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Default RPGWatch Feature: Path of Exile - A Preview for Solo RPGers

July 31st, 2012, 01:17
Hi All,

Thanks all for the feedback. It's interesting to see reactions and other perspectives. In 30+ years of designing and writing about games, and playing almost all the major RPG and RPG/Strategy releases (online and standalone) I never stop appreciating how many people can look at the game in different ways. I could never stand CTD, and my son loves it. Oh well.

Looking back, I think Fadedc might have sussed out an area that I should have done a better job explaining. Fadedc: "As others have pointed out, the reviewer doesn't seem to have much experience with online games, and as a result he praises many standard features as being new and revolutionary." While he is wrong about the experience part (I would guess I have logged far more hours online than all but a handful of people on RPGwatch) I should have done a better job emphasizing that PoE does a whole series of things centered on letting the solo RPGers play – it would not be particularly unique for groups or multiplayer. It definitely is unique for solo play online in RPGs.

I should have clearly stated, up front, that PoE is very different only for solo players, in the degree to which it has targeted the solo RPGer and has made all game content available to solo players. (LOL – did I repeat the word 'solo' enough in that one sentence? ) I guess the question I would ask is what other online RPG does anyone know where the solo player can do every quest at the intended level, and without being able to run cheats or gimp your toon? From a great deal of direct experience, it is not WoW, Everquest I, LotRO, D&D OL, etc.

Of course many MMOs allow you to opt out of chat – few recognize many solo RPGers have no interest in the chat in the first place and want to opt out at the start of the game in the initial options, and never look back. Most RPGish MMOs use the mechanic of needing new skill drops or purchases that replace your old skills – not the more RPG-oriented approach of enjoying investing in them (the gems in PoE) and watching your character and skills build over time, not just at arbitrary level-ups. Many MMOs have instances, but almost no solo players have a chance in hell to beat the quests in those instances, at the designed level, as they do with the scaling instance in PoE. I have played those OL games extensively. I assure you that there is not a reader in this forum that can solo the stairs instances in LotRO at L60, clear the graveyard solo in D&D OL at its target level of L7-8, or even solo the throne room in EQ1 back when you are the same L10-12 as the mobs. I could never understand the fun some have "beating" an instance or a quest only when the mobs are greenies, and you are an L70 toon wiping an L40 instance. As to the "buy–a-win" approach in so many online games, that's a religious issue – I hate it, and think it ruins a good RPG if you fall for the trap.

Just about every concern I read here makes sense if you look at PoE through the eyes of a group-based or multiplayer action game. But that is not what this review was about – Fadedc's comment was a good insight into how what I had written might reasonably be perceived. Aye, I am more enthusiastic about PoE than I have been for any online release in a long time, but it is also the first online RPGish game I have played that both challenges me and lets me play all the content, solo. Being free is just a bonus.

Thanks for the feedback!
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