Grinding Gear is working up to the first beta test of the Path of Exile expansion, The Fall of Oriath. Over the week that was, a new beta FAQ was published as well as a preview of the new minimap and a new boss fight for a Minor God named Abberath.
The Fall of Oriath Beta FAQ & Q&A
GGG posted a handy FAQ letting players know that the first beta for The Fall of Oriath will be coming in about a month. Among other things, the team answered the question of who can participate, what will happen to Legacy Leagues, how long the beta will run for (5-6 weeks) and more.
Can I pay to get into the Beta?
Yes, the new set of supporter packs (released simultaneously with the Beta) will all grant access. In addition, we will likely invite players with significant previous support immediately without the need for a purchase. We define this as a purchase of any top-tier pack ($440 or above) or people whose total lifetime purchases combine to $500 or more. For everyone who supports in any amount, thank you. You make expansions like this possible.
We asked GGG a few clarifying questions:
MMORPG: Looking over The Fall of Oriath beta FAQ, we noticed that you plan to run "many events". Are there one or two you can tell us about or provide cryptic hints for?
GGG: We're still in the planning process for creating these events. At the moment it's looking like they'll occur in week-long blocks. In some cases it's a week with many smaller events, and in other cases it's a full-week race with special mods.
MMORPG: While the initial round of testers is predicated on supporter packs and / or lifetime purchases of a certain level, will there be other opportunities for free players or those who have spent less than that amount to get in on beta testing? If so, how?
GGG: Yes, we'll be including everyone for selection in daily waves of keys. Players may be given priority if they've played in recent leagues. We'll also be running some beta key giveaways tied to our upcoming events and possibly through some other promotions.
MMORPG: Why was the decision made to leave out Acts 9-10 from testing? How will you ensure that those two chapters are ready to go when Oriath is released?
GGG: The goal of the Beta isn't to test the Act content, but to test the new game systems and balance changes. We have our own internal testing team for the Acts themselves, so are looking forward to people being playing Act Nine and Ten for the first time when the full expansion is released.
MMORPG: Are any rewards being given out to testers such as forum or in-game titles, etc.?
GGG: We believe that playing the beta is its own reward. However, players who enter the beta by purchasing a supporter pack will receive exclusive forum titles, as in other packs, that signify that they were present and supporting development in this portion of Path of Exile's history.
MMORPG: When do you anticipate you might be ready to release more information about the XBox One beta?
GGG: In the coming weeks.
Abberath Boss Fight & Making a Great, Interesting & Unique Boss
The team also previewed the upcoming Minor God fight with Abberath.
We also asked the team a bit about how new bosses are designed to be unique and cool as well about which of the many bosses in PoE was their favorite.
MMORPG: You released a video of the Abberath fight. Of the bosses you've previewed so far in video or through information about Oriath, which is your favorite and why?
GGG: Out of the boss fights we've revealed so far, we're particularly excited about the Brine King fight. He's the main act boss of Act Six and includes a completely new tileset and unique animations. Without revealing too much, he's significant to the storyline for the second half of the game.
MMORPG: What sorts of challenges go into designing new boss encounters to make them unique?
Boss design starts with lore, which then gives an impression of how the monster will look and give hints towards what type of damage would be appropriate for the theme. Once the look has been designed, it's then up to our gameplay programmers to work out the mechanics of the fight that work well with both the theme and to make for a compelling, tactical experience. After the mechanics have been implemented, our team rigorously tests the balance and fight experience. The main challenge typically comes down to balancing the fight and making sure its difficulty is appropriate for many types of characters.
MMORPG: Which boss in the overall game has been your favorite to design both from an artistic and a mechanic perspective? (multiple answers are A-OK with us!)
The Shaper was introduced with our last expansion, Atlas of Worlds. It was a significant pursuit both in theme and mechanics. Our team put a lot of time into it. As the creator of the Atlas and dreamer of maps, the Shaper was responsible for tying together the entire Atlas of Worlds expansion. His lore intertwined with existing characters which meant that it was easy for players to submerse themselves in this storyline.
What also made this a unique experience is that our level designers created a brand new area for the Shaper to exist in. We created a celestial tileset that required new technology to make it as compelling as possible. Our visual effects team also had a significant hand here creating celestial effects for the Shaper to use in his attacks.
The team also worked on some extremely hard-to-create mechanics to challenge players in this fight. As the final boss for the end-game experience, it was important to us that this fight was a hit on every level.
Other Bits & Pieces
The site was also updated with several other pretty cool pieces from The Fall of Oriath: