Five years after a resounding Kickstarter success, Last Epoch has officially stepped into the ARPG Arena with its full release, taking aim at the genre’s established fans. Does Last Epoch live up to the “Diablo killer” title bestowed by its early access players, or does it ultimately fall short as another generic ARPG?

Last Epoch presents itself like a familiar top-down action RPG title: slay monsters, hoard loot, build your character with sprawling skill trees, rinse, and repeat. However, what truly sets it apart from the usual suspects is its incredibly impressive skill system that allows for a vast array of unique builds that don’t require a math degree (sorry, PoE) and are all perfectly viable (sorry, Diablo).

In fact, Last Epoch stands out as the most balanced ARPG I’ve experienced at launch. While the inevitable S-Tier builds certainly exist, the game allows you to experiment and play with any combination of talents without being punished for ignoring the “meta” options — both while leveling and in the endgame.

The freedom of build customization

Last Epoch Skill Tree
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

There are five base classes in Last Epoch: Sentinel, Mage, Acolyte, Rogue, and Primalist. Rather than focusing on a single skill tree, players specialize in up to five spells to unlock their individual “augment trees.” You also gain passive points as you level up and complete quests to spend in your class’s passive tree.

At around Level 20, players can choose one of three Mastery Classes, which grants a unique Mastery Skill and full access to that Mastery’s passive tree and its spells. You can also sneakily dip into the other two Mastery Class trees, but only the first half. There’s unfortunately no way to change your Mastery, though you can respec everything else to your heart’s content (if you have the gold).

What Is Hardcore Mode In Last Epoch(1)
Image: Eleventh Hour Games.

While it may all sound quite confusing — and believe me, it was in the first hour — I found Last Epoch’s skill system exceptionally innovative and enjoyed crafting builds as I ran through the campaign. During my main playthrough, I specialized in the Sentinel’s Javelin spell and carefully chose my gear, passives, and other specializations to buff its Holy Trail talent for a massive damage-over-time effect.

The combat itself is exactly what you would expect from a typical ARPG, and that’s precisely what it needed to be. Click to move, five bound spells, a home portal, health potions — you get the jist. It’s simple, smooth, and satisfying.

Gearing up

Last Epoch Crafting
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

Last Epoch’s gearing system hinges on the affix system. In addition to base stats, armor and weapons possess random modifiers known as affixes, such as “fire resistance” or “increased critical strike chance.” Players can customize their gear with affixes or upgrade current ones through the crafting system, accessible at any point by pressing ‘F.’

Adding and upgrading affixes requires shards dropped from enemies and gained by destroying gear. Players can also use Runes to modify gear in various ways, such as rerolling or removing affixes. Finally, Glyphs can be used to alter the effects of crafts.

Beyond traditional gear slots, players unlock additional “Idol slots” by completing side quests. These idols typically have 1-3 affixes and come in various sizes, leaving players to arrange them in their inventory like Tetrominoes.

As someone who typically shies away from crafting in all RPGs, I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible Last Epoch’s crafting system is. Quickly pop an item into the forge, add the affixes that suit your build, and away you go. Shards are the only resource you need to worry about, and enemies generously drop enough that resource management is essentially a non-issue.

The loot filter system is another feature I absolutely adore and wholeheartedly believe should be a standard feature in all ARPGs moving forward. Throwing on a loot filter or creating your own streamlines the game’s entire gearing system, automatically ignoring any loot that isn’t beneficial to your build.

Campaign and visuals

Last Epoch Campaign Dialogue
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

While the core gameplay shines, Last Epoch stumbles in its overall narrative. The story is unengaging, and its characters lack depth or memorability. Allies rarely stick around for long, and there’s no clear villain to strive to defeat. Despite being fully released, the main campaign is unfinished, alluding to being continued in further updates.

Last Epoch isn’t named after its main villain, however, but instead its unique time travel mechanic. Throughout the campaign, the player is whisked away through the fabric of time to distinct eras, each boasting their own identity, historical context, and distinct enemy types. One quest may involve battling eldritch horrors in a dystopian future, while the next reveals the ancient history of the same area, complete with fire-breathing dinosaurs.

