Path Of Exile is a game in flux - the free-to-play action RPG is constantly being revised or reworked one way or another - last year its main story doubled in length. Today Grinding Gear Games have overhauled just about everything that isn't part of that central quest. The Betrayal league, free and live on the servers now, introduces a new Shadow Of Mordor-ish web of immortal villains to harangue. It also replaces the Forsaken Masters - a pantheon of quest-giving characters - with a fresh set of faces, each leading you into a small game's worth of optional hack 'n slashery.
There's a lot to this expansion - 8000 words of patch notes with a full table of contents, even. As with the past three quarterly leagues, a new NPC with her own complex side-quest is the centrepiece. Jun Ortoi wants you to beat up the Immortal Syndicate (a network of irritatingly undying baddies) until they reveal who's at the top of their pyramid and resurrecting them. Right from the start of the game, each zone has a syndicate member active in it. Depending on what you choose to do after subduing them, they can give you intel, get reassigned or even promoted.
The big difference between this and past leagues is that Jun isn't leaving after three months. She'll be joining the other past three league NPCs to fully replace the Forsaken Masters. Instead of annoying little side-quests, they'll offer meaty optional adventures. Niko takes you to delve into an infinite shadow-dungeon, Alva sends you back in time to beat up the Aztec-like Vaal, and Einhar takes you on Pokemon-ish hunts to capture special monsters used in grisly 'beastcrafting' rituals. The Atlas Of Worlds endgame has been bulked up a bit, including challenges set by these NPCs.
On top of that there's the usual pile of new loot to find, skill gems to use and some across-the-board balance tweaks. As the new quest givers don't have reputation grinds attached, the hideout system has been overhauled, too. You'll discover new hideouts as rare mini-dungeons as you explore. Clear them out and you'll claim them as your own to decorate as you please. The crafting system has been streamlined too - now it's all done from one table, with additional recipes being unlocked through completing specific challenges, or having Jun reveal new 'veiled' item mods.
The Betrayal update and new league are live now in Path Of Exile - it's a big download, weighing in at 8gb on Steam or 4.5 for Grinding Gear's own client. Path Of Exile is free to play and available direct from Grinding Gear or on Steam. You can see the full patch notes here or a shorter feature overview here.