What I Love, Hate, and Loathe about Path of Exile

I've been thinking about writing this up for a while, but something else has always grabbed my attention before I got around to it. I played Path of Exile pretty heavily for several months, first back in open beta, then again during the 1.0 launch, then again when Ambush/Invasion were introduced. Haven't played much in the last couple of months, after I lost the last Sarah the Self-Found Solo Summoner.

I'm putting my thoughts about the game down in large part to clarify things in my own mind, but I wanted to share in the spirit of giving feedback to the developers (thus the feedback section of the forum), and maybe other players will get some utility out of it as well. This is not an "I quit" or "PoE sucks" manifesto. I may be on hiatus but I'm sure I'll jump back in at some point.

Let me be clear...this is my own personal likes and dislikes, and I fully expect other players feel differently. Feel free to comment, but please don't take anything I say as an attack on the way you like to play.


Things I Love

The Feel of the World. Wraeclast really comes alive for me in the way the game is designed, the art, and the feel of the zones. Starting off in the wilderness alone, moving along into more structured areas, eventually making it to heavy organized resistance...it hangs together well. I realize an ARPG will never have the depth of story of a single player RPG, but this one works for me.

The Free-To-Play Model. PoE does it right...fun stuff available for purchase, but playable without. Personally I've spent $100+ on the game because I was really enjoying it, but I never felt like I needed to. OK, maybe the first few stash tabs felt necessary, but other than that nothing I bought really affected gameplay. The power and item skins/effects are very cool bonuses when you do want to drop a little cash.

The Possibilities in the Passive Tree. That super-complex web of passive nodes is just rife with possibility. I've spent hours playing around with different combinations and dreaming up characters to use them.

Update Schedule. I appreciate GGG's continuing dedication to keeping the game fresh. New challenge leagues, race seasons, regular small updates, occasional big additions. All part of continuing to evolve and improve Path of Exile.

Communication. GGG does a great job of communicating what they're doing and why. The Development Manifesto section is a good example of this. The news updates are frequent and (mostly) useful information. And the build of the week videos are a nice touch, too.

Levels 30-ish to 50-ish. The game is a lot of fun once your character has the right passive nodes/items/skill gems to really do whatever you designed in your build. Usually this means you have to get up into the 30s, so you can use all the skill gems and have enough passive nodes that apply to whatever you're building toward. Through Cruel and maybe the early part of Merciless, it's usually possible to make just about any build work fairly well. You might die a bit, but you can learn from those mistakes and overcome your defeats while not losing too much progress.


Things I Hate

The Alt Grind (up to level 30-ish). I'm an alt-aholic. Sure, I have a main character (usually a summoner) that I like to play quite a bit, but mostly I love to try out new characters. Unfortunately, the first 30 levels or so of any character in Path of Exile is pretty much the same old grind. Pick an AoE power, spam it to kill the local fauna; have a single target power or two for bosses. You can run any character for the first 25-30 levels with a good low-level 2-hander like Limbsplit and Sweep/Heavy Strike, for instance. You need to get into the 30s before your gear and passive tree choices begin to really differentiate your build from the generic. Until about halfway through Act 3 Normal, every character feels mostly the same, and it's just a grind.

Trading. Such a pain to deal with a trade economy that relies on direct person-to-person exchange and works only when both parties are online. The trade channel system is horrible, mostly a bunch of people spamming stuff that I don't care about, can't afford, and/or can't use. I have to look at every yellow item to know whether it's useful or not, so those might as well not even be there since I just ignore them. The forum shops and POE.XYZ help, but you still have to find the person online, and selling is a pain too (mostly due to having to set yourself online with POE.XYZ in hourly increments).

Levels 50-ish to 70. The difficulty curve once you get into Merciless isn't so much a curve as it is a wall. If you don't have an "optimal" build in terms of gear and passive node choices, and you're not just leeching off groups, then you're going to die a lot. Because of the XP penalty, that means you have to grind a lot, often dying even more, and it just isn't any fun. All that enjoyment you got out of designing your build just goes out the window at this point, and you can't make any significant changes since there's no efficient way to rework your passive tree build (see more on this below). It's possible to stumble along into the high 60s or low 70s with a sub-optimal build, but it's a major time sink. It's really depressing to run into a wall with a build that you were really enjoying, only to find that it just doesn't have the defences and/or DPS to survive Merciless and maps, and even worse to realize that you can't fix it without spending a few dozen regret orbs.

