Preview: Path of Exile reveals The Fall of Oriath

Path of Exile fans, today is the big day: Grinding Gear Games is officially unveiling your next expansion, dubbed The Fall of Oriath.

It turns out that the place your Exile called home before being banished is not only the main setting of this act but is going through some rough times. Even lowbies like yours truly who vaguely recall their origin story can get behind this act. We’re going home, dealing with civil unrest, and welcoming back some lost deities with sharp pointy objects or finger-wiggling destruction. And that’s literally just the beginning.

Read on for our preview of the expansion from last week’s press event, plus brand-new screenshots and the new trailer!

One expansion, six new acts

Surprise! You’re not getting just Act 5 but Acts 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the Oriath expansion. Even I needed a moment to process this when producer Chris Wilson was giving me the run-down during my demo last week.

New players might not realize that once you clear Acts 1-4 for the first time, you essentially replay them on a harder mode, like a New Game Plus from old-school RPGs that are featured prominently in a lot of modern ARPGs, like the Diablo series. After two replays, you’d move on to endgame. But GGG says it now realizes it loses a lot of players during the replay section of progression. Those who made it to endgame became core players, though, so the studio figured that if it cut back on the repetitive gameplay with some new acts, it’d be easier to get people to endgame and retain them. Considering that the game saw a 44% increase in player hours in 2016 when compared to 2015 and had over a million active players in December, I’m guessing they’re making the right call for their metrics.

So Act 5 will take place in Oriath, across towns, temples, and mountaintops. You’ll be fighting in all new zones, and of course, pick up some new abilities along the way. But Acts 6 through 10 take place in the old world as you revisit past areas to see how they’ve changed thanks to your meddling. Towns will be built up, mobs will evolve, paths you unlocked will remain unlocked, etc. A cynic might suspect the base game is simply being retextured, but Grinding Gears told me it’s focusing on making Acts 6-10 story-driven content based on changes brought about in previous acts, and in doing so, the studio can create multiple acts much faster than before.

The Pantheon System

One of key themes for the expansion is gods. I won’t go into spoiler territory here, but just recall that there are multitudes of references to gods in the original PoE storyline — but no actual gods making mischief. That’s all about to change. You’ll be able to fix that, if you prevail, and thereby attain some of their power for yourself through the brand-new Pantheon System, which allows you to claim power from the gods at will. You don’t just choose them like talents; indeed, you can swap them around as needed. Pantheon powers also grow in potency: For example, Soul of the Brine King helps you avoid getting double stunned or frozen. However, killing other gods can improve your abilities, like defeating Glace allowing the ability to reduce Chill effects.

The ‘Legacy Challenge’ league

Beyond expansions, Grinding Gears is further trying to regain lapsed players with its previously introduced league system. These are essentially the same Acts but with new mobs or rulesets, like rarer dropped items and “permadeath” (by which we mean, a character can no longer participate in a specific campaign, but is safely transferred to permanent servers with all their fat loot intact).

On March 3rd, players will gain access to “The Legacy Challenge League.” This league lets you revisit past leagues for adventures/items to celebrate the upcoming expansion, which is free. All of it. Except, you know, stuff in the store. This will be available before the beta for the expansion and followed by the actual expansion later this year.

New horizons

For our international crowd, the game is also coming out in China, with everything available at launch. The MMOARPG genre’s quite popular in China; Path of Exile, you might be surprised to learn, is one of the most anticipated games coming out there thanks to help from Tencent’s advertising, though due to genre popularity, Chinese players had already discovered the game via English and Taiwanese channels. Now they’ll be able to play on their own turf.

The Xbox One version of the game is chiefly aimed at bringing hardcore PC action to console gamers. While everything coming in this expansion will be ready in time for the Xbox One launch, there’s sadly no cross-play since the console version isn’t identical (at one point, the number of potions available at a time for Xbox players was fewer than for PC gamers, for example, though that’s since been fixed). Grinding Gears told me it’s already turned many casual players into hardcore by building an accessible system that teaches and motivates players to be smarter. Combined with help from Microsoft’s advertising team and grassroots demos with media, the New Zealand-based team is hoping to reach a broader audience.

We did ask about mouse-and-keyboard play on consoles: GGG explained it doesn’t support that sort of play and would prefer people to play with the controller, as they’ve removed all the mouse code from the Xbox version of the game. The studio also says it’s cleaned up the UI and store for Xbox and will be rolling out the change for PC as well.

More details will be coming out as we approach launch, but what I saw in the demo was intriguing, even for someone who isn’t necessarily a fanboy for 2.5D games. In one fight, a boss spawned a secondary mob, then began shooting out waves of fire bolts, and the new mob acted as a shield protecting the player from the bolts, despite, you know, also trying to kill you. Wilson made a comparison to bullet hell games games, and that felt accurate enough given the perspective. The story behind the boss wasn’t exactly high art, but it’s a trope that’s familiar enough to the genre. Still, it didn’t detract from the overall plot presentation, and even motivated me to at least consider playing a class that hadn’t previously interested me. I think that’s a pretty good sign.

As for the launch? Expect the whole shebang “later this year.”

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30 Comments on "Preview: Path of Exile reveals The Fall of Oriath"

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angrakhan

Played this at launch and was pretty underwhelmed. I still don’t understand why they can’t just use gold as a currency to make bartering more intuitive. Last I played you needed a cheat sheet of what all the acronyms and abbreviations were that people were using in chat to trade. That and the character talent system seemed like an infinite multitude of ways to build a gimped character with only a few hidden paths for an actual viable build. However I’m sure there’s plenty of guides out by now to build your ‘me too’ cookie cutter build. I might try it out again once this expansion drops.

