Path of Exile’s new Harvest league is Stardew Valley meets Diablo

Path of Exile: Harvest is all about farming monsters. Literally. As the name suggests, the newest league and expansion to the ongoing ARPG is all about creating your own farm – except you won’t be harvesting tasty crops when your seeds sprout. Instead, when your plants are ready to harvest they spawn a batch of monsters for you to slay, and if you succeed, you can hoover up their lifeforce with condensers and use it to craft powerful items.

Developer Grinding Gear Games is aware that not all of its players want to play a farming game, so has made every effort to ensure setting up and maintaining your monster farm is a simple task. GGG is also keen to differentiate this league from the previous, combat-heavy Delirium league, so while there will still be a lot of maiming, you’ll need to be creative in order to get the best rewards.

Of course the upcoming Harvest league also means reworks to skills and combat styles, and plenty of new legendary gear. We’ve had a sneak peek of the new league and content coming to PoE 3.11, so read on for everything we know about Harvest.

POE 3.11 RELEASE DATE: WHEN IS HARVEST COMING OUT?

The PoE 3.11 release date is June 19, 2020 for PC, and the week of June 22, 2020 on Xbox One and PS4. Grinding Gear Games’ managing director Chris Wilson insists that the June 19 release date for Harvest is provisional, and given the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to guarantee an exact launch date.

HARVEST LEAGUE OVERVIEW

The Harvest league opens with you meeting a new NPC, Oshabi. Ostracised from her people, the superstitious Azmeri, her interest in the potential of horticulture has inspired her to seek out a new identity. She discovers a new area called the Sacred Grove, which is an ancient and mysterious garden. To help her in her quest of self-discovery, she enlists Exiles to help her realise her monster-farming dreams.

Magical tree roots indicate the locations of seed caches

What this means for you is that as you play through Path of Exile you’ll come across magical tree roots that indicate the locations of seed caches – there’s at least one in every area of the game. Each cache drops a selection of seeds that can then be planted in the Sacred Grove. Oshabi will open a portal to the grove every time you open a cache, so it’s a pretty instantaneous process and shouldn’t keep you from slaughtering mobs for too long.

Once in the Sacred Grove you can plant the seeds wherever you want, but there’s a lot to consider in that decision as we explain below. You’ll also need to build a Collector near any seeds so you can suck up all of that sweet lifeforce once they’ve bloomed – just click the Collector and the plants will erupt with monsters to battle.

How seeds work

There are three seed types, and each one is denoted by a different colour. The seed types are Vivid, Primal, and Wild. Seed growth is triggered every time you open a seed cache – each time you do, you’ll start a growth cycle and all of the plants in your garden grow a little bit more.

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Seeds also have tier grades. Tier one seeds are pretty simple and only need to be planted close to a Collector of the same type.

Tier two seeds are a little more fussy, but obviously bring greater rewards – this will lead to some pretty complicated gardening solutions from players who want to maximise their harvest. Expect some tier two seeds to require certain seed neighbours, irrigation, and more.

Tier three seeds can occasionally drop from the monsters you kill from tier two seeds. GGG didn’t go into details, but assures us that tier three seeds will be even harder to grow.

Harvesting time

Of course the main focus isn’t on growing a lovely garden, it’s reaping the harvest… literally. The goal with these moments is to ensure players can create the boss fights of their dreams, and the reward you get after you win is a big part of that. You can harvest up to 48 plants in one instance, so the combinations for fights are expansive to say the least.

There are even some distinct endgame level bosses that can be grown with the right combinations and tier three seeds, too. There are three of these encounters, one for each of the three seed types, but a fourth, even trickier foe has been teased.

Crafting

When it comes to crafting, Grinding Gear Games hopes to set a very different pace for the Harvest league. Successive leagues require more and more rewards in order to feel, well, rewarding, and to combat this inflationary cycle, Harvest’s rewards will be less frequent but more significant, as you control what loot you get through the garden you build.

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Different seed types create different crafting options that are available after you’ve completed a harvest. So the more seeds you’ve got, the more options you’ll have to steer the loot in your favour, with seeds of higher tiers or rarity offering some very unusual crafting traits. To get the best rewards you’ll need a garden full of variety so that you can meet the lofty lifeforce requirements of the top tier of crafting options.

New unique items

In addition to the new mechanics introduced in Harvest, the new league will also add 12 unique items to the game, some of which will be rewards from the league itself. Grinding Gear Games has shown off two of these to whet your appetite.

The first new unique item is called Doryani’s Prototype Unique Armour and is designed with lightning builds in mind. First, it only allows you to deal lightning damage – crucially, it won’t convert your damage to lightning, it just means all non-lightning damage in your build is gone.

The new league will add 12 unique items to the game

However, to make up for this all enemies will have the same lightning resistance as you – so if you keep yours low you can deal absurdly high lightning damage to enemies, with the obvious corollary that you will be be very vulnerable to lightning damage in turn. The last trait to consider is that normal armour will contribute to your lightning resistance, but as a spellcaster it’s difficult to equip particularly tanky gear. Figure out this puzzle and you could have a very distinct and mighty new PoE build.

Another new unique item is the Storm Secret Unique Ring, which is designed for Herald Bomber builds. This ring essentially buffs a common utility skill called Herald of Thunder by increasing the frequency of the shocks, allowing you to use it as a primary source of damage as it will constantly be zapping enemies around you.

Two-handed weapon buffs

GGG aims to bring two-handed weapon buffs back into the meta with a series of subtle skill adjustments and stat bumps. Two-handed weapons are being buffed across the board with improved passive skills to support them, but the most significant tweak is that several melee skills are being reworked into slam skills that are more beneficial for two-handed builds.

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For example, the Fist of War support gem is designed to work better with two-handed weapons. This will augment your attacks so that every few seconds a spirit appears above your head and helps you out by supercharging an attack. While this gem works with one-handed weapons, the effect is substantially weaker than with two-handed weapons as it only helps with a single attack.

There are many, many more tweaks being made alongside the launch of Harvest and heaps to explore when it launches, so there’s plenty for PoE players to look forward when 3.11 drops.