Last Epoch All Ailments Explained
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

The constant shift of scenery and enemies keeps gameplay fresh and engaging and makes a refreshing change from constantly fighting typical demons and monsters. This is expanded upon even more in the endgame Monolith of Fate activity, which explores alternate timelines.

Last Epoch’s visuals complement its time travel adventure with a vibrant and diverse art style. While not a dynamically open world, environments feel expansive and have a brilliant sense of scale, such as when climbing mountains or traversing into the depths of a cavern.

Social features and customization

Merchant's Guild Last Epoch
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

Last Epoch offers some social aspects for players looking to share their adventures, as well as features for those who don’t. Firstly, players can choose between two “Item Factions” that determine how loot is distributed in the endgame. Players can join the Merchant’s Guild to gain access to a global auction house or omit trading entirely to utilize a loot-targeting system and higher drop rate with the Circle of Fortune. Additionally, players can team up with friends to tackle challenges together and share hard-earned loot.

For fellow introverts or those with Steam Decks, Last Epoch is entirely playable offline. The catch is that online and offline characters are separated, and you aren’t able to switch between the two modes freely. Even still, an offline mode is a much-welcomed feature and one sadly scarcely seen in the genre. It especially came in handy with the tumultuous server issues in the first few days following the official launch.

An area where Last Epoch would benefit from expanding is its character customization options. Players don’t have much freedom in their character’s appearance, being limited to a specific appearance and body type tied to their base class. This is made worse by the fact that there are few armor model types in the game, and all transmogrification options are tied behind real money purchases and promotions.

Endgame

Last Epoch Monolith Of Fate
Image: Eleventh Hour Games

The primary endgame activity is Monolith of Fate, which involves traversing through alternate timelines, as I brushed on earlier. Once a timeline has been chosen, players then make their way through a randomly generated web of areas known as “echoes,” each with their own modifiers and rewards. The more echoes are completed, the more “stability” the timeline gains. Once enough stability has been generated, you can jump into “Quest Echoes” to fight bosses and gain permanent buffs dubbed “Blessings.” Timelines are infinitely repeatable, with various ways to increase the difficulty and earn better rewards and more XP.

Monolith of Fate is a blast for the first few runs, elevated by the pure rush of endorphins by the sheer quantity of powerful loot. Monoliths soon become monotonous when continuously running them with the same build, especially when every timeline has been completed.

The Endless Arena is another endgame activity with a heavy focus on leaderboards. Here, players face off against endless waves of infinitely scaling enemies. It’s extremely challenging and purely exists to feed the hardcore audience and is a fantastic mode for streamers.

Finally, there are also Dungeons. (Would it be an ARPG without them?) All three dungeons have their own gimmick, such as the Temporal Sanctum granting the player the ability to shift timelines to pass obstacles and avoid enemies. Dungeons aren’t procedurally generated, though obstacles will randomly shift between each run to keep you on your toes. As well as being an endgame activity, dungeons can be used to level and gear new characters, though you’ll require a key for every run.

How much you enjoy Last Epoch’s endgame will entirely depend on the type of player you are. If you love experimenting with builds and multiple playthroughs with different classes, Last Epoch is a dream come true. If you’re a player who enjoys sticking to a single build and character, you may struggle to find much sustenance for long following the campaign.

The verdict

Last Epoch is a solid ARPG able to stand toe-to-toe with the genre’s titans thanks to its innovative systems, build potential, accessible crafting, and refreshing time travel mechanic. While its forgettable story and characters, lack of character customization, and somewhat limited endgame are disappointing, Last Epoch’s depth and engaging core gameplay offer a brilliant foundation for future updates.

The product was received for free and reviewed on PC via Steam.

7.8

Last Epoch

Last Epoch delivers an innovative ARPG experience with exceptional build customization and accessible crafting, bolstered by its refreshing time travel mechanic. However, a weak narrative, limited character customization, and repetitive endgame loop somewhat hold it back.

Pros

  • Deep but accessible build crafting system
  • Refreshing take on the ARPG genre thanks to its time travel mechanic
  • Full offline mode
  • Loot filters!
  • Varied enemies and locations

Cons

  • Weak narrative with forgettable characters
  • Very limited character customization options
  • Repetitive endgame for some players
  • Unfinished campaign



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