Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

Grinding Gear Games is in a tough spot right now. Don’t take this the wrong way; the New Zealand-based games developer isn’t going through some drama or afflictive times, quite on the contrary. The tricky issue here is that the first ever ExileCon delivered in spades, and it’s not easy to see how the next edition will manage to live up to such high standards.

The announcement of Path of Exile 2 was the uncontested highlight of the convention. This nearly groundbreaking but probably not quite beast of a game defies description, being some sort of radical hybrid sitting between huge expansion and spectacular sequel. Path of Exile Mobile deserves an honorable mention as well; the earnest and slightly awkward way that Grinding Gear Games’ co-founder and managing director Chris Wilson and his team introduced the game is obvious proof that they are doing this with sheer respect for Path of Exile, instead of pushing for a quick cash grab that would end up damaging the nearly stellar reputation of the franchise.

Franchise. Until a few days ago, it would be a delusion to say something like that about Path of Exile. But now, Grinding Gear Games is finally putting the “S” in games. So is Riot Games, with its recent announcement of a League of Legends fighting game, a FPS, and a few other games. Maybe it’s something in the water.

Before Path of Exile 2, we’re getting a few expansions starting with the massive 3.9 update, officially titled Conquerors of the Atlas. The announcement trailer spawned a mix of excited and shocked reactions, and quite understandably so – after all, it’s not every day that you are your most dangerous threat.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror

You Versus You | Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

According to Chris Wilson, Conquerors of the Atlas is designed to reinvigorate Path of Exile’s endgame, a couple of years after the War for the Atlas expansion brought the Shaper and the Elder influence mechanics, and the brand-new story follows those events. Admitting that the endgame was getting “a bit stale,” Wilson is adamant that the new expansion is going to change that, adding to the flexibility and bringing some exciting fights and rewards, without compromising what fans love so much about the Atlas gameplay.

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” These famous words uttered by Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight seem like a perfect fit for your role in Conquerors of the Atlas. In the trailer, Zana describes her tale of bravery in face of an overwhelming evil, and how she ended up sealing these threats in the Atlas. The five bosses that you must face can be briefly seen in their human form, and a glimpse of them as the Conquerors reveal their evolved and threatening nature, which is based off real player builds. This is a remarkable way to seamlessly bind lore and grind, in a metagame of sorts that comes as a shocking revelation to all but the most perceptive players – the Exiles are their own worst enemy. You can almost taste the bittersweet irony behind it all.

One of the most noticeable changes is straight up visible when you open the Atlas. You no longer start your quest in the corners, instead starting near the center of the map, and working out your way toward the corners. This is a change that should add more freedom to the way that you choose to explore the regions. The map is divided into eight regions, something that you’ll verify by the yellow borders. In the beginning, there are 19 maps visible to the players, and you must unlock the rest by leveling up regions of the Atlas through defeating Conquerors and earning watchstones, which you can socket to increase the tier of the maps within that region. Fully upgrading a region will reveal more maps and raise each one within to tier 14-16. You can repeatedly target Conquerors in case you want to earn more watchstones and have all eight regions at max level.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Map

With the new expansion, sextants can be applied to watchstones and affect an entire region, instead of a single map as they previously would. This gives you up to four sextants for each region, and you can unsocket watchstones between regions as you wish. Another change is that Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Cartographer sextants now come with unique modifiers.

The support gem plus system is another feature coming with the new expansion. These gems are “very high level, super powerful versions” of the support gems that you can already find in the game. This priceless loot drops from Conquerors and there are around 35 in Conquerors of the Atlas. Wilson talked about a couple of them, Fork Plus and Ancestral Call Plus, proceeding to a short demonstration where chaos ensued, and an appropriate “RIP graphics card” comment stole a legitimate laugh from the audience.

With Conquerors of the Atlas changing the endgame and shifting the focus from the Shaper and Elder, what will happen to those items that you fought so hard for? You can rest assured that these aren’t going away, and Zana’s missions will give you Shaper and Elder guardian maps. The goal here is to keep that part of the content accessible, in case you need an item as a specific part of your build, although the focus isn’t on this system anymore.

Four new influence types named after four of the five Conquerors will provide you with new ways to change your build: Warlord, Hunter, Crusader, and Adjudicator. I feel sorry for the remaining guy, but he’s being left out because his name probably isn’t quite as catchy as the others – maybe he’s called Blayde or something? These mod pools are based on older mods but also include new additions. Conquerors may also drop orbs that enables you to enchant a rare item with a unique modifier.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror Battle

Previous Path of Exile expansions improved on various aspects of the game. Spellcasting, melee, summoning and mines were topics that deserved exceptional attention from the development team, and the 3.9 update is enhancing bows and ranged attack totems.

