Grinding Gear Games' Lead Developer, Chris Wilson, opened up about Path of Exile's upcoming expansion.
Grinding Gear Games announced Path of Exile’s next expansion, The Awakening, yesterday. Players will be able to help test the new Act 4 content with the closed beta beginning later this month. We spoke to Path of Exile’s Lead Developer, Chris Wilson, about the upcoming expansion, its content, hardcore gameplay and more.
Chris started off by explaining that the team has been working on The Awakening since 2013 and feels that it’s the best expansion they’re releasing to-date. The closed beta is expected to last for 6-8 weeks, depending on development changes, and players will begin to be accepted into the beta starting April 20th. From that point the number of testers will be gradually increased, and the team is looking forward to quality feedback from those who get into the beta.
Both hardcore and softcore leagues are expected to be introduced into the closed beta, so information regarding challenge leagues that follow are being kept under-wraps.
During the closed beta testing, Grinding Gear Games hopes to roll out some new changes to their netcode, which will fix desyncing. It’s not ready yet and bugs are still being stomped, but should make an appearance before or during the beta phase. More servers are being added in additional locations, including America’s east and west coasts, as well as London.
Chris also commented that the Taiwan servers that launched last year will get into Act 4 testing one week behind the first closed beta release, due to the extra time needed for translation. Garena will then be launching a Russian server that will start on patch 1.3.1; because they want to include voice acting, their launch of The Awakening will be after Taiwan’s.
Hardcore players will enjoy a challenge with The Awakening. Chris told us that the team embraced the terrifying feeling that previous content—such as the prison in Act 1—gave. In addition to Act 4 being difficult, other existing content has been tweaked to make some particular areas “extra scary.”
With the expansion release, the first 30 levels have been made more accessible to new players with the introduction of skill gems and changes with item drops. The game is overall more rewarding, Chris explained, with the introduction of 70 new uniques on top of the currently existing 300 uniques. Other new items are coming with the expansion and the team expects players to be quite satisfied with what’s offered.
The endgame will be kept the same and the level cap is not increasing. The maps will have a larger pool due to the new Act 4 environments, and Chris mentioned that the team feels that players will enjoy the new content’s replayability. Any endgame changes that are planned will be waiting for Path of Exile’s next expansion.
Chris went into more detail about this on Reddit:
There are lots of new maps, and they do go to higher levels than before. Part of the global rebalance involves examining how long it's taking people to reach level 100.
To some extent, running merciless act four content is another endgame. There are many rewarding boss fights in Act Four and they've been designed to enjoyable to do runs of for items.
The Awakening doesn't contain any other completely new endgames - there's masses of new content that will keep people busy for quite some time. Alternate endgames are likely to be something we explore in future expansions.
Sign up for Path of Exile: The Awakening’s closed beta now!
Yang Liu, Contributor
Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor