Preview: Path of Exile: Legion – PS4

Path of Exile: Legion is the newest content expansion coming on June 10th. It’s bringing some substantial improvements, new items, and a completely reworked melee combat system. As with the rest of the game, it’s absolutely free and optional at the same time. (NOTE: The screenshots included in this preview are from the PC version, but the content between platforms is exactly the same.)

If you are new to Path of Exile, the developer, Grinding Gear Games, drops a chunk of new content roughly every three months in a league format. Legion will be the place to experience all the new content by creating a new character. That will allow you to start the race to find new valuable items to sell in the growing economy and be one of the first to try the new content. Although you can keep playing the game with your current character in the “standard” version, the new content is rolled into the game eventually, sometimes with changes based on fan feedback.

Legion will focus on the fight between five different armies. They are all trapped in battle in the Domain of Timeless Conflict, and you can join in the fun by activating Monoliths. After activation, some of these soldiers appear frozen around you. As a timer counts down, you will be able to hit as many or few of these frozen soldiers as you want. An icon floating above their heads will indicate which ones will drop special rewards. When the timer runs out, only the soldiers you hit will stay in your reality and proceed to fight you.

Like the rest of Path of Exile, Legion rewards the player for taking risks. The soldiers you encounter will be approximately the same level difficulty as the area in which the Monolith was found. If you tag too many soldiers, you risk being killed due to the overwhelming numbers. If you tag too few, you miss out on some great new items or loot.

Eventually, you can take the fight directly to the armies. Dead legion soldiers drop Splinters, and they can be combined into legion-specific Emblems. By using the game’s Map Device, you can drop two emblems to open up the Domain of Timeless Conflict and fight these armies directly for more loot. You can add more emblems to increase the number armies participating, the risk, and the reward. After only allowing four emblems, Legion will also allow very dedicated gamers to unlock a five-slot Map Device for even more customization of your maps or fight all five armies at once. Good luck, masochists.

That great loot comes in new varieties. You can receive drops as incubation items, and I’m personally happy to see this one. Sometimes, the rest of your gear is great except for one or two things. These incubation items allow you fill a progress bar by killing monsters and receive a specific item type. You can have many of these going at a time, so you can keep earning new equipment.

The other item you can earn from the legion are new jewels with army-specific properties. When you insert a jewel into a socket on the skill tree, it will transform the surrounding skills in interesting ways. The Vaal jewel can make your passive skills into Vaal versions. There is a limited range of effect on the skill tree, but it appears to cover multiple nodes in a radius. Like everything else, these new jewels and the incubation items are currency, so you can trade with other players until you find your favorites.

Despite the Legion league changes receiving top billing, I personally think it’s the smaller part of the update. The melee combat system is being completely updated and improved at every level. The animation system has been improved. All melee skills have been either changed or better balanced against other skills.

Behind the scenes and quality of life updates are here, but these will be changes you can see and feel. If you are swinging a big sword or other weapon, that sword will hit multiple enemies, just like you might expect. The range and timing have been adjusted, so you can more easily see where and what you will hit. There are new build style archetypes, such as the Duelist Blood and Sand Gladiator and Rage Berserker that will be introduced and demonstrate some of these improvements.

Not being hit is also a little easier. Movement skills will be instant, but some classes will now have a new option to dodge. That and being able to cancel attack animations gives the game a more action-based feel.

Since it was such a big change, the team decided to give the initial areas of the game more polish to make the early monsters signal their attacks to better let the player know when to dodge, give those same enemies new skills and AI, and update the boss fights. Even if you have had multiple melee characters, the early areas of the game will feel different.

If you have already been enjoying the endgame, eight of the Atlas Maps, including the Coward’s Trial, have been improved with better boss fights and layouts. Every new update improves some of these maps, so you can expect a better endgame experience delivered every three months.

The improvements are driven by the fans, because the community was mentioned many times in my conversation with Chris Wilson at Grinding Gear Games. They seem to value their passionate community and listen to them about changes. If you hate or love something or have a suggestion, head over to their forums. It might make it into a future update.

To see and talk to them in person, you can attend the company’s ExileCon in New Zealand in November. Attendees will hear about some big future updates, play some demos, and meet the creators of Diablo I and II. Some of the sessions will be streamed for those of us who can’t make the trip, so keep an eye on the forums for announcements.

Path of Exile: Legion is coming to the PS4 on June 10th with a new league, new content, new unique items, a revamped melee combat system, and packed with general improvements. If you had some issues at the game’s launch or didn’t love the melee system, check out the new content. I’ll be giving the new melee system a try, so, if you run across a marauder in a furry loincloth and giant sword, say hi.

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