It's an F2P game, so what's going to take my hard-earned cash?
Thankfully, Path of Exile isn't a "pay-to-win" title by any stretch of the imagination. The only things you can spend cash on are cosmetic in nature (i.e., spell effects, non-combat pets, animations, etc.) or allow you to expand your account with extra character slots or extra tabs for your shared stash.
PoE uses a point system rather than making up moon-units or some other kind of silly currency. You can spend as little as $5 to buy points, but $20 gets you 200 points, making for easy conversions. I've gone ahead and just stated the following prices in real dollar amounts since it's easier for me.
Most of the microtransactions are priced fairly - the account features are generally priced in the $3-5 range. The alternate skill effects cost anywhere between $1.50 and $10, and item effects can cost as much as $25.
If you're insane, you can drop a cool grand (that's $1000) to design a unique item for the game. While I would really love for everybody to experience the "Billy Club" that looks like everybody's favorite red robot, I'm a little strapped for cash at the moment. Perhaps I should start a crowdfunding campaign to make it happen.
You can currently buy "Open Beta Supporter" packs, which give you microtransaction points, the game's soundtrack, and at higher tiers, unique pets, weapon skins, sticker sets and t-shirts. These start at around $30 and scale up from there.
If you're TRULY insane you can drop $12,500 on the top tier supporter pack which lets you design a monster to be used in the game, receive a physical model of it, and a combination of all of the lower tier supporter packs. I'm sure some sugar-daddy/mommas exist out there to buy this one, but for the life of me I can't think of a single game I've EVER played that would warrant me dropping that amount of cash.
All of the microtransactions currently help Grinding Gear fund development of the game, and since none of it is required to actually enjoy playing, I can't fault them for some of the prices - the supporter packs feel more akin to Kickstarter rewards anyway.
You've talked a lot. How's the co-op?
Solid. Chances are, if you've played Diablo 2, this will feel completely at home to you. You can invite friends to your game at any time (the maximum party size is 6 players), which in turn makes all of the monsters stronger and drop better loot. You're not tethered to other players in any way. Loot is shared between all players instead of dropping loot individually. Stop me if you've heard this before.
If you don't have friends on-hand, the central town in each act has a posting board where you can recruit players.
Progression is on a per-character basis, and if players are at different phases of quests, the game doesn't play catch-up for other characters. If one player is further along, their partners can still head to the appropriate area for their quest and complete it.
Since character builds can vary in extraordinary ways, building synergies can take some getting used to. Luckily, if you're willing to experiment with your skill loadouts a bit, you can find some solid co-op builds.
Let's wrap this up.
Out of the games we're discussing this week, Path of Exile arguably has the least barrier to entry. 100% of the game's content can be experienced without paying a dime, and you never really have to grind to get gear, despite the name of the developer. It may not be the most polished ARPG I've played lately, but the depth of character building, its unique economy, and variety of challenges makes for an excellent package.