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The Bestiary Challenge League Lets You Catch ‘Em All

William Murphy Posted:
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Due out on March 2nd worldwide for both XBOX and PC, Path of Exile’s about to invite you to be the very best, that no one ever was. The Bestiary Challenge League update brings with it a ton of new content to tackle in a brand new economy with fresh mechanics. Perfect for new and old players alike, the Bestiary update lets you go all Ahab on the monsters and beasties of Wraeclast.

If you can believe it, Path of Exile had twice the hours played in 2017 compared to 2016, and while it would be easy to attribute that to the XBOX One release, said launch only happened at the end of August. Over 3.5 million players have played POE’s big Fall of Oriath expansion, and what’s probably most surprising? The AVERAGE Path of Exile session is FIVE HOURS LONG. Imagine what the top end of that looks like!

Starting March 2nd, something tells me that those hopelessly addicted to Wraeclast are going to log even more hours as the new Challenge League, Bestiary, is centered entirely around capturing, collecting, fighting, and crafting with the monsters and beasts of Path of Exile. Challenge Leagues, if you’re uninitiated, are temporary (around 3 months) “versions” of the game. You select them when creating a character, they often change the rules or add gameplay features to POE, as well as special loot and so forth to make them alluring.

More often than not, the POE team takes the features and gameplay in these leagues and brings them into the full game when the league ends. In short, as awesome as the bestiary and its features sound, you can probably bet it’ll make it into the full game in some way. Who doesn’t want to collect and show off their Pokem… I mean, monsters?

There are around 250 regular and 40 legendary (rare) beasts to capture. You’ve got to whittle down their health, and then use a special net item on them to try and capture them. As you do, the Bestiary, a literal in-game tome, tracks each one and gives you a permanent record of your progress. But what’s the point? That’s where Beastcrafting comes in.

You’ll take captured beasts from your menagerie (a literal in-game zoo where you can view your conquered pets), and combine them at the Blood Altar where you perform the ritual of sacrifice (read: kill them good). Based on the number and type of beasts, you’ll craft one of dozens of powerful items with rare and special properties.

If you manage to capture and craft the right set of beasts, you will unlock special spirit boss encounters that give you powerful unique item rewards too.

And yes, for the first time in POE, set items are coming into play. Unlike most games, you don’t need to wear more and more pieces to get the benefits of the items. Rather, each item comes with its own benefits that compliment the others in the set. So having one is still wicked good, while having a full set will help you towards a specific build. In total there are 29 new Unique items and completing new prophecies will transform your existing items into one of 30 new “Fated Unique” items.

There’s a new story quest added to the end of act 10 to answer some lore questions, and another way to continue the story which will let players take on the Elder and the Shaper at the same time in the center of the Atlas of Worlds - Chris Wilson calls this easily the toughest boss encounter in the game.

For those looking forward to new skills, we’ve got those too. Not just in Bestiary, there are now three new skill gems (each of which can drop early in the game) such as Spectral Shield Throw (it’s exactly as it sounds), and Summon Phantasm on Kill - think every time you murder an enemy, it summons a ghastly black ghost to kill more for you. And yes, this basically makes you a total badass necromancer.

In all, this patch is focused on the new league, but it sure feels big enough to be another expansion to the core game. Get ready for March 2nd, when the Bestiary League is unleashed on PC and XBOX One versions of Path of Exile.


William Murphy

Bill is the former 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.