TALK ABOUT GOING UNDER THE RADAR; a Titirangi-based development studio by the name of Grinding Gear Games has just returned (at the time of writing) from presenting its game Path of Exile at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. That’s a pretty big deal.
Path of Exile is a Diablo-esque online action role-playing game that will adopt a free-to-play model when it launches at an unspecifi ed date next year. It’s set in the dark fantasy world of Wraeclast, where players have been banished for"past misdeeds”.
Grinding Gear has been working on PathofExile for the last four years, intentionally keeping the project a secret. "We’re perfectionists,” explains Grinding Gear co-founder Chris Wilson. "We wanted to show people when it’s ready.”
The time has come. Some six years after Wilson founded Grinding Gear along with Jonathan Rogers and Erik Olofsson, Path of Exile has now been unveiled to the world. It’s near complete and polished enough that the team had no hesitation in putting it on display amongst the big boys of the game-development world at one of the industry’s biggest expos. Besides, what better event to launch a fantasy–styled action RPG than the gaming event notorious for pulling in equal numbers of video gamers and table-top gamersalike?
"We managed to talk to many journalists at PAX,” says Wilson. "They were very enthusiastic about the game and enjoyed getting a chance to play it after seeing the trailers. We also had the fairly surreal experience of being approached by fans of our game who had seen the announcement trailer online.”
The boys from Grinding Gear don’t shy away from the Diablo comparisons; the action takes place in real time and is easy to pick up and play. At the same time, there’s plenty of leveling-up and point-allocation for RPG afi cionados, as well as a healthy learning curve. The game features randomly generated environments and items for a near-limitless replay factor. There will be six character classes available at launch, although Grinding Gear is currently only discussing two of them. First of all, there’s the Marauder, a strong, melee-based warrior class; and the Ranger, a dexterous class that can make use of bows and dual wield single-handed swords. Players can heavily customise their characters not only in appearance, but with respect to their approach to a particular class. "There should be 30 different ways to specialise in swords, for instance,” says Wilson. "It’s good to allow players the fl exibility to discover good character builds.”
Those interested in learning more about the game, discussing it in the forums and also a chance to take part in the upcoming closed beta should head along to www.pathofexile.com.