At the ExileCon 2023 event, Grinding Gear Games showed the gameplay of the action-RPG Path of Exile 2 and revealed a lot of new information about the game. A journalist from the portal Inven asked a few questions to the developers from Grinding Gear Games. The responses were received a few days after the conclusion of ExileCon 2023 and were written by several representatives of the company. We have prepared a translation of this interview.
ExileCon 2023 takes place four years after the pandemic hiatus. At this event, you presented Path of Exile 2. Could you tell us how you feel now?
We are very happy. We’ve done a lot of work since the last ExileCon and we can finally talk about what we’ve been working on. From now on, POE2 is going into a marketing period, so we’ll have a lot of news for the next year or so, right up to beta testing.
How many people attended the event?
The event was attended by about 2,000 people. According to our estimates, approximately 500,000 people watched the live broadcast.
Can you elaborate on what POE2 is focused on? What did you want to do differently than in POE, and what would you like to keep?
We think that POE is a great action RPG, but at the same time, we believe that there are things that can be done better. In POE2, this applies in particular to the pace and feel of combat.
We also want to improve the Skill Gem system, one of POE’s key systems, by making it deeper and easier to use. So that when replacing equipment, you do not have to think about the configuration of the sockets for this equipment.
To sum up our general direction, we wanted to keep the depth of POE without sacrificing accessibility. We want to keep as much of the POE content as possible, and in POE2 expand it and give it a modern look.
I understand that POE2 and POE will be served as separate games, but will update cycles and league themes be completely separate, or will there be some kind of sharing?
As already stated, we intend to serve both games separately and we will be releasing new leagues and updates for each of them. League themes can be similar or different, depending on how well they fit into each game.
The current plan is for the leagues in both games to rotate on a three-month cycle, as was the case before. We are looking into creating a cycle where the POE2 league ends and the POE league begins.
Gold has been added as a currency. Does this mean that gold will function as the new main currency?
No. “Gold” will not be used to exchange for other currencies and will not be a good way to trade high-value items in the endgame. We intend to use “gold” only as a currency for purchasing items from vendors during the campaign, as well as for paying for certain features in the game.
Although it is natural to expect that the addition of “gold” will change the monetary economy. But we intend to keep the monetary economy from POE to POE2 and do not believe that “gold” will have a significant impact on the current economic system.
In POE, trading was done on external sites, and setting up item filters was almost mandatory. Is it possible to include such functionality in the game itself?
It is likely that trading will still take place through external sites, but we are looking at various improvements and are also working on a number of game mechanics to make the game “more convenient”.
As already mentioned, sockets have been removed from items, and the “skill stones” system has been redesigned. I didn’t see everything in the demo, so could you elaborate a bit more on these changes?
Changes to the skill gem system are aimed at making the color and number of sockets and links less of an impact on the cost of a piece of equipment, as well as making it easier for players to customize their equipment.
In POE2, players will still be able to use any skill regardless of class, just like in POE, but most skills are designed to be easier for certain classes to use, so while this won’t have a huge impact on a character’s build, there will be a change in equipment much easier than before.
The addition of “rolling” and skills that allow you to push enemies or move your character adds to the feel of an action game. What can you say about POE2 combat design?
I think we need to look at one backstory first. While we were pleased with the character development and depth of POE content, we felt that the “combat experience” could be improved. Therefore, when developing POE2, we set ourselves the task of creating a fight that would retain the best aspects of POE and at the same time keep you on your toes.
If you are playing POE2 for the first time and have never played POE before, you will probably feel that the game is more like an action game than an RPG. However, we are sure that when you replay the game, you will be able to appreciate the charm and depth of the POE franchise.
Vials of health / mana began to charge only after defeating the elite monsters. It seems to me that the overall difficulty of the game has increased. Is this an intentional change?
In POE, vials were replenished after each monster kill, so most players found themselves in the “same situation” before entering the battle. They had full shields, health, energy and almost full vials to restore these resources.
However, in POE2 we want players to be in more diverse “situations”. Sometimes with depleted healing resources preventing them from staying in combat. Sometimes with resources that only allow them to survive one fight. We hope that the various “situations” will force players to make tactical decisions based on their own health before combat, in addition to decisions in combat.
The changes to the flask system can be explained as a way to “diversify the situations” that gamers will have to face. And we think that this is a natural result of the fact that the complexity of the game will increase as the number of cases that have to be thought of increases.
We didn’t see much in the demo, and POE was known for its starting difficulty level and increasing difficulty as you delve deeper into the game’s content and mechanics. How do you think the starting difficulty level of POE2 compares to the first part?
Like I said, in terms of combat, we would like the game to be a bit more difficult. The demo is likely to be more complex than its predecessor, as we’ve introduced systems that weren’t there before. For example, if you die during a fight with a boss, then you need to start the fight again, or you need to roll to avoid enemy attacks.
However, if you play through the game from the very beginning, we do not think that it will be too difficult. POE2 has a smooth learning curve, and although there are a lot of systems in the game, it’s not difficult to learn them one by one.
What time period does POE2 take place and how long is the campaign?
The POE2 campaign is divided into six acts and contains about 100 locations. POE2 takes place approximately 20-25 years after the events of POE.
Will POE2’s endgame be similar to Atlas in POE, or will it be something completely different?
We can say that we are developing the final content based on maps. However, the details are still subject to change, so we will be able to tell you more when the opportunity arises.
Of the six new classes added to the game, Mercenary and Druid were not available in the demo. Can you give a brief description of these two classes?
With pleasure, but not yet. We will talk about the Mercenary and the Druid later.
I noticed a lot of similarities between the Marauder from POE and the Warrior from POE2. I’m wondering if these concepts overlap in some way, but could you explain what the differences are?
It’s hard to say at the moment. So far, we can say that Warrior is a class that relies heavily on mace and strength, with a heavy, powerful set of skills and a variety of skills to control, but with a rather slow pace of combat. We will talk about the Marauder in POE2 later.