Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath Review – Another Day in Damnation

Path of Exile has been a captivating game since its inception. Many claim it to be the true sequel to Diablo 2 and I would say they are right. But with the release of the 3.0 Update, the game has taken a sharp turn away from its roots, and become something noticeably different. Different good, different bad, find out where The Fall of Oriath lands.

Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath
Publisher: Grinding Gear Games
Developer: Grinding Gear Games
Platform: PC and Xbox One
Release Date: August 4, 2017
Players: 1-6
Price: Free (Micro Transactions for visual items and minor organisation items. Does not effect gameplay.)

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

Grinding Gear Games has really outdone themselves when it comes to the visuals in The Fall of Oriath. The game almost feels like it has been completely visually overhauled. Water effects are crisp, land seems more vibrant, and enemy and bosses are equally brilliant as they are detailed. The best part is your PC will most likely handle it all because of the games new Dynamic Resolution system that auto adjusts the game’s appearance in times of heavy stress on your system, to make sure you don’t end up hitting any stops when in tense situations.

If you are playing the game on the Xbox One, you will most likely never encounter any visual issues at all, streamlining setup and execution.

Bosses stand out in their design and presentation. With The Fall of Oriath comes the addition of 24 new boss battles that are completely unique. These Bosses are scattered throughout the six new Acts that have been added to the game for a total of 10 acts. These new and revisited areas have a whole host of new enemies as well.

The base gameplay for Fall of Oriath has not changed unless you are playing on the Xbox One using a controller, which gives the game a surprisingly different feel that might be something long term fan may enjoy.

Path of Exile’s spherical passive skill tree system has been updated and re-balanced, changing the game’s meta drastically, but not in a bad way. The new energy of the game and the changes with this new chapter in the series, will give new and old players a refreshing sense of discovery. The caveat is that the games passive skill tree system is still insanely intimidating, and will need a bit of learning and exploring before you really dive deep into placing points.

While you can wing it and hope for the best: Path of Exile sports a robust community as is with the forums that are filled with dedicated players, who have designed and tested builds that will lessen the burden of researching your own path if you so choose.

Path of Exile in general has a large support base of online material as well, that will make your life a breeze in the game once you learn to utilize them. One of the best examples is how trading can be handled in game via chat, or via the ultra easy poe.trade web page: which allows you to find almost any item you want in an instant, complete with a quick pm link to that player selling the item and their online status.

The major shake up in the game’s formula is the total removal of difficulty levels (Normal, Cruel and Merciless) across 4 acts: shifting to an amazing 10 act arc that has gradual progression, tells a more engaging story, and expanding the game to be on par with other stand alone RPG games.

Two big additions to the game that go hand in hand are the Pantheon System and the New Bosses you will encounter. As you slay many of these new bosses, which just so happen to be gods, you will be able to earn their power: though you can only use 2 powers at one time, which gives an extra level of customization depending on play style, and can be swapped any time you are in town or in your hideout.

It is hard to grasp just how much game is here, especially when you consider it’s free. Unlike other free to play games that push for some sort of gotcha mechanic: leaving the player feeling like they have to pay up to make any progress efficiently, Path of Exile does none of that nonsense. Instead Path of Exile earns its keep via cosmetic items that change the way your character or skills look, and stash tabs for those who want to change the way they organize their loot: which are 100% not needed at all, but are nice to have for players who have put hundreds of hours into the game.

Path of Exile has always capture the mood and elements of the world it inhabits when it comes to sound design. The most stand out element is the voice acting, which puts almost every other game to shame. The characters are unique, the dialog is engaging, and more importantly: it fits within the world Grinding Gear Games has created. Even the comments made out loud by your own character in battle are tightly fitted to that character.

The over all sound and music of the game hits on point consistently: you will never find a score of music or sound effect that seems out of place. The scores in general will always be at bare minimum good, which is integral to having a great gaming experience. One bad track could easily off set the mood of a play area, which The Fall of Oriath manages to avoid spectacularly.

The story of The Fall of Oriath is expansive and really brings out new elements to the world of Path of Exile. The lore, the characters, and the world building are so well written and set up, it feels like you are always discover something new up until the 10 act story conclusion.

The Fall of Oriath sees our anti heroes finally coming home to Oriath from the hellish landscape of Wraeclast, only to encounter chaos and destruction; decades in the making and which our characters unwittingly had a pivotal hand in. Our unlikely saviors will be be sent back to the land Wraeclast in a narrow escape: on a journey to hunt down the old gods, gaining their power and saving the survivors still on Wraeclast.

