The witch was fighting her way across the damned beach when the chat window exploded with conversation. Different coloured text flowed as other characters discussed tactics or made trade offers. One that caught my eye suggested another newcomer who was trying to come to grips with what exactly was going on. It seemed we were both in the same boat. Actually we weren’t because the boat had crashed, but that’s beside the point. Replying to one of his messages while fighting off hordes of the undead and aggressive shoreline creatures, the multitasking abilities of mouse and keyboard prevailing, we struck up conversation.
Soon a blue gem was found. Accessing the inventory displayed equipped and carried items. Most apparel contained coloured sockets, red, green or blue, which allows a corresponding coloured gem to be entered. Doing so then grants the ability. This was to be the first of many intelligent twists on the genre. Instead of gaining spells by levelling up they are acquired in gems that must be allocated to equipment. As you use these gems they’ll then level up independently.
With the blue gem inserted into the wand that had been scavenged from the shipwreck earlier, the conversation with this stranger continued. He’d messaged to say he’d reached the first town. Soon it was discovered and we met virtual face-to-face. We helped each other search through the options and commands, discovering the ease at which parties could be created on the fly.
We then took about striking conversation with the few non-playable characters of the town, receiving the initial quests and selling items we’d found. Another strong design choice Grinding Gear Games’ has made is to absolutely remove currency. There’s no gold. This bold step provides a unique experience that is two-fold. Firstly, all items must be traded by players or with NPCs, who will exchange them for shards or scraps of scrolls in return. These can then be stacked to build scrolls of identification or orbs that enhance or augment equipment. Secondly, it removes the constant comparison and change of your loadout.
With trading and mission searching complete, we headed out into the first area: The Terraces.
I’ll be continuing to update this journal during my exploration of Path of Exile. Stick around.