A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Path of Exile: Ascendancy is a bloody downloadable add-on to the original Path of Exile, the focus of which is getting through a monster-filled labyrinth sprinkled with deadly traps. Gameplay is tough and forces players whose heroes die within the labyrinth to restart from the very beginning. Traps consist of things like spinning saw blades, spiked logs and floors, and pools of burning lava -- all things that bring player characters to graphic, gruesome deaths. There's nothing to worry about as far as sex or language, but the hyper-violent gameplay more than makes up for that.
What's it about?
PATH OF EXILE: ASCENDANCY offers players a twist on the base game's violent role-playing by letting them test their mettle against an ancient labyrinth. The Labyrinth, and its accompanying Trials, were designed by a legendary emperor and meant to prove the viability of would-be leaders. Players aspiring to gain access to elite Ascendancy classes must overcome six trials, each with its own set of deadly traps. Spinning blades, spiked floors, and pools of lava challenge players' reflexes, mercilessly slaughtering the less-than-agile. Those who overcome the trials move on to the Labyrinth, where their reaction times and combat skills are tested and their patience pushed to the limit.
Is it any good?
This expansion does justice to the hard-core base game by setting the bar high from the beginning. Though tutorial levels (Trials) give players a means to become acquainted with a new series of environmental traps, the main test that follows isn't for the faint of heart or short of temper. The base game's Normal difficulty allows players who die to come back to life and pick up where they left off. The expansion isn't so nice. One false move in the Labyrinth can mean a bloody, dismembering death, and heroes who die must start over from the very beginning, which can be extremely frustrating.
Only the most committed, patient gamers are going to get through the Labyrinth, which means many gamers will never access the expansion's new Ascendancy classes. These 19 new classes (three for each base class and one for the Scion class) give players access to elite Ascendancy skill trees that provide a slew of cool new powers. The thing is, to progress through these trees, players need to get through the Labyrinth not once but multiple times on harder and harder difficulties. This is great for the game's main audience (which consists largely of hardcore RPG players) but not so good for everyone else. Winning an Ascended class is the main point of the expansion, but players who don't (or can't) do this can take advantage of other new features such as the new Perandus challenge league, new weapons, items, and gems. Granted, while these other features are fun, that might not be enough reason to play Path of Exile: Ascendancy if you're not a card-carrying hard-core gamer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence as a sport. Mixed martial arts, boxing -- even hockey and football -- all contain violence, but does that violence make them entertaining? Should it?
Think about your strategy for overcoming challenges. Does failing frustrate you or inspire you to try harder?
Discuss teamwork. Would you rather overcome an obstacle on your own or with friends?
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