Grinding Gear Games announced the newest update to its free-to-play dungeon crawler Path of Exile today, and it’s bringing new end-game challenges, item improvement options, and a new quest system.
Titled the Prophecy Challenge League, update 2.3.0’s additions are aimed at prolonging player engagement. The main addition is the prophecy challenge league. Essentially, it functions much like the game’s challenge leagues, allowing you to guarantee certain missions in the game’s procedurally generated dungeons and areas. By finding Silver Coins and giving them to Navali, a soothsayer who appears in each of Path of Exile’s hubs, players can unlock new Prophecies, and through them, new item rewards.
So while a library area may take on a different layout each time you enter it, by unlocking and activating the Plague of Rats prophecy, you’ll guarantee a swarm of rodents in the dungeon, along with any rewards the modifier might bring.
The prophecy system, Grinding Gear says, allows the developer to make the challenge league quests more difficult. This is mainly because you can plan ahead of time: if you activate the Prophecy to trigger a boss fight against both Brutus and Shavronne, a powerful duo that combines their powers against you, then you’ll know what’s lying in wait when you dive into the dungeon. You can change your equipment and ability loadouts to prepare for the guaranteed fight.
Prophecies can also combine to form prophecy chains. These self-contained quest series have their own themes and motifs, such as “corrupted” monsters, which become more numerous and powerful the farther into a quest chain you progress.
Grinding Gear is also placing more emphasis on “tradability” in every respect. Throughout the update’s challenge league, you may come across items you don’t want, need, or some you’re not good enough to use yet. The prophecy update lets you trade items, yes, but also prophecies themselves. And seeing as how you can only have several prophecies available at once, it may be helpful to give unwanted quests to other players.
In fact, the developer wants you to improve your character on another level–veteran Path of Exile players know the value of Ascendancy–upgrade trees that grant more powerful abilities for your character, essentially creating a subclass beneath your main character build. With the newest update, Grinding Gear is opening up two more slots for Ascendancy abilities. That means players can unlock 8 of the 12 abilities in any of the upgrade trees.
Among a host of other minor improvements, such as improved load times and interface tweaks, Update 2.3.0 also adds one more labyrinth challenge area for high-level players. This is the most difficult of the challenge dungeons, tasking you with dodging unpredictable traps, numerous enemies, and shifting environments.
Grinding Gear is careful not to call this a full expansion. Based on the developer’s alternating “expansion/update” release schedule, the next major expansion should arrive in September.
From the more focused quest chains, to item tradability, to added room for more powerful character skills, each of the update’s additions are guaranteeing character improvements across the board come 2.3.0’s release at 1 PM PST on Friday, June 3.