Path of Exile: Echoes of Atlas is Grinding Gear’s most downloaded expansion

Path of Exile continues to grind out success more than seven years after its launch. Grinding Gear Games announced today that Echoes of Atlas is its most downloaded expansion.

Echoes of Atlas is Path of Exile’s 35th expansion or update. The free-to-play online action-RPG (think Diablo) launched January 16 on PC and January 20 on PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Grinding Gear said that at launch, Echoes of Atlas had 265,250 concurrent players on Steam, making it the fourth most popular game on the giant PC gaming platform. And since launch, the New Zealand studio said player numbers have been 11% higher than any previous Path of Exile launch. This beats the engagement from March’s Delirium expansion, when COVID-19 was first raging across the globe.

And with lockdowns returning, it’d be easy to say that’s what is driving these numbers. And while they are helping, Grinding Gear Games general manager Chris Wilson (no relation to the writer — Ed.) says Echoes of Atlas is drawing this reception for other reasons.

“In addition to being a really smooth launch, Echoes of the Atlas has something for every type of Path of Exile player,” Wilson said over email. “For the most hardcore players, we gave them new pinnacle content to test themselves against as well as new ways to control the content they engage in. For the average Path of Exile player, we created new ways to play and explore the world of Wraeclast by rebalancing all of our Ascendancy classes. For new and existing players alike, the Ritual League offers an engaging mechanic for both looting and fighting which players can jump into from the outset.

“We feel that the Echoes of the Atlas expansion hits all the right notes with regard to what makes Path of Exile great — engaging combat, rewarding systems and flexibility in gameplay options.”

Leagues are the worlds in which you play in. A Standard league is what the average player, like me, is in. Hardcore leagues are for more advanced players. Ritual is a Challenge league, a temporary one that features monster fights and exclusive loot.

And while this isn’t the first time Path of Exile has reached into the Top 5 on Steam, Wilson knows it’s still an impressive feat, especially with so many big games on Valve’s service.

“It’s typical that each expansion launches us into the top five on Steam. As the game industry grows and more games hit the scene, the top charts are getting crowded so it’s become harder to retain the top spot with the natural ebb and flow of our releases. It’s now taking twice as many concurrent players to get up there than it did a few years ago,” he said. “We also have Path of Exile fans on an increasing number of platforms, which means some of our growth isn’t reflected on Steam. We’re still so happy every time we see Path of Exile among other heavy-hitters in the industry.”

Wilson expects similar success on console platforms as well.

Echoes of Path of Exile 2

In November 2019, Grinding Gear announced Path of Exile 2. It will feature a seven-act campaign, but the original Path of Exile campaign will also be available (as will all content from expansions). It will also add a new skill system, classes, and game engine improvements.

Echoes of the Atlas gives Path players a taste of what they can expect from the sequel.

“The 11 new maps introduced alongside the Echoes of the Atlas are indicative of the graphical quality that can be expected from Path of Exile 2. Our current philosophy of careful development scoping we used for Echoes of the Atlas also allows us to focus on Path of Exile 2 while still pushing our quarterly expansions for the original game,” Wilson said.

And with Diablo IV news looming next month during BlizzCon Online, giving Path of Exile players a taste of what their futures look like sounds like a smart idea.

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