Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile has become a monumental success since its initial release on PC in 2013. And the developers expanded upon that success recently with the Xbox One version in 2017, followed by the PlayStation 4 edition early this year. It presents a number of challenges for those looking for a unique alternative to the Diablo series, especially when it comes to conquering classes such as the Duelist, the Marauder and the Ranger. But there’s more where that came from.
The developers recently announced that a new add-on for the game, Legion, is in the works. It’s set to drop very soon here, coming first to PC on June 7 before making its way to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just three days later on June 10. With it, players will be introduced to a number of new challenges, ones that they’ll have to act to quickly, lest they become overrun by armies that want nothing more than to swat them down.
So let’s take a close look at what this expansion will have to offer before it arrives in just a few short weeks:
Say Hello To the Blood and Sand Gladiator
With Legion, Grinding Gear Games will introduces two new archetypes to the game, which players can experiment and grow with as they become better and mow down enemies like grass. First up is the Blood and Sand Gladiator, who acts as a Duelist. His name indicates that he can utilize “Blood” and “Sand” stances to knock down opponents, both of which can come in pretty handy.
“Their stances are mana reservation effects that give benefits depending on the theme of the stance, and you can switch between the stances at will. Blood Stance is great for dealing lots of damage to close enemies, while Sand Stance is defensive and has more area of effect. The Blood and Sand skills have very different behavior in each stance, so you want to switch stances to best adapt your skill and benefits to the situation,” the development team explained during its presentation.
Not only does the Blood and Sand Gladiator take advantage of newly introduced skills like Blood and Sand, Flesh and Stone and Bladestorm, but you can also utilize existing skills as well, such as Lacerate. Once you get used to him, you’ll find his abilities are perfect for taking down armies.
The Rage Berserker Demands You Respect
The next archetype that enters the fray is the Rage Berserker. And he’s just as angry as his name lives up to. Rage is definitely his ally.
“Rage is an attack buff that increases attack damage, attack and movement speed and stacks up to 50. In Legion, it no longer drains life over time, though the Berserker can chose to restore that effect in exchange for increased power. A number of new skills such as Chain Strike generate Rage, and the Berserk skill consumes Rage to grant very powerful multiplicative attack bonuses,” the developer continues. “The Berserker ascendancy class has reworked bonuses to improve its interactions with Rage and Berserk.”
Based on what we’ve seen from his gameplay thus far, the Berserker is definitely in a class by himself – and he’s a character that you won’t want to miss.
A Whole New Kind of Combat
While Path of Exile has an exceptional combat system, it’s one that has its fair share of shortcomings. For instance, in the past, you weren’t able to dodge attacks so easily. However, with Grinding Gears’ new monster rebalance system – which will be introduced in the Legion update – you won’t have to worry about that anymore.
As part of the improvements to the melee system, you’ll now be able to dodge attacks pretty handily. This will enable you to save some of your strength when you need it the most, while at the same time quickly working your way to the next enemy. “We wanted to take advantage of this by having more of the monsters and bosses perform much more signaled attacks,” the developer explained. “Because of this, we decided to do a rebalance of all of the early campaign areas of Path of Exile. Our plan was to rebalance a lot of monster attacks that used to have poor signaling to now have a wind-up before their attack.
“This rebalance became a larger project than we expected because we started improving AI, adding monster skills, improving boss fights and basically polishing early areas to a 2019 standard.” It sounds like both devoted Path of Exile players, alongside newcomers, will have a lot to look forward to with this improved-upon system.
On top of that, you can also cancel attack animations if you feel like you need to change direction. This can be completely helpful if you become surrounded or what to focus your attention on striking elsewhere. It never hurts to have this at the ready, based on the video that you can watch above. Considering the bosses are a handful, every correct move has to count for something. Movement helps, but be prepared for the fight of your life against these guys.
The team also discussed about making vital improvements to the maps. Though not all the layouts in Path of Exile are affected by these changes, eight of them did go through specific tweaking, “with a specific focus on making their boss fights better. Among the changes are also some pathing/layout improvements and a complete overhaul to the Coward’s Trial unique map,” the developer explains.
So…Why Is It Called Legion?
Thus far, we’ve explained what balance changes you’ll go through with this new expansion, along with the characters that will be introduced as archetypes and some other little tweaks to the world. But that may not explain to some of you what the word Legion is all about. Well, let’s just say you’re going to have to deal with a lot of enemies.
