In Path of Exile, Leagues are for most players the main way through which they play the game, but if you're new to Path of Exile, you may not understand what they are or how they work, and even if you're a PoE veteran, you may entirely know what goes into a League. So, in this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Leagues in Path of Exile.
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Leagues Are Like Seasons But Better
In Path of Exile, the game is played in the context of a campaign split into acts. However, this more or less just means that every act is a new area with new locations, and you can fast travel to any area in any act whenever you want. Once you complete the campaign, there are different locations you can travel to within the campaign where you can do endgame activities alongside a custom-map system that makes up the majority of endgame content.
This whole campaign, and your characters, exists in the context of a League. There are permanent Leagues, like the Standard League, and then there are Hardcore and Solo versions of the Standard League. But there are also temporary Leagues that currently come on a 3-month schedule every year. These Leagues are like seasons.
Each new temporary League introduces new mechanics and content to the game, and when you enter a temporary League, you've got to create a new character, which means that each League has a fresh economy. Once a temporary League ends, your character in that League is rolled over into the Standard League where you can continue playing forever.
You can swap characters between Leagues or transfer items and loot between Leagues. A temporary League character stays in that League until the League ends and it's transferred over to Standard. This is done to make sure everyone has a fresh start in a League and give all players a chance to experience the new content on an equal footing with everybody else.
Temporary Leagues Are Kind of Permanent
So, temporary Leagues add in new content. But what kind? Usually new game systems. For example, the latest League right now, Sentinel, introduces Sentinels. These are floating machines that can empower enemies and make them drop better loot. There are different kinds of Sentinels of different rarities and an entire Sentinel skill tree with different things to unlock, among other things. Suffice it to say that usually a new League means a new way of playing the game.
However, the changes that a new League introduces come to Standard League, too. Not all the changes at the same time, and sometimes things don't get added, but the main point is that the content of each league gets folded into the larger game, meaning that Standard (and new Leagues) has the features of previous Leagues, too. It's like an ever-expanding game that gets successively more systems and stuff to do.
Leagues, then, are more like expansions and seasons rolled into one rather than simply being temporary time-gated content or anything like that.
Path of Exile 2 and Future Leagues
Path of Exile 2 is coming, and Grinding Gear Games is hard at work on this sequel that's reported to drop sometime in 2024, at the moment. The unique thing about Path of Exile 2 is that it's coming to the original Path of Exile client. PoE 2 will come in the form of a new campaign (alongside new systems, graphics, and everything else) that will also dump players into the same custom-map endgame of the original PoE.
It's currently unclear if systems from PoE 2 will come to the original PoE campaign, though it does seem likely some level of engine or graphical enhancements will come to PoE if the sequel is coming to the same client. However, it also seems likely that PoE 2 will come in the form of a new set of Leagues. There'll likely be a PoE 2 Standard League that will then play into new PoE 2 temporary Leagues.
This could also mean that the original PoE could continue to get new Leagues after PoE 2 releases, but that's unclear. However, if PoE 2 is coming to the PoE client, this will almost certainly have to come in the form of different Leagues with different campaigns, so Leagues will inevitably expand to cover an even larger swath of content.