Embarking on a Time-Bending Odyssey: Exploring Last Epoch's ARPG full release.

As enthusiasts of the ARPG genre know, finding a game that captures the essence of titles like Diablo and Path of Exile can be a quest in it...

As enthusiasts of the ARPG genre know, finding a game that captures the essence of titles like Diablo and Path of Exile can be a quest in itself. Even Diablo 4 failed in some ways to capture the feel players were looking for and has had its share of controversies since launch last year.  With Last Epoch, however, players are treated to a gaming experience that not only pays homage to the classics it is emulating but also introduces refreshing new mechanics and an interesting storyline. Could it be the game that combines the action of Diablo with the deep customization and world-building of Path of Exile, there for achieving a holy grail of balanced gameplay? Or does it suffer from the weaker aspects and miss out on their strengths?

Last Epoch, a vibrant time-traveling Action Role-Playing Game (ARPG), occupies a unique space within the genre, offering a balance between accessibility and depth. launched officially with its first 1.0 release it has been in Early Access development for the past four years and amassed more than 1 million players in that time helping evolve the game and build something that has earned its own spot in the ARPG space so far. And now it is open to everyone else who rather waited for its completion.

 In Last Epoch, players engage in classic ARPG gameplay mechanics, such as dispatching waves of enemies from a top-down isometric perspective while exploring intricate worlds and customizing their characters. What sets Last Epoch apart is its emphasis on nuanced, anytime crafting mechanics, catering to players who revel in optimizing their characters with incremental stat improvements. Compared to its counterparts like Diablo 4 and Path of Exile, Last Epoch strikes a delicate balance. It offers more in-depth crafting mechanics than Diablo 4, allowing players to fine-tune their character's statistics continuously. However, it remains less complex than Path of Exile, which often caters to advanced players seeking intricate gameplay systems. Last Epoch's approachable crafting system appeals to both newcomers and seasoned players, offering a satisfying gameplay experience for all skill levels.

Having been in early access for some time, Last Epoch has undergone significant development leading up to its 1.0 release. For those unfamiliar with the game, it presents a compelling option within the ARPG landscape. Notably, Last Epoch simplifies the process of creating powerful characters from one of 5 classes, making it relatively easy to build an overpowered wizard capable of wreaking havoc upon foes.

No ARPG would be complete without robust character customization, and Last Epoch delivers in spades. In terms of character progression and customization, Last Epoch provides ample opportunities for players to tailor their playstyle to their preferences. With five distinct classes and multiple masteries to choose from, players have the freedom to create their own unique playstyle.

The bases classes presented in game start with Acolyte, Mage, Primalist, Rogue and Sentinel. However, these classes can specialize in various master classes. A Primalist for instance can become a druid or a Beastmaster. Using various build to get to different specializations brings the total classes up to 21. The game's skill specialization system allows players to tailor their abilities to suit their preferred playstyle. From summoning powerful allies to unleashing devastating spells, the possibilities are endless. Combined with a deep and rewarding passive skill tree, Last Epoch gives players unparalleled freedom to customize their characters and truly make them their own. Whether you prefer to rain arrows from afar as a deadly archer or dive headfirst into battle as a hulking warrior, Last Epoch offers plenty of options for experimentation and discovery.  Impressive indeed. 

Leveling up by gaining EXP is achieved by completing quests, redeeming awards and defeating enemies. Each new level will increase your health , mana and you will receive a passive point for your mastery passive tree. Over time you also earn points for additional skill and mastery trees to finetune your playstyle.  If you decide you are not happy with your path or are in the mood to change it up then Last Epoch will allow you to fully re-spec at any time, much like you could change jobs in Final Fantasy online. Keeping things fresh and interesting without having to completely recreate a character. 

