Diablo 4 vs PoE: 5 major differences between the two ARPGs

Diablo 4 and Path of Exile promotional image
Diablo 4 was nominated for Game of the Year award (Image via Blizzard Entertainment, Grinding Gear Games)

Diablo 4 and Path of Exile are some of the most popular ARPGs that the fans love to play. They both share a similar background as they both are RPGs at heart and focus on player progression by leveling up the player. These games focus on world-building and character progression through leveling up of the characters as the campaign moves forward. While they have plenty of similarities since both are RPGs, they also share a variety of differences.

Here we will look at five differences between Diablo 4 and Path of Exile.

Note: This list is subjective, reflects the author's opinions, and is not in any particular order.


5 differences between Diablo 4 and Path of Exile

1) Game development and philosophy

Diablo 4 is against pay-to-win mechanics (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)
Diablo 4 is against pay-to-win mechanics (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)

Diablo 4 is developed by Blizzard Entertainment and their philosophy revolves around creating polished games for their fans to enjoy. This game focuses on blending the series' gothic roots with the gameplay elements of today. Here the focus lies in giving the fans a story-driven experience with polished visuals.

Path of Exile is developed by Grinding Gear Games and their philosophy is to make games for hardcore enthusiasts out there. There is a heavy focus on customization and complex systems that allow players to be creative while crafting upgrades and gear for their characters. There are always new updates on the horizon and an ever-evolving experience that's rich in content.


2) Monetization model

Path of Exile is a free-to-play game (Image via Grinding Gear Games)
Path of Exile is a free-to-play game (Image via Grinding Gear Games)

Diablo 4 uses the model it has always followed, one that requires players to purchase the game upfront. Some new expansions and DLCs can be purchased separately when they are released or they can be bought through the game's ultimate edition as well. Blizzard also implements microtransactions that let players purchase unique cosmetics with no emphasis on pay-to-win mechanics.

Path of Exile is a free-to-play game that one can download and play without paying anything. However, it uses microtransactions by offering cosmetic items through the in-game shop — note that these are also completely optional to buy. Grinding Gear Games heavily emphasize the fact that they are against pay-to-win mechanics and want players to experience natural progression.


3) Skill and character customization

Diablo 4 offers a variety of customization options for the characters (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)
Diablo 4 offers a variety of customization options for the characters (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)

Diablo 4 comes with a traditional skill tree where players can learn new abilities by spending their skill points. The system is created in a manner where it is accessible to everyone while offering in-depth customization as well. There are various classes that players can choose from. There are unique playstyles attached, making each build unique and the choices matter in the long run.

On the other hand, Path of Exile features a unique skill tree where active skills are tied to the skill gems that the players have infused with their equipped gear. Every gem gives a unique ability, making every build stand out. There is a massive skill tree shared by all characters where players can use their points to make their characters stronger.


4) Endgame content

Path of Exile features a confusing yet deep skill tree (Image via Grinding Gear Games)
Path of Exile features a confusing yet deep skill tree (Image via Grinding Gear Games)

Diablo 4 tries to give players a guided experience after they are done with the main story. This experience is filled with bounties and world events in the interconnected dungeons that they can explore. The objective here is to offer something new to do to both casual and hardcore players by adding fresh content through seasonal updates like new characters and rewards.

Path of Exile resolves around Atlas of Worlds, a map system that gives fans freedom to explore various maps and fight bosses with different modifiers; this changes the gameplay loop to refresh things. The addition of temporary challenge leagues increases the replay value as they possess unique mechanics that significantly change the gameplay to keep it fresh and engaging.


5) Story and lore

Diablo 4 has a story with traditional gothic elements (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)
Diablo 4 has a story with traditional gothic elements (Image via Blizzard Entertainment)

Diablo 4 returns to the gothic aesthetic, which is traditional in the series. The story is influenced by themes of conflict between angels and demons and the struggles between Heaven and Hell with humanity stuck in the middle. Blizzard uses highly polished cinematics to tell the story and provide an experience where the characters evolve with time.

On the other hand, Path of Exile has a rich narrative with complex elements that are presented through dialogues, environmental storytelling, and item descriptions. The game takes place in Wraeclast, a world with a dark history and various factions fighting for power. The story is also enhanced through expansions that add to the lore as players progress through the story.

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