Last week saw the public launch of another action RPG set to compete against the likes of Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2. Titled Path of Exile, the free-to-play PC game is the first title by New Zealand developer Grinding Gear Games who’ve been working on the release for over half a decade.

On top of the obvious selling point that Path of Exile is free, the microstransaction-supported online-only game boasts several unique game mechanics that help differentiate it from the competition, and according the the numbers, players came in droves on day one to check it out.

Path of Exile Wallaper Map

Path of Exile entered open beta January 23rd, 2013, and we jumped in to see what makes it special. The game is still a work in progress and currently includes three acts in its story campaign (the third of which was added with the open beta), with players encouraged to continue building characters with multiple playthroughs to hit the planned level-100 cap, and to replay the game to test different builds among the six character classes.

The twist is that any of the characters can be leveled up to take advantage of skills and attributes (strength, dexterity, intelligence) of any of the other characters, since all six characters actually share the same skill tree (featuring 1350 unlockable points). Click to see for yourself:

Path of Exile Passive Skill Tree

The other neat feature is dubbed the Skill Gem System which allows players to collect and upgrade gems that can be placed inside armor and weapons that level up alongside the player character. They can be transferred from item to item as better loot is acquired and represent the skills the characters has (only when socketed). Both the skill gems and the shared tree give players an unprecedented amount for character progression compared to other titles in the genre.

Those are only some of the reasons players flocked to try out the open beta, despite the game’s release mostly flying under the radar until it hit open beta last week. Needless to say, the team at Grinding Gear Games were happy with the player participation, reporting the following two days after the open beta began:

The last few days have been amazing for us. After working for over six years on Path of Exile, we are proud to say that its Open Beta launch was a complete success. We’ve already addressed several early stability problems and are very pleased with how the game is currently performing. We hit a peak of 56,700 simultaneous player earlier today and we’re looking forward to try to smash that record over the weekend. This is far more interest than we expected, though thankfully very close to what we purchased server capacity for!

Read the full story of how the open beta launch went for Path of Exile from the devs themselves here. And if you have time, check out the 48 pages of positive support to the forum post. To check out our noob experience testing out the game for the first time:

Path of Exile is available in open beta for PC. Sign-up to download the beta here.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Grinding Gear Games

tags: Path of Exile, PC