Last Epoch seems like your classic dungeon-crawler RPG, but it’s not. It combines the classic Diablo II formula with an exciting time-travel plot and immersive character customization.
In essence, Last Epoch is an action RPG for both genres of beginners and veterans.
Our review will cover the basics and let you know whether or not you’d want to play this game. If you’re willing to try it, though, we’re here with the Last Epoch guide as well to cover the basics and more.
You’ll likely need our information. See, Last Epoch is currently on Early Access, and paying for the beta version of a game is often a risk.
We’ll review the Last Epoch by Eleventh Hour Games for what it currently is. We don’t want to talk about what it could be in the future.
Last Epoch Review
We’ll keep the review short as the Last Epoch is still in Early Access. The game launched its test version in May 2019, and developers have updated the game ever since.
A glance at its gameplay reveals plenty of similarities with Path of Exile. That means extra complexity regarding character builds and skill trees. Like so, both games look similar down to the character details, enemies, and set design.
I’d say Last Epoch is somehow a hidden gem. While it executes all of its ideas flawlessly, it doesn’t have the recognition it deserves.
On top of this, developers are constantly streaming on their YouTube channels and paying attention to the fans. So far, the community has been both helpful and wholesome.
That said, Last Epoch started as a Kickstarter three years ago.
The Classic A-RPG Setting
When you start the game, it’ll take you to the character creation screen, where you can choose between five classes.
These base classes have three mastery classes each, which means there’re 15 masteries in the game.
Once you start the game, there’s a unique intro for each class you pick. Then, you enter into the classic isometric world and point & click action.
The layout has the HP globe on the left, the mana globe on the right, and your skills on a bar in-between. Also, on the top left, you’ll see your character’s buffs.
Nothing new but, as an action RPG, Last Epoch is smooth and engaging.
Last Epoch Gameplay
As you’d expect, the gameplay features a point & click action plus an action bar where you can map your skills. Then, you’ll have 5 skills on your primary keys plus a couple of usable items.
On top of this, you’ll be traveling across inventory, crafting, and skill menus as you go along. As I said, nothing, no, but it’s flawless and constantly improving.
There’s something I love about Last Epoch I must mention. Compared to Path of Exile, the game never turns into a cluster screen mess. There’s never a crazy amount of enemies to defeat with a single click and a single explosion. Things never get crazy fast enough to stop understanding what’s going on.
Instead, the gameplay stays fairly paced. Pack of enemies also stay balanced and challenging. The challenge comes from clever enemy AI: they are strategic and combine their skills and synergies effectively to defeat you.
Boss fights are extra engaging. Each one feels unique, distinct, and long. You need strategy and clever use of your skills to chip their HP away. Also, you’ll need to stay on your toes to avoid bosses’ attacks and skills.
There’re even bosses who use random abilities and others capable of using thousands of skill combinations. This makes your fights feel unique, even if you choose to fight the same bosses over and over.
Overall, gameplay wants you to use all of the skills on your action bar and stay on your toes.
Because of the clever challenge the game presents, the upcoming multiplayer feature will likely be successful.
We’d have to look further if you were looking for something different.
Looking further, we’ll see two distinct elements. First, there’re dialog options. These don’t change the story’s outcome, but they offer a way of getting more information from NPCs. Moreover, every class is fully voiced, so you’ll actually hear what you say.
The second distinct feature is the skills. As you level up, you’ll discover that you unlock new skills automatically. For example, the mage character unlocks Snap Freeze at level 3, a cold AOE attack.
An additional element making the game distinct is the plot itself. The story arc runs across different time periods, which you can see on the world’s map at any time. It makes the game’s progress both challenging and exciting.
Everything looks standard until you finish Chapter 1 and go through a rift. On the other side, you appear in the same area, only now everything is in ruins.
Soon, you’ll discover you’ve reached the future, where the last remnants of humanity need your help.
You’re in the World of Eterra, where empires and Gods doomed humanity’s future. The only hope is you, the hero, who needs to travel back to the past and close the Void.
The Void is an all-consuming realm that breaks minds and hearts to deliver darkness. It’s Eterra’s ultimate fate unless the past changes.
The story arc happens in eight chapters that make you travel back and forth across many quests. These chapters are part of your single-player experience, the PvE campaign before reaching the end-game for higher-level players.
The environment itself tells a story. You’ll see how the land changes through the eras. Moreover, you’ll see the consequences of your actions within these eras.
As a side note, the developers say they will and could add more chapters at launch.
Either way, time travel is a core feature within the Last Epoch. Time-traveling happens during story events, and going back and forth in the same areas reveals changes in the scenario and new areas. Likewise, it reveals new enemies, loot, and side quests.
