ExileCon started today in my home city. We’re not even halfway through the first day and already the bombs are dropping. ‘Mega expansion 4.0’ has turned out to be a full fledged sequel. Seven acts right out of the gate. Updated graphics engine. Rework to the active-skills system. It’s a bit more gem-ception now. You socket support gems into your active skill gems, rather than gems into gear with links.

Unsure how the Passive Trees might change yet, but let me get out of your way and just show you the trailers.

There are two, the briefer ‘overview’ style trailer and then 14 odd minutes of gameplay.

The graphical updates without a side-by-side view seem very subtle. But there have been a number of situations lately where seemingly subtle or minor updates in practice, when seen ‘for real’ have ended up being quite significant. So I won’t write off the possibility of that being the case here, too.

In terms of some additional info from the ‘con, not in these videos I’ve picked up so far:

  • Both campaigns will be available in the new client — but characters will be created for, and then locked to, one campaign or the other.
  • Characters from both campaigns will come back together into the same endgame space — although I don’t yet know how this will work from a story perspective, given Path of Exile 2 occurs 20 years after the events of the first campaign. Potential story issues aside, I really like this. I was extremely worried by potential player-base split at first.
  • Your purchased MTX (Cosmetics, stash upgrades, etc) will come across with you into Path of Exile 2 — you will not be expected to purchase again.
  • Beta not expected start until ‘Late 2020’.

Live Path of Exile 2 (4.0 Mega Expansion) Stage Demo Starting Now…

11:27am: There will be 38 ascendancy classes with the release of Path of Exile 2. There will be benefit of playing the original campaign to unlock the ascendancy classes from here, if you haven’t already done so. Only required once, as when you’ve unlocked them future character creates will have access to them.

11:33am: Passive tree shown — but is the old tree at the moment. Developer mentioned not yet ready to talk about what the new passive system might look like.

11:34am: With the active skill gems now themselves holding the support gems — the number of ‘links’ available is a property of these gems, and can be rolled with loot generation like they could be on armor/gear previously.

11:36am: Shapeshifting — there are forms other than the werewolf shown in the released video. There is also an Ascendancy class that focuses on shapeshifting. (Sidenote: The smooth transition between forms reminds me greatly of Diablo 4’s system.)

11:40am: Kripparrian dies to a boss fight on the stream. xD As commented on in the gameplay video — bosses are far more involved with mechanics needing to be respected. Devourer boss fight has sections where you must hide behind parts of its body to avoid attacks from other parts.

11:47am: Noticed this a few minutes ago actually, but one spot the graphics have a clear upgrade (but still subtle in effect) is the Armor. The Physically Based Rendering (PBR) does an amazing job of the material differences here, from the cloth to the heavier armor Krip just changed to.

11:49am: Random generation has gone beyond just the areas to the world map itself. Not in ‘what’ the areas are perhaps, but in how they link and their orientation in relation to one another. In Path of Exile 1, the areas had static direction requirements for one area to the next due to the world map construction.

Speed runner tricks might be out the door with this one. Despite not being a speed runner myself, I have mixed feelings on this. There were a good number of ‘tricks’ you could learn as an experienced PoE 1 player to speed yourself along.

11:55am: Stage demo comes to an end. Talked about the difficult of ‘threading the needle’ around making Path of Exile easier for newcomers to approach without sacrificing the complexity and depth players love. Not much detail provided on how this has been (or will be) achieved — but something they’re thinking about.

12:01am: Well OK then, Krip put back on Stream with more PoE 2.0 — stream splash had cut away to show that the 3.9 League would be discussed next. But I’ll take more of this! ;D

12:03am: Active Skill Gem Slots — OK, this has actually been on Stream before now but it just crystalised to me how it all fits together. Your gear does still have some sway over your gem slots.

Namely, gear will have a different number of different colour active skill gem slots. Magic/Intellect gear having a heavier weighting toward blue, Strength toward Red, Dex toward Green — just like you’d expect today. Two handers having more sockets generally than 1H. So far, so normal.

From there is where the changes start — with as mentioned earlier, the Active Skill Gems themselves determining how many (and what) support gems they can support and how they’re linked.

12:14am: The level of detail on these corrupted mobs is pretty insane for an ARPG. Lots of particle effects too, I like it. (Also as a side note: Since Krip came back, the lead dev has gone. Just raw playthrough now, so less to comment on.)