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Path of Exile, Grinding Gear Games' fast-paced action-RPG known for its unique skill gem system and its overwhelmingly massive passive skill tree, is considered by some to be a worthy successor to Diablo II, the gold standard of action-RPGs. Pair that with frequent content updates and an incredibly fair free-to-play model, and you get a recipe for success.
This ongoing success resulted in the recent announcement of Path of Exile 2, a curious sequel that aims to expand the game with a brand new campaign and numerous mechanical changes while preserving all the content it currently has to offer. In order to learn a thing or two about Path of Exile 2, we reached out to Grinding Gear Games co-founder Chris Wilson and asked him a few questions.
GameBanshee: Path of Exile 2, together with Blizzard's Overwatch 2 by the looks of it, is aiming to redefine what a sequel is, and I for one welcome some experimentation in that particular area in this age of live games. At the same time, I'm slightly confused about how your idea of "one game, two campaigns" will actually work. Can you elaborate on that?
Chris Wilson: When you create a new character in Path of Exile, you'll be able to choose between the original characters in the Path of Exile storyline or one of the new characters in the Path of Exile 2 storyline. Both stories end with a map device, letting players play the same Atlas maps endgame. We haven't yet decided whether and how players can trade between the storylines, but it's something we'd like to facilitate.
GB: You will also be introducing 19 new Ascendancy Classes while keeping all the old ones. It seems like a daunting task to balance such a staggering amount of classes. How do you intend to deal with this?
CW: It is certainly a daunting task, but one that we welcome. Ascendancy classes are a core part of a character build's identity in Path of Exile, so it's very important that there is a lot of variety. While having everything balanced is certainly a goal, part of the fun with Action RPGs is finding the rough edges in the balance and building a character around powerful interactions. So we'll make our best effort to keep things balanced and players will enjoy capitalising on the places where we have made small mistakes, until it's later adjusted and they have to find new overpowered opportunities with other classes.
GB: Path of Exile features a fairly unique currency and crafting system where instead of gold, players use crafting materials as currency. Do you plan to adjust it in any way for the sequel?
CW: Broadly speaking, we're very happy with how the currency item/crafting system works. Some small adjustments are necessary because of the new skill gem system (for example, removing Orbs of Fusing), but the broad strokes of the system will be the same. We do plan to continue to add new currency item types, and of course, vendor recipes.
GB: What about the trading system? Personally, I like the current implementation where we get to contact other players directly, visit their hideouts, maybe even haggle here and there. At the same time, some may find this a bit too cumbersome. Any plans to streamline this process?
CW: This is somewhat contentious issue within our community. On one hand, we don't want trade to be too easy, so that players can't rapidly trade their way into the best possible version of their character build in the first couple of days after an expansion launches. On the other, we know that there are frustrations with issues such as price fixers or players who are afk. We want to address these issues in smart ways without accidentally making trade too rapid.
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