Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath in the test - double content - for free!
Get out of Wraeclast, into Wraeclast
Finally, our adventure in Path of Exile consisted of four story acts. Once they were through, the fun started all over again, only on a harder level of difficulty. If we also got it over with, it went to the final, highest level of difficulty, then the end game followed over the Atlas of Worlds.
With the start of the expansion, the levels of difficulty disappeared. From now on there are ten story files to play through, at the end of which the Atlas is waiting as usual. Yes - the story content of the game has just been more than doubled! Admittedly, this doesn't work without »recycling«, but we'll get to that in a moment.
After the events of the four "old" acts, we finally leave our exile and go back to Oriath. Since we knocked down Temtempler Dominus, hell has been going on there. The rabble and the slaves revolt and engage in open battles with the Templars.
When we get on board and want to give the oppressors the ultimate rubdown, they conjure up a few properly eaten, ancient gods. As announced in the expansion title, Oriath is flattened and we go back to Wraeclast to do what any sensible hero would do if his world was plagued by evil gods.
Everything has consequences
Back in Wraeclast we experience the consequences of our actions from the first four acts. NPCs that asked for our help in the past have gone nuts and gone. Mini-bosses that we once knocked about are ghosting around as nasty, pimped-out zombies. A settlement that previously served as a player hub is suddenly a bandit camp. On the twilight beach, where our adventure started in the main game, undead aristocrats from Oriath are beating around.
And what actually happens to the landscape when you kill a creature that is as big as a mountain and lets the carcass rest for a while? The expansion provides an answer to this, packed in great new quests.
Powerful new weapons and armor pieces wave as a reward. There is also a new killer soundtrack . Strictly speaking, most areas after Oriath are not really new, but we hardly recognize most areas on our second visit.
Completely new monsters, new vegetation and weather effects, brand new quests and really fat new boss monsters - not only at the end of the chapters, but also hidden in secondary areas. Finding and knocking these critters off is more worthwhile than ever.
The new opponents are great. From the somber armies of the Templars, whose outfits are more than just a little reminiscent of the Third Reich, to rotating cages full of wild undead (greetings from Dark Souls!) To the fantastic new bosses, The Fall of Oriath offers great supplies for everyone who have had enough of the previous content.
The boss fights are huge, spectacular and sometimes very demanding. Except for the final fight in the final act, the fights don't feel unfair or frustrating. The very last boss alone seemed very overpowering and causes more frustration than enthusiasm for some players.
But while we're at bosses: For the destruction of four larger and seven lower deities, we get access to new passive bonuses via the so-called Pantheon system. There we activate a bonus for defeated large and small gods and get, for example, more resistance to the elements or automatic recharges for our potions and so on.
Using cards from the atlas, we further upgrade the bonuses in the end game. While the Pantheon effects are by no means crucial to the war, they give us a little more control over the strengths of our characters.
Better graphics, better performance
Path of Exile has never been beautiful to look at, it probably won't be in this life either. After all, there are now better light and water effects, the expandable area map is much nicer and better than before the update.
Thanks to features such as dynamic resolution, most players experience performance increases with older hardware. On the test computer with i7 4790k and GTX1070, the part is running smoothly anyway (as long as the currently heavily used servers play along), on the dusty comparison cucumber with an old bulldozer CPU and an HD7950, we achieve an average of 40 to 60 fps instead of the average settings 20 to 30 before the update.
However, there are also complaints from users who once just got the game working on ancient hardware and are now experiencing unplayable jerky orgies. If you gamble on a museum piece, you may no longer be able to enjoy the game. Anyone who reads the dialog texts also realizes that numerous written texts sometimes differ greatly from the spoken word. And because we are just so good at complaining, there is a paragraph on how ugly the introduction to the new content is for existing high-level characters.
No Game for Old Men
Those who would like to experience the story of The Fall of Oriath can currently only do so with a low-level or better completely new character. How good that the new Harbinger League has just started with extra crisp monsters and new unique items! High-level heroes, who were already in the endgame before the expansion, find themselves without any explanation in the middle of Oriath, have a completely empty skill tree and find that they lack a good dozen skill points.
The missing points are given on side missions, which are distributed across all new acts, all other new quests are already completed. Of course, you don't notice anything from the plot and work from one side quest to the next in order to have as many skill points as before the update. If you have several existing, high-level heroes, it quickly becomes an ordeal.
Speaking of high-level: The life of the endgame bosses in the atlas was doubled with the update. Anyone who spit the bosses away in a matter of seconds may now have to deal with the boss mechanics in places and potentially bites the grass more often. Given that the final bosses rarely drop really good loot on the cards, this change isn't going to be as popular with most players.
There is now a much more comfortable user interface for costumes and cosmetic effects. There are also minor improvements to the old story files. For example, the sewerage in Act 3 has been significantly reduced so that you don't have to spend as much time there. The Lord's Labyrinth has also been shortened for the first two ascensions. For the first Ascension Points, outcasts now have to overcome fewer traps and work their way through fewer rooms to face the labyrinth boss Izaro.