From ages long since passed, one question has been on everyone’s mind whenever a developer announces that their new game will be playable for free. And that question is: “Will it be Pay2Win?”
As in, will I need to spend more money on it than on a normal game, in order to not be completely clobbered by other players, or to derive any sort of enjoyment from it. But I propose another question, a better one, mostly because traditionally Pay2Win games are either awful MMOs coming out of China and South Korea, or Electronic Arts mobile games, neither of which I will ever play again. And that question is:
Will it be Fun2Play?
By this I mean, just how much grueling and horrifying grind will you have to drudge through to get to the actual good part? The part they normally make you pay for. The part they showed in the trailer. You know, the part you thought Final Fantasy 13 was going to be, but wasn’t.
That being said, let’s kick it off with Path of Exile. This long-in-the-making game, developed by Grinding Gear Games, recently received its fourth act. The game is now larger, wider, deeper, and you’d think it would contain a lot more micro-transactions. In one sense, maybe it has. There are a bunch of things you can buy in the item shop. Sparkly things, things that will make your weapons shine, give you wings like an energy drink that isn’t paying us anything so there’s really no point in mentioning it by name. You can buy a lot of really pretty things from the item shop, but nothing else.
Well, you can get more stash slots, but you start out with four, which is about eight times more than what the release version of Diablo 2 offered. There’s no power to be bought, there are no experience boosts, there are no weapons, no armours, no powers, no skills, no access to anything extra, or to something that would otherwise take you ages to obtain. So in this aspect, it actually has less micro-transactions than the release version of Diablo 3. It’s not Pay2Win, that much I have established. But is it Fun2Play?
Oh hell’s bells it is!
If you’re in the mood for a Diablo-like experience that goes in the direction you thought Diablo 3 would go, then this is the cats meow. The classes are varied and, to an extend, blank slates that you can customize in-depth with a gigantic passive and trait jungle. That’s right, not a tree, a tree would mean something that has a root and leaves. This has many roots, branches, it has an entire ecosystem living up in its canopy.
The levels are filled with enemies that do a lot of crazy stuff, like linking together, fracturing into other enemies or just coming back to life as ghosts. But by far my favorite part, is the insane stuff you can get up to with the active skills. For you see, you do not spend points to get them, you find them. Like Blizzard was going to do with the Diablo 3 runes before they chickened out. And there’s a bunch of them. And they’re used by being socketed into items. Items that sometimes have linked sockets. What I’m getting at is that Path of Exile basically has an improved version of the Materia system from Final Fantasy 7. This gives it a depth of customization that you can drown in. And you get access to it from the get go. To everything.
Apart from unique items. Let’s just say they’ve got a drop rate with the same time frame of a manned mission to Mars, and the three I’ve found so far since the beta have been… lacking. Other than that, Path of Exile is 100% Fun2Play. So, I guess with that it would be about 95% Fun2Play. Mind you, I won’t be keeping score. That would be silly.
Did I also mention it has a working PvP mode? And PvP ladders? And PvE ladders? And events, and all sorts of stuff you can enjoy completely free of charge? The game is downright charity, compared to just about every other Free2Play game. But it does lack those snazzy cinematics that make the story engaging.