Last Epoch – Release Review after 100 Hours

  • Post published:March 26, 2024
  • Post last modified:April 7, 2024
  • Post category:Reviews
  • Reading time:70 mins read

Hello and welcome. This is my deep-dive review after playing and finishing the release version of Last Epoch. Having experienced the early access phase in 2021, I can confidently say that Last Epoch has undergone significant improvements across the board.

Before Last Epoch, I have also played plenty of other ARPGS, such as Lost Ark, Wolcen, Diablo, Torchlight, Titan Quest, and other titles. I must say, that this game really has a unique charm and interesting features. So, let’s see if this game lives up to the hype.

YouTube Review

Classes and First Impressions

Last Epoch offers five distinct playable classes, each with its own unique abilities and playstyles. Here we have Acolyte aka. Necromancer who utilizes curses, minions, and dark magic; Rogue – Classic close/mid-range character with agile abilities who uses daggers and bows; Primalist – Known as a melee warrior who uses Elemental magic, Shapeshifting or Nature to defeat enemies; Sentinel – Melee warrior or tank who can stand against many foes with his defensive and holy or void skills; And finally, Mage – Mostly long-range hero with many crowd-control and area of effect abilities.

Every class has 3 unique specializations

What’s particularly impressive is the depth of customization available through skill trees and three unique specializations, allowing players to tailor their characters to their liking.

Once I created a new character, I was surprised by how many options you have – you can play offline, Online, Legacy mode, Solo self-found or Hardcore. There’s a choice for everyone! I can say for sure, that Last Epoch shines through its diverse class options and unique features we’ll talk about later in this review.

The launch itself wasn’t really exciting for the players. The game servers literally couldn’t handle so many players and people predictably review-bombarded it on Steam. But putting the network issues aside, Last Epoch still deserves your attention.

Initially, the game may present itself as yet another generic and slow-paced title, with early levels lacking effective skills and combat abilities. However, as players progress and reach approximately Level 10, Last Epoch begins to reveal its true brilliance.

In Last Epoch, players enjoy unparalleled freedom in customizing their characters through a comprehensive skill tree system. Each skill boasts its own tree and XP bar, complete with special nodes that can be tailored to individual preferences. Whether altering elemental types, increasing area damage, or triggering additional abilities, players have the power to create unique build combinations without watching any guides.

You can tune any skill however you like

Notably, Last Epoch’s forgiving approach to skill customization ensures that players are not penalized for experimentation. Mistakes in skill tree allocation can be rectified through respec options, allowing players to adapt and evolve their characters without fear of irreversible consequences.

Moreover, the introduction of Idols, reminiscent of Diablo 2’s Charms, adds an extra layer of complexity to character enhancement. These Idols, which slightly boost a hero’s efficiency, are stored in a dedicated unlockable tab upon completing some quests. It’s like a mini-management game, where you need to find preferable Idols of different sizes and properly position them. They are not linked to each other, so you can place them however you like.

For those feeling overwhelmed by these mechanics, the developers have thoughtfully provided detailed guides to aid in understanding the nuances of the game.

Story and Time travel

The storyline within Last Epoch may tread familiar ground, presenting a somewhat predictable narrative arc. The world of Eterra faces impending doom, compelling our characters to uncover the source of this threat, find out, who is responsive, and kill them to save the world. While lacking in plot twists and high-budget cinematics, the concept itself remains enjoyable, serving as a backdrop for the game’s primary focus: gameplay and endgame content.

The story is generic and pretty straightforward

During the campaign, which may feel akin to a tutorial lasting roughly 10 to 20 hours, players delve deeper into the game mechanics and experiment with various builds and equipment. Even for those who may have experienced the Early Access version, starting anew is necessary, as quests offer substantial rewards such as XP, Gold, Passive points, and Idol Slots.

