Path of Exile: The Awakening Launches

As promised, Grinding Gear Games made their Path of Exile: The Awakening expansion live yesterday, bringing a slew of new content to the action RPG via Act Four. This new Act spans over 100 new unique items, 14 new areas, 40 new monster varieties, 6 new quests, 9 new bosses, and more. The patch notes are too lengthy to quote, but I'll at least grab the first chapter of them to cover the expansion additions:


Act Four - Highgate:
The betrayer strives to awaken an ancient and terrible being. Should he succeed, the Cataclysm will see the whole world remade... in the image of Nightmare. The time has finally come to venture into the kingdom of Corruption itself and drive a blade through its black heart.

  • The Awakening introduces Path of Exile's fourth act, which is set in and around the mining town of Highgate, north of Sarn.
  • Act Four contains 14 new areas to explore, 40 new monster varieties to fight, 6 new quests to complete and 9 new bosses to defeat!
  • Highgate contains a cast of new NPCs that have full voice acting.

Jewel System:
  • Path of Exile: The Awakening introduces an entirely new type of item to collect and craft: Jewels. These socket into the Passive Skill Tree to grant special bonuses to your character or influence areas of the tree itself.
  • The Passive Skill Tree has been updated with 21 sockets for Jewels. You must allocate a socket like a regular passive skill before you can put a Jewel into it.
  • Jewels can drop as Magic, Rare or Unique.
  • Like other Unique items in Path of Exile, Unique Jewels are powerful and build-defining. They offer ways to diversify your areas of specialisation, or to double down on a strategy that is working well for your build.
  • Some Unique Jewels interact with passive skills in a radius around them - either changing their properties, triggering when certain thresholds are met or altering the rules of the tree itself.
  • A quest in Act Two offers you a different selection of Unique Jewels to choose from in each difficulty level.
  • Magic and rare Jewels can be crafted using the same set of Orbs that affect other items in Path of Exile. By rerolling and modifying your Jewels, you're able to essentially create your own Notable Passives, some of which can be substantially more powerful than those offered by the tree itself.

Netcode Improvements:
  • Added an option for Deterministic Lockstep as a networking mode. This mode doesn't desync, but there's a short delay (your latency to the server) before you see your actions execute. This mode should be used if you have low latency to the nearest server.
  • Lockstep is automatically enabled if you're close enough to one of our servers. You can toggle this in the Options panel.
  • We've added new servers in London, Frankfurt, Italy, California and Washington D.C.
  • The latency to each server is shown on the login screen to help you select the closest one.
  • We have substantially improved the regular Predictive sync mode.

Introducing Divination Cards:
  • Divination Cards are a new type of item that drop throughout Wraeclast. Each type of card is specific to different areas. They allow players to systematically work their way to the acquisition of desirable items, without having to rely on random chance alone.
  • A full stack of one type of Divination Card can be traded to the Tasuni NPC in Highgate for the specific item referenced on the card.
  • All Divination Cards introduced in The Awakening have been designed by Highgate Supporters. There are 49 initial cards in the first release. More will be added over time.

Maraketh Weapons:
  • We've introduced 13 new Maraketh Weapon types in three tiers (39 total base types). Act Four isn't set in the Maraketh lands, but the Maraketh people were involved in many historical battles that occurred there.
  • Maraketh Weapons have different implicit mods than most of the items in Path of Exile. The implicit mod is the same for the first two tiers, and slightly larger in the third tier.
  • While Maraketh Weapons are some of the rarest and most desirable weapons in the game, they don't deal substantially more damage than the highest current base types. However, their new implicit mods make them more appropriate for certain builds.
  • All of the Maraketh Weapons have new 3d art and look quite different from existing weapons in Path of Exile.
  • At this stage, we do not plan to introduce Unique versions of Maraketh Weapons.

New Unique Items:
  • We've added 119 Uniques to Path of Exile:
  • 4 Unique Items for the Tempest league.
  • 9 Unique Items for the Warbands league.
  • 58 Unique Jewels.
  • 31 Unique Items created by our designers.
  • 16 Unique Items designed by Supporters.
  • 1 Unique Strongbox designed by a Supporter.

