New expansion, new gear, new platform
Path of Exile has been a bit of oddity for the years it's been out on PC. As a free to play loot based action RPG, it's got a reputation for holding its own against larger titles like Diablo III, and has since built a large and dedicated following of its own. Now, they're gearing up for their largest expansion in years with The Fall of Oriath, which brings players back to where the story began, and also the launch of the upcoming Xbox One release.
During the Microsoft press conference, we caught a trailer for its release on Xbox One, which marks the first time the game is playable on consoles. While on the show floor, we had some time to speak with the developers about the recent expansion, and played an early build of the Xbox version--which will feature all content from its PC older brother.
For those not in the know, Path Of Exile puts players in the role of a recent exile from the city of Oriath. As one of several exiles, Path of Exile's take on classes, you'll find yourself shipwrecked on an island and must fight your way back to the city to dish out vengeance. But after your many battles, you find that destroying one of the island's most dangerous creators results in unleashing an ancient evil that plunges the city of Oriath into chaos, leading to even greater dangers for the world at large.
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While at our session, the developers spoke about the growth they've seen over the years and what led them to overhauling a good portion of the game for the next major update. Back in December, the developers at Grinding Gear Games saw over one million players logged in for the first time at any given time. In addition to the year over year growth in players, the developers recently released their Atlas of Worlds expansion, which also brought in higher numbers. They saw this as an opportunity to bring in their next expansion.
In the Fall of Oriath update, which is the largest expansion to date, they're adding in an additional five new story acts taking players through the city and its many areas, new gear, new graphical updates and tweaks--including 4K support--an overhauled difficulty system which features more organic challenge and difficulty growth, and a brand new upgrade system called Pantheon, which allows the exiles to claim the power of the gods for themselves.
In addition to the expansion, which launches next month on PC, the developers also gave us some hands on time with the console release, which they had been quietly working on for some time. Much of the UI and general control feedback had been reworked, allowing primarily for ease of use on controllers for extended periods. While some skills had to be reworked, due to the lack of precise mouse controls, the console is largely intact with its PC counterpart. I was quite impressed with how smooth and intuitive it was. Usually it's difficult translating isometric games like this to the console, but the developers did a surprisingly solid job with the port, and it feels like it can easily stand toe-to-toe with the original.
Though cross play with PC players won't be possible, mostly due to gameplay changes and system infrastructure, the Xbox release will have all the same content as the PC version. With the Fall of Oriath expansion coming July, and the console launch being set for later this year--remaining free-to-play--the future of the free action/RPG is looking bright, and with a new player base coming in soon, the Path of Exile community is looking to increase even further.
For more information on Path of Exile and other titles from E3 2017, check back with us on our E3 2017 page.