So we’ve still got a few weeks before Diablo 3 hits the selves (or, really, digital distributors) and thus anticipation has made me want to scratch that Action RPG itch. I tried going back to Diablo 2. That didn’t work so well. Then I checked out Path of Exile a bit, both solo and a friend (thanks Nathan!). Really, I should like it a lot. It has an interesting skill acquisition mechanic: passive skills are from a sphere grid style system, while active skills are from socketing skill gems found as loot. It supports easy, drop-in style co-op play. It has loads of randomly generated loot. It has a dex-based fighter class, even! (A love of mine that I see in so few games) You know what drives me crazy, though, and makes me not want to play? There is no gold.
This isn’t just a “oh but really they have zenny which is like gold, just different” sort of thing. They have an alleged barter system, though I say alleged because you don’t actually get to haggle any prices. Instead, you get these fragments which turn in to items which can be traded up or down for other items, etc, etc. This is infuriating, for some reason. I feel like I often am getting the items I don’t want, there is no clear and easy to figure out conversion system, and then buying things from merchants is a whole different problem of not having the right item. Really, it’s a huge pain in the ass.
Currency systems are important in loot-generator games like this because they give a finite, measurable amount of progress and an easy comparative scale for drops. It is easy to know that when you’ve found a bunch of swords worth 50 Dreambucks and then find a sword worth 200 Dreambucks, that’s a pretty awesome sword. The loot tables have smiled upon you, and you know it to be true. It gives a solid reinforcement of gradual progression in talent as well, and watching the amount Devildoubloons in your bank grow higher and higher is satisfying as well. Reminding your player that they’re improvement in capability helps reinforce the sense of forward motion in the game and prevent it from getting stale too quickly.
Before I wrap this all up, I want to point out that Path of Exile isn’t bad. Aside from the currency, I think the art needs a lot of work (less grungy, grainy look please), but those are really the only two issues I have. As I mentioned before, it has some unique and interesting mechanics on its side. Worth checking out now; when it releases (later this year?) it will be free to play. You can donate a lot of money to them now and get a platinum kiwi, though. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, platinum coins.