The thriving Path of Exile community reminds me of MMOs like WoW

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Jumping into Path of Exile in 2021 took me several days of preparation. It wasn’t my first time playing the free-to-play action RPG, but it had been a few years since my last visit. Path of Exile is confusing enough to make you understand as a new player, but even as an inactive player there is a parcel learn through quarterly events called Challenge Leagues. These keep the game brimming with new content and loot to discover, but also include new mechanics that players can assimilate into their grind.

To give you a bit of context on how intimidating PoE is for a new player, the passive skill tree has over 1,300 nodes to choose from each time you level up. Each item is loaded with stats and attributes to check out, and many have skill upgrades associated with this confusing passive skill tree. The prospect of getting started in Path of Exile is extremely complicated.

However, as a new Challenge League was about to begin (named “Ritual”), this seemed like the best opportunity to get back on track. New leagues, much like the seasons of Diablo 3, offer players an incentive to create new characters and splash through the game at breakneck speeds.

So I started reading about the new mechanics and events that are expected to arrive in Echoes of the Atlas, the expansion that accompanies the new Ritual Challenge League. Everything was ready to go in mid-January, around Friday afternoon in my time zone. I had studied the basics and crammed them into my brain like I was preparing for an exam, but something still was wrong: None of my friends were planning on coming back for the new league, and I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. .

While looking for recommendations on starting character builds, I came across a Path of exile Discord server and decided to join us, commenting that I was looking for a group to take on the new league with. Less than an hour later, I found myself with a Bleed Bow Gladiator building guide and waiting in the lobby of the Turtle Tank server, a small community run by a Dauntless and PoE streamer.

there is a social element in MMOs where an invitation to a party can lead to a friendship that lasts for years

That Friday I played for ten hours, taking a bathroom break from time to time, staying hydrated, and not skipping meals because I’m not 13 anymore. It was an intense day. Challenge Leagues give players the chance to start with a new economy and offer prizes to reach the end, so players rush through the campaign, which can typically take eight to 15 hours or more, depending on your expertise. . For seasoned players, this is just the start – an aperitif before the final kicks off. Endgame, coincidentally, is the focus of the Echoes of the Atlas expansion, which I intended to cover for work, so I had to get there as quickly as possible.

I don’t remember much of that first day. The Turtle Tank members had been through this dozens of times before and were basically on autopilot while I mashed the left mouse button on the ground just trying to follow them, constantly looking at the map so I didn’t lose any time to enter the wrong room or trip into a wall. Fortunately, when players are in a group, they can teleport to a teammate’s location at any time, which made the early hours a lot easier.

Fight a bull demon in a gladiatorial arena in Path of Exile

I had reached level 60 by the time I called it a night, my character was already near the end of act seven out of ten. I woke up the next day, ate something and sat down in front of my PC ready to pick up where I left off. The time zone differences meant that none of the players who helped me the day before were online, so I took a chance with public parties. I skipped between a few evenings during the final acts of the Path of Exile campaign, which only took a few more hours. I had achieved my goal of getting to Echoes of the Atlas and had planned to shift my attention to something else, but that wasn’t quite how it turned out.

I would have stayed awake all night, like I did in the days of WoW

Instead, I found myself logging in on a daily basis, always opening my friends list first, checking anyone who was online and asking if they wanted to team up. It reminded me of the summer of 2010 when I first played World of Warcraft. Everything was new to me, but people were always ready to help. Back then, I discovered a social component in MMOs that still amazes me today, where a private message or party invitation to a random player can lead to an online friendship that lasts for years. Unexpectedly, the Path of Exile community made me feel the same way.

Read more: here are the best PC MMOs

By the time the weekend drew to a close, I was relatively familiar with the endgame. I was mostly working on single cards, but as soon as they turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected, I went ahead and threw a public party. In less than 15 minutes, I had a whole group waiting for me to choose a new destination to cross. I would have stayed awake all night, like I used to back up in my Wow days, enjoying the company, even though we were just talking about Path of Exile. Even though we didn’t know each other at all.

A bloody and dusty landscape in Path of Exile

Path of Exile is a daunting game. Most of the players I’ve spoken to agree with this, with some saying they still forget how certain mechanics work after five or six years. The time commitment is also huge – without that initial push my progress through the campaign would have been drastically different and much slower – but the community knows all about it. You can tell they like to help new players. They ask questions in the general chat and respond with detailed breakdowns, and there are plenty of public and private areas dedicated to helping new players find their way. It is a collective effort entirely driven by the community.

Being an adult means I can’t keep doing day sessions most of the time, but now I’m completely committed to Path of Exile and its community. It’s a weird feeling, often tinged with nostalgia for WoW, a different time in my life that isn’t coming back anytime soon. But I’m glad to know that I can relive that feeling in a different game, on a different scale, whenever I want. All I have to do is open my friends list and send some messages.

There is still some way to go until the Path of Exile 2 release date, corn Number of Path of Exile players continues to increase. It is among our choices for the best free pc games, so check if you are looking for your next Diablo-like to live.

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