Flashy clothes not included in free-to-play Path of Exile

, | Games

before

That’s a witch in Path of Exile. As you can see, she’s pretty drably outfitted. I suppose the face mask looks suitably evil. But she’s way higher level than you’d expect based on the fact that she’s wearing colorless tatters and weilding a stick in her right hand and a dried vine wreath in her left hand. But that’s about to change.

After the jump, the makeover

after

Behold! If you look close, you can see a patch of purple on my witch’s new vestment. She’s level 20 and based on the fashion trends I’m seeing in the town hubs — this is an online only game where you share town hubs with a handful of other players — that’s as fancy as it gets. When I’m level 20 in Diablo 3, I look like the main villain in an 80s Conan movie. I have spikes and billowing robes and an amazing hat, all in vibrant colors or rich black or gleaming ivory. I am worthy of cosplaying. Path of Exile is, well, more downbeat, couture wise.

Maybe further down the line, the habiliments get more dramatic. Or maybe this is how developer Grinding Gear Games hopes to make this a viable free-to-play game. Right now I don’t feel the need to spend a nickel on Paths of Exile, which I downloaded for free and is every bit as meaty an action RPG as things that are $60. Path of Exile is currently in beta, and the developers are adamant that you won’t have to pay for any functionality. That’s certainly the case now. This is a game without so much as a real-money auction house. The micropayment shop sells glowing shapes that float ridiculously overhead, or a special weapon effect for weapons that aren’t even necessarily special. You can buy a dance animation for seven bucks. There’s a pet frog that does nothing for a couple of a bucks.

DC Universe Online has a whole collectible costume system where you unlock costume sets as you find loot. In Guild Wars 2, you can clone gear so that it looks like other gear you’ve found and thereby dress up however you like. I’ve previously documented my barbarian’s fashion travails in Diablo 3. The visuals are more or less part of the loot chase in those games. So maybe Paths of Exile intends to divorce aesthetics from the loot chase and instead make it part of the business model. Like skins in League of Legends.

Which, frankly, is a pretty smart move. Because I’m not sure how long I can let my witch run around looking like a serving wench who can’t even afford a vial of lavender dye.

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