Path of Exile Preview

RPGFan has a preview for the free Diablo-like Path of Exile based on their beta experiences, and seem pretty intrigued by what the game has to offer. Here's a sampling:
Battles ensue much in the same fashion as in the Diablo series, but the differences lie in the details. Players will find themselves once again scavenging loot, nit-picking about minor differences between one bow and the next, all while enhancing their weapons and armor with gems. However, these gems add a little more than the old rocks did in Diablo II. These materia err skill gems offer abilities no matter what piece of equipment they accompany. Each skill gem comes in one of three colors green, red, and blue, which represent dexterity, strength, and intelligence, respectively. Once the gem is put into the properly colored socket, players can spam away with cleaves, blink strikes, firestorms you name it. This replaces the skill trees in Diablo II, but PoE boasts its own passive point system that I like to call the Sphere Grid, because, well it's near-identical to Final Fantasy X's system. Though, if the Sphere Grid were able to ingest steroids, Creatine, and experimental Russian growth hormones reserved for future super soldiers, we'd have PoE's web of metagaming. While the possibilities may seem endless, the fact is that a marauder will unlikely venture into the witch's tree, but may dabble in the ways of its neighbor templar or duelist.

Path of Exile offers six classes, five of which are accessible in the beta: witch, templar, marauder, duelist, and ranger. If I were to guess at the sixth class, I'd say it's going to be some kind of brawler or monk based on item drops and the types of passive abilities offered in the grid. All conjecture aside, each class feels unique. The witch, of course, relies heavily on spell casting, while the templar is a beefier variation of the witch, able to fit either role as necessary. Marauders might as well be "barbarians," and the duelist is more or less a quicker, more accurate version of his melee brother. Rangers stand alone as the physical ranged class, and the "monk" is stubbornly absent without leave. My friends and I dabbled in each class, and I can attest to their unique feel, though Diablo II definitely had more specialized classes.