Path of Exile’s time-warping Incursion league goes live

Path of Exile

It’s all-change day for free-to-play action RPG Path of Exile. Out with the old animal-bothering Bestiary league, and in with Incursion, an even more morally questionable side-adventure for players to work their way through as they level and loot their way across the incredibly cursed continent of Wraeclast. This time we’re travelling back through time to murder the heck out of the ancient Aztec-like Vaal civilisation before they have a chance to go extinct on their own terms. Did I mention that a rather Conquistador-looking lady is involved?

Unlike the rather fiddly Bestiary league, Incursion keeps it simple: Find the new NPC, Alva Valai in each and every zone you visit, and she’ll send you back in time to cause trouble during the construction of a great Vaal ziggurat a thousand years ago. After eleven of these little incursions, you’ll unlock the option to invade the now-completed ziggurat in the present and claim the rewards of your temporal meddling. Completing special objectives during incursions can alter the structure of the building in the future, too, so pick and choose targets carefully.

While I got to cover the broad strokes of what the Incursion update would include in my preview back in May, now seems a good a time as any (being an hour until the servers go live again, plus there’s a nearly 5gb patch download for Steam users) to dive deep into the very extensive patch notes.

For starters, we’ve got: 12 new skill and support gems, with a broad focus on trap-type skills, giving Dexterity-focused characters a lot of options. There’s 31 new unique items, undoubtedly providing new and interesting ways to break the game, and 22 new Divination Cards to collect and trade in for goodies, because you weren’t hoarding enough already. The number of balance changes is quite frankly a little silly, so it’ll probably be a few weeks and patches yet before any kind of meta is worked out for this iteration of the game.

Probably one of the most exciting mechanical changes for me is a complete rework on how Vaal skill gems function. While previously hyper-specialised, they now also double as the regular version of the skill gem, while still offering the option of using the smartbomb-like charged variant. This has come at a cost, though, with more souls needed to charge each gem, plus after using the powered version of the skill, you lose the ability to gain additional souls for a few seconds. Fair, but slightly frustrating nonetheless.

The passive skill tree has also been rejigged a little, mostly to make Ignite-focused builds more viable, and improve trap and mine-related skills as a whole, so expect to see some fun new builds coming out of this release. They’ve also made some balance tweaks to late/endgame content, with Act 10 picking up some entirely new enemy types, and the War For The Atlas balance and rewards being hammered a bit more into shape. Plus, if you ignore the Elder long enough, he’ll get bored and go home, allowing you to avoid a confrontation if you so desire.

Path of Exile is free to play and can be snagged from both its official site or via Steam. You’ll need to roll a new character to join the Incursion league, putting everyone back on equal footing as players race to the top of the refreshed leaderboards.

13 Comments

  1. milligna says:

    The developers seem so nice and dedicated to expanding this game, I wish it didn’t make my hand hurt so damn much.

    • thesloppy says:

      I sympathize with you, I can only play PoE for about an hour before my hand starts to cramp up from the constant clicking. I keep hoping it’s something that will be ‘solved’ with one of their constant updates, but I’m not it’s seen as that much of an issue.

      Grim Dawn, is just one of many extremely similar games, which manages to avoid the same pains by simply letting me hold down the mouse button to keep attacking/interacting with anything (including chests and boxes) I come across. Holding down the mouse button for a minute or two at a time is so less stressful on my hands than clicking the mouse dozens of times every single second the game is active.

    • Colwolf77 says:

      I used to have the same problem but found I just needed to change the type of mouse I was using. Did a little research and found out I’m a claw grip mouse user so bought the best ‘claw’ type mouse I could find – a Logitech G Pro. I don’t have anymore issues now, might be worth a try.

      • thesloppy says:

        Thanks for the advice! Personally, PoE is literally the only game that gives me these pains, so I’m not yet at the point where I’m looking to buy hardware to alleviate the issue, but a ‘better fitted’ mouse is probably worth considering in general.

    • trollusk says:

      Rebind movement to spacebar. Also you should fire all your frequently used skills from QWERT, never the mouse buttons. Your tendons will thank you. Pressing keys is much easier on your hands than clicking mouse buttons.

  2. Faldrath says:

    It is time for me to finally try a skelemancer. No bone shall remain undisturbed!

    (then after the game settles down a bit and I have some currency, I must try something with the new Elemental Hit. I haven’t used ele hit since open beta!)

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Vaal Summon Skeleton was always my favourite Vaal gem to begin with, but now that I can use it to summon regular skeletons too? No reason not to augment the heck of out it.

      • Faldrath says:

        The only snag is that, if you plan on taking the character to a very high level, you shouldn’t get Vaal Summon Skeletons too soon, because otherwise you can’t add quality to the gem (unless the incursion stuff lets you do it somehow, I have been avoiding spoilers regarding that).

  3. Robert says:

    the server was launched, but is bugged login.

  4. Freud says:

    PoE is not my cup of tea. The camera is too close in and the action lacks flow.

    That said, I’m very happy they are successful. They are staying true to their vision of what they want to do and their fans seem happy with it. We need more companies like this.

  5. Eikenberry says:

    I’ve bounced off Poe many times. Is now a good time to jump in? I’ve never been a good min maxxer, I prefer noodling around. Is that even possible or is the crazy skill tree basically optimized to 5 good builds?

    • liance says:

      It’s a very good league to be jumping in on, as a lot of skills have been overhauled to be viable. There’s a nice amount of good builds capable of reaching low-medium level mapping.

      The problem that I think you’d run into is that making fun, off-beat builds without help from guides in PoE is largely reliant on your knowledge of game mechanics: and that may run counter to what you find fun. It’s easy to noodle around with skill setups/unique items once you’ve hit a prerequisite threshold of knowledge, but it’s not going to feel as great before that.

      I say this as someone who noodled around in PoE for almost three leagues before I finally read some guides and everything clicked: it’s a vastly different game before and after that happens, and it’s perfectly understandable if you don’t have the time nor the inclination to work past that problematic speedbump.

      • malkav11 says:

        And IMO the guides are annoying because they typically assume you have or are willing to use the player economy to acquire specific uniques and such, which I don’t, as a newbie, and probably couldn’t afford even if I liked trading with other players.

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