It is difficult to evaluate Last Epoch. On the one hand, it’s the first game by a studio with no experience, and on the other hand, it’s a game in a genre that has certain standards and expectations of players. Yes, it’s half the price of Diablo, but Path of Exile is free. Trying to compare and balance all this in a text is not an easy task, so I decided to abstract it as much as possible and try to answer a simple question: is it interesting to play as a game, not as another Diablo killer?

Гра Last Epoch
Genre action/RPG
Platforms Windows, Linux
Languages English
Developer Eleventh Hour Games
Publisher Eleventh Hour Games

What does the NHL have to do with it?

Back in 1995, an unknown game studio Condor began developing its new game, a turn-based RPG with roguelike elements in a dark fantasy universe. David Brevik, the head of the studio and one of the designers of the project, wanted to simplify the process of entering the game so that the player would not spend a lot of time creating their character.

“The NHL series, for example, was perfect in this regard – you just pressed start and you were in the game. Other role-playing games required you to answer 53 questions about certain things, name your character, give him or her a backstory, and so on. We just wanted to start the game and start smashing enemies,” – he said.

Over time, the developers abandoned the turn-based system in favor of real-time combat to make the game more dynamic, and instead of roguelike elements, they introduced a system of random loot from enemies with various parameters. Although Brevik suggested permanent character death, it was not included in the final version of the game.

In 1996, Condor bought out Blizzard Entertainment, renaming it Blizzard North, and the following year Diablo appeared on store shelves. Although the second installment was more significant, Diablo, if not the start of a new genre, defined it for decades to come. Many studios have tried to copy the game formula, if not create a “Diablo killer,” then at least roughly copy the game formula: you kill monsters to get equipment to kill even more monsters.

Was Last Epoch able to do any of this? Yes and no, but let’s talk about everything in order.

We will make our own game…

Last Epoch started with a post on Reddit, where action/RPG fans gathered with the call “We don’t like everything on the market, so let’s make our own game!”. It would seem that the story should have ended there, but then there was a Kickstarter campaign, an Early Access release, and now the recent full release of version 1.0.

The very fact that a bunch of people with no experience in the gaming industry were able to implement a project of this level deserves respect. However, on the other hand, it was the lack of experience that caused the game’s launch to be a complete failure. Last Epoch’s servers (and the developers, most likely, too) were not ready for such an influx of players. While during the Early Access the game’s online record was just over 40 thousand, after the release it reached 260 thousand. In the first few days, the game could be played only at night, when the load on the servers decreased, and then the transitions between levels either took several long minutes or did not work at all. It is worth noting that the game has an offline mode, but if you plan to trade with other players or play with friends, you will not be interested in it. Also, cosmetic items don’t work offline, which is quite strange.

Yes, Last Epoch has a cosmetics store. In principle, it resembles the Path of Exile store, except that you can’t buy anything that directly or indirectly affects the gameplay, but only purely cosmetic items such as the appearance of armor, weapons, or abilities. I didn’t pay attention to the prices, because the choice is so-so.

Now the situation with the servers has improved, although there were problems with downloading the game even on the weekend, which was the fifth day after its release.

About monsters and humans

The game’s lack of budget is most evident in the campaign. Let’s just say that it is there. In short, the plot revolves around time travel. Something bad happened and you have to save the world again. At first, I tried to follow the story somehow, but when the epochs and characters started to change, I decided that the best solution would be to run through the campaign to open the end game.

The campaign itself is structured simply: you appear on the map at point A, and you need to get to point B to move to the next map. There are monsters between the points. Sometimes you talk to someone or interact with objects and complete additional tasks. There is one interesting boss battle towards the end of the campaign. So if you’re looking for something with an engaging campaign, then Last Epoch will most likely disappoint you.

For me, the story campaign in an action/RPG is just one of the stages to get to the end game and an opportunity to get acquainted with the game’s class and bestiary, which in Last Epoch is very cool. New enemies appeared even in the last parts of the game. Yes, sometimes the developers use the same monster model, adding new affixes or abilities, but there are so many of them and the campaign is structured in such a way that you won’t even have time to get used to those cool skeletons that for some reason speak in the voice of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

The same goes for the locations. The game has many types of environments: from deserts to snowy tundras, crypts, towns, and so on. Everything you can imagine in fantasy is in Last Epoch. Also, in 1.0, the developers have improved the appearance of the game, the environment and weather effects look great. The artistic part falls a little short of the technical part: some monster models could be better, but they don’t cause disgust either. The only thing that really stood out against the general background was the portraits of the characters in the dialogues. Looking at them, I constantly recalled casual games from Facebook with their primitive artistic solutions.

I was also surprised by the lack of options for customizing the game’s accessibility. They are currently in the works, but we would like to see visually impaired players be able to play the game comfortably right now.

Power and magic

There are five basic classes in Last Epoch: mage, rogue, guardian (local paladin), primitive druid, and necromancer minion. Each of the basic classes has three main classes that significantly affect the gameplay. The choice of the main class is still the only permanent choice in the game, so I recommend that you treat it responsibly. Talents can be retrained and changed at any time for a small fee.

