Echoes of the Atlas is a major update to the end-game of Path of Exile. The addition of the new challenge league is something that veteran players will certainly enjoy. I’m just too much of a filthy casual to reach this content in the first weekend of release. That said, it is definitely something I am looking forward to as I work my way through the Ritual League.
This is just my initial impressions for the Ritual Challenge League and not the Echoes of the Atlas “expansion”. After playing Path of Exile (PoE) for close to 30 hours this weekend, I have not reached enough of the Echoes of the Atlas content to give any good impressions about it. Echoes of the Atlas adds 11 new maps to the atlas, and vibrant tilesets to the game, along with epic boss battles in each tileset. This all compounds to an epic boss battle with Maven. I am nowhere close to unlocking the Maven battle, so stay tuned for that...
A Better League?
My short answer is yes, and here is why: PoE is an action roleplaying game (ARPG). These types of games thrive on killing lots of monsters as fast as possible. You want your character to feel powerful and speed through tilesets to get as much loot as possible. Past leagues like Harvest, Delirium, Legion, Heist , ect, ect, ect… had a way of slowing the players down to do something else in the game for the league. Personally, I liked slowing down a bit and taking time off from killing monsters at breakneck speeds, but most of the fanbase did not. The core community wanted to kill, kill, kill, and get loot. The Ritual League lets the players kill, kill, kill, and loot until their hearts are content. I found doing the rituals a bit boring after a while, but with Echoes of the Atlas added to the league I can see how the rituals help players stay engaged as they level.
Basically, a ritual is like a harvest, but without having to go to the harvest node and plant seeds. On a side note, Harvest is part of the league too and it is streamlined to act more like a ritual and less like a Animal Crossing farm simulator. The rituals are in each tileset and depending on the tileset there is a set amount of rituals to complete. Each tileset has a loot table for the ritual. As you kill monsters you gain tribute points to buy items. Say there are three rituals in a tileset, you complete the first ritual and gain access to the loot to buy with the tribute.
Some of the loot in the ritual is “grayed” out. You will have to do more rituals in the tileset to gain access to those items. The smart thing to do is to wait until you complete all the rituals in the tileset before buying items; that way you can make a better decision. Sometimes you might want an item but you did not receive enough tribute points to buy that item. Do not fret, you can defer items. Deferring an item gives it a chance to show up again on another tileset loot table at a lower tribute cost. Sometimes this did not work that great. It is a good concept, but I found a few times where that same item I deferred, ended up costing more in the next tileset. After a while I gave up on deferring items and just bought junk to use as crafting materials. Even though the loot table was a bit bugged when deferring items and the loot was not amazing most of the time, the rituals were fun to do and they did not stop me from killing monsters. The new Ritual League in PoE is a nice way to keep the action going as you grind to the end-game of the 3.13 patch.
The new Path of Exile league started on Friday and was met with a whole bed of bugs. These bugs just chewed on your flesh as you played. Throughout the weekend I was met with several crashes, disconnects, and Matrix style rubber-banding. After being disconnected four times in a row at The Ledge within my first two hours of gameplay on Friday, I closed the game down for a few hours to play something else. It was a bit frustrating because I wanted to keep progressing through the league, but the game was not stable enough at the time. I tried again a few hours later and I did not have any problems for the rest of the night. On Friday I spent about 9 hours in the game and made it to level 30. That is not fast by any means. During my gameplay I watched World Firsts of players reaching level 85. When I woke up Saturday morning, I saw several Tweets from the official Path of Exile’s Twitter account about server issues. Over the course of the weekend there were several Tweets indicating that time game was not stable. Come Monday morning it appeared Grinding Gear Games fixed a lot of the stability issues. Even with my disconnects and crashes, I did not find the game in bad shape for this league. It could have been worse and been like Cyberpunk 2077 on console.
Is it Worth it?
I definitely think this new league is worth playing. This league has taken concepts from past leagues and streamlined them into a faster paced ARPG. No longer do you need to take time out of a tileset to do something else that has to do with the league, you can meander your way through the tilesets, killing and hitting up rituals for more rewards. I feel this league has built upon the core mechanics of what an ARPG is meant to play like. The game now begs you to level and make your way to Maven and the Ritual Vessels.
Unfortunately, I am too slow at leveling and I have not seen the juicy parts of the end-game yet. If you are a veteran that has stopped playing Path of Exile or a new player that has never played, this is the league that you should play. It will keep you killing and entice you to get to the end-game. The great thing about PoE is that, with the new league being more streamlined than ever before, you can watch Wandavision or the new season of The Expanse while you level up.