On the surface, Path of Exile and Diablo 3 are synonymously designed, but their respective communities would rip you to shreds by the mere mention of this. Some would even go as far as to say that these games are completely different and shouldn’t be compared. Let us see why the players even think like that.
Compared to Path of Exile’s insanely deep systems, Diablo 3 can be considered baby’s first ARPG. They do have similar systems in place, but the implementation is vastly diverse. The biggest difference between the two lies in their skill trees, loot rollout, and endgame amongst other things.
Let us take an in-depth look at all of the key differences between Path of Exile and Diablo 3, and try to understand what these games have in common.
Free-to-Play vs Pay-to-Play
Path of Exile is a free-to-play game, and it is considered to be the best example of it. It’s not pay-to-win; not a lot of money needs to be spent to enjoy the game.
You can play the game without having to even spend a single dime if you really want, and that is an exceptional feature and very rare in free-to-play games.
The game costs you nothing to try. It might not be the perfect game for you, but you don’t have to spend anything to find out.
The only instances where you might have to spend money is either on cosmetics, which is completely optional, or you spend it on storage space which too depends on your commitment to the game. If you are a hardcore player, then buying storage won’t feel forced.
Diablo is a pay-to-play experience. With this model, there is a certain expectation of higher quality that players will be looking for when spending their hard-earned money outright.
If the game doesn’t satisfy your expectations, then there will be more disappointment. Although the good part is, Diablo 3 will most likely be available at a much-discounted price now.
The enjoyment of a pay-to-play experience comes down to the players’ subjectivity. There is a ton of content in the game, but the price tag of the game will impact the scrutiny it has to go through.
Path of Exile has these things called Leagues. Essentially what Leagues are is every three months the game adds a new league that has its own set of rules.
It is on its own server that, you know, has the same rules as the game but with added rules on top that sort of change the experience of the game. It’s a really clever way to keep things fresh.
Leagues also add new items to the game, and new build variety by making things possible that weren’t possible before, and it somewhat forces players to play in a different way.
The best thing about League is when they end, the character that you’re playing with just gets supported over to the standard server or the standard league so that that character never gets deleted.
Once that league ends, you know you’re going to move on to the next league with a fresh character. The pros of this are that the game gets frequent updates, and you can always expect new stuff to come with these updates; it keeps fresh all the time.
The downside here is for players who like to play only one or two characters, have them maxed out, or try new things with them only. If you keep this mentality, then you won’t be able to experience the Leagues.
You have to start new characters every time you’re playing those leagues which you may not want to do if that’s not your cup of tea.
The Diablo franchise historically adds major expansions later down the release. It usually includes a whole new class or classes to the game and a new act, extending the game’s life with more content.
Leveling is a big part of all ARPGs; these two games are no exception.
In Diablo 3, the leveling process is generally pretty easy and straightforward. You have several different difficulties scaling from Normal all the way up to Hell. As you get higher up and level, it even has bonus Torment levels one through six.
So while you’re leveling, you have a lot of different difficulties to play around with. You can make it really hard, or you can make it easy.
Your experience is going to go up or down based on how low you have the difficulty level, so you’ll want to do an appropriate level where you’re getting a decent amount of experience but also not too hard that it takes you forever to complete.
On the other hand, in Path of Exile, you essentially have one difficulty level, and it seems to get progressively harder as the game goes on and significantly more gear dependent. In this game, you also have to rely on your various types of damage resistance levels, which you don’t really have to worry about too much in Diablo 3.
Diablo 3 gives you more control over choosing difficulty, while in Path of Exile, you are in for whatever ride the game takes you on. You will be dying a lot in PoE until you get the hang of the game.
Diablo’s control lets you level up your other character easily, as you can tweak the difficulty according to your needs. The difficulty grind of PoE can get frustrating and annoying.
Both these games have co-op play however, they have their own unique take on the implementation. The game that is good for co-op play is Diablo 3. In this game, you get bonuses, extra experience, other currencies, and extra loot for being in a group together.
In Path of Exile, you get no such advantages of being in a group, and it’s not that easier. Path of Exile has a lot to be desired in terms of the co-op. It feels like a less consistent experience and you’re being sort of punished for doing so.
So co-op is a pretty easy choice as to which one is better out of those two; it’s definitely Diablo 3. Diablo 3 even has the option to couch co-op.
In Diablo, the only things that are worthy at the end game are Legendaries and set items; everything else is complete trash unless you need crafting materials. In Path of Exile, the best items in the game are usually the uncommon type items.
