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Preview: Path of Exile: Heist – PS4

After being delayed earlier this year due to everyone’s favorite pandemic, Path of Exile’s next expansion, Heist, injects a little Ocean’s Eleven into the game, and it’s one of the more interesting additions I’ve seen. Along with reworks to some of the game systems and skills, new unique items, and a new equipment slot, it’s also perfect for playing with a party.

The pure essence of Heist is escaping with a stolen Artifact and any other loot you manage to acquire, and it will take planning and skill to claim those sweet new rewards. You’ll start by taking a Contract to the Wayfinder in Rogue Harbor, and everyone there requires a new currency called Markers.

Your character knows all about being heroic, but you’ll need to hire one of thirteen different Rogues to make sure your Heist is successful. Rogues will have one main and three sub-skills to help you. Four of these shady helpers will assist on the front end with transportation and intel. You can choose from the remaining nine to go with you to pick locks or use demolition skills to make sure you can access the Artifact you’re trying to steal. A Rogue’s skills can be upgraded with more experience, and you can give them equipment that will make them stealthier or faster.

Path of Exile’s gameplay pillar of risk and reward comes into play here. When trying to steal an Artifact, you can visit other rooms and loot them, but you will raise the Alarm Level a little every time. Once the Alarm meter is full, it creates a Lockdown. This will flood your location with enemies and reduce your chances of successfully escaping. If you choose to ignore the Artifact, you can continue to loot and escape with what you have, you can go directly to the Artifact to raise your chances of not triggering the alarm, or anywhere in between those two. Picking up the Artifact will always trigger a lockdown, giving you only seconds to escape. If you die before you can escape, you lose everything, so choose wisely.

After escaping, visit Whakano in Rogue Harbor to sell the Artifact for Markers. It also gives him more intel to help you with your Grand Heists. These are bigger and more complex heists that take some serious skill, planning, extra help, and a blueprint.

Once you have a blueprint, you’ll need to buy intel from Whakano with Markers from previous heists. These help you secure a better escape route or reveal other areas to loot in the heist including other wings with separate alert levels and treasure rooms. With the increased complexity, you can choose up to three Rogues to accompany you, instead of the usual one. Each successfully navigated wing will allow you to pick one very special piece of loot out of a bunch of cases, and being able to choose loot before the quest is over is something you don’t normally see from Path of Exile. Of course, you have to survive to enjoy it.

Despite some changes, Heist is still Path of Exile. Like endgame maps, the contracts and blueprints can be modified with other currency items to be more difficult with greater rewards. If you don’t like the new Heist content, you can even collect contracts, blueprints, and markers and trade them or sell them to other players to buy and play how you want. If you love it, you can trade for them and run more heists to build up your selected team. You don’t have to run a heist immediately when you get it either.

The right Trinket can make a huge difference for Heist players. Although it cannot be modified by the player, a trinket occupies a new item slot and allows you to influence the kinds of drops you receive from enemies and chests in a heist giving you more control over your rewards and making the need to escape even more important.

That’s especially true for loot from a Grand Heist, because the rewards are worth the effort. Gems with alternate quality give you a higher quality gem that boosts a different attribute when you level up. An example would be a Cast on Critical strike gem boosting raw attack instead of increasing critical strike chance. Heist introduces about 900 of these for you to find or trade.

Grand Heists might also reward you with a new weapon or armor with an enchantment. The enchantment adds a powerful boost without taking a modifier slot, but there’s always a catch. One of the items I saw had a 15% increase in physical modifiers, but it had a 200% increase in requirements. There are different types of enchantments, and these enchanted items can be extremely powerful in the right build.

There are over 25 new unique items, but Heist introduces replica unique items for a new twist on existing unique items. One of the item’s modifiers is different from the regular unique item and might be perfect for your build. One example is a bow that changes damage output based on a character’s dexterity to a character’s strength. Experimented Base Type items are similar in that they change an aspect of the weapon’s mods, but are even rarer.

Outside completing heists, there are also changes to curse and steel skills. Any curses that are self-cast, instead of using gems to automatically cast, will become more powerful over time. Some new curse support gems have been added. Impending Doom is one of those gems and causes enemies to explode when the curse ends. Clever players will be able to find a way to remove or consume the curse and force enemies to explode sooner.

Two new Steel Skills are being added in Heist with changes to the existing Shattering Steel and Lancing Steel Skills. By equipping a steel skill, you can gain Call of Steel. It causes swords to explode out of the ground and float in shards behind you. It’s a projectile that impales enemies and can be ripped back out of them causing area damage and replenishing your shard ammo.

Spells that require casters to stand still are being improved, and two new spells have been added. The Flame Wall Skill puts a fiery barrier in front of you. Anything you throw through the barrier deals extra fire damage. Void Sphere is more of a crowd control skill that creates a black hole to pull enemies toward it. You can use both skills together to pull enemies into your flame wall.

Along with new spells, items, and skills, Heist is adding a very unique mechanic to Path of Exile while keeping the foundation of risk and reward that makes it so replayable. If you want to score the new content in Heist, it’s being targeted for release on the PS4 on September 23rd, and, as usual, it will be completely free.

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