Path of Exile: Blight – Sister Cassia’s tower defense game
Sister Cassia is the newest NPC that’ll be introduced in Path of Exile‘s Blight expansion. Don’t let her demure looks fool you, because she has the power to send you on a new adventure inside Blight’s new locations.
These dungeon portals can be accessed as you progress through the new Blight League normally. However, it’s only once you reach the endgame (Atlas Maps) where you’d face the real challenge. When you obtain certain “Blighted Maps” from endgame runs, you can use these on your Map Device to get teleported to a different area.
This is how a low-level encounter would look like while you’re progressing through the game’s earlier moments:
Inside one of these randomly-generated locations, you’ll spot numerous disabled towers. Activating one will start the encounter and you’ll see hundreds of monsters heading straight for you through their lanes. Monsters will spawn slowly at first until the challenge starts ramping up, and wave after wave will attempt to grind you down as you defend Sister Cassia’s device that’s trying to cleanse the corruption. This is essentially Path of Exile‘s version of the tower defense genre.
Tower defense… of the ancients
Towers have certain elemental and debuff effects when they target enemies. Some will throw flaming projectiles, some will arc lightning, some will slow down your foes, and so on. Killing monsters allows you to obtain resources that can be used to power up additional towers. You’ll be able to play solo or with your Path of Exile buddies to complete these Blighted maps at your leisure, getting lots of loot in return.
You and your teammates will also share resources throughout the encounter, and you can plan ahead which exile takes which lane or side.
Now, tower defense wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t some form of booster for particular setups. That’s where several new unique items come in. There are four new Blight-specific uniques that you can obtain from this activity. These can be equipped, universally, by any class.
By the way, this is how one of the endgame Blighted Map activities would look like:
Oils and anointment
Sister Cassia’s function in Path of Exile‘s tower defense-inspired expansion is that only she can “anoint” these unique items using the “oils” you obtain in the new Blighted Maps. There are 12 tiers of oils in total which get progressively rarer.
Oils are combined by Sister Cassia to anoint your new Blight-specific uniques with new properties — with each property increasing the effectivity of certain tower effects. For instance, combining two types of oils on an equipped item might lead to a boost in the damage dealt by arc-type towers, while another combination might provide an extra projectile being shot by flame towers. There are around 80 combinations when you use two oils. These anointments are also placed on top of any perks that your items already have (so don’t worry about losing the perfect rolls you’ve obtained).
Note: Every anointment combination is deterministic — the results from oil combinations would be fixed and not randomized. You’ll see these results as well prior to committing to the anointment action, so you can always back out without wasting your materials in case you don’t want to have that result.
Also, order won’t matter when you combine oils on the panel. For instance, “red + yellow” would still yield the same result as “yellow + red.”
You’ll also need two oils for any ring you may obtain in Path of Exile. That’s right, you can now enchant rings with additional perks that’ll change the effect of your Blighted Map towers. You can have multiple gear pieces that can improve your towers’ crowd control or DPS capabilities.
Note: Items that can be anointed with oils will be noted once you mouse over them. The other uniques in the game can’t be modified by Sister Cassia.
Amulets and secret perks
But, that’s not all. You can also have Sister Cassia anoint your amulets. You’ll need three oils for this process, though.
The whole process might be well worth it. That’s because these oil combinations for your amulet will lead to a vastly different effect: A new passive in your skill tree. There are now 13 secret passives that have been added! These are activated in the skill tree only from 13 specific oil combinations (out of 364 that are possible) for the amulet that you’re wearing.
There are multiple combinations which Grinding Gear Games’ head honcho, Chris Wilson, could not reveal yet. He did suggest that the Path of Exile community can discover these as they progress through the Blight expansion.
You can see the next two images of amulets that will allocate perks such as Dire Torment and Retribution if you wear them:
Oh, and the surprise? It won’t matter where you’ve put points for your build because these passives can be made active no matter where you’re at on the skill tree.
One last thing: You can also use oils to anoint your Blighted Maps. Doing this will add new properties, making them harder (or more rewarding) if need be.
Path of Exile: Blight – Necromancers and minions
One of the new uniques added in Path of Exile: Blight can drop from various moments in the game (even outside of the new tower defense maps). Take a look at the Triad Grip unique gloves. Notice the effects that’ll buff minion damage depending on the sockets and gems you have on the item?
That’s just one of the changes coming to Path of Exile‘s Blight expansion concerning summoner-type builds. Certain skills will now allow you to specialize deeper into certain minion traits (such as having faster minions), your summoned critters will be even stronger as your gems level up, you’d get the new Carrion Golem (buffs other minions and is also buffed by your minions in return), and there’s even a rework for the Necromancer Ascendancy.
