Path of Exile is a free to play action MMO RPG. The best thing about this game is that it is truly free.

"The game is completely free and will never be pay to win." This is a direct quote from the above listed page. Trust me when I say they live up to it. There is an extensive market that you can buy things for cash from, but these things make little difference within the actual game. You can have awesome footprints or glowing weapons, but you can't buy items that will help you. The only things that will really make a difference in game that you can purchase with cash are the stash slots or character slots. You start the game with 4 stash slots (which are huge to begin with). By the time your first character is 50, they will be full of stuff. The reason for this is the gem skill system.

On the above page, if you scroll down you will see an axe with some colorful gems above it. If you mouse over that axe, you will see a link system with gems in it. Pay attention to the gems themselves in the links. As you can see, Hatred is linked with Reduced Mana which means that when you sustain the Hatred Aura, instead of it taking 40% mana to sustain, it only takes 30%.

The way they worked this out in game is outstanding. Personally, my main has a 5 link bow that has the Split Arrow ability linked with 4 other gems. It basically makes me shoot 4 or 5 arrows that are just devastating to the hordes of skeletons and zombies I encounter. There are red, green, and blue gems. Red being Strength based, green being Dexterity based, and blue being Intelligence based. There have to be thousands of gems because you literally fill up every slot you have with gems if you continue to keep them. I've been playing for months and have multiple characters over level 50 and I still find gems I've never seen.

But, that's just the beginning.

There are multiple "classes" that you can play. Grinding Gear Games does a great job of making it seem like you have to play X class to do X thing in the game. Then you begin to understand that any class can do any thing. This means that you can have a witch that wields a giant two handed mace and swings it around like a maniac. You can have a Marauder with a bow that moves and shoots really fast. Your options are pretty much unlimited when it comes to character creation. There is no aesthetic customization when it comes to character creation, though. The witch looks the same for everyone. Once you start getting armor and things like that, you'll look different. Some armor can make you smaller or larger. Some glows or leaves footprints, etc.

The reason that you can do anything with any class is this:

Take a second and let that load. This is the most extensive skill tree I have ever seen. It's amazing. You can build your character in thousands of different ways due to this tree. Each time you level, and as a reward for some quests, you get Skill Points with which you can purchase a node on this skill tree. You can look around there and see the many different combinations you can do. I don't think I need to explain this much more. Load the page, check it out, and you'll be just as amazed as I am.

Loot is basically the same scheme as Diablo 2 or World of Warcraft. There are white, green, yellow, and orange items. Most items you'll use are either yellow or orange. Yellow is rare and orange is unique. Uniques take a different turn in this game that than do in most. A lot of them are REALLY good items and really expensive in the player market, but a lot of them also have a down side. They'll give you awesome stats, but they'll also take something away. One of the items I recently got gave me health regeneration per Frenzy charge I accumulate with one of my skills. Frenzy charges generally increase attack speed. The unique item actually states that it will make me regen health faster, and it will give me some other awesome stats, but I'll basically lose a percentage of that attack speed per frenzy charge for using the item.

You can see them here:

Another thing you can see there is that some of the numbers are in parentheses. This is important. When you get an item in the world, you identify it. When you ID the item, you basically roll the dice to see what numbers will come out of it. They can either be low, mid, or high rolls, obviously. The higher the roll, the better the item. And also, the higher the roll, the more expensive the item is in the player market. When an item drops from a mob, it has a socket and link roll. It basically has a chance to be a 3 socket 3 link item, or a 3 socket 0 link item, or a 6 socket 2 link item, etc etc etc. This changes the value in the player market as well, obviously.

And that brings us to the player market. One thing that is certainly different, and will throw you off at first.. there is no traditional currency. You don't make gold or silver or platinum or copper. In the world of Wraeclast, currency is strictly on a barter system. The first thing you start with are Scrolls of Wisdom. They ID items. They are also the most commonly used currency for NPC merchants. As you play, you'll find Orbs of Chaos, or Orbs of Transmutation, or Exalted Orbs (wish I had a few of these), or etc etc. These are the currency in the game. If you played D2 for a long time, you know that SoJ's were worth more than any amount of gold you could carry in the player market. It's pretty much the same. Every piece of currency you find has a ratio to a higher currency put in place by the players themselves. The boots I mentioned above cost me 3 chaos I believe. I bought them with a combination of Orbs of Alchemy, Chromatic Orbs, and Jeweler Orbs that came out to be 3 chaos. I'm sure you can follow that, right? :)

The game play is great, but it does leave something to be desired. But that's okay. The game is in beta, remember. Thousands of people have already played the 3 acts GGG has already implemented. And that's just the beginning. Act 3 isn't even done yet, according to the devs. They are planning to have 10 acts eventually. The game plays the same way D2 did. You go through the storyline and when you finish, you change difficulties. A lot of people find this to be redundant, but GGG does a very good job of making you forget that. This is because you absolutely HAVE to group later in the game. My current character can only solo to about half way through the second difficulty. Once I get this point, I have to either grind XP and get ahead of the curve, or group and push through. The community is generally good. There aren't so many children playing as WoW. It's mostly made up of guys around 25 or so, general player base for most games. The difference is that everyone is in the same group of people. This includes everyone on the planet playing. I actually play with a guy regularly from the UK. I met a guy last night from somewhere in the Middle East. I can go on down the list of nationalities of I've met playing this game. I love it.

Overall, I give the game a 9. The downfall is that it is still in beta, it still has a lot of bugs, and it can get very redundant. It can also be very complicated to understand, and I've remade my character about 6 times trying to get end game down. But all that compared to what GGG has created only takes 1 point away from the over 10 possible. The creativity of this game, the complexity of the skill tree coupled with the possibilities of the gem system gives the game a solid 7 by itself. The player base, player market, and the way they've strung it all together easily gives it the other 2 points it needs to come to 9 out of 10.

I recommend it for anyone who loved D2. I've played D3 a little, and I think PoE is much better, personally.

Check it out. :)