Ranged attack totems are now called ballistas, and you can place three of them at once even faster than before. New support gems provide additional ways of shooting arrows, with the artillery ballista shooting fiery arrows up in the air to rain down on enemies, working as a very efficient way to clear spread out enemies. The other support gem is the shrapnel ballista, which fires limited-range projectiles at your foes.

The bow is a popular weapon in more ways than one, and it saw the introduction of new skills and support gems. The Ensnaring Arrow utility skill increases ranged attack damage and restrains movement of the affected targets; the Barrage support is a treasured skill that receives a new gem allowing you to fire several arrows in sequence; finally, the Nova support gem allows you to fire an arrow into the air, which lands at a remote location and splits into a swarm of arrows that lay waste to enemies everywhere. On the other hand, you can say goodbye to the Tornado shot, which was nerfed and was “far too good for far too long”.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Bow

DIY Metamorph | Conquerors of the Atlas Preview

As if drastically changing the endgame and giving the grind a consistent reason that perfectly ties with the existing lore wasn’t enough, there is a new league coming with this update. The Metamorph league is the 28th league in Path of Exile and launches alongside Conquerors of the Atlas on December 13. Another spectacular trailer introduces the new league, ostensibly basking in its ominous atmosphere and the narration of an obsessed and scary persona. It stars a new NPC, Tane Octavius, a master alchemist that was exiled to Wraeclast for killing his teacher and is now vying to use his expertise to find the “the intrinsic darkness.” This, of course, involves a lot of killing.

As you kill monsters in each area, you collect samples from some of the corpses. The samples represent the personification of each creature’s skills, and combining five of them will result in the creation of a metamorph. When you have enough skills, you can summon Tane so that he helps you to create a metamorph. You possess certain control over the genesis of this boss, as you carefully select the five samples that blend into a menacing foe.

The resulting metamorph is a vicious boss that swiftly changes shape and offers a remarkable and unpredictable challenge. The more powerful the metamorph is, the better the rewards, so there is a clear risk/reward factor that you must consider when mixing the samples.

Path of Exile Conquerors of the Atlas Preview Conqueror Battle 3

In the Metamorph endgame, you can collect samples from map bosses and combine them to form even more lethal metamorphs. The blend of powers, difficulty, and rewards of multiple bosses yields the definitive challenge for league players. The Conquerors of the Atlas expansion brings 16 new items, four exclusive to the Metamorph league, and the rest of them will drop as you defeat the Conquerors.

Conquerors of the Atlas turns Path of Exile’s endgame on its head and is set to deliver a bold and unabashed foundation for what 2020 will bring. With a few expansions yet to release in the lead-up to 4.0, which you know by Path of Exile 2 by now, fighting former Exiles sounds like a way to close the year on a very interesting note.

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Interview: Switchblade’s Development and Lucid Games’ Success

Even with it’s explosion to popularity years ago, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is still rife with new and exciting ideas to discover. Launching out of Steam’s Early Access program with a new seasonal Battle Pass, Switchblade has driven onto the scene with engines hot for action. Developed by Lucid Dreams, this MOBA combines the best of both worlds in lane-battling, tactical driving, and rapid-deployment combat systemic of classical Strategy Games. Last week I got the chance to sit down and discuss the game’s development with David Deeble, one of the team’s designers.

 

With most popular MOBAs featuring a greater focus on individual characters standing out, rather than their tools, why the focus on different types of vehicles rather than say their pilots?

We started Switchblade with the goal of making a great vehicle action MOBA, so it’s natural that the vehicles themselves are the focus. Early in development we knew that vehicles needed to be more than just tools and that players should be able to identify with certain traits or characteristics inherent to a vehicle’s gameplay – so, you have the sneaky rogue archetype being fulfilled by the Goofer or the Sniper Prince as the glass cannon and so on. By approaching the design in this way, I think that our vehicles fill the role of the traditional character commonly found in other MOBAs. We also allow players to create and customize their own Pilots so they can forge a sense of identity for themselves – it’s a more relatable way for players to interact in our shared spaces within the game.

 

While currently there’s a skin system in place, are we going to see further vehicle customization options arise in future, such as tires or framework in a similar vein of Rocket League or Mechwarrior Online?

