Many action RPG fans are keeping their eyes on Path of Exile. There are countless reasons why and more keep coming. Path of Exile started as a game being developed by a small group of designers and has gained traction with the community throughout it’s closed beta development. The team has grown through time and the additional members are helping really polish the game. Already the game is deep, as you can see in this preview from a few months ago. End game is what any action RPG is about and Grinding Gear Games has been trying out multiple methods to make sure the game has long legs that will live up to the legacy left by games like Diablo 2. So last night, when my twitter feed showed a preview of the new map system I got so giddy I tried to explain what they were doing with the game to my wife (she doesn’t care about games at all). I won’t post the full break down here, but I will cover a few important points then send you to the dev diary that explains the system in great detail.

In the upcoming 0.9.11 patch, we’re revamping Path of Exile’s end-game to introduce a new system known as Maps. Players in high level areas can find Map items that allow them to travel to random end-game areas featuring bosses, awesome equipment and more Maps.

Maps can drop as normal, magic, rare or unique with higher rarity Maps yielding more items. Using a Map item opens six portals to the area, which can each only be used once. Like most other items in Path of Exile, Maps have mods that change their risks and rewards. Map mods can affect the size or complexity of the level, monster packs, monster properties or even alter characters while in the level. Players can modify Maps themselves using their currency items. For example, you can use an Orb of Transmutation to turn a normal Map into a magic Map, or use an Orb of Alteration to reroll its mods.

We’re sure the result is a highly replayable, challenging and varied end-game that will make Path of Exile fun for a long time to come. This development diary describes the design process of this system and how it works.

For those that have not followed the game at all, here is the basic idea. Maps drop as random items that open up portals to randomly generated end game areas. They range from level 60-69 and can only be obtained within instances created with maps, or as drops from the regular games end bosses. To make matters more interesting, the maps drop just like any magic item, they have mods that make them more difficult (never easier) and increase the quantity of items dropped. PoE doesn’t use a traditional gold based economy model, instead using currency items are items that players need to make better items, alter their gear, identify loot and the like.

The currency system makes it extremely difficult for gold famers or botters to get into the game and ruin the economy. That means the map system should be protected from a constant influx of drops and instead will become a hot commodity as players try to find the right map for their current power level. Each map will open six portals that can be used one time before closing. You could take five other friends with you, use each portal once, and hope for another map drop. Or you could go it alone and use each of the six portals for yourself, in case of death, or need to drop off loot. There will also be “legendary” type maps that include special properties that are extremely rare to find. Take a glance at this one.

The team says that more will be added after the initial closed beta testing of the map system and I can’t wait to see what other wild ideas they come up with. Path of Exile is a free to play game that does not offer any pay to win options. You can get in the closed beta by signing up and hoping for an invite, or become a supporter on their page for ten bucks or more. There aren’t many companies left that are making games with this complexity as independent groups and giving the game a shot wont cost you a penny when it launches into open beta (hopefully) sometime in August.

Read the full break down of this new system here. After you check that out, explore the site some to learn more about the game. If you decide to take the plunge, let me know, I’m on frequently and would love to group up with some of you guys. RipTen fans are my favorite type of fans and I would be more than happy to spend my time in Exile with each of you.