The yellow items that you pick up with just basic stats on them and no special abilities are the ones that generally are sought after, and it’s the complete opposite of Diablo 3.
In Diablo 3, if you don’t have a full set with all the set bonuses, then you’re at a huge disadvantage for the most part. There are very few advantages to not having a set, and if you are trying to craft a different build, then you’re going to have a bit of a hard time.
Especially in Path of Exile, there are different kinds of currencies that will change different stats on your items, whether implicit or explicit. It is highly customizable, but it’s usually pretty random.
In Diablo 3, you can reroll stats on gear, but it’s just basic stats. You’re not going to re-rolling any game-changing stats or anything that makes too much of a difference. However, there are tons of fun gear in Diablo owing to the Legendaries, and set items are much more important than the unique items in PoE.
As far as ease of gearing goes, PoE has a clear path where you just have to keep adjusting your stats upward, getting better pieces of gear with better stats, much like a traditional MMORPG.
Whereas in Diablo 3, you want better stats, but you also at the same time want to make sure you’re hitting those set bonuses, or else you’re going to be at a major disadvantage.
In terms of endgame content, in Diablo 3, you have Rifts and some bounties, but that’s just about it. Rift levels can go upwards to around 150. It’s incredibly difficult to reach this level, but it’s the same thing over and over. The end game in Diablo 3, while fun, is pretty limited.
In Path of Exile, there are so many different activities that you can keep yourself occupied for a long time. Whether it’s going into maps which is very common, and it’s what most people do at the end game, and the map levels go from 1 to 16, and there are even some Uber maps in there.
There are a bunch of different bosses, Delve, and tons of different activities in-game.
The end game for Path of Exile takes the cake through and through. There’s so much to do once you finish up that you’ll probably never actually get done with it unless you’re a hardcore player.
Now you might look at both these games and like the different aesthetics they bring to the table, but overall the graphical advantage would go to Path of Exile. If you zoom in enough in Diablo 3, it starts to look pretty bad. It is good at the mid or completely zoomed-out level.
Both of these games are quite old now, and if I’m not mistaken then, Path of Exile is the only one that provides updates to the engine. Overall, the graphics, various effects, and stuff are much prettier in Path of Exile.
The dark theme and art style of Diablo 3 might attract some. Path of Exile is the clear winner here; however, there is a point of contention here which we will cover in the next section.
This is hands-down a win for Diablo 3. You can comfortably run this game at just about the best graphics on even a potato PC. Path of Exile does require better hardware to run smoothly at higher graphical settings. It takes forever to load into the game.
The devs are always working on optimizations. If you’re looking for something with lower system requirements out of the two, Diablo 3 is definitely your best bet. You can lower the graphics in PoE but it would look like you’re playing a potato on your potato.
In Diablo 3, your skills are acquired as you level up; at the endgame, you’ll have several different skills that you can choose from, and you’ll also have several passive skills that you can choose from, so it’s not really a very complicated system.
You pick the skills that you want usually based on what kind of set pieces you have or other gear that you’ve acquired along the way; you plug them in, or you look up a build online, and off you go.
On the other hand, Path of Exile has some of the most complicated and interesting skill systems you will ever witness in an ARPG, without a doubt. There is a giant skill tree with loads of nodes, and if you’re new to an ARPG, it will probably be incredibly intimidating to get started.
The skills themselves come from gems that you socket inside your gear. Each piece of gear will have sockets, which can be attached to other sockets, so you might have a certain gem in one, and then a support gem in the next socket, and a lot of them can have up to six of those linked.
So potentially, you can have one uber-powerful skill based on all the gems that you have socketed plus the skills that you have in the tree.
Diablo’s system is more towards simplicity, easy to understand, and interact with. While PoE’s skill system is amazing if you’re into something that’s very deep and complicated or you are a veteran of such games.
The sheer customization of the skill tree definitely lies with Path of Exile, but if you’re a new player, you’ll probably disagree with this.
Although both these games seem like two peas in a pod, there are huge dissimilarities between the two, and we have tried to highlight those in this article.
Path of Exile has a crazy learning curve to adjust to and attracts only the staunchest of ARPG fans, if you want to start from the deep end of the pool, then this is your goto game. Comparatively, Diablo 3 is very streamlined and much more accessible, and if you are new to this genre, then this should be your first pick to learn the ropes of this game style.