Isometric Action-RPGs, like Blizzard’s classic Diablo series, are something of a nice genre these days outside of East Asia. Many gamers shy away from ARPGs due to their reputations as massive time sinks without many of the social aspects of MMORPGs. And unlike games like Gearbox Software’s Borderlands series, which also qualifies as an ARPG, the traditional overhead view of games like Diablo tends to alienate players who feel as if they were disconnected from their in-game avatar. But for those who immerse themselves in them, ARPGs offer fertile spaces for creative experimentation; they can foster tightly-knit communities where players apply their knowledge of the ARPG’s mechanics and systems to build the most efficient (and hopefully fun) playstyles possible. Independent New Zealand-based developer Grinding Gear Games aims to do just that with their Diablo-inspired Path of Exile, and the game’s upcoming major patch will expand those avenues for player experimentation to greater lengths than ever before.
Grinding Gear Games is known for releasing hefty Path of Exile updates, and Update 2.1.0 is no exception. The patch, which GGG announced earlier today, is chock-full of gameplay tweaks, from spell balance changes to new gear and skill gems. In addition to these changes, Update 2.1.0 introduces an entirely new game mode and item class: Talisman Leagues. Path of Exile’s website describes talismans as “infused with the power of the First Ones, the primeval gods of the ancient Ezomytes.” The Talisman League, which possesses its own economy separate from the standard leagues, invites players to find and slay monsters who are in possession of the aforementioned talismans. The player can then loot the talisman off the creature’s corpse and use it as an item that offers powerful boosts to a player’s stats. Players can also use these talismans to summon upgraded monsters, which can drop even more powerful versions of the talismans. For their efforts, players are rewarded with legendary armors, more talismans, and cosmetics which they can use to spruce up their personal Hideout.
Grinding Gear Games plans to release more information on Update 2.1.0 in the coming weeks, with a special announcement concerning Path of Exile‘s first major expansion pack at the end of next week. Update 2.0, which released earlier this June, was even massive and introduced a plethora of new items, spells, and activities to enhance the min-maxing experience.
A trailer for the upcoming patch can be seen below.
Path of Exile is a free-to-play ARPG developed and published by the aforementioned Grinding Gear Games. Released in 2013, Path of Exile is GGG’s only game thus far. A spiritual relative to Blizzard’s Diablo series, Path of Exile aims to provide hardcore ARPG fans with an environment where they can flex their creative prowess to the utmost degree. Like most ARPGs, Path of Exile places the player in the role of one of unique six heroes (called an Exile), who must journey through dangerous and bizarre lands to defeat monsters, uncover sinister plots, and most importantly, obtain powerful loot. Path of Exile offers a staggering array of mechanical choices by which players can fine-tune their character, from a constellation-like Skill Web that resembles Final Fantasy XII’s Zodiac Job System; to a menagerie of unique weapons, armor, and gems that can be combined and matched in near-infinite ways to create synergistic builds. The game also possesses a library of cosmetic alterations like non-combat companions and altered visuals for spells that can be purchased through microtransactions.
Unlike most ARPGs, Path of Exile does not have a traditional gold or money-based currency system. Instead, players must accrue myriad consumable items to purchase goods, which can also be used to upgrade gear. This system helps prevent the currency inflation issues to which most ARPGs fall prey. Spells and skills are also not learned by leveling up in a traditional RPG manner. They must be socketed into gear via Skill Gems that further deepen Path of Exile’s already-complex character customization. In addition, Path of Exile also offers numerous competitive leagues, which players can enter to achieve high positions on the ranking ladder, where rank is based on how many experience points a player gains. League rules range from modes where players can band together to ambush other players and steal their gear, to the classic Hardcore mode from the Diablo series, which challenges players to survive as long as they can before their avatar permanently dies.
Patch 2.1.0 is set to release on December 11, US Pacific Time, this year. No hard date has been announced for Path of Exile’s first major expansion, though it is slated for a release early next year.