The upcoming Isometric ARPG, Last Epoch has released a major update, Patch 0.7.8 on Steam. It brings a lot of new content in the form of a new chapter for the campaign, re-worked animations for one class, two new skills and one reworked skill. There are also 3 new unique items, loot vacuum, and an in-game guide. Other changes to UI, performance improvement, new class specific item types and affixes, with the most exciting stash overhaul, and much much more. We’ll get into all the details of this latest patch, talk about the new additions and let you know what we think of the update.
Last Epoch Patch 0.7.8 Preview
Back in 2018, Eleventh Hour Games had released the pre-alpha demo and launched their Kickstarter campaign for their ambitious game the Last Epoch. We previewed the Pre-Alpha build of the game in two parts: Last Epoch Pre-Alpha Preview: Story And Gameplay and Last Epoch Pre-Alpha Preview: Classes, Skills And Final Thoughts. We concluded that the Last Epoch was a promising game with much potential for fun Diablo-like gameplay, with its own unique flavor with the addition of time travel and more.
However, in pre-alpha it lacked certain features that needed to be developed and implemented into the game. Eleventh Hour Games since then have launched an Early Access Forecast, which is a sort of roadmap that is split into phases for game development, with all new features they plan to implement.
The good news is the game is currently in the beta stage, and the developer has made decent strides through their Forecast, with constant monthly patches. Launching patch 0.7.8 at the end of May 2020 was a huge step in completing Phase 2, and moving the game into Phase 3 of the roadmap. Let’s take a look at the current state of the game, and what it has to offer so far.
A New Chapter for the Campaign
Chapter 8 takes the player deeper in the complex time-travelling story of the Last Epoch. Picking up where we left off in Chapter 7, in the Divine Age, after receiving the blessing of Heorot, the god of the north. Now you are tasked to go west to seek the blessing of Lagon, the god of the west, to help you in your fight against the antagonist of the Divine Age.
You get to meet new NPCs, experience new areas, and fight new enemies firstly introduced in Patch 0.7.8. But beware, because these enemies are seriously dangerous, and they do show up in endgame content as well, whether it’s the Arena or Monolith of Fate. They are strong enough to bring an early end to your run!
In addition to new, harder enemies added to the two endgame systems, the recent patch has also increased the Arena difficulty directly. Arena is a survival endgame mode where the game throws enemies at you in waves, each wave is harder than the one before. By scaling the arena levels three times faster after wave 150, Patch 0.7.8 increased the difficulty at a higher number of waves. The changes are as follows:
- For characters below level 100 the arena level scales up from their level to 100 linearly between wave 50 and wave 150.
- At wave 150 you face the same level enemies (100) for every character.
- Wave 200 is now as difficult as wave 300 was before.
- Wave 433 is as difficult as wave 1000 was before.
To realize how much harder the new difficulty is, you really need to know that only two builds min-maxed could have passed the 100th wave in the arena, in previous patch (0.7.7). Only a handful of characters could actually complete wave 300+ at all. The change makes the game less forgiving, and arena runs typically take less time; allowing more tries in short periods of time, for the sake of ranking up the ladder.
The Best Stash System in an ARPG and Free
In my review for Grim Dawn, another Isometric ARPG based on loot, I criticised the game for having too smaller storage space to accommodate all the loot you will gain. Any serious endgame play required tinkering with save files, or a third party program to manage your storage.
In online ARPGs like Path of Exile you have a small stash as well, but get the option to buy new stash tabs with real, hard-earned money. You also have to pay more for the ability to rename or change the color of your stash tabs to help with organisation. You end up paying more money in my opinion, than you would say paying for a AAA game for just a few premium stash tabs, and that still might not end up being enough.
With the Last Epoch overhaul of the stash system in this patch, not only does it open up the stash for hoarding thousands and thousands of items (a maximum of 200 stash tabs) it allows players to rename them, and change their colors. In addition to this, you can now group stash tabs into categories, rename these categories, and change their colors. This creates a more cohesive system, that’s easy, fast to navigate, and entirely free. Or to be more specific, free to buy with in-game gold, which you earn by just by playing the game.
