Path of Exile Expansion Launching Next Week

Where fellow action-RPGs Diablo III and Torchlight exulted in bright colors and a brazen use of particle effects, the free-to-play Path of Exile [official site] took a darker turn, wearing its grime like a king’s crown. And it did well that way, honestly. Our very own Adam called it a “smart and content-rich RPG.” And said smart and content-rich RPG will see its newest expansion, titled The Awakening, come July 10th.

The new update will introduce Act Four in this ongoing grimdark saga, and something known as the Beast. It is definitely an unpleasant fellow, if the screenshots are any indication of its overall attractiveness. More crucially, it looks like the Beast can be physically entered, and not in that fun way your parents refuse to talk about. The webpage details gruesome sights such as “a blinking cathedral of a thousand eyes” and “twisting tunnels of flesh.” As an added bonus, you’ll also be able to fight dudes that the Beast has consumed.

Narrative stuff aside, The Awakening will add a host of interface improvements, fresh customization options, and what is touted as a complete rebalancing of everything. Very thorough. In addition, we also have new skills (elemental golems are everyone’s jams), new jewels, more than a hundred new items, and two new Challenge Leagues for those who feel the deep urge to prove themselves against other people.


  1. Simbosan says:

    Will you be able to see for more than a couple of yards round your character? That’s what turned me off it pretty quickly.

    • drinniol says:

      What turned me off is the twenty different currency types and boring grind.

      • MaXimillion says:

        The currency system is one of the best things about the game though. Every piece of currency does something useful and is intrinsically valuable instead of being “just” currency.

    • Slabs says:

      They have shifted the character up the screen a little so it’s a lot easier to see what’s ahead of you when moving downwards.

      • Simbosan says:

        Pretty much the same then? I love me some pretty scenery in a game

        • LexW1 says:

          Well, it’s free to play, I’d suggest waiting for the expansion then booting it up, rather than dismissing the changes, sight-unseen, as “pretty much the same”. I do understand the frustration you’re explaining, but I think it’s worth giving it a chance.

    • UncleLou says:

      Do you happen to be on a 16:10 monitor? Because that zooms in instead of adding scenery at the top and bottom, compared to 16:9.

  2. Potocobe says:

    Well, I for one play both D3 and PoE. D3 is fun while PoE is challenging. Can these two games please make love and produce a bastard child that is both fun and challenging already? And yay for elemental golems! Everyone should have one in their backyard for the kiddos.

    • LexW1 says:

      I suspect they have speciated to the point where inter-breeding is no longer possible, sadly.

      Both derive from D2:LOD, but they had totally different ideas about what was great about it.

      D3 looked at the smashing of massive packs of monsters, at the loot fountains, at the precise difficulty control possible with stuff like /players X, at the ultra-differentiated classes and the frustration of not being able to respec, and took from the setting that it was colourful and apocalyptic.

      PoE looked at the tight gameplay, the narrow escapes, the uniques that changed the entire way a character was played, at the areas where you had to “punch above your weight”, and so on. With the classes, it took away that actually, they had many similarities, and wouldn’t it be awesome if you could choose what skills to use, instead of picking from a menu? With the frustration of not respecs, they made it so that you slowly and steadily built your character in a way where later choices didn’t invalidate earlier ones (though they also do allow limited respec’ing). With the setting, they took away that it was grim, gothic and bloodsplattered, but had areas of beauty, areas where the fog lifted.

      (PoE also seems to have been very much influenced by D2 mods like Seasons After)

      Both are awesome but I don’t see a way to combine the good things, because they’re more like things that replace each other than things which could be averaged.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I literally want everything from PoE with…I guess mod support added, so it’d be possible to respec or even skip the early game, if you really really wanted. Well, even just being able to respec would be enough, but I don’t really like Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2 while PoE’s gameplay really grabbed me…ugh…

        • LexW1 says:

          Ah, yeah, that’d be nice but it’ll never happen because it’s online and secure, sadly. But that’s a good example of a point of differentiation that’s either/or, no middle ground. D3 and PoE both took the same approach – always online, which in PoE’s case allows it to actually have an economy/trading like D2 had (less sure what it does for D3… the PS/Xbox versions show it doesn’t actually need to be online any more).