Customization on vehicles is something we’ve talked about internally. It’s a topic that comes up in the community occasionally, but not all that often. Ultimately the discussion always comes back to “how does this impact gameplay”, for example any significant change to a vehicle’s silhouette may impact how identifiable a vehicle is over distance – the skin system we have allows us to create some really cool and unique designs while maintaining authorial control in the interests of gameplay. We do have some ideas in the pipeline that could satisfy all considerations though.

switchblade

With the distinction between different vehicle classes (Tanks, Artillery, Support, etc.) and some of the game’s escorting AI mechanics, is there a potential exclusively for Player vs. Environment encounters or perhaps a main storyline in the future?

Never say never, but right now we’re focused on making the best vehicle action PvP MOBA we can.

 

While the roadmap for Switchblade has been largely laid out as early as February of this year, the game is still in Steam Early Access. What are the team’s plans going forward to push outward from Early Access into a full release?

We have some major updates on the horizon including Leagues (our first competitive playlist), a brand-new map and new vehicles. We’re in a pretty good place right now in terms of stability and all our major systems are in place so our focus can begin to shift toward content creation and managing the live game. Ultimately, we’ll leave Early Access when we feel ready but it’s pretty close!

 

As with many games in the industry, microtransactions are often frowned down upon, particularly with the traditional or seasonal pass. How does Switchblade’s Season Pass stand out in this often-downtrodden field?

Our focus has always been on creating a great multiplayer experience that anyone can jump in and enjoy from day one. Microtransactions in Switchblade are completely optional and purely cosmetic – and they always will be! Our pre-alpha testers may remember our old “Tech” system that allowed players to buy items and modify their stats – we learned the hard way that this was completely counter to the type of experience we wanted players to have. One of the key pillars when creating our Battle Pass was to get the right balance for players to earn everything in a reasonable time frame – but we also give time-poor players the option of progressing their pass. It’s a fine-line between balancing the system for good commercial sense and not pissing off our community – I think we’re doing a good job if we’ve got content that players want to spend a little money on to support us while not interfering with anyone’s enjoyment of the game.

switchblade

Are there plans in the works to see an expansion of the world’s story beyond the edges of the game’s narrative arena?

Yes! Actually if you check out some of the vehicle descriptions in-game you’ll see hints at the wider Switchblade universe. Internally, we have a wiki page with plenty of lore that really fleshes out the world, it’s definitely something we want to get out there in future releases.

 

Currently there are concerns that there’s not a real end-game feel to gameplay, rather a tepid, eventual finale with the destruction of the enemy base during matches. How is the team working to diversify the end-gameplay?

We’re constantly gathering analytical data from the live game and listening to the community, and that really feeds back into our plans to improve the game. It’s still early days, but we’re working on a more refined ruleset for overtime and actively investigating how to make a more satisfying back-and-forth with Tower destruction. In earlier versions players could actually heal their own Towers, and while we felt this perpetuated “turtling” it gave players a reason to defend an exposed power-core rather than abandon it completely. We’re working right now to create a good balance between attack and defense, while not letting one team snowball a victory.

 

How happy is the team overall with Switchblade’s production and reception thus far?

We’re absolutely thrilled – the game’s out there, people are enjoying it and we have a strong and passionate community who are really invested. They can be pretty tough on us but we love it – we’ve always maintained that it’s their game as much as it ours!

switchblade

Currently there’s a very wide spread of vehicles across the different types. Is there a planned or ideal cap for the development team?

The cool thing about Switchblade is that we’re still finding fun new ways to play. When we start developing a new vehicle we ask ourselves how will this vehicle challenge players, what niche does it fill that we haven’t explored yet. So long as we can answer those questions then we’ll keep updating the roster. We’ve got some really cool vehicles in the pipeline that expand on the tactical aspect of the game, so right now the sky’s the limit!

 

Is there anything you’d like our readers to know about Switchblade, its upcoming development and its future?

It’s a great time to be playing Switchblade right now – the upcoming launch of competitive Leagues is our biggest update yet and I’m really excited to see how competitive play changes the game, we’ve also got the new Monorail map just on the horizon and of course our very first Battle Pass is still running. Switchblade is a real labor of love for us so if you’d like to join our passionate community then you can grab the game free on Steam and on PS4 from the PSN store.

A big thanks to David for sitting down with us to talk about Switchblade.

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E3 2019: Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game Launches August 8th

We mentioned it in our roundup of multiplayer games at the Xbox Press Conference, a brief glimpse of a Lord of the Rings card game that got only a few seconds of attention. Now we finally have more information about the game. As it turns out Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game is the first adventure card game based in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien and it has been around a while. It was first introduced on Steam back in 2017. Then in late 2018, it started Early Access where it has been and will continue to be until August 8th when the game officially launches. But, this isn’t a Steam exclusive. You’ll be able to play it on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

The game right now has 3 different campaign modes with more than 35 hours of gameplay. There are more than 150 cards to play with and more is already in the works. There are 2 free encounters available and there are more planned post-launch. They’re already working on more campaign modes as well. The game can be played solo or co-op.

The Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game will also be featured in the ever-growing library of games with the Xbox Game Pass. The game officially launches on August 8th, but if you want to play on PC you can head over to Steam and pick it up right now. Be sure to check out the E3 trailer which you can find below.

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Tera and PUBG Crossover Event Announced

A month-long Tera and PUBG crossover event has been announced for Tera on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. During the event, you’ll be able to earn and unlock exclusive themed costumes and pets as well as getting daily login bonuses for the entire duration of the event. Of course, the sick rewards aren’t the only things you’ll find in Tera during the event. Tera players can look forward to dropping in and engaging PUBG-style BAMs. What that looks like beyond this one BAM, well we’ll just have to wait and see.

Decorative jeeps and planes will be littered around Highwatch and players will need to keep their eyes open for PUBG-themed consumables and air drops. While there will be things to grab and BAMs to take down the event is being labeled as a dungeon event so expect to do some dungeon diving too.

So if you need to gear up your Popori with a welder’s mask and a frying pan (and let’s be honest, everyone needs a frying pan) be sure to log in to Tera every day starting on March 5th.

Sadly for PUBG players, there isn’t a crossover event with TERA yet but I think it’s safe to say we all hope to get some of those amazing Castanic looks in PUBG. Or maybe that’s just me. If one does get announced we’ll be sure to update this post.

Crossover events like these are pretty common for studios with multiple online titles like Bluehole who run both Tera and PUBG. They’re fun, though a little bit immersion breaking at times. Of course, that isn’t a problem for Tera who already has things like comical little police cars and Hello Kitty items.

 

If you want more information about the Tera and PUBG crossover event check out the trailer below and the announcement on the official site.

Source: Press Release

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PUBG Comes to PlayStation 4 December 7

All of the datamining and assumptions have rung true. We have an official PUBG PS4 launch date confirmed by the game directly, along with all of the usual pomp and circumstance that announcement involves like pre-order bonuses and the like.

pubg ps4 release date

The PS4 version will include Erangel, Sanhok and Miramar maps, as well as all the major features of the game including a ranking system, event mode, and achievements. Those who have a PS4 Pro will also get to enjoy some visual enhancements.

“We’re excited to expand our PUBG service and introduce new communities to our Battle Royale game,” remarks PUBG Corp’s CEO Changhan Kim. “PlayStation has developed an amazing community of passionate gamers and we can’t wait to join them this holiday season.”

That whole holiday season buying thing involves some goodies for those who do pre-order the game now, including cosmetic items fashioned after characters from the popular Uncharted game series. There’s also different in-game goodies depending on which of the editions of PUBG one gets, including G-Coins, Battle Points, and the Survivor Pass: Vikendi battle pass.

Naturally, there’s a trailer coming along for the ride, which you can see below.

Our Thoughts

Well, it’s about heckin’ time, folks. Seriously, though, we expect there will be a few PS4 players who are eager to get into some battle royale shenanigans and see whether this game has something that the others don’t. Or it’s already a dead game why even bother lolz, depending on who you ask.

Source: press release

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Datamining Finds PUBG PS4 Store Listings

Those digital 49ers have struck yet another vein of information, it looks like. One person has managed to dig into their PlayStation 4 database to bring up some PUBG PS4 release indicators that seem to suggest the shooter is coming to the system by year’s end.

pubg ps4 release

According to a poster on the PSN Profiles forum, images and two PlayStation Store content IDs – one NA and one EU – for PUBG are already in their console. This suggests that the battle royale shooter is already on Sony’s servers.

The discovery adds another log to the fire as the PS4 version also made its reveal on the Korean game ratings board in September.

The prevailing assumption is that PUBG’s PS4 release will be sometime this December, which is fueled by analyst Daniel Ahmad’s post on the ResetEra forums. There’s still no official announcement of the shooter’s move to the console yet, but that may be due to the game’s year-long exclusivity deal with Microsoft and Xbox.

Our Thoughts

Really, by this point it’s less a question of “if” so much as “when” PUBG will arrive to the PS4. It would be pretty remarkable if PUBG Corp and Bluehole decided to ignore the PlayStation 4 market, and considering its competition it wouldn’t make a lot of business sense to leave that money sitting on the table.

