Tag: Path of Exile

Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds Injects New Challenges Into Hardcore ARPG

Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds Injects New Challenges Into Hardcore ARPG

Nearing its third anniversary, Path of Exile seems to be at the top of its game. With several million active players along with continuous updates, the developers at Grinding Gear Games have kept busy since its launch. But now, they’ve got another big update ready next month with the upcoming Atlas of Worlds expansion, which completely overhauls much of the RPG’s end-game content, as well as adding a brand new questing and dungeon system into the mix.

The developers are implementing a slew of new content and sweeping changes to the game. In addition to performance upgrades to PoE’s engine, allowing for multi-threaded rendering (resulting in a more solid FPS and greater visual fidelity), and the launch of a new three month-long challenge league for seasoned vets, Atlas of Worlds will also include new encounters with brand new bosses, monsters. Moreover, new rare customizations items, map locations, and gear are scattered around the game world for players to uncover.

But it doesn’t stop there. With Atlas of Worlds, the developers have introduced their most ambitious gameplay feature known as, well, the Atlas. For the uninitiated, Path of Exile features items known as Map tiles which are a part of a comprehensive map system. These tiles can be taken to a special device that will create portals to procedurally-generated levels that house new challenges and loot. Similar to the Nephalem Rifts in Diablo III, these are micro dungeons that are high risk, high reward. During our demo, we saw the developers use a brand new map tile which transported us to a level known as Vaal City, a mixture of forest and urban areas that are both of course filled with some bloodthirsty foes.

While these new maps seem neat on their own, they are part of the Atlas. As you create new maps, you’ll uncover portions of the massive map which show a large game world to uncover. The more maps you uncover, the more of the game space you see. After about a full hour of play, we only uncovered a small fraction of the Atlas map. It’s extremely comprehensive, and the variety of areas that you’ll travel across shows off the diversity of locations that are being added to the core game.

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Eventually, you’ll be able to work your way to the center of the map, which houses four elite bosses and a brand new area known as the Crucible, which is the most difficult end-boss Path of Exile has to offer (so far). The central Atlas is peak difficulty for PoE, and it’s recommended you come in with a group and some top-class gear. While you can take part in it as early as your mid-thirties in level, it’s recommend you hold off till you have at least finished the latest story Act and have your character be in levelled into the 70s before taking on the Atlas in the first place.

Set for launch on September 2, Path of Exile: Atlas of Worlds aims to reinvigorate the player base with its new challenges. Though I have some worries about the Atlas being a bit too difficult for casual play, this sort of content should be very exciting for fans of the game who’ve maybe become a bit burned out. It’s been a while since I played, but seeing the game in its upcoming state has gotten me plenty excited to dive back in.

Path of Exile’s Ascendancy expansion launches March 4

Path of Exile’s Ascendancy expansion launches March 4

If you haven’t played Path of Exile in a while, you might want to reinstall that client soon.

Developer Grinding Gear Games revealed that the fourth expansion for its popular PC action role-playing game comes out on March 4. Path of Exile: Ascendancy will introduce new sub-classes, items, skills, and levels.

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Path of Exile is notable in the action role-playing game space, which includes the heavy-hitter Diablo III, because it’s free-to-play (with only in-game perks like extra stash room and aesthetic upgrades like special spell effects and pets costing real money). Content updates like this expansion are important for keeping Path of Exile’s 13 million players worldwide active, especially as Diablo III developer Blizzard continues to offer free updates for its game (although you still need to pay if you want to start playing Diablo III). Even with Path of Exile being free, Diablo III remains more popular. That game has sold over 30 million copies as of last August. Still, Diablo III has the might and branding of Blizzard behind it, so Path of Exile’s success is still impressive. It’s very much the David to Blizzard’s ogre-sized Goliath.

Ascendancy adds The Lord’s Labyrinth, a new area that features randomly generated areas that change every day, and Trials of Ascendancy, a new area that focuses on puzzle-based rooms. It also includes 19 Ascendancy classes, new sub-classes that can earn you new skills.

