Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters Review (PC)

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Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Publisher: Grinding Gear Games

Main Review

Review Context: I am a huge fan of Action-RPGs and I’ve played almost every major one. That list includes Diablo, Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Torchlight, Torchlight 2, and Titanquest.
Date of Playthrough: August 20, 2014

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07 GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: AMD Radeon 7700 1GB DDR5
Resolution: 1440×900

Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters by Grinding Gear Games is the latest expansion to the Path of Exile franchise. Path of Exile has already had at least one expansion, but the positive impact of Forsaken Masters was greater than even I thought it would be. In order to understand the impact of the Forsaken Masters expansion you also have to understand how Path of Exile was prior to the Forsaken Masters expansion.

If you are already familiar with Path of Exile you can skip down to the section talking about Forsaken Masters.

Path of Exile is a free-to-play dungeon-crawling Action-RPG, where you each player creates a character class of either a Marauder, Witch, Shadow, Ranger, Duelist, Templar, or a Scion. Each class starts on the Path of Exile passive tree in their own area, which consists of passive nodes that revolve around the main elements of their class. The various classes lean towards either Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, or two elements combined. This does not mean a character class can’t move towards another element, but they will have to spend their passive skill points that are obtained through leveling up and quests to get there. The passive skill tree also features special skills that can do interesting things like for example, spend life instead of mana, always hit the enemy, but no critical strikes, and allow use of an additional totem.

Path of Exile Screen 01

The passive skill tree is the same for all characters, but the placement within the skill tree is different for each character. Scion class was added on release last year, and is placed smack in the middle of the tree which means the player can move any direction, which adds more flexibility and possibilities to a character created. The Scion class can only be unlocked once the game is beaten once on Normal difficulty.

Every class gets skill gem choices when they complete most quests, but the choices are different for each class, which is why class choice is also important. Each skill gem is color coded as red (Strength), green (Dexterity), blue (Intelligence), and levels up with an experience bar of it’s own. When every level occurs the player has the option to let the level up happen, or they can decide to leave it at the current level. This is important for some gems that require a lot of mana usage where a decision like this might take place. The color is important because that affects how the gem can be used on your character.

The items in Path of Exile are your fairly standard ARPG items like chest, gloves, boots, belt, helmet, weapon/shield, bow/quiver, amulets, and rings. Every item has a gem slot which can either be red, dexterity, and intelligence. Those colors in each item determine which gems can be used in them. A gem can’t be used unless it’s inserted into an item so this is a key part of building your character. Items can have anywhere from two gem slots to six slots. When an item has more than one gem slot they can be linked together, which adds a great level of customization to Path of Exile. Some examples of support gems are life leech, life on hit, fire damage, lightning damage, cold damage. So for example, if you have a melee skill linked to life on hit then the melee skill will have life on hit. You can then 3-link that skill to have fire damage making it melee + life on hit + fire damage. That is just one example of how linked gems work. Every time another support gem is added the mana cost also increases.

Besides the regular items Path of Exile has currency items. The main currency is called a wisdom scroll, which is used to buy items from vendors as well as identify items. This means that gold doesn’t exist in Path of Exile so use your wisdom scrolls wisely because they can only be acquired from monsters or trading. Path of Exile also has the standard portal scroll, which ARPG players are probably used to. Instead of a potion system, Path of Exile uses flasks which can restore health and mana, or even give armor, resistance, and/or movement speed. Every flask has a certain amount of charges which can be refilled by attacking enemies or returning back to town.

