Rise And Shine: Path Of Exile’s Expansion The Awakening

Back when our Adam had a good play of free-to-play click ’em up action-RPG Path of Exile [official site], he called it “a smart and content-rich ARPG”, saying “It doesn’t rewrite the click-for-loot formula but it does tweak just the right parts to make the repetitious hacking and casting a more involved and intricate experience.” Sounds good, that. It’s soon to get even more things to click on, as developers Grinding Gear Games have announced the next expansion.

The Awakening will bring new zones, skills, items, customisation bits, and more. Signups for closed beta testing are open now.

Grinding Gears explain the setup for the expansion:

“The Betrayer strives to awaken an ancient and terrible being. Should he succeed, the Cataclysm will see the whole world remade… in the image of Nightmare. The time has finally come to venture into the kingdom of Corruption and drive a blade through its black heart.”

Which reads like a win for anyone playing Fantasy Buzzword Bingo. Capital-B Betrayer, capital-C Cataclysm, ominous ellipsis, capital N-Nightmare, driving a blade through a black heart and BINGO! come on up to the front to choose your prize from the table. No, I’m sorry to say the teasmade was already claimed by Arthur after his winning line of: kingdom thrown into strife, lost prince, amnesiac stranger, broken legendary sword, and capital-D Darkness.

Oh, but what does all that mean for players? New areas, new skills including summoning elemental golems, new jewels to customise the passive skill tree, another 70-odd unique items, an improved UI, more customisation options, and a spot of rebalancing. Grinding Gear say the expansion has been in development since 2013. All these folks have previews if you’d like to know more.

Beta testing will begin on Monday and the developers expect it’ll take 6-8 weeks before they’re happy to launch, but that might happen sooner or later than that, so they won’t commit to a release date yet. For now, you can watch folks murdering monsters in this vid from The Awakening:

15 Comments

  1. DeFrank says:

    Amazing game. That’s all.

  2. bouchacha says:

    This game really is great. The expansion is adding a host of welcome quality of life features and potentially eliminating dreaded desync. The developers also deserve plenty of praise for being so zealous about their “ethical microtransactions” platform.

  3. Faldrath says:

    Yeah, the main things that this post doesn’t cover enough are:

    – a new netcode that should eliminate desync for low-latency players, and at least improve it significantly for high-latency ones;

    – a complete rebalance of the leveling experience to make it less daunting and more fun for new players.

    Since these have been the main stumbling blocks for people looking to get into PoE, I’m rather hopeful about the expansion (well, the third stumbling block is the always-online thing, and that’s not going away, sadly).

    • derbefrier says:

      oh nice. desync was really annoying sometimes. Its never kept me from playing but i know it has put a lot of people off the game. I hope it works out for them.

  4. Commander Gun says:

    I want to love this game, but somehow the click wasn;t there (story of my life).

    The atmosphere and story is the best i’ve ever seen in an arpg, so grim, dark and desolate. The skill tree is absoutely perfect, i can;t even imagine how many completly different build are possible. I tried playing it a few months back and i still loved that exactly because those reasons. However, i have 2 problems with it:

    – No easy skilltree reset
    I love to experiment with builds, and this game simply won;t let me. I am so afraid when adding skillpoints, just to make a mistake, to the point where i collect some points, go browse a forum for a good and solid build and just copy it.

    – Sluggish combat
    This is the biggest problem. Combat feels so slow, especially compared to Diablo 3. Now that game has lots of problems, but combat is very dynamic and i feel PoE is lacking. Maybe it is just a desync, but even after having a pretty fast PC and even faster internet, i just keep noticing a few ms time before the game registers hits and it is annoying like hell.

    • Procrastination Giant says:

      The skilltree definitely is daunting at first, but once you understand the basics (as in: pick one main skill or element and build your character around that while also picking up defensive nodes along the way) it’s actually really difficult to completely mess up a character to the point of no return – especially since the game does give you a decent amount of respec points. There’s also a currency item that adds additional respec points. I’d actually argue that their skillgem system is a much larger factor when it comes to preventing easy experimentation, since skillgems do take a long, long while to level up, and you can only level so many at the same time… Their whole system definitely is more geared towards watching your character slowly coming together, slowy becoming more powerful, etc.

