Path of Exile has largely been a solo journey for most of its decade of existence. Characters embark alone on their own path across the damned continent of Wraeclast, one that takes them from the isle shores all the way through the edges of the cosmos. So, what happens when these characters suddenly find a strange alien technology that doubles as a companion. Mystery is in the air with Path of Exile's next big expansion, titled Sentinel, and players will get to explore it next week.
Why is this expansion called Path of Exile: Sentinel? It's because of the titular Sentinels, which are ancient constructs that have been discovered throughout Wraeclast. When uncovered, these sentient objects will follow players around, almost behaving like pets. However, the Sentinels don't exactly help in battle. Instead, they amplify enemy power and make them more difficult to deal with. That sounds bad at first, but in exchange, the empowered enemies will drop greater rewards.
Here are the three Sentinel varieties that players can find throughout the game:
- Stalker Sentinel: When deployed, this follows players for a short period and empowers however any monsters it can reach.
- Pandemonium Sentinel: This only fires off a single shot, but it's one that hits for a wide area-of-effect, chaining across multiple enemies.
- Apex Sentinel: This Sentinel's shot will only affect rare or unique enemies, which should make those fights much more difficult, but also a lot more rewarding.
Each Sentinel type can only be deployed once per area and they don't have a lot of staying power. Once a Sentinel has run out of juice, it's possible to utilize their husks to craft newer Sentinels. This is where it should be noted that, like other aspects of Path of Exile, Sentinels can be modded. Sentinel mods can affect their duration, their rate of fire, or the degree to which they empower monsters. Some of the mods can even narrow down the type of drops that players can earn. Sentinels don't use a skill tree as much as they do a circuit board. This is called the Sentinel Controller and allows players to connect specific nodes with filaments in order to customize the Sentinel's powers and abilities. The Sentinel Controller is a flexible mechanic and players can respec their layout at any time.
Players will become more adept at Sentinel usage over the course of this expansion, largely thanks to the crafting mechanic. Power Cores are items that can be picked up that will allow depleted Sentinels to be crafted into one bigger, stronger Sentinel, sometimes with special properties.
"Right-clicking a Power Core opens up the assembly screen," Path of Exile Managing Director Chris Wilson explained during Thursday's reveal stream. "If you insert two Sentinels and click the Assemble button, a new, fully-charged one will be created. This process is a complex and unpredictable one that can either inherit properties from the input Sentinels or potentially produce new ones that weren't based on either of them. For example, the base type of the Sentinel could be either the left input sentinel, the right input sentinel, or an entirely new one that can't spawn naturally and can only come from this process. The same applies to its modifiers. You generally get a mix of modifiers from the two input Sentinels, but sometimes they have their tiers upgraded or entirely new mods added, occasionally including ones that are exclusive to the assembly process. The end result is that you're usually getting Sentinels that are similar in function to the depleted ones you are combining, but occasionally mutate in new ways, producing results that unlock more power and possibilities. The best Sentinels in the game will come from lucky combinations of depleted Sentinels that have just the right mods. It's also possible to assemble two Sentinels directly into one of many valuable unique Sentinels."
Beyond the new Sentinel League, Path of Exile players have a lot to look forward with next week's expansion. This includes changes to the new endgame that was first introduced with Siege of the Atlas. Look for 20 new keystone passives on the Atlas tree, but beyond that, expect to see new passive clusters that allow players to better curate their endgame experience. Of course, it wouldn't be Path of Exile if Grinding Gear Games didn't make things a little bit harder. With that said, seven pinnacle boss fights are getting new "Uber" versions that are somehow even more brutally difficult than their predecessors. This is all on top of new endgame unique items that can be discovered over the course of the game.
There's a lot of talk about what changes Path of Exile makes with each update. However, Sentinel is about to make news for what it's not changing. For the first time, Grinding Gear is taking a look at all of the game's classes and deciding to stand pat. There will be zero character balance changes, as the team is looking to experiement with how the current meta fares in an entirely new expansion league. The team is confident that the addition of Sentinels will provide such a shakeup that character balancing will prove unneeded. This won't be a permanent thing, though, as Wilson noted that character balance tweaks are currently being outlined for Path of Exile's 3.19 update.
There's a lot more coming to Path of Exile with the introduction of the Sentinel expansion. Look for revamped monster modifiers, tweaks to the challenge system, the official launch of controller support for the PC version, and several other quality of life changes. You can learn more about that over on the Path of Exile website. Path of Exile: Sentinel will launch on Friday, May 13 on PC and Mac. Console users on PlayStation and Xbox will see the update on Wednesday, May 18.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Path of Exile uncovers Sentinel expansion next week