The time will come for all of us when our video game routine of daily quests and risk-free rewards starts to become boring and monotonous. The day where epic items and Ultra Heroic content is just spoon fed to us while we sit on a small world amusement park ride– feeling like hamsters spinning a wheel of infinite nothingness sipping from plastic-tasting water hanging down from the top of the cage.
Until one day we ask ourselves, “Where’s the challenge? I’ve spun this wheel as fast as it can go. I want risk… no… I want to risk it all!”
The game with the answer: Path of Exile
Path of Exile with its signature hardcore leagues, races, and ladders is a ripe field of risky situations. With its nearly unlimited queue of challenging race and league events, this game boasts one of the largest sets of content for a free-to-play online action RPG.
“Oh god. Free to play? Pay to win probably…”
Yes, Free to play. No, not pay to win. More like… pay to shoot dragon fire balls out of your hands. It’s nothing but a pay-to-look-cool-and-stash-more-stuff system of convenience and cosmetics. Stash tab bundles, armor skin changing sets, foot prints, and so on.
“It’s free to play, man… that means character customization options are limited.”
Take one good look at PoE’s passive tree, skill gem dynamics, plethora of gear, and currency options, then do your best to fight off that overwhelming feeling of choice. Most of us coming from other games aren’t used to having this much control over our characters.
Risk that bad ass unique item you found by corrupting it with a Vaal Orb for a chance to change the item’s intrinsic base property into something nuts. Beware! If it fails you’ll say goodnight to your sweet unique because it’s now downgraded to a rare item.
Don’t like the stats you got on a nicely-socketed rare item you found? Chaos Orb that baby into rerolled heaven.
“Good god. This passive tree, I don’t even…”
Path of Exile‘s community and subsequent official forums and fan sites help curb and mold your feelings of choice quite well. From in-depth guides and builds to skill gem discussion forums, the research has been done. Your choices can be made more simply using these resources.
Flavor of the month builds are there, like they are in any game– tried and tested setups to help curb the risk. But even in these seemingly OP builds lie danger. The endgame content of randomly-generated and randomly-modified maps provides the greatest risk even to the most elite. You’ll see the best of the best lose characters at the top of the ladder time and time again to a poorly-chosen map mod. Overconfident and laden with the most expensive items only to get bit in the butt by a minus-max-resist-corpse-exploding-no-player-regeneration-increased-damage-face-melting boss.
You’re going to die (a lot) and send your characters packing. As part of the process you’ll be rewarded with the sweet thrill of hardcore risk.
Scratch this itch, accept the punishment, and you’ll be hard pressed to find this kind of entertainment anywhere else. Want proof? Take a look at my Twitch stream where I almost lose it on my Witch. Ouch.