Last Epoch

Posted:  Feb 25, 2024
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Last Epoch was provided by Eleventh Hour Games for review. Thank you!

Whenever I feel the need to relax and want to play a game, I tend to gravitate towards games where you are exceptionally powerful and tear down scores of enemies. Growing up, this was Dynasty Warriors, but as I got older and wanted more depth, I turned to Diablo. This was solidified years ago when I played Diablo 3 on the Nintendo Switch, which helped me see how great a game like this could be portable. On the Steam Deck, Diablo 4 may seem like the obvious choice, but for my money and time, Last Epoch gave me a more in-depth experience with great quality-of-life changes that kept me engaged more than others in the same genre.

In Last Epoch, you are thrust into a war between gods and need to travel to different time periods to see how the events have unfolded and how you can put a stop to devastation. It is an intriguing concept, and I love being able to see how the different time periods are, but ultimately, it became too complicated and I wasn't as invested in the characters or the overall mission. It doesn't take away from how cool it is, and I love the differences of each era and how they look so visually distinct from each other, but ultimately, I was more focused on the gameplay, which is where the game really shines.

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As an ARPG similar to Diablo, there are certain gameplay elements I expected. The majority of the game sees you running around different landscapes, in a top-down camera angle, and destorying scores of enemies with your weapons and different skills. You gain EXP for each kill, and points to increase your skills when you level up. You will also get randomized gear drops from enemies, which you use to equip and make yourself more powerful. That is the most basic way I can explain the gameplay, but it's the depth and intricacies that make it so amazing to play.

The skill and gear upgrading systems in Last Epoch are where it gets good. You have two different ways of improving your character via skills: Passive Skills and Skill Specializiations. Passive Skills will give you bonuses to your character, which could increase different types of damage, summon stats, and your own attributes. You can also enter different Masteries, which will give you new skills and bonuses for that.

Then, there are skill specializations. Each skill has its own sub-skill tree and you can select 5 skills to specialize in and enhance further, and since you can only set 5 skills to your ABXY/LT and RT buttons, this works well. This allows you to change skills a bit, and make them stronger, based on the way you want to play. My main character, a Primalist Shaman, focuses more on magic than physical strength. For my character, I specialized in the Earthquake skill, which is melee focused, and enhanced it so it uses lightning magic instead, which made it significantly more powerful.

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To top it off, we have a gear upgrading system (Forge) that allows you to modify weapons with new effects. There are Prefixes and Suffixes, both of which can be set and enhanced on all of your gear. You do have a limited amount of times you can upgrade each weapon, but if you play your cards right and work with other gear you have, you can make yourself extremely powerful.

While the game now has a full offline mode, which works well, the game can also be played online! Playing this way has its benefits, including online multiplayer, an online player-driven marketplace (uses free in-game currency), and being listed on PvP rankings. There are also multiple different endgame mechanics to utilize, including Dungeons (which have modifiers and endlessly repeatable), the Monolith of Fate (endlessly repeatable and can get different buffs when completed), and The Arena (where you face waves of enemies to get better loot). They all serve a purpose and have give so many ways to get better randomized gear that could enhance your abilities.

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Last Epoch also contains a plethora of quality-of-life features that make it so much easier to play. This includes a way to auto-transfer everything to your crafting (to not pollute your inventory), free town portals, items don't need to be identified, tons of stash tabs to keep inventory items easily, a loot-filter, and free respecs for skill trees and skill specializations.

All of these help elevate the experience further than other games in the same genre, making it more fun to play, easier to understand, and still keeps a lot of depth without making it ridiculous. And then, we get to the Steam Deck.

Last Epoch - Steam Deck Performance

Last Epoch is playable on the Steam Deck, which is pretty wonderful, but there are some issues that should be addressed. The base game has some map and UI issues, including some options that just don't highlight correctly. Luckily, this can be fixed by using Proton Experimental. The controller support is nice as well and works well a majority of the time, but making a game like this work well with a controller isn't the easiest, so there are a couple of weird issues here (like exiting a menu with B, which also activates your skill as you exit the menu). I also recommend not moving the right stick when looking at the map, since it disables using the gamepad at the map.