Grouping. Finding a decent group is a total crap shoot. You post a public party and you might get a decent team that pulls together, or you might get some random jerk who either ignores you or causes party wipes with stupid play. I know, this isn't any different from many online games when dealing with public groups, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It feels especially bad when I compare it to games like Guild Wars 2 or Marvel Heroes, where I can go into a shared zone and just whomp on stuff with other people helping out, without any need to worry about trying to pull together an explicit group.

Races. The race seasons are a great idea, but just don't have an implementation that I can enjoy. You can do well in the races only if A) you speed-kill hordes of stuff and/or B) you want to spend huge chunks of time doing many events. Neither of those appeals to me. I might feel differently if more of the events gave you points for the highest level you reached on any character, alive or dead; it really sucks to die in the last five minutes of an hour-long race and get nothing. Events like Endless Ledge and Descent Champions are kinda fun, but overall I really don't get much out of the race seasons.

Zone-Level Gating. There are certain points in the game where you can't proceed without beating a major boss, and you run out of zones to level up in to give you a good chance against that boss (especially important in hardcore). Cruel Dominus is the obvious example. There's no place to go where I can push my character up past about 59 without significant risk. (And if I do manage to live through that big fight, then I have several zones in Act 1 Merciless which are boring due to me being so highly overleveled.) I understand the desire to make the bosses tough and making progress into higher levels the reward, but there's got to be a better way to design the zone levels so I don't do a bunch of grinding and still have a good chance of the boss killing me.


Things I Loathe

Level 70+. Making any progress past 70 is a royal pain. You're pretty much out of normal zones to fight in, since you're over-leveled. Finding maps your level is difficult to say the least, since the 60s maps drop much more frequently. Making higher level maps isn't really feasible since the recipes require so many of the lower ones. When you do have a decent map, the mods on it often are dangerous enough that you either have to go super-slowly or risk death, and the XP penalty is harsh enough on Merciless that you may not make any progress at all. Some of these issues may be mitigated in groups, but see above about groups. I could just stop playing at 70, but GGG specifically encourages you to keep going through reach X level challenges and achievements. If those incentives are there, I want a reasonable path to get to them.

Inefficient Build Changes. There's no good way to change a build once you've gotten up into the 50+ range. Yes, you can use a bunch of regret orbs, but unless you've got a huge stockpile of currency, it's going to actually take you less time to re-roll your character (and see above about the Alt Grind for how much fun that is). It's not just the passive tree, either. If I decide I'd do better with a different skill gem, I have to level it up, which at higher levels means a good amount of grinding...and if I'm wrong about the usefulness of that new skill, I just wasted all that time. Since I have to put all that effort into build changes, I'm better off just pulling some "optimal" build off the 'net in the first place, which removes all that fun of creating your own builds.

Randomness in Gear. I get that all games of this type require random drops and random rolls on gear to keep people looking for that next big item. I've played plenty of them. But no other game I've played has come close to PoE in the amount of randomness inherent in the gear chase. Getting five or six links on an item is the obvious example, though in most cases I just use a four-link and don't even bother trying for more. But it's not just big-ticket items like that. Almost everything is randomized, with very few "sure things" anywhere in the game. Options to get exactly what you want would be welcome, even if they're very expensive and/or work only for less-expensive gear.

Edit: Added the bit about zone-level gating.
Last edited by ineffablebob on Jul 31, 2014, 1:15:42 PM
The new expansion will address a lot of things you don't like...
"
Startkabels wrote:
The new expansion will address a lot of things you don't like...


man you joined in June 2012, which means you likely are playing this game longer than I am.
you see GGG's actions, or more accurately their reluctance to budge an inch.
are you truly so naive as to believe the line I quoted, could be remotely true?

the new expansion has the potential to address several of the things I and the OP don't like, but don't get your hopes up until you see how GGG actually implemented it.
Alva: I'm sweating like a hog in heat
Shadow: That was fun
Last edited by johnKeys on Jul 31, 2014, 4:02:00 PM
"
johnKeys wrote:
"
Startkabels wrote:
The new expansion will address a lot of things you don't like...


man you joined in June 2012, which means you likely are playing this game longer than I am.
you see GGG's actions, or more accurately their reluctance to budge an inch.
are you truly so naive as to believe the line I quoted, could be remotely true?

the new expansion has the potential to address several of the things I and the OP don't like, but don't get your hopes up until you see how GGG actually implemented it.


you're the only person who is able to reliably kill my current optimism with your constant negativity.

