Forbes' contributor Erik Kain has taken a look at Path of Exile, an old-school free-to-play Diablo-like action-RPG, and came away pretty impressed with the overall package. Here's a sampling:
Developer Grinding Gear Games says the title is (a competitive online action RPG) rather than an MMORPG.
It features instanced areas so that parties (or loners) can traverse and loot and quest on their own. So far, what few quests I've done have been interesting and fun. The combat is described as (visceral) on the website, and that's a fitting description. There's some similarities with other top-down hack-and-slash games but I found the combat to have that extra oomph that can make (or break) an action-RPG. The graphics are nothing to write home about, but they do the trick. The world is certainly a bleak and colorless one, much more reminiscent of Diablo II than Diablo III.
If you haven't tried it yet, I absolutely recommend signing up for the beta. It's dark, gritty, and fun. Oh, and totally addicting. In fact, it has already fulfilled some of my wishlist for the next Diablo game, as it appears, at least, to take a much more open-world approach to the genre while also making each weapon you use a weapon, that you use, rather than merely a stats-booster.