Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath Review (PC)

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Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Publisher: Grinding Gear Games

Main Review

Review Context: I am a big fan of the ARPG  genre. I’ve played Path of Exile since 2013, and I’ve also played DiabloDiablo 2, Diablo 3, Torchlight, Torchlight 2, TitanQuest, Grim Dawn, and Victor Vran.
Date of Playthrough: August 2017

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: 
Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 
8 GB
Video Card: 
GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Resolution: 
1280×720

 

Path of Exile, a free-to-play ARPG game on PC that was officially released in 2013 has reached 3.0, Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath. I previously reviewed Path of Exile years ago for the Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters update, but The Fall of Oriath update is the clear pinnacle achievement of Grinding Gear Games.

Grinding Gear Games is respected within the Path of Exile community because they are not only always listening to feedback, but they act upon it to improve their game as quickly as possible. The Fall of Oriath is a fine example of that because improvements are made in many different areas, but the biggest addition and change to Path of Exile are the five new Acts (5-10).

First it is important to note that the five new Acts are completely free, just load up Path of Exile and download it right away! If you previously played Path of Exile but got bored and quit due to repetitive content, the five new Acts totally change the player’s experience. Previously players would have to go through Acts 1-4 in three different difficulties (Normal, Cruel, Merciless) to enter the endgame map system. Now, with the five new Acts players immediately jump into the endgame map system following completion of Act 10. Call me lazy, but I never really felt compelled or motivated to get to maps because I never wanted to play Acts 1-4 three times because I found it be a boring process. I would instead just create new characters and play until I got bored, then rinse and repeat.

The fifth Act is totally brand new, Acts 6-10 revisits the first five Acts, so think of it sort like a World of WarCraft: Cataclysm update. When I first saw the trailer mentioning this fact I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy the new Acts due to this setup, but for the most part, all of the new Acts feel totally new and they are very enjoyable to play through. Most of the bosses in the new Acts are amazing and fun, with many sub-bosses in each Act as well to make the game very challenging and enjoyable. Hardcore mode (not dying once) is no longer easy to breeze through, as I personally believe the skill cap increased substantially with all the new bosses in each new Act. Not only are the boss fights fun, but the soundtrack to these new Acts and music during some of the boss fights make the fights even more enjoyable and amazing. My personal favorite is the Act 8 boss fight, which to me is one of the most well produced fights both visually and musically, combined with an enjoyable gameplay sequence. On the negative side, I wasn’t too impressed with Act 10, as this one out of all of the new Acts seemed to be the closest 1:1 copy of its earlier version (Act 5) in almost every way.

After finishing Act 10 players are given a tutorial to introduce the endgame map system, where players can play high level maps to complete progress through their league shared “Atlas” to reach the true endgame boss, The Shaper. Only the most dedicated players and viable character builds will be able to conquer The Shaper, so don’t feel discouraged if you can’t. I have personally never reached The Shaper because it requires a lot of dedication, but it doesn’t dampen my Path of Exile experience in any way. The endgame map system just serves as a nice ‘carrot on a stick’ that can be hard to quit for the most addicted players.

The Fall of Oriath also introduces a new system called the “The Pantheon” system, which gives players souls of certain bosses that grant various benefits that players can switch between in town by speaking to a specific NPC. A character can have only one big power and one small power active at the same time. This system is first unlocked in Act 6. The Pantheon powers also have additional upgrades that can be unlocked through the map system by collecting souls of specific bosses using a special item called a Divine Vessel. Divine Vessels are random drops and I have personally not found a single one after playing many maps. The low Divine Vessel drop rate is unfortunate because other than that, the Pantheon system becomes an afterthought for the player. Additionally, the act of having to talk to an NPC to change your currently active Pantheon powers is just annoying, even though you have a menu dedicated to Pantheon powers already.