      When it comes to sluggish combat: It really only appears that way early on since you simply don’t have any crazy gem setups or many nodes that support your particular skill – Once you’ve got a decent 4 or 5 link setup going on and have a couple of levels under your belt things do tend to become really rather crazy when compared to other ARPGs like D3 or Torchlight 2 for example – After playing with a well-geared, high level PoE character for a while D3 feels soooooo incredibly slow, clunky and unresponsive in comparison. It simply takes a long while to reach that point, but once you do gain momentum your character easily becomes a demi-god.

    • theslap says:

      “– No easy skilltree reset”

      You say you love experimenting with builds. PoE heavily encourages experimentation. Yes there is no “easy” way to reset your skilltree but should it really be “easy”. If you’ve played long enough the skill tree is constantly changing which means characters that spec into the parts that change greatly are offered a free respec. Use your older characters to test builds if you want (it’s what most people do with the older characters that have died in HC leagues and end up in SC). If you don’t have old characters it is harder to respec without the currency to do so. However, why not just build a new character and test builds (albeit late game builds will difficult to test but many require respeccing with currency in HC anyways)? It doesn’t take long to level to 60 where most builds begin to shine and currency can be found while leveling that you can use on a main character or sell currency to respec another.

      As for “sluggish combat”, everyone agrees. In comparison to D3, it’s slow but, in this game, combat gets faster and less sluggish as you level. D3 can’t say that. You feel just as powerful at level 10 as level 70 in D3.

    • Minsc_N_Boo says:

      As others have said combat is slow at low levels, but depending on your build higher levels definitely speed up drastically. Have a look at some of the speed runs of high level maps to see the difference.
      Path of Exile [1.3] – Gorge Speedrun (1:45) – Lowlife Flicker: link to youtu.be

    • Craxel says:

      That sluggishness does sounds like a netcode thing. I was put off by the huge desync issues too. Really grating to have a singleplayer game run at a steady 120fps only to get 500ms+ lag bursts during combat.

      I played it again last month and the netcode seemed much improved, but not yet perfect. If they sort it out and add an Act 4 that’s as good as what’s already in there, then this one is going to be for the ages.

  5. Darkz0r says:

    The inflation killed the game for me.

    Though I had CRAPLOADS of fun running a summoner reviving the mobs that throw 3 fireballs, using multishot to make them shoot 6 fireballs and have 2-3 of them!!

    Lagged everyone without good video cards, killed the screen in seconds, was very fun to play because I was just coordinating my minions that were fucking powerful.

    Might try again when xp hits!

    • theslap says:

      Play the 1-3 month leagues. New economies, new challenges, and new additions to solve.

  6. pepperfez says:

    Why can’t they just take my money and give me an offline game?

    (Also, I just this moment got the joke of the developer’s name.)

    • Philomelle says:

      I was asking myself that question up until I tried competitive ladders. Then I discovered how little I actually know about fluid aRPG gameplay, optimizing my routes through the maps and efficient EXP + loot flow. I forgive the constant need to connect to the internet just for that little thing.

      Also, POE can get pretty damn hard to solo in endgame. You learn to appreciate the company of strangers by the time you’re done with it.

    • MaXimillion says:

      Because the game is designed around having a vibrant economy, which requires a large online playerbase.

  7. GBscorcher says:

    I am looking forward to the PoE extension, even though I am even more excited by the Grim Dawn Build 25 release end of April. PoE is a bit light on the story part, but the skill development and combination is awesome. Just found it annoying that you couldn’t rely on getting the skills(gems) you want for your build.
    Interested to see how the extension will pan out. Guess I will be playing a lot of ARPG starting in 4 weeks time :)