Sources: VG247, Eurogamer

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Path of Exile Potentially Coming to PS4

The console MMO market is a burgeoning one by all accounts and we may well see another game added to the growing list. In what appears to be another unintended ratings board leak, a Path of Exile PS4 version might just be waiting in the wings for MMOARPG fans.

path of exile ps4

This ratings board leak comes by way of Taiwan’s Digital Game Rating Committee, which has added a listing of the MMOARPG to its website. The listing also states that the game has passed through the ESRB, though bear in mind that information comes by way of Google Translate, so grains of salt and all that.

The report we’ve sourced does make a reminder that Path of Exile is on the way to a Chinese release, so it’s possible that this PS4 version might be region-specific. That said, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the game to spread to the PS4 – it made it to Xbox One in August of last year and, assuming the game had console exclusivity, a year’s time would be long enough for Grinding Gear Games to branch out.

Our Thoughts

It really does seem inevitable that Path of Exile would be PlayStation 4-bound. The game has gotten what feels like a rise in its stake with its latest updates and we suspect that there are more than a few ARPG fans on the PS4 that would enjoy what PoE offers.

Source: Destructoid

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Fortnite PS4 is Getting Cross-Play with Xbox, Switch and More

At long last, the nonsense excuses that have kept PlayStation 4 cross-play from happening are crumbling like the house of cards they are. Sony Interactive Entertainment is ready to begin opening up its cross-platform options starting today with Fortnite.

playstation 4 cross-play

The news comes by way of a blog post from Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera, who announces that the company “has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content” after what it calls a “comprehensive evaluation process.”

The first of these select third-party games will be Fortnite, which will be the focus of an open beta starting today. According to the post, the test will monitor the “technical and social” experience along with ensuring that “cross-platform play is best on PlayStation.” Whatever that means.

This beta allows Fortnite to be one of the first games to allow cross-platform play across PS4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac.

“For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective,” writes Kodera. “Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”

Our Thoughts

FINALLY. If this opens up the floodgates for other multiplayer and MMO games to be played cross-platform, then this is a red-letter day indeed. Here’s to SIE knocking off its hand-wringing and letting people play together!

Source: PlayStation Blog

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PUBG PS4 Gets Rated in Korea

Thanks to the Korean Game Rating Board being about as secure as a leaky sieve, it appears we can look forward to a PUBG PS4 release at some point soon. The country’s ratings board website has provided a confirmed rating for the battle royale shooter on PS4 well in advance of any official announcement.

pubg ps4 launch

I’m not good at reading Korean so I can’t speak to what the actual rating reads, but judging by all of the little iconography associated with the posting, it’s probably the Korean equivalent of “T for Teen.”

While there’s no confirmation of the PS4 version of PUBG available right now, the timing does line up. The Xbox One version of the game released in full as 1.0 earlier this month, and in October of last year Sony and Bluehole were discussing the game’s arrival to the system. Presumably, the shooter’s exclusivity with Xbox and Microsoft is about to run out.

As for the game itself, PUBG is celebrating the arrival of autumn over the next four weeks with the Chuseok and Mid-Autumn festivals. From now until October 16th, players who make it to the top 15 in five games will receive seasonal cosmetics each week. Details on what goodies await can be found here.

Our Thoughts

PUBG on PS4 is hardly a surprising idea, all things considered. That said, the game’s sticker price might be a wall when compared to other battle royale shooters like H1Z1 or Fortnite. Could this be too little, too late? Or is the PS4 playerbase starved enough for battle royale games that it will still make a big splash?

Sources: Eurogamer, official site

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Sandbox MMO Boundless Officially Releases

If you call your game Boundless, it’s a fair bet that there’s lots of sand in the sandbox to roll around in. Today, players will get to find out if that is indeed the case as the Boundless launch is now upon us, bringing a shared voxel world for both PC and PS4 players.

boundless launch

Four years of early access have finally culminated in a launch product, which hinges on player cooperation for its in-game crafting, economy and politics. Boundless lets players open portals to a variety of different planets to explore, colonize or gather resources from. Boundless also features cross-platform play between PC and PS4 in a single in-game ecosystem.

“This launch is akin to the Big Bang in our eyes,” says Wonderstruck director James Austin. “In essence, we’re firing out the atoms to form a new universe that players will live, explore and create within, defining how it grows and changes with no input on our part.”

As usual, a new game release means a new trailer and Boundless certainly has one, though this trailer is precisely the same as their previous one, except with the declaration of its arrival. You can check that out below if you haven’t seen it previously.

Our Thoughts

This game certainly has potential for sandbox MMO fans, but we’re curious to know just how collaborative it will actually end up becoming. We wish those who are starting their own journeys in-game the best of luck in whatever endeavors they take up.

Source: press release

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