Last Epoch is the not-Diablo game every generation must have (2024)

It is written that whenever Blizzard releases a Diablo game, players will get annoyed with it — it’s too dark, or not dark enough, or too grindy, or not grindy enough, or the loot is no good, or it doesn’t work, or its business model is suspect. It’s also written that a challenger shall arise, a game from a scrappy independent developer that looks like Diablo and plays like Diablo, but is pure of heart and shall deliver to all those frustrated Diablo players exactly what they wanted but Blizzard refused to give them.

Right now, that game is Last Epoch from all-remote global indie studio Eleventh Hour Games. Last Epoch came out on Feb. 21 and has been doing very well on Steam, where it’s sitting comfortably inside the top 10 most-played games at the time of this writing. As can be seen on Reddit and elsewhere, many players can’t help but compare Last Epoch to Diablo 4. Many Diablo fans are treating it as a refuge from a troubled period for Blizzard’s latest that included a disastrous reception for its first season and a generally underwhelming response to what has followed.

However, it’s important to note that Last Epoch has been in development for a long time. Its first free playable demo was released back in 2018 alongside a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. In that sense, it can’t exactly be framed as a reaction to Diablo 4, which wasn’t revealed until late 2019 or released until June 2023. For its developers at Eleventh Hour, Last Epoch is presumably a pure expression of what they want this specific kind of action role-playing game to be.

We’ve been here before. Diablo 3 had a very tough first year, the launch in 2012 overshadowed by login issues, a wildly unpopular real-money auction house, and a flamboyant art style that many fans felt betrayed the grimdark stylings of Diablo 2. Some of the game design was controversial, too. Character classes had no skill trees, and players were given complete freedom to swap around their skills and skill-altering affixes, redesigning their builds on the fly without penalty. It was a radical approach that put flexibility before complexity, and alienated players who liked to feel their decisions had consequences.

Last Epoch is the not-Diablo game every generation must have (1) Image: Eleventh Hour Games

In 2013, Grinding Gear Games released Path of Exile, a game as gruesome and monochromatic as Diablo 3 was colorful, and garlanded with huge, spiraling skill trees you could lose yourself in. Many players felt it was a true successor to Diablo 2 and flocked to it, and it remained popular even after Diablo 3 had rallied with a superb expansion and console version.

Over a decade later, it’s funny to note that the narrative has (in part) flipped. Diablo 3 is now remembered fondly, while the series sequel Blizzard made in reaction to it suffers harsh criticism. Diablo 4 is a dark game with brooding imagery and a forbidding atmosphere, while Last Epoch goes for a more traditional high fantasy vibe, with a bright, vibrant setting. Last Epoch is a much friendlier game than Path of Exile and is clearly concerned with approachability, as Diablo 3 was. Last Epoch even clings to some features of Diablo 3’s design that Diablo 4 rejected, like its almost game-breaking heal-over-time stat. It’s as though Blizzard and the indies working in the same genre are fated to chase each other’s tails as they circle the fickle tastes of the player base.

That’s not quite the full story, however. There’s one way in which Blizzard and the action RPG indies remain quite firmly on opposite sides of a philosophical divide when it comes to flexibility.

What players particularly love about Last Epoch is its skill customization system, its tremendous build diversity, and the sense of creativity in character customization this affords. The classes themselves — Sentinel, Mage, Rogue, Acolyte, and Primalist — initially look a lot like the Diablo 2 and 4 starting lineups, although each can be further specialized into three subclasses. Beyond that, every single ability in the game has its own extensive skill tree, allowing a granular level of tinkering to your skill setup as you invest points over time. From a very familiar starting point, the theory goes, you could end up almost anywhere.

This was essentially the promise of Path of Exile — and, to some extent, Diablo 4. The fact that Diablo 4 never quite delivered on this promise has been part of the player base’s ongoing frustration. It’s all too easy to fall into certain popular builds, feel like you’re following a preset path, or shrug when faced with uninspiring skill customizations.

Last Epoch is the not-Diablo game every generation must have (2) Image: Eleventh Hour Games

But part of the reason Blizzard struggles to give the player meaningful control over its skill design is that it’s so strong and so full of personality. This is a legacy of Diablo 3 — and arguably of World of Warcraft too — where the designers’ focus was less on giving the player minute control over their build and more on giving them a swappable kit of distinctive skills in different categories — damage, defense, movement, situational — that interact well with each other. Blizzard is brilliant at this, so letting the players muck around too much with these designs would defeat the point.

Playing Last Epoch, I was struck that although the game plays very smoothly, the classes’ early skills lack the flavor, punch, and distinctive utility Blizzard offers. No doubt you can unearth these qualities in the skill trees, but a sense of authorship from the developers is missing. It’s a similar case with the game’s art, which is polished but generic, lacking not just the production values but the strong character and atmosphere of Blizzard’s work.

Last Epoch is fine — I’d recommend it to fans of hack-and-slash RPGs — but it sacrifices some of its own refinement and personality on the altar of player choice. I don’t love Diablo 4 either, and I think that’s because it’s trying to deny its own more authored nature, resulting in a lot of very lackluster customization, as opposed to the smaller number of more impactful choices offered by Diablo 3. An issue for both games is, of course, that Diablo 3 is still right there, and it’s still great. (So, for that matter, is Diablo 2.)

