People play action RPGs like Path of Exile for many reasons. Some people love the satisfying progression of slaying monsters and acquiring epic loot. Some are into the lore, willing to spend hours memorizing facts and personalities. Still others relish the competition, delighting in gaining renown within the community. No matter what kind of player you are, Path of Exile's race events have something for you.
The full release of the game took place on the 23rd of October, but we've already completed four seasons of races during our Beta period. These seasons generally ran for six weeks, and included upwards of 150 individual events. This post concerns Season Five, set to kick off in just a few days.
What are Races?
Races are short duration events available to all players. The races vary dramatically in duration, from just minutes to several hours, and in some seasons, they can even stretch to weeks or a month. The events are designed to test a player's mastery of many elements of the game, so different formats play to different strengths. Someone may excel in a short sprint event, but may not have the temperament for the extended hours a week or longer event demands.
Though there are varied race formats and durations, they all have one thing in common: all of PoE's races give players a chance for a fresh start, in a brand new environment. Anyone who's ever enjoyed an ARPG understands the thrill of a new beginning, of stepping back out into the wild at level 1 with only basic gear and your wits for protection. Races are fantastic equalizers, because no-one has access to gear they've acquired beforehand.
There are many different reasons to give Season Five's races a try. The most enticing reason is quite simple though: unique item rewards! As a player participates in different races, they accumulate Seasonal Points. These points entitle the player to fantastic, alternate-art unique items as soon as they reach certain points thresholds. Even a casual participant in a season's races can easily earn a few special items, but huge rewards exist for the dedicated racer. There's a schedule of the current rewards here: https://www.pathofexile.com/seasons/
When a race ends, participants receive their rewards in a special "remove-only" tab in their stash. These items are valuable, not only because they have exclusive, season-only artwork, but also because they can be retrieved by any character in any long-term league! This means that your Domination or Nemesis character can use a unique item you acquired in a seasonal race. It also means that you can choose to keep your rewards in the remove-only stash tab, and utilize them in an upcoming long-term league down the road. To keep things fair, there is a two week grace period at the start of each new long-term league where the items cannot be withdrawn, but after that, they're fair game. Because the items can only ever be withdrawn one time in this fashion, make sure you're taking them with a character in the intended league!
As you race, you receive points that accumulate throughout the season. Many of the events give random prizes to players in proportion to how many points they accumulated in that event.
One of the prize items (in Season Five, a Moonstone Ring) is designed for crafting and is itemlevel 100. This means that it can roll any current or future mod when rerolled with currency items. This is the only way to get alternate art on a tradeable rare item.
The unique artwork on race reward items is particularly special now that Skin Transfers exist. It is possible to equip your character with a combination of gear that no-one has seen before.
At the end of the season, the top 20 players by points will receive an alternate-art Demigod's Touch unique item.
Other than item rewards, races give PoE players a chance to really test their skills against both the clock and other racers. Consistently high finishers in seasonal races earn great bragging rights, and are the envy of the community. Whether you're a hardcore veteran or just getting started with the game, you're sure to get a lot of enjoyment out of one or many of our race formats.
What kinds of races are available?
PoE currently offers a huge variety of race formats, with many more on the way.
Most races are hardcore, but characters generally remain playable after the league ends. If a character survives the race, it is transferred to the Hardcore League. If it died, it is transferred to the Standard League. All items equipped or in the character's inventory are transferred with the character. Any items remaining in the race stash are transferred to the Hardcore League in a remove-only stash tab.
Some examples of races coming up in Season Five are:
- Turbo: Monsters move, attack and cast 60% faster than normal.
- Ancestral League: Areas contain many totems that boost monsters or harm players.
- Rogue League: Areas are populated by large numbers of Rogue Exiles.
- Famine League: Flasks do not recharge when a player returns to town.
- Cutthroat League: Players may join other instances at will and kill other players outside of town. Slain players drop all of their non-gem equipment when they die.
