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Interview: Scrying the Future In Path of Exile’s Prophecy Update

11/8/16
Grinding Gear Games can see into the future. How else can you explain Path of Exile’s success and its status as one of the most beloved free-to-play games on the market? Clearly, the GGG team has help from otherworldly sources.

Or maybe the company just has a dev team that’s good at figuring out what players want and is willing to adapt its methods to match those needs. That’s the impression I got when I had a lengthy talk earlier this week with Path of Exile Lead Developer Chris Wilson, who gave me a tour of the game’s imminent update 2.3.0: Prophecy. The update provides more of what every ARPG provides – more loot – but gives players a more satisfying, and less frustrating, way to collect it.

As you’re probably already aware, PoE’s challenge leagues offer players the chance to start fresh every few months with a new character and incentives for powering up that character as quickly as possible. “Something like 60% of the players like the idea of restarting every three months,” Wilson told me. “It lets you take advantage of the content you have in the game, rather than just the endgame stuff.” It’s a great idea, popular with players, and one that I’m surprised more MMOs don’t adopt. In fact, one of PoE’s closest analogs, Diablo 3, has adopted a similar system, which Wilson told me he discussed with some of D3’s devs at GDC.

Prophecy’s challenge league revolves around – you guessed it – prophecies, specifically those given out by a soothsayer named Navali (and her charming pet monkey), whom players will encounter in every town. As you adventure, you’ll regularly come across silver coins that you can turn in to Navali for her to tell you a prophecy about your character. Prophecies range from “You will encounter [Character] and complete his mission” to “You will defeat [difficult boss] with [some handicap].”

At this point, you might be thinking the same thing I was – that “prophecy” is just a fancy word for “quest.” On some level, that’s correct, in that they do give you specific goals with specific rewards, and some prophecies are even parts of longer “prophecy chains” that have several steps to them. These chains teach players about individual mechanics as they go along, to prepare them for an epic encounter at the end of the chain.