You may also see some menu glitches, which happened for me often. This usually took the form of item details showing up when I am at another screen, like the skill selection.

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Now, with performance, it seems great at first, but it can be a little deceiving. In a majority of areas, Last Epoch holds 40 - 45 FPS pretty stable, which is great overall, but this is a game where a TON of effects can populate the screen with 50-60 enemies at a time, and it is draining. In some eras, like The Ruined Era, it will generally hold with little issue, apart from the drop to 37-38 once you go against some bosses. However, there are areas in other eras that will see a significant drop, which makes it much harder to play at higher frame rates.

Take the Imperial Era's Welryn Outskirts. This is an open-ish area with a forest that can bring about 50-60 zombies at a time. So, if you are playing alone with a ton of flashy effects, like I did with my Primalist Shaman, or playing online with friends, you will start seeing some big drops. Even on the lowest possible settings, these were unavoidable and generally went below 35 FPS for long periods with a battery drain hitting 23W. And with the majority of my testing being solo, I can say that adding in another player with flashy effects will get worse. But, with a 30 FPS lock and no TDP limit, I didn't see drops other than the slight stutter here and there.

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Then, we have the graphical quality. I started off on the Medium preset because it is the default, and it worked well until I got past Chapter 2. I started to see drops more often, and while dropping to 30 FPS did help, I still saw more battery drain than I would have liked. So, with that in mind, and to prepare for more effects and enemies in different areas, I recommend setting the master quality to Very Low and then changing some of the other settings, like Shadows, Grass, and Ambient Occlusion, up to Low. Changing the master quality setting does change some settings around that we can't see, but with this, we can maximize performance and get some incremental visual quality boosts.

There are some areas that will look a bit ugly, but the main areas with fighting still look fantastic. With performance and battery drain somewhat depending on the area you are in, I am glad it can still look pretty nice while keeping the drain down. I also chose "Very Low" instead of "Low" due to the shadows in some areas reacting weirdly and creating a fuzzy, flashy effect.

Low Settings
Very Low Settings
Very Low Settings
Low Settings

Look at the shadows on the ground to see the difference between low and very low settings.

There were also a couple of issues present that made me need to restart my Deck. There were times when traveling, that my Deck would go to a black screen it couldn't get out of, and I had to force reboot the device. I also had an issue with some enemy skills that would completely tank my performance from 30 FPS to 5. It's possible this could have been a crash due to all the RAM it uses, but it was still a bit worrisome.

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Overall, the game still runs exceptionally well most of the time, and I had a blast with it, even with compromised visuals and framerate!


Last Epoch has a plethora of different settings to change to improve your experience. You can change your preferred region when online, as well as change different filters or disable social chats. While offline, you can change inputs, different UI displays, the overlay map's opacity and zoom, a loot filter, change item name length, and change screen shake intensity. You can also turn on auto-compare items in Inventory, which is a setting I need on at all times.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions, which is great, and it has controller and cloud save support. There are no options for HDR here.


Last Epoch is an incredible entry in the ARPG series. It takes what makes other games like Diablo 4 and Path of Exile so great and finds a perfect balance between simple and overly complex. The passive skill, specializations, and crafting systems work extremely well together and give so much versatility to create your own character and play the way you want. The story gets a bit too grand and I lost interest in it, but the other components easily make up for the shortcomings of the campaign. And, as long as you are okay with compromises to ensure a solid framerate, this will be an incredible game to enjoy on the go, even when offline!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Last Epoch is an incredible ARPG thanks to its gameplay mechanics, even though it falls short on its story, and it can be very playable on the Steam Deck with compromises.


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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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One comment on “Last Epoch”

  1. An update must have introduced a memory leak or something, because with these settings, the game starts to slow down after a few minutes and eventually freezes and makes the whole device unresponsive. However, it works fine at 45 FPS with every setting at Very Low.