Path of Exile is a free-to-play action RPG which draws inspiration from classic Diablo games. Set in the gothic world of Wraeclast, players have access to hundreds of combinations of spells and abilities, granting unprecedented gameplay style tweaking.

Lacking any form of pay-to-win mechanics, Path of Exile is funded largely via cosmetic microtransactions, and received regular large free content drops as a result. The next expansion, "Delve," is among the largest yet.

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An infinite haunted mine

Delve is Path of Exile's first "infinite" dungeon crawl, taking place in dark, corrupted mines and tunnels. An inventor named Niko the Mad has concocted a steampunk solution to help players traverse the mine, where darkness can truly be lethal. Players will tether themselves to Niko's Crawler, which proceeds deep into the mine's caverns laying powered cables and lamps, helping light the way.

The mines are rumoured to be crammed with powerful rewards and hidden treasures, although finding your way to them won't be easy.

How Delve works

Players can begin exploring Delve content within the game's first act. Niko the Mad will offer his machine in return for Voltaxic Sulphite, a new resource which appears all around Wraeclast. The more Sulphite you have, the deeper you can go into the mines. You can choose to do quick Delves early on, or stockpile the Sulphite for a mammoth session later. Niko will be around to provide fast transport to the mine, so you won't have to wait long before getting to this new content.

Players must stay next to the Crawler as they enter the mine, as the damage from the dark spell hanging over the mine will rapidly become lethal. Grinding Gear has enlisted the aid of new lighting tech to make Delve that bit extra vivid, since lighting plays such a huge role in the game mechanics of each incursion.

Despite the fact the Crawler takes a linear path, the dungeon itself is anything but. Powerful rewards may be waiting off the beaten path, if you're brave enough to step into the dark, or, at least, have the tools. Players can use special flares to create temporary light sources even while away from the Crawler, to improve their ability to wander around the darkened tombs. Be wary though — even a few seconds out of the light can spell instant death, but the rewards might just be worth it. The Crawler will wait patiently for you if you stray too far away, thankfully.

Once the Crawler gets to its destination, it will drop all of the loot you have scooped up, allowing you to manage your inventory in relative safety.

The Subterranean Chart

Towards the end of each Delve, there will be some form of event or boss battle, granting a final powerful reward. Once the Crawler has finishing setting cables in this area, new randomly generated areas will be revealed for your progression deeper into the mine shafts.

Using Azurite found in the mines, players can upgrade various Delve-specific gameplay mechanics. You can improve your resistance to the darkness damage you take away from the light, you can also improve the power of your flares and their longevity. You can also purchase dynamite to break down walls which might be blocking access to even more treasure. It's possible to upgrade your tools to the point where you can traverse extremely far away from the Crawler, using powerful flares and darkness resistance.

The Subterranean Chart helps you decide which area to traverse next, indicating what types of treasures, environments, and hazards they might find in the next section. Delve also tracks player behaviour and prowess using new tech, creating league tables that showcase the most powerful builds, most powerful players, and those who reach the deepest levels of the mines, adding a competitive element.

More control over your playstyle

Choosing which biomes to traverse through the procedurally generated mines isn't the only way to help you decide what sort of rewards you'll get. Delve introduces a new socket system for crafting that allows you to constrain or emphasize certain stats from the random generator.

Delve also revamps several existing abilities, while adding new ones. Toxic Rain is a new bow skill, for example, creating poisonous spores that constrain enemies with thorny vines, before exploding. Grinding Gear has paid close attention to the game's most popular builds to include new ways to augment and improve them, adding abilities that purposefully intersect with each other.

Delve also adds 18 new unique items. Half of these will be found in the depths of the Delve mines, and add very powerful, playstyle-defining bonuses.

Path of Exile: Delve release date

Delve releases for free on August 31 for PC, and September 3 on Xbox One. Will you be diving in? Let us know in the comments.

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