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I am writing this because I have noticed a few people who post here making topics who have either never played Path, or know very little about it, or played it for a very short time and then tried to review it or compare it to other games.
What is Path of Exile?
Path of Exile is a free to play ARPG, similar in vein to the Diablo (Diablo II) series, modernized for 2013. It is much more complex, and much different from Diablo in so many ways. Diablo 3 doesn't even compare as far as customization and decision complexity and builds.
Path of Exile is made by a New Zealand company called Grinding Gear Games, they started out a small handful of people and through over 3 million dollars in COSMETIC and convienance cash shop / donation packages they have grown to a company of 33 people, with hundreds of thousands of active players and a game that is competing directly and in my opinion better than Diablo 3, a game who was developed by hundreds of people.
What's so good about Path of Exile?
Path of Exile doesn't start to shine until higher levels. The passive skill tree has hundreds of nodes, literally no build is the same, and there is no gold currency. Players trade and barter using orbs which are items that can roll new stats, new socket colors, fuse sockets together, add new magical values, and other things. These orbs vary in rarity and can be common to super rare orbs. There is a currency chart for new players online.
Compared to D2 it is much more complex, compared to D3 it is so much vastly superior in build diversity and complexity. You can build a build around ANYTHING you think of, a legendary item may be the basis of a build, building around it, or a type of skil or attack.
Another thing is in Path of Exile, there is no 'SKILLBOOK' Skills are GEMS, that can be linked and socketed in armor and weapons to modify them. Gems can even be +quality. So if your main ability is Freezing Pulse (a cold nova) you may want a + quality one which is even stronger and more valuable.
By linking skills together you can make it split into multiple projectiles, life leech, pierce, etc. You can link skills with totems gems which will cast spells or summon minions automatically when you drop a totem. You need to balance your gear with the appropriate color sockets so you can link the gems.
Path of Exile also has PvP, Guilds, and new PvP modes that just released, if you loved ladders and races from D2, it is also true to that and has lots of races and rewards for participating. Did I mention that the company itself promises and never has given any indication it will ever be pay to win? It is strictly cosmetic items, stash tabs, and pets, and alternative skill effects.
Some desync issues from time to time (sucks for hardcore players), it is COMPLEX, if you are looking for a simple hack and slash where you dont need to THINK about your build and plan ahead, this isn't the game. This game is I hate to say it, but a little more hardcore gamer or experienced gamer friendly.
Builds as stated are complex, but also not very forgiving, occasionally in a major patch they will allow a full build reset, but other than that it is very costly and slow to reset all your passives, this makes making good decisions very important, unlike D3.
The game may start out easy in normal mode, but the difficulty REALLY amps up, end game is "Maps" that drop that you can open to get special mods for creatures and loot, you can get all kinds of crazy stats on maps and summon them to kill everything, you can even modify or reroll stats on maps.
To me, this game is a complex modern D2, with a good company, and everything I wanted D3 to be. It's not perfect, I would rate it a 7.5/10 but it is better than 99% of the free to play market, and has plenty of content and a huge community.
-CrownOfThorns of PoE forums.
if you are looking for a guild, my guild is mostly playing Dominion mode which is the default for new chars. Whisper me in game.