Over the course of their demonstration, the developer showed off a showcase dealing with the Domain of Timeless Conflict. Once your player enters this, you’ll see two different armies frozen in place. You only have a few precious seconds to carve down as many of these enemies as possible. It serves as an advantage to get them out of the way before time expires and the remaining soldiers charge at you. It certainly stands as a challenge for some, but those that are truly devoted – and prepared with their abilities – will no doubt welcome the fight.
While being able to defy armies is a cool thing, it helps to get rewarded for your progress, right? Fortunately, you’ll be able to do that once you cut down certain enemies. They’ll leave behind Splinters. With these, you’ll be able to summon a large army with the help of the Emblem through the map devices, getting a little support when you need it the most. That said, however, you may want to prepare for a grind – in order to earn some Splinters, you may need to battle for quite a long time. The developers didn’t give an exact estimate, but you’ll need to put a little work in for it.
Along with that, you’ll also be able to use a dozen or so new items in the midst of battle, each of which have their own special abilities. The one that stands out the most for us – at least, as far as the demo is concerned – is the Aukuna’s Will Clasped Mitts.
With these, you’ll actually be able to call upon zombies (without corpses, mind you) to count. This will increase your body count and stat as a result, plus give you a little addition as far as dexterity and increased cast speed are concerned. Plus, you can also get better evasion, along with an energy shield that can protect you just a little bit longer, as needed.
There are other items to play around with as well, including the Voll’s Protector. This will allow you to build up your strength, as you may have done in the past with a previous version. The other abilities sound like they’ll be just as promising as well, so keep an eye out for what becomes available.
That Precious Fifth Slot, Incubation and Jewels
One unique addition to Path of Exile that a long of fans will notice – after completing the four-army battle, anyway – is the ability to up your map device slots. You typically start out with four when you get into a game. However, with the Legion update, you’ll be able to crank that up to five!
Once you open up that fifth precious slot, you’ll be able to make room for another legion emblem. Of course, that means more enemies coming at you, but that also means more rewards for your trouble. Ain’t nothing wrong with getting paid for you work, right?
There’s also a new thing with the “incubation items” that will come into the game. With these, if you reach a particular kill count taking down opponents, you’ll be able to earn a unique weapon for your trouble. This is useful when you’re trying to expand upon your arsenal.
Some of these “incubation items” have requirements, but they’re fairly easy to keep track of, with a certain number of kills and leveling required. Once you get to that point, you’ll earn all sorts of goodies, including the aforementioned weapons, along with armor, divination cards and high-end currency. Who knows? If you’re good enough, you might even snag a Mirror of Kalandra for your trouble.
Last but certainly not least, there’s a complicated – but well-structured – road map that will allow you to collect jewels. While a lot of these can take a while to get, they’re worth it, as you can pile up your passives tree and really open up your character’s abilities, such as granting an extra maximum frenzy charge or boosting your life a little bit. It’s a lot to study up, so make sure and look at all the ways you can possibly expand upon it.
Once Legion wraps up development and heads out in June, that doesn’t mean Grinding Gear Games will take it easy. The team filled us in on their plans with Path of Exile, and there’s a lot of store – namely with the launch in another country.
The team confirmed that it will launch the game in South Korea on the same day that the Legion expansion arrives – on June 7. It opens up an entirely new market for the release, and should bring in lots of avid players that want to dig in with everything that it has to offer. It’s also partnered up with Kakao Games to make sure that everything runs smoothly, including dedicated servers and Korean language support and translation. They definitely won’t be left out in the cold. There also won’t be that many changes to content, so they’ll get the same game that we have, for the most part.
There’s also a devoted Path of Exile convention on the way. ExileCon 2019 will take place in Auckland, New Zealand on November 16 and 17. During this time, the developer will fill us in on what’s happening next with the game, and will also hold a number of events to keep fans happy. Various special guests will also make the trip, including legends like David Brevik, Eric Schaefer and Max Schaefer.
A Bright Future of Exile
Between what’s going down with the new Legion expansion next month and what’s to come later in the year, Grinding Gear Games has some promising stuff coming with Path of Exile. It’s already grown an impressive audience thus far, and with the new balance changes, archetypes and other content, they’ll be gladly coming back for more. And who knows what other surprises it has in store with its 4.0.0 update, or other potential releases down the road. One thing’s for sure – with a name like Exile, it’s a bit surprising that you won’t be stuck alone.
(Thanks to Grinding Gear Games for taking the time to chat with us about the game!)
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