Path of Exile 2's new Witch class demonstrates major minion reworks

The newest class to join Path of Exile 2 uses a familiar mechanic, but one that Grinding Gear Games has adjusted for the sequel.

Grinding Gear Games

As Path of Exile 2 continues to inch towards its beta, Grinding Gear Games continues to unveil new classes. The latest one is the Witch, a returning class from the original game capable of raising the dead to fight on her side. While the Witch and her minions are a familiar sight, there are some exciting differences regarding how she calls upon them this time around. To learn more, Shacknews recently went hands-on with the PlayStation 5 version of Path of Exile 2 and we also got a first peek at how the game will play with local co-op.

As noted, the Witch is a class that utilizes the dark arts to summon undead minions to fight alongside her. This was among the strongest classes in the original Path of Exile, but for the sequel, things are going to work slightly differently. For Path of Exile 2, Grinding Gear Games is introducing the idea of permanent minions.

The Witch's minions firing poison gas arrows in Path of Exile 2

Source: Grinding Gear Games

According to Grinding Gear Games co-founder Jonathan Rogers, one of the big problems with the Witch in the original Path of Exile was that intense battles with hordes of foes or brutal bosses didn't leave players with much opportunity to summon minions. Having to summon them manually was a major drawback. For Path of Exile 2, this has been reworked by reworking minion-summoning into a mechanic that operates with a new resource called Spirit.

Spirit can be allocated to summon minions with different abilities. There are warriors with higher HP and snipers who can strike with arrows from a distance, just to name a few examples. If these minions are wiped out, there's a cooldown timer that becomes active. Once the timer runs out, the minions will all return simultaneously and start fighting once more. This adds an interesting degree of strategy to playing with the Witch, as players must determine which minion types work best for which situation and also play around with abilities and gear that affect the strength level, special abilities, and max number of permanent minions. For instance, the new Sceptre weapon can have a mod that grants the Witch some free permanent minions to go along with the ones that she summons through her Spirit resource.

While permanent minions are the heart of the Witch class, that's not to say that players can't still use temporary minions. Temporary minions can still be added to your ranks through certain attacks and abilities that raise corpses after a successful kill. Unlike permanent minions, these undead creatures can't be equipped with special abilities or given roles. However, their advantage comes from sheer numbers. Now that the Witch doesn't have to summon manually anymore, it's possible to combine permanent minions with temporary ones and have a fighting chance against some of Path of Exile 2's big bosses.

As part of our time with Path of Exile 2 on PlayStation 5, we also got a chance to experience a new way to enjoy it. The console versions of the game will allow for a local co-op option and let two outcasts share the same screen. The most interesting item of note here is the revamped UI. While a single player will have an MMO-style interface with health displayed on the lower-left corner and mana displayed on the lower-right, each player's hotkey display is condensed while their health and mana is combined into a single orb. The left half will represent health and the right will show a player's mana. The result is an ideal one, offering a combined UI that doesn't take up much on-screen real estate and allows both players to enjoy the game together.

With a copious amount of new content, revamped mechanics, and additions to the console version, it's no wonder that Path of Exile 2 needed some more time in the oven. The closed beta was originally scheduled for June 7, but was delayed earlier this year. Grinding Gear Games still hopes to have the closed beta ready to roll out before the end of 2024 with the final version coming later down the road.

This preview is based on an early PlayStation 5 version played during a private press event held prior to Summer Game Fest 2024 in Los Angeles, CA. The final product is subject to change.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola