Hello everyone and happy holidays! I say that because I am writing this a few days before Christmas so I feel that it is something I can put here. Depending on when you read this, that may or may not apply.
After about 40 hours of the new league and endgame, I felt I was ready to talk about both the 3.9 Metamorph League mechanics, as well as the new “Conquerors of the Atlas” endgame storyline that has been added to Path of Exile. Please be aware there will be some lore spoilers in this article about the Conquerors, because of how the storyline of POE has advanced.
To make things easier, I am gonna start with my thoughts on Metamorph, which is the current Temp League at the time of writing (And honestly, I think it’s going to go into the Core game so what I say here should apply to that as well.)
For reference, I started this league as an Artillery Ballista Chieftain, but ended up respeccing to an Armageddon Brand Chieftain. You can view my character here on my POE Profile. Mr Torgue San is the one used for the Metamorph League.
The Metamorph League Impressions
This time around our Exiles run into a man named Tane Octavius, an Alchemist in search of the “intrinsic darkness” inside of all the beings of Wraeclast and Oriath. You see, Tane did something horrible to his old master and, like anyone who did a bad thing, was banished from Oriath to Wraeclast (cause that is what keeps happening) and is now trying to figure out why he did the bad thing.
And how are we Exiles going to help him? But killing hundreds of enemies, taking out their eyes, hearts, livers, brains, and lungs and combining them in his giant Alchemy Doohickey (very technical term here) to create a horrible amalgamation of terrors that we then murder for the phat loots. You will first encounter him in the very first area past Lionseye Watch, and he shows up in basically every zone after that for the league. I imagine after the league is over, if it goes Core, he will show up in Maps much like Cassia does from the Blight League.
And honestly, I hope Tane does because despite the Metamorphs you create sometimes being insanely dangerous, they are a ton of fun and very rewarding.
The basic idea is that you clear out an area or Map of any and all enemies. Ones that can drop body parts appear on your mini map and are marked by a glowing green arrow like object. Prior to a patch you had to pick up the Organs but thankfully now you just automatically grab them. If the area contains a unique boss or Act boss, those will frequently drop an Organ as well. Organs can come in all 4 rarities (White, Blue. Yellow, Orange) and can contain modifiers that both provide attacks to the Metamorph, add new modifiers like Crit Chance or Fire Damage, and also influence what it can drop. Here are some examples of the various kinds of rarities and modifiers you can encounter as well as the Construction interface:
Once you have at least one organ of each type, you can use them to create your boss. If you completely collect EVERY available Organ Tane will automatically appear, but otherwise you simply click on the little button in the lower right to spawn him (that button only appears if you have at least one organ). Organs do NOT persist across maps. Each map has its own set of organs, and if the map resets you lose any progress so keep that in mind.
Now, as you put organs into the interface, the bar on the right hand side will increase. This increases the Metamorphs overall HP, Damage, and drop chance. Prior to the Map system (Endgame) this bar will not really do anything other than that. But, once you get into the Map system and start killing Metamorphs in Maps, filling that bar to the top has an added function: Creating a unique Organ Item. These items are actual drops that you pick up and if you get enough, you can take them to Tane’s lab to build a Super Boss. These bosses can drop all sorts of insane rewards. Here is an example of a Unique Organ you can find (they are of course random)
Now, keep in mind that you will want to pay attention to the modifiers on these organs. Every instance of a single modifier stacks and things can get VERY dangerous very quickly. I have been one shotted numerous times by bad combinations, and at one point I wasn’t paying attention, stacked Life Regen on the Metamorph, and literally could not out damage its health regen. I ended up running away.
A new drop type, Catalysts, were also added in this league. These allow you to add Quality to your rings and amulets, which can affect their stats as well. This is the only way to quality these items currently. I have only gotten a single Catalyst so I don’t have much to add here. There are also a few new unique items but nothing that really stands out to me.
Overall, I actually really enjoy the Metamorph league. It rewards you for cleaning out areas, lets you get insane drops early one if you are lucky, and can be as challenging as you want it to be. And at no point is it required to do. You can interact with it as much or as little as you want.
Now let’s talk about the new Endgame for Path of Exile: Conquerors of the Atlas! Again, there will be some spoilers here for how this plays into everything, and some theories from me as well.
The New Endgame Storyline & Atlas: Conquerors of the Atlas Impressions
To understand the new story, especially if you are just coming into the game, I need to explain the general plot of Path of Exile as a whole. So, again, there will be spoilers here!
Path of Exile started originally telling the story of 7 Exiles, who were banished for different crimes to the continent of Wraeclast from a place called Oriath. They started by simply trying to help their fellow exiles survive the harsh world of Wraeclast before stumbling upon a plot by the Templar Order to do something involving these mystical Virtue Gems. Eventually the Exile (you) ends up finding out there is a horrible demonic beast creature that is the source of these gems, and an ancient mystic from the Vaal empire lives inside of it. So you go into the creature and kill the entity called Malachai, thus ending the source of the Corruption.
That was the original game. Then GGG added acts 5 thru 10, which followed your Exile going back to Oriath and killing the head of the Templar Order, which accidentally frees an ancient god of Consumption and Hunger named Kitava, as well as all sorts of Major and Minor gods from antiquitiy. This is NOT GOOD, and you run back to Wraeclast to avoid Kitava and help correct the problems that you yourself created by waking Kitava up. This involves you going around and killing a bunch of ancient gods and seeing how the world changed between the fight with Malachai and the awakening of Kitava (because you sail back to Wraeclast and that takes time vs how you get back to Oriath). Upon defeating Kitava at the end of Act 10, the Endgame Storyline begins, and here is where the change was made.
Originally, you met Zana, who introduces you to the Atlas of Worlds and the Map device, and asks for your help in searching for her lost father within the worlds of the Atlas. You encounter the Shaper, and then the Elder, and a war breaks out between them with you caught in the middle. The finale of that storyline involves the Elder corrupting the Shaper (Who was Zana’s father) and you facing both at the same time, and banishing the Elder back to where ever it comes from and destroying the Shaper.
However, Conquerors of the Atlas now advances the timeline and changes things.
First and foremost, I want to say that I am fairly certain that Conquerors is the way things have gone PRIOR TO Path of Exile 2, as its already been stated that the events of POE 2 will be roughly 20 years after the fall of Kitava at the end of POE 1. Knowing that, the events of Conquerors will make a lot more sense.
Currently, in Conquerors, we meet Officer Kirac after killing Kitava, who asks for our exiles help in locating his missing brother Baran. Baran you see fell in with a terrorist / extremist named Zana (What!) and has been missing for a long time. You follow Kirac in raiding a few new locations in order to build a new map device, and once you do Kirac begins to help you explore a new revamped Atlas.
After progressing far enough (you can learn exactly how by watching this handy video by ZiggyD) you will encounter Zana. She explains that she and a team of 5 Exiles went into the Atlas, and fought and defeated the Shaper and Elder. However, the exiles who went with her kept going back into the Atlas in search of power, and slowly it became apparent to Zana that the Atlas ITSELF was Corrupting those who entered it. Eventually the five exiles broke up and in fear, Zana trapped herself and the five of them inside the Atlas and waited for death.
And then our happy ass with Kirac came along and opened the Atlas back up, and now Zana is worried that the ultra powerful Conquerors will escape back into Wraeclast and Oriath and take over. She asks for our help in finding and defeating the 5 exiles to save the world.
From here it’s all about chasing down the Conquerors and fighting them to eventually face off against the new “Shaper” tier endgame boss. I have managed to face down and kill 2 Conquerors, which given that in previous leagues I have never fought a single Elder, Shaper, or Guardian of either is really awesome. The Conquerors feel more human, and they are much more interactive in my view then Shaper or Elder. You always fight Baran first, and the fight against him and how the interactions work is very fascinating. The second Conqueror I took on was The Hunter, and he was a pain in the rear during the “Taunt” phase, which is where you are chasing them.
The way the new Atlas works does take some getting used to, and understanding how the Watch Stones (Which you get after each of the 4 basic Conqueror fights) work is paramount to understanding how to progress in the map system. Also, I feel it’s a little odd to add in what is clearly Storyline progression into the game when the other events (namely whatever starts POE 2) have not occurred, as it feels a little strange to do the same original 10 acts up to the end, and then suddenly have a time jump to the new Atlas.
Mechanically you now go from the inside of the Atlas outward. There are now 8 regions specifically (4 inner, 4 outer) to explore, and you can socket 4 Watchstones into each of the 8 regions. Socketing Watchstones increases the base Tier of the maps in that region, however from what I can tell existing maps that dropped for those (say the Pier or Beach) will STAY at the tier they originally dropped at. So if you upgrade one of the inner regions once, the first map will now drop at Tier 5, but the ones you already got of that map are still the lower tier variants. However, this new aspect of upgrading means that eventually all maps on the Atlas will be the max Tier, and this will mean you can essentially run the maps you want and still feel rewarded, assuming they drop.
And the drops can STILL be an issue. I have 2 inner regions where I have only EVER Gotten the starter map to drop, and never any connecting ones. This makes progression to the outer corners (which connect to the inner regions) more difficult. Here is a screenshot of my Atlas, and you can see that the bottom half is barely progressed, despite my best efforts at getting map drops for those bottom regions.
Overall the storyline progression however, the new bosses, and the new changes to how the Atlas functions are very welcome. For a casual player like myself even being able to engage and face off with the “Starter” Conquerors is welcome, as it makes me feel like I am actually getting somewhere in the game rather than spinning my wheels.
Another major change, by the way, is how the Master Mission system works. Prior to Conquerors, the Master Missions (Niko, Alva, Zana, Jun, and Einhar) would spawn randomly on your maps. If you had a map in your stash or inventory that matched where they were, you could run it and do their mission. However, they would despawn after a while, which meant that it was possible to miss the missions completely. It made people feel like they had to rush, and the masters could spawn on Maps you had not unlocked yet.
Now, however, you build up charges on the right side of the Atlas (White, Yellow, and Red, matching map tiers, see the image above!) and if you want to run a master mission, like say Niko so you can do some Delves later, you simply go to Niko, choose “Atlas Mission” at the top of his chat, and give HIM the map instead of your Map Device. It will then spawn portals like a normal map run at your Map Device but will always have that master in the Map so you can do their mission. It’s really handy, and lets YOU decide how and when to run certain content. If you like Delving or Incursion like I do, you can very easily run that content.
I cannot wait to see what leagues are coming in the upcoming months to the lead up to POE 2 and I really am excited to see how things progress and change for that version of the game.
Thanks for reading, and if you play POE what do you think of these changes? Right now admittedly the Awakener fight is a bit of a mess and hopefully GGG can fix it (its got some nasty bugs) but overall I like the direction of things.