Regarding the items, you can leave an item in an era and then retrieve it in the future to get powerful stats.
Lastly, according to the Wiki, the game features 10 main quests across the nine chapters plus eleven side quests.
Unique Skill Tree
The skill tree is very particular. It’s complex and yet easy enough to grasp as a new player. Building a character is not a time investment like it is on PoE, for example. That means it’s not overwhelming and, yet, it offers enough possibilities to replay Last Epoch a bunch of times.
As I said, you unlock new skills as you level, and then you put these new skills on the limited action bar. You’ll want to swap the skills to select your favorite ones.
The skills you choose earn experience and level up; thus, they become more powerful the more you use them. In a way, you have to choose the skills that will earn experience, so the ones you don’t like will fall behind. Keep that in mind.
On top of that, each skill has a specialization tree full of satisfying ways to adjust and modify the skills.
You can invest up to 20 skill points in each specialization tree. Moreover, you can choose 5 skills to level, which you place on the action bar.
There’s an additional layer to this. The game also features class and mastery passive points. You get 100 passive points to spend on the passive tree, which works like a classic WoW tree. That means you work your way from top to bottom.
You can invest your passive points on either mastery as well as your class passive tree. However, it’s always best to focus on a particular build.
That said, you’ll get new skills and game-changing passives as you progress these options.
There’re five base classes on the game. Each has its own identity, voice actor, aesthetics, and playstyle.
These classes are Sentinel, Mage, Primalist, Rogue, and Acolyte. Furthermore, there’re three specializations for each class that improves upon the base stats, skills, and passives.
There’s also class-locked custom gear. That makes each class feel unique and different than the other.
With such deep class customization, you rely more on your actual skills and less on your gear and random loot.
Last Epoch End-game
Most A-RPG titles rely on one of these two mechanics (or both) for the endgame. The first is simply going through the main quest, again and again, on more significant difficulties. The goal is getting better loot and being able to beat the game faster and easier. Diablo II takes this approach.
The other option is the existence of isolated instances players can visit. These have increased challenges and better loot. Moreover, these instances get progressively more challenging as you reach the final level your character can have. Diablo III uses this option through Rift mechanics; Path of Exile uses maps.
Path of Exile evolved the system to customize, craft, modify, and improve maps. Moreover, they added the Atlas of World. In this interactive interface, you can see and further modify the maps you’ve explored.
However, Path of Exile suffers from a lack of variety. Even though there’s a significant amount of customization, you’re going to see all map types pretty fast. And it gets boring fast.
Last Epoch uses a similar approach through the Monolith of Faith.
The Monolith of Faith
Once you interact with the Monolith, you pick one of the alternate areas (Echoes), which represent events that may have been.
You may then pursue Quest Echoes to conquer the Timeline, which unlocks new Timelines, Echoes, rewards, and challenges.
That means the way you approach the endgame affects your experience. Whatever you do may reveal a new Timeline to explore.
On top of this, conquering a Timeline grants you a new power-up. You’ll get to choose between three Blessings, which give a permanent buff to your character (either outside or inside the Monolith). These buffs are, for example, gaining health on the block.
However, you need to progress on a timeline to conquer it. You progress the Echoes on a web-like map. You interact with this map to defeat each map until you reach the final boss.
You need to reach the final map by completing previous maps in this web-like system in other worlds. Because it works like a web, you can take different paths if the modifiers within a map are too harsh on your character.
Moreover, as you complete Echoes, you gain stability. You can then spend stability to make the map modifiers easier. They’re also extra modifiers you can gain by completing Echoes. For example, some bosses award Corruption, which makes all Echoes harder.
Not all of the Echoes are the same, though. Some of these present powerful bosses; others reward extra XP, loot, gear, and even new storylines.
Lastly, if you die within the Echo, you lose the progression on said Echoe, but you don’t lose experience points.
I’d say the system is better than both Diablo and PoE. It’s varied, challenging, evolving, and offers distinct rewards. Also, importantly, boss fights feel different every time.
More importantly, accessing an Echoes doesn’t rely on loot. You unlock Echoes by completing the ones before rather than picking loot from exploding monsters.
Developers updated the game in May 2021, which is the latest update by the time we released this article. We’re covering these updates as a way to showcase how much the developers work on the game.
The update makes traveling across the different Timelines in the Monolith easier. For example, you can now choose any destination you’ve unlocked before.
Moreover, the update brings new bosses. A particular boss has a staggering amount of 4,000 possible attack combinations. Naturally, the enemy has a chance of dropping some awesome loot.
