For Diablo Players

How Does PoE Stack Up Against the Diablo Series?

It seemed worth having a separate page for this, given that Diablo II set most of the genre standards and Diablo III remains fairly popular. If you've never played those games, you'll find this page pretty useless - but why are you here to begin with, you silly goose?

PoE versus Diablo II

Since Diablo II is PoE's express inspiration, players of D2 will quickly find themselves on fairly familiar territory. Many of the differences you'll notice are quality of life changes:

  • Rare items are usually the best items in the game. This was true in the original Diablo II, but players of Lord of Destruction will probably find this a welcome change from Runewords and Uniques far more powerful than almost all rares.
  • Almost no immunities: most builds can do most content. Your Fire Sorc is not going to be helpless against a random Blood Moor Fallen this time around.
  • Far more consistent language and mechanics. Serious D2 players are likely very familiar with the weird mix of additive and multiplicative stacking, inconsistent language, arcane FCS/FHR/FAS breakpoints, and "lying character screens" that chararacterized D2's mechanics. PoE, for the most part, has great consistency: the word Hit on one item means the same as the word Hit on another, for example, and few mechanics have non-obvious breakpoints or caps.
  • You can bind up to 16 skills, not just 2. By default, they bind to left/middle/right mouse and QWERT (and to control + each of those buttons).
  • Skills are fairly distinct, not just upgraded or modified versions of each other. For example, Diablo II's Fireball was basically just Firebolt with an explosion tacked on. Most of PoE's skills are much more distinct than this, and are instead modified using special Support Gems.
  • A greater variety of endgame skills. Most D2 classes had one, maybe two viable builds per tree, for a total of ~20 viable endgame builds. PoE has several times that.
  • A more varied endgame via the Map system: endgame zones are actually found as drops with different tilesets and mods. This means no more repeating 10,000 Baal runs, although the most hardcore players still tend to focus on a few highly-efficient maps.
  • "Rushing" is mostly non-existent.
  • Auras and buff effects work somewhat differently. Instead of effectively costing your right mouse button slot, PoE's auras are toggles that reduce your maximum mana while active.
  • Limited ability to respec: you'll be able to adjust some of your build if you make a mistake, but you're strongly encouraged to create a new character entirely if you want to play an entirely different build. Full respecs are expensive.

In addition to these QOL changes, a few of PoE's systems are built around properties that emerged from Diablo's. For example, PoE lacks any equivalent to D2's mostly useless Gold, and instead substitutes a currency system similar to the High Rune or Stone of Jordan economy that developed in D2. Loot drops can, optionally, be set to "allocate" to particular players for a brief time to avoid the click-spam competition common in D2 parties.

In general: if you like D2, PoE is more of that, with greater depth, more consistency, and modern QOL. You should probably give it a try.

PoE versus Diablo III

Diablo III took a somewhat different approach from its predecessor in terms of game design. Compared to the current incarnation of D3 as of this writing (counting changes implemented in Reaper of Souls), a D3 player should expect:

  • More endgame variety. PoE has a few possible endgame approaches as opposed to D3's Greater Rift system, and you have a lot more control over it. For example, in PoE you get Map items as drops, which open portals similar to D3's Rifts but with mods you can plan around (and you're rewarded for seeking out harder mods with more and better drops).
  • Less clearly-defined builds. Most builds in D3 use a Set of some sort; PoE lacks Set items entirely. As a result, D3's sets tend to define particular builds in a way PoE's items don't. You'll be asked to invest a little bit more in developing a build in PoE than you would in D3.
  • More emphasis on trading, in that PoE has it and (current) D3 does not. PoE does have an optional "Solo Self-Found" mode that disables partying and trading, however, if you prefer that style of play.
  • Much greater potential for character customization. PoE's skills can be modified in open-ended ways and, in principle, all skills are available to all classes. Combined with rule-breaking Uniques (which in some cases are similar to D3's) and the extremely deep passive tree, this allows a lot more detail to a build.
  • Much more content. PoE has a major release every three to five months with new skills, new uniques, and tweaks to the passive tree that go well beyond D3's Seasons.
  • Less technical polish. Because PoE's design team emphasizes an extreme amount of content, things get tested a lot less. Bugs usually aren't game-breaking, but new releases often come with annoying frame-rate or disconnect issues.
  • More complexity and less "pick up and play" design. D3 is quite newbie-friendly and easy to learn precisely because it tends to be fairly railroaded; PoE's open-endedness can make it difficult to learn.
  • More emphasis on rare items and less on uniques. Many PoE uniques are levelling items or geared towards specific types of build. With the exception of a few exceptionally rare "chase" uniques, rares are usually the best items in the game.

In general, if you want a game with more depth, thought, and decision-making on your part, you'll probably like PoE. But if you prefer the more arcade-y casual style, it may not be for you. It's much more vanilla-WoW or D2-era rough-edges-new-ideas Blizzard design than it is modern polish-for-the-masses Blizzard, if that makes sense.