Grinding Gear Games revealed the next expansion to Path of Exile: Sentinel, in a livestream today. But while Sentinel won’t be as substantially large as previous expansions, it adds some interesting changes to the overall formula. Sentinels, for example, can be taken on your journeys. These constructs can buff enemies — an effect that improves your odds for better loot. Path of Exile: Sentinel also provides some changes to the reworked endgame brought by Siege of the Atlas.
Sentinels, of course, are the main draw of the new expansion. I got to preview the content ahead of the livestream along with a few others, but, as per the usual, GGG has introduced a ton of information to parse through. To keep it simple, Sentinels are “ancient constructs” that offer you more control of loot gathering.
Sentinels come in three types, and, when used, fire beams that empower enemies. There’s a Sentinel that can buff groups, and another that targets rare and unique enemies. Empowered foes are much stronger, but defeating them may reward in better loot. Sentinels come as drops in the game, and you’ll find more of them in the early game as opposed to later in your run, GGG’s Chris Wilson told us.
There are three types of Sentinels to discover in Wraeclast. The red Stalker Sentinel hovers behind you for half a minute once activated, empowering every enemy you meet. The blue, Pandemonium Sentinel is the polar opposite of the Stalker, disappearing the moment it fires. Its shot will cover an area, with its effect chaining through enemies. Wilson described the Sentinel as “dangerous,” as it “empowers so many enemies at one time.” Finally, we have the yellow Apex Sentinel, which only buff elite enemies — but only for a few shots. You can also apparently use more than one Sentinel at a time, but you should be confident in your abilities before doing so.
Building a better Sentinel friend
Sentinels only have so many charges, but they need not get discarded after use. Instead, the Path of Exile: Sentinel expansion contains a new Sentinel Assembly mechanic to create more. Using a new item called a Power Core (with a stack size up to 20), you can mash together two spent Sentinels to create a new one. Sentinels can come with mods (with the number based on rarity), dictating the effect the beams have.
Combining the spent Sentinels in the Sentinel Assembly window combines them to create a “hybrid” of sorts. Specialized Power Cores can be found, and they’re able to change the assembly outcomes. There are also unique Sentinels with fixed stats, which can’t be combined.
The Sentinel Controller is another mechanic that lets you change Sentinel behavior and properties. Runic nodes connected by branching paths can mod one or all of your Sentinels. For example, one node makes it so your Sentinel has a 10% chance not to consume a charge. Another one increases the chance for rewards.
But like with a skill tree, there are limitations. You connect the runic nodes via filaments, and over time you can fill in nodes and branches for more Sentinel behaviors. The Sentinel Controller only allows for so many connections, indicated by a semi-circle of units. You start with four, but can have up to 30 power units applied at the end — roughly half the board. However, some connections require up to three filaments, and the node eats up three units.
On the plus side of things, you can “respec” or move filaments around freely. You won’t be stuck with a decision you regret, nor do you need a special item or NPC to change up your Sentinels.
This is the end
The Path of Exile: Sentinel expansion also improves the endgame introduced in Siege of the Atlas. Sentinel adds 20 more keystone passives to your Atlas tree, such as “Singular Focus” which increases the chances you’ll find Favored Maps. There will also be passives set in clusters, which allow you more control over what content you experience. Basically, they’ll “prevent content you don’t enjoy from appearing randomly, while simultaneously causing other content to spawn at a higher rate,” according to Wilson. The idea is to allow you to focus on what you want to play in your endgame experience.
More powerful bosses now await in PoE‘s endgame. The seven bosses that rule at the peak of the Atlas have been beefed up with stronger, “uber” variants. You have to access them by using six new keystone passives, and are said to “challenge the absolute best Path of Exile players and suffice to say, they’re brutally difficult.”
The new uber bosses are:
- The Maven
- The Searing Exarch
- The Eater of Worlds
- The Shaper
- The Uber Elder (uber squared)
Uber bosses offer better rewards for their defeat. For example, the Uber Maven will drop a guaranteed Elevated Sextant. Another possible reward is an Awakened Exceptional Support Gem. Obviously, you’ll only be able to nab these rewards after a lot of grinding. You gotta be the best around, where nothing’s gonna keep you down.
Is that a challenge?
Sentinel improves the monster modifiers found in the game. That is, GGG is replacing the mods with Archnemesis mods. Monsters will carry said mods, with magic variants having one and rare containing two — normally. Some rare monster types can have up to four mods attached. The Archnemesis mods can combine to create much deadlier beasties, as well.
“For example, if you encounter a monster with both Storm Strider and Ice Prison, the ice prison may block you off so that you are more likely to run into the lightning mirages from the Storm Strider mod,” Wilson said.
Grinding Gear Games is also updating the current Challenge System with the new expansion. According to Wilson, the current challenge and reward system will remain the same. However, easier challenges will offer rewards faster: one after six, and the second at 12 (previously they would unlock at 12 and 24). With this change, the developer is able to “ramp up to some incredibly difficult challenges towards the end, which will take a lot of time and skill to complete.” The challenges in the endgame are tougher, but offer 10 more awards such as two complete sets of armor with a pair of wings for each.
Finally, there are the quality of life changes. Path of Exile: Sentinel will officially launch with full controller support on PC, which officially makes the game compatible with the Steam Deck. Favoured Maps selection has also been improved by letting you “click on one of your existing favoured maps to quickly copy it to the new slot.” There are more QoL changes that GGG will reveal soon.
Okay, but what about Path of Exile 2?
Ah yes, the big question that’s on everyone’s mind: what’s the status on the sequel? According to Wilson, Path of Exile 2 is still being worked on. The game will effectively replace the original PoE, adding a new campaign. Unfortunately, the developer doesn’t plan on revealing much this year. But the team is preparing to show more in 2023.
Wilson said that the developer is targeting a late 2023 or early 2024 release. He also told us that “development is going incredibly well at the moment.” Covid slowed down work in regards to the sequel, but now things have “really taken off in terms of Path of Exile 2 development, and that’s been very, very pleasing”
That wraps up our coverage of the Path of Exile: Sentinel expansion, which arrives on May 13.