Path of Exile originally came out in 2013.

Path of Exile to Launch in China With the Help of Tencent

Path of Exile to Launch in China With the Help of Tencent

Back in November last year, Grinding Gear Games shared with us their plans for the future of their hit free-to-play isometric ARPG, Path of Exile. Among these plans were the recently released Ascendancy update, as well as negotiations with Chinese developers to localize the game in China. Last week, Grinding Gear Games announced that they will be releasing Path of Exile in Mainland China with the aid of one of the world’s most powerful gaming and tech companies, Tencent.

Path of Exile’s Chinese version will feature text in Simplified Chinese, as well as unique servers hosted in China itself. Existing Chinese players will be given the choice of either switching to the new Chinese servers or staying with Grinding Gear Games’ own servers once the full Tencent version releases.

Tencent recently acquired one of the gaming world’s most titanic gaming companies, Riot Games. It’s no surprise, then, that Grinding Gear Games is happy to partner with such a powerful influence in a region that is already known among gamers as one of PC gaming’s primary strongholds.

Lead Designer Chris Wilson made the following statement last week regarding the potential of Path of Exile’s China release:

China is the largest gaming market in the world and we’ve been waiting for the right time to expand into China. Tencent is incredibly powerful and has assigned a great team to work with us on the Chinese version. It is our expectation that the upcoming massive increase to the Path of Exile playerbase will help us ramp up both the quality and quantity of content we release for everyone.

Among other things, Wilson feels “confident that we [GGG] will be able to win the upcoming war against bots and gold farmers in China” with the help of Tencent. Likely a playful jab at the economies of other MMOs, since Path of Exile attempts to sidestep the issue of gold farming with its item-based currency system.

We can expect to see Path of Exile’s playerbase – which already averages around 17,000 players online at once – to swell once the Tencent version hits Chinese shores.

The road to Chinese localization was likely no easy task. During our November interview, the mention of Chinese Path of Exile segued us into a conversation about why foreign developers tend to not localize their games for Chinese players. According to Mr. Wilson, Chinese localization is nothing short of a massive headache.

For starters, Mr. Wilson told us that developers must abide by a staggering list of “don’t”s when pruning their games’ contents for Chinese audiences. Gamers might recall how the Chinese versions of World of Warcraft flesh out the visual models for Forsaken players – as well as those for various undead enemies – which typically show bits of bone and raw muscle. As it turns out, these measures were taken by Chinese WoW’s publisher, The9, before the game was submitted for review to avoid any potential hitches in the approval process. The fact stands, however, that censorship laws in Chinese games can still be considered strict by non-Chinese standards, and that they are often nebulous to foreign developers.

In Path of Exile’s case, the Ranger character proved to be quite sticky for Chinese censorship rules. The Ranger identifies as lesbian, according to the game’s lore. Wilson told us that this character quality doesn’t go over well with Chinese censors for “moral” reasons, and that the team was attempting to reconcile the Ranger’s sexual identification with Chinese legal commandments at the time.

There’s no consolidated list of just what isn’t allowed by Chinese censors, but overseas audiences do get occasional glimpses of this apparently monolithic Leviticus list. Such examples include a Shanghai government statement released in 2014 about which themes are banned in console games (with foreign gaming consoles themselves having been banned from 2000 to 2015), and a news report by the Chinese media last month on what themes are prohibited in Chinese TV programming.

Keep in mind that censorship laws do not represent the views and beliefs of an entire country. In fact, the above TV article notes that homosexuality tends to be received more openly in Chinese media than in neighboring Asian countries. That is, until Chinese censorhip bodies become involved. Perhaps the Ranger went through a similar ordeal?

It’s unknown the extent to which Tencent helped Grinding Gear Games navigate the seas of Chinese censorship rules, but it’s likely that the Chinese supergiant played a role in smoothing the approval process for Path of Exile.

Tencent’s Chinese version of Path of Exile is slated to enter Alpha testing in May. You can visit the official Chinese site here.