Completing the final chapter is optional but can be important for your character, as it rewards players with + points to all stats. However, once the story ends, Last Epoch does not force you to replay an entire map on a new character (if you plan to make one). Instead, you will find some shortcuts, that will let you skip large portions of the campaign while unlocking all the necessary passives and Idol slots. These shortcuts are Dungeons. They serve as a Campaign-skip feature and Endgame activity. But to unlock them, you’ll need to find special keys. This activity adds depth to the endgame experience, encouraging players to explore and farm new gear after the main storyline.

Builds and Crafting

One of the most striking aspects of Last Epoch is its delicate balance between complexity and accessibility. The game offers a wealth of customization options, allowing players to craft builds with variations and flexibility, all while maintaining a sense of straightforwardness and transparency. What sets Last Epoch apart is its ability to cater to both theory crafters and newcomers alike.

Even without consulting external guides, players can freely create builds tailored to their preferences and playstyles, seamlessly progressing through the story and basic endgame content. As someone who doesn’t delve deep into theory crafting, I found the experience refreshingly devoid of overwhelming obstacles that typically necessitate tedious grinding in other games.

Choosing a specialization is crucial and permanent for your character

Legendary items also play an important role in enhancing builds. For instance, I used a necromancer pet-build with skeletons and a Golem. I stumbled upon a legendary item that converts my HP into a protective shield (Ward). By complementing this with a passive skill that summons a skeletal guardian when my HP drops below 50%, I can constantly keep this guard by my side. This exemplifies the depth of customization available, with countless combinations waiting to be unearthed for each class.

Crafting mechanics further enrich the gameplay experience, offering transparency and intuitiveness. While not imperative during the campaign, crafting becomes invaluable for refining desired builds later on. Last Epoch allows players to craft items on the fly, farming yellows or exalted, convert them into unique, and more.

Crafting is exciting and simple

There are plenty of different attributes you can put into your item and you don’t even have to use gold or a craftsman for that. Instead, you have a Pocket Kanai’s cube from Diablo 3 but way better, with filters, runes, glyphs, materials, and a search bar. Despite its simplicity, mastering the art of effective forging potential allocation is essential. This potential is used when you modify an item’s stats. And once it’s depleted, further upgrades become unattainable. Meaning, you should think twice and consider strategic decision-making.

World of Eterra

Last Epoch’s zones are characterized by their straightforward layouts with fixed-level pools. The world of Last Epoch is huge, but only a limited set of locations is available for visiting. Jumping across four distinct timelines, the game’s environment undergoes dramatic transformations. However, unlike the open-world format of Diablo 4, Last Epoch employs a zoning system akin to titles like Diablo 3, Wolcen, or Torchlight. While players cannot freely roam vast distances, this design choice does not detract from the overall experience.

Despite the absence of an open-world exploration mechanic, Last Epoch’s multi-timeline concept offers a unique twist to exploration. The ability to traverse different time periods adds depth to the gameplay experience. One particularly memorable quest made me feel that I’m a time traveler. It was the College quest in the Divine Era. Here, players must time-travel to another Era, get the key, and then return to open a sealed door.

The world map is huge, but you can visit only some of the areas in 4 different timelines

While the concept of exploring parallel timelines is captivating, it leaves room for expansion and enhancement. The inclusion of more diverse zones, particularly in the Ancient Era, would enrich the game world. Unfortunately, we can only visit three zones in that era and they don’t serve any purpose, except for traversing gaps or killing monsters.

There is also a large floating city visible on the map, that remains inaccessible. Who knows, maybe it’s going to be used for future updates or expansions to introduce new endgame content or hub zones for high-level characters. Despite these limitations, exploring Last Epoch’s existing areas proves to be an engaging experience. Let’s hope, that the developers will eventually add more time-traveling rifts and secrets.

User Experience (QoL)

Last Epoch has plenty of interesting features, that can increase overall player experience. It’s clear, that these developers are avid gamers themselves, as they’ve incorporated essential features that streamline gameplay and foster accessibility.

One standout aspect of Last Epoch’s QoL features is the abundance of stash tabs available to players. With these tabs (up to 200) you can store all your items, customize icons, change colors, and you can also utilize search to locate specific items or attributes.