New Skill Gems:
  • Added a new Strength Skill Gem - Abyssal Cry: Performs a warcry, slowing nearby enemies and causing them to explode when killed. The slowing effect is increased by surrounding enemies. Taunts all nearby enemies to attack the user. Shares a cooldown with other Warcry skills.
  • Added a new Strength Skill Gem - Rallying Cry: Performs a warcry, granting increased damage and mana regeneration to you and your allies if there are nearby enemies. The damage increase is scaled by surrounding enemies. Taunts all nearby enemies to attack the user. Shares a cooldown with other Warcry skills.
  • Added a new Intelligence Skill Gem - Summon Chaos Golem: Summons a Chaos Golem that grants you Physical Damage Reduction while active. The Chaos Golem can use a damage over time Chaos aura and a cascade of Chaos spikes in addition to its melee attack.
  • Added a new Strength/Intelligence Skill Gem - Summon Flame Golem: Summons a Flame Golem that grants you increased Damage while active. The Flame Golem can use a fire spray, a wave of fire damage, and an explosive projectile.
  • Added a new Dexterity/Intelligence Skill Gem - Summon Ice Golem: Summons an Ice Golem that grants you increased Critical Strike Chance and Accuracy while active. The Ice Golem can use an icy barrage spell and a chilling spinning dash in addition to its melee attack.
  • Added a new Strength/Intelligence Skill Gem - Vigilant Strike: Attacks the enemy with a powerful melee strike. You gain the Fortify buff, granting damage reduction. The cooldown can be bypassed by expending an Endurance Charge. Requires a Melee Weapon.
  • Added a new Strength/Intelligence Skill Gem - Ice Crash: Slam the ground with your main hand weapon, damaging enemies in an area around the impact in three stages. Enemies take slightly less damage on the second and third stage. Works with Swords, Maces, Axes, Staves and Unarmed. Cannot be used with Multistrike.
  • Added a new Intelligence Skill Gem - Fire Nova Mine: Lay a remote mine that you can detonate to create a series of fire novas. Each sequential nova from the same mine will do higher damage than the previous.
  • Added a new Intelligence Skill Gem - Flame Dash: Teleport to a location, damaging enemies and leaving a trail of burning ground in your wake.
  • Added a new Dexterity Skill Gem - Phase Run: Gain a buff that makes you faster, harder to detect, and able to pass through enemies. Performing any skill replaces this buff with one that boosts melee attack damage. Consumes Frenzy Charges to increase duration.
  • Added a new Dexterity Skill Gem - Frost Blades: Attack with increased range, releasing icy blades from the struck enemy that fly at other enemies. Requires a Melee Weapon.
  • Added a new Intelligence Skill Gem - Magma Orb: Lob a fiery orb that explodes as it strikes the ground. The skill chains, releasing another fiery orb that repeats this effect.
  • Added a new Dexterity/Strength Skill Gem - Wild Strike: Your melee weapon strikes an enemy, converting some of the damage to a random element. Then, depending on the element chosen, it releases an explosion, an arcing bolt of lightning, or an icy wave.
  • Added a new Generic Skill Gem - Detonate Mines: Detonates all the Remote Mines you have placed. This Gem can be triggered.

New Support Gems:
  • Added a new Strength Support Gem - Fortify: Supported skills deal additional damage and grant you the defensive Fortify buff when they hit.
  • Added a new Strength Support Gem - Bloodlust: Supported skills deal substantially more damage against bleeding enemies, but they can't cause bleeding themselves.
  • Added a new Dexterity/Intelligence Support Gem - Trap and Mine Damage: Supported trap and mine skills are slower to use and deal more damage.
  • Added a new Dexterity Support Gem - Ice Bite: Supported skills are more likely to freeze enemies and have a large chance to grant a Frenzy Charge when killing a frozen enemy.
  • Added a new Dexterity Support Gem - Hypothermia: Supported skills deal additional damage against chilled enemies and are more likely to freeze chilled enemies.
  • Added a new Intelligence Support Gem - Innervate: Supported skills have additional chance to shock and grant Onslaught when you kill a shocked enemy.

New Challenge Leagues:
  • Challenge leagues are a great opportunity for a fresh start in a new economy. All your old characters and items are still present in the Standard and Hardcore leagues, but you're encouraged to join the new leagues, complete challenges and climb the ladder!
  • Warbands is the upcoming Standard Challenge League. In the Warbands league, warring clans have spread throughout Wraeclast. These warbands are tight-knit groups of enemies who cooperate and use synergistic skills to take you down. At higher levels, elite and leader enemies are present, who direct their Warband in combat and can take matters into their own hands if the tide of battle turns against them. Each of the three Warbands have exclusive Unique Items that only drop from them. The presence of the warbands in Wraeclast fluctuates over time and responds to the Exiles' efforts to hunt them.
  • There are currently three unique shields, three unique rings, three unique boots and three exclusive magic mods that can drop from high Warbands members. Over time, this pool of items will expand as the Warbands continue to assert their dominance.
  • Tempest is the upcoming Hardcore Challenge League, in which Wraeclast is affected by magical Tempests. These can cause a variety of effects that influence both monsters and players, such as changing their sizes, causing damage, altering drop rates or even automatically animating weapons that drop. With careful positioning you can deny monsters from getting positive buffs or lead them into negative ones. When a Tempest affects an area, it does so for everyone in that league for an hour. You can look at the world map to see which Tempest affects each area at the moment. Some of the rarer Tempests grant significant item finding benefits, so are worth keeping a lookout for.
  • The new challenge leagues include a set of eight new challenges. As you complete the challenges, you receive pieces of a Warbands/Tempest Totem Pole decoration that can be displayed in your hideout. The Totem Pole permanently displays how many of the Warbands/Tempest challenges you completed during these leagues.
  • The eight new challenges are titled: Reach Level 82, Redeem Divination Card Sets, Kill these Warband Members, Clear Areas with Tempests, Kill these Unique Bosses, Items from Vendor Recipes, Corrupt these Unique Jewels, and Knowledge and Power.
  • The first 50 players to complete all eight challenges will receive an exclusive Warbands/Tempest challenge shirt.
  • Out of the 119 total Unique items added in this update, there are nine new Unique items that can only drop in in the Warbands challenge league and four that can only drop in the Tempest challenge league.