I made a post last week about my first impressions playing the PoE (closed) beta and shared my experience with the earlier stages of the game, comparing it to Diablo 3.
After about a week, I now have 4 characters:
- Level 42 Ranger
- Level 37 Shadow
- Level 36 Witch
- Level 35 Marauder
My Ranger is on Act 1 Ruthless while the others are on Act 2 Cruel.
When I wrote my original review, I had great enthusiasm for the game, mostly delighted by the items and passive tree. But now, I think my enthusiasm was based on little more than the truth that “the grass is greener on the other side.” After barely a week of POE, I already feel bored and am switching back to playing Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2.
What I Liked
The passive skill tree itself is amazing.
The way items, skills, and skill gems work is pretty cool too.
Finally, the combat system is, for the most part, well done.
What I Did Not Like
There is very little mood or atmosphere. I know that the game is still in beta, but the story is conveyed through dialog boxes, which is pretty old fashioned.
In addition, the game is still insanely gear dependent. Many passive effects and skill effects are directly based on percentages of stats from gear. There should be a combination of scaling from skill level and gear. Things like Ethereal Knives feel really weird because of its sole scaling with skill level, while something like Burning Arrow essentially scales with gear only.
Next, we have the experience loss on death. This is an outdated punishment. It worked in true single-player games like Diablo 2, where a player could truly blame all deaths on himself. But in the era of online-only play, which POE has, you can’t institute such an insane punishment on death. I have personally died in POE due to random lag spikes, and it’s already bad having to walk all the way back through multiple levels of dungeons. I hate losing experience for it as well.
Then there’s the class discrepancy. My dual-wield claw Shadow just dies in seconds against anything if I ever stop moving in melee range. I have to keep kiting around in circles launching Fire Traps to whittle things down, and this happened in both Normal and Cruel.
The funny thing is, I can stand in melee range much longer on my Ranger and Wizard. My Ranger has higher evasion and dps, and can thus hit-stun monsters longer, and my Wizard has a ton of AOE freezing abilities to slow things down. And on my Marauder, I have died like twice the entire time, due to overconfidence or stupid mistake. The Marauder is just so bulky it’s hard to die with. My Shadow probably died like 15 times. In Normal difficulty. And 15 more times in Cruel so far. The rest of my characters combined is probably like 10. The Shadow needs much higher survivability.
Next is the actual usage of the passive tree in practice. This is closely related to the speed of leveling. Leveling at a quick rate = lots of skill points, and so on. The pace is pretty good up to about level 25. But then, it seems the leveling rate slows to a crawl once Cruel starts. It becomes pretty unrewarding, especially when we want that one good passive that’s 3 or 4 nodes away, but it will take an inordinate amount of time to get there.
Plus, the number of practical skill points compared to the size of the tree is insanely small. I pretty much get bored in Act 2 Cruel because leveling becomes so incredibly slow. In addition, the experience loss on death makes this even crueler, especially on my Shadow, which I now have no desire to play.
Now onto combat. One of the things I do not like is the run-away behavior.
In that screenshot, I had literally chased him for about 15 seconds, getting a hit every once in a while due to luck. If I didn’t get a lucky hit for a few seconds, the monster would just start regenerating energy shield and it would take more hits to just knock out the shield.
The auras are also not very creative. Flat damage reduction, flat attack damage or speed boost, extra health, extra energy shield, and the worst one yet, Allies Cannot Die? Diablo 3 at least has interesting ones such as Molten, Fire Chains, and Arcane Enchanted.
Then we have monster abilities. Enemies lose health over time? This one is really frustrating, because there is nothing I can do besides hope I have enough potions to heal through it. And the worst one of all: Perma-freezing.
Some of those frost elemental monsters just spam Cold Snap over and over and over on your position, and you have to keep running. Cold Snap has a chance to freeze, and sometimes you can literally get chain frozen. Once a single Cold Snap freezes you, you’re pretty much doomed since there is a high chance that within a couple seconds, another one will freeze you, leading to perma-freeze.
For those of you who play Diablo 3, imagine if the Frozen affix allowed elites to explode their freeze bombs instantly and chain cast it on top of you. That’s what these monsters are like in POE.
When I wrote my other post, I was just choosing to look at the good aspects of the game. Now that I’ve played it for a much longer time, I have also seen its follies.
It was a well spent $15 for the supporter pack for the beta test of POE, but I think that for now, my $60 on Diablo 3 was far better spent. I hope both games continue to get better. 😀