Loot filter is another killer feature

Furthermore, the inclusion of a robust loot filter adds another layer of customization. Players have the freedom to tailor their loot filter to their preferences, from specifying affixes and item types to adjusting colors and sorting criteria. The ability to import pre-made filters from the internet further simplifies the process, saving valuable time and effort. With this feature, players can focus more on exploration and combat without being bogged down by inventory management.

Last Epoch also introduces Arena Leaderboards, a feature that provides insight into player performance and progression. While not offering tangible rewards, the leaderboards serve as a digital hall of fame, allowing players to showcase their true powers. Whether participating in solo or group play, the leaderboards will show you the builds, ranks, and levels reached.

Arena leaderboards, just like in Diablo 3

In addition to leaderboard functionality, Last Epoch incorporates trading mechanics through the auction house and gifting options. While departing from traditional trading methods, such as dropping items on the ground, these systems offer a secure and convenient means of exchanging loot. You can easily trade any items with your friends or use a rare resource called Resonance. I believe this was an essential measure to prevent the oversaturation of the in-game economy.

Last Epoch boasts an array of quality-of-life features designed to enhance the player experience, yet it’s not without its minor inconveniences. Let’s delve into some of the notable aspects of the game.

In this game, we can collect many different materials, such as Glyphs, Runes, or Shards to reroll gear. All that stuff occupies inventory slots, but there is a special button that instantly transfers all the materials into the crafting tab. Although it’s always satisfying to see how you transfer all the materials, I keep questioning myself, why it’s such a thing in the first place? Why won’t the game just transfer all the materials automatically on picking up?

inventory is quickly filled with materials and you should manually transfer them

Another inconvenience I found was the chat. It’s hard to explain, but it’s not very user-friendly, and typing a message while you are in combat is risky. I’ve never had such issues when I played Diablo 3 or Lost Ark. It can also switch the channel on its own once you visit a new zone.

One more thing regarding group play is that there is no player inspection feature. I can’t see other players’ gear or skill trees. So, whenever I played with my friend, it was really hard to give recommendations on what skills or gear to use and we had to rely on Screen share instead.

Other notable drawbacks include limited character customization options (you can’t even change your hairstyle). Zone resets can also decrease your overall experience – when you teleport to town or die, you’ll lose all your gear lying on the ground and reset the entire area. Maybe it’s a server limitation, maybe not.

There are some inconveniences but the game has an in-game guide

There are also no dashes or rolls (like in Diablo 4 for example), so you have to rely only on your abilities. Considering that Last Epoch has complex boss fights and many DON’T Stand Still moments, this game begs for other evasive features.

Set items are also pointless in this game, at least on the initial release. They don’t provide any meaningful bonuses and even while you are still leveling, sets don’t help much.

When you farm Monoliths you will often find many keys for the different dungeons or areas, and unfortunately, they aren’t stackable. I think it would be even better to remove them from the stash and instead, dedicate an extra slot in your inventory.

The absence of achievements, conquests, or challenges can also downgrade your experience. Introducing them would give a sense of progression and guide players in the game. Achievements might also help you master different aspects of the game. For example: clear a dungeon in 5 minutes, reroll an item 5 times without depleting forging potential, kill the boss without getting hit, or something like that.

Lastly, while the Glyph of Despair offers an alternative to traditional gem sockets (aka. sealing an affix), the inclusion of gems could diversify theory crafting possibilities and add depth to item customization.

Endgame Activities

As players venture into the endgame content of Last Epoch, they’ll discover a variety of challenging activities beyond the main storyline. Despite the seemingly limited number of endgame options, Last Epoch offers a diverse array of activities to suit every player’s preferences. There are four of them in total – doesn’t sound much, right? But it’s enough for everyone!

One of the primary endgame activities is the Arena, where players must overcome waves of enemies to test their combat skills. With each wave presenting increasingly difficult challenges, the Arena offers some rewards and XP.

Another exciting option is Dungeons, which promise bountiful rewards for those brave enough to face their formidable bosses. Three of these dungeons have unique gameplay mechanics and you can also play them to skip campaign.