          Whereas Titan Quest, Torchlight 1/2 and so on go with offline and online, but they can’t have any kind of economy/trading, because it’s inherently insecure and totally hackable.

          But that hackability also allows modding, which is awesome, so…

          With PoE one thing I find, for me, helps make up for the lack of mods is the fact that they’re always putting in new “challenge leagues” which tend to dramatically modify the game in the sorts of ways good mods did. PoE also does KINDA allow real respecs because whenever the game changes significantly, they give out respecs, so you can go back through and try different stuff with your characters.

          I do think it’d be a better game if they allowed a bit more respec’ing, but now it’s kind of baked into the economy, sadly.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Yeah, I get why it’s not something they can really add in now. It’s disappointing, because I really don’t have time to have more than one character in such a game, but I’m also someone who is incapable of playing a game for long before I get bogged down with thoughts of “what if I had this sort of build?” and just can’t enjoy the game until I’ve given it a shot. Add to that major analysis paralysis (even Dark Souls’ relatively simple, difficult to mess up level-ups made me seriously anxious) and something like PoE makes me feel very uncomfortable.

            Yet I freakin’ love the gameplay when put next to Diablo or Torchlight.

          • Kitsunin says:

            To put this indecisiveness addiction into perspective, I think I had three different characters by the time I even finished the first act with one of them, when I did play PoE.

          • MooseMuffin says:

            The PS/Xbox also demonstrated that when you take away the online requirement, the game becomes a mess of dupes and hacked items.

  3. Faldrath says:

    I’ve played the beta quite a lot, and I must say that if you’ve never played PoE or quit a while ago, this will be the perfect time to start/come back. The game is much more beginner-friendly (although not a walk in the park, far from it), most of the new additions are excellent, and Act 4 is pretty damn amazing.

    (also, we do have an RPS guild there – Rock, Paper, Exile. Contact me (Faldrath) in game or in Steam if you’d like to join)

    • defunct says:

      I never had problems with the beginning. Just slog along and kill stuff. Collect stuff along the way, and have fun. I quit after I reached 70s. Not being able to respec is a major downer for me. I loved playing with my army of minions, but some bosses just wiped me out so fast, I didn’t have time to blink. I did really like the maps, but it just became too frustrating with the bosses. I’d stroll along through trash, get to boss, and die. That’s not challenging. I don’t have time to react. It’s instadeath. Fun spec for 70+ levels though.

      • Faldrath says:

        Yeah, that sounds like you didn’t plan your defenses correctly, which is the main mistake beginners usually make – PoE is about sorting out your defenses first, and then working on DPS, really. Once you get the hang of that, you start making much more enjoyable builds.

      • Faldrath says:

        I forgot to add: 2.0 will make that better too. One of the problems with the live version is that Normal is a bit too easy, and then there are big difficulty spikes in Cruel and especially Merciless that can make a lot of characters useless when they get to late-game with little chance of recovery. In 2.0, well, Normal is getting harder, so you do need to focus on defense from the start… which should make those difficulty spikes less severe.

  4. Solstafir says:

    Super excited for this. All of the changes that they’re doing are fantastic and I can’t wait to sink hundreds more hours into this. And like Faldrath said, there’s a lot of good changes to make it better for new players too – stuff like the start of the game being a bit slow or obtaining certain things (such as Skill Gems) being too restrictive.

    • Slabs says:

      The changes to the structure of each area is definitely one of my favourite things about 2.0

      Solaris slog no more.

      • Solstafir says:

        Oh yes, all of the area changes/streamlining too. Solaris used to be so bad that I would practically never do it myself – I’d always try to get a kind soul to send a portal to the waypoint. No longer!

  5. edwardh says:

    I have to say I find it odd how popular games like D3, Path of Exile and Grim Dawn are while The Adventures of Van Helsing is barely talked about at all.

