When we released Path of Exile in October, we promised a major content update (a mini-expansion) every four months. Sacrifice of the Vaal is our first such major update, and will be released on March 5 as a free update to the game.
While this article is not the full patch notes, it covers most of the major new content and features of Sacrifice of the Vaal:
- Atziri, Queen of the Vaal
- Secret Corrupted Areas
- Vaal Skill Gems
- The Vaal Orb: Corrupted Items
- New Challenge Leagues
- Ambush League
- Invasion League
- New Boss Monsters
- New PvP Modes - Cut-throat and Sarn Arena
- Launch Week Competition
- Deployment Timeline
Atziri, Queen of the Vaal
The narcissistic Queen Atziri plunged the Vaal civilisation into a dark age of sacrifice and terror almost two thousand years ago. Millions died due to her obsessive pursuit of eternal youth, a pursuit that brought about a cataclysm that ended the Vaal civilisation overnight. But Atziri herself still lingers in a nightmare realm that is starting to leak back into the land of Wraeclast. Now, as the queen rises again, her corruption spreads throughout Wraeclast. Queen Atziri must be defeated.
While most of the Sacrifice of the Vaal content is layered throughout the entire Path of Exile experience, the final encounter with Queen Atziri and her minions is designed for high-level characters and requires a lot of skill to complete. In order to gain access to Atziri's lair, you must collect fragments from Vaal-influenced areas throughout Wraeclast. When combined in the Map Device, six portals to the Apex of Sacrifice are created. We're not spoiling details of what this fight is like, but there are multiple sets of deadly bosses to fight through before you face Queen Atziri herself.
Secret Corrupted Areas
As you explore Wraeclast, you'll occasionally find Vaal-influenced secret areas that are indicated by a glowing, beating heart and swirling ribbons of blood. These corrupted areas have magical properties, similar to end-game maps, which substantially increase their difficulty. At the heart of each corrupted area is a new boss monster, guarding a chest that is guaranteed to drop a Vaal Skill Gem or Vaal Fragment. As corrupted areas require some effort to find and have mods that make them more difficult than normal, you'll often want to invite friends to help you clear the area.
Vaal Skill Gems
The Vaal civilization may have existed thousands of years ago, but it had its own form of Skill Gems. Brutally powerful and fueled by the sacrifice of foes, these gems are the ultimate version of many contemporary Path of Exile skills.
Vaal Skill Gems charge up as you kill enemies and can be unleashed for a devastating effect. For example, Vaal Detonate Dead chain-explodes all the corpses in an area in rapid succession. Vaal Power Syphon fires your wand at all nearby enemies, culling them and granting power charges. Some Vaal skills, when fully charged, can be used multiple times in the span of a single fight.
The Vaal Orb: Corrupted Items
As Atziri's influence spreads, exiles are increasingly driven by the temptation to corrupt their own equipment with Vaal Orbs. While corrupting an item can yield unpredictable and powerful results, it prevents later modification to the item (corrupted items cannot have further currency applied to them). Corruption yields one of many possible outcomes and has different effects depending on what type of item it is.
Corruption is currently the only way to obtain white sockets, certain implicit mods, gems with level or quality higher than 20, maps with eight mods, and various other exotic item states.
New Challenge Leagues
Every four months, we introduce a pair of new Challenge Leagues. These are self-contained economies and provide an ideal opportunity for players to have a fresh start with new ladders to climb. While they're entirely optional (all existing characters in the Standard and Hardcore leagues still exist), they provide an opportunity for players to demonstrate their mastery of the game. Will you be the first to fight Queen Atziri, reach level 90 or find one of the new Unique items?
Sacrifice of the Vaal introduces the Ambush League and hardcore Invasion league. There are a set of eight difficult challenges that can be completed in the leagues. Players who complete all the challenges receive an exclusive t-shirt at the end of the leagues!
Like the Anarchy and Domination challenge leagues before it, the Ambush league is about risk and reward. Various new types of chests called Strongboxes can be found throughout Wraeclast. These chests are guarded by monsters that ambush the player when they are opened. The ambushing monsters must be slain before the contents of the Strongbox can be claimed.
Sometimes you'll encounter magic, rare or unique Strongboxes which have mods like items do. Prefixes affect the difficulty of the ambush by adding more monsters, springing traps or affecting your character. Suffixes improve your rewards from the Strongbox. You can use currency items to reroll these mods.
Like the Onslaught and Nemesis leagues before it, Sacrifice of the Vaal's hardcore Invasion league is designed to kill players. In the Invasion league, areas of Wraeclast have substantially more monster variety, so players will run into unexpected and dangerous invading monsters from other levels or acts. A unique boss monster from an invading monster type is also lurking in each level, with powerful combinations of skills to catch the player off-guard. As you progress through Path of Exile's difficulty levels, the monster variety continues to expand and the invading bosses gain additional abilities.
New Boss Monsters
We've added over 60 new boss monsters to Path of Exile. Every type of secret corrupted area and almost every monster type in the Invasion league required a unique-rarity monster to be created. These new boss fights feature advanced combinations of skills and support gems that we've never used on monsters before. Because these bosses are featured in corrupted areas and the Invasion league, we've designed them to be especially lethal.
New PvP Modes - Cut-throat and Sarn Arena
Players have been asking for long-term Cut-throat mode for as long as exiles have known how to cut the throats of their allies. It is an optional league type where players are able to invade each other's areas and kill them for their items. This means an increase in the number and duration of cut-throat events as we iterate on the rules with the community.
The Sarn Arena is open for bloodshed! Located next to the Sarn Encampment, the Arena is a free-for-all PvP area that pits you against a dozen or so other exiles in a no-holds-barred bloodbath. It's great for filling a few spare minutes with action.
The first 50 players in each of the new challenge leagues to kill Atziri and the other bosses on her special level will receive an exclusive cosmetic microtransaction effect that only comes from this competition. A total of 100 players will receive this prize - 50 in the Ambush league and 50 in the Invasion league. We'll update the progress of this competition in the news over the first week or two. Good luck!
This article is not the full patch notes for Sacrifice of the Vaal. We'll be releasing those patch notes on March 3 with the full deployment of the update at 1pm on March 5 (US pacific time).
We're extremely excited about Sacrifice of the Vaal. The quantity of new content weaved throughout Path of Exile adds a lot of variety to the already highly replayable experience. The new leagues are an ideal opportunity for you and your friends to build some new characters and attempt to cleanse Wraeclast of Atziri's influence. See you on March 5!