Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Announced
Grinding Gear Games held a digital presentation for Path of Exile, during which it announced the free-to-play action RPG’s newest expansion, Echoes of the Atlas. The expansion further builds upon the game’s map-based Atlas of Worlds end-game content and is planned for release on PC and Mac on January 15, 2021, and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 20, 2021.
In Echoes of the Atlas, players will encounter an NPC called the Envoy in the first few tiers of the Atlas of Worlds content. The Envoy speaks of certain visitors to the Atlas realm, particularly an entity called the Maven, who is the primary focus of the expansion. The Maven will be first encountered during a boss fight, where she will make the fight more difficult while watching it play out. If players emerge victorious, she will grant them a beacon that they can use to call her to watch other boss fights. After enough fights, she will invite players to her own realm, where she sets a special challenge of overcoming the defeated bosses all at the same time. The number of bosses increases with each challenge, eventually leading to a fight against the Maven herself. This fight is designed to be one of the toughest in the game. Echoes of the Atlas adds eleven brand new maps to the Atlas of Worlds content, each with its own unique boss.
Completing the Maven’s challenges provides players will a variety of rewards. One of these is a new type of skill point that can be spent on a special passive skill tree. Each region within the Atlas of Worlds has its own passive skill tree, with up to ten points able to be earned for each region. Another reward type is craftable Watchstones. Watchstones are items that can be used on the Atlas of Worlds to upgrade and modify regions. Echoes of the Atlas introduces three types of craftable Watchstones — Titanium, Chromium, and Platinum — which can be traded between players. Finally, the Maven’s Orb is dropped by the Maven herself and is a new piece of crafting currency. It allows players to influence item modifiers by causing a randomly-chosen modifier to be upgraded while removing one of the others.
The release of Echoes of the Atlas also comes with a new Ritual Challenge League. The league sees players coming across numerous mysterious altars in each area. Players can defeat the monsters around each altar and then activate it. This causes a ritual circle to appear around the alter and forces players to once again fight those monsters that were around it but with added conditions provided by the altar. Each subsequent altar activated also includes the monsters from previous altars, creating a risk-versus-reward trade-off in the activation of multiple altars.
Monsters killed during a ritual provide points called Tribute, which can be spent on reward items at the end of the ritual. More expensive rewards become available the more rituals are completed in an area, but Tribute does not carry over between different areas of the game. Some of the rewards are new items called Ritual Base Types, craftable items with different modifiers to current items in the game, usually providing a strong upside but a corresponding downside.
The Ritual Challenge League’s end-game content lets players earn Ritual Vessels. These lets players itemise the monsters from a ritual. Four such vessels can be placed into an Atlas map, making those monsters appear within the map’s rituals, increasing the difficulty and potential rewards. Vessels both with and without monsters can be traded between players.
As with other expansions, Echoes of the Atlas’ launch will include some changes to the main game. The Elementalist, Inquisitor, and Deadeye Ascendancy classes are being reworked, while the Slayer Ascendancy class is being rebalanced. It will also come with a new Hydrosphere skill gem, Trinity support gem, and additional unique items. In addition, the Harvest and Heist expansions are being added the core Path of Exile game.