The Reason Path of Exile is Broken
Three key components just don't work: Defense, the Sphere Grid, and the drop rates. Together they are a trinity of flaws that just make the game frustrating.
So I recently got into playing Path of Exile. After playing Diablo 3 for a little bit, I was extremely underwhelmed by just what a mess that game was. I saw from a few reviews about Path
of Exile. I kept hearing about this game; it's made by huge fans of Diablo, it's pretty much suppose to be the answer to everyone who complains about Diablo 3's lackluster existence. It was suppose to be innovative, it was suppose to be pretty much everything that Diablo 3 was suppose to be. And when I first started playing the game, I thought all this too...And let me just say this, I don't think Path of Exile sucks, I just think that with a few fixes it *can* be better... But in the state its in right now, it's just another Diablo clone that tried and will be forgotten.
What makes Path of Exile a good game* is the Sphere Grid. I'm going to call it a Sphere Grid because it is a Sphere Grid. To call it anything else is lying to yourself. But this isn't a bad thing.... The Sphere Grid is definitely what this game has going for itself, it allows you to customize your character how you see fit, like no other game before it. These are good things!
I also really like the Skill Gems. It kind of lets you pick and choose what you can define your character as and not to mention keeps you surprised about what skills you can find. This kind of system allows you to pretty much mold your character however you want, you can be a Mage that wields an Axe, a Ranger whose a tank, the possibilities are endless.
Now you might be saying to yourself, "Holy shit. After all this. This game isn't that great?".
Surprisingly, even to myself, yes. The overall game design is bad. It's a complicated mess of some idea that wants to be a crafting system but over complicates itself with it's "creativity". The way the game works is, you get these random orbs all over the place which either: Upgrades the quality of your items, identifies them, adds sockets, changes sockets, changes the stats, changes the rarity, downgrades the quality, grants passive points, etc. There's like 20-30 different orbs that you can collect which all do these different items.... In this list are those Upgrades and downgrades orbs which are *suppose* to be the way you get your items, though let me digress from this a minute.
I said previously, this is how you're *suppose* to get your items, and that's because... Because of this method of item creation...the enemies don't drop shit. You can kill 40 bosses or HQ mobs, but the items you'll loot from the drops will almost always be Uncommons, which are 1 or 2 random stats, or a Rare item which CAN be beneficial. See the problem this game runs into is, boss mobs are very hard to find, inconsistently drop items, and when they DO drop what you need... Odds are the items arent what you need. What Diablo did that this game doesnt do right is it keeps an armor set which is consistent throughout all classes: You will always start with leather, work up to breast plate, full-plate, scale, ring, etc.... THIS game however divides between Armor, Evasion, and Energy Shield. And BECAUSE this game divides *all* armor into these three different sets, you'll almost always loot armor that you don't need. I managed to get all the way to Act 3 with stuff I randomly found from Act 1. Your gear will *always* be inferior, and the entire game pretty much ended up me being one or two-shotted by everything.
Now, going back to the Orbs, with that in mind. The game WANTS you to make your own gear with these Orbs. Chaos Orbs can turn a White into a Rare, and some other Orb can return it back to White in case you aren't pleased. Now there's two problems with this: 1. You're going to have an entire inventory filled with these stupid Orbs, all of which boil down to parts of an orb, useless orbs or the very few actual useful orbs. 2. Getting the Orbs you need are *very* rare. I've found 1 Chaos Orb in my entire run, which means if I don't get whatever rare item I need, I'm screwed. I'm stuck trying to either hope to god something useful drops or this incredibly rare item drops. It's tedious and it's stupid. And on top of all these orbs, your stash will also be packed with all these Skill Gems. On my game, my stash is literally half skill gems, half orbs. It's so cluttered and a mess that it's just frustrating.
What this all boils down to is, the classes you pick don't really mean anything in the long run. Remember when I said that a Mage can wield an Axe or a Bowman can use spells? Well this is because this Sphere Grid. It's like in Final Fantasy X. Lulu might be your Mage, but with enough time or the right Orb, Wakka can move to Lulu's grid and become the Black Mage; your class means nothing aside from how you start the game. If you want to be unique in the long run, you wont be. And BECAUSE of this, you end up being bogged down with Skill gems you don't need, gear you don't need, and even run out of Sphere Grid nodes that are actually useful to you. The whole game turns into this confused mess where it seems like the game itself doesn't even understand what the best route is to take. I have never been so confused when playing a game, it's like the way to be successful with this game is some secret that only patience and more patience will you learn.
The Sphere Grid also has its flaws. When you level, you don't get stats. You get whatever node you activate: 10 strength, +4% attack speed, +4% run speed and when enough time passes... Something fascinating happens: You run out of stuff to level. It turns into, "Uhh... I guess I could just put a level into Intelligence..." or... "Oh wow, in 8 levels I can get added Fire Damage.". Without a consistent flow of stat boosts, you end up falling behind as a character. Intelligence doesn't do anything but add Energy Shield and Mana. Okay, well if your defense is low and your damage is low that just means you're gonna take longer to kill, but you'll still die because your damage is lacking.
**And last but not least... Defense. So the way the calculations for defense works in this game is pretty much what makes this whole thing not work. The way it works is, if the Enemy you're fighting is say... 100 damage and you have 10,000 armor. You will absorb about 80% of that damage. Which is good! Your armor is doing it's job! Now let's change this to 10,000 damage and 10,000 armor. Let's be realistic here, 10,000 armor is stupid, I'm not quite endgame so I'm not sure of the numbers, but I doubt it's quite 10,000 armor. But for the sake of examples, we'll do 10,000. Your armor will absorb about 11% of that base damage now and when it comes down to end-game bosses and higher difficulties, this amount of armor isn't doing anything for you! Combined with the fact that your gear is already a pain to get/make, and your sphere grid doesn't always work with you.... This all works against you and makes the game much harder than it needs to be.
I mean, it doesn't *suck*. PoE could very potentially BE a great Diablo killer. But where it is now? Me and all my friends quit because we were just tired of this system.
*Contrary to the title....
** Pardon me if my thoughts seem scattered here. This article took me almost a month to write....