To this point, Path of Exile has been primarily about surviving an island filled with monsters, evil magic-wielders, and forces beyond our natural realm. Grinding Gear Games has been experimental with its dungeon crawler over the years, but the idea has often led back to the original premise, which is to explore the Wraeclast continent and survive its harrowing forces. For the game's next expansion, things are about to get a little different. It's time to assemble a merry band of thieves for Path of Exile: Heist.
Grinding Gear has been good at surprising the Path of Exile player base before and I certainly don't think anybody had "Ocean's 11-style heist film homage" in the pool for expansions, but that is indeed the main premise behind Heist. The Heist League will take players to a new locale called the Rogue Harbour, where they'll meet 13 new NPCs known as the Rogues. The idea is to infiltrate guarded facilities, maneuver through them undetected, search for a valuable artifact, grab it, and make a clean getaway. To access the Rogue Harbour, players will need to pick up Markers, which are drops found throughout the League. Markers are also the currency used to recruit Rogues for your next job. There 13 different Rogues all have different specialties, so you'll need to look at your Contract (drops that contain Heist jobs) and determine who will be best suited for what's ahead. For Heists, you'll only be able to recruit a single Rogue, so choose wisely. Some of them will provide transportation or intel while others serve on-the-job purposes, like lockpicking or disarming traps.
Once you're ready to go on your Heist, you'll take your Contract to the Wayfinder, an NPC at the Rogue Harbor who takes your Marker payment for partner Rogues and transport to and from the facility. After reaching the facility, the goal is to swipe the Artifact without triggering any alarms. It may sound easy, but you'll often find rooms filled with treasures. You could risk taking these treasures, but the alert level will rise as you steal more items and as you waste more time. Stealth is heavily encouraged, because killing guards will also raise the alert level. If you're too careless with the alert level, the alarms will go off and trigger Lockdown, meaning more guards will spawn in and you'll now be on the clock to grab the Artifact and escape. It should be noted that once you grab the Artifact, Lockdown gets triggered, which means you'll only have so much time to escape. Work fast, because if you die, you not only lose the Artifact, but you'll also lose any rewards you collected during the Heist and walk away with nothing.
Working with Contracts and Heists is just the beginning, because they'll train players for Grand Heists. Players can craft Blueprints and use any intel collected from previous Heists to plan for Grand Heists, which contain much bigger prizes. Once you're ready to go on a Grand Heist, you'll hand a Blueprint off to Whakano the Barber, who will then craft the Grand Heist map and use any intel gathered to offer additional information, like enemy locations, escape routes, reward rooms, and more. While Blueprint drops aren't common, one major element of this expansion is the ability to trade for Contracts and Blueprints. If none of this heisting stuff sounds like it's for you, the Contracts and Blueprints can be traded between players for a tidy profit.
Being much larger in scale, Grand Heists will allow players to recruit three Rogues. Every wing in the Grand Heist facility will have its own alert level, so plan carefully. Planning carefully also means pre-planning your escape route to minimize conflict with endless waves of guards once you grab the Artifact. One would imagine that a Grand Heist would mean the prize is greater, right? For Grand Heists, the destination is a Vault, which contains numerous rewards hidden behind glass display cases. Players will only get to keep one of these items and leave the rest behind. Among the rewards are a new item type called Replica Unique Items. Unique Items are just what they are. There's only one copy of them in the entire game. Grand Heists will offer Replica Unique Items, which copy many of the original's attributes, but contain some noticeable differences, such as different mods. There are roughly 100 Replica Unique Items and these can only be picked up by successfully completing a Grand Heist.
Success in Grand Heists means your Rogues will also need to be up for the job. Fortunately, players can equip them with items found during normal Heists. These items will increase a Rogue's stealth factor, damage output, or other attributes. Some might even reduce the Rogue's cut of the profit at the end of the Heist. Rogue gear can be upgraded in the same way normal mods are upgraded, using standard Path of Exile currency.
Are Grand Heists really worth the trouble? The Replica Unique Items certainly look like they're worth their weight in gold. For example, the Iron Commander Death Bow does incredible damage while working off player totems. The Replica will carry similar stats while switching from a Siege Ballista to a Shrapnel Ballista. Likewise, the Ambu's Charge Crusader Chainmail carries heavy stats and offer a regenerative property. The Replica of this will carry much greater stats, though the regenerative property will be changed to a "damage over time" property. Experimenting with Replica Uniques will present hundreds of new build possibilities for hardcore Path of Exile players, some of which could wind up being the best the game has to offer.
Beyond Replica Unique Items, players can also find special weapon and armor enchantments. First introduced with the Ascendency expansion, enchantments will grant special properties on items without taking up a modifier slot. These enchantments are nearly game-breaking to the point that if players find the top ones, they'll notice that they may come with significant drawbacks. For example, the Storm Ruin Pernarch will give physical modifiers a 15 percent increased effect, but in exchange will require double the attribute requirement to wield. Other enchanted items, like the Eagle Shroud Full Dragonscale armor, will have only benefits, like having all Sockets linked for better re-rolls.
The new expansion will introduce a new item type in Path of Exile called Trinkets, which will influence drop probability during Heists. These will go in a new equipment slot, which means players can equip Trinkets without compromising their current build. Trinkets can have various effects on drops during Heists, such as upping the percentage of Corrupted drops, increasing the reward quality, or up the chance to find special drops during a job. All of these Trinkets are Corrupted, so players won't be able to craft these. These are special items within this expansion. Alternate-quality Gems will also prove to be a tempting reward during Grand Heists. These will see a different stat increase as they gain quality allowing for multiple build possibilities.
Outside of the heisting component, Path of Exile's latest expansion will look to rework several existing elements of the game. Curses will undergo an overhaul that encourages players to self-cast them by increasing their intensity over time. On top of that, players may notice that many of the existing Curses will have improved visual effects and slightly different attributes. Steel Skills (Shattering Steel and Lancing Steel) are being reworked to utilize both the Impale mechanic and a new Shard mechanic that increases their area-of-effect damage. Look for a few reworked spells, as well as some new ones like Flame Wall, which creates a fiery wall that damages enemies over time, and Void Sphere, which creates a black hole that sucks in nearby enemies and keeps them stuck in place. Look for 25 new Unique Items, like the Corpsewalker Unique Boots, which creates corpses every 0.3 seconds as you move. That one will be handy for corpse builds. Another Unique Item example is the Chains of Emancipation, which inflicts a Temporal Chains curse on you that grants full Rage when broken.
Path of Exile: Heist is a noticeably different type of expansion for Grinding Gear. It's the first such League where players can choose rewards prior to completing their encounter, but also run the risk of losing everything if they don't escape alive. It's also the first such expansion to feature a party-building mechanic, encouraging players to build their best roster for the upcoming job. Heists are also giving Grinding Gear a chance to utilize a new AI, which sees guards vigorously defend their territory in organized formations. If any of the new expansion's assets look visually sleeker, it's because some of the new monsters were originally set to debut with the upcoming Path of Exile 2. If none of this is up your alley, then as noted earlier, it's entirely possible to trade nearly every itemized element of this new League, including Contracts, Blueprints, Rogue equipment, and more.
Path of Exile: Heist is expected to launch on September 18 on PC and Mac. That's right, Path of Exile will debut on Mac with the launch of Heist, though it will have to be downloaded directly from the Path of Exile website, as it will not be on the Mac App Store at launch. On top of that, look for the PC version of Path of Exile to hit the Epic Games Store, as well. Meanwhile, the expansion is scheduled to hit PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 23.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Path of Exile: Heist recruits Rogues for 3.12 expansion