This year stands to be one of the biggest ones ever in the short history of developer Grinding Gear Games. Since its announcement at the first ExileCon, the developer has been hard at work on the Path of Exile sequel, looking to move ahead in the timeline and bring players to a whole new part of the PoE timeline. However, the first Path of Exile is still going strong, continuing to offer different ways to explore the continent of Wraeclast. As the road to PoE2 continues, the first Path of Exile is preparing to step into its next big expansion, Delirium.
Shacknews has been along for the ride on many of Path of Exile's expansions, so this would normally be the part where there's a briefing on where the story is headed. However, the team at Grinding Gear is being intentionally quiet about Delirium and its place in the greater Path of Exile story. The hope is for players to experience the story for themselves on day one.
So then what is Delirium? For this latest league, players can journey to any of Path of Exile's playable areas and find a strange new object, in which they'll see their own ghostly reflection. This is the Mirror of Delirium and touching it will cause players to enter the state of Delirium for a short period. When stuck in Delirium, the surrounding area will fill up with eerie mist, with the players' greatest fears manifesting. New monsters will spawn and rush straight towards players, while the existing monsters in the area will become stronger. Delirium encounters will start off at a lower level, but the difficulty will increase the farther in players get. Journey farther into Delirium in order to receive greater rewards, but the monsters will become much more difficult, so if you want those rewards, you'll have to earn them.
Delirium encounters are temporary and will wear off after about a minute or so. However, Delirium encounters will affect every encounter in the game. That's every encounter, right down to Act Bosses. So if the endgame bosses weren't hard enough for you, now picture them with Delirium buffs. After facing the prospect of that horror, picture the rewards that come with defeating them.
Grinding Gear co-founder Chris Wilson referred to Delirium as an extension of one of the team's favorite design philosophies surrounding Path of Exile. That involves risks and reward tradeoffs and character customization. It's Wilson's hope that Delirium will offer the greatest element of risk/reward tradeoffs to date, noting that while Delirium's core combat will feel similar to what was offered in the Breach expansion, players will have direct control of a Delirium encounter's difficulty. Delirium's difficulty levels can vary, much like what players found in the Delve and Metamorph leagues. Wilson notes that Delirium will encourage players to build stronger characters to not only progress through the story, but also tackle Delirium encounters.
The rewards will certainly prove worthwhile. Currency items, map items, and rare armor pieces are among the pickups that players can find from Delirium encounters. Those looking to try their luck against Delirium-enhanced end bosses can do so by finding Orbs of Delirium, which will apply the Delirium state to the entirety of a map. Stacking Orbs will further up the difficulty and likewise increase the quality of the rewards. Players will use the Orbs of Delirium to find a different sort of drop called Simulacrum Splinters, which will combine to open up a mysterious endgame challenge, one that Wilson and the rest of the team aren't going into further detail on just yet.
In terms of character builds, Delirium rewards will also include new items called Cluster Jewels. These are placed along the external sockets of the player's skill tree, opening up all-new passive skill clusters that can in turn create even more sockets. This is the most drastic addition to the character creation system to date, offering the biggest change to character builds since Path of Exile: Ascendancy way back in 2016. Like the game's other items, if a Cluster Jewel isn't to your liking, you're welcome to reroll in hopes of getting one better suited to your character build. Some Cluster Jewels will feed into existing character archetypes, while others create whole new character builds entirely. For example, one Cluster Jewel contains a special passive called the Hollow Palm Technique, which will open the door to an entirely new unarmed monk-style combat build.
Beyond the Delirium encounters and all they have to offer, long-time Path of Exile players can also look forward to four new skills, three new support gems, and 13 unique items. One example of a new skill is Blade Blast, which leaves behind exploding blades created by other skills. That means any blades left behind by attacks can either be detonated or they can be brought to life by the Animated Weapon skill.
Another example is the Kinetic Bolt. So how do I best describe the Kinetic Bolt?
That's only a slight exaggeration. Kinetic Bolt is the skill that wand players have been waiting for, starting off as a strong low-level skill that can be scaled for endgame encounters. The Kinetic Bolt will deal damage from the player's wand with a forking bolt, one that deals damage from foe-to-foe. Once players get to higher levels, it can be upgraded with various support gems to make it more powerful and a more potent area-of-effect force. Combined with Delirium's new jewel cluster system, the options for a Kinectic Bolt build are more than anything wand players could have ever hoped for.
The other big change coming with Delirium involves the big league from last expansion. The Metamorph league debuted with Conquerors of the Atlas, allowing players to essentially assemble their own boss encounter. The league proved so popular that Path of Exile will add Metamorph to the core game. Players can also look for various improvements to other Conquerors of the Atlas content, including adjustments to spawn rates, changes to certain recipes, and a better Temple of Atzoatl experience.
Path of Exile: Delirium is set to release on Friday, March 13 on PC. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game will receive the expansion on the following week.
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