Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Path of Exile - The Awakening

My Rating:  4/5 Stars

Whenever I feel stressed, I write to alleviate it, but when I get stressed out about something writing related, I game.

To be honest, I have to call myself a casual gamer these days. Working a full-time job, homeschooling our children and also being a full-time writer, there are not enough hours in the week to play games as much as I would like.

This past week, during the book blitz, my stress levels were off the charts. I really wanted to write and I really wanted to engage my social media, but I was so overwhelmed, I was starting to shut down. I needed a break from reality. This was a good time for me to play the new expansion for Path of Exile, The Awakening.

Usually, I like to play cyclone marauders, but when I logged into the standard league and reassigned my skill points with my level 88 marauder, I was very upset because I lost almost 6k DPS. Even with the skill tree changes, I was able to allocate my skill points pretty much the same as I had before the expansion. What really upset me is that I wasn't able to run my three heralds and Anger at the same time for my auras because of the mana reservation changes.

So, after I tested my build out, I started a new marauder on the Warbands League.  My wife decided to play a witch summoner. The changes that were made to the original game content, such as moving the waypoints around and consolidating zones in Act 2, as well as removal of filler zones was nice. I felt the gameplay at early levels was much easier, and yet challenging. As we moved through the quests and completed zones, I was happy to see our character levels were staying within a level of the zone levels.

Finally when we reached Act 4 in Normal, I was excited to see the new content.  The zones were well designed and I liked the new mobs we encountered. I really enjoyed the Dried Lake area because of the large open space.  I was still using molten strike as my primary melee attack at that time, but I could imagine slicing and dicing my way through with cyclone.

Once I reached Abomination Piety in Belly of the Beast Level 2, I was not happy. I think my fps for my laptop is too low, but the fight wasn't easy.  My wife and I ended up zerging her.  We continued on into The Harvest and killed the three bosses to complete the organ quest.  We turned in and then when we tried to enter the Black Heart, we were both kicked.  So we reloaded and had to kill the three bosses again.

Up to this point, I was still ok with all the Act 4 content even if I had to redo three boss fights I didn't particularly enjoy.  Keep in mind, I'm not a uber gamer.  I like to farm and find stuff.  That's why I like to play. We did find a low-level unique we had not found before. I can't remember what it was at the moment, but it was a new league drop.

We didn't do any prep work and learn about Act 4 beforehand. I wanted to experience the content myself through the first encounter, so when it came to the final fight, I had no idea what was going on.  I usually play with my sound off so that my wife can keep her sound on. I get confused hearing two sounds and I don't like wearing headphones when I play.

The fight with Malachai was ridiculous!  I didn't understand that he kept bonding to Piety and we had to attack her. We pretty much zerged that fight too.  And then we went into the heart and I must have died 30 times. My FPS was so bad, I would zone and die without even making a single attack.  The video lag was ridiculous! I know it was my laptop, but still, Dominus has never been that bad.

This was the point that I said enough. I logged into Standard and did Act 4 with my level 88 cyclone marauder and basically, had the same result, zerged from Abomination Piety to Malachai.  I knew it was time to hang up my marauder and try something else.

So my wife and I decided to try a couple of new builds and we both decided to play Dual Flame Totem Witches. I've never played a build like this before, so for me, it turned out to be a lot of fun.

Once we made it to Act 4, I felt comfortable with the character and had prepared a plan for the boss fights. I think I died twice on Piety and four times on Malachai.  The experience was actually enjoyable.  I've now made it to Act 3 Merciless and I'm getting ready to go after Dominius and to finish Act 4 Merciless.

Overall, I am very pleased with the Act 4 content even if my system's FPS is next to nothing in the final battles.  The new quests are fun and I love the changes to the skill tree for jewels. The Warbands League is a blast, I love killing the Warbands.  We hunt 4 stars.

I don't like the way my cyclone character was nerfed, however.  I've never been Atziri viable so I don't think it was an OP issue that needed to be adusted for game balance, but then again, I'm not a hardcore gamer anymore, so it might be that I'm just failing.

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