You might see the oft-maligned specter of F2P hanging over Path of Exile and fear the worst, but you'd be missing out on what's quietly becoming the smartest hack 'n' slash in the business. Between socketable everything (including maps and skills!) and difficulty that's not afraid to eat a bowl of nails and steal its powers, PoE's slowly but surely pushing the needle forward. Which brings us to brand new, ultra-fast-paced "race" events. In short, they toss players into fresh economies - doughy and naked minus whatever quantities of luck and skill they're dual-wielding - and task them with out-leveling everyone over the course of an hour or a week. And now Grinding Gear's put together a race league that comes with special, event-only rewards. Of course, the system is not without its flaws, but GG's got a few plans to work out the kinks.
On the most basic level, leagues work as follows:
"Rather than running self-contained individual races, we’ve now structured the events into seasons. Season One starts this weekend (February 23, NZ time) and runs for just over six weeks (until April 7, NZ time). There are prizes for top-placing people in each race, prizes for people who achieve good results for a set of events in a season and prizes for people who finish at the top of the realm overall in a given season. Seasons of races help encourage players to play in multiple events and allow us to provide prizes that transcend individual events - giving players something meaningful and special to work towards over several days or weeks."
However, as GG points out, this system very much favors players who've got heaps of time to kill - in addition to, you know, monsters. But it's not all bad news. "We’ve pitched the prizes so that there are still cool things to win even if you can only play in one event per week," the developer noted.
In the near future, leagues will also expand to encompass all sorts of various secondary factors. While solo, party, and turbo are the main options at the moment, Burning Ground or Blood Magic are in the discussion for future events.
So yes, this sounds quite interesting. And, so long as you've got a decent handle on Path of Exile's ins-and-outs, you can hop right in. Honestly, developers of both ARPGs and F2P games in general could stand to crib a few notes from this setup. I doubt it'll go off entirely without a hitch, but the philosophy behind it is a very promising one. So then, who's gonna have a go at the first season?