Players will have new support gems that provide an additional degree of control with the behavior of minions, whether they’d be more aggressive, defensive, or how they’d swarm over enemies. Grinding Gear Games wanted to provide Path of Exile players with more control, sure. But, they also wanted to avoid the hecticness that’s common in the RTS genre where you had to keep clicking on multiple units that are engaged in a fray.
For instance, a build that supports “Death Mark” will have your undead or beast hordes beelining straight for an enemy that has been “marked.” They’d focus all their attention on that mob as opposed to scattering all over the place just because there’s a monster there.
Path of Exile: Blight – Poison Assassin archetype
As Chris Wilson had told me, the Poison Assassin used to be one of the more broken builds in Path of Exile. After some nerfs, it no longer became viable. The upcoming revamp to the Poison Assassin makes it a feasible choice again due to complementary skills as opposed to prior exploitation of broken mechanics.
The Assassin’s Ascendancy tree has been tweaked to focus even more on critical strikes and poison debuffs. Five new skills and one support gem have been added to complement this type of playstyle.
One new skill, Cobra Lash, lets you throw your weapon, chaining between multiple enemies and instantly poisoning them when you land a crit. A new buff called Elusive has been also added, increasing defense and mobility for a limited time. This effect slowly becomes weaker as time passes (the first of its kind), as opposed to instantly disappearing once the duration is over.
Path of Exile: Blight – The Mine Saboteur archetype
As for the Saboteur Ascendancy, there’s been a revamp that focuses more on the Mine Saboteur archetype. Chris Wilson noted that its previous iteration hadn’t been up to snuff, and few people bothered placing mines. Well, say hello to your new little (err, big and explodey) friends.
The revamp in Path of Exile: Blight makes the archetype more viable. Mines can be thrown from a distance, are deployed faster, will detonate in sequence, while rewarding players who can create longer-lasting detonations and chain reactions.
Like the Poison Assassin archetype, it’s also received some new notable attack skills, support gems, and passives. One example is the Stormblast Mine which makes enemies more vulnerable to damage while sending shockwaves when several are detonated.
Map changes and missions
In the past, Path of Exile players would find certain missions they can tackle while they’re doing the endgame maps. The downside is that there’s a potential to miss out on completing these activities if a player isn’t able to handle them at the time, if they’d have to bounce back after trading, or when friends might want to do something else.
When the Blight expansion rolls out, players can now focus on the content they want to do without necessarily missing out on what NPCs provided in the past. The missions you obtain are now “stored” (as seen on the right-hand side of the panel), and you can choose to do them at any time you prefer by accessing them on your Map Device.
Betrayal, Legion, Synthesis improvements and integration
When Path of Exile: Blight goes live, you can expect major changes to previous league content:
Betrayal – The final Mastermind encounter provides a reward room for every member of the Immortal Syndicate, rather than just the ones in that branch. Immortal Syndicate state (your investigation board progress) will also be shared across all your characters in the current league so that you can resume your progress if you make a new character.
Delve – The Delve content has undergone some rebalancing so you can get to the equivalent of the endgame a lot faster. Some rarer Delve encounters have been made more common and reward diversity has been increased. Also, Sulphite is now shared across all your characters in the league.
Legion – The Legion expansion was considered as a success and its content has been added in various activities. The Temple of Atzoatl may lead you to a certain room, and monoliths might be spotted when you “delve deeper.” Endgame maps will also have a chance to start Legion encounters, and Legion‘s rewards have been added to Betrayal-specific content that you can tackle.
Synthesis – Chris admitted that Synthesis was quite a divisive league for the Path of Exile player base. Although Synthesis had earned some fair share of criticism, players did enjoy the boss fights. As such, these boss battles will be included as unique maps coming from Zana. Synthesis-specific unique items will be back in the general economy, although players won’t have access to the Synthesizer or Fractured items.
Blight’s release, ExileCon, 4.0.0 and the future
The two-day ExileCon event in Auckland, New Zealand will be held from November 16-17. It’ll feature interviews and talks with Path of Exile‘s developers, “racing” contests, and a moment with special guests David Brevik, Max Schaefer, and Erich Schaefer — the founders of Condor/Blizzard North and the minds behind the classic Diablo games. There will, obviously, be fans that won’t be able to attend, and so a special stream will broadcast these announcements including ones related to the 3.9.0 and the 4.0.0 expansions.
But, that’s still a ways off in November, and you don’t have to wait too long for Path of Exile: Blight. The newest expansion will go live on September 6 for PC players. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners will be able to check it out on September 9. You can, likewise, view the game’s official website for additional info.
Also, we’re not quite done yet because I was also able to have a short interview with Chris Wilson. I asked some in-depth questions regarding the design philosophy regarding Path of Exile: Blight as well as a few insights shared by the community. You can check that out right over here.