‘Path of Exile 2’ demo reveals how the internet has changed game sequels

Path of Exile 2 is part of a trailblazing movement to redefine one of the difficult things about making a video game: the sequel.

Eight years after the original Path of Exile’s release, developer-publisher Grinding Gear Games is almost ready to release the follow-up to its free-to-play online dungeon-crawler. But unlike the sequels you might be used to that force players to start over from scratch, Path of Exile 2 is trying something different — especially when compared to its biggest competition: Diablo and the upcoming Diablo IV.

In the age of online games, engaging with community feedback is crucial if developers want players to sink hundreds of hours into a single title. As such, a completely disconnected sequel just doesn’t cut it for some franchises anymore. This new kind of sequel embraces the franchise’s past while introducing new features and levels without splitting the fanbase.

So far, we’ve seen Hitman 3 incorporate the levels from Hitman and Hitman 2 into one “World of Assassination” trilogy that players can access through one application. Overwatch 2 will also do something similar by sharing multiplayer and new heroes with its predecessor.

In Path of Exile 2’s case, the sequel offers a completely new campaign with unique weapons and monsters. Despite that, some gameplay improvements will carry over to the original, and Path of Exile 2 will share a launch client and endgame with Path of Exile, seven years after its launch.

Grinding Gear Games’ Co-Founder Chris Wilson tells Inverse that the core rationale behind this decision is that the developers don’t want to fracture their community and still want to support the original Path of Exile. “It allows us to have people still be able to use their old characters and all their old purchases, so it’s no bad feels there,” he explains.

Sequels to still-active games can risk feeling unnecessary in the larger scheme of the franchise, especially for a game like Path of Exile that receives constant expansions. Black Ops Cold War certainly felt a bit superfluous amid the success and continued support for Modern Warfare and Warzone, for example. By embracing its predecessor, Wilson’s hope is that new and old Path of Exile players alike will embrace the sequel and its changes.

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