There are certain special races where characters and items last only until the end of the event. This special rule allows these races to have predetermined item rewards at certain points in the progression that exceed what would normally be available. Races like this include Descent, Endless Ledge and the new Descent: Champions.
In Descent: Champions, you play through custom new levels that use tilesets from the core Path of Exile game. It's not directly connected to the story of Path of Exile, but the plot is that the nobles have constructed an elaborate dungeon full of exotic monsters, and champions from across the land have come to compete and attempt to win its prizes.
While level layouts and monster drops are still randomized, there are occasional fixed rewards in chests along the way, containing currency and other items. Players also get to select from a choice of unique items at the start of the event.
Some races are solo (you can't trade or party with other people) and others encourage you to join a party to play. Feel free to use the public parties panel (press S to load the social screen) to find party members.
Signature races are specific races that have consistent length and properties during the season. The signature race in Season Five is a two hour solo race. Player results throughout the season are scored in a ladder of overall results in these Signature events (https://www.pathofexile.com/signature-races/ladder). There are special prizes (alternate-art Demigod's Touches) for the three top finishers of each class.
How do I find out about available Races?
We already have a big calendar posted for the upcoming fifth season, which you can view here: https://www.pathofexile.com/seasons
There is also a specific forum dedicated to races, viewable here: https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-forum/leagues-and-race-events
The events forum contains not only a place to discuss races, but a current ladder for active races, as well as an explanation of their specific rules.
If you're interested in watching races on Twitch, you can see the Twitch icon next to the name of anyone on the Ladder who is currently streaming. Just click on that icon, and you'll be taken to a live view of the action.
Once Season Five is underway, you'll see a list of active and upcoming races in the large box in the lower right corner of the character selection screen. To join any of those races, simply click the "join" button, then choose your class and character name. Races open 30 minutes before they start. There's generally no need to join that early - a few minutes beforehand is fine. During this registration period, you are not able to move.
When a race officially starts, a prompt will be broadcast, and everyone in the race will activate. From there, you're free to play in whatever manner you see fit, with the ultimate objective of attaining in the highest level in the allotted time. When time does run out, everyone's characters will freeze again, though the monsters still get to complete their final attacks. Be wary of this; people have died in the very last seconds of long races!
What are some strategies to help new players along?
To maximise experience gain over time, you shouldn't full-clear each level. You should try to engage packs that are large enough to be worth the time. Knowing when to do sidequests is important - sometimes the rewards just don't justify the opportunity cost of the time. Clearing the Fetid Pool often isn't worth the respec points in a race. Killing Hailrake is a difficult decision to commit to, because while the Quicksilver Flask is extremely useful, it costs precious minutes to obtain. Killing the optional unique bosses in each area is often not worth the effort.
Be aware of how experience penalties are calculated and how much experience you get from different areas at different levels. It's often advantageous to be slightly under-leveled for an area, but if you're too far below the correct level then you won't be able to kill the monsters effectively and may not receive enough experience either. Plan out at what levels you want to reach specific areas at. Some racers like to quickly run through The Coast without killing many monsters because they can still earn full experience in the Mud Flats.
Correct usage of vendors and their recipes is very important for racers. Immediately check Tarkleigh for movement speed boots to gain a huge advantage if they're there. Coral Rings can sometimes be purchased from Nessa for a large survivability boost. Fighting Merveil requires a lot of Cold Resistance, so remember to check vendors for Sapphire Rings in the levels beforehand (they reset their inventory every level, so preemptively check them before you need the item). You can also use a vendor recipe to create a Sapphire Ring if urgently needed, so make sure you have an Iron Ring and blue Gem handy.
In complex races like Descent: Champions, you're rewarded for researching strategies online. Descent: Champions is designed to be something you run over and over again, getting a little bit better every time. Since some chests in Descent are predetermined, you can carefully plan your item and skill progression.
Path of Exile's races are designed as an alternative to the usual action RPG end-game of boss farming and pure loot acquisition. They've been tremendously successful since we introduced them in February. We expect Season Five to be the most fun so far. Good luck!