Previews

Path of Exile and Path of Exile 2 get major updates, new Ranger class shown

Recently we got to sit down with Mark Roberts, Game Director for Path of Exile, and Jonathan Rogers, Game Director for Path of Exile 2, to talk about the announcement of the Ranger class for the sequel and some fantastic upgrades for the first title. Let’s jump right in on what we saw.

Path of Exile 2: Ranger Trailer

We kicked off our hands-off demo with Grinding Gear Games showcasing the Ranger class. Of all the classes they’ve shown, this one has me the most excited as it gave us a glimpse of the movement systems and the dizzying array of options for modifying your experience.

The guiding principle of the building of this class is “A Ranger must never miss”, and the team would use Legolas from The Lord of the Rings as a template for this philosophy. They wanted a class that would be able to move around the battlefield with significant agility and could also fire, albeit with a small movement penalty. We saw this in motion as the character flourish-leaped over foes, rocketed backwards with a leaping shot, and juked away from incoming attacks. As powerful as this new movement system is, it pales in comparison to the support gems and skills.

There are a variety of movement techniques available to the Ranger, and many of the Skill Gems you’ll acquire augment them greatly. Frost Escape allowed the Ranger to leap backwards while unleashing arrows that slowed or froze targets in their tracks. Snipe gave the ability to charge up your shots, and with the right timing, guaranteed a critical hit. Combine the two and you suddenly have an Area of Effect spell tacked on top.

We saw many more examples of attack combinations. Lightning Rod fired bolts into the air, and when they landed, they would unleash a small AoE trap. A colored gem added to the mixture unleashed additional arrows, making trap funnels even faster. Since they also crit off of one another when another gem is added, the Ranger now had a funnel of interconnected lightning traps, all triggering and cascading off of their interlaced nature. A different gem would enhance damage, but that’s boring, right? How about a gem that allows those arrows to stick in their target, striking them once on impact and again on detonation. A support gem to lessen the cooldown allowed that lightning strike to happen faster. Shock proliferation then allowed that strike to leap to additional targets. Barrage adds the ability to fire three arrows at once.

When all of these gems combine, you might unleash a massive supernova of critical hits, chained lightning, and explosions that all trigger, re-trigger, and completely melt any foes in their wake. It was frankly awesome to see – whatever effect you can imagine, you can create it with support gems. This is something we’ll be exploring at length as there just doesn’t seem to be an end to this list of special modifiers.

Switching to poison, we saw several examples of how nature-based attacks and toxins can combine in a way that dishes out crowd control and heavy damage in equal measure. A vine arrow created a small plant where it lands, sending out tendrils that poison enemies. That poison then transfers to the next creature the plant touches, slowing them, and killing them over time. Changing to a poison bloom arrow, plant pustules splash out on the ground, exploding when foes dare to come near. Poisoning the pustules makes them virulent. Pierce support means you get poison bursts as the toxin works its way through the group of monsters. Gas cloud arrow shoots the ground, continuously poisoning anyone inside. Trapping foes in this cloud causes the plants to grow, spreading the poison cloud, which in turn causes the plants to grow, and so on. Just like the lightning-based attacks, adding a variety of gems grows the utility of the class exponentially.

As much as all of that was enough to make your head spin, we saw even more examples of skill-based and gem-enhanced attacks. Plague Bearer creates a timer with each kill, counting up until it eventually unleashes a massive poison burst. Rain of Arrows is exactly the AoE you remember from the first game, but adding Frenzy Charges causes a near-endless barrage of projectiles. Sniper’s Mark adds a frenzy charge that, when combined with the Rain of Arrows skill and the Corrode Armor support gem, creates a rapid-fire rain of acid arrows that practically rips the armor off of enemies. You can then detonate this gas cloud, unleashing a massive explosion AoE that roars backwards in a fan-like blade. What, not enough? Throw in another gem that does bonus damage to enemies with sundered armor and you’ve got an idea of all the ways you can make Path of Exile 2’s Ranger class your own.

It wasn’t all good news as we did also get an announcement that the team would be delaying the much-anticipated beta from June 7th to some time later this year. They were quick to also announce that they’d still have an Alpha during that June 7th window, but they are also taking more time to ensure they’ve got balance and content nailed. Given all that we saw with these gems, you can’t argue with their ambition, and a desire to ensure it all works together well.

Before we closed things out, we saw a boss fight against a monster named Phanos, Last Disciple of Auria. By combining all that we’d seen during our demo, the Ranger used their enhanced mobility and damage combinations to leap around the battlefield, drop pustules on the ground, detonate them to spread tendrils, toxifying Phanos, and then setting him on fire periodically. If this brief look at the game is any indication, there’s a lot to be excited about for Path of Exile 2, whenever it eventually arrives.

