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During a livestream today, Grinding Gear Games revealed the next seasonal challenge league for Path of Exile: Scourge. Of course, Scourge League will introduce a new mechanic to the game, but beyond that, it also seems this new league is making some significant changes to the core gameplay loop. With the introduction of new unique items and the streamlining of certain aspects of Path of Exile, the changes introduced in Scourge League should make progressing through content feel a little less grindy while giving top players more endgame content to play.
First, let's start with what's new in Scourge League. Grinding Gear Games managing director Chris Wilson says that upon leaving Lioneye's Watch for the first time, players will be introduced to an unknown character being hunted by seemingly invisible demons. That character will give players the Blood Crucible, which will fill with the blood of the monsters the player kills over time. When full, players can activate the Blood Crucible to jump to an alternate reality Wraeclast that seems to be under invasion by monsters and demons.
While jumping to that alternate reality can be an excellent way to collect items, there's more to it than simply looking for loot. GGG says that items can be put into the Blood Crucible, and those that are will eventually be ready to transform. Transforming an item with the Blood Crucible corrupts it and adds two Scourge modifiers - one beneficial and one detrimental mod. The challenge then becomes finding a mod combination that gives you a big power spike and a detrimental effect that may not be very relevant to your build.
Scourged poe items can be transformed a total of three times with different tiers of Scourge modifiers to unlock. For the most powerful mods, it sounds like you’ll want to transform the same item all three times. Even the Blood Crucible can be leveled up with its skill tree, and once players reach the endgame, they can stick their maps in the Blood Crucible to change those as well.
GGG is introducing six new unique items with this challenge league, and while new uniques may not always be exciting, there are two that are very noteworthy. The first, Uul-Netol’s Vow, is an amulet with a socket that acts as a seventh link for your chest armor, while the Mageblood belt permanently enables the effects of your utility flasks. GGG says that the Mageblood belt is in the core drop pool, but it will be "exceptionally rare."
Scourge league will also introduce some changes to the Atlas of Worlds, with the number of regions in the Atlas going from 8 down to 4. That, in turn, decreases the number of watchstones to unlock to 16. GGG says that the new Atlas will include around 100 maps plus all of the unique. While players will still get the same number of passive points for their Atlas skill trees as they did before, the trees themselves have been expanded somewhat to compensate for the reduction in regions.
The Atlas rework isn't the only thing changing about the Path of Exile endgame either, as GGG will introduce new endgame content for those looking for even more challenge after what's already in the game. For example, we're getting a new fifth tier of Breachstones in this expansion called Flawless Breachstones, and they can only be found in Maven encounters. In addition, level 85 Blight-ravaged maps now have a chance to drop in Blighted Maps, and those should provide more of a challenge for those who complete regular Blighted maps with ease.
We’ll also be getting Uber Legion and Uber Delirium encounters, with the latter granting ten additional Simulacrum waves. Uber Delirium encounters can even give you multiple Delirium uniques now, whereas previously, only one Delirium unique could drop. We’ll also see some big changes to Delve in this new league that should make it easier to hold off on delving until the late game. Players can also expect to encounter underground cities and bosses more frequently, along with increased drops for fossils and resonators.
The passive skill tree is also getting a rework with this update. Many skills have had niche stats removed and put into the new Passive Masteries system. Passive Masteries will appear in all passive clusters outside of the class start locations, and when players spend a skill point on those Masteries, they'll get to choose the perks they unlock. It seems like the passive tree changes will dramatically change the way the passive work, and it'll be interesting to see the builds that players create after these changes.
Guild content has also been expanded, with guild masters now able to choose any hideout they’ve unlocked and turn it into a guild hideout for their guildmates to visit. Guild stashes, on the other hand, now support control + click and premium stash tabs. GGG even says that guild masters can export a CVS file with a guild stash activity log, which will be handy for large guilds that use the stash frequently.