This weekend, from July 27-29, you can participate in a public stress test for Path of Exile's servers. Path of Exile is a dark fantasy action RPG being developed by Grinding Gear Games. It has a fixed 3rd person perspective camera similar to Diablo and Torchlight. Path of Exile has been in development since late 2006 and entered into a closed beta in August 2011.
Public Beta Weekend
Starting at 5pm PST on Friday July 27th thru 11:59pm PST Sunday july 29th anyone can play the beta. All you need to do to play is create an account on www.pathofexile.com and then download the 4Gb game install and you'll be ready to go on Friday. The game install file can be downloaded here: http://www.pathofexile.com/downloads/PathOfExileInstaller.msi and all the information on the beta weekend can be found here: http://www.pathofexile.com/publicweekend/
Free To Play
Path of Exile is following the current PC trend of being Free to Play. Players will have the opportunity to buy various items for their in-game characters including:
-Additional character animations
-Dyes and item skins
-Alternate spell effects
-Inter-realm / inter-account character transfers
There is a focus here on being truly free to play and not pay to win like many free to play games have become. All the upgrades are cosmetic customizations.
Randomly Generated Lands
Path of Exile will feature randomly generated areas including indoors and outdoors to aid in replayability. Each area is 'instanced,' which gives each party its own copy of a given area. They're designed for 4-8 players per instance to make areas exciting and challenging for small parties. However communal areas such as towns have no player cap so they can serve as large meeting places to trade with whoever is online in that town and find people to party up with.
Skills are not bound to specific classes as to allow for the greatest amount of variety. Skills can also stack to create powerful effects. In Path of Exile, gems are used to determine what active skills you use and are socketed into equipment. Gems level up and become more powerful as you use them to kill monsters. Normal grade skill gems are awarded as quest rewards, but you'll be able to find rare skill gems in dungeons and wilderness exploration.
Characters also have a deep tree of passive skills to choose from.
There are three different attributes which define the six classes: Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. The Marauder is pure strength, the Ranger is pure dexterity and the Witch is pure intelligence. The other three classes are a mix of two attributes: the Duelist is strength/dexterity, Templar is strength/intelligence and Shadow is dexterity/intelligence.
In Path of Exile, combat is especially visceral with plenty of blood and gore. Position matters a great amount in combat. You can dodge projectiles and be blocked in by monsters. PvP battle areas are also planned as well as PvP worldwide tournaments.
Grinding Gear Games is trying something different for endgame play in Path of Exile. Rather than give you the same game with a really insane difficulty, Path of Exile will feature an Eternal Laboratory area. This is basically a map portal area where you can use map items you find playing the higher level areas of the game or trade for them. When you use a map item in the laboratory, six warp gates will open to that map and each warp gate is consumed when you use it. This means as a single person you can enter a map six times, as a party of six you can enter the map once.
Each map gets a set of mods assigned to it. These mods add specific bonuses to items dropped by slaying monsters and found in chests. This endgame map system is essentially where you find the really good loot in the game.