So what happens if a player finds an item with great stats, but can’t use their gem combinations due to not enough gem slots, the slots aren’t linked, or the gem slots aren’t the right colors? There are currencie’s for that! The game features different types of currency which help manipulate the item into the item that you want. For example, if you have a 3 gem slot item that has 3 red gem slots unlinked that you want to switch to 3 green you can use a chromatic orb on the item to randomly change the colors of the slots. Once a chromatic orb is used it may become 1 red, 2 green, or any combination. You can achieve your goal on one use, or you may have to go through 10-20 chromatic orbs to reach the combination you are looking for. The other currencies can do things like randomly change a white item to magic, white to rare, randomize (gamble) the magic item, randomize (gamble) a rare, randomly change a white item to either a white, magic, rare, or unique, randomly change the number of gem slots on an item, and randomly link the gem slots This game heavily relies on RNG (Random Number Generation), which can be a major problem if a player only has a limited amount of currency in their stash.

The Path of Exile universe is featured in the world of Wraeclast. Players wont find themselves interested in the lore nearly as much than in a game like Diablo, but the world is dark, gorey, bloody, and features that less cartoonish atmosphere that the ARPG genre generally seems to prefer. The three act experience of Path of Exile provides different terrain for each act and boss battles that are for the most part interesting, and requires concentration and some level of strategy to beat each one.

 The Forsaken Masters Impact

The Forsaken Masters expansion was a welcomed addition to Path of Exile because it added these NPCs called masters, which are randomly thrown in the world that give random quests. There are seven masters and each master has different kinds of quests that give favor as a reward. Quests range from escort missions, kill a single target, duel a strong warrior, and defend a relic. Some of these quests can require different types of characters, for example, the defend a relic quest has mobs coming at the relic from all sides. That particular mission requires an area of effect type of character to be successful rather than a single target character. A different master has a mission type that tells you to kill a group of mobs and leave a specific target alive, which is hard to do as an area of effect character, but easy with a single target character. This type of master system encourages playing with friends and multiple characters. Master levels stay the same if a player switches characters as long as the other character is in the same league.

Path of Exile Screen02

Once a master level reaches three, players can create their own little town called a “hideout”. Every hideout has it’s own waypoint and the tile set is based on which master you choose to create the hideout with. For example, one master has a forest setting and another one has a library setting. With the favor decorations can be bought from masters for their hideouts, Each master level unlocks new decorations. When masters reach level two they can be invited to the hideout, but there is a starting limitation of two masters per hideout. That limit can be increased up to four by leveling the master of the tile set you created the hideout with. The benefit of having masters in your hideout is that they give daily quests every 20 hours or so.

The biggest addition to the Forsaken Masters expansion is crafting. Previously players had to completely rely on RNG to create the items and stats they needed, but crafting creats a new way to use currency. Now if I’m missing a specific resistance type or life on an item I can simply spend a set amount of currency and get that stat right away. Each master has it’s own crafting specialty that can be accessed permanently once that given master has been invited to the hideout. For example, one master’s crafting specializes in armor and another one in rings and amulets. Each master level also unlocks new crafting recipes so it’s up to the player to decide what to focus on more. Besides the crafting, the masters also sell gems and rare items, which refreshes each time a player does a daily quest.

Path of Exile is a very rich ARPG experience that features tons of customization that gives the player control over their character to create something interesting. Previously, Path of Exile was a hard to recommend game because of the RNG involved in using currency forcing the player to waste lots of it to reach their goal, but the Forsaken Masters expansion really closed that gap that makes playing self-found very viable. There is so much stuff to talk about involving Path of Exile that I did not mention the many league types, races, pvp, and the end game mapping so you will need to go to pathofexile.com for that information. Grinding Gear Games is always creating new content and they patch when they need to, whether it be bug fixes or adding skills that are needed to enhance a class not being played enough. Even though Path of Exile is online only the game experience is top notch, but there is a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding optimal character building. There is no internal trading system or auction house so it’s up to the player to research item value and use 3rd party resources to connect with players to trade. Even though the game is free-to-play and has micro-transactions, the micro-transactions are mainly aesthetic skins for armor and characters that have no impact on the actual game experience.

Finally, as someone who has played almost every major ARPG I recommend Path of Exile: Forsaken Masters as “the go to” game for hardcore ARPG players.

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

Similar Games Disliked:
Diablo 3 (PC)

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