Path of Exile: Necropolis Trailer

If you are playing Path of Exile, rest assured there’s plenty ahead for you. The newest expansion, Path of Exile: Necropolis, is headed to console and PC simultaneously for the first time. We got our first look at this new expansion, and it doesn’t sound like we’ll have long to wait to play it for ourselves.

In Path of Exile: Necropolis, you’ll meet the Undertaker Aramor. This man minds a cemetery, but his purposes may not be as obvious as they appear. He wants you to rid the world of corrupted and vengeful spirits, giving you the Lantern of Aramor for this purpose. It turns out that it serves a far larger purpose.

The Lantern of Aramor lets you select what sort of modifiers you’ll find in each of the many areas of the game. 50% increase max life, 100% increase global accuracy, and more allow you to intelligently control your experience. Using this mystic light source, you’ll assign modifiers to the various monster groups you’ll encounter. Maybe you choose to assign a damage modifier to a more common beast. Perhaps you instead assign something less dangerous to common foes as you’ll encounter them more often, choosing something more dangerous for a foe you only will see once. No matter what you choose, higher tiers will generally be tougher, but making good choices about which type of ability goes where can help you survive longer. After all, powerful spirits allow you to reap powerful rewards – choose wisely.

Returning to the Undertaker, you’ll find a purpose for all the slain monsters you’ve sent to the hereafter. Burying them in the nearby cemetery allows you to use their souls to craft powerful equipment and items from their corpses. The Necropolis crafting system lets you use the various graves to further modify your items by burying multiple foes simultaneously. Experimentation can result in higher tier modifiers, better effects, and higher chances for good roll outcomes. You can even utilize the entire cemetery to craft a single item, though you’ll need to cull a lot of corpses to do that. Digging deeper, you can even slay and bury entire families. For example, exercising the Nevalius family will provide a unique item. If you aren’t happy with the attributes, you can surround their corpses with others you’ve slain, helping shove the random number generator lever in a direction where you get exactly what you want. It’s a slick system that should let endgame players farm for precisely what they want, but also allow new players to get meaningful gear throughout their run up to max level.

Beyond the Necropolis crafting system, the team is streamlining the Atlas Passive Tree, adding a new tier called “Elder”, and 17 new maps to explore. Additionally, new transfigured gems and new Penultimate bosses that drop them will give returning players fresh challenges. These Pinnacle bosses now have unique weapons from their non-Pinnacle versions, creating a reason to farm them both.

Fresh upgrades to equipment you’ve collected might give you a reason to go farm them once again. Each map boss has a chance to drop unique items, many of which are brand new, but also quite a few that are rebalanced versions of the original. The Wraithlord has four Abyssal Sockets, for instance. Manastorm has also been rebalanced towards higher damage values, if you manage to hit the RNG rolls you’ll need.

Endgame players will find an entirely new system upon their return. Replacing the Sextant and Master Selector are Scarabs. These Scarabs now have multiple versions that you can invest in to experience precisely the content you wish. Stacking up to 20 of them, you can modify the map greatly, allowing you to more efficiently run the map for maximum rewards.

There are a number of Quality of Life upgrades coming to Path of Exile. First and foremost, you’ll now be able to unlock multiple copies of the Atlas Tree – three in fact. Finishing the endgame core content will free these up, allowing you to select which Atlas you want when you pick your map. This should allow fresh endgame strategies to shine through.

Speaking of the core content, additional encounters, stories, variety, and surprises are being added, with additional ones coming post-launch. New gems, relics, and tuning of the Atlas Skills should provide complimentary customization for the new Scarab system. Multiple mechanical improvements (e.g. mass movement of currency, being able to hold CTRL to add gems more quickly, and better visual indicators on skills like Detonating Dead, just to name a few) are also coming. Frankly, the team rattled off so many that I simply couldn’t keep up with my note taking. If there’s an indicator that Grinding Gear still loves the original, despite being deep in development on the sequel, look no further.

The amount of improvements coming to Path of Exile should be enough to bring back players who might have put the game down for a while, help keep the game inviting for new players, and get all of us excited for what’s still to come. With the expansion pack coming on March 29th, you won’t have to wait for very long. Seeing the sequel coming together has us also keeping our eye on the future for what is shaping up to be an amazing follow-up. If you are a Path of Exile fan, you are eating well.

Thanks again to the Grinding Gear team for this sneak peek!

 

 

Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief | [email protected]

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.

Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.

Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 28 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes), and an Axolotl named Dagon!

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