The patch overhauls the user interface as well. It changes most user panels, like the inventory and maps. Similarly, characters can now swap between loot easier by touching the “D” key on the keyboard.
Lastly, enemy and minion AI has also improved. There’re also some new skills, arenas, performance optimizations, gear, and more.
Last Epoch Review Verdict
Last Epoch innovates the genre by taking the staple ideas of the action RPG genre and doing them better,
The improvements they have made will undoubtedly leak into other games of the genre. For this reason, we already owe much to the game.
Now, everything I said could change, as it’s an Early Access game. However, I must say Last Epoch is currently a great dungeon crawler. It deserves to stand alongside the top games of its genre.
I have some good news if you like Grim Dawn, Pillars of Eternity, the Diablo series, and Path of Exile. Last Epoch delivers a similar experience with various twists and extra excellence. Also, its complexity level is high and requires some time investment, but it’s still friendlier than PoE.
Should you play it? I mean, yes, if you’ve got the time and the money!
Bear in mind the game is currently selling for about 35 dollars on Steam, so it’s not free to play. Regarding system requirements, you need at least an i5 processor, 6GB of Ram, and 2GB dedicated GPU.
Last Epoch Starter Guide
It’s time to help you start your Last Epoch journey. Our build guides are not going to be extensive; you’ve already read a lot. Instead, we’re giving you a concise idea of what you need to do while granting you the opportunity to explore the character yourself.
You need to plan your build carefully, but it’s okay if you don’t get things right the first time. You can play around with your first character until you get a glimpse of the game, do-over when things get out of hand.
Then, decide between magic or non-magic characters. Once you decide, get the proper defenses: ward, armor, or dodge.
Defenses come from a mix of passives, gear, and skills. Dodge is gear-dependent, though, and it can reach high numbers fast and easily. No matter which defense you use, though, always pick the +hp passives you see.
Bear in mind we’re using video tutorials to support ourselves. The game is more complex than we can write in words.
How Does Leveling Work?
Your character will earn experience until level 100. Upon earning a new level, your hero gets:
- +8 Health plus +1 Health you gain per each potion you use
- +1 Passive point from level 3 onwards
- Specialization slots for your skills at levels 3, 9, 19, 34, and 49
- Certain skills. The levels on which you unlock the skills are different for each class.
There’re also mastery levels. Every time you put a passive point on mastery, the mastery levels up.
You unlock a mastery by spending 20 passive points on your base class tree. The base-level tree cannot level any further than level 20, but you can still put extra points on the tree.
Then, mastery class trees can rise to level 25. You can put points on either mastery tree, but you need to work your way up as well to reach better passives.
You can then Ascend one of the masteries by completing the End of Time quest. It allows your character to gain more levels in your mastery tree. Moreover, each mastery class has an extra active skill.
You’ll level up to around level 60 after the main campaign. Also, you’ll gain a couple of passive skill points as quest rewards. However, you can jump towards the Monolith of Faith once you reach level 55.
Because Echoes are forgiving, you won’t be losing XP on death. That means you can level up on areas around your level comfortably, as much as you want.
Lastly, as passive trees gain levels, they improve the effectiveness of the passives on their offering.
Additionally, you level up skills. You can specialize in 5 different skills, so these skills will earn experience, levels, and points. Then, you can spend the points on their Specialization trees.
You unlock skill specialization slots as you level. Once specialized, you can upgrade these damaging abilities by picking nodes on their trees.
You may choose to de-specialize a skill, but you will lose that experience. You can’t transfer it to another skill.
On higher levels, respecting a skill is easier as you can gain the XP back for another option faster.
To respect a skill, you simply need to click a button on the Skills & Specializations interface. You can respect a skill or specialize in a new skill and lose those points.
Special gear can raise your minimum specialization level to 6, for example, or raise the maximum specialization level.
How Do Stats Work?
Here’s the gist of Last Epoch stats:
Strength: it increases your armor by 5% per point.
Intelligence: it increases Ward Retention by 4% per point. Ward is a temporary magical shield protecting your health pool. It has a natural decay rate, which is higher the more Ward you have. However, there’s no maximum Ward
Dexterity: it sets your character’s chance to avoid enemy hits, as well as your attack speed.
Attunement: it grants 2 mana per point. Also, it improves magical skills.
Vitality: it grants 10 health plus 2% increased health regeneration per point.
Naturally, an attack-oriented character would prefer dexterity and strength. Magic users should go for attunement and intelligence. Either character should have vitality as the primary stat as well.
You gain attribute points primarily through the passive trees.
How Does Auto-cast Work?
Auto-casting is a massive thing in Last Epoch. It’s available and functions within the game’s features. That means you don’t have to use any third-party program to auto-cast specific skills.
