Path of Exile's War for the Atlas expansion out now, revamps the ARPG's endgame

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Path of Exile (opens in new tab)'s latest expansion is out now, and completely changes the way that the ARPG's endgame works. It adds 32 new maps to battle through, each of which has a boss at the end, as well as four powerful Elder Guardians that you'll have to defeat before you reach the new bid bad: the Elder.

Before the update you fought through randomly generated maps to reach the Shaper, a Cthulhu-looking boss. Now, the Shaper and the Elder are at war, trying to separately spread their taint across the map. These taints affect the way maps look and feel: the Elder's minions will literally suck the colour out of the world, weakening your character if they're nearby, for example.

By choosing a particular path you'll be able to control the spread of both bosses, shepherding them towards particular maps, or fighting back against the taint of one in particular, allowing the other to take over. 

This will let you to determine the type of loot you get in certain areas (and there's buckets of new, rare items to get your mitts on), and control zones that you want to farm for goodies. It's a fairly complex system that Steven interviewed the developers about last month (opens in new tab).

The update also adds new character customisation options, with four new skills gems focused on necromancy and six support gems.

Lastly, it adds a new challenge league called the Abyss. There, you'll wander maps in search of cracks that nasties will spill out of. Follow the cracks and you'll find a bigger group of enemies climbing out of a hole in the ground. Slay them all and new cracks will appear, leading you to another hole, and so on. The enemies get more challenging as you progress and you get less time to clear them. 

Read more about the update here (opens in new tab), and again, read Steven's interview (opens in new tab) with the devs if you're interested.

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play. He's now a full-time reporter covering health at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. When he does have time for games you may find him on the floor, struggling under the weight of his Steam backlog.