This week in the Path of Exile: The Exiled Tribune, we're going to let the team speak more than we do to talk about the upcoming Pantheon System, a way that players can claim the powers of the gods for themselves. In addition, the second week of beta testing for The Fall of Oriath is in the bag and GGG shares a few insights.
DOEDRE THE VILE - WHAT'S IN A NAME?
One of the new bosses players will encounter in The Fall of Oriath: Act 8 is Doedre the Vile. She's a piece of work and something that will challenge even the most battle-hardened warriors. She is a throwback to an earlier time in PoE and we wanted to know a bit more about her, how she came to be and where she fits into the story.
MMORPG: How do you come up with boss names and lore? Doedre the Vile sounds fun....
GGG: By now we have a lot of lore in the game, and things kind of naturally flow from older and already established things. To use the specific example of Doedre, we already had another iteration of her. That version was centered on curses, so Doedre Darktongue did fit well and allowed for an interesting literal interpretation of the name, making her obese with a super long tongue. This latest iteration is building on this older model, making her lose weight but keep the excess skin. The boss fight is also themed around these different liquids in her arena, so "Doedre the Vile" seemed to fit well.
THE PANTHEON SYSTEM - HARNESSING THE POWER OF THE GODS
One of the most exciting new features coming in Oriath is the Pantheon System, a way for players to quite literally take the power of the gods to themselves. Players will face off against powerful gods from throughout Wraeclast's history and, once defeated, will be ripe for the plucking. Both Major and Minor powers will be attainable with players able to "equip" one of each during game play. They can be switched on the fly in the amazingly beautiful new interface and can used in ways to best enhance any fight in more than a few ways.
MMORPG: What is the philosophy behind the upcoming Pantheon System?
GGG: The Pantheon Panel has three goals. Firstly, it gives players the tools they need to compensate for defensive vulnerabilities in character builds. Secondly, it rewards mastery through efficient preparation and game knowledge so you can choose how best to mitigate the effects of a boss you are familiar with before you enter an area. Thirdly, it provides a reactive tool if you realize you're threatened by a particular boss ability, so you can return to town and change to a different Pantheon Power that might give you a fighting chance before diving back into the fray. This is something that Path of Exile has less of than other ARPGs, as there are very few item slots that most characters are capable of switching out in a pinch without changing your character build.
MMORPG: Pantheon Power is part of The Fall of Oriath. Are there any plans to bring it to earlier locations in the game?
GGG: Pantheon Powers and the Gods they come from are all situated in Part 2 of the story, Acts 6-10. We won't be bringing them to earlier areas, both for plot reasons, and because Part 1 has plenty of character development in the form of the skills and support gems that you earn.
MMORPG: At this time, how many Pantheon Powers are there and what is the difference between Major and Minor powers?
GGG: You will absorb the powers of four Major gods and seven Minor gods, and you can use one Major Pantheon Power and one Minor Pantheon power at once.
Major powers tend to be much more impactful and general, like Arakaali protecting you from damage over time effects. Minor powers are more specific, like Abberath protecting you from fire damage while moving. Because you can use one of each, you can choose combinations that protect you heavily from one specific mechanic, or split them to focus on different effects that are both threatening to you.
MMORPG: Please give an example of some of the synergies players will be able to create using Major and Minor Pantheon Powers.
GGG: With the powers mentioned above, using Arakaali and Abberath's powers together would be excellent for fights where you find yourself burning, and have the opportunity to move around. This lets you benefit from the damage over time and the fire protection. The Brine King's ability protects you from being stunned repeatedly, which can be used with Tukohama's protection from physical damage while remaining stationary to go toe-to-toe with a dangerous physical damage boss, so they can't keep you stunned and you're taking less damage from their melee attacks.
MMORPG: The Pantheon Powers interface is gorgeous. How did you come up with the idea both the the layout and the artwork?
GGG: The initial layout came from trying to make it appear instantly understandable in a way that is similar to an inventory tab, or the newer stash tabs like the Essence tab. The rest came naturally from Shaun Brown’s awesome line art.
WHAT'S NEW IN BETA #2?
The second week of beta testing for The Fall of Oriath was the subject of a recent blog post providing players with information about what GGG has in mind for Act 8, how game balance issues are being addressed and to provide an updated list of known beta issues. Most notably, Act 8 is being slightly delayed which also happily delays the character wipe so that players can continue to refine and test out new builds, experience the present content and more.
MMORPG: How goes beta testing? Have you made any significant adjustments to Oriath as a result of player feedback?
GGG: It is always exciting to be able to finally show the community what we have been working on for a long period of time. There is also the part where the community gets to go "you know, we don't think you have this part fully sorted out yet."
With the current Beta test, we are very happy with how it is going. In terms of constructive feedback that we have actioned, we did get a lot of feedback about the the monsters and their abilities in Acts 6 and 7. When we looked at our work in light of the feedback, we realised there was some more work to do.
We decided to delay getting Act 8 into the Beta so we could improve this element of the game. We have put additional resources into improving monsters in Act 6 and Act 7.
We also know that in the next patch we need to address game balance. We are very happy to have a community so passionate about the design and balance of the game, and we need to make sure feedback and issues are addressed. The biggest advantage of the Beta is getting to try various changes in a non-permanent environment.
MMORPG: Are you roughly on track compared to what you had imagined before beta kicked off?
GGG: Roughly. We always have contingency plans for release schedules so that there's a wide release window to hit, even if we get feedback that needs addressing or if final polish takes too long.
MMORPG: Any surprises so far?
GGG: This shouldn't surprise us anymore, but it still does. The level of support, players and feedback for the beta has been phenomenal. We have several fantasy epics worth of feedback and reports to read through.
It has been interesting to see people trying to push the limits of game elements that have been changed. We have seen some interesting examples such as Vivre and later Dsfarblarwaggle showing us our mistakes with Decay, and eMbbuZomg pushing high end content very early in the beta, and with builds and skills other players might have predicted to have been too nerfed to be useful.
MMORPG: What's next for testers?
GGG: This week we'll be releasing Act 8 to the Beta. This means even more content and new bosses to explore. The week after that we'll be deploying some significant performance improvements.