    Personally, I hate D3, was excited about both Path of Exile and Grim Dawn but find them both to feel quite “unpolished/lacking” (alright, Grim Dawn STILL isn’t really finished – which is yet another pain in my butt, seeing how I am a somewhat generous backer…), yet I found first The Adventures of Van Helsing great fun and can’t wait until I have the time to play the sequels.

    • LexW1 says:

      It’s because the Adventures of Van Helsing series aren’t very deep, compared to D3 and PoE (I’ve never played Grim Dawn). Van Helsing is basically like Torchlight 2 or Titan Quest, a decent ARPG that worth playing through once, but doesn’t really have much replayability, nor a good endgame.

      Whereas D3:ROS and PoE are games you could be playing years from now – there’s so much in them, so many ways to approach them, and so much to do that it’s really a different kind of thing entirely.

      As for PoE being unpolished, when did you play it? It certainly hasn’t been unpolished for more than a year. It’s set to get a hell of a lot more polished with this expansion, too (to the point where if you intend to play it, you’d probably be better off waiting for the expansion next week).

      D3 is also no longer crap if the last time you played it was pre-RoS. RoS added a hell of a lot to it, and the whole economy change from auction-house/RMAH to “use what drops” allowed them to entirely re-work the equipment system so it’s no longer horrible. I mean, it depends what you hated about it, but I went from “This is godawful” to “This is actually really good if a little mindless!” with the changes to the economy and RoS.

    • malkav11 says:

      Everyone seems to forget about Marvel Heroes, too, which is far and away my favorite ARPG ever. I can understand it not being to everyone’s tastes – much of it isn’t very challenging and of course it’s a different theme from most – but the sheer range of beautifully distinct class designs, the piles of different ways to play, the glorious lootsplosions… it’s amazing and getting better all the time. And it’s been by far the best at making me actually care about loot of any ARPG because of the various things a lot of items do besides just make numbers go up. Sure, D3 and PoE have loot with fancy special effects too, but the difference is those things hardly ever drop in those games, whereas they drop all the time in MH.

      With Van Helsing, I wonder if it’s just a lack of exposure. I know I have the first two and I haven’t played either just yet. In part because they have surprisingly large drive footprints for ARPGs.

      • tintinmayo says:

        It’s also worth pointing out that the recent anniversary update for Marvel Heroes removed retcon potions and just gave players the ability to respec the skills and Omega nodes anytime and as much as they want. Coupled with the multispec feature and it really makes it easy for players to experiment with builds.

  6. sharkh20 says:

    If you haven’t tried this game, try it when the expansion comes out. It is really well made and free to play the entire game. The only thing that could be considered pay to win is you can buy more stash tabs (You start with 4 which is 3 more than diablo 2 had) . Everything else is cosmetic. There are race seasons, challenge leagues, pvp events, and so on. Lots to do.

  7. Hunchback says:

    Can’t wait.

    Hard part is, what hero to play… I’ve made quite a few heroes already, mostly tried all the major specs… Shield tank, facebreaker, cold snap+flame blast wizard, physical archer, dual wielding barbarian, wander, …

    Any ideas?

    • Faldrath says:

      There’ll be a handful of new skills to build around. Ice Crash, Magma Orb and Wild Strike are the most promising ones.

  8. Fathom says:

    Grim Dawn is a lot better.

    • Hunchback says:

      But it’s not out yet and it’s not F2P, is it now?

    • UncleLou says:

      Grim Dawn is a lot better.

      With several hundreds of hours in Path of Exile, and maybe 50 in Grim Dawn: no, unfortunately it isn’t (imo), I wish it was, because I am the biggest Titan Quest fan you’ll find, but Grim Dawn leaves me cold. :-/

    • Minsc_N_Boo says:

      I have not tried Grim Dawn yet (I don’t do early access) but from the videos and reviews I have seen, it will not tempt me away from PoE.

      If you have not played PoE in a while give it another go. The game gets updated regularly, and with the 2.0 new act and rebalance it might be a whole new experience for you!

  9. Fathom says:

    It’s almost done! One Act left, finished by the end of the year, and it’s pretty cheap on the Steam sales.