Path of Exile’s upcoming Bestiary league adds zookeeping and blood-rituals to your repertoire

Bestiary

In The Fall of Oriath, you went to war with the gods themselves. In the Abyss, you fought ancient undead, led by a nameless lich-king and in the War For The Atlas, you set your sights on two almighty beings that create and destroy entire worlds on a whim. Now, Path of Exile‘s next league challenges you to… open a zoo? Well, that’s a bit different.

While not quite as ambitious as the expansions preceding it, the Bestiary league (due March 2nd) for Path of Exile looks to add a lot more flavour and tangential content to the popular free-to-play action RPG, designed to be accessible to all players from total beginners right up to endgame grind-fiends.

The heart of this new league (which should run for three months, give or take) is the Menagerie, your very own monster zoo. Early on, you’ll meet Einhar, a new NPC who will give you the keys to this place and a copy of the Bestiary, an automatically updated checklist of 250 types of animal and 40 Legendary Beasts scattered around Wraeclast. By weakening the head of a pack of animals, you make it vulnerable to being captured, Pokemon-style. If successful, it’s picked up by Einhar, who drags it off through a portal to your (fully explorable) monster-zoo. Legendary Beasts are new boss-class fights and require significantly more effort to capture, of course, but will be required for the next part of the equation.

This being Path of Exile, you’re not collecting animals for preservation or the advancement of science. You’re not even doing it for easy tourism bucks. Attached to your menagerie is an arena pit with a blood-stained altar in the center, used in the second new mechanic: Beastcrafting. By sacrificing certain combinations of animals and then jumping into the pit to fight them all simultaneously, you can complete blood rituals in order to do new types of item crafting. Certain high-level Beastcrafting recipes (presumably involving Legendary Beasts) can open up portals to some beastly multi-stage boss instances which drop new unique gear sets.

If you are pointedly disinterested in any and all animal antics, the update accompanying the Bestiary league is bringing a handful of unrelated additions, including a trio of new skill gems, most enticing (for me, at least) being a summoning-type support gem that spawns phantom minions just by killing stuff. They’re also expanding on the Destiny-like system whereby you can re-forge certain lower-level unique items into higher-level forms with new perks by completing specific Prophecy quests. Another 30 uniques can be upgraded this way now.

Path of Exile

While the Bestiary league is primarily aimed at normal human beings, sterner players will find a few new animal-themed bosses in the endgame. For the absolutely hardcore, the Atlas story arc is being capped off with one final challenge: A tag-team throwdown against the Shaper and the Elder simultaneously, both gods amped up to their highest level forms. While chatting with Grinding Gear head Chris Wilson about this update, he admitted that not a single QA tester had survived the fight without cheating. I believe him.

As for the Abyss league, player response to it was so positive that Grinding Gear will be integrating its undead-filled chasms into the main game starting around Act 6. Fitting, given that’s around the point in the story where you’ve gone and triggered the apocalypse. While Grinding Gear aren’t entirely sure what will happen with the Bestiary content after its three-month tenure, they’re looking to integrate it into the core relatively early on if possible, as its content spans the entire length of the game.

Path of Exile’s Bestiary league will begin on March 2nd. You’ll have to roll a new character if you want to start your own zoo, but at least everyone involved will be starting out on equal footing. The game and its expansions remain completely free, supported through the sale of cosmetic item skins and some quality-of-life perks for dedicated loot-hoarders.

14 Comments

  1. Ghostwise says:

    We could already reforge certain Uniques using prophecies from the crone Navali (though of course you had to get the right prophecy from the random pool). So I assume we’re getting more of those ?

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      An extra 30 or so, I believe. I guess I’ve been unlucky enough to not get any of those prophecies so far – such is the nature of Path of Exile. A lot relies on a roll of the dice.

      Updated and corrected.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Oh yes, you have to be aggressive with prophecies and methodically work through them to free up “space”, and “bottle” the good ones you can’t use yet or want to keep in reserve (say, the one that automatically links five slots).

        Otherwise, you just cruft up a character’s prophecies pool with so-so ones, and then children laugh at you and women sneer and dogs steal your lunch money.

  2. miguelyoung says:

    I just love this no holds barred game design approach that GGG has, pilling systems over systems, to see what kind of creatures will emerge from the oiled rags. They are the antithesis of Blizzard´s approach, with their heavily walled gardens where everything is tested to exhaustion and any chance of truly greatness is killed in name of the Great Shareholder’s appeasement.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The leagues *are* where things are tested. A big new gameplay mechanic each time, and then they gauge how successful an addition it is.

      In a lot of cases, they get shuffled into the endgame as rare modifiers, but in the case of the Abyss league, it’s such a good fit for the latter half of the campaign that they’re making it a standard feature now.

      Bestiary seems to have had a ton of thought put into it, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t become a standard feature come the next league.

    • percydaman says:

      Agreed. I love GGG for it’s work ethic. I mean it helps that it can never rest for an extended period of time for fear of the lights getting turned off. I can appreciate it.

      They’re such the antithesis of Blizzard that it’s why I pick up the supporter packs.

  3. Faldrath says:

    I am someone who was planning on not playing PoE next league, to take a break.

    I am also someone who owns more than 60 pets, and who always makes a little zoo for them, every league.

    I am someone who will not be taking a break :(

    • Slabs says:

      I was in the same boat, burned myself out in Abyss (as I usually do) and then this trailer drops and I’m back to eager anticipation.

    • zagibu says:

      Yeah, I’m probably still going to take a break, but Bestiary is very tempting.

  4. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Uh oh I’ve played on and off since the atlas league started in
    nov and I’m like act 7 now but haven’t unlocked even the first reward item. Time to hurry up I guess – not even close to the fabled atlas endgame yet.

  5. Viral Frog says:

    Just started back on PoE. Decided I needed to see it through again now that it has 10 acts instead of 4. And man, it has its hooks in me deeper than anytime before. Something just clicked. I think what really did it is that I actually understand itemization and builds now, whereas before I had no idea what I was doing. (I learned via Diablo 3, but it’s easy to adapt the knowledge from one to the other.)

    This sounds like a nifty idea! I’m excited to try it out. But I am also a bit bummed. I guess I should just stop and wait for the league to start. I see no point continuing with my soon-to-be Standard league characters.

    Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep playing and then just reroll with the new league. :P

    • percydaman says:

      You’re me a few months ago. I started up again just like you but at the end of the last league. So I had a few weeks to play around with Harbinger before Abyss started. Now I’m definitely taking the last few weeks off to play some other stuff so that I’m not in danger of burning out.

  6. zagibu says:

    Fall of Oriath and War for the Atlas were not leagues. They were game expansions. The league(s) that started when Fall of Oriath went live was called Harbinger, and the league(s) that started when War for the Atlas went live was/is called Abyss.