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If you're in the mood for some reminiscing, you may enjoy reading this article on the official Path of Exile website that takes us on a “trip down memory lane” and offers a brief overview of the action-RPG's early releases along with some interesting facts about them. Having first played the game during the Open Beta, it's neat to be able to see how far it's come since then. Have a look:
Path of Exile Closed Beta (0.9.0)
We entered Closed Beta in August of 2011, with the first two Acts of Path of Exile available. This early version didn't have any form of microtransactions or even a trade screen. Players gained access through the popular "Beta Key Timer" on the website, which picked a random player to award Beta access to periodically, and showed everyone who it picked.
In April of 2012 we included Closed Beta access with the first generation of supporter packs. The Diamond Kiwis present in the highest pack from that era are among some of the most treasured pets in Path of Exile to this day.
Path of Exile Open Beta (0.10.0)
Our Open Beta in January 2013 marked the point where we opened up Path of Exile to the public as the free-to-play game it is today. This release introduced the first half of Act 3 (up to the Piety fight in the Lunaris Temple). This release was also Path of Exile's last progress wipe of the Standard economy. We also took this opportunity to introduce the first cosmetic microtransactions outside of supporter packs.
Half way through the Open Beta, we released the first pair of Challenge Leagues: Anarchy and Onslaught.
Path of Exile Release (1.0.0)
In October of 2013, we left Open Beta and officially launched Path of Exile. This release introduced the second half of Act 3 (six new world areas) and made Dominus the final boss of the game. It also introduced Guilds, PvP and our seventh character class, the Scion.
This expansion changed the shape of the game by introducing triggered support gems which are still making a significant impact on build creation to this day.
At this time we were still making separate Hardcore and Standard leagues. Domination and Nemesis launched alongside the release, both of which are still making appearances in the game today.
At release, we also launched on Steam which continues to introduce Path of Exile to new players around the world.
Sacrifice of the Vaal (1.1.0)
This expansion came out in early March 2014. It added Queen Atziri and dozens of new bosses that can be encountered in corrupted areas. While people are still challenging themselves against the difficulty of Atziri (and her secret Uber version), perhaps the most notable introduction was Vaal Orbs! These are still a big part of item crafting and the economy.
This expansion launched alongside the Ambush and Invasion leagues. Strongboxes are still ever-present throughout the main game with Invasion makes a comeback during some special events.
Ambush was a league that evolved from the original plan to have currency items work on any chest in the game. We found that feeling the need to reroll every barrel you came across was too distracting, and so the idea evolved into specific chests that can be re-rolled. To give it a risk-reward tradeoff, monsters were added and Ambush was born.
Forsaken Masters (1.2.0)
This expansion was launched in late August 2014. It introduced the seven original Path of Exile Forsaken Masters. In addition to introducing Hideouts to the game, it also unlocked dozens of new crafting options for players to explore which have become part of the foundation of how characters progress in Path of Exile. We based Path of Exile's most popular expansion ever, the recently-released Betrayal, on a lot of the foundations established in Forsaken Masters.
It was launched alongside Rampage and Beyond which have both been maintained in the current game in different ways. This update also introduced Herald Skills!
Forsaken Masters was a lot of work and took a lot of development budget (by our 2014 standards - we probably spend that in a week nowadays!). Rampage is probably more popular now than it was as a league back then. Beyond's toughest aspect was working out the rules for the way the random monsters and upgrades of portals worked. That took a lot of time, but once correct it proved very robust. At launch the biggest issues were the monsters with life regeneration, as some rare Beyond monsters were basically immortal.
Torment and Bloodlines (1.3.0)
The Torment and Bloodlines Leagues were part of the significant 1.3.0 update in December 2014. They were part of version 1.3.0 which also introduced a plethora of PvP improvements and the 8th master: Leo Redmane, Master of the Arena.
These PvP improvements prompted us to hold our own invitational tournaments which we broadcast live on our (short-lived) Twitch Channel and shoutcasted by WillywonkaHC and GreenDude. Check it out here!
Bloodlines was based on the idea of "Nemesis but for packs". The most important element of this was adding the tech where a pack actually meant something in game, rather than just for spawning purposes. Like Nemesis, it was released with some very unpopular player-destroying mods.
Torment was quite different as a league, and the behaviour of the spirits was the hardest part to develop out. It was popular enough that it went core, with the spirits occurring almost as frequently as they did in the league.
Join us next week for Part 2 of this series, which looks at the expansions from The Awakening through to Breach!