If you sort your items into well crafted categories and sub categories, it will be easy to find the item type you want quite easily. But if you want to search for something very specific for a certain purpose (such as finding the exact affix or modifier) the search function will make all the difference. The Last Epoch not only allows to search for items on individual tabs, but also search through the entire storage. You can now perform a search across all tabs simultaneously in the vertical list view. All tabs that do not contain the search term will be hidden, leaving a list of tabs with matching content.
The whole system is such an improvement upon the best stash system in the genre, all the while still in beta. Paired with a good loot system, it’s one of the most exciting features that can bring longevity to this ARPG.
Innovative and Smart Loot system
If the developers of the Last Epoch took inspiration from Path of Exile is was probably from the stash system as there is definitely some similarities, and I can see strong inspiration drawn from Diablo 3 for its smart loot system. But the game took both of these ideas and improved upon them in a number of ways which I will go into.
Class Item Types
Effective now with 0.7.8 patch, head and chest armor prices are divided into four categories, for the four available classes in Beta. Each category has eight item types, with a range of base armor stats (Implicit) that’s useful for its matched class. These Implicits provide only basic stats to give a starting point, you can then craft whatever you like regardless of the Implicit.
The new loot system in the Last Epoch has a tendency to give a character its matching item type, and by “tendency” I mean giving a much higher chance for a class item to drop, than a non-class items. This allows for an easier gearing system with less farming involved, while still giving you items for other classes at low rates. This is in case you want to sell these items to other players, or save them for one of your alts.
Class Specific Affixes
Certain item types are specific to certain classes, being able to roll for some class specific stats (prefixes and suffixes), while being not able to roll other class specific stats. The possible stats for a class item will be useful for this particular class, while others are universal and shared between all classes.
This last feature is important, because it solves one of the main issues which I have experienced with the smart loot systems of similar games, which is the limitation of dropped items. If all stats on all items are rolled for a particular class, no other class can benefit from them. Last Epoch separates items types into classes, and each class item can be dropped or crafted with useful stats for that class type. This doesn’t remove the ability to find items that are useful for other characters entirely, and that’s why it’s a step up from any other similar system.
Last Epoch already had implemented a method to auto sort crafting material, put them into their own separate panel, and remove them from inventory/stash entirely, so they never get in the way. All you had to do is to press “Store Crafting Items” and your items are sorted. You can also open the “Forge” panel and craft anything directly from it.
In the latest patch 0.7.8, it took things a step further, by adding a small feature that allows all crafting materials found on the ground to be auto looted. Now once you pickup up a crafting material, all other crafting material on the floor is vacuumed into your inventory, saving you a lot of hassle and pause time from picking them up individually.
A Loot Filter in Development
It’s worth mentioning that the developers have teased more features in other upcoming major patches, and one of them is a loot filter, that they promise “will be awesome”. So if the stash overhaul is any indicator, we can expect a really good loot filter to come to the Last Epoch before release. This in my opinion will complete the loot system, which is the core aspect for any ARPG game.
Animation, Visuals, Sounds, and User Interface
As with every major patch, Last Epoch gets improvements in all aspects and fields of the game. It’s truly satisfying to login with your character after each patch, and get instantly overwhelmed by all prominent changes. You get improvements with most of what you see, hear, and interact with. This includes an upgraded skill tree window, giving it a new and cleaner design. The way many spells cast and spread their particles on the battlefield is visually improved. This paired with a new environment and enemy sounds, you find yourself quickly immersed, giving further polish to the game.
Last Epoch graphics is nowhere near comparable to upcoming next generation games such as Diablo 4, or Path of Exile 2, that’s for sure. But it’s what you’d expect from a game designed using a Unity engine, plus more when it comes to overall design and gameplay.
Since our preview of the pre-alpha version, roughly two years ago, the Last Epoch development team has taken several steps in the right direction. They keep adding new visuals and animation for each playable class, one by one.
