Grinding Gear Games hosted a new livestream on Thursday focused on Path of Exile 2. The studio also announced the new Ultimatum expansion for Path of Exile, set to launch on April 16.
Grinding Gear Games organized its livestream into multiple parts, starting with a new Path of Exile 2 trailer and an extended gameplay section before jumping into Ultimatum. The studio then hosted a Q&A with ZiggyD — a popular Path of Exile YouTuber.
Path of Exile 2 first got announced at ExileCon in 2019, so Grinding Gear Games founder Chris Wilson started the stream out by addressing the long radio silence from the team. Wilson spoke about the scope of the game and the team’s desire to nail the new campaign as well as several of the game’s major system overhauls, including Skill Gems. In a Q&A with Polygon and other news outlets earlier this week, Wilson said Path of Exile 2 isn’t quite at the halfway point in terms of development, but the studio is getting into a groove with production.
The trailer showcases several new gameplay clips and locations from the new Vastiri Desert location — the second major location in Path of Exile 2, after the Island of Ogham, first revealed at ExileCon 2019. After the trailer, Wilson narrated a gameplay showcase for Path of Exile 2, set entirely in the new location.
A look at a giant caravan in Path of Exile 2
Image: Grinding Gear Games
The showcase showed off several varied areas in the Vastiri Desert region, as well as the massive new caravan that shepherds players between different areas of their choosing. But the star of the showcase are two of the new weapon type for Path of Exile 2: spears and crossbows.
Both weapon types come with intrinsic skills, specific to that weapon type. For example, the spear shown in the showcase gave players a Whirling Slash ability, which conjured up a storm near the player. Leaving the storm causes it to explode in an area — made easier by another of the spear’s intrinsic abilities: its disengage skill, which causes the player to fly backward and throw blades at enemies. The crossbows are similarly unique, with the ability to change to different elemental or armor piercing bolts depending on the combat requirements. Wilson told press that the studio is unsure which — if any — older weapon types will see similar intrinsic skills.
The studio also showed off new mini-bosses — a bigger focus in Path of Exile 2 — and the game’s improved animations. Enemy packs also have more unique AI in the sequel, with monster groups that patrol certain areas like soldiers.
One of the more interesting aspects of Path of Exile 2 is that it doesn’t replace the original campaign. Both the original campaign and the sequel campaign will live on within the same game client, with players being able to take their old characters and accounts — complete with any microtransactions — through the new story or the old one. To that end, both Path of Exile and Path of Exile 2 will converge into a shared endgame post-campaign. And that’s where Path of Exile: Ultimatum comes in.
After the Path of Exile 2 gameplay showcase, Wilson swapped over to Ultimatum, a new expansion and League (Path of Exile’s word for seasons) coming next week. Wilson also said all recent and future Leagues are being built with Path of Exile 2 in mind.
Ultimatum offers players what is essentially a Do You Want To Be a Millionaire?-style gameshow, but with slightly more death and blood. Players will meet the Trialmaster — an emissary of Chaos — who will task players to undergo Trials.
Trials will show players a reward and ask them to select a difficulty modifier. If they succeed in the Trial, the reward is theirs to take. However, the Trialmaster will also offer a second, potentially even better piece of loot if players decide to keep going. The second Trial will be even harder than the first, as will the third, fourth, and so on, if players decide to push it.
Players can walk away with their rewards between these levels, but if they die at any point they lose everything. Players will be able to trigger these events with items found in the world, and even sacrifice items to prompt even more powerful drops from an upcoming Trial. Trials can also grant players unique rewards with interesting effects.
You can keep going in Ultimatum, but you’ll lose your rewards if you die
Image: Grinding Gear Games
Ultimatum Trials also work in multiplayer, which is a nice touch. Players can run Trials together, and one can drop out with their rewards while the other pushes their luck. Players even vote on which difficulty modifier they prefer, with the game rolling the dice in the case of a tiebreaker.
Ultimatum also comes with the usual quality of life improvements and additions to the game. For this League, Grinding Gear Games focused on loot drops, changing around various items that can and can’t drop from enemies. Final Act Bosses are now more lucrative as well, to spread out how players are spending their time farming for items. Some items that were League-specific — meaning players had to do a specific piece of content to get a chance at them — now appear in the general item pool as well.
Finally, Ultimatum adds some new skills to defeat enemies. For a complete breakdown of the new skills and the extensive list of reward changes, check out the full livestream.
Wilson and the team didn’t offer a release window for Path of Exile 2, although we know it won’t be out by the end of 2021. Path of Exile: Ultimatum will launch on April 16.