So, yesterday my friends and I played Path of Exile all night in the Hardcore League (effectively permanent death).  We had one fatality right after the prison: Briarstoned was pounced upon by leaping critters while most of us were selling in town and his level 12 duelist, which was built more for dishing out the beats than absorbing them, fell in a quick one-two punch.

Impressively, he was able to reroll a marauder and catch up to us in levels by the time we hit the mid-teens.  We are currently on he edge of completing Act 1.

None of us (a sword & board tank, an archer, a marauder né duelist, and a necromancer) are particularly informed on the right way to min/max everything, which is making everything considerably more exciting as we stumble around Wraeclest scared for our virtual lives.

I am playing the aforementioned necromancer: A summoner witch. With the recent nerfs to Chaos Inoculation, my Energy-Shield-centric build may be less than optimal (especially in hardcore), but I’m intrigued by the mechanic and I want to explore it.  Right now I’m going for pure ES and full intellect, but it’s possible that I’ll want to hybridize into Armour with the Body & Soul passives — though I think that will also require a bit of investment into Strength (which is somewhat wasted if my health will be permanently set to 1 via CI.)  A “full” hybrid build, which would include more strength, more +% Life nodes, and fewer +% Energy Shield nodes is probably more appropriate for hardcore. But where’s the fun in that?

Another arguable inefficiency is that I’m already using Summon Skeleton. It sounds like a lot of people don’t bother until they get Spell Totems and until then they mostly just nuke things down with Freezing Pulse.  Still, the Skeletons are FUN — and even without Unstable Minions my critters seem to do okay.  They also do a great job of tanking and distracting the enemy.  On top of my summons, I just lay down Firestorms and Cold Snaps, which feels great — though my single-target damage is weak and I don’t contribute as much to boss fights.

That being said, once I find some Faster/Multiple projectile support gets I suspect that Freezing Pulse spam will be the order of the day until totems (I’m still going to use Zombies though). I do have a FP gem socketed and gaining XP already.

Click here to see the core passive skills I’m looking at.

The big question marks is whether I pick up bonus minion damage nodes or if I invest in something that will improve my direct damage output (via increased damage of a particular elements or just general casting speed/crit). I got one minion damage node early, but I should be able to undo it when I make a decision.

In terms of gear, we have crap. All of us are totally fresh accounts with nothing in our stashes. While trading may happen down the road, right now we’re just wearing whatever rags we happen to find.


I can honestly say that I had more fun on Path of Exile last night than I ever had in Diablo 3. Maybe even more fun than I had playing Diablo 2 — which is a hell of a thing to say.


P.S.  Path of Exile is free to play. If you like it, you can support the game by buying cosmetic upgrades, non-combat pets, and increased stash space.  There is no “pay to win”.


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