‘X’ Marks The Spot In Path of Exile

War-for-the-Atlas-300x168 'X' Marks The Spot In Path of Exile

For those who do not know how the doomsday of “the road to exile” works, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a large number of randomly generated map networks to pass through them. In fact, not so complicated. Below, GM2V will give you an in-depth explanation.

It’s a system that, at its most basic, is similar to Diablo 3’s Rifts—you’re running randomly generated maps at progressively higher difficulties in search of powerful loot. Where it gets interesting is that more difficult maps can drop while you’re clearing out a map level, leading to greater challenges and, yes, the chance to drop even more difficult maps. Eventually, players can work their way through the Atlas to the final four maps, each protected by a powerful Guardian. Killing one of them lets you then take on The Shaper, the Cthulhu-looking big bad of Path of Exile’s universe. Well, until December 8, when War for the Atlas launches.

War for the Atlas revamps this entire system by introducing 32 new maps, a new layout, and a new threat to the Atlas: The Elder. Though they share a similarly vague name, The Elder and The Shaper are at war and its up to you to decide which one wins. Wilson isn’t willing to divulge much information on the why of it all, as that’s a mystery that the community will have to work together to solve.

But as you begin exploring the Atlas of Worlds, you’ll see map locations that have become tainted by either The Shaper or The Elder. These taints manifest physically in the level, adding greater challenges to contend with. For example, The Elder’s minions are tentacled beasts that suck the very color out of the game, weakening your character if they’re caught in this monotone aura. Shaper-tainted maps, on the other hand, might have glowing orbs that detonate, ripping the fabric of space-time and dealing fatal damage to characters that get too close to the rip.

As the taint spreads, players will want to encourage it to grow in the direction of harder maps by cleansing it on easier maps, increasing the challenge but also the rewards. If the Elder’s taint spreads far enough, he’ll manifest in certain maps, killing its boss and stealing its powers to create a guardian similar to the four you’d fight trying to kill the Shaper.

When clearing either type of map, it’s possible to find Shaper or Elder gear, which has a special starry or tentacled background. On its own, this gear might not be any different than the normal loot you’d find, but Shaper and Elder gear can have special extremely rare properties randomly pop up while crafting it. One special mod for boots that Wilson showed me let you walk across fiery surfaces without taking damage—a definite bonus for certain areas in Path of Exile. “These will certainly be the best items in Path of Exile once they’ve had them for awhile,” Wilson says. “But it will take a lot of resources to achieve that.”

Getting these items will be a challenge, because each time you complete a zone looking for them to drop, you’re also effectively shrinking that god’s taint. There’s no way to eliminate it entirely, but Wilson says players will want to ‘responsibly farm’ zones to keep each taint a healthy—but not too big—size.

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