The Talisman Challenge Leagues
December's 2.1.0 Content Update marks the start of both a Standard and Hardcore version of the Talisman Challenge League. These leagues have self-contained economies and provide an opportunity for you to enjoy a fresh start and demonstrate your mastery of Path of Exile.
Ancient Ezomyte Talismans
Talismans are infused with the power of the First Ones, the primeval gods of the ancient Ezomytes. The creatures of Wraeclast are instinctively drawn to these relics and the feral vigour they impart.
As you play in the Talisman challenge leagues, you'll occasionally encounter monsters that are under the influence of Talismans. The ancient magic improves their abilities, resulting in dangerous encounters if you choose to engage them.
Talismans have such a strong lure that monsters are irresistibly drawn to them. If a monster possessed by one is slain, other monsters will rush to claim the Talisman for themselves. Given their power, can you resist equipping one yourself?
Talismans as Items
Talismans are amulets that drop in a corrupted state, so they cannot be crafted. They have extremely powerful implicit mods, so ones that luckily drop with good mods are very desirable compared to regular amulets.
There are many different types of Talismans, spread out over several tiers. As their power escalates, so does the difficulty of the fight required to claim one from a monster.
The Standard and Hardcore versions of the Talisman league both have slightly different sets of Talismans to find. Each has a few exclusive and powerful properties of its own.
Some examples of first-tier Talismans
As you explore Wraeclast in the Talisman leagues, you'll encounter circles of floating stones, assembled by ancient Ezomyte Druids. You can sacrifice a set of five different Talismans from the same tier to summon a monster possessed by a Talisman from the next tier up. We've added many new Unique Bosses for these encounters.
Defeating the summoned monster to claim their Talisman allows you to either improve your build with its powerful implicit properties or to save up a set of Talismans to try for the next tier. Sacrificing magic, rare or unique Talismans at a Stone Circle grants a chance to summon a monster possessed by a Talisman of similar rarity.
Some examples of second-tier Talismans
Thane Rigwald, The Wolven King
Rigwald the Wolven King led the Ezomytes during the Purity Rebellion. To ensure the ongoing freedom of his people, he recovered the Talismans of the First Ones and called upon those ancient Ezomyte gods to help him. It was a First One called the Greatwolf who answered, and it soon became apparent that the Wolven King had bitten off more than he could chew.
When you sacrifice five of the third tier of Talismans, a portal will open to the Den of the Wolven King, where you can challenge Rigwald himself. Possessed by the greatest of Talismans, he poses a lethal threat, but one yielding a substantial prize.
Challenges and Rewards
The Talisman challenge leagues contain 32 challenges that ascend in difficulty. You will receive a piece of Rigwald's armour set for each 8 challenges you complete.
In addition, once you reach 18 challenges completed, you receive a piece of the challenge Hideout Totem to display. Subsequent Totem pieces are awarded for each two challenges completed.
New Skills and Support Gems
Content Update 2.1.0 introduces eight new Skill Gems and four new Support Gems. Three categories of skills are being introduced, to both power-up existing builds and to provide entirely new builds that didn't previously exist.
New Bow Skills
One of our design goals for 2.1.0 was to increase the variety of skills available for bow users. Three new bow skills have been introduced.
Shrapnel Shot fires a piercing arrow with a cone of lightning damage, for high close-range damage.
Blast Rain bombards an area with a series of fiery arrows that explode when they land. The damage is focused around the middle, making it a reliable way to remove tougher enemies while also destroying those gathered around them.
The Siege Ballista skill creates a mechanical crossbow that fires a powerful, piercing bolt after a build-up time. It's extremely useful for bow characters, delivering a deadly shot if you're able to draw enemies into its fire.
New Physical Damage Spells
Until now, very few spells in Path of Exile dealt physical damage. We're adding further support for physical casters with two new spells in 2.1.0.
Blade Vortex summons ethereal weapons that spin around you, slicing up nearby enemies. Bladefall causes a wide cluster of blades to rain down in a row, carpeting an area with ethereal weapons. The blades spread out and cover a wider area as they travel away from you.
Both of these skills encourage physical caster builds where clever positioning is key.
New Chaos Damage Spells
Players have frequently requested more skills to enable chaos damage spellcaster builds.
Contagion applies a chaos damage over time effect to your foes, which spreads to other nearby enemies as they die. Essence Drain fires a projectile that applies a chaos damage over time effect, which can be spread by Contagion. A portion of the damage dealt by Essence Drain is recovered as life.
Wither applies a slowing effect to enemies and makes them more vulnerable to chaos damage. It can combine with the new chaos skills or existing ones like Caustic Arrow or Viper Strike.
New Support Gems
The Controlled Destruction, Void Manipulation and Rapid Decay Support Gems boost one aspect of your spells, while reducing another. For example, Void Manipulation increases your chaos damage but reduces the damage you deal with other elements.
The Blasphemy Support Gem allows you to convert your curses to auras, applying them to nearby monsters without manual intervention. Melee and other close-range characters will find this incredibly useful.
Continued Balance Changes
In this content update, we're rebalancing most skills and making mechanical changes to many.
We're also improving several game systems including: monster damage, leech, the passive skill tree, mana costs for melee skills, spell progression for high level casters, the power of low-level bows and the power of early minion skills.
All players will receive a one-off passive tree reset so that they can adjust their characters to these changes.
New Unique Items
No Path of Exile update is complete without a generous helping of new Unique Items.
In addition to regular Unique Items, the 2.1.0 Content Update introduces an entirely new type of Unique Jewels: Threshold Jewels that modify the behaviour of existing skills when their thresholds are met.
Coming on December 11, 2015!
Content Update 2.1.0 will be released at 1pm on Friday December 11 (US Pacific Time). This is 10pm in the CET timezone and 10am on December 12 in New Zealand. The Talisman Challenge Leagues will also start at this time.
This article does not contain the full patch notes for the 2.1.0 update. We'll be releasing more details on specific features over the next couple of weeks, culminating in the final patch notes a day or two before the update is released.
We also plan to announce details of Path of Exile's next major expansion (being released in Q1, 2016) at the end of next week!