With the Atlas of Worlds expansion, Path of Exile aims to bring even more thrills, variety and even more depth to the action role-playing game. We plunge into the endgame in the test.
Players need goals, whether self-imposed or predetermined. The carrot on the nose is still the best and the more carrots there are, the more motivating the second major topic in games is: the endgame.
Developer Grinding Gear Games has dedicated itself to both topics in the new add-on to the free Hack & Slay hit Path of Exile: the Endgame and its carrots. Atlas of Worlds transforms a previously rather chaotic system into a structure with a certain motivational touch.
The Previous Principle
Path of Exile is about killing tons of monsters, taking loot, stepping up to face ever-increasing challenges. The skill system including the monstrous passive skill tree as well as the extensive crafting provide for extremely many possible character variants. Four stories driven by a good story in three different levels of difficulty help with Monsterhatz and step up - but what do we do after that?
As soon as we have unlocked the Eternal Laboratory at the highest difficulty level (Merciless) in the third act (around level 65), we can play the so-called maps. These are random layout cards, each containing a specific boss. The maps are also prey and can be crafted with additional modifications that affect the map's features, but also the amount and quality of the prey. The fieser the modifications (for example, percentage deductions of player resistance or percentage surcharges on damage types of the monster), the more and better prey falls.
That's how we've fought so far through countless randomly generated endgame maps in search of prey and experience. That's it. Until now.
Bring Structure Into Chaos
The map system was not bad, but unstructured and without a thread on which to orient oneself. This changes fundamentally: All maps can be found on a big map, the eponymous Atlas of Worlds. The atlas has four entry points each in its own quarter, each with a level one map. If we play this card, it may drop more maps that either connect (for example, a level 2 map) or are on the same level.
If we put it in the middle of the atlas (this area has level 16), a guard is waiting there for each atlas quarter. Each of these four bosses we have to defeat in hard fights. Should we succeed, we have an attempt free to compete against the Shaper, the big Map-Endboss. If we fail, we have to kill the guards again to get another try.
Random Frustration Or Prey-Lust?
It can sometimes be really frustrating when we play a map and get no new maps as prey - or alternatively only maps we have already played through several times. In order for this not to become the rule, the addon offers us some possibilities to influence our progress.
Each map on the atlas has a bonus objective, which is usually to kill the boss. Condition is however always a certain quality of the map, for example normal (white), magical (blue) or rare (yellow). With each bonus objective we meet, we get a one-percent chance that the next map loot will be one or even two levels higher than normal. The more bonuses we collect, the higher our bonus chance grows and the faster we get ahead.
In purple circled maps we also capture a so-called shaper orb. This is not a random loot, but guaranteed loot from the boss of the map. Depending on the level of the orb, we can apply this orb to a map, raising it by five levels. Example: If we have applied a Shaper-Orb to the Arcade-Map (Level 1), there will be no Arcade-Maps, only Shaped-Arcade-Maps. These are now Level Six, meaning the monsters are at this level, as are the loot.
About these and other possibilities (for example, we can buy at map master Zana Maps) we may adjust the atlas and push our progress something. But beware: A quick march is not possible, the completion of the atlas takes a lot of time. If you plan well and make your maps with meaningful mods, you can speed things up a bit, but the path through the atlas becomes harder with each step.
This sometimes causes some frustration if we have no loot with the maps. But the motivation and challenge factor to get ahead and get in the middle has grown exponentially with the atlas. Grinding Gear Games sorted, structured and polished the endgame in Path of Exile. This makes playing the maps really fun because we are seeing and influencing our progress on a whole new level.
Content And Performance Plus
The amount of maps and the bosses to be reshuffled has been greatly increased: 30 new maps and 19 new bosses are waiting to be taken apart by us. Add new unique Path of Exile items and a new league, the Essence League. In it, the crafting is changed: We find in some monsters certain essences, which guarantee a certain modification in contrast to the previous, completely random crafting.
At the same time, the technology behind Path of Exile has been significantly changed: The game now supports several cores of a CPU. The result is a noticeably improved performance of the game, which is very rarely tarnished by link lags. The textures were also subjected to a new compression method to achieve a smoother game.
Atlas of Worlds makes Path of Exile - regardless of other addons that may come yet - a truly round experience. The hitherto somewhat disordered Endgame now impresses with a meaningful, insanely motivating and very varied structure.