Reader
Veldan

I’ve always played my own builds, and they have always worked. Were they 100% as fast and efficient as the top builds? No, but why should they be? The game is not a race or a job, I’m not paid to do it as fast as I can. I want to enjoy it, and Path of Exile is very enjoyable if you make your own builds, imperfect as they may be.

You’ll never be truly “gimped” as long as you do use your brain when picking your talents. If you put 80% of your points into damage and the other 20% into crit, it’s not a miracle if you get killed all the time.

Reader
Bryan Correll

The way I see it is that once you hit merciless you’re going to find that your first character is well and truly gimped (unless you used a cookie cutter.) But once you have a good feel for how things work you can plan out your next character to be something much more viable. If you want to play the ‘meta’ you’ll have to use a cookie cutter, but you can make a perfectly playable character on your own. But you do have to plan out a successful build ahead of time.

Reader
Kayweg

They just keep doing it, don’t they ?

Reader
Malcolm Swoboda

Oh my god.

Reader
wakkander

The problem I’ve always had with this game has been the art style and setting. I just never particularly liked the way he world and characters looked, and it throws me off. Which is a shame, because it is otherwise a solid game I’ve enjoyed playing previously. I just wish I actually remotely cared or was interested in the world/story.

Reader
Veldan

For many of us, the style, setting and story are a big reason why this game is so awesome. I personally love it. Too many games nowadays give in to a lighthearted fun type of aesthetic. Path of Exile is dark and serious, which is exactly what it should be.

Reader
Armsbend

I just read the infographic…a million in december alone…and a 44% YOY increase on an older game? I think they have re-written the book on ARPGs – even surpassing their own god – Diablo 2.

Reader
Armsbend

I bet they jack up some of the bosses. Like Act 4 is pretty easy on the first two difficulties but you have to be really careful on hardcore on those guys. I bet they will find a difficulty for them on a playthrough somewhere in the middle.

Reader
Veldan

It’s going to be interesting to see what they do with the difficulty. Act 4 used to be way harder, but all the interesting mobs got nerfed several times to “streamline” gameplay on normal and cruel.

Reader
Sylkesh

Pretty impressive, GG ^^

Reader
Veldan

you missed an opportunity to write “GG GGG”

Reader
Bryan Correll

Good golly! Grinding Gears Games’ great game gets grander! Good going!

dixa
Reader
dixa

If these new acts are as long as the previous 4 acts, this just became game of the year for ARPG fans.

Reader
agemyth 😩

What?!

How?!

pepperzine
Reader
pepperzine

Hype doesn’t even begin to describe how this news makes me feel!

Reader
Lorgarn

Wow, just wow! What an announcement from GGG, this expansion sounds like it could be a fantastic addition to an already fantastic game. Even though I love the game deeply, I’ve never truly been the biggest fan of ‘Content via Difficulty’. I often find it to repetitive after a while so I’m stoked they’re trying to move away from that a little bit.

Awesome, something to look foward to in 2017. :)

Reader
Dug From The Earth

null [ PoE]

Reader
Veldan

I thought I was done with Path of Exile, but seeing this, I’m pretty sure I’m far from done :) development for this game keeps being amazing, even if I don’t agree with all decisions regarding mob difficulty.

Reader
Armsbend

Wow. Huge and unexpected. Thank goodness no more difficulties.

Reader
Marc Pannenberg

Oh boy oh boy oh boy…. After slowly fading out of Breach league, I’m again super stoked for what’s to come! Might skip 2.6, but will probably need to take a sabbatical for 3.0.

Path of Exile is the main reason my list of unplayed Steam games does not shrink, at all.

verhaa
Reader
verhaa

Expect the whole shebang “later this year.”

They have this release schedule at the bottom of the new landing page:

February 14: The Fall of Oriath Announcement.
February 16: Legacy League/Content Update 2.6.0 full details.
March 3: Legacy League Starts.
Late April/Early May: The Fall of Oriath Beta begins.
June-July 2017: The Fall of Oriath full release.

That’s not too long to wait :)

Reader
Indigo Salma

Did they improve the terrible combat ? Mobs are just statues with not even a slight nudge from the hits players give them?

Reader
Dividion

I only played through it on the Breach League with an archer. In any case, the mobs can be stunned, knocked back, feared, etc. There are plenty of gems that can increase the “impact” of your hits, which does affect their movement toward you. So I guess my experience was different.

Reader
Bryan Turner

Impressive, that much new content I’m surprised this isn’t a B2P expansion.

Reader
Neurotic

Jaw. On the floor.

wandris
Reader
wandris

They never cease to impress and exceed expectations. I would say somewhere around the 4th act (awakening release) the game reached a level of quality and depth beyond anything else in the ARPG genre. Since then there has been nothing but top quality updates and additions. They said way back they were going to do 10 acts but I don’t think anyone anticipated this so soon. Now the question is where will they go after 3.0?

Reader
Bullet Teeth

Pants just got shorter somehow…

LF Tailor! Have mats!

Reader
BalsBigBrother

GGG just keep on getting better and better putting others arpg efforts to shame. With maybe the exception of Grim Dawn but even so I would put that one in second place,

Reader
Rheem Octuris

Been waiting for this post all day :) Sounds awesome, just what the game needed.
There should be another announcement about 2.6 Thursday.

wpDiscuz