It’s been four months since free-to-play Diablo-like Path of Exile was released and we’re due the first of the game’s mini expansions, Sacrifice of the Vaal. It brings new bosses, areas, PvP modes, skill gems, and items.
As updates go it’s pretty stonking big. Grinding Gear have released a trailer for easy digestion of all the gory details.
The story of the expansion is wrapped around Atziri, Queen of the Vaal. In search of eternal youth she brought about a catalcysmic event that wiped out her people and trapped her in a nightmare realm, where she’s been locked for 2,000 years.
She’s a new high level boss enounter for players who have been working though Path of Exile from the beginning. “In order to gain access to Atziri's lair, you must collect fragments from Vaal-influenced areas throughout Wraeclast,” write Grinding Gear. “When combined in the Map Device, six portals to the Apex of Sacrifice are created.” So, there’s that to be getting on with.
However, most the content of this new release will be layered throughout the game and become accessible to much lower level players, too. For instance, new corrupted dungeons appear throughout the game. These “Vaal-influenced secret areas that are indicated by a glowing, beating heart and swirling ribbons of blood. These corrupted areas have magical properties, similar to end-game maps, which substantially increase their difficulty. At the heart of each corrupted area is a new boss monster, guarding a chest that is guaranteed to drop a Vaal Skill Gem or Vaal Fragment.”
Those Vaal skill gems are new to the game and promise to be extremely powerful. “Vaal Skill Gems charge up as you kill enemies and can be unleashed for a devastating effect. For example, Vaal Detonate Dead chain-explodes all the corpses in an area in rapid succession. Vaal Power Syphon fires your wand at all nearby enemies, culling them and granting power charges. Some Vaal skills, when fully charged, can be used multiple times in the span of a single fight.”
The two new challenge leagues, Ambush and Invasion, offer prizes for players who complete all their challenges. Starting the league means starting a new character and racing to compelte the game with the highest score, getting you to the top of the leaderboard.
The Ambush league populates the world of Wraeclast with strongboxes containing unique loot and rare items. Before you can see its content though you must fight off the powerful monsters that appear when you activate it
Invasion offers an even greater challenge: it populates the game with monsters from other acts from later in the game. This ramps up the difficulty early on and means you never know what to expect in each area.
There are 60 new boss monsters, too. And “these new boss fights feature advanced combinations of skills and support gems that we've never used on monsters before.”
The two new PvP modes are pretty brutal, too. The Cut-throat mode “is an optional league type where players are able to invade each other's areas and kill them for their items.” Meanwhile, the Sarn Arena is “a free-for-all PvP area that pits you against a dozen or so other exiles in a no-holds-barred bloodbath.”
Sacrifice of the Vaal is due out on 5 March. Here are all the details Grinding Gears have released.