Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why I'm suddenly back into Path of Exile

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Path of Exile.  I can literally go months without so much as a stray thought about it. 

It's a great game that can be horrible to play.  That stems from the fact that just when you think you've got it all figured out Grinding Gear decides to change something.  Sometimes the changes are good while others are decidedly bad.  

Changes like the DirectX 11 beta that caused frequent crashes and slowed everything to a crawl.  A major issue for me last year was a nagging problem of network synchronization that had a detrimental effect even in single player sessions.

Then there's the kinds of changes that sneak up on you.  Changes that affect the viability of certain skills and equipment that are easily missed until you find yourself on the short end of a boss battle.  

Anyone that's played the game for at least a few weeks knows the feeling when faced with the dreaded "full respec" on your passive skill tree after a patch.

Do you start over or leave things be?  What's the right path? 
Maybe you've got a couple of skill points waiting to be applied.  

That prompt is a line in the sand.  Dismiss it and you can forget about making changes that might make things a little easier in this new world of Patch 2 point whatever.

Lately the changes have been mostly beneficial but it's always a tossup.  As for me, I generally dismiss those prompts for a full respec of my characters.  I've played this game enough with a variety of character types so I'm much more careful about my skill tree than I used to be.  Perhaps if I'd held on to my original character I'd have taken advantage of the complete respec but it's not a feature I'd expect anyone to take regular advantage of with every new patch.  

Besides, what's the point in investing time in a character profile if a patch can render all that time irrelevant?

So much for why I've taken such long breaks from POE.  

So what brought me back?


Path of Exile is a dynamic game.  Yes running over the same maps can get a little dull but Grinding Gear keeps it interesting by changing up the map design and even throwing in a few surprise bosses complete with tasty loot drops.

It's a learning curve, one that's only now beginning to dawn on me as I actually start paying attention to the mechanics of the game.  

That's also a complaint.  One I vocalize frequently.  

Everyone eventually hits a wall with their character that forces you to make a decision.  

You can either forget about climbing the XP ladder and just push through the game to reach the end or you can partake in a lively marketplace.  

It's a wondrous place that can satiate any desire to dominate the damned of Wraeclast....for a price.  One that usually involves hours of grinding away on the same maps in search of precious baubles to trade.

Run the numbers and you soon find that the chances of cresting that XP wall to get into the more satisfying aspects of the game like running custom maps and league play won't happen within the game itself. 

Yes, the marketplace isn't the disaster that Diablo 3 was and nobody can Pay to Win but it often seems the game is geared more toward this marketplace than the gameplay.  At least at times.  

I PLAY games, I don't have much interest in the current price of a 6 link bow with 25% chaos resistance buff.  There have been times when it seemed the whole game was geared toward nothing else.   A contention supported by a focus on the many forms of "League" play that made it all the more boring for many more "casual" players that just wanted to keep things interesting.

But right now that's not the case.  At least for me.

My characters are enjoying faster advancement of both XP and skills.  Their adventures much more satisfying than before and my time in the game a welcome refuge instead of the dreary grind it once was.

Does that have more to do with me or the game?  I tend to credit the game but something changed that brought back my interest and that wouldn't have happened if things were the way they were before.

So for now I'm back.  At least until the next patch screws it all up....

Check out my most recent adventures in Path of Exile below.  The level of excitement you'll hear is genuine.

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