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Will Path Of Exile 2's Hardcore mode be more punishing than before? "Absolutely," say devs

"We expect people to die a lot more"

A warrior fights a large flaming monster in Path Of Exile 2
Image credit: Grinding Gear Games

Get ready to die lots in Path Of Exile 2, as developers Grinding Gear Games have told me that both the regular and Hardcore difficulty modes of their upcoming, now standalone sequel to their enormously popular ARPG are going to be a whole lot more challenging than before - both when it comes to the campaign and the end-game afterwards. Bosses, in particular, will pose much more of a threat this time round, as studio co-founder and Path Of Exile 2 creative director Jonathan Rogers says the big monsters you fought in the first game's campaign were, in hindsight, "pretty anemic".

"When you die in POE1 on Hardcore, you can just respawn and continue the fight where you left off without having to start it again," Rogers explains. "In POE2, you do actually have to restart the boss fight and start it again. That's pretty important, because it means that the balance is quite different. We expect people to die a lot more."

Indeed, he says players will probably have to try bosses multiple times before taking them down. "It's going to be quite a lot more of a challenge," he teases. "When you fight a boss, you're probably going to have to die a few times and play it again and again to learn the sequence of the boss fight and that kind of stuff. This is something that in POE1 we kind of had in end-game, but in campaign we never really had that. The bosses were pretty anemic in the POE1 campaign compared to end-game."

Those deaths will hold greater consequences than before, too, as Path Of Exile 2 players will also lose their experience points on death as well. To help counter this, the devs revealed that bosses will consequently have checkpoints in front of them so you can hold onto what you've earned.

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"We would hopefully expect you to die enough times that the levelling curve will still feel right," he insists. "Hardcore will be harder, I suspect, and the difficulty curve is definitely changing. We want to try and make sure that the game is more difficult than it previously was, and we want skill to be more of a factor rather than just item checks."

Judging by the big new chunk of gameplay footage they showed off during tonight's ExileCon stream, there will be plenty of opportunity to hone those skills over the length of the campaign.

Path Of Exile 2 doesn't have a firm release date yet, but the developers announced it will be entering a closed beta on June 7th 2024.

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