In patch 0.7.7 they overhauled the Primalist class animation, and it turned out as smooth as butter. The same goes with 0.7.8 and the Mage class animation, it became more modern, responsive, and feels way more natural. The spell casting is in a good position right now, and most spells have received performance and visual improvements with every patch, so playing a spell caster mage truly shows the potential of what this game can be at the time of full release.
Beware that only two classes have had their animations updated Mage and Primalist, where the other two Acolyte and Sentinel still have placeholder animations, which look a little stiff and outdated currently. This will change in the next few patches, closer to the release date. Expect the fifth class, the Rogue, to be released with updated animations from the get-go.
Classes & Skills
Diversity was the main concept behind the design of classes in Last Epoch from the beginning, as learning skills were tied to classes rather than being universal knowledge. Each class has a certain playable character, certain skills, certain skill trees, and certain sub-classes. With deep customization available in each aspect. With patch 0.7.8 developers wanted to further improve base classes to make them more distinct, with a detailed vision explained in a long blog post on official forums.
They added class specific item types, and class specific affixes. Here’s what else patch 0.7.8 has brought to classes and skills in the recent patch.
Infinite Respec and Fine Tuning Your Character
Active skills in the Last Epoch have a unique fully customized skill tree, not to be confused with a passive skill tree. A skill levels by speccing into it, and gaining experience from killing monsters or quests, which can go up 20 levels. You can either remove points from the skill tree, or remove a skill entirely to replace it by another skill for a small fee. The recent patch 0.7.8 brings improvements to the leveling and re-leveling system of skill trees. It goes as follows:
– Your skills now gain experience faster at higher character levels
– Skills require more experience to reach high levels.
This has three main implications:
– Skills take longer to reach level 20 for the first time
– Respeccing an ability to level 20 is faster than before at high levels.
– Skills that you started leveling later now more quickly catch up to skills that you started leveling earlier.
As you can see, this means once you have done leveling your skills for the first time, now you can easily and more quickly change skills, try new skills, or try different builds. You can do that whenever you want, and as many times as you want. Whether you like to switch builds, try new theories, or min-max one build, the new system has you covered. I am most excited to see how much build diversity Last Epoch will bring to the table at launch.
Making the Class Passive Tree More Diverse
Passive trees are a big factor in choosing a class and subclass for your character, often in games like this, it could be too specialized or limiting. Last Epoch’s latest patch has introduced some improvements to the base class passive trees, adding more nodes with general purposes that can help class weaknesses. It encourages build diversity, and smooths out the creation of hybrid builds, or Off-Meta builds.
By adding dual elemental damage nodes for the mage class, it helps create builds with more than one damage type. Or adding mana recovery nodes to Sentinel classes, for builds with heavy hitting and main skills that have a high mana cost.
Last Epoch is a game I have been looking to try for a long time, and I finally could play for an extensive period of time, about a hundred hours into the beta, which is still far from experiencing everything game has to offer. I tried six out of the ten available class archetypes. Witnessing how good the game was in the previous patch 0.7.7 , I could still recommend it at it’s previous state. But now experiencing what the patch 0.7.8 brings to the game, I can affirm this game will seriously compete with the top Isometric ARPGs on the market upon release. There’s already so much fun you can have with the current version of the Beta, and the only reason not so many people are aware of it, is the lack of marketing.
Eleventh Hour Games have improved nearly every aspect of the game with each patch, and they work tirelessly to identify and fix all issues that have arisen during the Beta. A developer actually spent time to help fix my personal stash save file, when it got a bug after implementation for the new stash system. This speaks volumes about the dedication and commitment Eleventh Hour Games has for the game, and for its consumers.
If you enjoyed the Diablo franchise, Grim Dawn, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, or even Path of Exile, you can easily enjoy the Last Epoch at its current stage, and you will get content well worth the price tag, which is currently $35 on the Steam. However, you can wait for the launch to experience the full game and get even more content for the same value, but the game is still very enjoyable if you decide to dive in now.
If you have any questions, drop it in the comments below, check our part one and two pre-alpha preview, read in-game guide, or refer to the game official FAQ. And if you are interested in similar games, check our overview of Path of Exile next league and expansion: Harvest.