@op:
thx for the detailed feedback.
if you expect feedback on some of your points you need to state wether they address hardcore or softcore league.
age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill
Last edited by vio on Jul 31, 2014, 4:13:45 PM
"
geradon wrote:

you're the only person who is able to reliably kill my current optimism with your constant negativity.


ok let me rephrase Startkabels' post to something I can agree with:
"
The new expansion could address a lot of things you don't like...

maybe.

negativity? realism.
GGG "earned it", with their actions.
any positive risk/reward core change Chris posted, that actually turns out to be positive in implementation too - would be a huge surprise for me at this point.
Alva: I'm sweating like a hog in heat
Shadow: That was fun
Last edited by johnKeys on Jul 31, 2014, 4:15:42 PM
No what you keep trying to say is that you've lost faith in this game and PoE.

That GGG is going to change crafting drastically by moving a bit away from RNG and closer to choices in crafting is actually proving they listen to the community and come up with very creative patches.

There is nothing realistic by totally disqualifying to expansion beforehand, that is utter pessimism.
Last edited by Startkabels on Jul 31, 2014, 4:18:33 PM
"
johnKeys wrote:
negativity? realism. GGG "earned it", with their actions.

it's your view and you made it clear you're utterly disappointed that the game's current direction is not in your favour and you have all rights to be vocal about them.

i also have same problems with the game and i'm very clear about articulating them (that's why i probably didn't get reinvited back to alpha) but i also see positive sides.

but eventually it's not my game, i can only bring arguments to convince the glorious 3 who own the company and you should accept that fact as well.

you probably donated and invested alot of your time (like me) but we have no shares in ggg when it comes to make fundamental design decisions.
age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill
"
geradon wrote:
"
johnKeys wrote:
negativity? realism. GGG "earned it", with their actions.

it's your view and you made it clear you're utterly disappointed that the game's current direction is not in your favour and you have all rights to be vocal about them.

i also have same problems with the game and i'm very clear about articulating them (that's why i probably didn't get reinvited back to alpha) but i also see positive sides.

but eventually it's not my game, i can only bring arguments to convince the glorious 3 who own the company and you should accept that fact as well.

you probably donated and invested alot of your time (like me) but we have no shares in ggg when it comes to make fundamental design decisions.


we have no shares. We donated money though. Without our donations, this company wouldn't exist.

Ever saw a car company that doesn't listen to demand?

or

Have you seen what is happening to RIM (Blackberry)

If you don't do what the customer is telling you, it might go well in the long run.
Last edited by Warmey on Jul 31, 2014, 5:27:53 PM
"
Warmey wrote:
"
geradon wrote:
"
johnKeys wrote:
negativity? realism. GGG "earned it", with their actions.

it's your view and you made it clear you're utterly disappointed that the game's current direction is not in your favour and you have all rights to be vocal about them.

i also have same problems with the game and i'm very clear about articulating them (that's why i probably didn't get reinvited back to alpha) but i also see positive sides.

but eventually it's not my game, i can only bring arguments to convince the glorious 3 who own the company and you should accept that fact as well.

you probably donated and invested alot of your time (like me) but we have no shares in ggg when it comes to make fundamental design decisions.


we have no shares. We donated money though. Without our donations, this company wouldn't exist.

Ever saw a car company that doesn't listen to demand?

or

Have you seen what is happening to RIM (Blackberry)

If you don't do what the customer is telling you, it might go well in the long run.

This might be unbelievable but the vast majority of video games die with a min playerbase along with most businesses.

Like the years they always been doing, GGG will continue to release updates/expasions/more content/fixes every year.

Whenever or not you get bored or decide to play other games (or come back) is up to you, video games development takes awhile.

What people need to do is get over themselves and accept that the pace of the development of the game is shorter then most people attention's spans.
Last edited by RagnarokChu on Jul 31, 2014, 5:49:38 PM
"

This might be unbelievable but the vast majority of video games die with a min playerbase along with most businesses.

Like the years they always been doing, GGG will continue to release updates/expasions/more content/fixes every year.

Whenever or not you get bored or decide to play other games (or come back) is up to you, video games development takes awhile.

What people need to do is get over themselves and accept that the pace of the development of the game is shorter then most people attention's spans.


give me a month at HQ and I'll address all issues and fix them. Of course, probably not technical issues suck as desync and such.

But balance issues, oh boy, let me have a crack at that.

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