The talents of each class are pretty standard. At first, you have access to the base class tree, then all three main classes. Even if you choose a druid, no one prevents you from improving the talents of a shaman, although the effectiveness of such a choice will be questionable.

However, class talents are just the tip of the iceberg. In Last Epoch, each of the skills has its own separate talent tree. In addition to the standard “you will deal more damage”, there are those that have a significant impact on how you play as a class. All of this gives you ample opportunity for customization and the creation of interesting builds.

Whether they will work in the end game is another question, but from what experienced players have noted: almost all major classes have several working builds, which is a pretty good indicator.

Initially, I wanted to play either a rogue or a minion, but I had already played similar classes in other games, and my choice fell on a mage, or rather on Spellblade, one of the main classes. Basically, this is a mage who did not go to a magic school and solves some of the issues the old-fashioned way – with a sword.

In action/RPGs, the feeling of playing your class and feedback from the use of skills is, if not the basis of the game, then an important part of the fun. Here I have two impressions. The moment when you jump into a crowd of enemies as a barbarian and they all fly apart with a tangible “smack”, or when you turn into a demon and tear someone to pieces (examples from Diablo 4 and Lost Ark, respectively) – this is sorely lacking in Last Epoch. It’s not that the game is completely wooden, but a lot of skills just go through enemies like a hot knife through butter, without any tangible changes on the screen. You run up to a group, use an ability, and everyone is dead.

What is also missing is the ability to dodge for all classes. Diablo 4 successfully adopted this in Lost Ark, and Path of Exile 2 will also have evasion, and the gameplay presentation even emphasized this. Of course, each of the classes has abilities to avoid blows or move faster on the map, but it would be nice for developers to keep up with the trends.

However, despite all the criticism, it’s worth noting that I’ve repeatedly found myself in a situation where I need to clear another location, and the clock is already two in the morning. Last Epoch is fun to play, but the game is still a little stingy with dopamine – you need to get to the end game.

In the end

There is not much end-game content yet, but it is enough for the first cycle, as the developers call the seasons.

Most of the time will be spent on clearing the Monolith of Destiny, which is basically an island with different level requirements where you need to clear several dozen dungeons to “stabilize” the monolith. The tasks vary, but it all comes down to killing enemies. You can choose the dungeons and rewards yourself, which is very convenient if you need a specific item or currency. After stabilizing the monolith, three unique missions become available. In the third one, a boss will be waiting for you. So far, I’ve completely cleared two monoliths, and it doesn’t seem to bother me.

The game also has three separate dungeons with different levels of difficulty and unique mechanics in each. For example, in one of the dungeons you are given a crystal that has a charge and illuminates your surroundings. When you take damage, the charge decreases, but you can put the crystal on the ground while you clear out crowds of enemies, or find and kill a special enemy to restore the charge. At the end, you’ll face a boss that requires the same crystal to defeat. This adds another layer of complexity and makes dungeons more interesting. The only downside is that there are only three such dungeons in the game so far.

The third activity in the end game is the arena. Everything here is standard: there are 40 waves of enemies, and a boss awaits you at the end. My first trip to the arena ended in death from the boss in five seconds (after which I decided to reconsider my approach to equipment and talents). There is also an endless arena where enemies get stronger with each wave. You can even get on the leaderboard, so if you like lists and prizes, this activity is for you. I found the arena to be the least interesting of all the activities, although I plan to try the endless version once I’m confident in my abilities.

One of the best solutions in Last Epoch is loot filters. You can customize literally everything from item rarity to specific affixes. I recommend that you hide all common and magic items at once, and then adjust the filter over time so that you only pay attention to the loot you need. This saves a lot of time on inventory management.

The crafting system is also very well implemented. In Last Epoch, you don’t create items, you modify the ones you have on hand. Each item has a potential for crafting – every time you make some modifications, the potential decreases and so on to zero. In addition to adding affix characteristics, you can also modify existing ones, or even absorb one item into another to transfer some or even all of the additional characteristics. It’s a very flexible system that allows you to customize each item to your character’s needs.

And they will be, because the game is balanced in such a way that in addition to the usual “deal more damage” and “run faster” you have to take care of protection from the elements and physical damage. Up to a certain level, I didn’t pay much attention to my defense options until I died several times before I could even react to what was happening. I had to revise my equipment a little bit for protection. Idols helped a lot here – one of the types of equipment with both not very significant and more decisive bonuses.

In general, the end game in Last Epoch is very successful for the first cycle/season. You can immediately see what kind of audience the developers were targeting. There is very little mindless grinding, when you just pray that the item you need will drop. You can directly influence the characteristics of items and not depend on the gods of chance, but the game doesn’t bombard you with loot.


The review was quite critical, but not because Last Epoch is a bad game. I and, I think, a lot of action/RPG fans would like to get a game with the story campaign and graphics of Diablo IV, Lost Ark bosses and characters, and Path of Exile seasons. Preferably without pay-to-win elements and complicated skill trees that you can’t understand without a doctorate. Until such a game appears, give Last Epoch a chance. Only a little later, because Oleg Danylov and I still have to farm loot today.