For players unfamiliar with the genre, titles like Path of Exile (PoE) can be hard to place. This is especially true as the heyday of the top-down action RPG is long passed. As an online-only experience PoE becomes even more perplexing with many assuming it to be chock full with MMO-type features.
While PoE may be somewhat linked to modern MMOs and the old school action RPG, it is most certainly its own beast—and what a beast it is. Split into two relatively distinct half the game will first see players venture through a well-crafted story-driven adventure, then dropping them into a relatively endless amount of endgame content through the Atlas of Worlds. What’s more is that PoE offers up these hundreds of hours of content within its truly free-to-play model, meaning that there are few games to rival how much it gives you for, quite literally, nothing at all.
That said, there has always been a little confusion over this split between PoE’s main narrative and endgame experience. And this was made all the more intense given its recent Echoes of the Atlas overhaul which has made the endgame even more complex—but thankfully for good reason.
The Atlas of Worlds
When players get to Act 8 of the game, they will start receiving tier map drops. These will continue to drop pretty much for the rest of your playthrough, and allow you to access various parallel universes housing unique, generated, zones which are chock-full of monsters. This, essentially, allows players to continue their greed-fuelled conquest for tantalising loot.
While there is an incredible depth to this mapping system, all you need to know to get started is that you’ll find maps as drops, be able to obtain them by trading with other players and, in some instances, be able to purchase them from NPCs.
Echoes of the Atlas
Once knee deep in the endgame, players will begin to dive into the new Echoes of the Atlas expansion.
This’ll first see players interact with The Maven, who is set on watching players battle bosses in various arenas, while making the fights much more difficult at the same time. But, defeating these beefed-up bosses will net the player some more powerful, unique rewards while also allowing players to craft an entirely new type of skill tree.
Separate to the normal players skill tree for player stats — which by this point will already be inconceivably huge — the new Atlas Passive Skill Trees affects the PoE experience at a deeper level. For example, you can introduce region specific perks to each region in the atlas. This can result in more efficient looting, more favourable drops and more experience gains from monsters—to name the most simple of the bunch.
What’s great about this system, is it allows players to really hone their experience towards their favoured parts of the game, while also staying away from parts they dislike.
This new addition is piled on a bunch of other unique endgame activities players can already indulge in such as the variety of ever-changing challenge leagues which provide diverse, unique and tough challenges. Each league sees players create new characters and race to the endgame while completing a slew of challenges.
The new update introduces the Ritual League: Ritual.
Ultimately, the best way to understand Path of Exile’s endgame is to dive in. But the best news for newcomers to the game is that PoE’s endgame content is phenomenally large, and ever expanding—so you’ll have plenty to do.
If you’re just jumping into the game for the first time, consider getting ahead with Eldorado where you can fast-forward your progress by purchasing some PoE orbs.