Path of Exile Enters the Forbidden Sanctum
Grinding Gear Games held a new presentation stream for Path of Exile, during which studio co-founder Chris Wilson unveiled the free-to-play action RPG’s latest expansion. The Forbidden Sanctum expansion will launch on PC and Mac on December 9, 2022, with its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release following on December 14, 2022. Like all other Path of Exile content, it will be available for free.
The Forbidden Sanctum will add a new Challenge League with roguelike elements. It sees players exploring ancient catacombs underneath the Fellshrine Ruins and searching for treasures within. In each area of the main game, players are given the opportunity to enter one of the Sanctum’s rooms. Players are given choices as to which rooms they explore as they plot a path through the Sanctum, and are given hints to what lies in the next few rooms ahead.
The roguelike nature means players are not expected to be get through the Sanctum’s four floors straight away, but the treasure they find will help set them up for future attempts. The Sanctum adds a new resource called Resolve, which is reduced whenever players are hit by specific telegraphed monster attacks or environmental hazards. The Resolve total is carried over between rooms during a Sanctum run, and when it is depleted the run ends. Players can “store” up to eight Sanctum rooms to play consecutively rather than having to do them all individually before returning to Wraeclast to unlock the next one.
Managing Resolve and selecting rooms is the main part of The Forbidden Sanctum’s strategic elements, with different types of rooms available. Afflicted rooms add an affliction to players, such as reducing Resolve recovery, hiding rewards on the map, or spawning anomalies that follow them. Players pick up more afflictions as they go through the Sanctum, making it harder to progress through the latter stages. Trading off against these are boons that players pick up during the run. These include things like slowing down monsters or adding an Inspiration shield to the Resolve bar. There are major variations of both afflictions and boons, which can have a heavy impact on a run. Players can also find fountains that restore Resolve in some rooms, including Afflicted Fountains, which do so at a cost.
The Forbidden Sanctum’s rewards include a new currency called Aureus coins. These are picked up automatically and are not tradable, being lost when a Sanctum run ends. Some rooms of the Sanctum have a merchant who accepts the coins in return for boons. Players can also pick up powerful boons by accepting Pacts offered during a run. However, each of these Pacts comes with a major cost, in line with the game’s emphasis on risk versus reward.
The Sanctum will also offer other Path of Exile currency items as rewards, but with a slight twist. While players are offered the opportunity to obtain the rewards right away, they can also accept a more valuable reward that will be granted if they defeat that floor’s boss. However, if the run ends before they defeat the boss, the reward is lost. At a certain point during The Forbidden Sanctum storyline, players will find an altar they can place Templar Relics on. The relics provide permanent effects on the Sanctum across subsequent runs, adding a level of progression. Players will need to choose which relics to apply, and relics cannot be traded or crafted. Other rewards include a new pool of unique items, as well as Sanctified Relics that occupy a special equipment slot and provide additional character build mods.
As with other expansions, The Forbidden Sanctum will also offer some adjustments and new items for the main game. This includes further adjustments to the end-game Atlas Tree, giving players more control over specialising the types of content that appear on it. There are also adjustments being made to the Eldritch Altars, primarily focused on the rewards provided. There are also two new sequences being added the Atlas Memories system introduced in the Lake of Kalandra expansion, telling stories related to the Bestiary and Domination expansions. Other additions include new skills and unique items, as well as a new type of Shard and Orb used in the game’s crafting systems.
Finally, Grinding Gear Games has been working on a new challenge mode called Ruthless. This mode has been running in a public alpha for the past month, and will be made available to all players with the release of The Forbidden Sanctum. It is an optional character flag — similar to how players can select hardcore mode — and makes the game more challenging through item scarcity, limited crafting, and other resource restrictions. More details about the Ruthless mode can be found on the game’s website.