Path of Exile 2 is Next Level Fun

Path of Exile 2 Preview

When released in 2013, many players dismissed Grinding Gear Games’ Path of Exile as a late-to-the-party Diablo 2 clone. Like Blizzard’s hit ARPG, Path of Exile was an isometric hack-and-slash with a grimdark fantasy setting. It took some time and a bit of understanding, but eventually, the game developed a large and devoted community of fans. Those fans have created a thriving player-based economy of trading. Fans pride themselves on their appreciation of Path of Exile’s deep and somewhat arcane mechanics.

Set Apart

I was fortunate to spend several hours in Hollywood this week alongside members of the gaming press and dozens of Path of Exile content creators and community members. The occasion: the opportunity to take a deep hands-on dive into Path of Exile 2, the long-awaited sequel. You know you’re deep in fan territory when the developer announces that a new character has a range of shield powers and the crowd loses its mind. We had the chance to hear Grinding Gear’s Jonathan Rogers gush about the new game, impressive mechanics, and new characters. Of course, the big thrill was playing hours of the game.

Path of Exile has set itself apart through a steady stream of content and new Leagues. Leagues are PoE’s term for something akin to DLC. They’re focused less on new maps, and more on gear and special abilities. Temporary Leagues last for many months. After they conclude, some of the new content is folded into the Standard game. This has been going on for over a decade, and the amount of free-to-play content is massive.

Equally impressive — actually, downright intimidating — is the game’s constellation of passive abilities. There are thousands. Many new players have taken a look at the skill tree and bailed right then and there. The passives come from leveling up. Gems are found in the game or traded with other players. In the original PoE, the gems slot into weapons and other gear to add special powers and effects. The character development meta of PoE is a major draw for long-time players.

Going Through Some Things

Development of Path of Exile 2 began in 2019 as a major addition to the base game. The developers realized that they had so many new ideas and mechanical changes that it deserved to be a full-fledged sequel. Now, Path of Exile 2 is heading towards closed beta. To the disappointment of fans, the beta has been delayed, but Rogers hopes to have it ready to roll later this year.

The development process has been slowed a bit as changes lead to other changes. For example, adding WASD movement control and a dodge roll to one character class was such a hit, that the devs decided to retool every class to include it. This led to bosses and monsters having to be rebalanced to take into account the player’s ability to roll out of harm’s way. Judging by the hours I played, Path of Exile 2 can be a downright difficult game. 

There’s no doubt that the biggest change coming to the sequel is that gems will no longer be slotted to equipment. Instead, characters will have the ability to use gems to unlock and upgrade powerful new combat abilities and brilliant new spells. It makes sense, it streamlines the way gems are used and it allows for some mix-and-match powers that are every bit as exciting as the old system. Though it’s still mostly under development and under wraps, the passive skill tree looks to be as deep as fans have come to expect.

Of Druids and Warriors

Prior announcements and videos have highlighted the new, shape-shifting Druid class. For our event, we had the chance to play three classes: the sorceress, ranger, and warrior. The slow-moving warrior had a stable of powerful shield abilities. The agile archer — definitely the crowd favorite — combined fast rolls and leaps with elementally-infused arrows. The sorceress was a literal blast, too, using crowd-controlling walls of fire and lightning. I spent over an hour with each character type and I can’t wait to get to play them again.

While the game is understandably rough at the edges in terms of bugs, it looks absolutely fantastic. Much better, in fact, than another popular ARPG that rhymes with “realto.” The lighting and detail in the environments are already impressive and the spells and weapon effects look state-of-the-art. The visuals combine with equally glorious, gut-punchy audio. 

The developers promise a substantial, multi-chapter campaign and, of course, additional leagues and endgame down the line, some based on those from PoE. There is no question that Path of Exile 2 has the potential to far exceed the first game in graphics, mechanical polish, and longevity. 

Promises Fulfilled

The crowd at the event — hardcore players and deeply invested content creators — excitedly greeted the new game. But, I suspect, they were equally prepared to hold Jonathan Rogers to account if the sequel hinted at future disappointment. Judging by their enthusiastically positive reactions and my own incredibly fun experience, Path of Exile 2 is on track to be something special. 

Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.

  • For amazing videos, head over to our YouTube page HERE.
  • Follow us on Twitter HERE.
  • Our Facebook page HERE.
  • Our Instagram page HERE.
  • Listen to our podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
  • If you are a fan of cosplay, check out more of our cosplay features HERE.