Daily Archives: December 15, 2011

Path of Exile and that Diablo II Vibe

I was a bit surprised to get a note from Grinding Gear Games welcoming me into the Path of Exile beta.

Path of Exile

Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the game.  I think I read about it over at Massively at one point, signed up for the beta, after which all recollection dropped from my brain.

But there was the email, and it came just as I was ramping up on Diablo II, which essentially made the timing perfect.

They did give me a set of rules to follow for the closed beta.

  1. You can tell people that you are in the Beta. Your account is marked as “Beta Member” on the forums.
  2. You can discuss any publicly available information that you would normally have discussed before you were in the Beta test.
  3. You’re welcome to post your general opinions on the game. Please do not go into detail about unannounced specifics or unfinished systems.
  4. Please do not reveal unannounced information or comment on how things in the Beta work. For example, you should not post about some skill that hasn’t been announced yet, or some unannounced looting system we are testing out.
  5. Please do not post balance values from the game or update public websites or wikis with this information. For example, if someone is gathering a list of item names in the Beta, you should not tell them new names. This information will change very frequently and we don’t want to confuse people.
  6. You may stream gameplay or post screenshots and videos without permission. If recording video or streaming gameplay, please disable global chat and remind viewers that the game is in Closed Beta and that much is changing with every patch.
  7. Please do not share your account. In the future, we’ll periodically allow you to invite some friends to play with.
  8. If you abuse these rules we reserve the right to remove your access.

A pretty reasonable set of rules.  They obviously have a different world view than BioWare had with SWTOR, in that they need some publicity.

So I am going to say, under rule 3, that Path of Exile really has a serious “Diablo II brought forward to 2011” vibe to it.  Just look at it, as allowed under rule 6.

On the beach in Path of Exile

There are a bunch of things not in the game yet, but as it stands now, they appear to have put a lot of time and effort into making the basics run smooth and look good.  I even have a video. (You can tell I got Fraps installed again. I needed initially for SWTOR beta screen shots… which I barely used.)

As I said, very much a Diablo II meets modern production values sort of thing.

The classes, while they have different names, do strike a similar chord relative to Diablo II and, for the moment, have that “your class determines your sex” thing going on.

Seems like a soceress…

Not that the game is a complete lift and revamp from Diablo II.

They have their own skill and gem system.  I have only started to scratch the surface of that.

The potion mechanism, as it is implemented at the moment, is also a deviation from the Diablo II source, and not mere because they have FIVE potions on your belt. (Heretics!) Rather than having the constant “too many and then not enough” struggle that Diablo II had with potion drops, the potions in your belt are multi-use and refill with your activity.  Thus you have a cap on the amount of heals you can have at any given time, but you also essentially pick up potion drop… refill your potions… by killing stuff.

The stories in the world also have their own flavor, and seem to be a little more quest driven, though the current “you wash ashore after a ship wreck with only a club” starting tale has been used many times before.

And the real big difference from the Diablo series is the finance model for the game.  This is planned to be a persistent, online world (very much in the Guild Wars model of shared towns and cities with instanced adventure areas, or so it seems to me), that will be free to play and financed by micro transactions.

Grinding Gear is talking about “ethical micro-transactions” and is planning to stick to cosmetic changes or vanity items.  How that will work out in the real world… well, we shall see.  I know of no game that sells ONLY cosmetic and vanity items as their sole source of financing.  But since they are also pushing PvP aspects of the game, they have to be very careful where they tread.

In the beta I haven’t gotten that far in the game, though I have spent a lot of my time just looking at how the models move and the graphical details.  The game seems to be well honed on that front, as things look really good.

But this is closed beta, which probably means they have a long way to go and many things to tweak and otherwise work out.  Still, the bits I have seen so far look very promising.

So when you are looking that that Diablo III vs. Torchlight II comparison chart (hat tip to Massively), remember that Path of Exile might need to be figured into that equation.

And if you want into the closed beta, they are still letting people sign up at the official site.

Who else has spent some time in the beta?

Lord British is Talking to the Press, Not EA, About His Ultimate RPG

“I’m not sure what Richard Garriott is referring to.  But no one at EA is discussing partnership or licensing opportunities related to the Ultima Online franchise…”

Jeff Brown, EA’s head of corporate communications, Industry Gamers interview

Just to keep all the Lord British Ultimate RPG story in one place, here we go with an update.

Who Loves You EA?

I saw over at Massively that EA was saying they hadn’t heard a thing from Lord British about the Ultima Franchise and his Ultimate RPG.  This despite EuroGamer having quoted Richard Garriott de Cayeux saying

“We’ve actually talked to Electronic Arts about [Garriott leading Ultima Online again]. I would love to have access to the Ultima property. We’ve had discussions at very high levels with Electronic Arts about access to the property.”

Since the EA denial story broke, a spokesperson for Garriott de Cayeux offered this clarification:

“Richard is not CURRENTLY having conversations at high levels with Electronic Arts regarding the Ultima franchise. He never said that he is. I can assure you, however, that those conversations have taken place in the past.”

He added, “What is taking place right now are conversations with EA as well as other companies regarding potential partnerships/distribution deals involving our other products including Ultimate Collector and our Casino games, Port Casino Poker and Port Casino Blackjack. These are normal and expected communications taking place as we move closer to launching Utlimate Collector sometime after the first of the year.”

So we just have Lord British out there attempting to woo EA in the press by expressing his “great fondness” for the gaming giant… and then the next day complaining that their sports-game mind set ruined Ultima VIII… all without actually broaching the subject directly with EA.


As to how we got to this state of affairs, it is hard to tell.

Visionary people often project what they plan to do into sounding like it has been done already or connect unrelated things to sound like a single narrative.  I’ve lived that routine a few times.  This might just be Lord British in space… again.

And then there is the editorial reputation of EuroGamer.  They have certainly gotten confused by gaming honcho statements before.  Remember when they said that PlanetSide 2 would SHIP in Q1/Q2 of 2011?  Yeah, they’re good like that some times.

Anyway, this seems to be Lord British month.  Stay tuned for updates.