Path of Exile: Legion Is Bringing A New Challenge League And A Melee Combat Revamp To The Game
Path of Exile, arguably the best action-RPG on the market right now, is constantly changing and evolving. Regular updates see new content, Challenge Leagues, skills, builds, and items arrive in the game all the time. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the next expansion, Path of Exile: Legion, and I am not going to lie, I am pretty excited about the things I have seen. This expansion centers around two main components, the new Challenge League, and a full revamp of the game's melee combat system. It will be available to download on June 7 on PC, and June 10 on consoles.
The new Challenge League explores the tumultuous history of the game world. The souls of five famous generals and all their warriors have become trapped in the Domain of Timeless Conflict. They are damned to fight each other forever in an eternal war, and everybody knows that eternal wars mean lots of loot. Monoliths will be placed in each area of the Legion league, and players will be able to activate them to cause two of the frozen armies to appear.
This is where it gets very interesting for me, as Legion will feature a self-scaling mechanic for players. When the frozen armies appear, it is up to the player to decide what elements of the armies they wish to fight. By dealing damage to the frozen warriors, you untether them from the Domain of Timeless Conflict. You will have a short window of time to do this, and when the time runs out the undamaged enemies will disappear, and you will have to fight the enemies that stay. Powerful enemies will be attached to chests, so it is up to the players to decide exactly what enemies they wish to fight. Some enemies will have symbols above their heads, denoting particularly valuable rewards. Will you be tempted to bite off more than you can chew? Of course! But part of the appeal of Legion seems to be based around the idea of rewarding players who know the capabilities of their builds intimately.
These enemies and monsters can also drop Splinters, items that can be combined to form an Emblem related to the specific armies that they represent. There are five different armies in total, called Legions, and you will need several emblems from all of them to access the league's deepest content. Emblems can be placed in a player's Map Device to open a portal directly to the Domain of Timeless Conflict. The Legions that you encounter there will match the Emblems that you use in the Map Device, and it is entirely possible to use more than two Emblems to take on more than two Legions. This is more risky and challenging, but the rewards for doing it are greater.
Players will also be able to earn a Five-Slot Map Device that you can use to activate Emblems from all five Legions at the same time. Getting this new Map Device will be challenging, even for players who can survive the game's toughest challenges.
When it comes to rewards, certain Legion monsters can drop Incubation items which modify a piece of equipment to guarantee a certain type of item drop after you have killed a large number of monsters. These are tradeable and stackable currency items and will add a progress bar to the target item. As you kill monsters, the progress bar will fill up. Once it is full, the property is removed, and the item drop occurs. Interestingly, you can have separate items applied to all of your equipment pieces at the same time. Incubation items will also come in different types, and rarities.
Players will also be able to earn a special Jewel from each of the Legions. Jewels can be socketed into your Passive Skill Tree and will modify passive skills within a certain radius of it in different ways. This will unlock a whole host of potential character customization options. I mentioned to Chris Wilson, the man who has steered Path of Exile all these years, that this is the type of system I can see sticking around even after the challenge league is wrapped up. It feels like it was designed to have a lasting impact on the game.
Legion will also see the introduction of 12 new Unique items and reworks for 15 older Unique items that are themed around Legion's five armies. These newly enhanced items will be showing up as rewards in the new league as well.
On top of the challenge league, some older content is also getting reworked. Eight Atlas Maps have been reworked and improved, with specific care being paid to the boss fights on each one. The early-game has also been reworked, with a lot of monster attacks being redone to have better signaling. There have also been AI improvements, additional monster skills have been added, and the boss fights have all been improved. The catalyst for this was the second big change that Legion brings to the game, the melee rework.
For the revamp, GGG wanted to approach the system with a mind to removing the "clunky" feeling that can often be a part of action-RPG combat. The genre often relies on the idea of committing to an action that is taken, and melee builds can fall into the sad pattern of standing still while simply trading damage back and forth between the player and the enemies they are fighting. The revamp introduces animation canceling, instantly usable movement skills, and even new movement skills for many of the game's classes. Melee attacks can now hit adjacent enemies, and if your weapon moves through an enemy, it will take damage. The timing of damage has also been improved, and range indication for damage has been tightened up. New melee animations, animation chaining and dynamic speed changes all help to round out the new melee system. Finally, a rebalance of all melee attacks has been introduced, to make sure everything fits well with the new system.
There are also two new archetypes, suggested build styles that are developed for, and specifically based on the changes from the expansion. The Blood and Sand Gladiator is a Duelist build that uses the Blood and Sand skills. The skills focus on two stances, Blood Stance, and Sand Stance that the character can adopt. Blood Stance will deal increased damage, while Sand Stance is more defense focused. The second Archetype is the Rage Bezerker. As you can guess from the name, the Rage Bezerker wants to be in the thick of the fight, using the Rage buff to increase attack damage, attack speed, and movement speed. In Legion, it will no longer drain life over time, although this can be activated to gain further buffs.
I really did get quite excited to see the melee changes in action. While I haven't been able to play them, the videos I have seen look excellent. Melee combat appears crisp and responsive. You'll be able to see the changes in action in the trailer at the start of the article. You'll be able to get to grips with all the changes coming in Path of Exile: Legion when it launches on June 7 on PC, and June 10 on consoles.
In other Path of Exile related news, Exile Con will be taking place in Aukland, New Zealand in November. The two-day event will up to 2000 attendees getting to see new content for the game being announced. We can expect details of the game's December expansion, and a future mega-expansion as well.
Path of Exile will also be making its way to Korea, with publisher Kakao Games leading the charge for the free-to-play action-RPG in that market. It will feature local Korean servers, Korean customer support, and a full Korean translation. The future of Path of Exile is certainly looking very bright indeed.