Path of Exile is ready to expand with The Awakening on July 10th. While lots of time has been spent on beta testing and developers have been sending out information to players, there still remain a few hidden nuggets of information and content that are worthy of a lot of excitement. We chatted with Chris Wilson about those things that may have remained unspoken.
During a press tour in April of this year, Grinding Gears indicated that The Awakening would be released in six to eight weeks from that time. After extensive patching of the beta client, and in response to player feedback, the team felt that an extra four to six weeks beyond the target date would serve PoE well.
"It let us get new content done." Chris said.
But so much more happened in those intervening days and weeks. With the extra time, more content was added, content that has up to now remained under cover.
Before we got to the meat of the article, Chris wanted longtime players to know about something that has plagued the game from its earliest days will finally be solved with the launch of The Awakening. A persistent de-synch but has worn on the community over the years.
"We knew we had to address it and we are pretty confident that we have a good fix in for it. It works and everything is golden and all is well. It will make a lot of people really happy. Let's face it: We want another ten years of PoE. We are here for the long haul. We need fundamental problems like this out of the way."
If that's not enough to get a veteran's heart pounding, perhaps the news that a par of new Challenge Leagues will be launching with The Awakening: One standard, one hardcore. Here's what we know:
In the Standard league, warbands vie for control. Their progress can be tracked on the world map. As players encounter these packs of enemies, they will find that they are very difficult. But what makes the encounter so exciting is that the behavior of the units change as the fight goes on.
"We call it Smart AI." Wilson explained.
As smaller units get killed, leaders will join the fight rather than stand back and direct the flow of the fight. There will be exclusive drops and / or unique items from each warband.
The standard Challenge Leage will initially launch with three warband types: fire, cold, and lightning, each with its own backstory with item drops that reflect that. It is possible that more warband types will be added over time.
Magical tempests are affecting the world and they change every hour. Players can go to an area affected by a tempest to take advantage of storm. A marker appears on the ground, a lightning bolt for instance, that is about to strike an area. The strike is wide and can benefit / hurt players OR monsters.
"You want strikes to maximize your own advantages. Situationally, you may want the monsters hit or your party to be hit, depending."
With great risk comes great reward, however:
Like other systems in Path of Exile, Tempests have prefixes and suffixes. The prefixes dictate the effects caused by the periodic tempest strikes that occur, and the suffixes cause the entire area affected by a tempest to exhibit a new behaviour. For example, a Tempest of Living Weapons causes all of the weapons dropped by monsters to rise up and fight you before you can claim them.
Tempest League is hardcore and death is "a one-way trip to Standard".
But Wait! That's Not All! How About Six New Skills?
If the addition of new Challenge Leagues isn't enough, Chris detailed six brand new skills coming to Path of Exile. Here are their in-game descriptions:
Magma Orb: Lob a fiery orb that explodes as it strikes the ground. The skill chains, releasing another fiery orb that repeats this effect.
Wild Strike: Your melee weapon strikes an enemy, converting some of the damage to a random element. Then, depending on the element chosen, it releases an explosion, an arcing bolt of lightning, or an icy wave.
Frost Blades: Attack with increased range, releasing icy blades from the struck enemy that fly at other enemies.
Flame Dash: Teleport to a location, damaging enemies and leaving a trail of burning ground in your wake.
Phase Run: You move faster, become harder to detect, and no longer have your movement impeded by enemies. Your next attack also deals extra damage. Performing any skill removes the buff but increases the damage of your attacks for a short time. Consumes Frenzy Charges to increase duration.
What comes next is the end of this portion of the Path of Exile story, but Chris promised that there is more to come, a twist in the tale that players won't be expecting. What that twist is will remain unspoken, Wilson choosing to let players discover it on their own after The Awakening's release.
It's obvious that Path of Exile will be changing and expanding in impressive ways, with lots of new content to please all players. It really is, as Neilie Johnson wrote, a game changer.
Will you be playing Path of Exile: The Awakening? What do you think of Chris's revelations? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.