Path of Exile: Ascendancy

8 Overall Score
Graphics: 8/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Audio: 8/10

Fantastic Atmosphere | Free to Play

Overwhelming | Long Load Times

What is Path of Exile?

You are an Exile, struggling to survive on the dark continent of Wraeclast, as you fight to earn power that will allow you to exact your revenge against those who wronged you. Created by hardcore gamers, Path of Exile is an online Action RPG set in a dark fantasy world.

Game Info

GAME NAME: Path of Exile

DEVELOPER(S): Grinding Gear Games

PUBLISHER(S): Grinding Gear Games


GENRE(S): Free to Play, Action RPG, RPG, Hack ‘n’ Slash

RELEASE DATE(S): 23 Oct, 2013 (Steam)

You are an Exile, struggling to survive on the dark continent of Wraeclast, as you fight to earn power that will allow you to exact your revenge against those who wronged you. Created by hardcore gamers, Path of Exile is an online Action RPG set in a dark fantasy world. With a focus on visceral action combat, powerful items and deep character customization, Path of Exile is completely free and will never be pay-to-win.

Key Features

Freedom. Power. Revenge.
Banished for your misdeeds to the dark, brutal world of Wraeclast, you play as the Duelist, Witch, Ranger, Templar, Marauder, Shadow or the Scion class. From forsaken shores through to the ruined city of Sarn, explore Wraeclast and uncover the ancient secrets waiting for you.

Unlimited Character Customization
Create and customize hundreds of unique skill combinations from tradable itemized gems and our gigantic passive skill tree. Combine skill gems, support gems and trigger gems to create your own unique combination of power, defense and destruction.

Deadly Missions
The Forsaken Masters each have their own style of mission and each of these missions has many variations. As you explore deeper into Wraeclast, the pool of available variations increases to challenge you in new ways. All of the Missions and their variations can occur anywhere in the game, including within end-game Maps.

Dressed to Kill
Path of Exile is all about items. Find, collect and trade magic, rare and unique items with arcane properties, then customize your character build around the deadliest combinations you possess.

Brutal Competitive Play
Battle in PvP tournaments seasons and Capture the Flag events for worldwide recognition. Compete in Daily Leagues and Race Events that run as separate game worlds with their own ladders and economies to win valuable prizes.

Customise Your Hideout
​In their extensive travels throughout Wraeclast, the Forsaken Masters have discovered ideal locations for an Exile to use as their own secret Hideout. Once you’ve earned a Master’s trust, you may be taken to a Hideout, where you can create your own personalised town. Masters residing in your Hideout offer you daily Missions and train you in advanced crafting options. Use your Hideout as a quiet place to craft after battle, or expand it and use it as a personalised Guild Hall with hundreds of decorations.

Fair-To-Play. Never Pay-To-Win.
We’re committed to creating a fair playing field for all players. You cannot gain gameplay advantage by spending real money in Path of Exile.

My Thoughts

ATTENTION: Disclaimer: My Steam account states as of finishing this article that I have 1589 hours of playtime on Path of Exile, about 1450 of those hours are before the Ascendancy expansion, with those facts public I will try to offer the most transparent review of this expansion that I possibly can.

Path of Exile is a very difficult game to ‘critique’ and to review because it’s constantly changing and by constantly I mean every week there is an update which changes the game, so there could be something in the game you really dislike one week and the next it could be gone, this fact also makes it very difficult for long-time players of the game to objectively form an opinion on the game at a set point in the game’s development without letting their prior knowledge of the game and how it previously functioned cloud their judgement but I’m going to try and take the new expansion on it’s own merits at the state it is currently being presented to us.

Now I originally started work on this article around a couple of months after the release of the previous expansion, The Awakening but never got around to finishing it as I was never happy with the outcome of it, I scrapped it and have now decided to revisit reviewing the latest expansion as it currently stands.

The Ascendancy expansion introduces a new challenge to the game in the form of labyrinths, these labyrinths hold traps which need to be navigated and simple puzzles which need to be solved in order to progress through to a marvellous treasure room and the initial selection of a new Ascendancy Class, these classes are an addition to your initial class selection and offer much more powerful passive and even active skills for your character to use, each main class has a selection of three Ascendancy classes (except for the Scion, which has only one) and each of these three classes cater for a distinct focus on certain types of play, for example Ranger has Deadeye which is a offensive-projectile based class, Raider which is a more movement and attack speed based class and Pathfinder which is focused on giving you buffs to your characters flasks.
On top of the already complex passive skill tree that offers an extremely high level of customisation for your character these tiny Ascendancy trees give the player more of an end-game focus on how they really want their character to play, with only a limited (6 maximum) number of points that you can assign to your Ascendancy mini skill tree, it forces the player to think about their selection, even more so than the game’s main passive skill tree!

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the previous expansion The Awakening, Act 4 which was introduced in The Awakening left a bad taste not only in my mouth but in the mouths of a lot of players, the linear progression and initial, seemingly unfair difficulty spike was a big turn off for me but Ascendancy introduces you to the labyrinth on the first three acts of the game in the form of six Ascendancy Trials, these trials form a sort of tutorial for the expansion with each of the six trials introducing you to a different trap and mechanic of the main labyrinth, once you’ve completed the Ascendancy Trials the main labyrinth will open up within the main town of Act 3 and from here you can then attempt to complete the labyrinth for the chance at some treasures, to ‘ascend’ and to enchant a piece of your gear with a unique ability (boots/gloves/helmet depending on the difficulty you complete the labyrinth on.)

Ascendancy gives Path of Exile something it has needed for a while, variety instead of killing groups of enemies in different areas with different affixes and difficulties, we are presented with environmental challenges, obstacles, an emphasis on exploration (something which was lacking in the previous expansion) and a real sense of risk-reward as opposed to relying solely on the game’s randomness to give you a suitable reward for your challenge, the labyrinth always guarantees a reward.

A nice and welcomed change to a hardcore Action RPG, that deserves something a little different to the usual now and again, I would solidly recommend grabbing Path of Exile if you haven’t already, it is completely free to play and if you enjoyed the likes of Diablo, Dungeon Siege and Titan Quest, you will thoroughly enjoy this one!

The Good

– Fantastic Atmosphere
– Extreme Customisability
– Brilliant Sound Design
– Free To Play
– Great Community

The Bad

– Can be overwhelming for new players
– Long load times on traditional hard disks
– Difficulty spikes inconsistently
– Only four stash tabs for free


Thanks for reading and good gaming.


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