Since Path of Exile's announcement in 2010, we've released a total of 16 trailers. They range from announcing Path of Exile itself to character classes, expansions and challenge leagues. In today's news post, we're going to highlight the first eight of these trailers and provide some details about how they were made.

Initial Path of Exile Announcement Trailer (September 2010)

This was the first of three trailers that we prepared for the initial announcement of Path of Exile in September 2010. While the other two were aimed at specific news outlets, this one was for the general gaming audience. We used four imperatives "Explore, Battle, Compete, Survive" to demark the various sections of the video.

Because it had been a while since an Action RPG with secure online servers had been announced, we intentionally showed a lot of multiplayer play throughout this video to emphasise that Path of Exile is an online game. We included PvP footage, expecting it to be a larger part of the game than it ended up being.

This trailer also included weapon effects made of particles, which were set up by hand for those specific weapons in the trailer and didn't make a return in the actual game until late 2013.

The zombie beach scene at the end of this trailer was a huge fan favourite at the time.

Exclusive IncGamers Trailer (September 2010)

This trailer was created for the IncGamers news site, whose portfolio of game sites included the popular We wanted to make a trailer specifically for fans of other Action RPGs. It was important to us that we clearly called out a few specific features of Path of Exile so that players understood that this was going to be their new obsession.

The video specifically mentions an online realm, so that people would know that it didn't have insecure peer-to-peer multiplayer like some other games did. Randomly generated areas are a critical component of the replayability of Action RPGs, so the video highlights these with various flybys. There's also a section that demonstrates finding and identifying a rare item, to show that the item system is consistent with other Action RPGs.

This trailer wouldn't have been suitable for a general audience, but worked well at its core goal - explaining to Action RPG players what type of game Path of Exile was.

Exclusive PC Gamer Trailer (September 2010)

This was the the third trailer we made for announcement - this time exclusively for the PC Gamer site. Like the other ones from this era, this trailer was made by having the game run in very slow motion, saving out high-quality frames one at a time as well as a log file of what audio events occurred at what times. We then ran a script that created a high-quality video by combining the individual frames together and synthesising the sounds at the right times. Nowadays we just use Fraps in 60fps mode.

This trailer officially called out the two announced character classes: the Marauder and the Ranger. It is the first trailer to show skill gems, the passive skill tree and has a montage of support gem effects (which are mostly multicast/multistrike at this stage), quite reflective of gameplay on our internal alpha realm.

Witch Class Announcement Trailer (December 2010)

A few months after the initial announcement of Path of Exile, this trailer was used to announce the Witch character class. From the initial scene showing the Witch waking up on the shore of Wraeclast, it depicts the Witch's progression through Act One to the Merveil encounter.

It featured our first custom camera angles used in a trailer (facilitated by various internal cheat commands that set the camera moving from one angle to another for a few seconds). We also experimented with voice acting in this trailer, and learnt a lot of useful lessons for later trailers.

The last third of this trailer includes higher-level Witch gameplay and includes the presence of other players, to re-iterate that Path of Exile is a multiplayer game.

Duelist Class Announcement Trailer (April 2011)

A few months later, we wanted to announce the Duelist character class. We also had enough of Act Two ready that we could use the trailer to unveil that Act also.

This trailer is the first to have custom cut-scene work done. In order to record this footage in our engine, we temporarily replaced the existing cargo hold character selection scene in the game with the Oak scene.

The Duelist trailer tells the story of the bandit leader Oak asking the Duelist to help him out by killing Alira and Kraityn. Despite cutting to Oak most of the time that he was talking to the Duelist, the trailer still confused many players who thought that Oak was the Duelist. We purposefully put Oak's face in shadow because we weren't able to lip-sync that much dialogue.

The voice acting worked out a lot better this time around.

Templar Class Announcement Trailer (July 2011)

The Templar was our final class announcement video before release. We never made one for the Shadow because the media outlet we were using wanted to use a written article instead.

This trailer again featured custom cut-scene work, showing the templar praying. The dialogue explains the Templar's suspicions of who caused the Cataclysm and how he sees disturbing visions. A lot of work went into swapping between clean (Solaris Temple) and ruined (Chamber of Sins) versions of the same areas. It was definitely one of our darker trailers.

A Devourer (internally called "Root Spider") was briefly shown, years before they were actually functional in game. The initial intention was that these monsters would spring out from tree roots and travel underground to other trees. This proved to be less fun than we wanted, so you got the even scarier version instead.

Open Beta Trailer (January 2013)

Over the next 18 months, we didn't release any more trailers. We were busy working maintaining our Closed Beta (which had more than enough players for our testing needs). Our next trailer was for our Open Beta in early 2013.

Rather than announcing a specific character class, this trailer was firmly aimed at a general audience of new players who hadn't heard of Path of Exile before. Many people classed this as our best trailer until 2015. Across various sites, it reached over 3 million views.

The trailer was narrated by Dominus (and it won't be the last one to). It featured custom (rather than licensed) music. It included a split-screen demonstration of different support effects, pans across the passive skill tree and improved pans across game areas. It highlighted the various character classes, multiplayer and pvp gameplay. For the Action RPG audience, it showed items dropping from a boss kill with shots of the item hovers and the claim of "The deepest item system in any Action RPG".

This was the first trailer to feature the 3d version of our logo (though we went back to 2d a few years later). Its end card was animated and made sure to clarify that the final character wipe would occur when the Open Beta started. The retention pattern for ARPG players is very different when there are upcoming character wipes, so we wanted to be very clear there wouldn't be any more in the future.

Cinematic Release Trailer (October 2013)

For the game's full release later that year, we went for a different approach. This trailer was more cinematic and has less emphasis on proper gameplay with the full UI shown. This trailer was met with a relatively lukewarm reaction compared to the Open Beta one.

As the Scion was the new character class at release, she narrated the trailer. It shows progression through the game, played by various classes. Most of the shots are interesting ones that can't be achieved using the regular game camera.

In addition to use of the "trailer horn", this trailer was the first to have music custom-made by our in-house composer, Kamil. All subsequent trailers feature his music.

The end card states "Freedom, Power, Revenge" which was Path of Exile's tagline at release.

Later this week we'll examine the eight trailers created after Path of Exile's release!
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Grinding Gear Games

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