What is Path of Exile? The best free online action RPG that you have not heard enough about. Atlas of Worlds is the fourth minor expansion (fifth overall) for Path of Exile. It is the first expansion to focus on improving the endgame, in particular, the map system, which has been retooled as — you guessed it, the Atlas of Worlds.

The Atlas of Worlds

The Atlas of Worlds POE

Fun fact: Aside from a collection of maps, an atlas is also a large paper size. This is relevant because the Atlas is huge.

Before the expansion, there were 70 maps in the game. In Atlas of Worlds, there are 30 more, and the previous maps have also been upgraded. The old map system could best be described as a pyramid with more lower-tier maps and less mid-tier and higher-tier instances. With Atlas of Worlds, there are now less low-level maps and more difficult and rewarding challenges.

The Atlas brings more than just improved gameplay. The new maps were the design team’s first dive into height changes. Now, your character can engage in death-defying battles on ramparts before descending to explore lower areas. Another new feature is a random generator that will combine indoor and outdoor areas in maps, mixing the order of city structures with the organic chaos of nature.

The Shaper and His Guardians

The Shaper Path of Exile

Along with new maps come 19 new map bosses. You will encounter them throughout your journey across the Atlas, but your greatest opponents inhabit the four maps linked to the central compass rose. These are tier-16 maps, and each is home to a guardian: the Guardian of the Hydra, Guardian of the Phoenix, Guardian of the Minotaur, and the Guardian of the Chimera. Each defeated guardian drops one of two unique pieces of equipment and a fourth of the key to the creator of the Atlas himself.

At the heart of the Atlas resides the Shaper, the final boss. Little is known about this new character other than he is very old, very powerful, and has either some crazy beard braids or a Cthulhu face. You can decide for yourself which is more frightening.

Going off the Map

While the new endgame is certainly exciting, there is more to the Atlas of Worlds expansion for players to enjoy.

The Essence League

The new challenge league features groups of monsters trapped in different types of essences. By breaking them out and defeating them, you can steal the essence and craft powerful items. Much like the maps, essences will have different tiers and different rarities, and the type of essence will impact how these new encounters play out.

Prophecies

If you missed the previous challenge league, fear not. The Prophecy League’s new character, Navali, as well as the prophecy mechanic, have both been integrated into the game as a permanent feature.

Performance Improvements

Path of Exile’s game engine has been multi-threaded to take full advantage of CPUs. In larger fight situations, the frame rate jump is as much as twice as high, depending on the power of your computer.

Play Your Way

This is perhaps the most important feature of all. If you want, you can ignore the Atlas entirely and run maps using the old system. Yes, you will be missing out on much of the new endgame, but if that is how you want to play, you can. The choice is yours.

Michael Harrison
Banging his head against a keyboard until words fall out of either.