Path Of Exile's next expansion is called Echoes Of The Atlas, as announced earlier this evening in a Twitch livestream. It's adding the usual mixture of new features to the free-to-play hack-and-slasher, including new maps, endgame content, and a new challenge league. You'll be able to play it on January 15th, but you can step below right now to watch the announcement and read a few more details.
Here's the official trailer:
Update 3.13 for Path Of Exile is called Echoes Of The Atlas, and it's introducing eleven new maps, rewaorked ascendancies, passive skill trees for the Atlas in-game map, and new endgame bosses.
I'm not sure I ever looked at Path Of Exile and thought, "What this needs is more skill trees." And yet: the new Atlas passive trees are skill trees which sit on the game's map, with a different skill tree for each area. If you're an existing experienced player, it's a way of introducing a bunch of new meaningful decisions to your journey through the game.
Every Path Of Exile expansion also introduces a new challenge league, in which players compete to rush through levels with a fresh character. This time out it's the Ritual league, in which players trigger rituals which summon huge numbers of enemies to kill, and each ritual triggered also summons every enemy from each previously completed ritual. It looks like the numbers of enemies will escalate to absurd numbers, but there are systems that let you tune the risk and reward of each fight before you start it.
The new endgame content is focused on a creepy new character called the Maven, who likes to watch you fight. By defeating bosses, you'll eventually gain the ability to summon her to any part of the map so she can watch you fight yet other bosses. Success in these fights eventually prompts the Maven to invite you to her realm, where she has created copies of those previously defeated bosses so you can fight groups of them simultaneously in increasing numbers, to a maximum of 10.
There are a bunch of other additions and changes, including previous challenge leagues like Harvest being folded into the base game, which you can see by watching the full content reveal on YouTube.
Path Of Exile's developers have released a new expansion every three months for years, almost without fail. This latest expansion is a rare instance of one of their release dates slipping, but it's not because it wasn't done. It's because they didn't want to release at the same time as Cyberpunk 2077. Who can blame them? Everyone got out the way of the cyberbeast.
We've deemed Path Of Exile both one of the best RPGs on PC and one of the best free PC games. If, like me, you get an occasional hankering for an action RPG to sink into, you might want to give it a try - but I'm going to wait for Path Of Exile 2, which last we heard was due to enter beta sometime this year.