Abyss Content Integration


Abyss was introduced in 3.1.0 on December 4 alongside the War for the Atlas expansion. While it was released alongside an expansion, War for the Atlas only affected the endgame. This made the league the only new content players would see until they got up to maps.

A lot of effort went into making Abyss. We took the best elements of old leagues, as well as developing new technology for its signature element - The Abyss cracks required a big effort in both art and technology to make them conform to terrain and to look awesome on most ground types.

We made new monsters specifically for Abyss. We also pushed the rewards as far as we felt we could. Abyss Jewels were comparable to other Jewels on the passive tree and opened up new build possibilities. The Stygian Vise belt base type and uniques which let you place the Jewels in your gear made them even more powerful.

Pros and Cons of Keeping the Content

This combination of factors gave us an interesting problem regarding whether we immediately roll Abyss into the core game when it ends. The league has strong drivers for both being retained and not retained. Abysses were popular and fun content to run, and importantly, integrated well with level generation in a way other leagues haven't. This makes it good content to keep, and possible to use in main storyline content without feeling too out of place.

The Jewels, and especially the new belt base type, make Abyss a difficult league to keep. The belt easily becomes the best belt choice, as the Jewel you get to wear outstrips other implicits on belts. It is fine to have a league where builds are different and interesting, and pushed in a certain direction, but it makes it hard to keep the content permanently.

If we kept the monsters and ground cracks, but not the rewards, we don't think that would be a popular choice. Nerfing the rewards heavily and keeping the content would let us keep the content but would mar it as far as players would be concerned.

Having worked out it was such strong content to keep, we looked hard at the rewards. The Jewels are fine in context of the passive skill tree. It was the Stygian Vise belt which caused us the biggest problems. Could we keep the league except for the belt? We decided we didn't want to do that, but we could keep the league and reserve the belt only for later in the game. At high levels, the belt base also competes with Elder and Shaper belts on other bases.

The Specifics

So having worked out that we want to keep the league, what are the details of how we integrate it? We decided to add the content from Part Two (i.e. the start of Act Six) onwards. It works well with existing level design, so we can keep it in the levelling content. It is fairly intrusive to play, so we opted to keep it entirely out of Part One, and then introduce it when another significant change has also happened to the world.

The content will extend into Maps. We decided to delay Abyssal Depths from occurring until maps. In the league, Abyssal Depths happened around level 40, so we are basically pushing the league content (and also the Depths) further into the game.

Abysses will occur 10% of the time in instances, with some adjustments for smaller and special areas. The 10% will also apply in maps. As Breaches will occur 10% of the time in maps, players have a considerable chance of finding either a Breach or Abyss in their map.

We have increased the odds of a Lich occuring in the Depths, so there is a still a reasonable chance of finding them, despite Abysses being much less common than they were in the league.

Abyssal Depths and Troves will also be able to drop maps, so the content will never be penalising to play.


Abyss Jewels and Stygian Vises make up much of the reward for the league. Abysses will still have good general drops from their Troves, and Depths will continue to be rewarding. However we will reduce the shower of Jewels from each Abyss. An Abyss will have a magic Jewel, and some chance of a rare Jewel.

Belts will now only come from Depths and Liches. There will always be a Stygian Vise drop from a Stygian Spire or a Lich.

As these bases are now only available from this side content, there is now no chance of a Stygian Vise also being an Elder or Shaper item. While this combination does occur in the League, this will not be the case once the content is in the core game. This is a conscious move, to allow there to be effective competitors for the belt slot in top tier play.

While Abyss Jewels and Stygian Vises will be much less common than they were in the league, we still expect that Abyss content being the only way to get these valued items will make the content worth doing.

Abyss Uniques

The Abyss uniques succeeded in being valuable items, and are very close to the line of being too powerful to keep. They did make interesting builds, and we feel they make a fine addition to the game.

We have flattened the odds of the two liches and the unique chances to make the rarest items similar in availability to how they were during Abyss league.

We have increased the odds of a unique having a second Abyssal socket, again to keep these available. We have prevented the Shroud of the Lightless item from having a second socket, as it was the one unique that became less valued when it had a second socket.

Looking at specific unique items: Bubonic Trail is strong, we but have decided it did not need any changes.

Lightpoacher, on the other hand, dances well into the territory of broken mechanics. We decided a mid-league nerf wasn't justified for an item with limited availability. However for the permanent leagues we will be making some changes: Lightpoacher projectiles now travel a limited distance. Increasing or reducing projectile speed will adjust this distance. Lightpoacher projectiles no longer always Pierce. This does, however, allow players to invest in alternatives such as Chain or Fork instead.


We put a lot of effort, planning, and risk into making the Abyss League. We are very happy it paid off, and it turned into one of the best leagues we have done. The content and monsters are a fun addition to general play. The items brought by Abyss have opened up new build possibilities and increased the depth of player choice.

We also knew it was content well worth keeping, and are glad we have found what we believe is a good compromise between the power too good to keep, and too good not to keep. We feel we have found a good compromise for the Stygian Vise belt base that will not take over the belt slot choices as much as it did during the league.

We look forward to seeing you all enjoying Abyss content in 3.2.0 along with all the other new content that release will bring.

Last bumped on Mar 4, 2019, 8:50:58 AM
tldr: never seeing abyss belts to hella late into the game. good choice ggg
Last edited by Zushis on Feb 7, 2018, 12:42:40 AM
i still hope we get some endgame gamplay content that is fun ... and not maps and more maps again and again. For me this 3.1 was again mid-game stuff.
IGN : FireHC
Last edited by Achilion on Feb 7, 2018, 12:42:25 AM
very nice!
"Path of Exile's engine is currently modern, lean and fast." - Chris Wilson, September 19th, 2019
Very nice write up, looks good.
Good news!
IGN: JerleEleven (Jerle's Eleven ;))
Harvest is the BEST league EVER. Deterministic crafting ftw.
Ripped 760pdps bow 16 Aug 2020 - 16 Aug 2020
Well, I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong...

I was convinced you’d make the other call. There was no doubt in my mind.
I would like to run into at least one Lich this league.
~ GD might not be the best place to ask that question. Nubatron 2020
~ I will change my forum avatar when Templars get pants and a staff on the beach.
Not sure about this one.

Report Forum Post

Report Account:

Report Type

Additional Info