ExileCon 2023: Path of Exile 2 introduces dodge rolling and instant weapon/skill swapping

    
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If there is one thing that Grinding Gear Games excels at, it is the meaty info dump! The studio is really great at other things too, but every time I have ever interacted with GGG, the devs provide tons of information about Path of Exile. And Path of Exile 2 is no different.

The ExileCon 2023 keynote is now over, but there are plenty of details to still digest. And here, I am going to focus on the mechanics that most caught my eye — and caught my breath — when POE2 Game Director Jonathan Rogers revealed them during the press pre-briefing. While I realize it’s subjective to call these the best bits so far, I am very excited to experience the combat mobility, the weapon and skill swapping, and the built-in weapon skills that will be introduced in POE2, and I personally already think these mechanics will make the game smoother and a better experience. Let’s take a look.


Combat mobility – or the glory of dodge roll

When I was watching the demo of the Monk fighting, one thing stood out above all others: mobility. Rogers emphasized that the melee combat in POE2 has a very different feel than before, and it looks that way from the footage. Many changes have apparently been made to add mobility to combat; practically every melee skill in POE2 has some kind of movement to it. This is highlighted even more so with the Monk that we were watching, as it specializes in mobility over brute strength. No matter your class, however, you will get access to a glorious (in my opinion) dodge roll. PvP has us hopping like a bunny, and POE2 will have us rolling like a pillbug.

How easy is it to dodge roll? One click of the space bar and you will quickly reposition yourself. (I can see myself accidentally doing this many times during a battle!) This skill not only moves you out of the way of attacks (or sets you up for an attack of your own) but also allows you to insta-cancel almost any skill you were performing. No more getting trapped in a long skill animation!

“This really changes how skills with longer attack or cast times play, and makes dodge roll a very reliable-feeling way to avoid attacks,” Rogers told me. It even has a bit of pathfinding in it so you don’t get stuck on things. And get this: There is no cooldown or restrictions! You can even change directions while you are dodge rolling! Utter craziness. (However, note that players are not invulnerable during the dodge roll; projectiles and melee strikes miss, but AOEs will hit.) If this sounds like an infomercial for the dodge roll, well… it can’t be helped. It just looks that good. Sadly, there’s just no 1-800 number to call now to get the skill in just two to four weeks.

Another aspect of improved combat mobility is embedded in skills themselves. Rogers said the idea is that players never lose control of their character in POE2. Some get you closer for attacks, and some get you away to set up distance shots or get you out of harm’s way. You can cast skills while facing one way and whip around to complete it facing enemies in another direction. The feeling of being static and stuck in place seems to have been lifted from this future of Wraeclast, and I’m here for it.

All hail the weapon swap!

After the fact that skills are no longer slotted on individual pieces of gear, the next best change coming to POE2 in my opinion is the weapon swap. Yes, I am talking about changing from one weapon to another to take advantage of different builds to face different circumstances.

Think that it is pointless? You wouldn’t be alone: The function was all but ignored in the original.┬áRogers explained that weapon swap wasn’t used in POE1 much for its intended use because changing was awkward.

In POE2, however, players will be able to easily swap between weapons that focus on different skills, increasing their versatility. For instance, swapping allows Sorceresses to have builds focusing on two separate elements, like lightning and ice, that would normally be incompatible. This works by letting the player use the UI to assign each skill to be used with the first slotted weapon, the second, or both. Then, when a player uses the skill associated with a weapon, it automatically swaps to that weapon! There is nothing extra for a player to remember or click other than casting the desired skill. There is just a very small time penalty that happens for the swap to physically take place. This is a super big boon for me because I know I hardly remembered to swap in the heat of battle. And now I don’t need to get double gems when I want to keep a certain skill regardless of the weapon I use.

Passive skill swap

OK, weapon swapping is awesome, but what about the passive tree? The best passives for ice don’t mesh with the best passives for lightning, so will swapping hamstring players?

Nope. POE2 solves that by having the swap carry over in the passive tree. When allocating your passive points, you can configure one weapon with one passive skill set cluster and the other to another. Then, when you auto swap your weapon, it also auto swaps the corresponding passive tree.Talk about easy peasy (as long as you remember to set it up!).

Rogers points out, however, that players can’t do this with every passive on the tree; only points granted from Skill Books will allow this kind of dual specialization. Sadly, this thwarts any ideas of changing between a mace-slamming Warrior a Fire Elementalist with the press of a just a button. What you can do, though, is augment your dagger Shadow build with traps, or have a Witch set up with curse on one weapon and chaos debuff on the other. The possibilities for builds really open up.

Built-in weapon skills

As my preferred class has always been Witch, this feature also really interests me. Just because weapons won’t have skill slots doesn’t mean they will be empty. You know how in POE1, caster weapons had a default melee attack (that no one used — I mean, what caster wanted to be in melee range?!) and were filled with intrinsic attack mods that were useless to a caster? POE2 strips that uselessness away. In the sequel, each staff has a built-in, free-to-cast skill that takes the place of POE1’s mechanic. This intrinsic spell can be cast to your heart’s content.

Speaking of the built-in spells, I can tell you that two of these are Unleash (slams your staff on the ground and allows you to triple cast your next spell) and Mana Tempest (creates a circle of power on the ground that drains your mana but powers up all your spells). Rogers pointed out that Unleash is one of the few skills in POE2 with a cooldown. “In general, we really try to avoid using cooldowns because we really hate the feeling that combat is just waiting to be able to use your next skill,” he said. “But it does make sense for unleash since it’s free to cast, and it’s something we want you to be using situationally anyway.”

Having heard of these new mechanics, I am even more excited for Path of Exile 2. Next June really can’t come soon enough!

What if your world changed every three months? What would you do differently? Path of Exile does, and MOP’s MJ Guthrie explores and experiences each new incarnation in Wandering Wraeclast. Join us biweekly for a look into each new challenge league and world expansion — and see whether MJ can finally reach the end of one world before it ends!
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