One way that Grinding Gear Games has fleshed out the feeling of the story is by keeping with its seven main stay characters. This allows them to have interesting dialogue unique to them spoken by other characters and by the character themselves. These interactions really bring out the feeling of each individual and shows their intentions and general ideology.
While the story alone in the 10 act arc is satisfying for returning players, new players starting fresh will get to experience a revamped Atlas of Worlds story line that encompasses the endgame of Path of Exile. While interesting in more sporadic and less linear terms, it focuses on exploring maps that linked to The Shaper, a being that is slowly ripping existence apart.

Path of Exile is one of the best Free to Play games ever created if not the best. With its continual updates, engrossing community, great story, interesting characters, superior voice acting, ability to shape your play style in amazing and interesting ways, and that fact you will have the same play experience if you chose to drop money on it or not: it’s simply a home run. Even stacked up against $60 AAA games of the last decade, Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath crushes 99% of them.

Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath was reviewed on PC using a Beta Code received from Grinding Gear Games and the finalized public release of the game. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 10

The Good:

  • Beautiful and dark design.
  • Interesting characters and NPCs.
  • Well thought out world and lore.
  • Great Combat that is totally customizable. 
  • Interesting and well written story.

The Bad:

  • Can be intimidating for new players.
  • Are our Eyes Real?

    I used to hate PoE. Played it back when it released 4 years ago. Desync, laggy, cluncky, badly optimized, etc made it to the Act 3 before I couldn’t take it anymore and quit. This happened around 3 more times when trying it with different friends.

    Then a friend sent me the Fall of Oriath Trailer like a month ago since we were talking about ARPGs, he knew I hated it but still pushed me to watch it. I literally went “Holy Shit” when I saw the “6 New Acts” part. So I decided to give it another chance. SO far, I don’t regret that decision at all. The game is pretty much nothing like how it was back then. All the problems and issues I had with it are gone, combat feels better, it’s way more optimized, there’s no desync or lag anymore. Since the patch came out a week ago I’ve put 60 hours into it according to steam. it’s been a blast honestly and I completely agree with the score and your review. It’s really nice to see how much GGG improved the game in these years.

  • Grampy_Bone

    Something is off with this game. I stroll through every level effortlessly killing waves of guys, then when I fight a big story boss it kills me in two hits. Then that doesn’t even matter because the game respawns you right outside the boss room with no penalties. So what is the point of any of it? It’s like they know their bosses are bullshit but they don’t think you’ll care because the game has no stakes.

  • Thanks for the review, way too few game sites are covering this excellent game and its updates.

  • erohakase

    Try hardcore. It’ll help. It’s kind of like life. If you could respawn from dying in a war for your cause everyone would go around doing it and courage and such things would lose any value.

  • chaoguy

    Were these the guys who changed their HUD because of outcry, or changed a backer’s tombstone joke?
    I feel like a lot of games get mixed up with each others controversies (be it what they put in, or who they caved to) and it harms the game’s rep (in the case of the latter).

  • Never heard of that happening. There are no “Tombstones” in the game.

  • no that is the last check point. you lose a % of exp per death, and when you reach end game its a pure 10% lose, which when you are level 80 is hell. Your build might be really off with high dps but no defense, which is a bad build. Its one of the major things you need to account for.

  • Persn Dewillavic

    I’m glad they got rid of merciless and cruel. The new 10 act story has a more natural progression when leading into the map system now.

  • Meittimies

    I’d give it 9, credit where credit is due they managed to launch in time but you can see with the unfinished Act 9 and 10 that they had to cut the corners, most notably a missing minor god boss that used to be in Act 9 Oasis called Shakari, plus some polishing issues like dialogue being in the wrong place, no voice acting in certain dialogue etc.

    But the new deity system is expansive and was much bigger during beta so those minor gods who didnt make it to the game yet might arrive later on!

  • Meittimies

    The HUD-thing was a manufactured controversy. Back in the day you had scantily clad angels in health- and mana pool huds. When Act 4 expansion came out they were replaced by skull from Kaom’s Dream on Life, and Lion Statue from Daresso’s Dream for mana pool. But some moron at KiA thought “its because someone complained about it.”.

    Well, now we have scantily clad goddesses of sun and moon in the health and mana pools so that stupid rumor lost its wings.

  • chaoguy

    Yeah, must be thinking of another Diablo-style game then.

  • Max

    You’re thinking of pillars of eternity I think.

  • chaoguy

    Aaaaaaaaaaaah. Yeah, that’s it.

  • fforcey

    I like to add that this game plays like a dream on Xbox One. And this comes from someone with years of PC experience under her belt. Controller gameplay makes ARPG’s so much fun. Diablo 3 just lost its crown as the king of the console ARPG.