One look at the official website for Path of Exile and you can tell the developers at Grinding Gear Games have a beef with Diablo III, and, to some extent, Torchlight. They never say it outright, of course, but the site's marketing copy is filled with statements like, "The game is completely free and will never be 'pay to win,'" and, "We're sick of the recent trend towards bright, cartoony RPGs."
In interviews, Grinding Gear co-founder Jonathan Rogers has been much more specific about the studio's feelings toward Blizzard's game. "Diablo III was obviously going for a huge number of sales and they really succeeded in doing that, but we really wanted to stress character customization and sort of interesting builds and that kind of stuff," the lead programmer told VG247 last month, continuing, "Diablo III didnít really deliver that for me, personally. I personally prefer our game, obviously. "
You'll find this attitude reflected in Path of Exile's design at almost every turn. Name something Diablo III players complained about and you're likely to find it addressed here in some respect.
By eliminating currency altogether, for example, Path of Exile doesn't struggle with gold farmers the way most online RPGs do. In place of a traditional economy, the developers have opted for a pure barter system; players trade gear for other gear, determining for themselves what their loot is worth, while NPCs exchange unwanted equipment for useful stuff like town portals and orbs that randomly adjust the stats on magic items.