Another major change is that the resistance penalties remain in the game, but they are dealt out organically through story events. The first resistance penalty is given after Act 5, and the second resistance penalty is after Act 10. Previously players could waypoint in and out of each difficulty and gain back their resistances depending on which Act they were in, but that has changed. Resistance penalties are now permanent, so players should be advised to get their character subclass through the Normal Labyrinth before completing Act 5, and their next subclass skill points in Cruel Labyrinth before completing Act 10. I personally don’t have a problem with this change, but it might throw off players who are used to the old resistance waypoint setup that is also in Diablo 2.

One of the biggest complaints about Path of Exile is the learning curve and this 3.0 patch helps address some of it. There is now a decent tutorial in the game and also a great new help menu with lots of resources for new players. I am not a new player, but I have watched new players via Twitch try out these these new resources with positive results. Path of Exile still requires the player to show an interest in wanting to learn the game, so don’t expect to have your hand held, but outside resources are readily available by the Path of Exile community and the community itself is very welcoming to new players if help is asked for. Another upgrade to the game is a brand new mini-map, which now makes it easier to follow your location, and key locations are now clearly marked for your navigational needs. Another improvement is the game is much better technically optimized, in addition to the previously removed desync lag problems.

Path of Exile has always had its critics about their graphics, but The Fall of Oriath features graphical upgrades for NPCs and also re-recorded audio for NPCs. Players will also notice much better looking water waves on the coastlines that give the game a more realistic touch. There is one new boss battle that utilizes and showcases the new water graphics in an excellent way, which was another favorite fight sequence of mine. The story of Path of Exile has always been uninteresting and hard to follow, but with the addition of the five new Acts the story is easier to follow and makes sense. I personally don’t play Path of Exile for the story, but even mildly paying attention to what is going on can help you understand the direction of the story. Players who were turned off by the lack of an “official trading system” will continue to be disappointed, as nothing has really changed in that department. Players who own premium stash tabs can create their own shop that feeds into the Path of Exile API that is openly available to the public to create online trading searches. The Fall of Oriath was the first time I ever did public trades, both buying and selling, and I didn’t have much of a problem with it, but it does have its understandable downsides once you try to use it often. Players who don’t own premium stash tabs can still create shops through other means, but it involves jumping through more hoops.

Path of Exile The Fall of Oriath

Like every new content update for Path of Exile there is also a new Challenge League to go along with it. The new one is called the Harbinger League, which randomly spawns powerful blue colored monsters and drops some new types of currency to manipulate items even more than the current currency. I am personally not a fan of this new league because I found it more annoying instead of fun and rewarding to kill the harbingers. Luckily, these challenge leagues change every 3-4 months, so that keeps the game fresh. The Fall of Oriath also added many new support gems, as well as some new skills called Charged Dash, Dark Pact, and Storm Burst. I played a lightning templar for my first playthrough and I found Storm Burst to be fun to use, but not as powerful as it should be. Charged Dash is a movement damage skill and Dark Pact is a skill designed for necromancer builds that sacrifices life from skeletons to deal damage around them and it also chains to other skeletons to create good area of effect damage. The passive tree also got some changes, but nothing major.

In conclusion, Path of Exile: The Fall Oriath amplifies what was already a great, fun, and addicting ARPG into a game that is a bit more accessible for new players, but it also still remains a fun challenge that gives players endless replay value. I played a lightning templar (caster) and cyclone duelist (melee) through Act 10 into the endgame maps and I was able to have fun with both characters, but the cyclone duelist was able to slice through content with much more ease compared to my lightning templar that died plenty of times to certain bosses. In Path of Exile not every build may be “viable” to reach the greatest heights of damage, but as long as you enjoy your journey it will not matter. There are plenty of resources available for players to take advantage of and you will always find yourself learning new things (even I), which is one of the greatest joys of Path of Exile that will always keep you coming back for more.

Similar Games Liked:
Diablo 2 (PC)
Torchlight 2 (PC)
Grim Dawn (PC)

Similar Games Disliked;
Diablo 3 (PC)

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