The crafting system in Last Epoch is streamlined yet robust, offering players the ability to enhance their gear and optimize their character's performance. In fact, crafting is an important step to getting some solid gear sets throughout the whole game.   By strategically investing in crafting materials and selecting appropriate modifiers, players can augment their equipment to suit their needs. This emphasis on personalized gear customization adds depth to the gameplay experience, encouraging players to experiment with different combinations and strategies. The game offers something for everyone without watering down the experience. The ability to tweak and optimize your character's stats provides a sense of ownership and accomplishment rarely found in other ARPGs. However, despite its depth, Last Epoch manages to maintain accessibility, ensuring that even newcomers to the genre can jump in and start having fun right away. Things can come a little complex and overwhelming as the in-game tutorial or 'training' missions do not always hold your hand step by step, but the game's intuitive interface and helpful tutorials guide players through the intricacies of character building and crafting, making the learning curve feel more like a gentle slope than a daunting cliff.

** disclaimer, there might be plenty moments you have to dive into the ingame manual or perhaps do some research on its many community forums to gain insight into some of its many skills and features. However, if you just want to bash things on the head it is easy to go and do as such.

One area where Last Epoch truly shines is in its narrative and world-building. The narrative framework of Last Epoch introduces a compelling element of time travel, setting it apart from traditional ARPGs. Players embark on a journey across different eras, each with its own distinct atmosphere and challenges. From ancient ruins to post-apocalyptic wastelands, confronting the consequences of temporal manipulation and battling foes across various timelines. The game's storytelling, while not central to gameplay for many players, adds depth and complexity to the overall experience, enhancing immersion within the game world.

The game's time-traveling mechanics add an extra layer of depth to the gameplay, allowing players to witness the consequences of their actions across different time periods. As you journey through the ages, you'll encounter familiar faces and foes, each playing a crucial role in the overarching narrative. The seamless integration of time travel into the gameplay not only adds variety but also keeps players engaged and invested in the story.

In terms of design and world building the game also has an exciting art style that both brings color and bright environments as well as dark apocalyptic ones and brings interesting enemies some of which are creative takes on existing  archetype enemies, but many are also wonderfully unique. From the beginning you are already experiencing some new things such as highly aggressive sentient fauna that chases you around the map and Last Epoch wastes no time showing you it is build different.

The studio behind the game also worked hard on providing a fair environment that works for everyone, as we discussed the skill tree system is robust without diving into Path of Exile levels of spreadsheet Maintenace. But also, in terms of a market- place they offer the player options. With the thousands of magical items game so many being unique it is hard to get the same item twice. This opens opportunities for in-game trading, but this might not be your cup of tea. Last Epoch offers a path for style of players. You can pick one of two item factions. One is the merchant's guild that allows players to trade as much as they like and the other is the Circle of Fortune which will remove the trade option, but they get a "drop buff" that ups the frequency and quality of loot that they find in game, allowing them to still get a hold of those unique items. There is plenty of space for all those items you find, so packrats can hold on to all their loot for quite some time before they needs to decide what to do with it. 

One final note. In a world where more and more games are on-line only, Last Epoch has an offline mode. Which came in handy when their servers got smooshed on launch week and also offers a possible safer environment for those who rather not interact with other players online. The offline and online game modes are kept separate permanently however and you cannot take your characters from one to another. They are separated and never the two shall meet. Keep this in mind if you think you want to play with a friend. later on.

Last Epoch strikes a fine balance between accessibility and depth. While combat is fast-paced and action-packed, there's also plenty of room for strategic thinking and planning. Whether you're facing off against hordes of enemies or challenging bosses, every encounter feels dynamic and engaging, keeping you on the edge of your seat. Last Epoch is a shining example of what an ARPG can be. With its vibrant world, deep customization options, and engaging gameplay, it's a game that will keep you coming back for more. Whether you're a seasoned veteran of the genre or a newcomer looking for your next adventure, Last Epoch has something for everyone.

Title:  Last Epoch
Publisher: Eleventh Hour Games
Developer: Eleventh Hour Games
Platform: PC (Linux,Steam)
Release Date: 1.0 release February 21st 2024
Release Price: 

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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