We've designed the new Atlas of Worlds end-game experience to be easy for Path of Exile players to get into. Most things work exactly the same way as before, with the Atlas providing an extra layer of progression tracking and customisation on top. As next week's launch approaches, some players have been asking for more information about how certain aspects work. Today's news post delves into specific detail and features a beginner's guide to using the Atlas by ZiggyD!

Initial Maps

As you play through late Merciless difficulty, you are able to find the four maps in the corners of the Atlas. These are tier 1 maps, and the intention is that you accumulate a few to kickstart your Atlas exploration.

The Atlas of Worlds

The Atlas helps you understand what maps can drop in each area, tracks your progress through completing the maps, allows you to upgrade maps and represents mods you have added to areas of the Atlas. It isn't a place to physically store maps and it doesn't grant unlimited access to maps - you still need to find and use map items as normal.

Your progress, upgrades and mods on the Atlas of Worlds are shared between all characters on your account in that league.

Map Drops

For the most part, the map drop system works the same as before. The new rule is that the maps that can drop are from the following groups:
  • Maps you've previously completed in this league (including on other characters).
  • Maps that are connected to the one you're playing on the Atlas.
  • Tier 1 maps.
When a map drops, its tier is entirely unchanged by the choice of which maps you have unlocked so far. Unlocking more maps doesn't change how many of a specific tier you receive (but increases the number of different maps that you see at that tier).

Unique maps work the same as other maps. They only drop in maps they are connected to on the Atlas until you have completed them once. Then they drop as normal. As missions, Zana can offer you unique maps that you haven't unlocked yet. These may be lower level than the level of the actual unique map is now.

Map Completion

When a map has been completed, it becomes available to drop in other maps, regardless of whether they're connected. (The regular rules still apply, so the highest map you can get from an area is two tiers above that area).

Usually completion means just killing the boss of the map, but for certain unique maps without bosses, it means opening a specific unique chest.

Completing Zana missions doesn't count as map completion on the Atlas.

Cumulative Map Tier Bonus

Performing the bonus objective in each type of map unlocks a cumulative 1% chance for a map drop to upgrade by one tier. For example, if you have done this in 60 different types of maps, then you have a 60% chance that a map drop is upgraded by one tier. A chance higher than 100% means that the remainder is used to roll whether the upgrade is two tiers. The total bonus is displayed on the Atlas screen.

The objectives that unlock this bonus are:
  • White Maps (Tiers 1-5) and Unique Maps: Kill the map boss or open the designated unique chest (for maps without a boss).
  • Yellow Maps (Tiers 6-10): Kill the map boss in a rare version of the map.
  • Red Maps (Tiers 11-16): Kill the map boss in a corrupted rare version of the map.

Shaper's Orbs

Shaper's Orbs are reward items that upgrade maps of specific tiers to Shaped versions of those maps, which are five tiers higher.

There are fifteen available, and they are distributed among specific maps in the Atlas (one at each of map tiers 6-12, two at tier 13, and three each at tiers 14 and 15). Earning the 1% cumulative map quantity bonus mentioned above earns you the Shaper's Orb from that map, if it has one.

Generally you earn a tier X Shaper's Orb from completing a tier X+5 map. For example, if you complete a tier 15 map that has a Shaper's Orb as the reward, then you'll receive a tier 10 Shaper's Orb, allowing you to upgrade a tier 10 map of your choice to tier 15.

Shaper's Orbs are essentially quest items, in that they are non-tradeable. You can respec the decision to upgrade a map by trading 20 Cartographer's Chisels and 5 Orbs of Regret to a vendor. This is intentionally an expensive operation.

When a map on the Atlas has been Shaped, it doesn't change any of the existing maps you own. However, Shaped versions of that map will now start dropping. Unshaped versions will not drop for you any more. These Shaped maps are five tiers higher than their regular Unshaped counterparts. They can be traded to other players. Like the rest of the Atlas, map Shaping is shared between all your characters in the league.

All items (including the new base types) dropped in these Shaped maps are five item levels higher than they would otherwise be.

Cartographer's Sextants

Cartographer's Sextants are items that drop in maps and can be traded with other players. Using one on a map adds a mod to that map that also applies to nearby maps within a radius. These mods are a mixture of ones that make the maps easier, harder, or have a tradeoff that you may be able to swing in your favour.

There are three types of Cartographer's Sextant: Apprentice, Journeyman and Master's. These work on and start dropping in white, yellow and red maps respectively. To be clear, this means that the red ones (Master's Cartographer's Sextants) are rarer and hard to obtain. It's more expensive to put mods on red maps for this reason.

Mods on a map of one colour can affect nearby maps of other colours.

Each mod applies three times and a use is consumed when you create a map of a type affected by the mod. We may change this number of uses as we continue to balance the system.

Trading Maps

You can trade for maps and play them regardless of which ones you've previously completed. If you trade for a map and complete it then it unlocks on your Atlas, even if it's not connected to any other ones.

Standard Players and Legacy Maps

Many players in the permanent standard and hardcore leagues have legacy maps that use either the pre-2.0.0 or post-2.0.0 art. These old maps will still function at their old tiers. For example, if you take a Gorge map from Ascendancy and run it in Atlas of Worlds, it'll still be tier 9.

The maps do inherit the new layouts and new boss fights that are introduced in Atlas of Worlds. They drop new maps rather than legacy ones.

If you complete a legacy map, then it'll unlock an equivalent map of the same tier as well as all the maps leading up to that map. This allows you to catch up with your Atlas progress quickly.

Map Corruption and Upgrading

Combining three maps at the vendor upgrades to a specific map from the next tier up, connected via the Atlas. Corrupting a map will upgrade to a connected higher-level map also. If there are several connected ones to pick from, one is randomly chosen as a corruption outcome.

The Vaal Temple map is now Tier 16.

The Guardians of the Void and Shaper

There are four Tier 16 maps that contain a boss fight with one of the Guardians of the Void. When you kill the Guardian, you receive a fragment specific to that Guardian. All four can be combined in the map device (like with Atziri's area) to allow access to the area containing the final Shaper fight. This final area isn't a map itself so it can't be crafted. These fragments give +10% item quantity when combined with other maps in the map device.

ZiggyD's Beginner's Guide to the Atlas of Worlds

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Grinding Gear Games

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