Although I am a day late to the impression write up game, I wanted to present my thoughts on the upcoming patch 3.5 Betrayal League/Expansion for Path of Exile nonetheless. I did write up some ideas that I had hypothesized for what the new league would entail and want to see how they compared to what we will get.
First off, I want to talk about the main league mechanic with the Immortal Syndicate and how you will interact with them. The basic idea is that you will influence a shadow type of organization by infiltrating hideouts and their leaders to slowly lead up to the main power. You will be presented with actions to betray, execute, etc. in moving around a complex puzzle to lead you towards the highest level, where eventually you will meet a boss.
Many people have commented that there is a Shadows of Mordor feeling for this system. Since I haven’t played that game, I can’t really compare the ideas with that system. However, from my viewpoint, this system reminds me of a deeper, more character driven form of Incursion. The primary difference is that it feels less RNG based in terms of how you influence these events that lead you towards the main boss. Ultimately though, you’re pretty much moving pieces around to create what looks to be something like a Temple of Atzoatl.
Now, one major featured that is being introduced (or re-introduced) both here and in standard is the rehaul of the old Masters system. The old Masters, except for Zana, are gone and in their place are the various characters you have met for the more recent leagues. Instead of grinding reputation to level up a master, you will do encounters to improve your basic crafting. I’m not 100% certain how that aspect ties in with the new Masters that you will be working with but it sounds less RNG based in terms of how you encounter Masters in the wild.
Going back a bit with the Immortal Syndicate, many speculate that the mysterious disappearance of the Masters coincides with the rise of the Immortal Syndicate. The head of the Immortal Syndicate has yet to be revealed but people are theorizing that at least one of the Masters might be involved * cough * Vorici * cough *.
Without knowing too much of the actual mechanics behind the crafting overhaul, I will say that at the very least, the main idea sounds extremely promising. The worst part of each new league was re-grinding Masters to gain the extremely valuable end game crafting. I can’t tell you how many times I have failed on a Vorici box mission. But knowing that in its current form, it won’t be around for this sounds huge. I know that mechanic alone will make people incredibly happy.
With the new Masters, we will be seeing some old friends returning in Alva from Incursion, Niko from Delve and Einhar from Beastiary League (besides Zana). I am overjoyed by the news that Delve will be making it into core IMMEDIATELY and that we’ll see the return of Beastiary League but without the awful mechanics of the nets. We already knew that Incursion was going to make it into core for this patch but getting all three is, indeed, a big Christmas gift from GGG.
One thing that I still am uncertain of with regards to these three leagues entering into core is how they will operate. With most of these leagues, GGG would place the new league mechanic in virtually every zone. I’m really hoping to see all three appear in each leveling zone frequently rather than becoming purely RNG or high level based (as with Breach and Abyss). Beastiary league sounds like something that should be part of every zone in that you should be able to capture and learn recipes from the get go. Incursion and Delves too would be great since Temples would take at least 12 zones to spawn (from what I remember) while Delves required a great deal of work to build up your resistances, light radius, etc.
In addition, I found Incursions and Delves to be great leveling and gearing mechanisms that complimented the story mode. Most likely, the new league mechanic will make appearances in every zone for this upcoming patch since it’s a trend with every league. But I don’t want it to be the sole feature for leveling besides the main story mode. Having Delve and Incursions in almost every zone would be great distractions just to do something outside of the main story mode.
Some other major features will be the new league specific crafting and items. The new crafting features with the league specific items called Veiled Items look incredible. As one example, people noticed that you can add a +1 totem to shields or a +1 curse to chests. This idea alone will really help improve the flexibility of builds since certain uniques are extremely difficult to come by.
Also, your Hideout, once unlocked, will become account wide and no longer tied to a league. More importantly, it will only have a single size and you will be able to invite all the masters once you discover them. Lastly, you can share your Hideouts to others as templates that they can use. While I’m not the biggest Hideout freak, the idea of cosmetics that are shareable are pretty cool and that I will finally be motivated to create a Hideout that really defines the player that I am.
The other notable item is new and revamped skills across all classes. Already, a few of the ice based skills have been unveiled, including Ice Spear and Arctic Breath. It’ll be interesting to see if new metas are created as a result (most likely, yes).
Already in anticipation for the new Patch, GGG has introduced two new supporter packs. For myself, I picked them both up. Both look incredible and well, I think this expansion certain deserves the money I’m spending.
My overall impression is very positive. I was already looking forward to Incursions making a return but wasn’t certain in what format. Similarly, I felt that we weren’t going to see the last of Beastiary League. I mentioned before that the idea was interesting (Pokemon/Recipes) but the main implementation was poor. The idea that Einhar will be performing the capture for you is something that I hope will completely streamline that process. The most important aspect though is just having another crafting system to compliment the existing ones.
With Delve, I wasn’t expecting it to make it into core so soon. This is a huge and pleasant surprise just because I feel that it’s been a pretty awesome mechanic. GGG has mentioned that Delve player retention has been one of the highest, which is why they have not introduced a flashback league at this point.
That does bring me to the last piece, which was an announcement that occurred just before the new league announcement: Private Leagues. Essentially, these are custom races that are pay-to-participate. While it’s touted as being for friends, it really feels more geared towards streamers at the moment to help bolster their communities and probably viewership.
The current way it works is that you can setup a Private League for a period, have a limited invite with an increasing number based on the token currency and add mechanics to increase the difficulty. I have read from other streamers and people that are more heavily involved in this scene that it’s been a heavily demanded feature for ARPGs.
From my point of view, it’s just not my cup of tea as is. The only thing I see in its current form is just making a set of rules hard so that a group of streamers can outdo each other. The fact that it’s a pay mechanism is even less appealing to me in its current format. Talking with my guild leader, he mentioned that there’s no real point for him to create one for our group just because there’s no real gain.
I think if we had more features that we could customize, it would be interesting. Right now, the only thing about these leagues is adding more difficulty. So for the casual player, there’s no real incentive to participate. However, if we could create more modifiers to balance out difficulties or make it so that we could gain benefits, then I could see myself participating.
For instance, let’s say that a league is short (a week) but you could set really high drop rates. That would be pretty cool. Or perhaps limit certain skills within a league. Like you have a panel showing all the enabled uniques, skills and old league mechanics (like Perandus or Harbinger). Another idea would be to prevent Ascendancies. Effectively, you’re creating your own version of the game with all these options. I think that would be worth paying.
Overall, I’m extremely excited to see the new league. While the basic league mechanics itself don’t seem that great compared to Delve, I think the real message here for me is the sheer amount of features augmenting the game. The essence of ARPG still resides but now they’re adding side mini-games to provide alternative styles of playing the game.