The Monolith of Fate has been designed with the goal to be one of our key systems you’ll interact with in Last Epoch’s endgame. In the last year we’ve taken major steps into realizing our vision for endgame by updating the Monolith. We removed level scaling, created timeline story quests to progress through, added many meaningful and complex boss encounters, and enabled all of this content to be empowered to level 100 for an additional challenge.
While these changes have been well-received - this is only the beginning of a long journey together. We felt there were a number of things we could do better to make the Monolith more exciting, have more goals and sense of progression, as well as increased flexibility to enable us to add more content for years to come. So let’s dig in!
Listening to player feedback, as well as playing the new Monolith ourselves over the last year we’ve uncovered a number of the key areas we needed to improve.
While we enjoy the concept of telling a story in a timeline via Quest Echoes, they often felt at odds with farming a timeline for extended periods of time. Quest Echoes effectively reset your progress through that timeline, encouraging many to just skip them in order to keep farming. This farming simply meant building up high increased rarity modifiers, often at the cost of accruing modifiers that could be frustrating or penalise your build in particular. There was little in the way of target farming and your echo choices wouldn’t really have any tangible impact on your rewards for farming them.
Additionally, progression in a timeline could effectively be reduced to a number simply going up; the only tangible sense of progression otherwise was moving to the next timeline.
Furthermore, our objectives within Echoes as they stand can make a player feel like they are playing on auto-pilot. Many of the objectives are from the earliest days of Last Epoch - go to a specific spot in the zone as indicated by your quest arrow, and completing a basic task.
We also needed stronger mid-term progression goals and rewards, as well as changes to the system to enable us to better support long-term chase as we continue to add new content.
This feedback and playtesting experience gave us great clarity on what we need for the new Monolith:
- Better sense of progression
- More variety in experiences from echo to echo
- More mid-term goals and rewards
- More player agency and strategy interacting with the Monolith
Our new Monolith progression system does away with linear, binary decision-making. A monolith timeline is now an ever-expanding web of choices, with a visible path demonstrating your journey through it.
Each island on this web is an individual echo with its own modifier and its own specific reward, such as piles of gold, rare relics, or even a unique item.
This web of echo choices will be randomly generated, but instead of relying on chance to discover quest echoes, your progress towards them is now deterministic. There is a progress bar at the top of the panel showing which quest echoes have been unlocked or completed and the requirements of the ones that are still locked. Completing any echo will progress you further towards the next quest echo.
The result of this is that quest echoes no longer reset your progression, meaning you can continue in your timeline as long as you like, even if you clear all of the quests. Moreover, once you complete the last quest echo you can start progressing towards the first one again as you continue to farm the timeline.
To eliminate that feeling of being on auto-pilot while in a timeline echo, we knew we’d have to significantly increase the number of potential objectives you may receive. With this Monolith update, we are adding a number of echo types that are more distinct and mix-up the way you engage with each echo. These will no longer only have an impact on the modifiers you receive, but also encourage you to engage with your timeline web as a whole.
This objective provides different ways to interact with the map. While you’ll still be directed to your objective of killing the rares, they are now a moving target. It is often a good strategy to try to intercept where they will patrol rather than simply chasing your quest marker. This results in dynamic encounters as you will also be engaging with other enemies at the location, as well as any new friends you’ve brought along the way.
The arena has a particularly unique experience for our endgame and we’ve decided to incorporate short bursts of this experience into the monolith via Arena Echoes. These echoes are not as frequent as normal ones - they are about 25% as common. They will involve a 12 to 18 wave encounter which can really alter the cadence at which you choose to engage with a timeline.
We’re not only adding new echo objectives, but also new echo types that allow you to meaningfully interact with your timeline web.
Normally when you complete an echo, you can see two steps ahead; the echoes adjacent to the completed one, and the ones directly beyond those. Beacon Echos will allow you to see further. They are a special echo type, containing a Beacon of Light, which can be charged to complete the echo and reveal all potential echoes in the timeline in a large ring around it.
Normally when you complete an echo, you can’t return to it and have to move on to your next choices. Vessel of Memory Echoes change this. The objective of these echoes is to smash the Vessel of Memory; destroying it will reset the state of all existing echoes on your web with exception to other Vessel Echoes. This allows you to re-run them and claim their rewards again.
Vessels of Memory are not the only type of vessel. If you’ve spent time completing echoes and claiming rewards in a timeline, there will inevitably be a large number of echoes that you have chosen not to complete. You may have done this either because their reward was irrelevant to you, or the reward was not enticing. This is when a Vessel of Chaos becomes an exciting prospect. Vessels of Chaos echoes are rare, but completing one rerolls the rewards of all the echoes that you have not yet completed, providing a chance for less enticing options to be swapped for more relevant or powerful rewards.
In addition to introducing new objectives and echo types, 0.8.2 includes reworks of a couple of existing echo objectives: Spires and Forges.
The three old spire types, that all simply dealt damage, have been replaced by ten new types of spire that are more dangerous and have many different effects, such as releasing a nova of projectiles, creating a slowing pool, or poisoning on hit.
Forges have been replaced by Time Gates with new unique models and visual effects.
Corruption is a new mechanic that will affect the difficulty of a timeline, similar to empowerment. The more corruption any timeline has, the more health enemies have and the more damage they deal. In a non-empowered timeline, corruption will also increase zone level, significantly raising the difficulty. Since empowered timelines are already level 100, corruption instead will increase the rarity of rewards you receive from echoes themselves, so that you’re more likely to find powerful rewards such as unique and exalted items.
Empowered timelines now start at 100 corruption, initially providing the same effects as the current empowerment modifier: 50% more monster health and damage, and 50% increased item rarity and experience gained. However, this corruption can be increased indefinitely providing ever harder challenges and an ever higher chance of powerful rewards.
In the current version of the Monolith of Fate there is a choice between pushing as far as you can for more loot (and negative modifiers), and resetting your run. The result of this is that farming a timeline meant actively ignoring quest echoes, or constantly resetting your runs to no meaningful reward. With regular echo selection and discovery being decoupled from quest echoes we now need a new way for players to reset their timeline progress and build up corruption.
We came to the conclusion: why not do that with the most epic boss fight we’ve ever made?
As you expand your Monolith web you will encounter Shade Echoes; these echoes will trigger an encounter with the Shade of Orobyss. The Shade is a randomised boss with 30 unique skills, and over four thousand possible permutations. Successfully defeating the Shade of Orobyss will reset your timeline web and add corruption, allowing you to continue your journey in a timeline.
Shade Echoes aren’t just a one-way ticket to a permanently higher corruption and therefore higher difficulty though. Killing a shade always changes the corruption of a timeline, but once your corruption is above a threshold, encountering and defeating the Shade closer to the center of your web will instead reduce corruption, giving you the opportunity to make your timeline more manageable.
All of these changes result in a number of improvements to the Monolith of Fate to enable players to focus on reward-driven decision making, have increased agency, as well as interact with the system in a more strategic manner.
Rather than a choice between two echoes at a time, players may now choose their route through a timeline for any number of reasons, such as progressing quickly through quest echoes, targeting specific rewards, avoiding mods they find frustrating, or maintaining a large increase to item rarity and experience gained.
We hope all of these changes will have a huge impact on how players feel like they can engage with our endgame by increasing the amount of choice, reward, and challenge. We want players to be invested in their decisions as they expand their Monolith and uncover Eterra’s secrets lost in time. Even more importantly, we feel this new system allows us increased flexibility to add all kinds of exciting content to it in the future, but it’s too soon to tell you our plans there.
Thank you for your support, Travelers! This is the largest patch we have ever released, and we hope you enjoy.