Path of Exile: Betrayal Expansion Announced
Following on from the announcement of a PlayStation 4 release in December, Grinding Gear Games has unveiled its latest expansion for free-to-play action RPG Path of Exile. Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson gave RPGamer a heads-up on what Betrayal brings to the game, as well as how it links up with the other expansions released earlier this year.
Some keen-eyed players may have seen the pattern, but Betrayal is designed as the final expansion to tie together all of 2018’s previous major expansions: Bestiary, Incursion, and Delve. The expansions are tied to Path of Exile‘s Forsaken Masters content, originally released in 2014, and sees the developer phasing out the old eponymous masters and their now-dated missions with the new content. Each of the four expansions has come with its own NPC and these ones take on the roles of the old masters, who have mysteriously disappeared.
Betrayal focuses on the masters’ disappearance, which comes with the rise of an organisation called the Immortal Syndicate. Joining players in their dealings with the Immortal Syndicate is a new NPC, Jun Otori. The Immortal Syndicate has stolen an artifact from Jun’s Order of the Djinn, which lets them revive people after death without turning them into undead. Jun, and by extension the player, are tasked with investigating the syndicate’s goals, operations, and ringleaders.
Investigating the syndicate is designed to invoke investigating a criminal cartel, complete with a stringed investigation board. Betrayal is designed as a character-heavy expansion, and features nineteen voice-acted characters. Player choices will have a big effect on the expansion, as the structure of the syndicate will change depending on their actions, as members rise to prominence or fall down the pecking order, while the syndicate’s power to revive its fallen members will see them remembering the player’s past dealings with them.
The Immortal Syndicate itself is divided into four arms: Fortification, Transportation, Research, and Intervention. In every area of the game world, players will be able to encounter one of these arms. Fortification encounters see players coming across and potentially raiding a syndicate supply base, complete with defences. Transportation encounters involve a syndicate member escorting a convoy of supply vehicles from one point to another, which must be intercepted before reaching its destination. Research encounters involve the player discovering a hidden research facility, where they must stop the syndicate members from destroying the evidence and capture the one in charge of the lab. Finally, Intervention encounters see the Syndicate actively attempting to stop the player by sending an assassin, who may turn up at difficult times, such as during a boss fight.
Once an encounter is successfully completed, players will have at least one subdued syndicate member to decide what to do with. There are always two out of the following four options: Interrogate, Bargain, Execute, or Betray. Interrogate simply imprisons that member and adds some intelligence toward finding the location of that branch’s safehouse. Meanwhile, Bargain can have many different effects but will generally do something to change the layout of the organisation. Execute is an oddly good option for that syndicate member as it effectively proves their loyalty and the when the syndicate revives them, often giving them a good item or a promotion as a reward. Finally, Betray is only available if multiple syndicate members are present who know each other. One of them may offer to betray the other, potentially taking over their role in the organisation.
All of these options give the player some level of control over the syndicate, which is useful for when they conduct raids of the syndicate’s safehouses. Once enough intel is gained, players can raid a safehouse. Each safehouse is thematically designed, so the Fortification safehouse has lots of defences. All of the members of the branch will be present inside the safehouse, and each has their chests of items available to loot in the safehouse’s living quarters; these items are the payoff for decisions such as executing a member previously, as the items granted to them now become the player’s.
Part of the strategy of Betrayal is gaining the items that the syndicate’s members drop in raids. Each member is associated with a particular type of item, while each branch focuses on certain aspects of items — for example, items provided by the Research arm often have more experimental properties. This allows the more stat-focused players to focus on getting certain item types that may suit their character builds, though Betrayal is designed so that those who enjoy the character interactions more can focus on those instead.
Betrayal and its tie in with the previous expansions means that plenty of changes are coming to the base game. Firstly, the content of Bestiary, Incursion, and Delve — previously exclusive to the particular Challenge Leagues — are all being rolled into the main game, with their NPCs Einhar, Alva, and Niko joining Jun and the one retained master, Zana, as the new Forsaken Masters. The missions associated with the masters have also been moved to the Atlas of Worlds end-game system, which also receives four new maps.
Further additions in Betrayal include an overhaul of the hideouts system, which acts as both player housing and a central hub that they can customise, decorate, and invite others into. Hideouts are now shared across a player’s character and Challenge Leagues, with templates that can be easily saved and loaded, as well as letting players unlock new hideouts as they progress through the game. Master crafting has been streamlined, and there are fifteen new unique items, as well as ten skills that are either being adjusted or added, focused on three archetype character builds.
Betrayal is set to be released for PC on December 6, 2018. The expansion will also be released for both the Xbox One and upcoming PlayStation 4 versions of the game in mid-December 2018.