Path of Exile: Expedition Expansion; Royale Return Announced
During its latest livestream, Grinding Gear Games unveiled the latest expansion to action RPG Path of Exile. The new expansion is titled Expedition and launches for PC and Mac on July 23, 2021, and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 28, 2021. In addition, the developer is reintroducing the PvP Path of Exile: Royale mode, which will be available on weekend sessions during the Expedition Challenge League, and it is also introducing some major balance changes to address the issue of player power creep along with the expansion.
Like all other Path of Exile content, Expedition will be is free to all players. The expansion sees players meeting a group of Kalguurans undertaking an expedition to learn what happened to a Kalguuran colonisation effort of Wraeclast long in the past. However, like the previous attempt, the new expedition has underestimated Wraeclast’s dangers and asks players to protect them from the undead that rise from their expedition sites.
When players come across expedition sites, they will find them marked with signs noting where treasure, potential undead, or remnants of the past Kalguuran settlement lie. Determining that the safest way to go about the excavation is with explosives, the Kalguurans let players set up a chain of explosives, selecting what they will uncover and what undead they will set off and have to defeat. Some undead are more challenging than others and have special markers, but also provide better rewards. Meanwhile, the Kalguuran remnants provide modifiers (such as increased drop rates or immunity to physical damage) that are applied to any monsters and treasure chests unearthed in that and any subsequent explosion, greatly impacting the challenge and rewards.
The Kalguurans on the expedition are traders and each has an interest in different types of artifacts and their own trading style. Tujen has items with a high markup, but is happy to haggle; if players offer a lower price he may accept it, put in a counter-offer, or be offended and withdraw the item. Rog likes to upsell; if players buy an item, he’ll offer a deal where he improves the item through crafting. This process repeats until players walk away with the item, though players can leave and come back if they can’t afford the next upgrade.
With Gwennen, players are taking a gamble on whether the item is valuable or rare. She offers a set of base item types with unknown properties. Players can spend currency to reroll her item sets. Some items will be more expensive than one would usually expect, which indicates a higher chance of them being useful, but this is still not a guarantee. Finally, Dannig is interested in specific types of artifacts and is looking to trade for these in return for items such as currency or items used with the other vendors, as well as the new logbooks.
Logbooks are Expedition’s equivalent to maps. They chronicle locations visited by the ancient Kalguuran colonists and come with their own mods and themes. By giving a logbook to Dannig, players will be able to go to the place described and come across what is ultimately a giant Expedition encounter. The logbook locations will have special objects that players interact with using explosions, such as clearing a passage that has treasure chests in it.
Expedition also introduces a brand new defensive property, Ward, that acts differently to the existing Armour, Evasion, and Energy Shield properties. Players receive a certain amount of Ward, which reduces damage from the first hit received. However, the Ward is then disabled for five seconds, with the next hit after it recovers being mitigated in the same manner. Both equipment and the undead enemies players find in Expedition utilise the Ward mechanic, which can be combined with other defensive properties. Certain equipment and mods will help players manage Ward, such as increasing the amount gained or speeding up its recovery.
As with previous expansions, Expedition will see the introduction of new skills. Previously, these have largely been designed to work with specific build types, but this time Grinding Gear Games has aimed to create skills that can impact all players. There are nineteen new skill gems, each inspired by one of the game’s nineteen Ascendancy classes.
The expansion will also see major balance changes to the game. Expedition is the game’s 30th content release and in that time, Grinding Gear Games estimates that player power has increased around tenfold, making the majority of the game easier with each release. Some things are nerfed following each content launch, but only to the new baseline established by that new content. Grinding Gear Games has elected not to go with a standard scaling on monster attributes and is addressing multiple areas with its rebalance, especially after receiving positive feedback on the comparative challenge offered by its Path of Exile 2 demo.
The first part of the rebalance is on the game’s main story campaign. Expedition’s update will focus largely on act one and following expansions will extend the rebalance to other acts, with Grinding Gear Games estimating that by the end of 2021 every monster should have been reviewed or adjusted. The second part of the rebalance is a reworking of Path of Exile’s flask system. These flasks grant players powerful buffs, but it has resulted in a play style known as “flask piano” where players simply hit, or even rig devices to hit, the button activating the flask repeatedly to ensure these buffs stay up. With certain flasks being overpowered and the physical exertion such a style places on players’ wrists, Grinding Gear Games is rebalancing most flasks, with many of the most powerful ones being nerfed, though some will be buffed.
Players should expect to see fewer permanent power boosts from flasks, but Expedition will add a couple of new methods to use flasks with the Instilling Orb and Enkindling Orb. The Instilling Orb lets flasks be used automatically upon certain conditions, such as reaching full charge or the player being set on fire. Each time players use an Instilling Orb on a flask, it applies a random use condition, overwriting the previous one. The Enkindling Orb prevents flasks from gaining charges while they are active, but provides significant boosts to things like their effect or length. Other flask changes include brief ailment invulnerability only being applied when that ailment is actually removed rather than just on use, and a reduction in charges gained from each monster in acts six through ten due to increased monster density.
The remaining parts of the rebalance concern reductions to damage boosts on support gems, while skills triggered with support gems will now require players pay the mana cost, rather than players being able to use support gems to bypass the mana mechanic entirely. Finally, certain movement skills are also being rebalanced to fall into line with the other movement skills.
Path of Exile: Royale
Path of Exile: Royale is a 100-player PvP arena mode that was briefly introduced on April 1, 2021. The mode was quickly programmed without much attention paid to its balance and was turned off shortly after, but many in the community have been asking for its return.
Path of Exile: Royale returns today and will be active through the weekend. It will be turned on again every weekend starting with the release of Expedition, with patches planned between weekends to address any balance issues. The new version of Royale comes with its own passive skill tree designed for PvP combat at low levels, as each Royale character starts the round at level one and is only expected to reach around level ten by the time a round ends.
The island that Royale takes place on has been improved with more varied terrain, and players can also find Flask Troves that provide charges and occasionally replenish themselves, creating areas where players are more likely to congregate and for combat to break out. It will also include spectator modes, a leaderboard, and a clean way for players to pillage items from defeated players. Those who win a Royale event will receive a Rhoa Dinner Hideout Decoration, which grows more impressive the more events players win.
Path of Exile is a free-to-play action RPG that originally released in 2013. The game features a ten-act story campaign as well as numerous expansions that have been rolled into the base game. A sequel, Path of Exile 2, is in development, though both games will be available through the same game client and share the same endgame content. Path of Exile 2 will feature a new skill gem system, new items, new monsters, and new character and Ascendancy classes. The sequel will include a new seven-act story campaign, which takes place in the Vastiri Desert and sees players joining up with the Ardura tribe’s caravan as they chase down the caravan from the Faridun tribe.