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Path of Exile Previews: Catarina - Master of the Dead Revealed

By William Murphy on August 07, 2014

Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile is set to receive its second major expansion on August 20th, and we caught up with Lead Designer Chris Wilson to reveal two of Forsaken Masters' big new features: the Witch Catarina, Master of the Dead and the Standard Challenge League coming with the expansion: The Rampage League. But first, just what is Forsaken Masters all about?

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The second major expansion to Path of Exile, Forsaken Masters is less focused on a new class and new Acts being added to the story, and more focused on extending the content within the existing game, giving new players and veteran players a like more to do, and possibly most importantly: giving players their own hideouts to customize, build up, and tweak until they're blue in the face.  

The title refers to the seven brand new Masters that GGG is introducing into the game. Both first time players and long-term folks will run into these Masters somewhat early in their game experience, as the goal is for the Masters to pad out and add to the existing game progression.  Each of them has their own crafting specializations, their own hideout tileset, and different hideout decorations to be discovered and unlocked. Players can and will work with all of the Masters, but there's obviously going to be one or two whose crafting options might be better for a certain character your building.

Each of the Masters will have their own missions they'll send you out on, and this effectively works to build your reputation with them and unlock their many rewards. The Masters are intended to supplement your leveling experience, or serve as a suitable endgame for those who have completed the main story.  The Hideout system works as a sort of player housing, and will be your home away from home as you work to carry out the Masters' missions.

Catarina - Master of the Dead

Along with the Masters as the core component of the expansion, the Passive Skill Tree has been entirely reworked, and many of the game's boss fights have been retooled to improve the overall experience. And of course, there will be two brand new Challenge Leagues added to the game, and the Standard Rampage League we'll talk about shortly.

But First, Catarina - Master of the Dead

Catarina is the Witch class Master, and as her title would imply... she has a thing for corpses. She's obsessed with death, and wears a suit of armor made entirely from bone. You'll come across her in the 2nd Act of the game in the forest.  And all of her missions, you guessed it, deal with experimenting with the dead.  She'll send you out to fetch a corpse, animate it, and then bring it back to her. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Said dead body may be halfway across the map, and once you get it animated it just might have one of many different effects. 

Perhaps one will spawn hordes of skeletons to attack you as you fight to drag its butt back to Catarina. Or perhaps it'll reanimate with a desecrated ground debuff placed around it, so that it's leeching life from you as you escort it back to the Witch. Or maybe it'll have auras that effect surrounding monsters, making combat more difficulty as you go. But that's just one of dozens of different missions Catarina can send you on.

I wouldn't kick those bones out of bed...

She'll also send you out to revive and then slay corrupted corpses, so that you can bring her back information to study. She'll have you take corpses to totems and then kill it to see the totems' effects. Chris mentioned that it's extremely easy to add variations and styles to Catarina's missions, so while she's starting with dozens, they'll be adding even more after the expansion's launch.

There will be daily quests for each Master as you unlock them, completing each will go towards unlocking more items for your hideout and towards unlocking more crafting items.  For Catarina, it's all about spell casting items (wands, staves, etc.). Her hideout tileset is the Felshrine Ruins, a sort of graveyard looking area (go figure, right?) that also happens to be one of Chris' favorite looks in the game.  You'll earn your hideout once you hit Master Level 3 with any of the seven Masters, and you can then proceed to deck it out with all the different items and mix and match tilesets from the seven Masters.  

The goal for the Hideouts is to cater to the folks longing for some form of creative place to call home, while also giving new and old players alike something to work on long after the game's main acts are complete. But the Masters, the hideouts, the new crafting, the reworked bosses and passive skills... they're not the only things coming on August 20th. There will also be two brand new Challenge leagues for players to toy around in, and we get to reveal The Rampage League to you today.

The Rampage League

There are always two leagues running in PoE. The Hardcore is intended for those looking for extra challenge, while the Standard is the one players are put in by default. The goal with the Standard leagues is always about optimizing the fun and Rampage League will likely be one of the most fun Grinding Gear has thought up yet.

Rampage!

Built entirely around the notion of maintaining a kill-streak Rampage League players will grow faster in attacks, faster in movement, and stronger as they keep their Rampage alive. You'll have 5 seconds between kills to keep it going, and as you hit the many tiers of Rampage, different effects can be triggered. One that Chris mentioned were Novas: these can stun all enemies, explode all enemies, or even summon spirit weapons to defend you. But one o Chris' favorites is the Cyclone at kill-streak 325. If you manage to keep the streak alive for that many enemies, all nearby corpses will explode, creating a cacophony of gore that's just a sight to behold. 

It's also worth noting that there will be no penalty to loot in this mode, so just because you're killing faster and killing more enemies, doesn't mean GGG will cut down your item drops. In fact, it stands to reason you'll get even more loot for keeping your Rampage alive as long as possible.  Chris mentioned that as always, these Challenge leagues are a way to test ideas that could potentially be permanently added to the game later.  And considering how fun Rampage has proven internally, I'd be willing to bet that it sticks around long after its time has come and gone.

Forsaken Masters launches for free to all players on August 20th. You can read more about it over here at the Path of Exile site, and stay tuned to MMORPG.com for our own hands-on impressions once we get access.  Cheers and good luck keeping your Rampage alive.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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