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Path of Exile 2 lead won’t put it out “if I don’t think it’s good yet”

Following the Path of Exile 2 beta delay, PCGamesN speaks to its game directors about the decision and how it affects potential competition.

Path of Exile 2 beta delayed, developer will only put it out "If I think it's good enough" but he isn't worried about Diablo 4 comparisons - A ranger sets loose a lightning arrow from a shortbow.

The Path of Exile 2 beta has been delayed. Alongside our latest look at the upcoming ARPG, developer Grinding Gear Games reveals that we’ll have to wait a while longer for the chance to get hands-on with it. PCGamesN spoke to game directors Jonathan Rogers and Mark ‘Neon’ Roberts about why the decision was made, and what it means for the much-anticipated sequel amid the recent success of Last Epoch and Blizzard’s big overhaul with Diablo 4 Season 4 as it looks towards the Vessel of Hatred DLC launch.

Previously, the Path of Exile 2 release date for the game’s first closed beta was set to begin on Friday June 7. “While I do think that we would be able to get the game’s content ready in time for that,” Rogers says, “we underestimated how long it would take to get gameplay polished to a standard we’re happy with.” As such, it’ll be a while longer before we get to start playing the follow-up to one of the best RPG games on PC – there’s no exact date given, but Rogers suggests it’ll be “towards the end” of 2024.

Given that it’s a beta test, however, I ask the pair what made them decide to change their plans for the Path of Exile 2 launch, given the inherent lower expectations for a beta. Rogers is very clear on his stance: “I’m personally a believer in, if I don’t think the game is good yet then I don’t see a lot of value in getting feedback on it – I want the feedback at the point where I think it’s finished. Because otherwise people are just going to say a bunch of stuff that we already knew.”

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Rogers explains that parts of act one and two were made “five or six years ago” and, as such, the amount of work required to get them up to the level of polish the team desired, particularly for the boss fights, was “much larger than we expected.” He’s also keenly aware of making a good initial impact: “First impressions do last, and I want people’s association when they play the beta to be, ‘Wow, that game is awesome,’ which I think would not be the case if we were launching at the time we previously planned.”

“What happens with a lot of games, and I really dislike this,” Roberts adds, “is that often early access or the beta is very clearly the first act, or the first part, or something like that. And that obviously gets a lot of polish. Then by the time the game releases you can really notice that you finish that part and get to the next part and it completely falls apart – you’re not actually really using it for true testing at that point.”

A later launch will likely mean the beta arrives closer to the Diablo 4 DLC release date for Blizzard’s first expansion, Vessel of Hatred. Does that worry Rogers? “I don’t think that most people will compare us negatively to Diablo 4,” he says, “I feel like for the most part we should be okay on that one.” He does, however, acknowledge the recent success of Last Epoch’s 1.0 launch as something the team is considering.

Path of Exile 2 - The Ranger aims a bow upwards to fire a shot high into the air.

“I am much more concerned about games like Last Epoch where they understand, I think, more what an action RPG is,” Rogers told PCGamesN during a recent event where we got a hands-on Path of Exile 2 preview. “When [Path of Exile] first came out, Diablo 3 was the competitor we were going against, and there was very much this feeling of, ‘okay, so [GGG] are the guys who understood Diablo 2 and Blizzard did not understand [why Diablo 2 worked].’”

“The worry – which I think about a lot because, even if I don’t think it’s true, it’s something I still need to think about all the time – is, ‘is Last Epoch the game that understood PoE better than we understood PoE?’ I don’t think that is true,” he continues, “however, I do think it’s something I need to be looking at very carefully because there are elements that they are doing in response to PoE like how we did things in response to Diablo 2, and so therefore we have to care about those design lessons.”

“They [Last Epoch developer Eleventh Hour Games] of course have the thing where they are a very new game. When I look at what they aren’t doing well, those are the things that can change, whereas when I look at the same thing for D4, I don’t feel the same way; I feel like they don’t understand action RPGs like we understand, whereas Last Epoch does.” Rogers concludes, “At the same time, I don’t want to have any hubris around this; that’s why I need to pay attention and take that seriously, and look at what we’re doing and care about it.”

Path of Exile 2 Ranger - the character draws back a bow and unleashes a flaming arrow towards an enemy in a cloud of toxic green gas.

Roberts is similarly upbeat. “I might be just a little bit biased, but I am relatively confident that as much as Path of Exile 1 is currently compared to all of these other competitors and still remains triumphant when placed alongside them, when I put Path of Exile 2 next to Path of Exile 1, it’s not even in the same ballpark. So if PoE1 is currently the reigning king, then PoE2 is going to completely dominate.”

While closed alpha testing will be taking place in June, the Path of Exile 2 beta will now take place “towards the end of 2024.” Rogers says the team doesn’t have an exact date yet. In the meantime, however, the team has just unveiled the Path of Exile Necropolis league, also packed with new features and updates aplenty, so there’s never been a better time to give the first game a try.

Alternatively, there’s even more of the best games like Diablo to try, along with all the best free Steam games in 2024 if you’re after some top experiences that won’t trouble your wallet.

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Additional reporting by Danielle Rose.