Path of Exile Beta Details, Templar Trailer, and Developer Diary

There's quite a bit of new Path of Exile information and content to share with you this morning, including an announcement that the closed beta will begin on August 10th, a developer diary that focuses on PvP and the team's commitment to "ethical microtransactions", and a new 90-second Templar gameplay trailer. First, the video clip:

And then we'll grab some substance from the diary:
Equally important to us is the concept of a fair playing field for PvP. We are going to expend substantial resources policing the use of exploits and third party tools that may yield an advantage in PvP. The integrity of our game is crucial to the health of the PvP metagame, so we will try hard to ensure that this is not violated. This is yet another reason why our business model is the sale of (ethical microtransactions), rather than items that could yield an advantage in PvP.

There are many different planned options for PvP situations in Path of Exile. Some of them are strictly organized (tournaments), and some are completely ad-hoc (player killing in the (cut-throat) league, for example). We've tried to cater for a variety of gaming tastes so that players of many skill levels and backgrounds are able to participate in PvP gameplay.

In addition to the obvious tactical and micromanagement play-skill required to succeed at PvP within an individual encounter, a large portion of PvP success relies on designing a character's build correctly for a certain metagame of what other players are playing. For example, Chaos damage bypasses an Intelligence character's energy shields entirely. If you expect to play against a lot of players with Energy Shield, it makes sense to load up on Chaos damage. Of course, this weakens you against normal players (and against Energy Shield users who have equipped Chaos resistance to foil your plan). A competitive player with a good grasp of the current tournament climate (and many spare items at their disposal) has a large advantage over players that are forced to play the only character they have. In an online game designed to reward knowledge and economic power, this is a desirable outcome.

Path of Exile doesn't allow entire-character passive-skill respecs. We will allow a limited quantity of small-scale respecs to fix mistakes or planning errors, but we want to encourage people to build a new character rather than entirely repurpose an existing one. This isn't just because we want people to play our game more, but because it's meant to be fun to play characters, rather than some chore that people want to press a button to skip. Also, the quality of characters evolved through play is often substantially higher than that of characters that have all of their passive skills allocated in one go. As we've seen from resetting passives in the Alpha, many players are very short-sighted with their skill allocation and skip important skills to maximize damage. This means they don't have the right amount of life/mana/accuracy and other crucial stats they wouldn't think to allocate without actually playing the character as they allocate the points. The lack of full respecs means that it's not trivial for people to merely copy a good build from the internet. This rewards players who come up with innovative builds themselves.