The bigger question, perhaps, is why this subgenre remains so in thrall to the Diablo games and is stuck in a cycle of litigating design and aesthetic choices within a very narrow spectrum. There’s got to be more out there for action RPGs — more of the varied worlds and innovative designs hinted at by games like Titan Quest and Torchlight.

But that is not the way things are fated to be, it seems. We have our Diablo, and we have its mirror image, our Not-Diablo. So it was before, and so it shall be again.

Last Epoch is the not-Diablo game every generation must have (2024)


Last Epoch is the not-Diablo game every generation must have? ›

Diablo 4 is a dark game with brooding imagery and a forbidding atmosphere, while Last Epoch goes for a more traditional high fantasy vibe, with a bright, vibrant setting. Last Epoch is a much friendlier game than Path of Exile and is clearly concerned with approachability, as Diablo 3 was.

How is the Last Epoch different from Diablo? ›

Last Epoch has a much better skill system and character build diversity than Diablo does, it also has a better crafting system if you can even call what D4 has "Crafting". Diablo wins in graphics, audio, story, online gameplay, intuitiveness and scale.

How grindy is the Last Epoch? ›

Players find Last Epoch's alt system overly grindy and time-consuming. The repetitive nature of grinding corruption and blessings deters some from creating alts. Suggestions include making corruption and blessings account-wide for a smoother alt experience.

What is legendary potential in the Last Epoch? ›

What is Legendary Potential? Legendary Potential in Last Epoch opens up a world of possibilities for improving and enhancing your gear. A Unique Item with Legendary Potential means you can spend resources and time running through the Temporal Sanctum Dungeon to mold a Unique into a Legendary Item.

How to get resonance Last Epoch? ›

The more you play with a friend or party, the more Resonance you'll earn with that person. However, it does appear player-specific, so if you earn Resonance for Player #2, you can't use it on Player #3.

Is Last Epoch more fun than Diablo 4? ›

Last Epoch is the perfect game for a hardcore ARPG fan due to its variety. The only part of the game where it falls behind Diablo 4 is its visuals, which aren't even too bad. The wide variety of skills and a large amount of endgame content make this game extremely enjoyable and a must-play for any ARPG fan.

Is Last Epoch endless? ›

Last Epoch provides near-endless opportunities to meaningfully customize and fine tune each class's unique mechanics through a mind-bogglingly long list of branching Passives, which are then buffered by an equally open-ended itemization system.

Can you get banned on Last Epoch? ›

Last Epoch, the RPG taking on the likes of Diablo 4 and Path of Exile, permanently bans players who have exploited a gold duplication issue.

What is the best class in Last Epoch? ›

The Necromancer is undoubtedly the best mastery because you can summon hordes of the undead, as found in our guide to the best Last Epoch Acolyte builds with our Skeletal Mage Necromancer. This lets you sit back and let your minions do the work for you, essentially.

Does Last Epoch have endgame? ›

Endgame in Last Epoch is ever-evolving as we continue to steadily release updates to existing endgame systems and introduce new ones.

What is the best build in Last Epoch? ›

These are the best Last Epoch builds:
  • Acolyte Wraith Necromancer.
  • Mage Hydrahedron Runemaster.
  • Primalist Squirrel Beastmaster.
  • Rogue Blast Rain Marksman.
  • Sentinel Bleed Hammerdin Paladin.
Feb 23, 2024

Can you fully respec in the Last Epoch? ›

There are dozens of different skill trees you can access in Last Epoch, but you're not stuck with the choices you make. No matter what class you're using or how far along you are in the game, you're able to fully respec both your Mastery and Skill Points in Last Epoch.

What does LP stand for in the Last Epoch? ›

Legendary Potential (LP for short) is an implicit that can drop on virtually all Unique items in Last Epoch. Any Unique with Legendary Potential can be upgraded into a Legendary by completing the Temporal Sanctum dungeon.

What level do you finish the story in Last Epoch? ›

For now, let's focus on the story and your journey to level 50. Some players do not finish the story until level 54 or 55, and that's okay; take your time! The entire campaign takes place over nine acts or chapters, with each one introducing unique enemies and zones to explore.

What faction to join Last Epoch? ›

In the Last Epoch community, the Circle of Fortune holds a reputation as a “casual-friendly” Faction. It's perfect for solo and group play, with a strong focus on completing quests and bounties to earn rewards.

What is the max skill level in Last Epoch? ›

The base skill point cap is 20 on every ability, however, this cap can be increased through affixes. By equipping BiS affixes, some highly-refined builds are able to push their skill points cap as high as 30 with optimal gear.

Is Last Epoch Diablo Killer? ›

Right now, Last Epoch is certainly riding the high of being touted as a Diablo-killer. While that's unlikely given that it's only available on PC, there are certainly some interesting mechanics in the game and the timing of it coming out of Early Access couldn't be more perfect.

Is Diablo Immortal same as Diablo? ›

Diablo Immortal is an offshoot that was initially designed as a mobile game preying on whales and designed by a dev-house that specializes in that activity... and only ported to PC after the public outcry for PC-Gamers not getting access for their Diablo-fix.

Does Last Epoch have dungeons? ›

Dungeons in Last Epoch are one of the three core endgame activities, each offering its own valuable rewards. There are three Dungeons currently in Last Epoch; Lightless Arbor, Soulfire Bastion, and Temporal Sanctum.

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