PoE 3.5: The Betrayal League for Free
The new Betrayal League has been announced as the PoE 3.5 expansion! It will be launching on December 8th, at which point you will be able to experience all of the new league content for yourself, free of charge. This league brings with it a new mechanic, as usual, but it also brings a ton of changes to existing systems – particularly in regards to masters. Let’s delve (no pun intended) into it.
What is the new mechanic for PoE 3.5?
The new mechanic is the Immortal Syndicate. You will team up with a new master, Jun Ortoi, in order to bring the syndicate down. The syndicate has four factions, each with their own encounters. The encounters each fall under the theme of fortification, transportation, research, and intervention. You will encounter one of these four syndicate encounters in every single zone, similar to Incursion. Once you have defeated the syndicate, you will choose what to do with the surviving syndicate member or members. You can execute them or interrogate them, and potentially other options we have not seen yet. Your choice will move around the board of syndicate members, potentially getting you a step closer to one of the syndicate heads.
If you have played Shadow of Mordor, the syndicate system appears to be nearly identical to their system of execution or interrogation. Presumably, you can use the system to power up certain leaders or weaken them, prior to your encounter. How you will encounter each syndicate enemy is currently a mystery to us, something we’ll have to find out closer to the league’s launch.
One thing we do know is that the Immortal Syndicate enemies will drop certain ‘veiled’ gear, which comes with a shadowy line of text on them. This line can be taken to Jun, who will offer three options for you to choose from. The example in the video included +1 to maximum skeletons, as well as “You can apply an additional Curse,” so they can certainly be pretty amazing.
What happened to the Masters?
The biggest change that we’ve seen so far is the master rework. The existing masters have all been removed, and it is heavily implied that they will be the Immortal Syndicate’s leaders. This means that none of the existing master missions will exist, and more than likely much of the crafting system will be reworked (we’ve seen some changes already, we have yet to see exactly how it will work). For many, this will be an incredible change. Not having to do Vorici or Catarina missions anymore? Yes, please! I myself am extremely excited about this change, and it only gets better when you hear what has replaced the existing masters.
There will be five new masters in 3.5. Jun Ortoi truly is a new master, I did not misspeak earlier. The other four you’ll already know if you’ve played Path of Exile over the last year. They are Zana, Einhar, Alva, and Niko. I’ll just say now, this is the change I am most looking forward to, by a significant margin. For those who are unaware, these masters are (mostly) related to prior league content. And not just any league content, some of the best content we’ve ever had. Alva is the Incursion league NPC, bringing back temples. Niko is the Delve NPC, bringing back the infinite dungeon. We all know Zana, but she’s been my (and many others’) favorite master for a long time, so I’m quite happy with her continuing on.
The last of the new masters is Einhar. He was the NPC introduced during Bestiary, the league with the worst reception since I started playing in 2.6. However, his missions seem very reasonable. Most importantly, he catches the beast for you, there’s no fiddling with nets. His missions seem very similar to the existing Vagan missions: he summons a beast, you defeat it, he catches it. Or at least that’s the one they briefly showcased. The crafting system itself from Bestiary was excellent, it was just catching the beasts that was a massive pain. This should solve both systems, and if implemented correctly, should be incredible.
The fact that there are only five masters now will also let you level them up far quicker since you’ll encounter each more frequently. It will also let you properly interact with the past league content – particularly Delve and Incursion – in a timely manner, rather than only once in a blue moon. We’ll still have to see exactly how each of the masters is implemented, but I am quite hopeful for this change.
What new Skills are there?
Betrayal will be introducing ten new or revamped skills. “These include several completely new types of skills, such as Brands and Banners”. Of these ten skills, the Ice Nova, Ice Spear, and Vortex reworks have already been revealed, which leaves seven to go. We know that Arctic Breath and Tectonic Slam will also be reworked, leaving five entirely new skills. Of the new skills, Shattering Steel, Lancing Steel, and Winter Orb have been spoiled on the site and in the launch trailer.
From the release site, banners can be cast once and then carried alongside you, weakening enemies and buffing allies. The banners gain stages while you meet certain requirements, and can be recast to be placed, doubling the effects and increasing the area. These banners seem like additional auras/curses that can be reactivated to be doubly as effective – a great way to finish off a map in style. If the Banners do not reserve any mana or have difficult requirements, they will be a huge bonus to our existing playstyles.
Brands are cast on the ground and then will latch on to enemies that approach them. This sounds very similar to the way Traps currently function, with one major change: when a branded enemy dies, they drop the brand, allowing it to jump to another enemy. Traps meets Contagion!
For more Path of Exile, check this out: A PoE Atlas Guide to Minimize Feeling Overwhelmed in the End-Game
Final Word, for Now
With the release of PoE 3.5, Betrayal League, there will be a standard new mechanic, as well as a host of new and reworked skills. This new content is looking incredible, but the major change for myself is the master rework. The removal of the old masters and replacement with all my favorite NPCs is something that we can all look forward to, not just for this league, but all of them going forwards!