However, auto-casting makes most skills inefficient- Only a few skills can benefit from this feature. Perhaps the function will disappear in the future. That said, only specific skills can work this way.
To auto-cast a skill, you have to map it to the A key on your keyboard. It works similarly to how you map the other skills to the action bar. Simply open your skill tab, put the pointer above the skill you want, and press the key where you’d like it to be.
How Do Items Work?
Your character has Helmet, Body Armor, Glove Armor, Boots Armor, Belts, two rings, one amulet, two weapons (weapon & shield, dual-wielding, or two-handed), and four Idol slots.
Each item rolls stats known as affixes and prefixes. These get better the higher the item level is. For example, an affix can give you more HP.
In particular, Idols are similar to Diablo 2’s talismans. You add them into isolated inventory spaces to get extra buffs to your characters. These buffs tend to be small but significant. For example, an Idol could add +45 Mana points to your character.
Lastly, the item has five rarities: normal (white), magic (blue), rare (yellow), Exalted (purple), and Unique (orange).
Additionally, the main currency of the game is Gold. You get it through trading with other players and NPCs.
How Does Crafting Work?
You can craft on any white, blue, and yellow item. You can modify the rolls, add rolls, or eliminate rolls.
Open the crafting window with the “F” key. Then, you use Affix Shards to add, upgrade, or eliminate equipment’s affixes. Affix Shards are stored in the crafting window.
Additionally, you can’t craft equipment that has a higher level than your character. You can’t craft idols, though.
And, lastly, the more you craft a particular item, the higher the chance to get a Fractured item. Fractured items deliver more powerful stats, but you can’t craft them any longer.
Here’s the starting advice you can use for each class:
Sentinel: you want to pick the +10HP / +1 vitality passives. Then, you need to decide about using shields or two-handed weapons. If you use shields, pick heal-on-block passives.
The best masteries for sentinel are Void Knight and Paladin. These get strong utility spells. For example, Devouring Orb (Void Knight) creates perhaps the most potent defensive buff in the game.
Mage: you’d want to pick +intelligence, +attunement, and +elemental protection nodes. Intelligence adds damage to all of your mage skills. Then, use teleport as your primary utility skill. It generates plenty of Ward if you have enough intelligence on the passive tree.
Primalist: choose the +hp/+minion hp points, as they can make both you and your pets tanks.
Also, use fury leap as your primary movement skill. Moreover, any primalist character can use it as a primary damage ability.
Skip shields if you’re a primalist.
Acolytes: you need to pick about 8 points into your intelligence, no matter which builds you choose. Also, pick the “Mania of Immortality” on the tree, as it generates Ward and compensates for the lower HP.
Also, you’d want to choose a couple of defensive abilities and buffs because of the lower HP. For example, go for Bone Golem if you’re a summoner.
Rogue: the class uses melee or ranged attacks. You need to take advantage of dodge mechanics and use distracting techniques on your elements. As such, your main tools will be Decoy and Smoke bomb; your main stat is dexterity.
Beginner-friendly Build: Shatter-strike Spellblade Mage
This build doesn’t require particular items or currency. It’s a high damage-per-second build.
You’re going to specialize in the following skills: Enchant Weapons, Surge, Flame Ward, Shatter-Strike, and Mana Strike. You have to look for buffs that proc on hit, damage boosts, and cold DPS.
Shatter-Strike is your primary damaging skill. You’re going to use two swords and pick the critical Cold Steel specialization. Other critical picks are Lingering Cold and Whiteout. In particular, Whiteout recasts the skill twice for each time you use it. Also, pick Absolute Zero, Cold Presence.
Then, Mana Strike is about getting your mana back, while the other skills are about boosting your DPS. Mainly, pick Critical Rejuvenation on the Mana Strike area to raise your critical chance.
For passives, pick the Spellblade mastery and Ascend the mastery to raise it to level 80 within these trees. That gives you the space to pick most skills: prioritize DPS boost and defensive boost.
For items, there’s a particular unique armor, Yrun’s Wisdom, that grants additional cold damage when you’re above 60% HP.
The rest of the items should be all about elemental protection, HP, Ward, and Crit chance. However, you can replace the critical chance with Melee Cold Damage or Freeze Multiplier stats.
In summary, it’s best to focus your build. I mean, focus on single elemental damage and a single damaging skill. Then, use a movement skill, a defensive skill, and a couple of utility skills to boost your character.
Lastly, it’s also best to focus on a single mastery rather than spreading your passives points thinly. Last Epoch rewards highly specialized characters and punishes “Jack-of-All-Trades” heroes.