Most helpful critical review
It's free so there's no reason not to just try it out yourself. Way better options in the genre if you're willing to spend more.
on January 30, 2015
Initially I heard of this game on forums of displeased Diablo 3 players who referred to Path of Exile as "the unofficial sequel to Diablo 2". While I sympathized with a lot of the player's complaints about Diablo 3 at launch, I personally think that the expansion pack which has been released for it since then has solved the majority (certainly not all...) of those problems and because of that I do not think Path of Exile can even hold a candle to Diablo 3 these days.
-A skill tree so large that it is mind boggling. Way bigger than any other skill tree I have ever seen.
-It's free to play.
-The way you learn new abilities by looting them off of mobs and getting them from quests then equipping them in gear sockets like a gem and leveling them up by using them is very unique and pretty interesting.
-Unlike the game it is trying so hard to be a clone of, the majority of your power does not come from the items you equip it seems. Not sure if this keeps up all the way through the end game. Also not 100% sure if I like this more than the gear-based power source method in the long run since I haven't played as much of this game. But it is a pretty fresh take on things, so credit where credit is due.
-Graphically, the game is already well over a decade out of date.
-As far as armor/weapon visuals go, almost everything I encountered was bland and uninspiring. I assume this was intentionally made this way to encourage players to buy the micro transaction vanity items to give themselves wings, armor, glowing effects etc. But to be honest, even a lot of what they expected you to buy with real money was pretty dull. Couple cool things, mostly boring though.
-Micro transactions in this game are the worst in any game I have EVER played. And I have played Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yeah, not micro at all. Some perspective, $20 for 200 points for the in game store, 1 pair of vanity gear (in this case a pair of wings for a single character) is 350 points. So $35 for 1 piece of vanity gear that is not even an account wide unlock for multiple characters at a time. Not a chance. I have no problem with micro transactions, and would have bought a full set if each piece would have been around $5 because, hey, I like to glow and stuff too but 7x that for a single piece? No money for you, greedy company.
-The AI in this game leaves much to be desired. I don't really know how to elaborate on that much more but, if you are familiar with this genre of game and have played other titles like this one, you will pretty quickly get a feel for the inconsistency in this game's mob and minion AI.
At the end of the day, one of the most important features in this genre is how cool you can make your character look. In Path of Exile, that feature is hidden behind fees so steep that you will very quickly find yourself spending more than enough money to buy Diablo 3 and it's expansion pack at which point you will be done with micro transaction barriers from then on out. Looking cool is the ONLY part to these games other than killing monsters efficiently. So, I just don't understand why you would pay such outrageous prices for the B list visuals of Path of Exile when you could pay once and have unlimited access to the ever-growing pool of far better looking items and gear shared across all the characters you make in Diablo 3.