On Tuesday, Grinding Gear Games revealed Path of Exile’s summer expansion: Harvest. Harvest offers players a chance to create their own gardens, and build a complex network of irrigation machines inside the Sacred Grove. But being an action RPG, the plant seeds come alive when players go to harvest.
Path of Exile: Harvest will launch on PC June 19, and the week of June 22 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Once Harvest begins, players will randomly encounter Seed Caches in the world — magical roots will lead the way, with a Seed Cache hidden in each area. When players interact with the Seed Cache, it will drop a bounty of different seeds. Oshabi, a new NPC, then offers players travel to the Sacred Grove.
Each seed has a monster associated with it — there are wolf seeds, ape seeds, scorpion seeds, and more — and players can plant them in the Sacred Grove. Some simple seeds only take time to grow but more advanced seeds require complex resources produced by growing simpler seeds. Opening a Seed Cache somewhere in the world advances time in your garden by one unit. This is where Path of Exile transforms from action RPG to miniature city builder.
In the middle of every pack of seeds, players should build a Collector. When players go to harvest their plants and fight monsters within them, the Collector will harness the seed’s Lifeforce. Players can use Lifeforce in a few ways, mostly to craft powerful new effects on their gear.
But Lifeforce can only go so far when crafting, and players will almost always have some left over. This is where the system gets complex. Some seeds require Lifeforce from lower-level seeds to grow. Harvest offers Wild, Primal, and Vivid seed types, and each creates its own Lifeforce. To grow stronger seeds, players need to connect irrigation lines from their collectors to other seed patches.
Tier 1 monsters can drop Tier 2 seeds, which are pickier about how they grow. They may need to be near other seeds of a like or different color, and require a certain type of Lifeforce. But when they grow, Tier 2 seeds provide a more difficult combat challenge, and can drop Tier 3 seeds, which are even harder to grow and kill. Some of these monsters even come from the in-development Path of Exile 2, and should be more detailed than current Path of Exile monsters.
By fully customizing each set of seeds, players can select which enemies they want to fight and which crafting bonuses they’ll earn from an encounter. Players can harvest 48 seeds at once, some of which contain more than a single monster. But failing a fight means you lose the Lifeforce, so players need to be ready before taking on some harder grow operations.
After Tier 3 seeds, players can occasionally fight one of three boss seeds. The studio is teasing a mysterious, hyper difficult Tier 4 seed, which players will need to discover on their own once Harvest launches.
Grinding Gear Games says it wanted to make sure this system could be complex for players that wanted a new type of gameplay from Path of Exile, while also recognizing that others have no interest in this kind of micromanagement. The studio built the system to function for both types of players. Devoted builders can create incredible, sprawling gardens, while others can occasionally ignore their garden without any punishment. But the goal of the Sacred Grove is crafting, which Grinding Gear Games wanted to focus on over just throwing new items at players like it does every League.
Like all of Path of Exile’s Leagues, there are numerous other changes players can expect. There are 12 new, Unique items in the game, and a complete rebalance of two-handed melee weapons. Grinding Gear Games is also revisiting the massive Passive Skill Tree, and changing up some of the older options. Delirium, the previous Path of Exile League, will also enter the core game with Harvest. Players can still come across the hyper-difficult Delirium encounters out in the world.
Finally, Grinding Gear Games is currently testing a new renderer using the Vulkan API. This should help the game stutter less than it has been on DirectX 11, and give the studio more control over assets and resource management.
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