With Echoes of the Atlas up for three months now, one must wonder what’s next for Path of Exile. Here’s the next update, as well as the future one.
Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas has been one of the game’s biggest, most ambitious, and most game-changing expansions, if not the most. So, what’s next for the indie studio-developed top-down hack and slash dungeon crawler? Two things: something different, as well as something bigger. Much bigger than arguably the biggest Path of Exile expansion yet, so be ready with your POE Currency.
Giving the Ultimatum
Right now, there is not much known about the next Path of Exile expansion apart from its name and how big it’s going to be. For the former, it’s Path of Exile: Ultimatum. As for its scope, an announcement from GGG entitled Our 3.14 Expansion Timeline states that 3.14 is going to be smaller than the current expansion. Unless you’re a complainer, it should be understandable why like Echoes of the Atlas was an expansion planned quite early on. At the same time, it had the strange problem turned the opportunity of being trapped in between the peak of the CoViD-19 pandemic.
While it would’ve been understandable for GGG to put future Path of Exile expansions on the back burner due to the pandemic, they still managed to pull it off. And the longer time frame and slower production turned out to be a pro, as they had more chances to strongly consider what kind of content would be included in the expansion. Even before Heist was released, they were already pitching ideas for it. Plus, Echoes of the Atlas was finished long before it was released.
Given those facts, it could be seen that GGG spent the same amount of time for Ultimatum expansion as it did for Echoes of the Atlas. Assuming Echoes of the Atlas could’ve already been released back in December if not for Cyberpunk 2077, it can be argued that the studio has been working on Ultimatum expansion for at least three months now. So far, only the expansion teaser announcement has been given a schedule, which is on April 8th. It’s not unlikely for the game to stay two to three weeks in development after an announcement, which means a total of four months in limbo.
Making More Time
Mind you, this is not a bad thing. Thanks to Grinding Gear Games’ new process involving game development, expansions have definitely become bigger and arguably better compared to their predecessors, with Heist providing much fun and replayability, and Heist the following suit. That is not to say that previous expansions and leagues were inferior to Heist and beyond. Rather, this new breed of expansions simply has more in them now.
Size-wise, however, the same can’t be said about Ultimatum. But given GGG’s renewed track record, players can be assured that much fun will be had in this upcoming expansion, so start that POE trade now.
Future Sequel Tense
Thankfully, something much bigger is on the horizon. We’re not talking about Path of Exile 3.15, 3.16, 3.17, or 3.18. In fact, given that it now takes three to four months to release an expansion, it’s possible for the last two to no longer see the light of day, as Path of Exile 2 will be coming out sometime in 2022. As to how many expansions before that, you can do the math.
Rather than make a completely different game, Grinding Gear Games is going to seamlessly connect Path of Exile 1 through its endgame, making it more of a hybrid sequel-update.
As of now, however, it is not yet known how the new system will accommodate new players. One possibility is that they will start right at the very beginning of Path of Exile 1, and then their experience will be streamlined so that they can get to Path of Exile 2 really quickly.
The sequel will have a seven-act storyline and will pick up into the future, where Kitava has been dead for two decades, which means society has been given respite from the darkness and the chance to rebuild again. This, unfortunately, has created a void those corrupt and powerful individuals seeking to fill. Once again, the Exiles must step up and do what’s been done twenty years ago.
To give the sequel a sense of both distinction and continuity, it will have a brand-new set of Ascendancy classes. The Path of Exile 1 part of the game will have the old Ascendancy classes, while the sequel will have new Ascendancy classes. Same character, different timeline, different Ascendancies. Hopefully, this makes old and new players equally happy, the way it’s intended to be.
Last but definitely not least, there will be a new skill gem system, where support gems are now inserted into the skill gems. Now it’s possible to six-link everything. And of course, it should go without saying that there will be new gear.
Despite the dark themes, both the immediate and not-so-far future of Path of Exile looks bright. This means that the best time to play POE is now.
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