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Mixed or average reviews- based on 5 Ratings

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  1. Jun 3, 2018
    Path of Exile is a great game, but this iteration of it (the Incursion league) seems poorly thought out. It takes a game that is alreadyPath of Exile is a great game, but this iteration of it (the Incursion league) seems poorly thought out. It takes a game that is already punishing on new and less-than-optimal players, and it magnifies that punishment to an unnecessary degree. I recommend Path of Exile as game, but I can't recommend this game mode (Incursion league).

    If you've played games like Diablo 2/3, Titan Quest, Grim Dawn, or the Torchlight games, then you have a basic idea of what Path of Exile is. It's a top-down camera action-rpg that largely focuses on battling hoards of monsters for rewards. Path of Exile has a degree of mechanical complexity that surpasses most other games in its genre, and it's well known for its rather steep learning curve. If it's your first time playing, it will benefit you greatly to follow a well-made guide that goes into detail about how to be successful and navigate the myriad mechanics of the game.

    The highest-level gameplay in Path of Exile features a "map" system where players can craft maps for their characters to battle through. The most adept and knowledgeable players "speed run" these maps in order to accumulate items and power as efficiently as possible. This sort of speed-focused gameplay is what Incursion is really all about. In theory, that sounds like a rather logical focus for a Path of Exile league. Maybe it is. Unfortunately, I think it's detrimental to expand this speed-map-running mode to the rest of the game.

    In Incursion league, you will occasionally encounter an NPC who opens a portal to a temple in the past. Your character's job is to fight through the temple's rooms and (hopefully) unlock the temple's apex for big rewards. You can unlock doors to connect rooms up to the apex, and you can upgrade individual rooms so they provide more treasure. Once you've been to the temple in the past a number of times, you and the NPC enter it in the present. Your actions in the past will determine the layout and rewards you get from the temple in the present.

    The catch is that all of these rooms you visit in the past have a timer, and when this timer expires you're booted out of the temple. You will get 10-20 seconds to fight through groups of monsters, unlock doors to connect rooms, kill certain key NPCs, etc. The timer can be extended by killing monsters and hitting what are essentially the mini bosses of the room. The amount of time you initially get on the timer (when you first enter the room) seems to vary without any explanation as to why. There may be some damage component involved in the extension of your timer (the harder you hit a mini boss, the more time you're granted), but that isn't clear either. The exact mechanics related to extending the timer seem fairly opaque.

    For players who aren't using super-speed strategies or who aren't accustomed to speed running maps, you may find that you're getting kicked out before you can accomplish much of anything at all in the temple rooms. The monsters have high health; they are spread out poorly and it can take several seconds just to engage another pack; keys to unlock doors will drop on the complete other side of the room, which can leave you no time to go open it. I should also mention that Path of Exile has a penalty for dying (experience loss), and this penalty seems to be magnified for deaths incurred inside the temple.

    Skillful players who are great at high-level map running aren't going to have a problem with this game mode at all, and there are outrageously powerful items for them if they can successfully build their temple. These players were already getting the best late-game rewards in the most efficient manner, and now they are getting a large advantage in earlier parts of the game too. The temple can reward extremely powerful items, so their characters will now level faster and get to late game activities even easier than before. Basically, the people who were already breezing through the game's content now have it even easier. The players who aren't on that level are going to struggle to set up their temples and probably repeatedly eat a 10% experience loss for dying.

    In summation, Path of Exile Incursion takes a playstyle that the best of the best are most adept at, and it makes it the key focus of the league. It heaps rewards on those who were already getting the greatest rewards, and it punishes the less skillful to a higher degree than the base game does.

    If you're new or you don't play the game at a high level, I'd recommend waiting for another league or playing something else. This new "temple building" feature is something you will only get to occasionally experience for ~30 seconds at a time, and it's likely to be more frustrating than fun.
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