So, I finally got around to playing Path of Exile, only about a year late. I think its promise—perhaps made by anxious nerds on its behalf—to be the “true heir to Diablo 2” is kind of a distraction. It’s really its own beast. Not only does it have FFX’s sphere grid to do your leveling up, but instead of picking skills out of a tree you find them in FF7-style gems that you socket into your equipment and level up separately; there are even linked sockets and support gems. It’s a great combination! I’d forgotten how compelling it is to level through a sphere grid.
There’s also no money, as merchants barter for scrolls of identify and the like, and your equipped potions automatically refill as you kill things.
And they do the kinds of fiddly things with skills that I appreciate, like having a sword attack that every time you use it it hits a larger and larger area; of course, by the time you’re smashing entire rooms in a single blow you’ve already smashed half the room, but that’s not the point.
It’s ugly like Diablo 2, though. I’ll give it that. And the movement and combat is just a little janky; if you’re a D2 purist you should probably stick with Torchlight. On the third hand, it’s free.
Path of Exile's in open beta, has been for a few weeks now. I'm wary of the promise to “do right all the stuff that Diablo 3 does wrong,” because people usually mean locking you into terrible builds that you chose before you knew what they did when they say that.
But they do have a sphere grid. A sphere grid! (and an interactive version; they’re not half-assing it.)