Last month Path of Exile finally came to Playstation 4. It has been on Xbox 1 for around a year now, so it was nice to finally see some support for my own beloved system. In fact, the PS4 launch was initially scheduled for four months back, but it kept getting pushed due to licensing issues. But last month it was finally released, and I was able to put my hands on my favorite game, on my favorite console. And my goodness, I wish I loved it. Want to know what I mean? Let’s take a look at my POE PS4 review.
Honestly, my biggest issue by far was with the controls. Going in I knew everything would be more clunky. Path of Exile is a game with a lot of buttons, so trying to comfortably move all of those keys onto a controller is difficult. Not to mention the fact that they also have to integrate a mouse onto a controller, which isn’t easy.
I knew that it would be a difficult transition going in, so I intentionally played a build that required little aiming, which is something that all the streamers ended up doing. However, I had no clue what the depth of the issues would be. Right off the bat it became apparent that my skill wouldn’t be the main problem. No, instead, it was using potions. On a PC the potions are all in a row, and you can have a hand basically dedicated to just pushing them. While they are illegal, many players also use macros to make using potions easier. On a controller you have to find four to five dedicated buttons that you can press every three to five seconds.
The streamer who stuck with it and hit level 100—Karvarousku (Karv)—first rebound his controls so that his potions were on L1, R1, L3, and R3, with his final health potion being on L2. I tried this setup and it was incredibly inconvenient, and I couldn’t pull it off despite it being better than any other setup. There just wasn’t a way to reasonably hit the controls while maintaining my other movement. This put me in a position where I was only using two potions instead of four, which resulted in a massive decrease in overall potential.
There were also many places where things overlapped the screen, making it impossible to use any skill that was on X. Delve in particular was awful for this, as the cart would fill up most of the screen after you finished a delve. I died a few times to this before giving up and remapping my main skill to square. While that was doable, it wasn’t comfortable, and is definitely an issue.
My second biggest issue was performance. On a first generation PS4, my game was crashing an average of once an hour. Due to the way these crashes affect the game, many of these crashes resulted in my character dying, and losing ten percent of my current level’s experience. Not only that, but the load times on PS4 were exceptionally long, meaning it took 3–5 minutes to get back into the game each time. This was incredibly jarring for my gameplay flow, and made playing less enjoyable.
I wasn’t the only ones with these issues, either. Karv had a PS4 Slim going into the race to 100, and he was crashing fairly often as well. He upgraded and got himself a PS4 Pro a few days in to combat this issue. The crashes continued, just far less frequently. From level 99–100 he died five times from crashes. That’s not even the full number of crashes, just the ones that resulted in deaths.
For someone not on a PS4 Pro, hitting 100 would border on impossible due to the fact that you lose upwards of 3–4 hours of gameplay each time you die.
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The gameplay itself was the best part of the experience. I adore Path of Exile. This was the same PoE feel, just slower and more methodical, which was an interesting experience, to say the least. It felt like I had self-handicapped myself for the sake of enjoyment, similar to how playing SSF felt.
As I mentioned, my biggest fear going in was that the skills would be difficult to use. Honestly, they weren’t. There was a very intuitive targeting system, and while I wasn’t at peak performance by any means, it wasn’t awful.
I did have a few points where the targeting system messed me up, such as the fact that I couldn’t pre-cast. If you hadn’t targeted anything on the map, it wouldn’t let you cast abilities at all, which messed me up a few times for activating my Infused Channeling and Arcane Surge before a boss fight. But that’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.
Looting was very fluid, as long as you wanted everything you could see. Luckily Neversink’s filters come pre-loaded, so you have five different filters you can choose from to make sure you see only the things that you want to see. Overall, the gameplay was incredibly smooth, if you ignore the fact that you have to use potions.
There are two major improvements I would make to the game that I feel would fix all of my issues (apart from crashing, which is its own can of worms). First, allow multiple potions to be bound to the same button. I know GGG is heavily anti-macros, but it’s not realistic to think players can hit four or five extra buttons every few seconds on a controller. Either balance the game to stop being around all flasks always being up, or allow macros on PS4.
The second improvement is with regards to UI. Things that take you out of gameplay should not be bound to X during combat. There are many other buttons that can be used. Even picking up items would be fine on something like the down arrow on the D-pad. This would stop me being pulled out of the game in order to interact with the Delve cart, or being frustrated trying to pick up an item because there’s one monster nearby that I keep targeting instead.
Path of Exile is my favorite game, and I was really excited for the PS4 launch. So, you can imagine my disappointment when, after four days of hard playing and being second in the world on the leaderboards, I gave it up entirely. It just wasn’t the fun I wanted it to be due to the controls and the crashes. The controls would be a fairly easy fix for the most part, and would massively improve gameplay. If they went ahead with the control fix and also managed to fix the crashing, I would definitely go back and play again.
As is, Path of Exile for me is a solid 9/10 game. It’s my favorite game with over 6,000 hours in it. Path of Exile on PS4 is a solid 4/10 game. The gameplay is there, but getting to it behind the controls, and having to reboot every hour ruins what has the potential to be an amazing game on a great platform.