Grinding Gear Games' action RPG Path of Exile is still on track to go into open beta early next year, but in the meantime the team has announced plans to expand the closed beta in order to put their newly released (and quite ambitious) v0.9.3 patch through its paces. Two new screenshots are over in our image gallery, while the rest of the details are below:
Path of Exile expands Closed Beta
AUCKLAND, New Zealand 18 November 2011 Indie game studio Grinding Gear Games has announced that their anticipated online action RPG, Path of Exile, has entered the second phase of its exclusive closed beta and will now open the beta up to significantly more testers.
Grinding Gear Games has just deployed a major beta patch that adds new areas, skills and enemies and rebalances the entire game.
"Our goal with the 0.9.3 upgrade was to do a full rebalance of the game to make it even more fun. To achieve this, we've changed most game systems based on the feedback we received from testers. It feels like a whole new game now," says producer Chris Wilson.
Due to the significant improvements, it also wiped the Beta realm and reverted all characters to level 1 so that they can compete from a fresh start.
"We've had ridiculous numbers of people wanting to help test the game, and after this patch we plan to scale up quickly to test how well our servers handle more players. We've had people create fan art, post songs about the game on YouTube, and turn up at our office in New Zealand to beg for beta access. We look forward to playing with them in the game soon."
The upgraded beta includes improved graphics and gameplay, new areas, items and skills. It also features a revised passive skills screen that contains a unique starting location for each character class. The new tree has doubled in size, now containing 1500 passive skills that players can allocate. "Some players called it a skills forest rather than a skill tree," says Wilson.
Gameplay-wise, all classes have been rebalanced to promote their core strengths. Melee classes are now substantially stronger with regard to dealing damage up close. Spellcasters have had much of their damage output moved to bonuses from items and can be formidable if left unchecked.
Seven new skills were added, including Dominating Blow, which allows players to convert monsters to fight on their side, and Lightning Warp, which performs a delayed teleport from one location to another dealing considerable damage at both ends.
One of Path of Exile's unique features is that active skills are provided by Skills Gems, which earn experience and level up themselves. Their effects can be augmented by Support Gems, of which many have been added in 0.9.3. New support gem prototypes in 0.9.3 include the ability to modify critical strike damage, spell effect duration, minion properties, and the elemental composition of damage you deal.
Grinding Gear Games intend to release multiple patches per week leading up to the Open Beta early next year.
"We're a small indie team, so this beta is a genuine product test beta, not a marketing stunt. The feedback we've had from the community so far has been invaluable and led to this big patch," says Wilson.
To be considered to take part in the closed beta, sign up for an account at www.PathOfExile.com.
Key features of '˜Path of Exile':
'¢ Completely free to download and play
'¢ A persistent online world capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of players
'¢ A dark and gritty game world rendered from a fixed 3D perspective
'¢ Randomly generated levels and items for extreme replayability
'¢ Online ranking and ladders for every game mode
'¢ Visceral combat with dozens of combinable skills
'¢ Battle in PVP tournaments for worldwide recognition
'¢ Dynamic skill system