Free-to-play Friday is a weekly series that showcases some of the best and most interesting free-to-play games currently available for everyone to try. Did we miss a favorite free-to-play game of yours? Post your favorites in the comments and we'll be sure to give it a try for ourselves.
This week's edition of Free-to-play Friday focuses on action role-playing game Path of Exile, or what some refer to as "what Diablo 3 should have been." Developed by New Zealand based Grinding Gear Games, Path of Exile takes place in a dark fantasy world in which players began as a lone exile on a quest for revenge. As with other action role-playing games like the Diablo and Torchlight series, Path of Exile contains all of the primary elements including character customization, loot collection, multiple classes, and numerous quests to complete.
Even with comparisons to other games in the genre, Path of Exile carves a unique niche with its far darker setting and massive skill tree that enables near limitless character customization. The game's loot system feels far more rewarding than other genre titles in that the gradual transformation from the beginning cloth outfit and rusty club to a complete set of armor and shiny blade feels like true progression of one's character. In addition, the developers have promised to never add pay-to-win items to ensure that players must naturally level up their character through completing quests and the genre tradition of grinding through waves of enemies.
As with other action role-playing games, players can form adventuring parties either with friends or other strangers in the game's world. Path of Exile truly shines when playing alongside a group of friends that are each playing one of the game's various classes that range from Duelist and Ranger to Templar and Witch. The extensive skill system also ensures that each character uniquely contributes to the group's overall effectiveness in combat. Those feeling a bit more competitive can join in player versus player battles with support for leagues and tournaments.
Path of Exile is easily recommended to fans of the action role-playing genre and its addictive elements of completing quests and collecting loot. While its actual gameplay might not be as polished as the Diablo or Torchlight series, it does provide a refreshing perspective on the action role-playing genre. The game certainly isn't for everyone as it takes awhile to gain a solid footing in the world as well as learning all of the complex mechanics at work with the skill system. Yet, for those that endure through the game's beginning sections will discover a highly-rewarding and entertaining experience awaiting them in Path of Exile.