean by spending in game currency. In Path of Exile, there is a limit on how many skills you can adjust based on how many points you have accumulated. Making significant changes in gear or gems can mean a healthy amount of grinding. I was told, after level 20, it’s easier to make a new character than respec as the skill tree cannot be reset. I think the game should stay like this. It’s not a game problem. It’s a TymeIsScrewingUp problem.

I was focused more on getting a build that was a powerhouse over what I thought was fun to play. If I knew I didn’t enjoy a summoning play style in Path of Exile, why did I keep creating one? While I might pick a different type of summoning style, why didn’t I pick one that resolved the problems I was experiencing? When I think back, the level of WTF in my choices makes my head spin.

Next time…

For the Heist league, I’m planning something different. I want:

  • A character that is high in health and/or shield that does a decent amount of damage (tank).
  • A melee character that has good area of effect skills.
  • Cool animations. I want to smile and laugh at the pretty stuff on my screen while mobs dies.
  • A character I can roleplay.

The last point should be the first one. I have the most fun when I identify with my character and I can create a complimentary backstory. I never “liked” any of my Path of Exile characters because I picked them for the wrong reasons. None of the characters in Path of Exile would be one I’d create for myself but that’s part of the challenge in creativity; stepping out of a comfort zone to bring new types of characters to life.

I’m smiling now. Actually, smirking. I’m really looking forward to the Heist league. I’ll keep you posted if this league…things change.