Circle of Fortune – faction that enhances item drops as you buy and fulfill Prophecies

For those seeking more immersive experiences, Last Epoch introduces two factions: the Circle of Fortune (CoF) and the Merchant’s Guild (MG). Each faction offers unique gameplay mechanics and opportunities for character enhancement, making them valuable additions to the endgame experience.

The Circle of Fortune allows players to harness the power of prophecy by tuning telescopes with lenses to unlock potent items. Meanwhile, the Merchant’s Guild operates as a trading hub with an expansive auction house, providing players with opportunities to acquire rare and powerful gear.

Killing the Monolith’s boss will grant you one random Blessing

However, the most impactful endgame activity lies within the Monoliths, which serve as the pinnacle of Last Epoch’s endgame content. Drawing inspiration from titles like Diablo 3 and Path of Exile, Monoliths offer a dynamic and infinitely scalable challenge for players to conquer. It’s recommended to be at least level 50 for this activity, but you can join it right after Chapter 8.

Navigating the Echo web within the Monoliths, players must clear areas and defeat powerful foes to earn valuable rewards. As players progress through the Monoliths, they’ll encounter increasingly difficult challenges and unlock powerful Blessings to strengthen their characters. These will be available once you complete 3 quests and defeat the boss of a Monolith.

You can empower the monolith by finishing random maps

Once you clear the 3 final monoliths at the top, you can progress to the empowered versions of Monoliths. This will be your pinnacle of the endgame. You can play the same echoes, raise the difficulty by increasing Corruption, and defeat the same bosses for Grand Blessings.

Optimization and Bugs

When it comes to stability and performance, Last Epoch generally stands strong (even though it runs on Unity engine), providing a smooth gaming experience with minimal technical issues. Throughout my time playing, I encountered no crashes, lags, or stutters, showcasing the game’s solid stability.

Despite this commendable stability, I did notice that some areas or effects consume too much GPU power. Some players with high-end GPUs keep facing frame drops, but playing on something like GeForce 1050 Ti doesn’t cause severe drops or artifacts. Nevertheless, the performance was sufficient for me to immerse myself in the game and create content.

The game can cause frame drops when you encounter many enemies and spam spells

However, the experience wasn’t flawless in multiplayer mode. Playing with a friend exposed several frustrating bugs, including instances of invisible players, missing player icons on the map, and instances of infinite stuns. Additionally, we encountered repetitive cutscenes, broken quest phases due to one player completing them ahead of the other, and occasional connection issues. But weeks later after the release, the developers managed to fix all that and stabilize server infrastructure.

As a smaller studio, they’ve done an admirable job during the launch phase. It’s evident that the developers are attentive to player feedback and are actively working to address issues and refine the game. As expected, the release version has some balancing issues, and some builds give unfair advantages, but the developers try to monitor and gather all feedback to ensure an enjoyable gameplay experience for all players.

Final Words

After investing more than 100 hours into Last Epoch, I can confidently say that this game boasts a strong foundation with ample room for growth and improvement. The development team demonstrates a clear understanding of their craft, and players seem satisfied with the amount of available content and mechanics.

As I continue to delve into Last Epoch, I find myself genuinely excited about its future potential. Even upon reaching the endgame content, I don’t experience the typical sense of boredom that often accompanies such milestones in other games. This speaks volumes about the game’s ability to captivate and engage its player base.

Looking ahead, I envision several areas where Last Epoch could further enhance its already impressive gameplay experience. Introducing additional zones with unique side quests, expanding the variety of shrines and modifiers, and refining Quality-of-Life features and class balance would undoubtedly elevate the game to new heights.

While many of Last Epoch’s features may seem familiar, the game adeptly refines and improves upon them, offering players a level of flexibility and depth that is truly commendable. In particular, the implementation of the loot filter and skill trees stands out as exemplary features that greatly enhance the overall experience.

In conclusion, I hope you found this review insightful and informative. Until next time!