Path of Exile’s particular approach to loot-based action-RPG gameplay on both PC and Xbox One has become increasingly more ambitious over the years. With the developers at Grinding Gear Games diving into new content focusing monster-hunting, time-travel, and even the exciting world of cartography–each major expansion that introduced new gameplay and league features showed that there’s still places for the game venture out to. But now, the creative team behind the free-to-play action-RPG aims to dig a bit deeper by focusing on the dangers and riches hidden in the darkness below the earth.
In the upcoming Delve expansion–set for release August 31 on PC and September 3 on Xbox One–players will discover a vast and ever-growing dungeon known as the Azurite Mine, which houses rare minerals and lost treasures from the lost ages. In this sprawling cavern, the titular Azurite mineral comes in abundance, which can be turned into the merchant above ground for new upgrades to your character that aid them during their descent. But unlike the other dungeons that you’ll come to find in PoE, the Azurite Mine is shrouded in an oppressive darkness, devouring those that stay within its grasp for too long.
Distinguishing itself from earlier content, the Azurite Mine of the Delve expansion is essentially an infinite dungeon. Opening up early into Act 1, newcomers and veterans alike can dive into the dungeon and chart their progress on the Subterranean map. With the aid of an automated mine cart, which gives off a light source that keeps the darkness at bay, it will guide players through the caverns. Along the way, you’ll fight off monsters that lurk in the shadows, all the while uncovering loot caches and hidden walls that lead to valuable resources. Spread across multiple sections of an underground network with branching pathways and some dead-ends, the different areas of the underground range from low-level fodder to end-game tier foes. While a low-level character can certainly make progress, they’ll eventually hit a wall where they’ll need to become stronger to overcome the odds.
Eventually, you’ll reach an end point for a particular path you’ve chosen, leading to a climatic encounter with some elite foes. However, things don’t end there. By backtracking to earlier branches, you can venture off to entirely new areas, going beyond the dark caves into ice caverns, and ancient ruins lost to time. Despite certain pathways coming to a conclusion, there will always be different places to explore created by the game’s randomly generated environments. But the deeper you go into the mines, the more potent the darkness becomes.
In addition to the new dungeon and narrative, the Delve update will also include a set of quality of life improvements to Path of Exile. Along with new visual improvements to the early Acts of the story campaign–updating character designs and lighting to be more consistent with recent content–new skills and improvements have been added to the existing classes and their different builds. For instance, the new skill Smite for the Templar allows players to attack enemies and simultaneously buff party members. Furthermore, you may even be able to come across the ultra rare Timeworn Reliquary Keys, which open portals to chests yielding unique rewards.
When looking back at its 2013 launch, Path of Exile has certainly grown a lot. The developers have stated that the continued growth of the game is due in part to its passionate audience, which continues to increase with every year thanks to its free-to-play model. With the Delve expansion, the developers aim to focus more on pure loot driven gameplay, which will have players face some unexpected challenges while exploring an unnerving environment and claustrophobic area.