Image via Path of Exile.

What to Expect from Path of Exile’s Newest Expansion: Delve

Aug 28, 2018
Image via Path of Exile.

The new Path of Exile (PoE) expansion, Delve, comes out this week on August 31. I personally couldn’t be more excited, because this expansion has the potential to be their best in a long time.

Along with the many quality of life changes, this expansion addresses one of PoE’s biggest issues: retention. Since these two areas saw the most modification in terms of long-term PoE changes, they’re what we’ll be focusing on here.

There are also a host of small skill and ascendancy changes that have been leaked and will be explored fully in the patch notes just before the league drops.

Retention Issues

Path of Exile has always had issues with retention. The average player seems to enjoy playing PoE’s new content for between one and two months, and then stops playing altogether. Since the leagues are three months long, this leaves a month and a bit where the league just feels dead. They have been ‘solving’ this issue lately by adding one month flashback races overlapping the last month of their league, but this has its own host of issues alongside it and isn’t healthy for the long-term survival of the game.

However, these issues could potentially be addressed in the upcoming Delve expansion. Delve’s new league mechanic is the largest and most incredible mechanic we’ve seen to date, which is saying a lot directly after the Incursion league. The Delve mechanic, however, is setting a new precedent for depth. They are adding, for the first time, an infinite dungeon. That’s right, no matter how far you go there’s always more to explore. They have confirmed that the dungeon becomes significantly stronger than the hardest maps as well. Finally we have a reason to go for those incredibly expensive tiny upgrades!

Delve Map
An example of the Delve infinite dungeon’s map. Image via Path of Exile.

The amount of extra content this change adds is incredible. Even if you plateau in the dungeon, it’s not like you can’t keep exploring it — it’s infinite left to right as well. So if you can’t push to the next level you can still fight against the strongest monsters your build can handle forever. I don’t know how good the loot will be in the lower levels, but I’m guessing the experience you gain will be worth it at the very least!

For me personally the fact that I can push further if I collect enough money to get a super expensive upgrade will be enough to keep me playing and pushing my build to its furthest point. I hope many others feel the same way and that retention in this league is much higher than ones in the past!

Quality of Life Changes

So far Delve is the expansion with the most quality of life changes by far. Some stuff is minor, but for the most part these quality of life changes are massive, and will greatly improve PoE in the long run. There are a handful, so we’ll try to cover them all. Please forgive us if we miss a few, because there are many and more announced every day!

Map Icons for Item Drops

Starting with the one that I think is the most impactful by far: map icons for item drops! Now when you hear that exalted sound off-screen you don’t have to run around in a spiral trying to find it— you can just open the mini-map and see exactly where you should be looking. With how many different currencies there are in Path of Exile, it can be difficult to distinguish what you want in a moment. This will help considerably! The drop icons are customizable in the same way a loot filter is, so no danger in mistaking worthless items either. So many of the popular builds involve killing things off-screen nowadays — this is a huge quality of life and speed boost to nearly every build!

Map Icons
An example of the new map icons. Image via Path of Exile.

Item Beams

Next is one that I personally don’t care for, but has elicited a lot of excitement in the community: item beams. Just like Diablo 3, now when items drop, beams will emit from their location. Just like the map icons, these are completely customizable, so if you’re not a huge fan like me you can restrict them for just the most expensive items, whereas people who love them can even add item beams to white items if they want!

Free Maps

PoE also added a huge quality of life improvement to mapping in general, which is that each time you complete one of Zana’s missions she gives you a free map of the tier that you completed. So if you defeat shaper in a tier two map, Zana will offer you any of the tier two maps. This is a much bigger deal than you’d expect, since there are a handful of maps that you cannot get with the 3:1 recipe, which you can now easily still attain. For Solo Self Found in particular this is a massive change, allowing you to complete your atlas much much faster.

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Instant Skills

Did I mention there are a lot of quality of life changes? Yeah, we’re still going. Next up is instant skills. This is something that will be absolutely massive for some builds and irrelevant for others. There are a handful of skills in the game with zero second cast time, but they still have a cast animation, meaning that they still stop you from moving and force you to go through a ‘cast’. This is most obvious with Warcries from the Guardian class which says “Warcries are instant,” but they are decidedly not. Well, now they are. Now they don’t break you out of channeled abilities to cast instant skills. It doesn’t even cause your walking to stutter. This is huge for Warcries, but it is also very significant for other skills such as Convocation or Phase Run. This change could definitely add a new layer of utility to a lot of builds!

Final Notes

Delve is shaping up to be one of the most impactful Path of Exile leagues ever. All of these changes have long-lasting effects well past the end of the three month league. The quality of life changes are massive, making the game feel much better to play and providing small buffs to areas that could use it, such as clunky skills and SSF mapping. The dungeon itself could solve PoE’s biggest issue, player retention, in that it provides a challenge no matter how much gear you do or don’t have. I don’t want to hype a league too much before it drops, but Delve is the league I’m most excited for, and has the most potential of any I’ve played so far!

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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